Thursday, November 10, 2016

Creativity Through Adversity

Hi there, Crafty Neighbors!  I’m sure some of you are probably wondering what happened to me, and why there have been so few updates to my blog over the last few months.  Well, let me tell you…earlier this year I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  To be specific, Tubular carcinoma, a form of invasive ductal carcinoma.  It’s meant a total upheaval of my daily routine, and I’ve just simply had to let a few things slide.  It’s even dampened my creativity, because I don’t have as much time to create, and because I’m often tired or just feeling blah and not in the mood.  But in the process of my treatments, I ran across something really crafty and inspiring that I wanted to share with you all.
What I’m about to share with you are some of the lovely therapeutic art projects done by cancer patients at the oncology center where I receive my daily radiation treatments.  I was awed by these pieces from the moment I saw them, and I wanted to share them with as many people as I could because I think they are a wonderful way to express some very mixed up, over the top emotions from both ends of the spectrum, and I think they could be a great idea for anyone going through something stressful or traumatic.
Here is the piece that started it all:

And here is the artist’s explanation for the piece:
“Through my breast cancer journey I prayed, journaled, exercised, and had an amazing support group that all helped get me through it.  From the very beginning, I had an idea to transfer my thoughts into a visual piece of artwork.  Initially, I had wanted to do a big canvas, but I just didn’t have the energy to paint on a large canvas, and when I felt good, I wanted to get out of the house.  My sister suggested that I fit each expression into it’s own individual painting, so that I would be able to draw it in small scale while I was horizontal on the sofa.
My ideas were sketched to scale into squares along with beautiful support cards that inspired the color scheme and the message.  The location of each image does not have any specific sequence,[sic] they are placed by color and design.  The words however do.  On top, they are what I was feeling when I started this whole process and through cancer I changed.  Yes, cancer changed me for the better!  The bottom words are what supported me and got me finally to a place of being grateful for cancer.  It taught me how to be still, appreciate what I have, love those around me, be patient, and be present for others.  Survivors have so much to share – struggles, triumphs and hopes – in all avenues of life.  This painting was a healing process for me – to cry, to laugh, to hope, to face challenges and see accomplishments.  “[It’s] all good.”  I also wanted to leave this painting to my daughters (Natalie 21, Darcy 15) as a legacy of my journey through breast cancer.
There are now other pieces in the collection, including one that surprised me.  As I was perusing the art one morning while I waited for my turn in radiation, I noticed a familiar face.  On closer inspection, I identified a travel agent friend of mine, whose wife had created one of the pieces while going through treatment for breast cancer in 2009. 

I hope these pieces bring as much joy and inspiration to you as they have to me.  I’m tempted to make a canvas of my own, but even more than that, I see many techniques that I want to bring to my art journal, my bible journal, and even my scrapbooks.  It just goes to show that there is inspiration and beauty to be found everywhere, even in adversity…and mostly when you least expect it!
Click on each picture to see a larger image.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

More Fun with Friends

I just spent three days milling about the Great American Scrapbook Convention with Jennifer and Marion.  I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned them before, but they are sometimes volunteer “helpers” for various projects I’m working on, particularly my scrapbooking cruises.  This week they were helping me promote the cruises at the convention, which basically consists of a lot of shopping and a little bit of time passing out postcards and goodie bags.  I’m very grateful to have the help.  I could go pass out the cards on my own, but I hate to do things like that by myself.  It just seems to be easier when I have company.

I’m that way about a lot of things.  Just last night, we were discussing movies with friends and they were surprised when I mentioned that I won’t go to a movie by myself.  Apparently, a lot of people do, and they tell me they like it because they can really focus on the movie, but for me, a night at the movies is a social activity.  If I wanted to watch it by myself, I could just wait for it to come out on DVD.  I also don’t often drink alone or swim alone or eat in restaurants by myself.  I prefer to take a companion with me for business trips, to dinner seminars, and even to church.  I especially like to have friends with me when I crop.

Yes, I can sometimes get more done when I’m home alone working on an important project, but nine times out of ten, I forget to make the time to crop if I don’t have someone else here to make it a priority.  It’s just one of those indulgences that I find hard to justify when I have a lot of work to get done.   So yes, I prefer to have friends with me to crop, in many cases just so that I will be forced to sit down and craft.

What about you?  Do you do certain things with friends that you won’t do alone?  Do you prefer to crop with friends?  Let us know in the comments.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Watch Out for Convention “Deals”

I just wanted to keep this short and sweet to tell you about a little discovery I’ve made.  You see, I’ve learned that you can’t always trust the pricing at conventions.  I know…I know…we all go there expecting to lots of swag for very less than we would pay in a store or online.  But I’m here to tell you, that’s not always the case.  Take for instance these Craft D├ęcor brand Chalk Writer pens. 

I first discovered these pens at Scrapbook Expo in February.  They were included in a Make-n-take kit from Scrap That!  They were so popular after everyone used them in the make-n-take that they sold out of several colors.  I had planned to stock up on them, but kept talking myself out of it until it was too late.  So this year, I resolved to go buy at least a few.

Fast forward to Great American Scrapbook Convention this past weekend here in Arlington…. Scrap That! had the markers again, so I talked myself into buying a few. The only thing stopping me was that I didn’t know what color marker I had in my Scrapbook Expo kit, so I decided to wait until I could check for sure.  In the mean time, Jennifer wanted to stop at the Daiso store here in Carrollton to have a look around.  Lo and behold, what did I see?

Yep, you guessed it, a whole rack of the VERY SAME pens!  Only these were marked $1.50 instead of $3 each!  I bought up every color they had, spending $15 instead of twice that at the convention.  I saw several other items priced higher at the convention than online or in local stores, so it wasn’t just a one-time thing.  Now, I will grant you, not every item you find at convention is priced that way; you can get some really good deals.  Just be sure to check the pricing elsewhere before you commit or you might be spending more than you intended!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

We Pause for a Brief Commercial Message

Today I am in Promotion Mode.  That’s what happens when I have a lot of events and they aren’t filling up as fast as I want them to, or I just haven’t had time to take care of promoting them like I should.  Usually, I try to spread it out.  I don’t want my customers or my readers to be bombarded by emails and ads for things I’m trying to sell.  Some companies do that.  They’ll send out one or two emails every single day to remind you that it’s their annual “stock up on bath soap” sale, or “get extra points when you buy breakfast”.  It’s annoying.  I don't want to do that. 

Instead, I prefer word of mouth.  I want my customers and event participants to have so much fun at my events that they are eager to share with others and ready to come back and play again.  Don’t get me wrong, I do have to occasionally drop subtle hints, or post an occasional reminder on Facebook, and I send out roughly one newsletter email a month to let everyone know what’s going on, but lately, I have been so busy that I haven’t done any of that (or at least not much).  So I thought today I would do something I almost never do, and that is put it all in a blog post.  After all, I really don’t share all this stuff on the blog very often because the blog is more about crafting and projects, so you might not even know what’s going on.

Of course, a blog post with nothing but me hawking my wares would not be any fun at all, so today I’m going to kill two birds with one stone; I’m going to share some projects with you, and tell you how they relate to some of my events!

First, lets start with 

Cards (and other things, too!):

These cards were some that we made recently at our 3rd Wednesday Stamp Club meetings.  If you aren’t familiar with it, the stamp club is a gathering we have here at my house (aka Crafty Neighbor Studios) once per month.  We are led by Barbara King, a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator who prepares 2-3 projects for us to do each month.  It’s a lot of fun, and we’re definitely learning a lot of great techniques!  So if you’re in the DFW area on a 3rd Wednesday, please feel free to join us!  The first visit is free, after that, there is a $30 minimum order.  You can find all the details on


An example of our Perpetual Calendar

Recently, I’ve had a lot of requests for classes, including repeats of several classes I taught in years past.  My trusty side-kick and helper extraordinaire, Marion, and I worked up a schedule we thought would work for anyone, but I guess we were scheduling things too close to the end of school or something because we are still getting emails asking for different dates and times.  So here’s the deal…if you are in the DFW area and you want to take any of our classes, go to our Facebook page and find the post I made today about classes.  Give us your input about dates, times, etc.  We’ll use that info to come up with some more class dates – I promise!

Crops and Retreats:

I don’t have any public crops or retreats coming up any time soon.  I usually like to have one or two fundraiser crops per year, but I am not walking in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day this year, so no crop for that.  If you have an organization that needs to raise money, and you would like to host a Scrapbooking Fundraiser Crop, give me a shout!  I will be more than happy to organize one for you!  This is especially true in the DFW/North Texas area, but I will also help with crops in other locations as well.  It’s a great way to raise funds for your organization, and it works particularly well for schools, churches, and non-profits like breast cancer charities or social services organizations.  If you are interested, please send me an email.


I haven’t promoted them much here, but one of my favorite projects every year is our annual scrapbooking cruise!  The exciting thing about this year’s cruise is that we have two!  The full scoop is on our website, but here’s the skinny:

Crafty Neighbor Scrapbook LITE
Departing from Galveston, Texas
Carnival Liberty
October 3-8, 2016
Porting in Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico sailing 5 nights with “LITE” amenities, flexible crop times, and a more relaxed/fun environment.  Make your own schedule and work on your own projects.  Optional classes are extra.  Crafters and non-crafters of all skill levels are equally welcome.

Crafty Neighbor Scrapbooking Cruise
Departing from Galveston, Texas
Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas
January 8-15. 2017
Porting in Roatan (Honduras), Belize City (Belize) and Cozumel (Mexico) sailing 7-nights with FULL amenities, 24-hour open crop room, and lots of crafts, projects and demonstrations.  Participate in scheduled classes or work on your own projects.  All classes are included in the cost.  Crafters and non-crafters of all skill levels are equally welcome.

Here is one of the projects from our last cruise:

This simple layout was a make-n-take on our 2015 Scrap Cruise.
In all we had 4 make-n-takes, 1 interactive demo, 10+ hours of dedicated
class time plus games, contests, prizes, goodies and giveaways.

Garage Sales:

Last but not least, I’m sad to say I am still waiting for open dates at our Girl Scout facility for the semi-annual scrapbook garage sale.  They assure me that they will know the open dates by the end of May.  Keep your fingers crossed for a fall date.  If not, we may have to look at another facility, which would mean an increase in vendor rates, which I don’t want to do.

That’s it for now, thanks for your patience, and I hope you enjoyed the projects I shared as part of this giant advertisement!