Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Daring to Doodle

 Do you dare to doodle? I've been in a doodling frame of mind lately. Not completely focused on any one thing, but letting my mind wander and a kid in a classroom on a spring day, looking out the window and allowing her thoughts to drift off to recess.

I started doodle journaling this month, and I've come to discover that I am well suited for this crafty pursuit.

Project Life? Documenting every day with words and photos and page layouts? Nope. Not my style. I'm more of a free form journaler. I've found that doodling and calendar planning pair together like peanut butter and jelly.

I love my new Sharpie pens! I want more colors! A nice precise point, perfect for lettering.

I'm finding some inspiration in these books from Jenny Doh that I picked up at the library. I love to see what artists are creating in their unique ways. I have never been a fan of my hand writing, but I am learning to take my time, practice, and just have fun with it.

Imagine my surprise when I clicked on Google and found this today:

What's this? A doodling contest? How fun! School children from across the country entered their doodles in  this competition for a chance to win scholarships for themselves and funds for their schools. What a cool idea!

I find that when I am in a crafty rut, it is a good idea to go back to basics and look at the things that have always inspired me...a good book to lose myself in, a walk in the garden, a visit to a shop filled with pretty things, and of course, a cup of coffee.

Doodle on, my cafe friends!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Not-So-Simple Wedding Card

Hubby dear forgot to mention a work wedding until a week ago.


This morning, I scrambled to make a fast generic wedding card for a couple that I have never met.

No problem!

I decided to go for bold graphic impact. These are folks that work in the fashion industry, after all.

The thing about clean and simple cards is that they may look easy, but they are not. Far from it. A clean and simple card requires precision down to the last detail. Stamp a sentiment crooked, and it shows like a big neon sign. Even one blade of grass cannot be imperfectly inked.

Ask me how I know. :)

I pulled out a very very very (did I say very?) old set of Amuse Art Stamps square cards and envelopes. I love a square card. It just ramps up the cute factor.

{Today's Brew: Love Lives here (PTI), PTI inks, Amuse Art Studio card base in surf}

Now that the card is done, I can move on to more important what to wear to a wedding.

Double aaack!

I noticed last night that I have a real deficit of fancy occasion clothes in my closet. I have quite the sweats wardrobe, a few favorite pairs of jeans, and plenty of "nice" clothes to wear to church. But wedding clothes? Dresses? Not so much.

I have two more weddings and a shower to attend in the days ahead. Looks like I'll be perusing the websites for some fancy dresses to add to my closet stash.

In the meantime, it is sunny and about 50 today, so sandals or anything too summery are right out. Which means I will have to wear my one and only pair of black pumps that I bought before Christmas, knowing that an adult woman over the age of forty should probably own appropriate footwear for just such an occasion.

Time to go get presentable now. Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Why You Need A Sermon Notes Journal

My Mom has been cleaning and sorting for an upcoming move.

This is BIG, folks! B.I.G.!

We are super excited for Mom! She found an adorable house in a condo community where the yard, snow removal, trash and recycling are all covered, leaving her free to enjoy her home without the stress and worry. More than a "down size", this house move is a "right size".

Mom has been doing some packing, sorting, and cleaning in preparation. Forty-eight years of memories packed into one house. Open a drawer, and you are liable to spend an hour travelling down memory lane.

Mom called yesterday to read me a letter I wrote her in 2005. What a hoot! We were living in St. Louis at the time, and attending a church that we really loved. I had written about a sermon that Pastor Hower had preached the week before. He told how the church will always be counter-cultural and will always be an irritant. But just like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster, one day the church will produce a pearl.

Wow. I LOVE that! And if I had not written that to my mom almost ten years ago, I never would have remembered it today.

Which brings me to the subject of this blog post: Why You Need a Sermon Notes Journal!

Back then, I am sure that I was taking notes on my church bulletin. I might remember them for a week, but then recycling day would come, and the notes were long gone.

I decided to get a little more deliberate about worship at the beginning of 2013.

So here's my Sunday system.

I found a nice bible cover at the Barnes and Noble clearance table for five bucks. It stores my sermon notes journal on the left, and my Bible on the right. I take it to church with me every Sunday. It is my grab and go bag, and when it is not in use, I keep it on the same shelf so that I do not have to hunt for it and make my family any later to services than we already are. Why, why do we rush out of the house every week like the house is on fire? Herding cats, my husband calls it. Herding cats.

When I began this system at the beginning of 2013, I had no idea how invaluable it would be for my family on our hunt for our next home church in Pittsburgh. Typically, I head the page with the church location, the date, and the pastor preaching that week. It has been a great resource.

We had been attending one neighborhood church for more than six months, but recently decided that this was probably not the church best suited for our family. We are continuing our search, sometimes visiting a new congregation, other times revisiting a church we've attended in the past. We would love to put this church hunt to rest in the not-so-distant future. It is one of our big prayers right now.

This leads me to an observation: If you are not attending a church where you actually need to take sermon notes, then maybe you need to reevaluate what you are doing in the pew. If the church isn't teaching you, if the Word is not being preached in fresh and new and meaningful ways, if you are not inspired to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ during the rest of the week, then you may be attending a club and not a church.

Just sayin'.

I guess I realized that I was attending a "church", noun. I wasn't involved in "church", verb. Too much talking, not enough doing. Too much eating and coffee fellowship, no discipleship. Too much Sunday morning, not enough  Monday through Saturday.

Life is never dull here, folks! Some days I think that "change" is our only constant. That is fine, too. It is spring, after all. Time to lift our faces to the sun (or is it the Son?), drink in the light, and grow.

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." 2 Peter 3:18

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Before The Bunnies

Ranunculus and pansies. It seemed like a great pairing at the time. I planted them in low urns that anchor the back terrace. See? Lovely! And it was a good idea...until the rabbits realized that they could reach these flowers quite easily. Like "picking the low hanging fruit" sort of easy.

They look a little bedraggled and sparse today. I'm hoping that a few warmer days may help them bounce back.

For now, I am happy that I caught them looking pretty with my camera, and with my paintbrush as well.

Silly rabbits! It's a good thing they cannot reach the pansies in my window boxes!

I am now researching annuals and perennials that deer and rabbits will not eat. I am keeping a list tucked into my wallet for those trips to the garden centers and nurseries.

Spring is in full bloom in my neighborhood. How about yours?

Friday, April 18, 2014

My New Prayer Journal

"So I've been reading this new book..."

Uh oh! How often do I say this to my husband? A LOT! I am certain that he has learned to brace himself for whatever comes next.

"...and I'm thinking about giving up glutens."

"...and I want to join a folk band, right after I learn to play my dulcimer."

"...and I am enrolling in a community-supported agriculture farm."

I have this rock-solid husband who listens to my latest flights of fancy with such grace and only the tiniest hint of amusement.

Sometimes, a book really has an impact on me. Take this book, for example. "The Circle Maker" by Mark Batterson. It came to me at a perfect time, when I knew that 2014 would be my year to embrace "In All Things, by Prayer". This book has challenged me on so many levels. It has challenged me to be bold with my prayers, to think of daily scripture reading in new ways, to look at my biggest desire to write from a new angle.

Fresh perspective.

I am taking a fresh perspective with my arts and crafts as well. Branching out. Trying something new. Teaching myself new skills.

I decided to turn my new sketch book into my prayer journal. Now I will have a place to doodle and write from my heart. I will be circling God's promises, making bold prayers, praising God, loving His word.

I feel a new creative spark that has been missing for quite a while. Perhaps it's the first blush of spring and the promise of resurrection. Rejoicing for every bulb that slept safely that long winter under deep snow.Rejoicing for the flowers that turn their faces to the sun. Rejoicing and glad for the twenty-four hours before me.


This weekend I will be blessed with family...moms and siblings, all of my sons together again, my husband by my side at the church where we were married nearly twenty-five years ago. Something old, something new.

"the old has gone; the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

Thursday, April 17, 2014

For The Robins

I heard a sweet song while sitting at my desk last week. I looked up and saw this...a robin, perched in the dead plants that hung in my window box all winter.

The robin sang a song to me that said "I flew all the way from Florida for this?!"

I knew I could do better.

I went to the garden center, bought some pansies, and got to work making the yard look like spring.

My German grandmother loved pansies for their sweet "faces" that welcomed spring. I was inspired to pull out my watercolors and capture those sweet faces.

Graphite pencil to Strathmore deckle edged card. Watercolor paint to paper.

A pure process.

I am most pleased.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Our Little Shared Addiction

My little guy, Sam, shares an addiction with me. We both love sketch books. Lots and lots of sketch books. The last time I counted, Sam had a stash of about six sketch books squirreled away in various locations in his room. He always carries one in his backpack, for those lulls in school when he can write and draw from his imagination.

I noticed that he doesn't carry one to church these days. It must seem too disrespectful to a ten year old of emerging faith. Instead, he slips a few pieces of paper in his Bible, just in case the sermon runs on too long.

We made a trip to the local bookstore the other day, and he found this orange sketch book that he just had to have.

I was browsing around Pinterest the other day, and I found this sweet bookmark from one of my favorite artists, Susan Branch. This little owl perches over the book, which I thought was too sweet. Sam loves owls, so I had to print this one out for him.

Sam also loves koalas. He has created a special Koala Club with his friends at school. The mascot is named Kubchoo, a French koala with his own motto: " In Koalas we trust, in Kubchoo we must!" Sam has even created a structure for the club, with flow charts and administrative hierarchies.

We're not sure what Sam will become one day. The next Steve Jobs? The next George Lucas? Or the next dictator of a small third world country? Could be any of the above. He says he wants to create his own animation company called Magic 8 Ball Studios. We're making plans to convert his tree fort into his filming studio this summer.

In the meantime, I'm looking at koalas and wondering if I might be able to craft a little koala for Sam's Easter basket. Something felted and furry, maybe.

If I could make a sock monkey days before Christmas, then I can surely make a koala, too, right?

Here's a link to this free owl bookmark:

Want to spend an inspirational hour or two? Go to Susan Branch's website and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


When the spring breezes blow, I want to open the windows and let the winds of change sweep through the house.

I start slowly, subtly... infinity scarf that was too bulky to wear. I grabbed a seam ripper and gave this infinity scarf an alpha and omega. Half the bulk, and twice the possibilities.

I've been trying to get by without a planner, and the wall mounted calendar just wasn't cutting it. It's April, for pete's sake! It was time to get organized.

I picked up this monthly/weekly planner from Mead. Seven bucks at Target.

A few of the front pages needed modifying. No problem! I grabbed some papers from October Afternoon to cover. Then I used a SMASH book envelope, cut it in half, and glued to the pages.

A perfect place to store receipts, coupons, or notes. Now I can plan my calendar, do a little organizing, and maybe a little journalling, too.

Which leads me to my next creative pursuit...

...trying to take art back to its truly creative form.  Feeling the need to step away from stamps and patterns and stuff, getting back to the simplest form. My own ideas, pen to paper, maybe watercolor. A little journalling, some prayers and scripture and thoughts. Maybe even a hand painted card. My own designs, my own ideas.

It's a little frightening, which makes me think I am heading in the right direction.

Life, modified.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

M.I.M. #158: Under The Weather

Hello, cafe friends! Sorry for the long absence! Can I just say this: It's been a week. One of those weeks that's been spiritually draining and physically draining to boot. I could feel my autoimmune disorder wreaking havoc on my joints. Time to scale back, rest up, and recoup.

Tomorrow is a new day.

But today, while I am still a little under the weather, I thought I'd make an Under the Weather card for a sweet lady I know who is feeling the same way.

This week's Make It Monday challenge at Papertrey Ink was to use a watercoloring technique on a card. I decided to pull out my new gelatos and have a little fun. I used blue, green, and white gelato sticks directly on the large raindrop background stamp, then spritzed it with water and stamped it to paper. I thought this did a nice job of reflecting the rainy spring weather we've been experiencing recently.

{Today's Brew: Scattered Showers and Scattered Showers additions (PTI), umbrella die (PTI), PTI card stock, gelatos, versamark, embossing powder, scallop edge punch, enamel dots (MME)}

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!