Merry Christmas to All, and to All, a Good Night!

Merry Christmas‘Tis the joyous Christmas season

A favorite Christmas quote from A Christmas Carol, says …

It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its Mighty founder was a child Himself.
-Charles Dickens

The key to happiness is to hold on to that child-like wonder at Christmas.

Bah Humbug! cross stitch needlework
Bah Humbug!

Alas, the holiday season can bring a mix of good and bad memories. Once, during my  Bah Humbug! period, I cross-stitched another Dickens quote, Bah Humbug! And beautified it with a gilded frame.

Foremost this Christmas, cherish the simple things of the heart.

Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes. -Charles Dickens

Merry  Christmas to all, and to all, a good life!

How To TutorialMy digital how-to artwork for story illustration:

In Adobe Illustrator, I penned a blue gradient for my snow bank.
rolling_snow300x
I created layers of art in Photoshop. On top of the snow, I layered my Santa art, created in Illustrator.
Then, I duplicated Santa and skewed him, dialing back the transparency for a red shadow on the snow. I imagined Santa’s suit would reflect a jolly red on the snow rather than gray.
Santa and his Shadow
To complete the illustration, I added a lens flair above the snow for a heavenly light.

Christmas Greetings illustration of the nativity
“It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its Mighty founder was a child Himself.” -Dickens

And cropped line work of the Nativity by hubby Darrell Wiskur  from a Merry Christmas letter he designed years ago, commissioned by a dentist for his office Christmas letter. 

Read Luke 21:1-40, a Biblical record of the incarnation of Christ … Emmanuel, God is with us.

 

Spa Day in Mexico Goes Zany

Zany Day at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Scrapbook page for Spa Day, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Had fun in Photoshop, playing with the elements and paper from my Etsy Shop in my Zany Collection and made a 12″ by 12″ digital page around a favorite vacation spot, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
It was my first spa day, and it was perfect. I’m a solar-operated girl, so a seaside cabana on the Sea of Cortez was ideal for a massage. I’m surprised I didn’t fall asleep listing to the lull of the waves.
Unfortunately, I miss being on the beach, so looking at my photos conjures up a heap of “Wish I Were There!”
Gold Zany Brooch Frame

Design Kit for Journals and Scrapbooks

Zany Design Collection on Etsy

My Journal Entries are Digital Driven

Introducing my first digital journal art kit

I posted for sale my first collection of papers and elements on Etsy, a kit named Zany Design. The collection is mostly buttons and frames, with some photos of retro items, a hula doll, a white doily, a candlestick, and a teapot.
I made 11 papers for the collection, but the download limit on Etsy is 20 mb, so when I downloaded two papers, at 300 dpi, I was already over 15 mb, leaving less than five megabytes for the png files. The frames and elements are all png files for a transparent background.
I’m new to Etsy, but look forward to developing more collections and becoming more adept at navigating the Etsy marketplace. It already promises to be a fun enterprise.
ZanyBroochFrameHawaii

Prayer for Boston

CandlePrayer2600Honoring the Noble Spirit of Those Who Define Us

At the finish line, where victory is celebrated; instead, loss of life and limb and dashed hope. Bombs set off at the Boston Marathon to threaten, destroy – terrify. A selfish act to destroy another being: innocent victims of hate. Where some give love and compassion, others feed on hate and take from others what they do not have – the joy of life; the striving for excellence.

Spring and all its promise of new beginnings has found mixed within a seed of cruelty, causing us once again to hug each other and weep for strangers.

Lifting up prayers for hearts broken through tragedy. May they find peace and hope and strength in Boston.

Styling with Monograms – or, What’s in a Name?

Styling a Monogram

Monogram of the letter G with flowers
“G” for Gwendolyn

I heard a style watch for fall forecasting the comeback of monograms. Wanting to be trendy, I decided to design one for my scrap pages and journal notations.
I opened Adobe Illustrator, but found no font to inspire me at my fingertips.
Anxious to show progress quickly, I opened my iPad and turned a “G” doodle into a flower pot.Icon of a curved bar with fringe in blue

Back on my computer, I attempted a preppy style with three initials constrained in a circle, but had mild success. Also, I set my initials in JFRingmaster and warped the text in Illustrator.

Monograms with fancy letters using glymps from my typeface menu
A swish, swash monogram with glymps

For a frilly version of my monogram, I used the Illustrator Glyphs in the type menu to add ligatures for that look of aristocracy.

icon calligraphy with a ball of beadsStriving for a monogram sharpened my eye to typefaces and gave me a greater respect for those geniuses who design them. My latest typeface love is Axiforma from MyFonts. I’m crazy about the font because it comes with many faces, from thick to thin, in regular and italic, so I bought it.

Finally, years ago my hubby had a calligraphy artist pen my name. I scanned the art and outlined it in Illustrator.

Monogram Love

Order and Hierarchy of Initial Monogram

  • Same-size letters in a straight row represent: first, middle, and last initials.
  • Three initials with a large center initial and two smaller initials, on the right and left: large center initial for last name, with first initial to the left and middle initial to the right.
  • A wedding or couple’s monogram is made with a large center initial (their last name), with groom’s first initial on the left and bride’s first initial on the right.
  • Two letters, same size, represent your first and last initials.
  • Stylized single letters represent your first name or your last name.
Block letters from my Art journal

Add monograms to not just identify belongings but to add a personal stamp to your lifestyle. Celebrate your name!

At Starbucks or whenever hubby Darrell needs to give his name at a counter for pickup, he uses his super initials, DW, which alleviates letters and time and rescues the barista from a comedy of errors … “Daryl,” “Darrel,” “Darel” “Darrell”?

Monograms in my future
My monogram initials encircled with a heart reads as my first name and last initial or my initial monogramame or my monogram
Letters read as my initials, paw, or my nickname and last initial, Pat W. – a clever sketch by hubby.

First, I sketch or ink my monograms. And, I have a secret weapon. My husband is an illustrator. He leaves sketches like love notes on my desk when he knows I am working on an idea.

He left a monogram sketch on my desk yesterday of my nickname Pat and my last initial W.

In his usual cleverness, he inter-wove letters, adding an end swash on the W crossing back over the leading edge of the W forming a secondary T, to read both as my initials, PaW, or my nickname Pat W.

Think about your initials. Is there anything unique about the sequence of your letters that would make a distinctive monogram?

Play with the letters in your name, and create a distinctive mark, a custom monogram, all your own.

Re-writable EW monogram on a pillow made with mermaid fabric
Emma draws her monogram initials on a mermaid pillow with reversible sequins

A monogram is a trusty friend…

Learn lettering from gurus famous for copperplate and a myriad of calligraphy styles

Did you put a frog in the toilet? Asks Hubby

cricket frog or chorus frog that hopped onto the edge of our toilet
A cricket frog came to visit

No, I did not put a frog in the toilet!

A frog sitting comfortably on the commode caused a stir at our house. After my  hubby walked into the bathroom and saw the frog looking up at him, he asked me, “Did you put a frog in the toilet?”  I laughed, of course.

In his wildest imagination, my husband thought I put a frog on the edge of the commode to remind him to put the toilet seat down when finished!

Me placing the frog on the toilet seemed plausible to my husband. What other explanation could there be for a frog, inside our house, sitting on the edge of the toilet.

Of course, Darrell, a passionate wildlife photographer, rushed the frog upstairs to his studio and took a photo of it on his light table. However, the frog was an unwilling subject. He sat like a frozen statue and refused to hop for us.

Commando frog mystery

This cricket frog with its camouflage exterior can sail through the air with each hop. He has suction-cup feet, perfect for gripping a toilet bowl. We had seen him clamped on our windows before, peeping inside, but how did the frog enter our house?

My husband reasons the tiny, one-inch frog came in through the drain hole pipe housing between the basement crawl space and the house interior flooring in the shower. Sure!

I prefer a more glamorous,  big-bang entry: frog leaps into the house by way of the back door and the attached garage.

Darrell grocery shops late at night at Wal-Mart to avoid crowds. He brings the groceries in through the garage, with the garage door open. Frog sees bright light and opportunity.

Frog hops inside, undetected, in the middle of the night when Darrell is more interested in eating a bag of Cheetos, washed down with a can of root beer, than closing doors.

We know Mr. Frog didn’t ring the doorbell and come through the front door. And he hadn’t been leaping around our house prior because we would have noticed him, however diminutive.

I never saw the frog sitting on the commode myself, which would have been funny! Almost as funny as my husband asking, “Did you put a frog in the toilet?”

Mystery solved, in my mind


My  frog-entry theory has promise as proved days later, following another late-night grocery run, when a toad hopped in through the garage door, and I was there to greet him.

illustration of a toad
My favorite toad illustration by hubby, Darrell Wiskur

Toad illustration art by Darrell Wiskur, published in Living Things Change, Stepping Into Science; Regensteiner Publishing Enterprises, 1971; written by Lila Podendorf.

Life Begins at 80!

Life begins at 80 image

Life Begins at 80! Won’t that be grand!

clipping of a column by Frank Charles Laubach on being 80 years old
Frank Laubach writing on the joys of being 80!

I discovered a newspaper clipping from another generation, tucked in a box in our attic. The clipping is yellow with age.

These sage words by writer and columnist Frank Laubach were sealed between two layers of laminate plastic to signal their importance. Reading Laubach’s column is like seeing a rainbow – a gleaming light – at the end of the tunnel.

Life Begins at 80 by Frank Laubach

Birthday cake wishing you a merry 80 years - Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday!

I have good news for you. The first 80 years are the hardest. The second 80 are a succession of birthday parties.

Once you reach 80, everyone wants to carry your baggage and help you up the steps. If you forget your name or anybody’s name, or an appointment, or your own telephone number, or promise to be three places at the same time, or can’t remember how many grandchildren you have, you need only explain you are 80.

Being 80 is a lot better than being 70. At 70, people are mad at you for everything.

At 80, you have a perfect excuse, no matter what you do. If you act foolishly, it’s your second childhood. Everybody is looking for symptoms of softening of the brain.

Being 70 is no fun at all. At that age, they expect you to retire to a house in Florida and complain about your arthritis and you ask everybody to stop mumbling because you can’t understand them. (Actually, your hearing is about 50 percent gone.)

If you survive until you are 80, everybody is surprised you are still alive. They treat you with respect just for having lived so long. Actually, they seem surprised you can walk and talk sensibly.

So please, folks, try to make it to 80. It’s the best time of life. People forgive you for anything. If you ask me, life begins at 80. —Frank Laubach

Chicago columnist Laubach lived to be 85. With tongue in cheek he substantiates the premise that — at any age — our well-being  is merely a state of mind.

A modern twist on old age by Dr. Brandt – “You know you are old if you are too old for early onset dementia!”

One-Hundred Years is Frosting on the Cake!

Cartoon in New Yorker, Dec. 11, 1978, on page 57. Caption, My goodness. Is it one hundred years already. By James Mulligan
“My goodness! Is it one-hundred years already?”

Seniors Only

Hubby and I attended a senior’s luncheon in Branson at a community center. Lunch was proceeded with the standard announcements, Pledge of Allegiance, prayer, and a joke.

Joke of the Day 

Two duffers were playing golf when an 80-year-old woman streaked across the greens in her birthday suit.
Golfer 1: Did you see that woman?
Golfer 2: Yup!
Golfer 1: What was she wearing?
Golfer 2: Don’t know … but whatever it was, it needs ironing!

After lunch, Darrell and I played a round of golf. A few geese streaked across the greens in their birthday suits

There were goldfish in the pond. The sun was shining. Another lovely day in the Ozarks!

Laugh Out Loud

Trust you have friends who keep you young … friends to laugh-out-loud with, where you double over in laughter at least once a week.
So … I was at a Chamber of Commerce meeting with a speaker from Google, speaking on Web options for small business enterprises.
As with all distinguished speakers, she punctuated her remarks with a joke.
Q: What did the fish say when he ran into a wall?
A: Dam.
clown fish with red nose illustrates laugh out loud with friends

Illustration icon of beads and curls for text divider

SOURCE for 100-Years Cartoon: Cartoonist James Mulligan, New Yorker, Dec. 11, 1978; pg. 57 

Kokeshi Dolls Mailed to Canada

Kokeshi lipstick and perfumer
Silver Kokeshi lipstick and perfumer

Silver Kokeshi Lipstick Dolls

Kokeshi dolls, another fun sale on eBay.

Selling a Kokeshi doll lipstick and perfumer brought back memories of our travels to Cabo San Lucas and of Canada, the mailing destination for this sale on eBay.

It’s a small world

Filling out the shipping label to Canada brought back some dubious memories of two Canadian tourists we met in Cabo San Lucas on vacation in 2008.
Darrell and I took an eco-tour with the promise of seeing fossils on the Baja Peninsula. The brochure  had in big letters, Wear hiking boots or other well structured footwear.

When the shuttle stopped to pick-up two Canada tourists who were joining the group tour, they were sporting slip-on, wedge sandals. The tour guide looked disapprovingly at their flimsy footwear as they boarded.

“It’s all the shoes we have,” they said.

So, we fossil hunters were limited on our exploration. We could only hike so high up the mountain before it became too dangerous for the ballet shoes the Canadians were wearing, forcing us to abort our search.

That happening left an altered view in my mind of Canada as a country without hiking shoes or tennis shoes.

Flash forward to 2010 Winter Olympics and Canada

I had another glimpse into the heart of the Canadian people as I sat in front of the TV watching the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. I would have hopped a plane to Canada if I could.

NBC showcased the beautiful country and lifestyle and took viewers on nightly tours of restaurants.

Then I was reminded of Canada’s hospitality after 911 and was ready to sing Oh Canada.

NBC’s Tom Brokaw reported on Gander, Newfoundland, and how they welcomed 7,000 passengers in 2001 when U.S. closed air space over New York following the attack on the Twin Towers.

Now, 9-years later, watching the report and reunions of U.S. citizens with the generous Canadians who welcomed them into their homes in a time of national distress endeared Canada and its people to me.

Kokeshi dolls for the makeup table
Kokeshi dolls for your purse, a lipstick and perfumer

A note regarding the Kokeshi dolls: They are Japanese in origin. The taller one is a lipstick tube and the shorter one a perfumer that holds a lasting, rich perfume scent.

The outer canisters have remarkable craftsmanship, making them mini sculptures of art from a country of artisans.

All tourists aboard – fossil hunting in Cabo

Darrell hunting fossils
Darrell wearing fossil hunting gear
Fossil hunting in Mexico
Our guides referred to their rig as a Mexican limousine
Guide testing a fossil for authenticity
Guide says fossil is real if it sticks to your tongue
Tourist Alvin tests fossil for authenticity
Alvin, an engineer and  tourist from California, found a fossil that stuck to his tongue
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Visit my Made in Japan page on Estate Trinkets & Treasures to see other objects of art, made in Japan.