Creative 2017 is Now in Session! Won’t you Join Me?

It looks like 2017 is going to be an extremely creative year for me. I’m only 3 days in and so far I have been working on a quilt, drawn a neighborhood home, started Joanne Sharpe’s 2017 Artful Life Class, and have a knitting project on my needles! All this… and so much more either in the design stage, or further!

The Quilt – I fell in love with Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s Star Storm pattern and have been busy choosing fabrics for mine. I am blogging about the process… so you can read all about it HERE and HERE. Deviating from the original color scheme is certainly exercising my creative brain!

Star Storm creative Fabric Selection

House Drawing – My neighborhood is an eclectic mix of homes at the Jersey Shore. From sprawling mansions to tiny bungalows and everything in between, we have it all. As I walk around I am humbled by some of the amazing homes. I want to draw and paint so many of them!! One of my favorites is one that has so much character and texture it SCREAMS for me to look at it as I pass. The stained glass window on the front door is a spider web!!! So AWESOME! Taking a break from the quilt and some computer work, I spent this rainy day finally drawing this house. I still have to pull out my water colors to finish… but that might have to wait for another day. Working from a quick snapshot taken this summer, I had to take creative license on some areas I couldn’t see well.

creative Ink drawing

2017 Artful Life Class – I signed up for this online class the moment I heard about it… grabbing the ‘early bird’ pricing. I have been following Joanne Sharpe for a few years now, purchased her books, read her articles in magazines, and have even taken an older class or two. I love her easy style of teaching… and the positive atmosphere she creates in her classes. This particular class runs the ENTIRE YEAR!!! One of the main reasons I signed up for her class was to document my life in a fun and creative way, while learning new techniques on a regular basis. I highly recommend this class to ALL of you… even if you don’t think you can draw! Seriously! Joanne makes it sooooo easy to follow her!! More information can be found HERE!

Creative Lettering - 2017 Artful Life

Knitting – In reality I have TWO projects on needles. The first is a hat for my grandson in Florida. Obviously it will be lightweight as the temperature doesn’t drop that low. It won’t take long to complete… maybe a day or two. The second project KILLS ME!!! The scarf that took me THREE YEARS of off and on again knitting… and had to be ripped out and re-started FOUR times (post of progress HERE)… was LOST!!! I only got to wear it TWICE!! I was wearing it when I hopped on the PATCO High Speed Line, and by the time I walked the many blocks to The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia… it was GONE! AAACCCCKKK!!! I can only hope that it is keeping some homeless person a little bit warmer this winter, and they needed it more than me. I quickly purchased new yarn (on sale… SCORE!)… and am ready to start all over again! To satisfy my creative side, and not feel I’m knitting the same thing over again, I purchased a different color.

Other Projects – First up, I have another card table play tent to sew for my daughter’s business… Posted Fete (formally Bash Box). Last time was a Luau theme… this time it’s camping. Fun! It will debut next month. The creative design stage is complete… it’s now time to get this thing on the sewing machine. Secondly… I’m working on a super secret project due soon. As soon as I am able to share it with you, I’ll post.

Working on the computer, checking in on high school classmate’s parents, staying in  touch with family and friends, and finally eating and sleeping round out my day. The big question I have now is… WHEN did I ever have the time to work full-time job????

Here’s wishing you a happy and creative 2017!!!



New Books vs Library Books

Having owned my own bookstores… it’s been quite a long time since I’ve borrowed a book from a local library. Oh… I have been in them, but mostly to read magazines and newspapers, or to borrow movies or music CDs… not books.

I have been spoiled for many years. Any book I desired was easily obtainable by a simple request to the publisher. Many times books I had no clue were published at all came flooding into my store with letters suggesting I read them… then sell them. I was never at a loss for something new and interesting to wrap my head around.

There is nothing better than a new book. Crisp white pages, un-cracked spine, the smell of paper and ink… ahhh… that wonderful ‘new book’ smell. Untouched by someone else carrying the promise of taking you on an adventure, if only for a few hours.

Now that I am ‘retired’ from the book biz… I have to satisfy my story cravings like everyone else and either purchase the book (horrors!), borrow it from a friend, check Amazon’s FREE book per month for Prime Members, or see if it’s available in the library.

Let me start this conversation by stating I prefer to read hardcover copies. I like the weight and feel in my hand. I like to physically turn the pages in anticipation of the next line. I’m old-fashioned that way. Paperbacks are my second preference. I still get to turn the page, they fit in my tote bag and if left unattended on a beach blanket while I take a quick dip in the water, there is no fear someone will steal it… like an e-reader or iPad.

That being said, I am not a book snob. I like a good story no matter how it is delivered. I listen to books on my iPod when walking, driving, knitting, or sewing. I read them on my iPad when traveling or in a waiting room, and upon occasion have been known to listen carefully when someone else is reading a story out loud. We live in a marvelous world with so many options available to us.

Having a unsatiable appetite for reading, and a limited budget for purchasing… I have become better acquainted with my library lately. The problems I am encountering however are maddening. The more popular books, like the New York Times Bestsellers seem to have a waiting list… a very l-o-n-g waiting list. There’s even a waiting list for the library e-reader copies… and books on tape! I’m not used to waiting… not only am I spoiled, but impatient as well. There are times the book I am interested in is so obscure, the library doesn’t even offer it. UGH!

Currently I am holding in my hands a hardcover library edtion of The Light Between Oceans written by M.L. Stedman. This book was recommended by a friend and I couldn’t wait to read it. The very first thing I noticed was the annoying crinkling sound of the protective plastic cover every time I shift the book in my hands or turn a page. Previous owners have bent the top corners down to save their place, but never un-bent them, and someone spilled a liquid on this particular copy so the warped pages add an extra texture I hadn’t expected… not to mention the few torn pages and masking tape holding the front cover on. The pages have softened with wear, the binding ‘broken in’ from much use… the book flops in my hands.

The story is still a good one… it’s totally entertaining, engaging, and well written… I just wish the book was in better condition… to enhance my experience. I sometimes fear there are icky germs lurking between the pages ready to jump out at me. Don’t laugh… I once found a worm crawling out of a library book. Ick!

Library Book

If this were a rare first edition copy of some classic, I wouldn’t be bothered by such a condition. I would hold the book gingerly as to not incur further damage and treat it with the reverence it deserves. However… this particular book was printed not quite two years ago and it is already in such deplorable condition that if it were mine, I would feel uncomfortable loaning it to a friend.

Sigh… such ‘First World Problems’… I know. As I said before… I’m spoiled… and I know it.

It could be worse… I’ve encountered books whose pages were stuck together by some unknown substance… ewwwwww!

Please be kind with any book you borrow from the library or friends. The future reader will thank you… especially if it’s me 🙂


The Day My Pen Ran Out Of Ink…

My pen ran out of ink!!! No! Really! I’m serious!!
My pen… RAN… OUT… of… INK!!

Top pen shows some ink still available. Bottom pen is E-M-P-T-Y!!!

Lately I have been obsessed with writing. Daily Journal writing helps me to ‘think through’ problems and issues. Grocery lists make sure I get home with everything I need. Condolences, Birthday Greetings, Thank you cards and more keep my hand moving along the paper. I have found that a lot of my book and blog writing is first done on paper too. Writing by hand slows my brain down so I can think while I write. I am amazed at how many times I change a word in my mind from the moment I think of the sentence until the time it shows up on the paper. Going the ‘old fashion’ route isn’t as frustrating either. No red or green squiggly lines show up and tell me how uneducated I am.

I don’t think I have ever written so much in my life that a pen actually ran dry. With no warning either. One minute words were flowing easily off the pen tip, and the next… nothing. See?

Clear writing… then BOOM, no ink. I had to search for another pen IN THE DARK to finish my thought. UGH!

Who knew this was possible??? Obviously quite a few people must be aware of this issue because look… It’s an advertising feature. I’m astonished!

Whoa… 40% Longer! How long is it 40% longer than??

I have been around the block for quite a few years. Once we were allowed to use an ink pen instead of a pencil, around fourth grade I think, I never looked back. Pen was my writing utensil of choice. I clearly remember my friend Mary pressing down so hard when she wrote, her paper curled at the edges. I wanted to be just like her… but my hand hurt after only two pages, so I gave up.

In my younger years Bic was my ‘go to’ pen. Blue Ink, medium point. It blobbed and leaked ruining my purse linings, but I didn’t know any better. The tips were made of metal back then and if your pen skipped you simply heated the tip with a match and the ink began to flow again. Eventually the Bic company switched to a plastic tip and then you only ruined your pen. As I got older I moved on to black ink, fine point. Then I hit my ‘creative stride’ and wrote in multi-color (mostly hot pink) gel pens. I have grown to full adulthood and have settled on an inexpensive PaperMate Profile. It feels comfortable in my hand and glides across the paper as easy as a greased pig.

Over the years I have received pen ‘awards’… you know, those Cross Pen and Pencil sets held in a wooden case with an engraved plaque stuck to the top. Those pens are never use, just there for show. I wonder how much ink are in them? I will never know. Every time I have tried to use it the ink was already dried up.

I have given pens as gifts too. For example, I bought my son-in-law ‘to be’ a Mont Blanc as a college graduation gift. I know he has lost… and found it a few times. No clue if he still has it. However, picking it out for him was fun. I stood in the store at Bridgewater Commons and wrote his name over and over again with different pens until… BINGO! One pen felt so comfortable, and his name seemed to effortlessly flow as if the pen knew it was going to belong to him. It is NOT the pen I would have chosen had I not scribbled with it. The pen picked me, I didn’t pick it.

I don’t know about you… but pens don’t normally stay in my possession long enough for me to realize there is a finite amount of gooey ink. I leave them on counters, lose them at the bottom of my purse, pack them away in boxes, leave them in my car, and hand them to needy strangers in the Department of Motor Vehicle lines… which of course they ‘forget’ to return. That’s OK, I don’t mind. In the cold and flu season germs are every where and it’s best not to use ‘community’ pens or share yours.

The major problem I have with pens, is just like policemen… they are never around when you need one. In a pinch I have been known to jot a phone number down with lipstick, nail polish, and a burnt stick. Once I even signed a document with grape juice and a toothpick. Hey… the document was going to be faxed… the recipient would never know!

Now that I know running out of ink MIGHT become a problem in the future I will be more diligent when making a purchase. I wonder if any company has thought about installing a fuel gauge on the barrel giving you the option to switch your pen before you run out?

If you think I am obsessed about pens… wait until you read my future blog about scissors! I could probably write a book entirely on them! Don’t get me started!!! Geesh!