Encourage Me…with Scripture and Teddy Bears

I’m seriously understating when I say October was a difficult month, so I desperately needed the “encouragement” swap one of my penfriends, Beth, recently coordinated on swap-bot. Considering the many crazy things going on in the world, she rightly figured that we all need a little encouragement to get us through the rough patches.

My partner, Charlene, sent a cheerful package with an encouraging message and teddy bears! The card is so beautiful that I almost forgot to read it!

“Moments to Treasure” by PaperCraft, Atlanta, GA

A verse from Psalms was printed on the inside:

I will praise the Lord…
and will sing praise to the name
of the Lord most high. –Psalm 7:17 KJV

And Charlene stamped a kindness quote:

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.  –Mother Teresa

Of course, no encouragement mail is complete without a personal message. She wrote:

I pray that kind words will be spoken into your life and bless your heart, that you will find opportunities to praise and sing praises to our Lord.

Life has just been one thing after another lately, so it is nice to bathe in blessings and prayers and to sing praises in anticipation of relief from struggles and strife.

Charlene managed to make me feel hugged through her note, but to be sure I felt her hug, she sent teddy bear postcards too! [Click an image for a closer look and for postcard details].

Don’t you just want to hug them?

Fun with Teddy Bears in Monochrome!

I decided I should start June off with a post, and hopefully, set the stage for regular posts this month.  I slacked last month.  I needed the downtime–time to do no more than what was required of me.  I even let my camera have a bit of rest. Even though a longer hiatus would be fine with me, the things I want to share with my blog audience are beginning to pile up pretty high!

So I’m back with another monochrome photos post.  This time, teddy bears!  Way back in February, I organized a “Teddy Bears and Dolls in Monochrome” swap, part of the series of monochrome swaps I’d put together for the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot. This was a super fun swap for me (and my son).  At first, my son and I organized the Beanie Baby War, “The Bears vs. The Others” to be exact.   Not a very creative title, we know.  We have just as many bear beanie babies as we have “others” combined, so we were a bit challenged to come up with a name for the “non-bears.” They made a motley bunch of fish, fowl, furries, creepy crawlies and other winged creatures.  We also worked on a Beanie Bears Family Portrait.  That didn’t go so well.  The bears kept getting into tiffs over who should be seated on the front row.

But it was when Mr. Cuddly A. Bear got his hand on my camera that we knew we had a winner.  I’ll wait and tell you about that one.  Let me introduce you to some new teddy bear friends.

Camille Bear by Castlequeen

Camille Bear by Castlequeen

Meet Camille Bear. Her owner, “Castlequeen” on swap-bot, has had her for 18 years.  A dear friend gave it to her as a birthday gift.  This (above), obviously, is not the monochrome shot. These are:

Camille Bear in Monochrome Pose 1 by Castlequeen

“Camille Bear” in Monochrome, Pose 1 by Castlequeen

I like the antique look of this photo and how the crop brings the teddy bear up close and personal. Camille looks perfectly at home in color or in sepia.

Camille Bear in Monochrome Pose 2 by Castlequeen

“Camille Bear” in Monochrome, Pose 2 by Castlequeen

Adorable, isn’t she? This one reminds me of the teddy bear and doll displays I often see in antique shops.

Cakers, my “send-to” partner and photog friend, shared her beary goodness with me just because she knows how much joy teddy bears carry!  She got a little frustrated with the “creation” process and in her frustration tossed her bears aside with the hat, and voila! Behold the cuteness!

“Who? Bear,” Photo by Cakers

Cakers found this cuddly bear in a closet, and doesn’t remember who gave her this bear.  So I named him “Who?”  🙂

And now, look at this sweet little knit bear named George.

“George,” Photo by Cakers

George is named after Cakers’ maternal grandfather whom she loved fiercely.  She purchased “George” from Gregory Patrick of Mad Man Knitting.  If you’re interested in knitting bears or in connecting with another soul, check out his site.

Unfortunately, I’m not brave enough to post “The Beanie War”–it was pretty gruesome.  But I am willing to share Mr. Cuddly A. Bear’s story. Cuddly A. got a little bored with his “beary” existence the afternoon we were working with the beanie babies’ photo shoot.  My son and I set up the camera and tripod, but were using the iPad and iPhone for test shots.  While we were distracted, Cuddly A. decided to take control of the camera.

Here’s his story in pictures.

“Cuddly A. Bear Gets a Time-out”

As you can see, he used the camera without permission and “got busted.” Notice the look on his face when he realized he was caught. We placed him in “time-out” for eight minutes to mull over his naughty actions.  He listened carefully as I explained to him why he shouldn’t touch the camera without permission and promised he wouldn’t do that again.

As you can see, Cuddly A. was a willing participant in our bear shenanigans.  Converting him to “monochrome” was a fun exercise. Adding texture was bonus fun. Cuddly A. (not his real name) was actually my son’s first bear. He’s had him since “before he was born.”

Oh–remember this lovely doll and bear I found in a Nashville shop window? I converted them to black and white and sent him to Cakers too.

Honky Tonk Bear and Boy in Black and White

“A Boy and His Honky Tonk Bear” in Black and White

For more monochrome goodness, see my January 20, January 21, and January 22 posts.

I haven’t organized a monochrome swap in a while, but I think it’s time. Let’s see what we come up with next!

“Bearing” the Cross: Just for Laughs

A few days ago, I was “playing” around with an iPhone teddy bear photo and a cross photo I’d taken while the family and I walked a “new” trail just the day before (more on that later).  This is one result:

2015/02/img_2232.jpg

Hubby said “Weird.”  One friend said, “Different”–she was being kind.  Another said, “Creepy.”  Yet another friend missed the teddy bear completely. She saw the Virgin Mary with the Christ child.  She thought the message of the image was “From the Cradle to the Cross.”  Hilarious!

Since I was having so much fun, I sent it to Cakers and Dee, my wonderful swapping photog friends.  They missed the “LOL” at the end of my message and took it so seriously.  Cakers even suggested ways for improvement.  Maybe, I’ll try her tips and see if we can make something of this!

For the record, my little one liked it. 🙂

 

Everyday Gifts: Good-bye December. Hello 2015.

"Winter Rose Poinsettia"--I'd never seen one before this year.  It's beautiful (and I hear they last longer than "regular" poinsettias)!

“Winter Rose Poinsettia”–I’d never seen one before this year. It’s beautiful (and I hear they last longer than “regular” poinsettias)!

In typical fashion, I spent the last few days reflecting on 2014, particularly the last weeks of the year.  December was unkind in many ways–filled with lots of grays and pale blues and challenges and setbacks and inconsistencies and not-so-pleasant surprises.

But every day there was something that tickled my spirit or brought a smile to my face–silly and proud moments with my little one; a couple of hours with one of my dearest friends at a conference we both happened to attend; the giddy reaction of the adult audience members as my hubby told a story to children; the frog-hop of excitement my son performed when he opened his Christmas gift and found the robot he wanted.

December gave winter rose poinsettias, festive shop windows, the music, lights, and neon glitz of downtown Nashville, teddy bears, and beautiful photographs from friends. [Click an image for a larger view]

It gave a colleagues’ pink frog with green eyes that is now featured on notecards I made for her.

"Living the Pink Life," Cy's Frog

“Living the Pink Life,” Cy’s Frog

December allowed me to see beautiful dolls (on display in an Asian restaurant my hubby and I visited for the first time in December):

December brightened my mailbox with photos from Patty, known as Cakers to you–the colorful silk fibers postcard made for a “Hobbies Deserve Photos Too” swap:

Untitled 6 3

“A Rainbow of Fibers,” Photo by Patty aka Cakers

And a calming view of the Atlantic Ocean sent in an email while that same someone was spending Christmas vacation in Mexico with her hubby.  I envied her vacation away from the madness, but appreciated her timely gift.

"Cancun for Christmas," Photo by Cakers, December 2014

“Cancun for Christmas,” Photo by Cakers, December 2014

December cheered me with a cuddly teddy bear found in an unexpected place–at an academic conference.

“Bringing You Love,” 2014.  The bear belongs to one of the vendors at a conference I attended. Her boyfriend sent it to keep her company while she was traveling.

December warmed me early one Monday morning when a shuttle driver sang his testimony to a busload of conference attendees as he shuttled us from our hotels to the conference site.   It warmed me again later that day when a country singer serenaded me and even made up a song just for me in an attempt to lure me and a colleague into the saloon where he was performing.

December offered laughter through hilarious ugly sweater modeling and the “Nat King Cole” crooning of a colleague that had the women going wild at the University’s Christmas party.

For these and so much more I am grateful.

I begin the new year looking forward to the gifts hidden in the daily toils, the little things we so often overlook when other matters sap our strength and spirit.  I pray that you, too, will search for and appreciate the tiny, everyday joys that make life bearable and pleasurable.

Happy 2015 to you and yours.

 

 

 

Love, (Typo)Graphic Violence, and Dancing Bears

I participated in a “graffiti style postcard” swap about a month ago.  Participants had to create a postcard using graffiti style letters (“blocks, bubbles, angles”).  Mine featured the title of a song written by John Lennon, “All you need is love”–the word “love” in shades of pink and a spray of hearts, set against a blackish, grunge background.  I’m sure this description sounds lovely.  Not so in reality.  Remember? I can’t draw! When I was younger I could draw block, angle or bubble letters very well, but, for some reason, the curves and angles no longer work in my favor.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look:

Graffiti Postcard? by Me!

Graffiti Postcard? by Me!

As you can tell, this was designed digitally.  I used the Art Studio iPad app to draw and color the word “love” and create the .png file and three other apps for the grunge look, the “all you need is…” font, and hearts (Snapseed, PicsArt, and the resident iPad photo editor, I think).

Once I created the .png file, I had fun playing around with different colors.  Here’s “love” in shades of purple, my favorite color.

Untitled 3

And green, my guys’ favorite color:

Untitled 5

The benefit of drawing in Art Studio is once the drawing is complete, one can play around with the colors.

This was the first one I did.

Untitled 6

Didn’t like it at all because the first two letters look like the number 20. And the color scheme?  What was I thinking?  I hope I was just “playing around.”

I think my postcard/mail addiction makes me momentarily delusional, so I sign up for challenges I can’t meet.  To make up for my lack of talent in this area, I sent my partner two postcards–the other real graffiti art from NYC. She was kind and gave me a “heart,” which means she thinks I went above and beyond. Based on my skill set, I did.  😉

My receive-from partner sent me a wonderful postcard which was a lot more complex in thought and execution.  Not making a comparison–just noting the obvious.

“Deesides” is a graphic designer from Finland.  She loves the way graffiti style twists letters, in “often quite unreadable forms.”  She theorizes that graffiti is, in a way, typographic violence:

"Typographic Violence," by Deesides on swap-bot"

“Typographic Violence,” by Deesides on swap-bot”

Deesides says she doesn’t have as much experience in graffiti art, so her work here is a lot more legible than what we typically see from graffiti artists.  I really like it!

The bonus: cute postage stamp on the back of the postcard:

Postage

The dancing bears clash with the idea of “typographic violence,” but don’t you just love them anyway?

 

 

Beachy Bears

We’ve had thunderstorms almost every day for the last two or three weeks, but no worries! Two “fun in the sun” postcards arrived in my mailbox to counter the gloom.  I hosted a couple of postcard swaps for the Teddy Bear Dreamers group on swap-bot.  I was expecting a bit of a cute overload in my mailbox, but I wasn’t expecting both of my partners to send beach-themed postcards.

Evieroz sent the card below:

TB PCs received 06-14

Merbears by Evieroz

I’m pretty sure this one was made using the Teddy Bear Parade Cricut cartridge.  The mermaid bears are adorable. I really like the color scheme and the arrangement of the elements.

Evieroz also customized the back of the postcard:

TB PCs received 06-14-1

Postcard Back

The other postcard was sent by one of my favorite swap-bot pals, Denimblu14 (Db14):

"Summer Holidays," Photograph by Irene Thomspon

“Summer Holidays,” Photo by Irena Thompson, Bears and Toys from Irena’s Collection

Did you notice the American and British alliance between these beach bears? Teddy bears are a bit more political than we think!

Db14 always sends uber-cute teddy bear themed items.  (She sent the most adorable teddy bear bookmark calendar and other cute items to me for Christmas/the New Year).  If you’re a “close” blog follower, you might recognize the photographer’s work from another post, which offers even more teddy bear sweetness.  You’ll also see that Db14 usually uses delightful teddy bear themed postage. Look at the fabulous Paddington Bear postage included with this one–

TB PCs received 06-14-4

Paddington Bear Postage, England

Paddington might be my all-time favorite teddy bear.  Or is it Classic Pooh?

 

“Me”…in an Envelope!

Here’s your task:  Enclose at least five items in an envelope that define you.  Nope.  This is not a bridal shower game, but it was the subject of a swap I recently completed–“Me in an Envelope” hosted by “isabellasnow” on swap-bot.  The swap required that participants send an envelope of items that would give the recipients an idea of who we are.  What did I include? My partner and I have very similar interests and tastes, so I sent her things that I thought she would use:

  • a book of poetry–I’ve loved poetry since I was a little girl and I am thoroughly enjoying teaching the British Romantic and Victorian poets this semester.
  • a couple of tourist postcards–one from New Orleans (home) and one from Alabama (where I live now)
  • a third postcard–robots (guess why)
  • peace, hearts, and flower stickers–the ideology of “Flower Power” is still so appealing to me
  • inspirational quotes–Don Miguel Ruiz (“The Four Agreements”) and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (“Nine Requisites for Contented Living”).
  • some of my own nature photos
  • Paris notecards–Paris is on my bucket list.  I did spend a few hours in a Paris airport once.  I don’t think that counts.  🙂
  • teddy bear postage because it was easier to send the postage than it was to send an actual teddy bear
  • washi tape samples–my latest “crafty” obsession

There were many other things I wanted to include, but I forced myself to exercise a little discipline.  I’m not sure I would say these things “define” me.  They certainly hint at some aspects of “me,” but a package that “defines” me would probably be much more difficult to put together.    Besides, even though the swap was “sender’s choice,”  I try to send people items they can/will actually use.

I think “Metruis,” my “receive from” partner took the same approach.   We have some similar interests as well, and she sent a fun package of goodies.

Her note was written on this far too cute panda postcard.

"Deck the Halls"  Christmas all year long, I say!

“Deck the Halls”

Christmas all year long, I say!  I love these pandas.  Isn’t the one hanging from the tree simply adorable?

Metruis is a freelance writer and an artist.  She even drew a picture of herself on the back of the postcard, “sort of.”

"Me Sorta" by Metruis

“Me Sorta” by Metruis

She sent fabric swatches from the last quilt she made.  These will be great for making a collage postcard!

"Fabric Swatches"

“Fabric Swatches”

She loves loose tea, so she sent two of her favorite teas and recipes.  Here’s one of the recipes:

Tea

“Fruity Cold Brew Tea”

She paints, so she sent a paintbrush.  She “always” paints her nails and her favorite color is green, so she sent green “nail glitter.”

Paintbrush and Nail Glitter

“Paintbrush and Nail Glitter”

She loves steampunk, so she sent a “steampunk dude.”

"Time Traveler?"

“Time Traveler?”

And a compass charm because she makes maps for a living.

"Compass Charm"

“Compass Charm”

Along with a receipt from one of her favorite restaurants and a library checkout receipt, she sent a bookmark advertising one of her web comics.

Me in an Envie-3

“Between Places”

If you’re into graphic novels, check out Between Places, a fantasy novel with scifi elements, and Stargazer’s Gate, a fantasy graphic novel about gates between worlds.

What would your 5 items be?