Clean Your Plate~ GPPS Street Team Challenge

Time for another challenge from Michelle Ward! As soon as I read this challenge, I knew that I was on the same page as Michelle, and then when I signed on and saw all of the other comments, I realized we have a whole Street Team Army, already cleaning our plates! I know people feel the need to purge and clean in the spring, but I also feel it in the fall. And now I know I am not alone!

Over the summer I get little bits of time to dash into the studio and work a bit on my art, never staying long enough to clean up after myself. As summer progresses, I keep the door closed, my little secret-lol! Then the kids go back to school and I have a few glorious hours each day to work on my art, oh, and clean the house:-) Then begins the purge. I feel this need to clean everything out before winter keeps me inside, warming my toes by the fire. This year, I did a ‘Clean Sweep’ and took everything out of my studio and put back what I wanted. It took me several days, and I had to pry some things out of my hands and say goodbye-sniff. It is necessary though, if you want a clear focus and direction. I used to be so scattered, doing this project and that project, and I feel like I am finally doing art that I love, and paring down all of the other areas is OK. I don’t need to do twenty different kinds of arts and crafts. I can focus on mixed media painting as that is what I truly love to do.

One BIG thing I am letting go of is scrap booking. When I look at the piles of pictures waiting to be cropped and arranged on decorated pages, it exhausts me. I have given myself permission to put the bulk of my pictures into pocket sleeves and do an occasional scrapbook page here and there. What a weight off my back!

Why is it that we cling to these ideals of what we ‘have’ to do? Overcommitment seems to be the standard anymore. I am going to try to give myself permission to let some things go this year. I have several exciting projects in the works this year, and I want to be able to focus on them and be able to enjoy the process, not just the end results!


I have long been an admirer from afar of Michelle Wards Green Pepper Press Street Team. I don’t always get over to her blog to check out the challenges, but when I do I end up staying half of forever reading back posts. She has so many creative ways to stretch your artistic muscles that I always leave feeling renewed and wanting to try something new. But, until now, I have not ever ‘officially’ joined in a monthly challenge. While drinking my coffee this morning, I visited her blog to learn of her sisters passing. My heart goes out to Michelle and her family for their considerable loss. Michelle’s response to her grief is this Pay It Forward challenge. She is one amazing gal! Now I have done several PIF’s and RAK’s this past year, on a small scale. It feels so good to see a package go off, knowing it will make someone smile, and hearing back that it made a difference to that person is the best possible feeling! Today though, I would like to share a few RAK’s I have received from none other than my best friend, whom I happen to be married to. This is not to be all sappy and sweet. It is to share how the smallest of things can turn someones day around. We often overlook the people that are closest to us, taking them for granted, and if we just took that extra minute to do something unexpected for them, how much it would uplift them.

Long ago we adopted a little word, ‘shmily’. I don’t even remember where we got it from, it means ‘see how much I love you?’ This little word shows up unexpectedly, and is an instant lift to the spirit! It is a little RAL (random act of love) that will brighten the worst of days. How could you not smile, if you found this written into the dirty window of your car, or written on the shower wall after DH has left for an early morning flight? Now, I’m not going to say that my DH is perfect, or that we don’t have our ‘moments’, we are human, but the things that stand out in my mind are the little things that show me how much he loves me. When I accidentally pulled the bumper off our brand new GTO, and had to call him while he was on a trip to tell him, he knew how upset I was and sent me flowers with a note saying “That’s alright, I’m ok, it ain’t nothin’ but another day. Only God knows where I’d be, if you ever stopped loving me.” These are words from a song by Montgomery Gentry. I’d rather have flowers on a day like that than an anniversary any day!

So I guess the thought I would like to leave with you is, do something nice for the person closest to you. It doesn’t have to be big, just a RAL that will make his heart smile:-)

Hand Carved Stamps

After visiting both Michelle Ward’s Green Pepper Press, (to order some fabulous new stamps) and Laurie Blau-Marshall’s blogs, and seeing all of the lovely hand carved stamps, I thought I would share a few also. Carving you own stamps is soooo much fun! I made my first attempts last year, when I taught a unit on it to my 5th graders. They had so much fun we even extended the lesson a couple of weeks! Their work was auctioned off at a fundraiser for the school and now hangs in a doctors office. This is the background I did using the Fleur d’le (sp?) stamp on the right. The diamond background was made to use in a ZNE design team challenge. It is an ATC background. Carving your own stamps is not hard, inexpensive, and lots of fun. You can draw your own image, or use an image transfer. Laurie had a great idea of outlining your design in charcoal and then burnishing it onto the rubber with a bone folder. I usually just draw right on the rubber and I like to take a small gouging tip of the Speedball carving tool, and make little gouges in the finished design for a distressed look. Have fun and let me know if you try it out so I can come have a looksee!