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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Cherished Mother Swap Shrine

I know it's just me, but how do you NOT feel weird when using the word 'swap' in the same sentence as the Virgin Mary????

But it IS for a swap. Our theme for this month is 'Cherish'. And when you think of that word, the first thing to come to mind is a shrine. Right?

Okay...the FIRST thing that came to mind for me was the song 'Cherish' from the 70's. It was sung by the group The Association. I LOVED that song! Remember???

"Cherish is the word I used to describe,
All the feelings that I have hiding here for you inside"

What an awesome song. 

Unfortunately, having OCD, when I hear a song like this from the distant past, my OCD kicks into overdrive and the melody and lyrics tend to play on loop in my head until I'm ready to track down every last member of The Association and END them.

To combat this, I tend to make up different lyrics to the endless loop playing in my head,. For example:

"Garish is the word that more than describes,
What my husband's ex-wife looks like all the time"


"Perish is the word that always coincides
with my in-laws visits for which my doctor won't prescribe" doesn't have to make sense...I just need to derail the dang thing.

Much like the original topic to the post has been completely derailed. And yes...I blame the ASSociation for that, too.

Back to my original concern...and what it was is anybody's guess at this point, so I'll just move on.

I really, REALLY like to see how far I can take a project. I used to make shrines from Altoid cans. But since they weren't the right size for an ATC, I knew I'd have to make one by hand. Using thin chipboard, black cardstock, velvet and flocked paper and a gorgeous picture of the Blessed Mother and Son, I grabbed some Dresden scrap and went to town. 

I made the altar from chipboard and glued the chalice, candlestick and cross on top. Most everything was adhered using glue dots and E6000. As for time, it actually was a pretty quick project. Of course, my design isn't exactly straight and the bottom part is a little wavy and I can see the shine from the E6000 and the gold gilt on the edges is a little splotchy...wait...excuse me...I need a moment with my OCD:

Me: YOU...YOU...don't you make me say it in a post about the Blessed Mother and Son

OCD: (mockingly) Careful!! You're getting awfully close to having to go to confession! And you know what happened last time!!

Me: Yeah...I know what happened last time...I had to explain how I ended up in a Confessional when I'm NOT EVEN A CATHOLIC!!!! 

OCD: (giggling) Sorry...that was pretty funny. Except to the priest, of course.

Me: Yes...freaking hilarious. But I'll tell you what...if you start nitpicking this project and make me tear it up and redo it, I promise you I will medicate you out of existence. I may have to sit around and drool for a couple of weeks, but you'll suffer...I promise....because NO ONE will talk to you, or listen, in Purgatory. And you know what else? There are lots and lots of framed pictures in Purgatory...and every single one of them is tilted. And no matter how many times you set them straight, they'll tilt again. And there's

OCD: You know, you don't have to be so hateful! I'm only here to help!! But the project is great!! I swear! Don't change a thing! Not even that rhinestone on the left that seems a little..I's fantastic!!! Wow. Look at the time. I'm going to punch out a little early and let Child and Mother-Related Anxiety get an early start. I'll see you tomorrow!! Or some day. Maybe. 

See? You just have to take charge of your neurosis every once in awhile and stand firm. You have to be strong and confident enough to KNOW that you've done a really good job and that you can take pride in what you've done. You did it to the best of your ability, so be proud!

And I'll do just soon as I fix that *(&(*&(*  rhinestone.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Children...the ties that bind...and gag.

To begin with, I did NOT write this blog title, nor am I responsible for the design of this ATC fan. There are two other women, both genius' in their fields, who are responsible for any moments of brilliance in this blawg today.

The late Erma Bombeck was my humor writing idol. The first book I read of hers was titled "Family...the ties that bind...and gag". 

The woman was/will always be, one of the premier humor writers of the 20th century.

The ATC fan design is by Laura Carson at, who is also a genius when it comes to taking a piece of paper and working magic with it. The downloadable tutorial is available HERE. 

I'm involved in 2 ATC swaps this month. This is the first of three for my ATC trade at I'd hoped to have gotten a little further along on the other 2-and at LEAST started the other swap I'm a part of-but I got a little behind today. That's what happens when the phone rings and it's your kid's school. Again. 

There are not enough drugs manufactured to get me to ANY 'happy place' with my three boys in the vicinity. 

Now, I realize that I'm not alone...most parents with a teen and a tween understand what I'm going through. 


But see, in my case, with two already precocious boys. you have to add a 9 year old high-functioning autistic kid, who just so happens to be the most verbal high-functioning autistic than most people have encountered....who is also a genius in all the wrong things. Couple this child with a teen and tween-whose verbal and grammatical skills are off the charts-and you've got a problem, friends. 

It's my fault...I know. You see, I made the mistake of actually communicating with my boys throughout their lives. I also insisted they have a firm grasp on language and world history.

 I thought I was so smart, talking to my Pre-K sons about the hugely important events that changed our world as we knew it: the World Wars ,the Civil Rights Era, Disco...

Oh...the arrogance.

How was I to know the WORST thing you can do is arm your children with knowledge? Because this, along with the ability to frame a cohesive argument, sounds the proverbial death knell for a parent. Mostly because what they lack in argument style, they make up for in stamina ..meaning, they will wear your middle-aged butt down.

 For those who think I'm kidding, go ahead. Make my mistake. See if it doesn't result in your kid's grandparents calling night and day to have you explain exactly what their precious grandson means when he uses the word 'obtuse' and will I define it for them...and is it a compliment?

For the record, I told them it was a geometry term.

Is it so wrong that I wish my kids were a little more NORMAL? You know, like the ones that, when disgusted with their parental units, complain to their friends, or make faces behind their backs? 

Why did I insist on having to be different??  

But, I did. 

Therefore, I have to take the blame when my 17 year old salutes me with "Ja, Mein Fuhrer" when I tell him to take out the trash, and wants to argue how the Constitution absolutely does pertain to those under the age of 18, and that I am interfering with his 'life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.' most egregiously. 

And I guess it's my fault when I ask my iphone for the weather report and Siri responds with "Will that be all, Bang Ciao?" This from my 12 year old anime obsessed tween.

And no...I have no idea WHO Bang Ciao is...I'm too afraid to look it up. 

This same little technological terrorist was also responsible for changing my iphone ring to a shrill, incessant alarm while a voice on a loudspeaker screams Caution...WIDE LOAD...Caution...WIDE LOAD".

It would've been funny had I NOT forgotten to turn off my ringer in church. 

Right in the middle of alter call. 

I could forgive this once in awhile, but coupled with coming home to a computer whose language had been reprogrammed to one with whistles, clicks and whoops...well...suffice it to say there are a few instances where I think Jesus is okay with drinking more wine than is offered at Communion. 

Even better are the times their my boy's teachers and I meet up for our bi-weekly lunch (most people call them 'parent-teacher conferences', but I see them so often we just decided to dispense with the formalities and meet up at Applebees) and they tell me how bright and well-spoken my children are. This, of course, is ALWAYS a preface to "(fill in the name of any one of my boys) somehow managing to access the admin computer and change the title of the  School Handbook to "The Communist Manifesto". 

Even worse, while trying to chastise him, my kid kept arguing his 'compulsion' to protest and  drawing a comparison between teachers and students by using the phrases 'bourgeois elites' and their repression of the 'working class'. 

As if he'd been Mirabeau, wallowing in the filth of 18th century Montmartre, France instead of leading a middle class existence in pokey, old Burlington, NC.  

My 9 year old HFA bundle of joy, Liam, is a veritable GENIUS at sensing the worst time to do whatever it is he feels compelled to do.

Like the time our new neighbors asked him how he got along with his older brothers and Liam responded with, "I like it when we all snuggle together before I have to go to bed. I LOVE having romantic family time!"

Of COURSE I don't know where he came up with that!  And you know it's totally innocent!!! 

But, yes, I know...we are a child services investigation just waiting to happen.

Liam has been going through a stage where he has to identify every person he sees. If he doesn't know their name, he'll just pick the first physical characteristic and go with that as an identifier. 

Would you really like to know what it's like when you're in the middle of Target and your kid is riding the cart like it's the Titanic, while greeting everyone he sees by what they look like?? "Hi fat girl!" "Hello black man!" Hello man with no leg! What happened to it? I can build you one out of Legos!"

Lately, he has begun greeting anyone over the age of 30 as "Grandma" and "Grandpa". 

Granted...most people are VERY nice when you explain about your autistic kid. But that doesn't make those first moments after the incident bearable, by ANY means.

But I finally decided I HAD to put my foot down. "You STOP THAT RIGHT NOW!" I said in a loud whisper behind clenched teeth. "They are NOT grandma and grandpa and you might hurt someone's feelings by saying it!! Do you understand???"

Wide-eyed, he nodded. He didn't say a word for a moment or so. Then, seeing an older couple in the check out line, he took a deep breath, looked at me, checked himself and yelled, "Hi...old woman! Hi old man!"

Don't get me boys are great. And I love them dearly. I wouldn't trade them for the world and no matter what, at the end of the day, I know what a lucky person I am. I say that to myself over and over....and over...and over....

And if THAT little mind trick doesn't work to keep me sane, well, there's always vodka.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Art, Passion, Mortality.....and an ATC Mermaid Tunnel Book.

I think I may be dying.

See, as a child, whenever something wonderful was on the horizon...a vacation, amusement park visit, etc. I would constantly worry that I would die before the event would take place. 

I remember being so excited about taking a train trip to Atlanta, one weekend. We had to be at the station at 1am for a 2am departure, so my parents set the alarm for midnight. Needless to say, I couldn't sleep. I tried to read to pass the time, but too worried for it to help much. All of a sudden, I heard a TERRIBLE noise and knew that the end had come...I was going to die and not get to go to Atlanta.

And yes...the irony of that statement does NOT escape me. Most of us would rather die than go TO Atlanta, nowadays. But remember, this is childhood.

You know...back when we had HOPE.

Anyway, I prayed death wouldn't hurt too much and gritted my teeth, waiting. 

The noise stopped. Turned out, it was the digital clock's alarm going off to wake my parents.

Through my 20's and 30's, while engaged in the sport of "Long distance Therapy and Counseling Marathons" (don't laugh...I placed top three...only behind my mother and ex-husband) I discovered that this isn't uncommon to some children. We know that there is but one thing that can take away an upcoming, exciting event, and that thing is death. Ergo, we become afraid of dying as the event nears.

Now, of course, I realize there were MANY things that could've disrupted those anticipated events: Weather, unexpected financial upsets, Democrats...all of these things had the potential to wipe-out any future plans. But at the age of 8, I only knew the occasional thunderstorm and 'economics' only meant that I needed .99 cents for the latest Shawn Cassidy 45.

I didn't know any democrats.

But I digress.

As an adult, I WISH I had enough awesome things on the horizon that would make me fear the disruption of opposed to praying for it. You know, the things we USED to get really excited about as kids, that are now the things we're willing to look up to Heaven and tell the Lord we're fine with checking out if He needs a volunteer. For example, school snow days (now, I suffer through them with 3 rambunctious boys at home) awesome vacations (that usually end up with us on the edge of bankruptcy) and Christmas (with both bankruptcy fears AND 3 boys hopped up on sugar who can't wait to try out their air soft guns...on each the house).

But today...TODAY, my a day I HOPE I don't bite it.

It started with my being accepted into a VERY cool ATC swap group. These ladies are very talented. So, they either think I am too, or it's time for their random acts of kindness, in which they show mercy to someone who simply won't go away and quit bugging them, so they make you a part of the group. Mostly to keep an eye on you. 

Needless to say, I'm going with the former. TY

Next, I find I was one of the Tim Holtz Tags of 2016 winners! I was thrilled! I think you get a gift certificate, but it doesn't matter. Just the fact I WON (and get a blog badge!! Woot Woot!) is AWESOME! 
It's not that I don't appreciate the gc, but I have a 5/20 ratio when it comes to gift certificates. For every 5.00 on the certificate, I spend 20. I think that's fair. For some reason, my husband is NOT supportive of this economic policy. But he doesn't say much. He learned quickly that the more vocal his opposition, the more difficult it was to locate his Driver and #3 Iron.

And third...that's we go.... 

I actually tried something, and it worked out EXACTLY as I wanted it to.

I know, I know....I feel short of breath, too.

I've been trying to created a tunnel book, off and on, for months. Each time, I failed. So, being into this atc thing, I thought I'd try again on an ATC. I hadn't seen another one done with an atc...I mean, I'm sure they're out there, but I haven't seen one. So, 2 days ago, I started.

When I say there was a lot of trial and error, you can rest assured I'm not exaggerating. I used so many cuss words, and even created a few new ones by combing some of the old and reworking them (good Lord...I sound like I'm writing a tutorial) that I should probably be digging around for my rosary about now. I'm sure a few (hundred) Hail Mary's wouldn't hurt.

And I'm not even Catholic! 

Sigh. Sorry. Back on topic.

I wanted to make an atc mermaid tunnel book that would lay flat, AND that you could also take the slides out of if you wanted to. AND, I wanted it it to boast a very solid construction, unlike most of my 3d ideas that LOOK good but are actually TOTALLY unsafe. 

I wanted to do all these things.

And be darned if I didn't do it.

Front and side view folded flat.

Now don't go ruining all of this and asking me 'how'. Mostly because I'm not too sure what the answer to that is. I just know I ended up redoing the front and back twice, the folded cardstock on the sides 3 times and the chipboard inserts 5 times...EACH...trying to get them to fit correctly. 

I had a little brass ship charm that I painted with Liquid Pearls and copics and attached to the last frame. The sentiment is part of a verse by Adelaide Crapsey that I credit after the post. Graphic 45 By The Sea is what I used for decorative paper. The brass ship wheel charm was also in my findings and I added a pearl accent.

There WAS a desperate moment, mind you. I had everything looking right, but the slides kept falling out of the bottom. Miraculously, I had 3 brass findings that I glued to the top of each, that just happened to look a little nautical and prevented the frames from sliding out of the bottom. 

See? NOW you know why today was a day in which I feared death. It was, by far, the PERFECT day. Granted I'm old enough to know better, but that child part lives on, as well as some of those old, silly fears. 

But just in case, not wanting to tempt fate, I'm definitely going to make sure it's not TOO perfect a day.

I'll totally make sure to weigh myself before bedtime.


Sentiment is from "Verse by Adelaide Crapsey" 
And coral! Oh, I'll 
Climb the great pasture rocks 
And dream me mermaid in the sun's 
Gold flood.” 

Waves and cliff from collage sheet found HERE
Art Nouveau Mermaids...artist unknown
Brass Findings and Ship Charm
Stickles/Liquid Pearl

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Secret Garden Redux

I've done 2 pieces very much like this one in the past. This one is the smallest I've done, however, and I've had it sitting around for awhile, so I thought I'd finish it off and impress you with my seemingly high creative output.

The stone work is made with egg cartons and the rest is simply moss, flowers, ivy, brass charms and a garden sink from Prima, dabbed with mushroom alcohol ink and filled with glossy accents and microbeads. 

These are impressive pieces to look at but really easy to make. I'm not sure if this qualifies as an atc but it's a lot of fun to make. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Infinity Queen

What red-blooded girl doesn't secretly love Marie Antoinette? 

Even me...the make-up hating, hair and nail neglecting barn troll will get ALL giggly and bright-eyed at looking at her shoe collection for the millionth time or tear up looking at her jewelry and dress collection. 

My GOD that woman was just....just....a QUEEN. That's right. A QUEEN.

Who really wants to sit around reading about the 'everyman' royalty. The King who wants to be like his subjects or the Queen who wants to 'relate'. 


The only good stories are the ones like...well, MARIE'S. She knew what being a queen was all about and acted like it. Of course, the peasants didn't care much for it, but they were peasants and not really contributing much to society anyway. And Marie saw it and knew it and STILL tried to be nice to them. And to show their thanks, they had her beheaded. 

Let them eat cake?? 


She never said it. 
She SHOULD have said it....I probably would've. I mean, really...when people hate you for being exactly what they wanted you to be, you're not going to win anyway. So let the peasants eat each other, for all I'd care. 

You think the peasants had it tough with Queen Marie? Well, they'd better be glad they didn't have Queen CARMEN to contend with! 

Now...on to the ATC

I started with layering white, victorian velvet and lemonade distress stains onto hot press watercolor paper. Three layers was enough to get the color look. Then, I used crackle embossing paste and a stencil to give it the look of wallpaper. When it dried, I sponged it lightly with victorian velvet and vintage photo 

I really wanted to bling this thing OUT. You have no idea the restraint it took to stop. Every time I work with Marie, it seems natural to throw every bit of sparkle and gold I can get my hands on.

But I love this picture for its simplicity. And I felt it had enough impact on its own. Not to mention I see a lot of Marie all blinged out and wanted to take a different route. So I made do with a flower spray at the bottom, painted leaf gold on the edges and left it at that.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Stained-Glass Geisha Triptych

I had a good friend call the other day. She said she'd been meaning to call because she gets my blawg updates, and she wanted to tell me how much BETTER she thought I was getting at my art. 


Anyway, she went one to tell me how she felt I'd made a huge jump-not only in technique and process, but in output.

"My LORD", she exclaimed. "I don't see anything but once a month, if that, and all of a sudden, I'm getting one-if not TWO-of your blog emails a day!"

I told her it was clearly a case of growing as an artist, and the creative process being blah...blah...blah...blah.

But, in reality, none of that means anything. 

The REAL reason for these changes can be summed up in one word:

Flower Geisha

That's's too freaking COLD to move from my 'studio'. 

NOTE: Yeah,'s a craft room. But 'studio' sounds much more professional (read: 'snooty') and I LIKE it. So there. 

I'm not kidding. I don't even go out into the garage to get a bottled water. Which, I might add, is staying colder in there than in the fridge. And don't think I get my own water, either. That's what God made children-and husbands-for.

Normally, when it's above 50 here in North Carolina, I'm out at the barn. My horse is at a full-board stable, so when I go out there, I'm usually grooming (health permitting, of course) riding or mucking out her stall AGAIN (it's the OCD...I choose to pick my battles with it) or scrubbing her feed and water buckets with bleach. Or, working with a yearling filly named Fenari (Finn) who has finally gotten to the point where she stopped trying to kill me and simply settles for a good nip here and there. 

Needless to say, I can stay as active as I can without setting off this damned disease (Dercum's Syndrome...long for my post if you're interested...or know someone diagnosed with fibro who is in more pain than average) and in doing that, I feel like a better person. But it's taxing and, after an our or two out there, I come home to little or no Art. Hence, the sparse art output and posting.
Fan Geisha

But at 49 degrees and below, this NC girl puts on her fleece, eats endless grilled cheese sandwiches and "arts" her butt off. Mostly because the only other option is relating to my children, and since they've already sold their souls to video games, there's not much work to do there.

The BAD thing about weather-related artistic mania, is that with lots of sitting comes fat. About 10 pounds worth of fat. And might I add that, with this happening, not only do you get to wear leggings all the time, you are ALSO able to discern who your true friends are. Two birds with one stone, my friend. Two. 
Crane Geisha

You see, your TRUE friends are the ones who tell you that they can't tell you've gained, when it's obvious that my chubby thighs are rubbing together hard enough to spark friction fires. 

Sidenote: Ever seen leggings burn? Of course not. They don't burn. They melt. Don't ask me how I know this.

Anyway...THAT'S a friend. 

The OTHER people will tell you that you 'look different' but they 'can't put a finger on it'. 

Flipping passive-aggressives. 

I usually like to have fun with these people by saying "Is it my hair? I got it colored." or "I wonder if it's my nails. I haven't had time for a mani in the last decade, or so."

By this time, they start to get frustrated that you haven't copped to gaining weight, so they try to get more specific. "No...No...not that. Have you been working out?"

"Everyday!" I say with a smile. "I'm thrilled you can tell the difference!!"

They usually leave in a huff, after that. 

But I digress. Again.

It's cold. Therefore I art. As to the weight, well, I'll get it off again when it warms up. I know that the family will be thrilled when THAT happens...especially since one of them made the mistake of telling me that when it's cold, the body's metabolism goes up, therefore we burn more fat without trying.

I have to admit that Arting in a bikini isn't the easiest thing...for any of us...but a (chubby) girl's gotta do what a (chubby) girl's gotta do.s

Dresden edging and width

Laura Carson at has a glass slide tutorial HERE. This is the technique I used for these ATC's. Using stamps from SU! Kimono and Oriental Brushstrokes, along with an unidentified stamp, G45's Birdsong, brass ephemera, dresden scrap and flowers finished them up. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Bee and Butterfly Batik ATC's

This was a technique I learned from Ellen Hudson's In the cLASSroom and altered to make it work for me.

Using the sticky canvas, I dry sponged 2 colors of ink on the background. Using my MISTI (which, I can absolutely agree that it is the "Most Incredible Stamp Tool Invented") I repeatedly stamped this Penny Black collage stamp until I got a solid image. Taking the same dry brush, I began laying color on the images. At the end, I hit it with my mister and as soon as the colors started bleeding, I hit it with the heat gun. You can always keep adding color if it's not strong enough. I didn't get as much bleed as I wanted, but I still love this effect. The tiny, brass butterfly on the pink and the bee on the blue-both on the flowers-gives them their names.

As you may be aware, we are experiencing-for NC-a veritable blizzard.

On a side-note, I lived in Minnesota for three years. Weather like this-combined sleet, ice, snow and inhuman cold temps-was called "September through June".

But here in NC, it's weather we are simply not equipped to deal with. Having 2-3 snowplows-for the entire state-there's just simply no way for us to clear everything up so that we can get out of our houses. We have truck and dualies that could slog through the Everglades. But snow? Nope.

Even if we could, we don't have the clothing (we THINK we need) to keep us warm. Seriously...did you think that the scene in a Christmas Story (where Randy couldn't put his arms down when he was stuffed in his snowsuit) was a joke? The ONLY inaccurate part was that he had a snowsuit! We were swathed in layers of socks-on feet AND hands (why would we buy gloves???) as well as our grandmother's shawl wrapped over our heads and tied behind our necks. We had to put on a pair of thermals under jeans and our grandfather's coat (because we couldn't fit into ours, such was the bulk) before being kicked out of the house to roam about resembling extras on the set of the Walking Dead.

PAM (pre-adderall moment)-My Great-Uncle Denson used to say that Southerners had a hard time with cold because we have 'thin blood'. I told him that was not the case...besides, the South extends a good ways up north. Having lived for a short time in Indianapolis, 2 blocks from the Mason-Dixon line, I argued the case for our Southern kin north of us. But Great-Uncle Denson was no fool for 'history'. He disputed my claim with cold, hard facts.

"Now see hyar," he'd say,"Ain't no southerner gonna intentionally declare some place in Indianner (translation: "Indiana") the place where the South ENDS. Ever-body knows that north of Richmond (Virginia) is where the food gits bad and them yankees sit around bein' loud and talkin' funny".

Great-Uncle Denson was a great one to expound on Southern history. Especially when he'd been fully hydrated by the sweet tea he always carried with a flask.


Back to the weather.

I'm not sure if our blood is really 'thinner', but I DO know that I tolerated the cold in MN a heck of a lot better than I do here. Perhaps it's because it's common up there and no so much here. But I've come to think it's a genetic thing. As Southerners, we simply cannot function in any inclement weather. Be it rain, fog, snow, sleet, or any day that isn't 85 and sunny. It's best we stay indoors.

Let me amend that's best we stay indoors AFTER we descend on the grocery stores in order to buy up all the bread, eggs and milk. heard me correctly. Bread. Eggs. Milk. In that order. And that's it. Nothing else. Not even liquor. Mostly because every Southerner has a relative that makes hooch, so we're never out of that. Trust.

I've never understood why we HAVE to have those three items in a weather emergency. We could be stocked up with beans, soup, meat and snacks, but you'd think we were on the verge of weather-related starvation if we didn't have bread, eggs and milk on hand. The only thing I can think of that takes all three of those ingredients are French Toast. And who's going to spend their captivity...I mean, 'time'...with their family, eating nothing but French Toast??

But back to the stores...don't believe me? Just google it. There are plenty of pictures showing grocery stores in the South with bread, eggs and milk areas resembling war zones.

At any rate, with the sleet and snow, we may be in our homes for awhile. Most of us praying for a break in the weather to get the kids back in school, sometime before June.

Or at least before we run out of Benadryl to spike their French toast with.