Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Just putting up a short post to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. We are planning to celebrate with friends tomorrow. Should be fun.

I thought I would share my husband's masterpiece. He loves decorating for Christmas. We have several hundred ornaments, including 24 Carousel animals, 96 Disney ornaments (16 are Tinkerbell), enough hand blown glass and painted tin ornaments to do themed trees for each. Yep we have fun decorating the inside of our house.

OK, so here is his newest tree. Hubby has wanted to have an upside down tree, hanging from our ceiling. That way ornaments would hang outside the branches, giving them more visibility. Earlier this year we saw a commercial with a decorating idea, that gave us a possible way to make it happen. Here is a picture we took of the TV screen.

This is his final version of this idea, complete with hand blown glass ornaments.


Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas. May you all be celebrating with friends and family, making wonderful new memories.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Etsy Shop Open for Business

I have finally taken the plunge. I opened a shop on Etsy, This Frog Quilts. I have placed several of my quilted lunch bags on the site, with more on the way. I also have pillow cases and checkbook covers cut and ready to sew. Please pass on my name to those who might be looking for a little something extra to stuff in someones stocking.

Here are a few of the bags.


I should have Pillowcases and Checkbook Covers up next week. Please visit often.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

So Many Interests...So Little Time to Post

I have been busy pursuing various interests this past month, but am having a hard time getting anything posted. So sorry. I am having a lot of fun. I am just not sharing it with you very often. Thank you for being patient with me.

Instead of rambling on and on like I usually do, I think I will just make this a photo essay of sorts. I will focus on my Lovely Letter activity (the project is now at an end, but I hope that our correspondence will continue.) As I mentioned before, my Lovely Letter partner was from Norway.

Our first task was a letter of introduction. Here is TMF's letter to me. I will not make it very legible as I am not sure I have permission to tell her life story on the Internet. But I do have to comment on her beautiful penmanship. It is incredibly consistent and well formed. I used it as a lesson with my students as what they should strive for.

Task 2: Ask 10 questions.

Well, poor T. After I shared her intro letter with my students, they had questions for her. So, she ended up playing "20 Questions" with me and not 10. T. was gracious enough to answer all of them even though I gave her the option of picking a few from my kids' list.

My students' questions:

My questions, each in a separate card that had some connection to the question I asked. I wrote a small blip about the card picture & connection to the question, as well as the question itself.

Answers to the questions was Task #3:

And finally, A last letter with a Post Card. (oops no picture to share.)

This has been a really fun activity. We had also signed up for a gift exchange. I had picked up some fun items for T. (my initial gift exchange partner) and then my partner was changes. I am still sending T. the goodies I got for her. ----I can't show you yet as she hasn't received it. Don't want to spoil the fun.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Letter Writing...Slowing Down to Enjoy

Ooops.... this was supposed to post about 2 weeks ago. Don't quite know what happened. HMMMM.

I have been having a great deal of fun lately. I have started writing short "introductory" letters to various friends by picking names of friends from my address book. The hard part is waiting to see if someone will answer me. I have one dear friend from high school (toooooooooooooo many years ago) that I have been in and of touch over the time since we graduated who has been just as excited to write and recieve mail as I have. We have been having fun catching up on everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING, that has transpired. I suppose our lives will give us much to write about for many more months, or perhaps years.

I have also joined in a letter swap/pen pal activity online called Lovely Letters. I don't think I have stressed out about a first impression as much as I did with the first letter I wrote to my new friend TMF ( I haven't asked if it is ok to put her name here, so I won't). I agoninzed over the paper, card, envelope, and/or stationary to use....

Just a few of the choices I considered.
Then to the pens and ink....UGH. You would think I was trying to dress for an interview or something. I really did not know what to expect or what to use to set the "tone" of my letter of introduction.

-----weeks later------ I have heard from my Lovely Letter Pen Friend TMF. She is from Norway. I have been having fun creating mail and learning about her. I will share more of this later.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Focus....Focus, dude...

The title of this post is a line from Finding Nemo. I feel it is appropriate to my life at the moment. Well, maybe, my life most of the time... I am trying to get my mind and life back in focus, after a crazy start of the school year, adding Calligraphy Classes to my weekly schedule, as well as a few other events.

(I have started and stopped this post so often I think I will proof read it and post it no matter what.)

I am still busy with Postcrossing. I had my 50th Postcard arrive at it's destination! Kind of a milestone of sorts. Here are a few cards I have received lately:

I have been taking a Calligraphy class for the past 2 1/2 months. I kind of jumped into the middle of a year long course, starting session 3 of 4. Oh well, it was an interesting learning curve the first few weeks.

Our "final" project for Session 3 was designing a card that we could reproduce and use. My first attempt was a Thank You card I can use in my classroom. I had my original reduced and printed on card stock. Then I added color with watercolor paints.

My second attempt was more elaborate, a birth announcement. The week of our last assignment, my "daughter"(see story) had her first child, Rowan Ian. So I am now a Grandma.

I was able to go out and visit the little family last week. Holding the precious, sweet baby boy was quite an experience for me. Not only see see this adorable little bundle just snuggle down, comfortable and content. But also to see the radiant, poised young lady who gave him life. Wow! I can't find words to describe the awe I feel at how she has grown up...

I wanted to try to draw Rowan, but I am chicken. I don't feel comfortable drawing more than a childlike version for my 3rd graders to see. So I took a hint from Lyric Kinard, and transferred major lines by tracing a photograph.

My first attempt, I outlined in pen. I don't like the look. So I tried watercolor pencils. I like that one better.

top: 2nd attempt, bottom: first attempt.

So, as you can see I really need to find a focus, or maybe a few less things to focus on. I have felt like I have lost it on this blog. Or maybe I just stick with my original plan for this blog and bounce around with what interests me.

I leave you with several photos of Rowan and all his other Grandmas.
Ivette's Mom, Maritza.

Jeremy's Mom, Cheryl.

Rowan's GREAT Grandma!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A More Simple Way of Life???

 Though I am usually one of the first to look at new technology to enhance or support my teaching, I am also the one that threatens, at least once a year, to pack up and move to Pennsylvania, to an Amish community, disavowing any form of technology. (that would be after an extremely frustrating day with things not working , usually someone elses computer.) I am all for the use of technology in a variety of ways. Though I don't trust it either. I know that sounds funny, but I have seen too many issues that have become disasters in the making.

Lately, I have had good reason to distrust technology, as back-ups have gone haywire. I have spent a large part of the summer, recovering data from one dead hard drive. Then staring a various older backups and the recovered data to try to piece together so I have everything back in one place.

All of this has put me in one of those "I want to be Amish" moods. Especially as I sift through the contacts and addresses that are on my phone -seems to be an update from my work computer, and the older addresses from a back-up. This is, or was, the last straw for me. I hadn't updated my ancient Halmark Address Book in about 15 years! So that was no help either.

My recent feelings toward my computers!!!!

As with all good projects, one thing leads to a completely different project. I decided I need a physical back-up to my hard drive when it comes to addresses and phone numbers. So off I go hunting for an address book. A REAL, honest to goodness, paper based address book, like my old one. This  was not an easy task. Then, to contact anyone I know I can get a hold of via Facebook, email or text to double check all their info. I am glad I am doing this, as I have learned a few people moved without telling me...
My sad, neglected, very out of date address book (left) beside it's replacement (right).

A few reflections of my recently acquired pursuits, shows this thought as well.
  • Postcrossing - sending and receiving postcards via "snail mail"
  • Fountain Pens - writing long hand
  • Writing Letters to friends and family (instead of email...) - a long forgotten, missed activity
  • Calligraphy Class - penmanship actually mattered
  • A REAL Address book - yes, I will still have one on my computer, but the hard copy is my most up to date.
Can you see what I see? I have started to move away from technology. Back to a slower, more thoughtful form of communication?

My quiet spot to sketch and write.
So what have I taken away from all of this? Technology is good -- But --- Sometimes the Simple Life is better.Find a quiet place to spend a few minutes writing a quick note, a chatty postcard, or longer missive. It will make you and the recipient smile. We all need to take a few minutes to enjoy a slower life.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Love My Mailbox...most of the time

I really do love my mailbox, most of the time. I still don't like the days there are nothing but bills, political ads, and or junk mail greeting me. Nor do I like having to put less than happy things back in the mailbox to leave my house - you know what I mean, checks to pay a bill... Having to write letters or cards of sympathy would also go in that list of non-happy mailbox contents. Unfortunately, that was my unhappy lot in life earlier this week.

My best friend lost her mom on Saturday night after a short fight with an infection that left her kidneys and liver not working. She died peacefully in her sleep with her family around her. No one can ask for more.
Barbara had been a part of our lives for much of the past 20 years, as we have been a part of her daughter and son-in-law's lives. She was such a wonderful lady. Always one for a competitive game of scrabble, a loud and raucous game of Texas Washers, or a quiet quest to finish a particularly challenging jigsaw puzzle.

Texas Washers - Barabara showing the youngsters how it is played.

Happy Birthdays....
Barbara and much of her family, including my husband and I.

Babara's family is our "Foster Family." We travel and celebrate almost every occasion with them. I really felt I needed to write a note to each of her descendants. Therefore, I spent Sunday and Monday making cards and write personal notes to each of her kids and grand kids along with their families. Sympathy is really not an easy emotion to express. No word choice seems good enough. I did find a few websites that contained some wonderful examples. Reading through the ideas on these pages helped my come up with at least a few words. (Sympathy note ideas and Sympathy Sayings.) I hope will bring some support or comfort to each the recipients. I ended up drafting a basic letter and used this to guide my words to each individual.

The card I made for each family was my take on a card I found on the Cricut Message Boards, made by djackson1952. The bird and branch are from Home Decor. I am sorry I cannot remember what I ended up for the sizes. I believe the Bird was 3" and the branch was 2". I embossed the white paper with Cuttlebug - Divine Swirls. I dug through all my flowers to find small ones appropriate for the branches. I added dots of liquid pearl in the center.

Can you see I tried practicing my calligraphy (yep, taking a class) on the Paper Source envelopes.

I hope they will find some comfort in this small token of my love for them and their mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.

We will miss Barbara. She was a very special part of our lives.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Love My Mailbox

Over the years, our mailboxes seem to transitioned in function. Once we used these funny little tin boxes to bring us news, and greetings. We sent cards and letters, sometimes packages making connections with the outside world. Now, it just seems to ask for our money, and help fill our recycle bins with unwanted ads and offers.

I love opening my mailbox. I am sure you are all thinking I am nuts. But I really am enjoying that little funky little lock box a lot more now that I have done a few things to make it a happier part of my daily life.

First, as mentioned in previous posts, I joined Postcrossing back in April. So far I have had 34 postcards make it to their destinations across the globe. I have received 28 from a wide variety of countries. The most interesting places to date have to be Estonia and Belarus. There have been cards from grandmothers, single moms, and college students. But it really made my heart smile to receive one from a 12 year old the other day. Wow! A 12-year old interested in snail mail!!!! There is hope that snail mail won't completely die out.

Some of the postcards I have received:

Second, I have been making a concerted effort to write notes and letters to friends and family, instead of sending a quick email. As I started sitting down to write the first letters I was reminded of how much fun I used to think it was to write a letter. This was really made evident to me as I started to dig through the overflowing baskets of stationary and envelopes I have collected over the years. One of the first letters I sent was to a friend I see often. We usually communicate via email in between times together, but I found some paper I knew she would like and wrote a short note filling her in on some news I had for her. I received a wonderful thank you from her. It made us both have a better day. I encourage you to pick up pen and paper to write a note to someone. It doesn't have to be long or eloquent. Just from you, in your own hand, and from your heart.

Hope you have a happy Mailbox soon.