Saturday, July 26, 2014

Received MMSA Swap

Mail Me Some Art Envelope Swap

Yeah!!! I got my Mail Me Some Art envelope swap today.  On one hand I was slightly embarrassed that my envelopes were painfully simple but you've got to start somewhere. On the other hand, I was so excited that I jumped in to the swap even though I was nervous because I got some beautiful envelopes. It's really interesting to see all the ideas people have and how creative everyone is.  Here they are:
Envelope 1 front:

 Envelope #2.
Envelope #3:

Look what is inside!!!! Cookie recipes :) I can't wait to try them. 

Envelope #4- Front


Envelope #5- Front- Babar


 I made these little postcards to send a quick thank you note to each sender. 

More Kindness

So I was kind of disappointed that nobody else had any more ideas for spreading kindness. When I write, I'm often wondering if anybody actually reads this since I don't have many comments. (Hi Ashley and Sarah, whom I know probably are :) )  I found another group tonight called the ARK Project. You may have seen them on the Today Show. Check them out. The reason I think Random Acts of Kindness are so important to me is that it is a way to show the love of Christ in the world. In the Bible, Jesus says the greatest two commandments are to "Love God with all your heart, all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important 'Love your neighbor as yourself' " Matthew 22:37-39 I, unfortunately, am not the best at always acting loving in every situation. I can judge too quickly, lose patience or just not even realize I'm falling really short of where I should be. Random Acts of Kindness allow me to point to God when I'm asked about why I'm "nice" and to talk about his influence over my life. 

Personal Life

     I think everybody is finally over pneumonia and all the other ailments of the summer.. lol Timmy is playing in a baseball tournament over the next few weeks. David is playing too many games on the computer enjoying being silly around the house with me. The kid loves to dance! It's great to watch Matt cringe as he pities that David has picked up on my awesome moves. I'm learning some athletically challenging ones from him too. Ha ha!  I'm starting to try to get some new lessons put together for school.  Matt and I will be celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary on the 1st. 
    I hope that you are well! Have a great night!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Mail art card and received postcrossing cards. Anyone from Finland?

    The past few days we had a mailman who was not our normal postal worker. I got no mail. Not even bills, fliers, etc. Today my mailbox had some treats. Here are 2 postcrossing cards I received. This one is from Finland, a country I have decided I would eventually like to visit.

Those curious little creatures are called Moomins. They're well known in Finland and I have written about them before on the blog. I also liked the stamp and her Postcrossing sticker. I love getting stuff with Postcrossing on it. 

     This card came from Germany. It says "Where is the wrong note?" Can you find it?

 I got this card the other day. I especially loved the Titanic stamp. I hadn't seen that one before.

    One of the cards I was asked to send this week is headed to Canada. The woman likes to make mail art and with my new gelli plate I thought maybe I should make her a card!  So, I did. Here it is:

The colors are more vivid in person. I gelli rolled the background of the card and used bubble wrap to add texture. It looked like a giraffe to me. I added the flower from a Marimekko napkin. (Marimekko is a Finnish design company "renown for its original prints and colours since 1951." Thanks  Apparently it's a Finland day today. While I'm at it- I once had strawberry vanilla soup from Finland. It was instant soup and it was delicious and creamy. If anyone from Finland is reading, I'd love to do a swap for some soup.) Then I made the tiny house with scraps from gelli printing, a Sharpie, white chalk pen and the heart is made from nail polish. I got the house idea from this incredibly talented mixed media artist. She wrote a blog post about it here.  I hope the woman I sent it to likes it. It's simple compared to some of the things I see that get mailed but I liked it. 
     In other news, Timmy starts another baseball tournament tomorrow. Woot woot! Hope they have a great time and play well. Some of the boys are meeting for breakfast before the game. Very cute. (He's 8, they're still cute.) 
    Alright, off to do my devotionals and tidy up the kitchen a little bit. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Spread a Little Kindness

     Lately I have been discouraged with the amount of violence, negativity and discouragement in the world. Not that I'm not always bothered by it, but this week I just though this world is filled with such sadness for so many people. I don't think that anyone can turn on the news, hear about things like the Malaysian flight MH17 being shot down or civil war within a country or bordering countries without feeling sorrow or wondering what is wrong with all of us. (As a Christian, I would say sin.) Day after day we learn of the daily struggles of our family, friends and acquaintances. We suffer from "ear polution" (as I once read in a book) of people complaining about unimportant things or each other. It's 90 degrees here today and I have done my own share of complaining. To be honest, I complain way too much. I try not to but sometimes I am just not a pleasant person to be around. (Especially if it's hot. Who wants to bring me an ice cream?)   Luckily, I'm friends with a ton of good people who are patient with me and are generally uplifting. 
     So, I've been thinking of ways to spread a little kindness and decided to compile a list of some things I've been involved with.  I have also included the links to any relevant pages. Let me know if you decide to try any of these and what your experiences are.  :)  Also, if you have any sites you'd like to share, please add them to the comments. 

More Love Letters More Love Letters is a site that sends letters to people who could use some encouragement. Honestly, Timmy was lucky enough to be a recipient of some of these cards right before he started 2nd grade. First grade was not so great socially and he was a little nervous about the new school year. We got inundated with about 100 letters/cards/postcards and he felt extremely special. After reading their encouragement (some of them over and over), he felt pretty confident that he was a good kid and would do alright in 2nd grade. The current letter requests are for a woman recently diagnosed with brain cancer, a couple preparing to get married, a woman recovering from addiction, a man serving his country, and a girl suffering from depression. Maybe writing to a stranger is weird for you but maybe you have words of encouragement or wisdom that might be life-changing for one of these (or all!) folks!  You could also write a random "love letter" and leave it in a public place where it might be discovered by someone who needs some encouragement. Send a card to a friend who is going through a hard time. Remind your grandma that you love her. Get the good mail out!

The Birthday Project  The birthday project celebrates your life by spreading random acts of kindness to other people. In this project, people celebrate their birthday by doing one RAK (Random act of kindness) for each year they were alive. You obviously don't have to practice RAK only on your birthday but is a cool idea. What are some ideas for things to do? Buy someone flowers. Volunteer at a nursing home. Pay for the order behind you in a drive thru or on a toll. Carry someone's groceries to their car (if they don't think you're sketchy!). Look for opportunities. On Mother's Day this year I went to Dunkin' Donuts and ordered a coffee, wrap, and 2 donuts for the kiddos. The woman behind me was acting a little strangely (to the point that I asked if she would like to go ahead of us in line) and when we got to the counter, she squeezed in and said. "I'd like to pay for their order." We chatted and she said "I don't have a mom anymore, so I'd like to celebrate Mother's Day by buying breakfast for you and your sweet, little boys." I was very touched... and slightly confused. We were on the way to church so I thanked her and headed to church. I wish now that I had taken an extra 10 minutes, invited the woman to sit and have breakfast with us and spoke with her. I've been on the lookout for her every week since then. She really made my day.

Adopt a US Soldier  Although many of our troops are heading home, there are still many, many people serving in various places across the world. AAUSS gives you the name of a person to support while they are on their deployment. I have supported quite a few soldiers through them and have learned a lot. This is not a penpal service so there is a chance you may never hear from your soldier. Out of the 9 I have supported, I only heard from 5 or 6. I was frustrated at the end of their deployment that AAUSS doesn't necessarily tell you so you end up just getting your mail returned. Thinking of what many of these soldiers go through and that some of them don't really have access to communicate much with the outside world fixed my attitude a bit. Realistically, if I had a choice between writing a letter to my sons or a random stranger in my free time, I'm pretty sure the sons would get a response first. Many of my soldiers have told me that my letters and/or packages have been appreciated.  You can also write or put together a package as a group. Timmy's boy scout troop did a package and I have sent cards and letters from church. 

Project Frontlines If you're not really into the whole commitment of adopting a soldier, Project Frontlines basically asks you to send 1 letter or package (your choice) to a soldier they assign you. We just sent a letter  and a postcard out today. This is also run through Adopt A US Soldier.

Chemo Angels  This is not something I have done before but my friend Ashley has and she is trying to spread the word. This site asks you to write cards and letters of support to people who have been diagnosed with cancer are going through chemotherapy. Have you lost a friend or family member from cancer? Maybe this would be a great way to honor them.  This site does ask that you write your partner every week. I just put in an application right now to put my money where my mouth is :)  I'm very excited to start. 

Operation Beautiful  Ever feel down on yourself? Imagine rushing through your day and finding a note with an encouraging message on it. I once saw a post-it from Operation Beautiful on a bathroom mirror at a bookstore. I was in a hurry (as always), went to the bathroom, washed my hands and looked at the mirror, which had a note saying "Smile, you look great!" I didn't look great at all, and I felt like a mess but the note was uplifting and made me smile. 

Not a writer? (Why not? What is wrong with you? Lol. Just kidding... sorta) Here are some other ideas
- Volunteer to babysit for a family (for free) so mom and dad can go out for a date.

- Make a box of sunshine for someone.  We did this as a family. I brought the 2 kids to the dollar store. We got cute little yellow baskets and yellow themed things- a candle, dish towel, candy, hand soap, lotion, a mug with a Bible verse on it, yellow ribbon- it can be anything. We made 3. We gave 1 to a couple just returning home from vacation. We left it outside their apartment door so they would be greeted with something nice. We gave another to the sweetest woman we know at our church (Sorry if you are a church friend and reading this. It was Mary Ellen.. I'm sure you'd agree. lol). Everything we got was yellow, except that the store had run out of a lemon soap we had bought everybody else. So, we got her a cherry blossom soap. It has been about a year since we did this and she still talks about how special that basket made her feel and how nice the soap was. The 3rd we gave to a random couple in a supermarket parking lot. (Yes, my husband also feels that I'm extremely strange)  The kids and I sat in our car in the parking lot with the basket and prayed about who they wanted to give it to. After about 10 minutes, Timmy yelled "them!" and pointed to an older couple struggling to get in their car. We walked over and explained that we had made a basket to brighten someone's day and that the boys wanted to give it to them. They seemed confused and thought we were trying to sell them something. We explained that it wasn't for sale and told them what was in it and gave it to them. The lady gave Timmy a hug and they sat in their car unpacking the basket and smiling. I would definitely do this project again though the random stranger thing put me a little out of my comfort zone.

- Don't forget your family too. Have you ever taken your kids out for a date, one on one, just to let them know how much you love them or to talk to them individually? Breakfast in bed for your spouse? (If they like to be woken up with food rather than letting them sleep in.. my husband prefers the sleep in option!)  Our families sometimes can be the people we take for granted and they're stuck seeing all sides of us, not just the nice ones we present in public. 

- Collect food/supplies for a homeless shelter.

- A former student of mine runs Hope for Creativity  Run an art supply drive at home or school. Send supplies for art packs for homeless children. 

- Bring a child that you care about somewhere special. One of the teens(7th grade)  at church once brought a younger student (kindergarten) to the mall to Build A Bear, just because she's a nice kid. The impact she made on the younger student that day was amazing. Maybe there is a young student, or even a teen, that needs a caring adult to reach out. 

- Smile at people. Look them in the eye. Say hello. Hold a door. Use words like "please" and "thank you" or even "ma'am" or "sir."  

      There are millions of ways that you can change the world in a positive way- even if it is something very small that only affects one person. I'm sure I could've written pages more for ideas of what to do. Think of what you're passionate about and think of ways you can help. I know this post may be "too cheery" for some people who read my blog but hopefully others will be inspired to take a few minutes out of their day to spread a little kindness in a world that sorely needs it. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Incoming from the US and from Russia

I am not finished with my ICAD card yet but I wanted to share my two postcards I have received today.

    This one is from Korana. She is a photographer in UT. Check out her beautiful photographs! Calexico is a band. I listened to a little bit of them and I like what I heard so far. I listened to 2 songs and they were completely different in style. I like groups with variation.

I love how vibrant the colors are on this balloon. I have come to learn that I really like the ideas of hot air balloons. I think I would be afraid to ever go on one, but I love seeing pictures. I'd love to see the huge hot air balloon festival in New Mexico sometime.
     Elvina also sent me some really pretty stamps on the back of the card. One is of Ludmila Zykina, who is a Soviet singer.

Friday, July 18, 2014

What do you use your gelli plate for? + ICAD48

Today's ICAD prompt was Matryoshka Doll. This was done in crayon. I wanted to use colored pencils but then I realized I had bought some for Timmy's school supplies this year. (Yes, already..)  I thought this one would be difficult so I am pleased with my happy little ladies. I originally thought of doing one of our family. Everybody else would look a little too plump.. lol.
   One of my students gave me a generous gift card to Amazon. I was holding onto it to wait for something special. While doing the ICAD challenge, I saw so many cool backgrounds of the cards and wondered how do they do that?  Well, for many of them, the secret was that they used their gelli plate. I decided that this is what I could buy myself for a treat. It came today and I waited patiently all day. This is the packaging.

These are some of the beautiful backgrounds that came out on my first try. These were all made with the same combinations of paint. I love the variety. I might try to make some envelopes and bookmarks using the gelli plate. I think I like the 3rd one and the last one the best. David's favorite was the 2nd one.

How many of you guys have a gelli plate? What projects have you done with them? I'm thinking of trying to use black paint for a background next time. I wonder if it will be really vibrant or a horrible mess. We'll see!
    I had no good incoming mail today. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

ICAD47, Postcrossing and P&L Swap

Today David and I sat and painted. My ICAD47 (purple prompt) was on the top. His is on the bottom. I wanted to do something different with the seed beads but I thought I'd just experiment tonight.

  Today I finally sent an outgoing letter to my friend Marianne in The Netherlands. It was nice to write a letter again. I haven't written in a while because of my elbow issues (which were partially caused by fine motor movements in my hands/wrist/fingers). 
    These were my incoming cards:
This one is from a teacher in the US. Three Island Crossing is a state park located in Idaho.

 This one was from a preschool in Poland. The food are "Ruskie pierogi" (Russian pierogis) which are like a dumpling filled with potatoes and cottage cheese. Have you ever had potato and cottage cheese together? I haven't.
This was from Kirsty from Penpalling & Letters. We both took part in a July card swap. Croissants- yum. I didn't like croissants until I had a chocolate filled one in Germany! This card is from The Netherlands.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cotton Candy balls?

Well, this will be a somewhat "food" related post. For ICAD, our prompt was recipe. I decided to write a card for what we had for dinner. Since I wanted people to be able to actually read the card, I took up most of the space of the card writing out the recipe and didn't worry about decoration. This was my first time making this recipe (which is from Diabetic Meals in 30 Minutes or Less). It was really easy and tasted like lo mein. Timmy literally went back for extra 2 or 3 times. You should try it. I love trying new recipes. If you have a special one, feel free to e-mail it to me or send it in a letter!
   Here's why I put quotations around food earlier. Today my husband went out with the kids for a while, and on the way home he stopped to pick up some things for the recipe. When they walked in, David (6) was carrying this:

 What the heck? Cotton candy balls? My first reaction was thinking nothing that color could be good for you. So, I took the lid off and smelled them. They have a lovely, cotton-candy-ish smell. I decided to try one. They are basically cheese balls that were sweetened and not cheesy. The flavor was interesting at first until you got the stale cheese ball aftertaste after. I felt like I was eating a smurf.  I laughed at Matt for getting them and he said they just HAD TO try them. Timmy "LOVES" them. David likes them too as you can see from how many are missing in the container.
     To redeem myself as a mom- they also ate the sesame noodles (David was excited there were carrots in there. I hate carrots.) and I made strawberry banana smoothies for dessert. They do eat food that is healthy too. (Notice the basket of fruit behind the cotton candy balls.) Any particularly interesting food make it into your house lately?

     I spent the day today getting some housework done. We live in a small apartment and have way too many possessions. I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in the room with the most clutter so I was pleased. I took a brief break to send a few thank you notes, make a duplicate of the black and white tape card I made yesterday to send to a Postcrosser and take a trip to the post office. I only had one card that came to me today. It game from Agata in Germany. She got the card in Paris. It's very cute. This is frequently what Timmy looks like after dessert. lol.

    It has been way too long since I have sat down to write a letter. I'm going to go start one to a great penpal (and a very patient one!!!) and hopefully finish before bed. Have a great day!

PS> I just found out about a Postcrossing meetup in August. I might try to go meet some other postcrossers from MA.