Kick-ass Artist’s Date

Took myself out today to a place where there are a variety of craft projects and supplies, and you just walk in and decide to make something. There was a yarn room, ceramics, a pottery wheel, leatherworking, etc.

I picked out a bisque vase, painted it with acrylics, remembered what a fanatical perfectionist I am, tried to just roll with it, and had a great, solitary time. After I was done they sprayed it for me to give it that shiny seal. Then, I got to make pretty papers.

Here’s what I made


Here’s how I made the paper

I picked color combinations of scrap papers, added them to a blender with water, and liquified it. Then I poured that into a mold submerged in a pan of water, let it settle, then picked to mold up and the water drained out. Then I took the screened bottom out of the mold and put it on a tray, then used sponges to collect some of the water from the pulp. After that I transferred the screen and pulp to another area where I used paper to blot up even more excess water. (Ok, as an aside, that blotter paper was called a couch, written pronunciation of ‘kuch’ but when the lady was giving me the instructions out loud it sounds like ‘cooch’ and this kept cracking me up. Especially when talking about moving my ‘cooch’ over to the ironing board. Lol) Anyhoo, after most of the excess water was removed, I ironed the paper on both sides to further dry it. And that’s it! ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s a few shots from the paper-making process


It was awesome! I made 5 sheets of paper. I’m thinking that a couple of the sheets will be used for the covers of a little poetry book I’m working on.

Later, I treated myself to some good Mexican food (avocado enchilada, omm nom nomm!) and then got some new books from the library.


Help Portrait

Recently I had the chance to participate in a really cool volunteer event called Help Portrait. It is an event that happens around the world where photographers, editors and other volunteers get together to use their skills and equipment to offer free photo shoots and printed portraits for families in need. The group in my area hosted three locations, and I worked at the registration table at one of them.

I’m not sure what the official count was, but I know that we signed in more than 70 families at our location. It was great to be able to greet the families, see all the children in their best clothes, get them signed in and sent on their way to the hair and makeup area and then their studios for their portraits.

There were 10 little studios set up in the Sunday school rooms at a church that let us use their facility. The photographers brought backdrops and lights and made it really nice. In a larger room, a team of editors were busy taking the memory cards, editing as many photos as they could in 30 minutes, then burning a CD and printing out a few photos.

Picture frames were donated, so one of the best photos was printed out and put in a 5×7 frame. The framed picture and one or two additional 4x6s were then presented to the family, along with a CD of all their images with a photo release included so they can print more pictures themselves or e-mail them.

After the photo shoots, the families waited in an area near the registration table, and so I was able to visit more with many of them. There were tables set up with crafts for the kids to do, and I got to help some of the kids decorate foam photo frames with stickers (all donated) and color a variety of Christmas-themed coloring book pages. A few kids attached themselves to me, climbing in my lap or coming up and hugging me all around my leg. It was so sweet.

In between checking in the families, I got to spend a little time peeking into the doorways of the photo studios, watching some of the families get their pictures made. It was great to see the photographers interact with all of them, especially the little kids, treating them so sweetly and having fun. The faces of the children were fun to watch. Some seemed shy, others were so excited to be dressed up and feeling pretty. One little boy just kept grinning and jumping up and down with his hands in the air.

Around the craft tables I got to see the smiles on their faces when the photographers brought down their printed photos. Everyone seemed pleased and ooohhed and ahhhed. One of my favorite pictures I saw was an older woman kissing her mentally-disabled adult daughter on the cheek. It was so sweet, and the woman was so happy with her experience. She told me it was the best picture they’d ever had made.

For many of the families, this was the first formal portrait they’d ever had. It was the first time many of the younger children had ever been photographed.

I know I take the ability to take photos for granted, to grab every little snapshot I can of my Neffie, to see in pictures how much he has grown and changed. I can’t imagine someone having no baby pictures of their child, or no pictures of their family as a whole.

Happies in my mailbox

Several days ago, while recovering from a seriously uncool stomach virus, finding a little package in my mailbox just made my day. It was from my Secret Santa in the Arkansas Women Bloggers Handmade Ornament Exchange.

My crafty friend turned out to be ‘Kelly Jo’ at Delta Moxie from waaaayyyyyy on the other end of the state (seriously, we’re about as far away as we could be). Here’s what she sent me.

A pretty little bundle with a sweet note tied up inside…
… that contained these 2 cute ornaments. Here’s the front…
… and here’s the back of the ornaments.

I love them, and I thought it was especially neat that she personalized one with my blog name. So, thanks a bunch, Kelly Jo, for these pretties!

I sent ornaments to Simple Words By A. You can read what she thought about them here.

Y’all can go check out all the other cool handmade ornaments that have crossed the state in the last week by going here and checking out all the link-ups.

Giving Christmas, Parts 2 and 3

One of the latest projects Honey Bear and I finished for our holiday giving was buying Angel Tree gifts. We had a great time exploring the toy aisles and goofing around while checking out all the cool stuff.

Here’s what he picked out for the 4-year-old boy he chose:


Here’s what I picked out for an 8-year-old girl (that little thing is actually her “big” gift – an mp3 player):


The other thing we did recently was Honey Bear’s project and one of his favorite things to do this time of year. There’s a business owner here in our city that collects kids’ coats and then distributes them at local schools. I think the school counselors and teachers keep an eye out and give the coats to the kids that need one.

Here are the 6 coats that Honey Bear bought (and picked out himself):


Giving Christmas, Part 1

Honey Bear and I decided not to buy each other any big gifts this year, and instead we are using our money to donate items to causes we support. We have done this to a lesser degree in the past, but this time we are doing more and only buying a few little stocking stuffers for each other.

I have several things in the works, and I’ll try to write about them as we go along. We have had fun so far picking out things and thinking about what we want to do.

Our first project was putting together a hygiene items basket for a family of 4 — 2 adults and 2 children.

3B2D (or 3 Bags in 2 Days) is partnering with a local children’s organization to provide these baskets for the holidays. Honey Bear and I picked out some things such as shampoo, body wash, bar soap, brushes or combs, deodorant, razors and shaving cream, toothbrushes and toothpaste for individual family members, then added some things for the entire family: toilet paper, dish soap, wash cloths, hand soap, facial tissue.

To keep things organized, I divided up the items for each person into festive zipper bags. After we turn in our basket, the folks at 3B2D will add laundry soap and wrap the baskets up all fancy for giving.

Who else has holiday giving projects in the plans for this Christmas season?

ThanksBlogging: I’m thankful for…

  • Honey Bear
  • Good and Naughty kitties
  • My house
  • My friends, especially AlliG, who knows when I need to hear “I love you” at 2 a.m.
  • My Neffie, and my Sissy, who let me see Neffie being born, and the rest of my family
  • My fantastic goddaughter and her fantastic mother
  • Mine and Honey Bear’s jobs that pay our bills and allow us to have many seemingly basic things that others do not have
  • The opportunity to have 4 IUIs, despite them all failing
  • Good books
  • Good coffee
  • Arts and crafts
  • Taekwondo
  • The interwebs for giving me blogs and bloggy friends
  • The people I serve lunch to at the community center and my fellow volunteers
  • Homemade strawberry pie and wheat bread
  • SSRIs
  • Electric blankets

NaBloPoMo ~ Quotation

I’m starting my first NaBloPoMo today. There’s still time for you to do it too! ๐Ÿ™‚

I don’t plan to follow the prompts every day, but I liked today’s query of favorite quotation and why.

I could list tons of those life things that get us all down, but if I had to pick the two things that come to mind the strongest when I read this quote, they are Depression and Infertility. I have experienced both separately and together. That is what rings in my mind as “wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow.”

But, these things are not all of life. Just to be here is, as she says, a grand thing, and so I try to post my Little Happy Things every so often to underscore this for myself and others.

Life is not only our huge struggles with the scary capital letters; it is all the tiny things we may not even think much about until our miseries kick us in the pants.

Life is roses, tender moments, a kind word. It is a bear hug,ย a conspiratorial wink with a child, a smile so big and true that your eyes nearly disappear. It is a warm pet sharing your bed, a hearty laugh with a friend, the smell of your favorite food cooking. It is being there for someone when they need you, and it is knowing that you also were blessed by your having done so.

And life is using our sorrowful things in a constructive way: To show someone they are not alone, that someone understands, and that in time they, too, will once again see living as a grand thing.

P.S. The presentation of my favorite quotation on my Royal Quiet De Luxe was inspired by desperately seeking {gina}, a fellow AWB blogger who also loves a vintage typewriter. ๐Ÿ™‚