A Detour and a Christmas Treat

Detours seem inconvenient, but sometimes they lead us to beautiful destinations. Such was the case yesterday when the guys and I were on our way to my aunts’ homes to do drive-by Christmas visits. A stopped train and a long line of traffic compelled us to take another route.

We worked our way around through Church Street in the historic part of Madison, Alabama and found it transformed to Christmas Card Lane. Each home had on display a giant “card” [created by local artists] in recognition of the holiday season. Some cards were traditional, some were whimsical, and, of course, some were biblical . Some even featured local themes.

The whole block celebrated the festive spirit of the season and boosted the holiday cheer.

I captured 26 “cards” as we drove slowly down the street. Here are our favorites:

My son’s favorite:

“Merry Christmas in Sweet Home Alabama”

My hubby’s favorite:

Christmas in the style of the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote

My favorite favorite is above, but here’s another favorite.

“No Place Like Gnome for the Holidays”

I’m running low on WordPress space, but you can see all 26 cards in my Flickr album: Christmas Card Lane.

I hope the holiday spirit is still with you!

Cloudy Days and Sunflowers

Alcohol Ink Sunflower, Made by Christine B.

I’ve been receiving sunflower cards all year, and there are many I have yet to share on the blog, so I’ve decided to end NaBloPoMo 2019 with Sunflower Week.

This is the perfect day to begin, since I ended my last Sunflower Week exactly a year ago.

The card above was made by Love Noter Christine B, my most prolific pen friend. She seems to always know when to send a sunflower, when I need a reminder of Light. This one came right at the beginning of the academic year as I was navigating a lot of stuff.

A couple of weeks before receiving Christine’s sunflowers, another pen friend, Eileen V, tagged me in a Facebook post about sunflower behavior on cloudy days. Whereas sunflowers turn toward the sun when it is shining bright, the poster, Jodi H, announced–skeptically–that sunflowers turn toward each other to share their energy when there is no sun.

Jodi went on:

Now, let’s apply this reflection to our lives. Many people become low-spirited, and the most vulnerable ones, sometimes become depressed. How about following the example of the beautiful sunflowers, i.e., supporting and empowering each other.

This is a beautiful thought and it creates a moving image, but it is not accurate. Sunflowers do not turn toward each other on cloudy days. Instead, they face the direction of the sun regardless.

See these “sciencey” articles for more information:

There is truth in the idea that we don’t have to walk through dark moments alone. We can turn to our loved ones and friends for energy and light when we face difficulties. And we can be sure to make ourselves available to help others as they go through their own challenges.

Whenever I receive a sunflower, it serves as a reminder to “face the Sun.” It is also a gift, an offering of strength and light.

Winter Is Good!

“Happy Winter.” Handmade card by Lori K.

Winter is good – his Hoar Delights
Italic flavor yield –
To Intellects inebriate
With Summer, or the World –

Generic as a Quarry
And hearty – as a Rose –
Invited with asperity
But welcome when he goes.

Emily Dickinson, Poem 1316

It’s no secret–I do not like winter. The cold, dreary days do little for my mood and force me to spend far too many days and nights indoors. It doesn’t help at all that winter immediately follows autumn, my favorite season.

It’s odd, I know, to begin a “Happy Winter” post with reasons I don’t like the season, but there are some things I love about winter–the nakedness of trees, a warm cup of cocoa, cozy nights in front of the fireplace, hope for “snow days,” and winter photo walks [when the temperatures ease a bit]. Besides, there’s poetry in winter’s dormancy as the earth is repairing and preparing for spring.

In short, my feelings about winter are much like the attitude toward winter described in Dickinson’s poem–I’m capable of extolling it’s virtues, but I’ll be happier when it’s gone.

Happy Winter? 😉

Love Noter Lori K made and sent the card above to me last winter. I’ve been looking forward to sharing it since I happily received it. Its glittery wintriness is much prettier “in person.”

Seriously though–Happy Winter!

Happy Mail from Bunny Bear Press!

Happy Mail from Bunny Bear Press

Happy Mail from Bunny Bear Press

I just returned from a wonderful trip to New Orleans (more on that later) to find a gorgeous package in my mailbox from Bunny Bear Press. Adina, the owner, sent the package as a “thank you” for my letting her know about a glitch with her signup link.  Totally unnecessary, but who am I to refuse happy mail?

Take a closer look at the gorgeousness.  [Click an image for a closer look].

Beautiful, right?

Each card was designed and handprinted by Adina.  I don’t usually buy greeting cards for birthdays and such–I make my own–but the high quality and uniqueness of her cards urge me to support Bunny Bear Press.

I ❤ Adina even more because of her drive to get women to write more letters. She recently started the Pen Gals Club (#thePenGals) to encourage women to write letters and send snail mail to their gal pals instead of using texting and social media to communicate–even those jokes, anecdotes, and little tidbits of information we’re prone to share.  As much as I love snail mail and contribute to the volume of mail winging its way through the USPS, I usually simply call or text my closest gal pals.  So I decided to accept the challenge. The day I signed up, I wrote my bestie a letter, included some inspirational goodies, and prettied up the envelope; she was so thrilled, she dubbed me “The Creative, Feel Good, Pretty Snail Mail Wonder Woman!” Pretty impressive title, eh?

If you’re interested in the Pen Gals Club, you can sign up by clicking the link. Adina has all sorts of plans and goodies for those of us who sign up.  After signup, she sends an information packed email and weekly newsletters filled with snail mail inspiration. I’m so excited that, as I plan my schedule for the academic year, I’m building time in to write letters and notes to my closest friends.  They’re worth it.

Until next time…

Write more letters…

Bunny Bear Press Contacts

Bunny Bear Press Contact Info

[Note: I realize this must sound like a paid advertisement, but it isn’t.  I’m simply excited about snail mail: good snail mail and great ideas about snail mail must be shared!]

Hello Sunshine!

Look at what came in the mail! A washi tape card from TamiHope, a “Christian Friend” on swap-bot.  I like her style!


Washi Tape Card by TamiHope

The super-cool thing about the card is that it came on a dreary day minutes before rain poured down on me–my own special bit of sunshine.

Since my first washi tape card last week, I’ve been having a lot of fun adding washi tape to cards and envelopes.  I think I might try it with a letter or postcard this week–if I have time.  Have you made a washi tape card yet?

My First Washi Tape Card!

I’ve had a bunch of 12×12 washi paper sheets for some time, but I haven’t done much more than use them to cut a few shapes and robots with the Cricut. Beth, one of my swap-bot buddies uses washi tape for envelopes, postcards, letters and other mail-related items. I was really fascinated by her use of it on an envelope and a couple of postcards she sent to me, so I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. Some people have done amazing things with washi tape, but I wasn’t looking for amazing; I was looking for simple. Then, Beth posted a washi tape card swap. The image she posted with the swap made making a washi tape card look super easy, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

"With Gratitude," from "A StephMade Life."

“With Gratitude,” from “A StephMade Life.”

Steph, the card-maker, strategically placed colorful (uneven) strips of washi tape on card stock. She talks about the process on the blog post linked above the photo.

Here’s some of my process in pictures (forgive me for not taking pics earlier in the process):

Almost done...

Almost done…

I really didn’t have a plan. I just knew I didn’t want to go with horizontal or vertical lines. I thought I’d do just a few strips and leave an opening and some of the white border to embellish. I got a little carried away and ended up taping the entire card–with the exception of my middle.

Finished with the tape...

Finished with the tape…

This was simple. And the good thing about the card is that I didn’t have to cut any new sheets. I used remnants from Cricut cutouts. There’s always the random strip of material here and there that isn’t used by the machine–the space between cutouts, the border, etc.–so I’m so glad I didn’t toss those “shaped-out” sheets.

Should I fill the opening with green?

Should I fill the opening with green?

Should I fill the opening with red?

Should I fill the opening with red?

I even tried pink and thought about yellow and purple, but red won.

Trying out embellishments for the middle

Hmmm…An embellishment for the middle?

I thought I liked this one...

I thought I liked this one and decided AFTER I tacked it down that the red and green were too much.

I chose something a little more casual and a little less obvious with the color choice.

I chose something a little more casual and a little less obvious with the color choice.

I’m pleased. It’s bright and cheerful and just a little unpredictable and random. What do you think?

Fight Like a Girl!

“My Sister’s Tat”
One of my younger sisters, a four-time breast cancer survivor, had this tattoo done after her first round.

In case you haven’t heard, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM).  “Someman” posted on Facebook that he’s “offering”  free “exams” to women during BCAM.  I found it insulting, creepy and a bit disturbing that he would trivialize such an important matter to get laughs. Breast Cancer–cancer period–is no laughing matter and we must do everything we can to raise awareness and encourage women to examine themselves monthly and have mammograms done annually.   We must also do what we can to help those who are suffering and continue rallying around survivors and co-survivors.  Those are goals of one of the swaps I participated in and of some of the mail I received this month.

The card below completes the “Think Pink” swap I participated in earlier this month (You can see the first card I received in the “Good Mail In…” post).  TeePeeMaiden made this and sent it all the way from Canada.  I love all the layers!  I am honored that she shared this with me since she also made the card for one of her friends who is a breast cancer survivor.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Handmade card and envelope art by TeePeeMaiden/Donna B.

The next piece is an Artist Trading Card (ATC).  ATCs are miniature pieces of art (2.5 x 3.5 inches in size) that are usually shared among artists, crafters and collectors.  Even for the “craft-challenged” like me, ATCs can be addictive.  This one, made with paint, a sharpie, ribbon and a little bling, features the theme “Fight Like a Girl.”

“Fight Like a Girl” made by MLRobinson/Journal Junkie

If anyone thinks “fight like a girl’ is an insult or an attack on masculinity, he or she needs to meet my younger sister.  She is now battling cancer for the fifth time in seven years.  She’s dealt with chemotherapy, radiation, a double mastectomy and other radical treatments.  She’s more than a survivor.  She’s a fighter who didn’t run and hide from “the enemy” that assailed her body relentlessly.  She’s a fighter who stared death in the face many times and, by the grace of God, is still here.  She’s an inspiration to anyone who hears her story.  Her very presence motivates me to stand up to my literal and figurative bullies and “fight like a girl”–fearless, relentless, strong and hopeful.

Good Mail In…

This was a rocky week for me, but finding good mail in the mailbox always cheers me up–immediately!  Here are the goodies that came this week:

Ernie the Envie, the swap-bot logo. I sent one out and I took one in!

This beautiful purple flower postcard was made by fellow swap-bot Sharp Shooter, FundyGirl. She photographs flowers in memory of her late grandfather who was also a photographer. What an admirable way to honor his memory!

This GORGEOUS breast cancer awareness “greeting” card was made by Namabear, a member of the swap-bot group, Crafting Queens. This was made for the “Think Pink” swap in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October). Neither the scan nor the photograph does justice to this awesome card.

Postcards Out…

I love receiving receiving good mail. Not bills.  Not flyers.  Not junk.  I participate in swap-bot, an online swapping community and Postcrossing, so if I join swaps and send postcards regularly, I’m sure to find good mail in my mailbox.

I sent a number of postcards out this week for Postcrossing (5) and swap-bot (4).  You might recognize a couple of them from the collection I sent out for “Liberate Your Art.”  They were sent to postcrossers who enjoy and/or prefer “self-made” postcards.  The Simpsons were sent to postcrossers who listed The Simpsons among their favorite postcards.  And the seal from the Happy Animals collection by Junoz Terada was sent to an “international” postcrosser who is more interested in the stamps than a particular type of postcard (stamps shown too).  The cute little envelope’s name is “Ernie the Envie,” the swap-bot logo.  I always enjoy seeing his smiling face in my mailbox, so it was a treat to send one to another swapper (This lucky swapper also received the Puerto Rico PC).  The “purple” colored postcards were sent out for a purple-themed photo swap–my own photos, of course.  These were done for Sharp Shooters, one of the many groups for photographers of varying skill levels on swap-bot.  Enjoy!

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