Monday, May 20, 2013

Keeping it Simple

Hi friends,

Sometimes you just have to hit the easy button.  We are knee deep in boxes and moving (only 10 days to go till the movers arrive) and I had planned to make all my summer cards before I boxed up my craft room.   Well last night around 7:30pm I realized I was out of time.  The craft room needs to be torn down and boxed up this week and the weekend was gone.  Not quite ready to give up, I decided to find one design that would fit most of my upcoming card needs and go into mass production mode.  I will have to {gasp} buy my masculine cards (fathers day, male birthdays) but I was able to use this one design for my upcoming female card needs.

This is not my favorite way to craft, but it works really well.  I started with a basic card layout of a card I loved.  When you are in fast and easy mode there is no time to design a card from scratch.  I also just used whatever patterned paper and stamp sets were close at hand.  Again, not the time to make my own designer paper or perfect the images.

I cut out 8 of each item and got busy.  I chose various sentiments (to match the various occassions) and then in assembly line fashion threw these together.

When hitting the easy button, I tend to stay within one manufacturer's product offering because I'm more confident that it will all go together.  This card uses items from papertrey ink: Beautiful Butterflies, Lovely Leaves and Everyday Blessings patterned paper.  The sentiments are from various companies.  I made a wedding card (best wishes), a birthday card, a happy retirement card, a happy graduation card and 4 sympathy cards.  I mixed and matched the patterned papers from the paper set and used up all my pearls.

I was done by 9:00pm and still had time to watch my recorded episode of Smash (love the drama in that show) and made it to bed by 10:00pm.  Easy Peasy.

And so now, the craft room is officially closed till August.  I will box up all my stuff, put it in the pod and wait till we are settled into our new condo and then start again fresh.

I will try to stay up on my blog during the next 2 months.  I have an international business trip coming up and of course moving updates for you all.  I may include crafty images from blog sites I frequent so if you are only here for the craftiness, keep coming back.  I won't pretend these images are from me (I'll credit the sources every time) and maybe you'll find a new blogger to follow from my links.

Thanks for visiting my blog today.  Have a great day.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Aunt Verna

So we had some sad news this week.  My Aunt Verna passed away on Wednesday.  She was a dear sweet soul and I loved her very much.

She went peacefully surrounded by 2 of her daughters with hymns playing softly in the background at 7am May 15, 2013 at 93 years old.  She had suffered with dementia for a number of years, but overall lived a full and healthy life.

So, below are two of the sympathy cards I made for my cousins.  I plan to make a few more so I have one for each of her daughters.

Let me tell you about my memories of my Aunt Verna.  First and foremost she reminds me of the wife described in Proverbs 31.  Below are some of the verses that seem especially descriptive of my aunt.

Proverbs 31:26-28

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed.

My earliest memories of my aunt were in her home in Palmyra NY.  She and my Uncle Bill lived in a small and cozy farmhouse on acres of land in upstate NY.  I always thought of my cousins as country girls and they always thought of me and my sister as city girls.  They lived on a road where the trees would overhang over the road and cattails, daisies and other wildflowers grew by the side of the road.  In the front of their house was a big tree with a swing.     They had a water pump in the backyard (that worked) with an tin cup tied to a string so you could get a cool drink anytime.   On the property there were fields of corn, strawberries and all kinds of vegetables, plus an over-sized garage that housed my uncles big trucks and farm equipment (for his business.)  

Below is a family photo.  In the center is my grandparents Betty and Frank.  On the far left is my dad and mom (in the peach blazer.)  On the far right is my uncle Bill and my Aunt Verna (in the pink pant suit.)  I'm guessing from the fashions and hairstyles that this was taken in the late 70's.

Next door to my aunt was my grandparents summer trailer.  My mom was the youngest daughter so my grandparents were always old to me and I don’t remember when they lived in the house, I only remember visiting them in Florida or in their trailer.  The farm house was like no house we had down near NYC.   There was a wood stove, an old piano, a big old dining table, a soft sofa and two recliners facing a small TV.   My aunt’s bedroom was a tiny room off the living room with just enough room for a bed and dresser.  Next to the bedroom was the one bathroom in the house with a toilet, sink and tub.  There was a curtain separating the bathroom from their bedroom and if anyone used the bathroom in the night, I’m sure it disturbed them since they were right there, you felt like you were peeing on top of their toes in bed it was that cozy!  The stairs leading upstairs were small, narrow and steep and in many places on that top floor you had to bend down so you wouldn’t hit your head on the roof.  That was where my two cousins slept and you had to walk through Caroline’s room to get to Nor’s.  In the basement was the laundry and for quite a while my aunt used a wringer washing machine.  I think she was still using that well into the 70’s because I thought it was the coolest thing to wash the clothes and wring them out, then hang them outside on the line.  We didn’t have that at my house.

My memories of my aunt were almost always in her home:  either her farmhouse or the lake house.  My grandparents had a small cottage on Canandaigua lake and at some point they sold the cottage to my Aunt Verna and one of my other aunts.  The two aunts shared the cottage for a number of years, each taking turns having it for two week stretches of the summer but at some point my Aunt Verna bought her sister out and it was theirs.  They did some renovations on it and that’s when it changed from ‘the cottage’ to ‘the lake house.’  At the lake house my sister, cousins and I would have a blast.  We would spend our days walking to the corner market for snacks, flirting with the boys, sunbathing on the raft and swimming.  On special evenings we would get to go to Roseland, a local amusement park on the lake.  We girls would squeal with delight after being given permission to go and we felt so grown-up as pre-teens.   

My Aunt was usually cooking, cleaning, hanging laundry on the line or sitting by the lake visiting with someone.  She was way more of a cat person than a dog person (although I remember her dog Tecler.)  She drank tea more than coffee and loved to play cards or games at the table in the evenings.

One specific funny memory (there were many) was the time that my Aunt, Uncle and cousin Nor came to pick me up at the train station in Rochester.  I would often (at least once a summer) take the train from downstate for a visit with my aunt by myself.  It was so cool to travel alone on the train.  I think I started doing that when I was about 10.  I was probably 12 or 13 during this visit and on our way home from the train station we stopped for dinner.  This was a typical rural restaurant for the late 70’s.  Picture a lot of round wood tables, uniformed waitresses, pie in a spinning display and the kind of place that had fruit cup on the menu for  an appetizer.  It was a NICE restaurant.  We sat down and immediately I noticed the young man who was filling our water glasses.  He was not more than 16 years old and I thought he was the cutest thing!  So I quickly sipped from my glass and noticed he came right back to fill my water glass.  I whispered to my cousin – drink your water – get the water boy to come back to the table.  As you can imagine, my cousin and I stayed ultra hydrated all night long and yes the water boy probably visited our table 20 times that night.  My aunt and uncle giggled about us foolish girls and didn’t complain when we made them hurry home since we both had to pee so badly!

Aunt Verna was a soft spoken woman, kind, gentle and godly.  She would go to the Catholic church but not fanatically.  I got the sense that she experienced God’s presence more in the beauty of nature than in the church, but I remember going to church with them all and it was a typical activity for them.

She loved to rock babies and I remember visiting with her when Sarah was really small and she seemed so happy to just have baby Sarah lying in her arms for hours on end.  While visiting with my baby we were going to go somewhere else and I was going to wake Sarah to get in her car seat.  My aunt quietly said ‘why would you wake a sleeping baby?’   She was so wise… in hindsight, I can’t imagine why I thought I needed to hurry to get to my next visiting place.  Frankly it had never occurred to me to NOT wake the baby.  I had someone to go, Sarah would adapt.    I think I took her advice and stayed put for a bit (at least that day.)

She had a strong sense of contentment although she didn’t have a lot of worldly possessions.  I think she was in her 50’s before she and Uncle Bill bought their first ‘new car.’  It was a big old thing – like an Oldsmobile or something.  She loved music and loved to garden.  Those were things she and my mother shared a love for.  I can’t ever remember her saying anything unkind about anyone.  At one point, after my grandparents had passed, they rented the trailer.  The renters were not good – rumors abounded about drugs, late nights and potty mouths, but my aunt would find something nice to say about them.    She was a warm lap, a listening ear, an encourager and one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.  She always welcomed me and my sister into her home, even though we would often disrupt things tremendously with our city ways.  She never scolded us or made us feel unwelcome.

There is so much more I could tell you about my Aunt and so many more memories I could share, but I think the comments above are enough to give you a sense of who she was and why she was so special to me.  I know I will see her again.  She had a quiet, but firm faith in God and the forgiveness that is available in Jesus Christ.  I am sad that she is no longer on the earth but I celebrate that she is in the presence of God experiencing his peace and love.  

The family is planning a private cremation but rumor has it there may be a 'life celebration' picnic this summer where family and friends can gather and remember her warm spirit.  Thanks for visiting today and getting to know my dear Aunt Verna.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Masculine Cards and 'what's new in the {empty} nest

Hi friends,
I haven't been a very active blogger and you know something..... I actually miss it.  I hope to get back into my blogging patterns later this summer after we are all settled in our new condo.

So, first, let me share a few cards I made over the last few days.  First, I'll apologize for my terrible photography.  I don't have my nice photo area set up and have taken to photographing all my cards on my table - with terrible lighting.  sorry.  the photo area will be back in business in August.  promise.

So, I"m not a huge fan of these cards.  Honestly I'm not a huge fan of masculine cards in general and these just seem 'blah' to me.  I loved these papers when I bought them but I'm struggling to find a card I love when I use them.  But they will serve the purpose.

So, let me tell you ‘what’s new in the {empty} nest.’  My, we have been busy.  We need to move out of our home on May 30th, so our first priority in getting ready was to identify all the items in our current home that wouldn’t ‘make the trip’ to the new smaller place.  As I described to my husband, our new place is 2/3rds the size of our current place, with no storage.  So basically at least 1 out of every three things we have here, can’t go with us.  I’ve also been challenging us (yes – me too) to go through the items that are in boxes in the attic, basement or closets.  I mean really, if they are in boxes and we haven’t used them in a year, do we really need them anymore?

So, the huge purge has been going full strength.  We started piling all the items into the garage and prepared for a moving sale.  Oh….  My…… Word….. what a lot of work.  What a lot of stuff….. what a busy morning we had Saturday when tons of people descended upon our driveway, yard and garage to buy our used stuff.

We had a very successful day.  It was beautiful out, we had a great turn out, we made some money (over $800.00) and best of all, when the sale was over at 1pm, there was hardly anything left over.     And we got to chat with some very nice people – some neighbors – some friends – and some strangers.  Overall it was a good day, but I’m so glad to have it behind us, and I wonder if I’ll ever have enough energy to do it again.  Sigh – did I say it was exhausting??  Well, it’s over.  Yeah!

Below is a photo collection to give you an idea of how much we had to start and what was left over.  Bob made a car run to Treasures (the thrift store that provides tuition reduction for Whitinsville Christian School) and now I just have a few things to take to Salvation Army and we are more or less done with the purging.  All that is left now is packing and moving.  That part will seem easy now that the decisions have been made and the extra stuff is gone.

 And this my friends, is all that was left at 1:00pm.    Not bad..
So what else is new in the nest?  Well, I am so excited to have Eric heading home this weekend.  I have not seen him since January – unless you count skype – which is not the same.  I am so happy that he is home in time for Mother’s Day.  Hopefully we will take some time off from our packing to enjoy a nice meal out.
Well, that’s all for now.  Thanks so much for visiting my blog today.  I should have another post this weekend with some mother’s day cards and more of an update on Eric and his summer plans.   Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Impression obsession challenge

I am thankful for.....

This weeks challenge from I/O stamps is the above statement.  What an awesome challenge.  I chose this lighthouse scene and it reminds me that I am thankful for ..... Summer, the natural beauty of New England coastlines and lobster.

I added the sentiment 'life is a journey' and thought this might make a nice graduation card for a boy.

This card uses I/O stamp H1292 northern lighthouse.  It also uses the sentiment C3775 Life is a journey stamp.  I used a scallop punch to get that brown accent and colored the image with tim holz distress markers and copic markers.

Check out the other creations on the I/O blog, or enter you own submission.  Challenge ends Wednesday May 8th.