Let’s Be Teddy Bears

It’s Monday. It’s raining. Midterm grades are due. I still have two sets of papers to grade, so I’m dropping in for a few seconds to share the über cute bear card my swap-bot friend Beth B. sent. She found the teddy bear stamp–words and all–at a yard sale. She thought of me immediately, so she couldn’t pass it up. As you can see the bear is “wearing” my favorite color. Beth also enclosed some “uncolored” stamps for my use (yay!), and I plan to experiment with them this week.

If you don’t have any other plans…

Let’s be Teddy Bears in our next life…Everybody loves ’em. Nobody cares if they’re fat & the older they get, the more they’re worth!

Have a warm and fuzzy week!

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!

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:


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:


“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?

Little Bear Road

Can you imagine my JOY when I opened my mailbox to find a teddy bear envelope that came from Little Bear Road?!  My family and I are going to live on Little Bear Road. I will find a house on Little Bear Road or buy the street name and own a whole street named Little Bear Road!  How perfect is that for a teddy bear lover?

I hosted a “Teddy Bear Envelope Fun” swap in the “Teddy Bear Dreamers Group” on swap-bot and my partner CarlaDMG aimed to please.  The envelope oozed with so much cuteness–including awesome Teddy Bears postage–that I almost forgot to open it and review its contents.

Teddy Mail Art (front) by CarlaDMG

Teddy Mail Art (front) by CarlaDMG

Teddy Bear Mail Art (back) by CarlaDMG

Teddy Bear Mail Art (back) by CarlaDMG

CarlaDMG pulled out a little of every-teddy-thing for the envelope. Stickers, stamps and the all-too-cute “Teddy Bears’ Picnic Lyrics.”   Cute overload!

Here’s a closer look at the postage stamp:

"Stick Bear," 1920s.  Scotts #3654

“Stick Bear,” 1920s. Scotts #3654

“Stick Bear” is part of the four-bear collectible United States Postal Service Teddy Bears Centennial Sheet.  The other three bears in the collection are: Bruin Bear #3653 (1907); Gund Bear #3655 (1948);  and Ideal Bear #3656 (1905).   If only this stamp had come out just a little later as a “Forever Stamp”…

And since you’re “just dying” to see the envelope’s contents–

Even more cuteness.  (Click an image for a closer look).

Well, I’m off to see if there’s a street named “Teddy Bear” or “Little Bear” or “something-cute Bear” nearby.  Bear hugs to you!

The Happy, Happy Mail Month

June was a “happy mail” kind of month.  I found postcards, letters, photos and other goodies in my mailbox almost every day. I was so spoiled by the month of June that it was with a heavy heart that I left the mailbox empty-handed on the first day of July. Well, there was a bill and a boring car magazine I didn’t ask for.  Today was better and made up for yesterday.  For now, I’ll focus on the goodies that came in June.  Some were sent to me for themed swaps.  Others were sent for random happy mail swaps. Still others were sent “just because…”

"Second Line Jazz Band."  New Orleans musicians perform on street corners.  At funerals and celebrations alike, the audience frequently joins in to "second line, dancing as they follow the jazz band through the streets.  Photo by Werner J. Bertsch

“Second Line Jazz Band.”
New Orleans musicians perform on street corners. At funerals and celebrations alike, the audience frequently joins in to “second line, dancing as they follow the jazz band through the streets. Photo by Werner J. Bertsch

My “baby” sister sent the New Orleans postcard.  She also sent one to my hubby and son. Isn’t she sweet?

While we’re on the subject of “tourist” postcards, here are others I received in June:

"Sail into the Harbour," Port Elgin, Ontario.

“Sail into the Harbour,” Port Elgin, Ontario.

“Saugeen Shores” came from swap-bot “Retiredartgal.”  She writes that Port, Elgin, where she lives, Saugeen Township and Southhampton are known as Saugeen Shores which is located on Lake Huron and surrounded by fruit, corn, cattle farms and forests.  10,000 tourists arrive there each summer.

"Martha's Vineyard, Massachussetts."  The popular island resort of  is located approximately 6 miles off the coast of Cape Cod  the island is approximately 25 miles long and 7 miles wide at its extreme width.

“Martha’s Vineyard, Massachussetts.” The popular island resort of is located approximately 6 miles off the coast of Cape Cod the island is approximately 25 miles long and 7 miles wide at its extreme width.

“Mamarochat” sent the “Martha’s Vineyard” postcard because I collect map cards. One of her goals is to visit all 351 towns in Massachussetts.

"The Virgin Islands."  Tropical isalnds located 1100 miles south from Miami, located in the eastern Caribbean.

“The Virgin Islands.” Tropical isalnds located 1100 miles south from Miami, located in the eastern Caribbean.

One of my closest friends, Dee, went all the way home to St. Thomas and “all I got” was this postcard!  Of course, I’m happier with it than I would have been with a T-shirt! 🙂  Thanks, Dee!

“Artybeth3” made our mailbox jump for joy with unexpected mail.  She sent the four postcards below and a beautiful washi tape-decorated envelope filled with even more happy mail. She is so kind. She even sent a postcard to my little one–the Crater Lake one.  Awesome, isn’t she?

(Click each image for a closer look and more information).

“Denimblu14,” who graced my mailbox with the beautiful “Panda Comes to Tea,” featured in an earlier post, blessed my mailbox with another set of cute teddy bears.

"Teddy Bear Tea Party on the Beach"

“Teddy Bear Tea Party at the Beach”

Speaking of teddy bears, “Christy102194” made this A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E teddy bear ATC just for me–for the “Price of Happy Mail Swap” hosted by “Artybeth3.”

"My Teddy Bear." Artist: Christy Turner.  Medium: art pen and watercolor paint

“My Teddy Bear.” Artist: Christy Turner. Medium: art pen and watercolor paint

“Pyropae” shared a lovely postcard she received from one of her penpals; she captured my love for purple and flowers all in one postcard.

It’s a good thing people send me lots of flower postcards and photos.  I’m quickly learning that I’m allergic to practically every flower I meet, so this is a less “sneezy-itchy-scratchy” way for me to enjoy the beauty!

I joined a few “Children’s Book Illustration Swaps” in June. Here are the postcards I received so far:

"Miffy."  Illustration by Dick Bruna.

“Miffy.” Illustration by Dick Bruna.

Johanna sent Miffy–Nijntje in Dutch–all the way from the Netherlands.  She loved reading Miffy as a child and has the pleasure of enjoying the books again with her two small children.

Wonderful Jenny, from Oregon, sent the next two.  Like me, she probably has a difficult time limiting the “verbage” to one postcard.

"The Snow Queen." Illustration by Edmund Dulac.  Stories from Hans Christian Andersen, 1911.  From Once Upon a Time.

“The Snow Queen.” Illustration by Edmund Dulac. Stories from Hans Christian Andersen, 1911. From Once Upon a Time.

"Alice succeeded in getting her flamingo's body tucked away, comfortably enough, under her arm, but generally just as she had got its neck nicely straightened out, it would twist itself round and look up into her face.  From Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.   Illustration by Margaret Tarrant.

“Alice succeeded in getting her flamingo’s body tucked away, comfortably enough, under her arm, but generally just as she had got its neck nicely straightened out, it would twist itself round and look up into her face.”  From Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
Illustration by Margaret Tarrant.

I sent an Alice in Wonderland postcard to a partner who loves A-I-W. This one came from the Postcards from Puffin collection.  Just in case you didn’t know, Puffin is the children’s imprint of Penguin Books (links to USA sites).

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.  Illustration by John Tenniel, Puffin, 1946

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Illustration by John Tenniel, Puffin, 1946

And here’s the postcard I received on the last postal day in June, sent to me by “eepy,” from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. She sent this one because of my love for “bookish” postcards.  I enjoy receiving eepy’s letters and postcards–she’s so engaging.

New Yorker. Cover by Arthur Getz, March 3, 1973

New Yorker. Cover by Arthur Getz, March 3, 1973

That’s just some of the postcards I received in June. I also received a number of photos.

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If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll recognize Dee Stead from an earlier post.  She creates gorgeous photo cards and always sends warm letters and other goodies (like elegant stationery for my own use).   Kate includes some of her photos in a meditation book she’s created.  I received from Margie before, but I don’t think I’ve posted her work on the blog before.  Interestingly, she and Kate are from the same town in North Carolina.

That’s it for now. There’s more to share, but I think I’ve given you enough visual pleasure for one post.  See ya soon!

Art + Quote = Inspiration

I participated in a “Words of Inspiration” Postcard Swap last month.   The swap was hosted by Kara, of I Wanna Be Me When I Grow Up blog.  For this swap, swappers added a quote to a “work of art”–a photograph, a mixed media piece, etc.–and sent their creations to five other swappers.  I enjoy integrating words into photos and I have put together many, many “photo inspirations.”  For this swap I sent one that features two of my favorite things–music and Paddington Bear.

“The Musician”

The photo features “The Musician” from the Royal Doulton’s The Paddington Bear Collection.  A very dear aunt (-in-law) sent four of the PB figurines from this collection to me from England several years ago.  I cannot be any clearer than Martin Luther regarding my sentiments about music.

Imagine my glee when day after day I retrieved delightful postcards from my mailbox featuring the work of the individuals who sent them.  I had the postcards sent to my campus box, so the postcards were a special treat in the middle of a few workdays.  Here are the five postcards I received.


This postcard was made by Shari of Albuquerque, New Mexico. I like the color combination and the way Shari uses paint and book pages to “create” texture.

Lisa’s “Sea Jellies”

Lisa, lschwing on Instagram, took this beautiful sea jellies photo at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.  She writes on the postcard, “Life is full of amazing beauty! It’s important to take time to enjoy it!” Sea jellies are mesmerizing in their beauty, so Lisa chose a perfect subject to underscore her point.

“Every Leaf is a Flower”

Deborah of Ohio sent this postcard which features her own artwork–watercolor paper with airbrush ink, stitched by machine.  Deborah shares Albert Camus’ quote–“Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.”

“Art washes from the soul the dust of every day life”–Pablo Picasso

Kara, our swap host, created this one.  I’m intrigued by how people like Kara can use a few simple art tools and techniques to create such interesting pieces. This one, along with Shari’s, is going in my favorite handmade postcards collection.

Last, but not least, Jo’s postcard traveled all the way from Christchurch, New Zealand.  Jo is attracted to rusty old houses “that are falling down.”  For her they are full of mystery.

“Rusty Old House”

Jo loves the many textures and colors in this lovely scene.  I do too.  Oh, don’t miss the tiny heart in the window or the good advice–Be in love with your life!

All of this inspirational art has me craving for a bit of creativity, so I must take some time over the Thanksgiving Break (yay!) to craft something meaningful.