Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Month of Letters - off to a busy start

I am having a blast writing letters, making cards and sending mail since February started. As of February 10th I have sent 69 pieces of mail. Yep that is right, 69! I had quite a few Valentines to send out, but that only accounts for part of this number. I have been writing letters, birthday cards, thank yous and even a few just thinking about you notes. Here are some of the things I sent this week.

Weedy "Beady" Sea Dragon  quilted postcard to a friend. I painted the fabric then stitched and beaded.
It says 2012 because he was all finished except the eye until about a week ago. I finally found the perfect eye for him.

I have also had mail coming in. Some from friends and pen pals already established prior to February 1st. I have also received letters from some new friends. How fun it is to meet new people! Here are some of the surprises I have received.

I am busy finishing up a few things to go into today's mail. - Love the 3 day weekend for me, when the post office is still open! I sent these out on Monday.
Fiji Water bottles, fun square shape, used to send a message in a bottle. I stuck little erasers, pencils and other cute items in the bottles through a slit cut on the side. Then sealed the slit, Labeled them and off to the post office I went.

This is one of the Valentine Cards I created this year to send out. 

Valentine I received from LB one of my Cricut Buddies, along with all the rest of the mail I had received the past week or so from the Month of Letters Challenge.

I suppose it is time to get back to writing letters now.

Friday, February 1, 2013

February 1st! Let the Letter Writing Begin!

By the time this is posted, 5:30 AM, it will be February 1st, the first official day of the "Month of Letters" challenge.

I have my first postcards ready to go out today. Just in time for one of my favorite holidays, Groundhog Day!
A few of these cards are also heading out for friends and fun.

I don't have a clue why I like this so much, but I do. Maybe it is the adorable fuzzy little guy that we are celebrating. Maybe it is the funny reason for the holiday. I don't know.

I just learned about a cute little Post Office in Vermont that is in need of some mail support.

Isn't is cute?!
It has recently had its hours cut. In order to keep it from closing altogether, Jane Davies has proposed a postcard campaign as a way to increase volume of mail passing through it's quaint halls. I will be working on a few Etegami cards to send her way. In the meantime, I share Jane's original blog post about the Post Office and her challenge.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Bit of Comfort on a Rainy Day

Before I get to my topic, can I just say, I am so glad it is Friday evening. I am exhausted. My students were quite wound up after the 3 day weekend and then 2 days of rainy day scheduling (indoor recess...) I have been enjoying quiet and calm at home this evening.

Now that I have that off my chest, I am going to share a bit of what I think of as comfort food. It may seem funny to you. I am a Scots - Portuguese California native that finds everyday Japanese food to be comfort food. I lived in Japan for 2 years while in my mid-twenties. And yet I find myself at times thinking "when I was growing up in Japan." I suppose in some ways I did. I learned a great deal about myself while I was there. I love the culture, the people and the landscape.

Tonight, while wandering the grocery store aisles, I decided to make Okonomiyaki. It is a regional food found in cafes and train stations. It is a savory cabbage pancake. So I grabbed a coleslaw mix (shredded green and purple cabbage, with carrots) and a bell pepper. I had the rest of the stuff needed at home. Typically the mixture included shrimp or thin slices of meat such as ham/bacon. I am not a huge fish fan, so I dug through the fridge at home to add some tasty ingredients of my own. There was crumbled bacon, diced bell pepper, a bit of grated ginger and chopped garlic, and some cubed fresh mozzarella.

Oishii desu! (Delicious) I haven't made this in awhile but have to remember it is quite quick and simple. And YUMMY!

Here is the website I used for the recipe. I used regular flour, no starch additive. It was fine. Make sure not to over mix though. I was making only one for myself, I did cut the batch in half and it was perfect. Love the variations on this page.

I like it with the sauce they recommend.

Easy Okonomi Sauce Recipe:
Mix 3 tbs of ketchup, with 1 tbs of Worcestershire sauce, with 1 tsp of Soy Sauce. 
(Taken from Okonomiyaki World site)

On an artistic note, I sent out my first Etegami. I found some watercolor postcards in my stash of art supplies. I painted another umbrella and sent it off with a quick note to my mother in law. It is definitely winter and wet where she is outside Seattle. So a bit of color should bring a smile to her face.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Oh Great...Another Interest!

Yep, you read that right. I have another new creative interest. That AADD (Art Attention Deficit Disorder) is sure giving me a hard time lately. Thankfully, this one is easily combined with several of my current pursuits. What is this new venue? Etegami. Etegami (think Spanish for the vowel sounds and you will be able to pronounce this) is a Japanese Folk Art form. Simply stated it is E - picture + tegami - letter. So, put them together, a picture-letter. There is more to it such as how they are traditionally made, materials used, etc. But for my purposes here I will just say they are hand painted postcards that are not truly Etegami until it is sent to someone. I will refer you to Debbie Davidson's blog for a much better introduction to Etegami than I can give you at the present. Etegami by dosankodebbie  and her intro to Etigami post.

So naturally with the words painting + Japan + letter writing in combination I had to learn more. I spent one evening this week reading and viewing every single post on Debbie's site. I started with her first post and worked through to the most current. Though I lived in Japan for two years, I really don't remember running across Etegami. I wasn't really into sketching or painting at the time. So, it is no surprise that it didn't go past my radar. The style is simple and yet there is an element of elegance in the simplicity.

I grabbed my sheet of Moulin du Gue, (rough, heavy, art paper) torn a section off and then split it into smaller "postcard" sized pieces. I figured it felt similar to the descriptions of the Etegami paper and would work for practice and play while I find the right combination of tools...

Here is my first attempt.
The writing says, "the apple is delicious." or at least something close to that. Also tried to use my hanko (personal signature stamp) but my ink is all messed up. It is about 30 years old. Time for new ink.

Today, being a rainy day at school, I decided to share Etegami with my students. Because it focuses on drawing AN object rather than all sorts of details it seemed easier for young kids.

We used white construction paper and Prang watercolor paints. I wasn't sure how these tools would work. I had them only do the black outline. We went to lunch and then painted the color. I did the two Etegami above as my examples for technique... Here are some of the pictures my students created. You will notice some chose to just copy me. While others sought out their own images.

(OK, FINE....I cannot get the picture to load properly. Sorry they are upside down and sideways. - I will edit this post when I find a way to get them to cooperate.)

Even upside down, you can see that some of my students understood the idea of one object, minimal details and no background... But some just could not resist the urge to add more.

 I played some more while they painted and cleaned. My chosen subject, Leafy Sea Dragons.

Then I just had to try the technique again. I headed to my favorite hangout for coffee and some me time. I tried painting Sleeping Beauty in the style of Etegami. I was working in my journal so I had a 7 x 10 page to work on.

I like it. but it is too big, about 1/2 page. I want to try doing a postcard sized piece so that I am forced to focus on part. It was too easy to get carried away with adding to the picture. I think I am going to like this addition to my repertoire. Maybe some of you will even receive an Etegami from me in the near future. Off to order real paper... for just such purposes.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Neverland 5K survivor!

That sounds a bit sad but it is true. Really it wasn't all that bad. I AM out of shape - I haven't been walking as much as I had been over the summer... but I had a blast joining forces with friends to tackle the Neverland 5-K at Disneyland this past weekend.

We look pretty fresh and ready to go considering we were up by 4:15 am for the 5:45 am start of the run/walk. We survived the early wake up call, the lack of caffeine, and the walk, with 4000+ others. Part of the fun of these walks are the participants in costume! Another perk is the chance to peek "backstage" at both Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure.

My race bib, goodies bag, and finisher medallion. Everyone has already started talking about signing up for the next 5K in September. Yep, It looks like this is our new "thing" to do as a gang. I wonder who else we will add to our little troupe?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Month of Letters...the Preparation

I am gearing up for February 1st. I can hardly believe that it is just around the corner. How come January is running away from me so quickly?

I am excited to be a participant in the Month of Letters Challenge, which starts the first of February. But I know there are bound to be some bumps in the road as I try to get a letter or postcard sent out everyday in February. I thought I would do a bit of prep work.

First, I am sorting and organizing my cards and stationary. If it is all one place I won't have as many excuses, right?

I got a bit carried away and created laminated index dividers for my postcards.  6" square  for the colored cardstock. 

Second, I started making a list of possible  people to receive these missives. Here is what I came with so far.
  • PostCrossing Members - this is contingent on having new addresses to send to
  • Birthday Cards - I have to know at least one or two people with birthdays next month
  • Get Well Card - With the flu out there, I am sure I can find one person in need of a smile
  • Pen Pals - I have gained a few of these through various venues the past 6 months
  • Friends and Family - Need I say more?
  • A Month of Letters Participants - Some of us have been swapping addresses 
That should cover me pretty good, don't you think? 

Last, I think I need to go back through my cards now that I have figured out some of my potential mail targets (now there is a picture), and see what matches. Maybe I will even cheat a bit and address the envelopes ahead of time so I don't forget who was supposed to receive it.

If you can think of anything I might of forgotten let me know. There is still time to join in on the fun.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Month of Letters...the Challenge

I wanted to share a fun challenge that is launching on February 1st. It is called "A Month of Letters." The basic idea is to send some type of correspondence every day of mail service during the month of February. I know, kind of scary, right? But think about the postcards, thank you cards, note cards, birthday cards and, yes even letters you have been procrastinating to write.

I heard about this challenge in late February last year, and have been waiting to participate when it started up again. I am putting out the challenge to all of my friends and followers to consider joining in on the fun. You can learn more about the Month of Letters challenge on Facebook or A MONTH OF LETTERS website.

I have been gathering cards, stationary, and stamps. I am even making a list of people I want to write to, and when I think of something I want to say, I even jot that down. Nothing worse than getting into the middle of this challenge and not having enough people to send to or things to say.

As a special nudge to some of my friends, I am sending A Month of Letters Postcards to challenge them to jump into the fun with me.

Will you be one of the people who receives this in your mailbox next week? Will you accept the challenge?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Etsy...Please Go Window Shop

I have added several new items to my Etsy Shop, ThisFrogQuilts. I thought II would share them here as well.

 I have been sewing up a storm. I have several styles of Pillow Cases available.
Black and White -2 King-size  - I can make them standard size if needed.

Trains - 1 available.

Pirate Map -1 available.

Tan & Green Floral Print - 2 available.

Tan & Brown Swirl Print - 2 available.

Photo Postcards too:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cards... Coming and Going...

I love having time to make and send cards. Just wish I had more of it, don't you? I created this card for a Christmas Card exchange organized by Sunny at Sunny Day, Starry Night.

I stamped the little guy in the snowsuit (rubber stamp from Art Impressions). The mailbox and snowflakes were cut with my Cricut. Unfortunately, I did not make a note of where I found the cuts. Sorry. Snow and ice are white Puffy Paint and Stickles.

I sent one off to fellow Cricut Circle friend and blogger LB from Cool Beans by L.B. as she had send a fun sewing themed card after I wrote to her. LB sent back a fun New Year's Card. I love having crafty friends.

Don't you just love her work? I do. The insides are gorgeous. Take a trip over to her blog and see what she has been up to. You won't be sorry.

On another note..........I have to say, if anyone out there knows how to channel my actual thoughts into blog posts, without the typing and photographing, I would love to know the secret! I have about 30 different possible posts running around in my head. They just hit a log jam when it comes to getting them written, photos edited, etc.