Happy Mail

If you are unfamiliar with happy mail it is the most glorious thing to find in your mailbox. Yes, that thing the postman uses to usually put junk mail or bills into. I love getting snail mail as can be attested to by joining the PostCrossing community for postcards. In the Documented Life Project (DLP) group on Facebook someone started sending happy mail and it has caught on like wildfire. I am in a group now called  Lucky 37 Happy Mail which spun off of the DLP group.

I wanted to share the first envelope I made.



I had a lot of fun making this. First I gessoed a regular brown envelope. I then used Tim Holtz’s Distress Ink pad in Broken China and Peeled Paint for the sky and ground. I used acrylic paint for the sun. A sunflower stamp with a ladybug and an ivy stamp were used the flower, then a butterfly out of the Inkadinkado Insect Amalgam Cling Stamp set. I colored in the stamps with watercolors and markers and then outlined everything with a Sakura Micron pen. When it was finished I sprayed with a workable fixative, since most of the products are not permanent and water soluble this will prevent them from smearing or wiping off.

Here is the front of the envelope:


Again I used China Blue Distress Ink pad and using a stencil and brown ink put on the bird with tree. A fixative was applied afterwards. She flew off to California and landed in her happy recipients lap.





DLP Week Four

I’ve been really busy trying to get my health, or better yet Fibromyalgia along with my weight, in check. My doctor, who I love by the way, started me on new meds and they seem to be working for fibro. I am not 100% pain free but I am having an easier time with it. She also suggested acupuncture and Tai Chi. I started Tai Chi a few weeks ago and absolutely love it. I have the name of an acupuncturist and need to call her. Oh also, I’ve been going for massages, every 2 – 3 weeks and then going right to the chiropractor afterwards. WOW they have been making me really feel great.

I’ve also been doing a lot of artwork. Here is my week 4 challenge completed. It was, write a secret message and paint over all but one word.


I used card stock and colored the background with ink and then wrote a slightly modified quote by Arianna Huffington over and over again “the fastest way to break the cycle of perfectionism and become fearless is to give up the idea of doing everything perfectly – indeed to embrace uncertainty and imperfection.” I covered up the word fearless with a mask or a resist (I used latex, but a mask or resist is something that won’t allow it to be covered). I then used gesso to cover everything and again inked the card stock. After it dried I stamped the bird and used acrylic to color it in. I then used a black pen to outline and give it eyes. Finally I rubbed off the latex mask to reveal my One Little Word – FEARLESS.

In the Documented Life group there are many people sending happy mail to others. I was the recipient of happy mail from a lovely lady in Canada.

HappyMailEnvelopeCanadaThe envelope with pretty stamps.

HappyMailContentsCanadaGorgeous digital prints inside and a beautiful handmade tag. This was so nice to receive in the mail.

A few other things I’m doing is Postcrossing. It is a site that you sign up to send postcards either nationally or internationally to others and you get some in return. My first one was to Russia and I have another one on the way to Germany. I joined a postcard swap where I will send three artsy cards to people and get three in return. There is also a letter writing campaign for either April or May where I will be writing to one person for the whole month.

I just love getting snail mail, do you?





I’m Imperfect

I took an Oprah Lifeclass with Brene Brown this fall and really got a lot out of it. It was also prompted journaling but I didn’t go so intense as the current one. A page I didn’t finish was our prompt for Comfort Wisdom. I originally painted it yellow with a green header. I really didn’t like the way it looked so the other week I added a blue border, and still didn’t like it. Added some different textured words, nope, didn’t hit me yet. So this week it was sitting open near my design table and I decided to just do something.


I sprayed it with Dylusions in blue, red and green. I then stamped a flowy viney flower and using a wet paint brush went over the leaves and flower petals to lift off the color. Using different paints and rub gels painted the flowers and leaves, then outlined the vines. Then drew a bird sitting on a branch and colored it in with metallic watercolors. Some of my words still pop through. Near the bird’s head the paper was starting to get really think and rip but I think it will be okay. I added another of my gelatin papers and provided my comfort list. LOL the butterfly shouldn’t be there, I just stuck it on temporarily because it kept getting stuck to everything around my desk. I was thinking of taking off the list and rip around it, but it back on and use some gel medium over it. I’m afraid I might rip the paper though so I’ll keep thinking about it.

I am glad I finished this up though as it kept hanging in the back of my mind. Some pages I am going back and adding some media to it – watercolors, acrylic, etc., but I am happy with that journal it will continue again in March for part two of the class. If you are interested in taking the class, they are offering them again at Oprah.com.





DLP Catching Up

This was a quiet week, Kris went out of town for work and I was able to catch up with The Documented Life Project. I have been having a really great time doing this. I have been broadening my artistic skills and using different techniques.

One thing I did this week was make my gelatin plate to create interesting designs on papers. I used some of them for my pages this week and I’ll point them out. There is a commercial plate out there which I didn’t buy, as the material seemed very familiar to me, instead, I searched on Google to find out how to make it myself. I still can’t remember where I saw or held this stuff but I did find a few links out there and some You Tube videos.

A warning when making it, the recipe I used caused it to gel really thick. I was worried that I might have ruined my kitchen strainer, measuring cups and spoons, but I didn’t. I put in the dishwasher and the really hot water took care of it. My plate came out really thin and it ended up tearing but no worries, I just put it back in the microwave and remade it. If you search Gelli Plates or gelatin plates and you’ll see what I am talking about. It was also very fragile and I tore a hole in it while making the prints. I will try making more papers, but if it keeps tearing I’m not sure I’ll make another. I just might invest in the real deal.

Now for the weekly challenges.

Week Two:

Our challenge was to incorporate a selfie, and it didn’t have to be a picture. At first I made this one

but it was using Terry Kahr’s design from Pringle Hill Studio and I really wanted to use something of my own creation. Even though I did cut her design up to kind of make it my own, I wasn’t comfortable with it. The dress picked up and I journaled on the back.

So on to gelatin print paper and this:

Week 2 Selfie with weekly page

Week 2 Selfie with weekly page

I ended up keeping the moon from Terry Kahr because it was glued on and I couldn’t get it off without tearing everything. I think it works with it. The mermaid is made from one of the gelatin papers along with the arm and body. I colored the background just below the moon and I think it actually looks like the ocean. I’m not sure if you can see in the ocean but I did a resist that says ‘I am enough.’ My head and hand was from the picture I took while taking Brene Brown’s course for the I’m imperfect and I’m enough section.  Around the side is a saying from Mandy Hale that says:

Change can be scary, but you know what’s scarier?
Allowing fear to stop you from Growing, Evolving, and Progressing.

The page next to it is just the weekly page with some doodling. I wanted to remember about the horrible January 9th West Virginia chemical spill that spread  to other states via the Elk River, that is what the big brown/purplish blob is LOL. I am doing ASA at my chiropractor which uses magnets and I’m keeping track if I feel different, so some of that info is there. I loved the stencil I just bought and had to add it on. Since Kris was coming back on Saturday, which made me very happy, put it there and played around with some different paints.

Week Three:

Add an envelope from our mailbox. We were to get creative and add the whole envelope or just parts.  We can journal, write notes on it, or use it as a pocket. Mine came from Google and I loved the large see through window. I wanted an envelope to keep my little snippets of quotes that I cut out from magazines and a few Maya Angelou quote cards and I think this is perfect.


I gessoed the envelope first, then colored it. Not thinking it would be lighter, as I wanted more of a red, but I’ll let it go and go with it. (Yeah I know I actually did pick something from Brene Brown LOL) I stamped on a butterfly that has a cancellation stamp and stamped on

“Life is art
paint your dreams…
Sing your songs…
Enjoy the dance…”

Inside is another gelatin paper with the heading QUOTES and my favorite quote by Eleanor Roosevelt:

You gain strength, courage, and confidence,
by every experience in which you really
stop to look fear in the face.

I taped it on with washi tape that has butterflies and says, “Les Papillons.” I had a sticker with a butterfly and part of a cancellation so stuck that on since it matched, and doodled on the background.

The back is nothing fancy

it is painted red and I stamped on a few quotes.

This came in the mail yesterday and I was so happy.


If you couldn’t tell already my One Little Word for this year has to do with fear and this is being fearless. A wonderful artist, Colleen Attara, made it. She uses only reclaimed materials in her arts which I am all about so I had to buy one. For now it has a home on my studio window.

Speaking of reclaimed material, during my walk I found a very dry piece of lichen while we were checking out the newborn calves. I carefully, as it was very fragile and extremely dry, carried it with me the whole walk and it made it home safe and sound. Not sure what I will use it for but I’m sure I will find something. Maybe as texture for another gelatin print.



Flowers and Doors

What do flowers and doors have in common? Me! I love having flowers around me and I always have a bunch planted along our walkway and in pots on my front porch. My front door has a hanging metal planter with fake flowers that I change throughout the season.

First let me share a beautiful bouquet of flowers that my lovely daughter-in-law Jill sent us for New Years.

Click to make bigger

Click to make bigger

As mentioned in earlier posts I am doing the Documented Life Project and the first week challenge was photograph, paint, sketch your front door.


I didn’t place it on the first week’s tip-in, instead it is on the actual first page as it is a door to myself as well as my home. I incorporated flowers since I always have flowers coming into my house. We have a wonderful purple butterfly bush which attracts a lot of butterflies so I have one on my page. The little blue oval actually hangs on my porch railing, a cardinal with ‘welcome’ underneath. It has been hanging for a very long time and extremely faded. I think this year she needs an update. Above the door says ‘my favorite place.’ I assimilated my OLW Fearless by including a saying by Louisa May Alcott as my door mat,

I am not afraid

of storms for I am

learning to sail my ship


Open the door and it says ‘this is your time make it meaningful.’ I journaled on the door about trying to keep planted flowers in the front but the squirrels like to dig them up and plant their acorns. This winter I planted pansies and they  dug up every single one. I would come out and there in a line my pansies would by laying. I would remove their acorns and replant only to have them dug up again. Either they don’t like my pansies or they really want those acorns planted along my walkway.


I did change the front cover a bit. I put a bit of lace above Manifesto. I have a ton of Pima flowers (are they still all the rage) so I put a few on the cover and I changed Fearless a bit, making it a bit lighter and added some color. I lightened up the tri-design and added some runner tape.

I hope you enjoyed!



My Greatest Comforts

I follow a blog by Miriam Schulman called Schulman Art Blog for Creative Living and she had this prompt to do a post on your greatest comfort. She included a template of a journal page, so I thought I would jump on the bandwagon.

I find comfort in a lot of things, especially my home and home life. I really love sitting with my husband and just talking or even just being in the same room with him. I find that very comforting. I also love rainy or snowy days when I can cozy up on my couch in front of the fire and either read or knit. I also love to knit in front of a good movie or a wonderfully done podcast. I use to listen to Cast-on with Brenda Dayne a lot, but recently I haven’t done either of these things. That’s okay though, because I’ve been doing other wonderful things – doing artwork or crafting in my studio, writing, journaling and just taking care of myself. Sometimes it feels very indulgent, but I’ve given myself permission to nurture myself this year, so all is well.

journal Page smllr2

What are some of your comforting things?


Documented Life Project

Another project I am working on besides Ali’s OLW (mentioned here) is the Documented Life Project. It is a project started by five artists after seeing Lorraine Bell’s awesome altered Moleskine planner. The planner then becomes your calendar, journal and artist sketchbook.

Here is the journal I made starting with the cover.



Back cover

Back cover

Front Cover

Front Cover

I’m a little disappointed in the front cover and I think I’m going to change it up a bit. I want to add something lacy. Under Fearless there is a bit of lace but you really can’t see it. I think I’m going to tea die a bit of paper doily and add that. I also don’t like the looks of Knitter’s above Manifesto, so I might lighten that up a bit.

Inside are added bits of ephemera and cut up artist paper and card stock. These are called tip-ins and are the part of the calendar that makes the sketchbook. I bought the 14 month weekly planner and didn’t realize it, it should have been a 12 month, so I ended up cutting out some of the pages. I did keep the information pages in the beginning; time zones, flight length, ruler, sizes, holidays, etc. The ephemera are attached with washi tape. I had a ton of fun doing this.

Washi Tape

Washi Tape

A lot of the ephemera had special meaning to me that I collected over the years and I was glad I was able to use it. Other things I added had and have meaning for me throughout the year, like December 2013.

Lake Arrowhead

Lake Arrowhead

Over the holiday we went to California to spend Christmas with my oldest Robert, his wife Jill and my grandson Kristoffer. We left on the 20th of Dec. so I added a map of the area and marked the spots we visited. I also detailed the twisty, turny road that the map didn’t do justice with. He rented a 3 bedroom cabin in Lake Arrowhead, which is very near Big Bear.

Salton Sea

Salton Sea

Each day that we visited a different city I marked that on my calendar. We also went to the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Preserve on the Salton Sea for a day, so I cut out a map of that area. I again marked the different places we went to. By the way, if you are ever in southern California and love birding this is the place to go. Driving down to the observation deck you go through the middle of two fields, on the left there were hundreds of Sandhill Cranes and to the right 100′s of Snow Geese.



If you open the tip-in Moleskine has a lined page, I used that to journal about the happenings of that week.



December 2015 we are talking about going to Hawaii with my eldest and family so I cut out a page of a few of the islands and put there in. Positive thinking ::wink, wink::

Now for a few of the tip-in pages.

Thank you card from my nieces and nephew about 15 years ago.

Thank you card from my nieces and nephew about 15 years ago.

A thank you card from a friend put into the week of National Thank You Day.

A thank you card from a friend put into the week of National Thank You Day.

A 4th of July invitation I made a few years ago. This had a mistake so I saved it for a keepsake.

A 4th of July invitation I made a few years ago. This had a mistake so I saved it for a keepsake.


Brenda Dayne of Cast-on did an artwork special a while back. This is one of her pieces.

Artwork by Brenda Dayne

Artwork by Brenda Dayne

In May I'm going to Europe, I attached an Air Mail envelope.

In May I’m going to Europe, I attached an Air Mail envelope.

Vellum envelope I made.

Vellum envelope I made.


Envelope with a magazine cut-out that I loved.

Envelope with a magazine cut-out that I loved.

Birthday card a friend gave me 15+ years ago.

Birthday card a friend gave me 15+ years ago.

There are many other things, like more envelopes just different sizes, I put a few around the time I’m going to Europe to hold ephemera while there.

I then made tabs for the journal using a punch and stamped on the months.



Last night I was so tired, on new meds and they kept me awake most of  Tuesday night, so I chilled in front of the TV with hubby. I grabbed some of my pens and doodled my One Little Word and added a mantra.



This was definitely fun and made me think outside of the box.


Are You Grateful?

We tend to run around like mad people, whether it be running children around, doing errands, cleaning house, getting meals prepared, even volunteering or working a full or part-time job plus doing the aforementioned. Then we usually add to that some sort of drama of the day, and our way to respond to it is throw up our hands, plod on through putting out those fires, and don’t stop to breath until we get into bed. And that might just be a maybe, if you are like me you play over and over again in your head things that happened that day or even last week and usually they are should have, could have, would haves. It is really hard for us to stop for just a moment to breath and rest.

I was one of those that just let my day drive my life, now my life drives my day. One thing I started doing that has been a big help is playing an audiobook before bed. I have the Audible app on my iPhone and iPad and there is a sleep timer which I set for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes if I am still awake I reach over and restart it. I have yet to still be awake after the second set. Listening to the book keeps my mind from being busy and constantly chattering – monkey mind is what I like to call it. Now in the mornings I feel more restful.

This January I started doing a gratitude journal. I bought this lovely Studio Oh Deconstruct Journal from Amazon which has the lovely art work of Katie Daisy who is truly amazing.


Filled with joy

I went ahead and started decorating the inside page.



Just a little something to make me feel good while I’m using it.

So now at some point during the day, I stop a moment, take a deep breath and be thankful for five things. If I have the time at the moment I put it in my journal, if not I wait until later that evening when everything is quite. It takes me some time because I like to decorate and use different inks and letterings, but you don’t have to, just write your grateful things in list format. I know how hard it is during the busyness of your life to stop a moment for yourself and be grateful, but the important thing is to take those few minutes to breathe, gather your thoughts and be thankful. You will notice a big difference in your life. I know I do.


Namaste! Hugs!

Oldie But Goodie Revisited – Ginger Peach Jam

This has been a popular post and I’ve been asked about it many times so I thought I would re-post. I was even honored a while back when I was at my local yarn shop. Every once in a while I go to the shop just to sit and knit with friends, it is nice in my busy schedule to sit and catch up with everyone, well one day a young woman walked in and we all said hello and those that did not know her introduced ourselves (we’re friendly that way). When we got talking about Ravelry and blogs she asked me if I was the one that posted the ginger peach jam recipe. I admitted that I was the guilty one, and she proceeded to tell me that she had been always afraid to can but with my tutorial she felt brave enough to do it and gave it a go. I was so thrilled.


Today I finally made the Ginger Peach Jam and we had it tonight with fried eggs, homefries, and homemade toast. YUM!!!! Really this came out really delicious. A dear sweet friend of mine asked me if I would make it into a tutorial so I did and here it is. Just for you Terry – a thanks for all the shortbread recipes you sent me. If you want a jar to try let me know and we’ll get together.

I am not new to canning but I never made this jam before. I plan on canning more things this summer – tomato sauce, pickles and some veges. I found the recipe for the Ginger Peach Jam with Liquid Pectin on the National Center for Home Food Preservation site.

You will need 4 1/2 Cups crushed Peaches (about 3 1/2 pounds of peaches).
1/4 Cup of Lemon Juice
1 or 2 ounces of Candied Ginger
7 Cups of Sugar (I did not use 7 cups – we don’t like overly sweet things so I tasted after adding each batch.)
1 pouch of Liquid Pectin (not in this picture)


My Mom bought me the scale to weigh my yarn as it does grams and pounds – it has been the best gift ever, I use it all the time.

Canning utensils that I use.

My water bath canner and wire rack, pot in which the peaches will cook, behind that is another pan with hot water for the rings and lids (do not boil the lids it can ruin them), funnel, pectin, bubble remover (it is a long thin piece of plastic), jar lifter.

Inside the canner are my jars and the canner is filled with hot water. I first place my jars in the dishwasher and wash them. While they are hot I place in my canner which is filled with hot water, and I start the water to boil while I’m preparing the peaches. It needs to be boiling after I put my filled jars in and the jars need to be hot so they don’t crack/break when putting in the jam so I find heating and sterilizing the jars in one step helps.

Between these two things using the kettle for boiling water is a big help so if you have an electric or stovetop kettle use it. This sure saves time.

Set up a water bath to peel the peaches.

Fill one pot with boiling hot water and another with cold water. Dip the peaches in the hot and then the cold for easier peeling. I also had an extra bowl nearby to put my discards in for our compost. Then take out pit and stems and slice up, putting into a bowl and mash with a potato masher (forgot to picture the masher) then place the mashed peaches into a large measuring cup, I have a 4 cup Pyrex measurer and used this. I did this in stages so I didn’t have to many peaches cut up.

Now places peaches in your pot, add the sugar, and stir.

Then add your candied ginger.

Grab a nice chair and a book or magazines.

We have had this chair/step stool forever, I grab this to sit on as it might take a while for the peaches.

Bring to a rolling boil for one minute. The whole top should have bubbles.

It is starting in the picture above. It didn’t take as long as I thought it would, but you’ll still need the chair for when your jars are in the canner.

When the peaches first started on the stove I did this…

Cleaned up the mess and washed the dishes. See the candied ginger on the counter LOL I had a hard time not eating all the ginger in the canister so I put a few out for me to nibble on and quickly placed the canister in my spice cupboard. YUM!!! Something about the bite of the ginger and the candied part – kind of like Bailey’s Irish Creme – I love the hint of whiskey and the smoothness of the cream. LOL.

After the peaches have boiled for one minute take off the stove and add in your pectin and stir. Skim the top. Take your jars out of the canner using your jar grabber, tilting to remove any water inside, and place your canning wire so it hangs off the top of the canner (the jag in the handles are designed for this).

Place funnel in jar and scoop jam into jars leaving a 1/4″ head space (the space between jam and jar top.

Remove funnel and wipe jar top.

Use your bubble remover and slide down edge of jar doing this all around to remove the bubbles.

Put on lid and ring, do not over tighten.

Place jar in your wire rack. Repeat this process until either you have filled your wire rack or your jam is finished. I ended up doing this in two batches.

We bring you a break by my sweet hubby who just brought me a huge Pomatini YUM, we are celebrating some good news, I’ll tell you all tomorrow ;-).

Okay I’m back, LOL hopefully I don’t forget anything from here on.

Using your jar lifter and some other tool – I used a spatula – to bring your wire into your canner.

Put lid on canner and check every once in a while to see if it is a full rolling boil. Boil according to your altitude, I boiled them for 10 minutes. See recipe link above.

This is where your chair and book/mag comes in handy.

When you are done boiling, user your jar lifter and another tool to grab the handles (you can see them folded over in the above photo) and lift out of the water or hang the handles on the side of your canner. Take out one jar at a time and place on a counter, about 1 or 2 inches apart. Do not put in drafty areas as you don’t want the glass to chill to quickly.

Now be real quiet shshshsh listen – ping, ping, pop the jar are cooling, listen for that noise – I love it. Let sit for 12-24 hours. See if sealed by pushing down on lid, it should not give, it should be nice and strong and not move. You can remove the bands now. Wipe jars, label and put away.

I ended up doing it in two batches which meant I had to reheat the jam, new jars and lids, and do the process again.


9 pints of Ginger Peach Jam goodness. The 1/2 filled jar we started tonight as you don’t want that to sit on your shelves. If you have a little extra you can just place in a bowl and refrigerate instead of using another canning jar.

I hope to have this in a PDF tomorrow.



WOW!! It has been a while since I have posted. It also will be a little harder this winter as I am taking a very intense college class, but I have not forsaken my blog nor my crafting. I am still knitting, but I am also doing a lot of mixed media artwork. I’ll post some pictures in the New Year.

Over the fall I took an Oprah’s Life Class with Brene Brown and loved it. I did a lot of journaling (I’ll post some pictures soon). I highly recommend this class. It was such a success that they are doing class I over again and class II will start in March. Thankfully Brene also posted some extra journaling things to keep us busy until then.

However, I am also doing Ali Edward’s One Little Word (more of that soon) so that is keeping me busy for the time being.

WOW I’ll have to get busy taking some pictures.