Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Heart Never Forgets

It was so hard to leave my mom in Alabama, knowing Russell is gone. Thank goodness for Bama, she's a dependable and loyal dog. Under the circumstances, it was very nice to return to the south after two decades. It seemed like nothing much has changed since we were there last, yet I know that I have changed. It was a very heavy and very sad feeling not finding Russell around in that big house, asking me if I wanted a drink or teasing me about not being a dog person. I regret that we didn't come to visit sooner. Oh well.

I want to share a few photos of my ten days in Alabama and a card that I made for my mom. I will begin with the food we ate. I completely forgot to take a photo of Milo's Sweet Tea. My sister and I drank that by the gallons. The stamp I used for the card is not from Stampin' Up! It's from Verses Rubber Stamps. They have really nice sentiment stamps. However, everything else from paper to ribbon are from Stampin' Up!

Sweet Corn Bread (even my executive chef of a sister said it was great)
BBQ Pulled Pork, Fried Green Tomatoes and Fried Okra
My parents'  home in Alabama
My parent's dog, Alabama aka "BAMA"

Each time we embrace a memory, we meet again with those we love...for the heart never forgets.  --- Flavia

Well, that's it for now. I hope to be able to create some thank you cards in the next few days. I can't believe another month has gone by. They had Christmas stuff in Hobby Lobby and it hit me that the holidays are fast approaching. Yikes! Thank you for stopping by. Come again soon!
Friday, July 27, 2012

Sweet Home Alabama

I recently lost one of my "Stars in the Sky". Cancer took our stepdad away from us six days ago. His name was Russell R. Johnson, he was only 68 years young. He was married to our mom for almost 25 years and he's been involved in our lives in all that time. He was around in almost all of our milestones and cheered us on all accomplishments, no matter how small. He walked my sister down the aisle when she got married. He was there when I graduated college and for the birth of my daughter. He was with us in many special occasions and always happy to share each and every one of them. We made him a proud dad and we were his family.

As we were going through the stacks of old photos a few nights ago, I was so touched to find so many pictures of my children with him; most especially my son's. He gave my son priceless childhood memories only a devoted grandfather could give him. He took my son fishing, camping, bowling and spent countless of hours hanging-out with him. They sincerely enjoyed each other's company. I must confess that I didn't fully appreciate his presence in my life until I witnessed how much he adored my son. I was already 18 when he came into my life, so I felt he was more my mother's husband than my dad. Having such teenage parents to begin with, my grandparents raised me and not having them in my life any longer is a void that at times cause me ache I cannot explain. So, I've always hoped for my children to grow up knowing what it's like to have grandparents who will love them and will want to spend time with them. I got that wish through my mom and Russell and since then I loved Russell more and more. My son is now 18 and will be starting college in a month. He was a well-rounded boy growing-up and evidently turning out to be a wonderful young man. I know in my heart that his grandpa had something to do with it and for that, I am eternally grateful.

I did not only lose a parent last July 22, children lost a wonderful grandfather and I grieve more for them than for myself. Family does not mean being blood-related at all. Looking back now, perhaps the "step" in stepdad meant he stepped-in to our lives by choice which made it more of a gift than an obligation. Often, the people who stay in your life are the ones you least expect to. We've all heard it before that, "the best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother." Russell loved our mom, they were partners in life and his absence will be felt by all of us immensely. As I cried with my mom while we said goodbye to our stepdad, I couldn't help imagine the pain and agony it must feel to lose someone you've been married to for 25 years... to lose a confidante and the friendship. Was it selfish of me that in the midst of my grief and sadness, I felt an overwhelming feeling of longing for my husband who's in California? I cannot wait to come home to his arms.

While I have been helping my mom sort out all the paperwork and important financial documents my stepdad left behind, I understood that no one can ever really be prepared for death. He knew he was ill for months and he did his best to put everything in order...he still ran out of time. Knowing him, I am sure he would have given anything for a little bit more time. He left behind many wonderful memories and friendships that will last. I am honored to say that my two younger sisters and I are his legacy and isn't that what life really is all about? In the end...the family one leaves behind and the difference one makes in other people's lives are the things that truly matter. He made a difference in our lives and we promise to always make him proud. Rest in Peace, dear Daddy Russell. I hope you knew how much you meant to me. Our hearts are broken because you are no longer here with us, but remembering all the good times and knowing you are no longer in pain give us strength and comfort. We will someday have a drink up in heaven.

BTW, I am typing this post in Alabama. It has been twenty years since we were last here. It's too bad that it has taken that long since we last visited. I have completely forgotten the hospitality and good-fellowship that can only be found in the south. Here, my sister and I, though in our early 40's...we are still referred to as girls, and it's not offensive at all. I find it sweet and endearing. We have not cooked for almost a week. Neighbors and friends came by nonstop to bring us food and to offer their condolences and to ask if there was anything they could do to help. Hugs are not optional. I have forgotten how much I loved the sweet tea here and I'm also surprised I don't have fried chicken coming out of my ears yet. Smile. It's such a beautiful town and the lands are abundant and green. It is so peaceful. I have not heard a fire truck, police car or ambulance drive by since Sunday. Oh well, I am sorry I don't have a card to share with you today. As soon as I get back to California I will have to make special thank you cards for everybody who supported our family during this difficult time. Tomorrow, we are going to Hobby Lobby and I am looking forward to it.

That's all for sweet iced tea awaits.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Convention Blues

This time last year I was on my way to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend my first Stampin' Up! Convention. After having been a hobby demonstrator since 2005, I felt it was time to experience and find out for myself what this annual convention was all about. It was so much fun and so much more than I imagined. Just think, thousands of people with the same passion as mine. I am bummed that I am not able to go this year...due to being on medical leave. Fortunately, I was able to make some card fronts that my Upline was kind enough to take and swap for me. I want to share one of them with you. Putting this together cheered me up and distracted me from thoughts of death and dying.

Card Recipe

Stamp Set(s): Pursuit of Happiness (Wood 121907 Clear 121970), Forever Young (Wood 122570 Clear 122572)
Paper: Wisteria Wonder, Basic Black, Island Indigo and Whisper White card stocks
Ink: Craft Stampin' pad in Basic Black (102192), Daffodil Delight (126944) and Lucky Limeade (126984) Classic Stampin pads
Accessories: Sponge Daubers (102892), Brayer (102395), Heat Tool (129053), Stampin' Emboss Powders in Clear (109130) and White (109132), Embossing Folder in Framed Tulips (121809).

Today is also my baby sister's 28th birthday. Happy birthday, Melissa! May you grow-up to be like your big sisters! Hahaha. That's it for now, thanks for stopping by!
Sunday, July 15, 2012

Summer Solstice

Just a short post to share with you the Shadow Box Frame and card I made for a friend who's moving to Washington. She will be greatly missed. Hopefully, I might lose some lbs. now that she won't be around to bring me lunch and feed me. Smile.

Shadow Box Frame. "Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend"

"How lucky I am to have known someone who was so hard to say goodbye to"
Card Recipe

Stamp Set(s): Summer Solstice (Wood 122024 Clear 122037), Papillon Potpourri (Wood 123757 Clear 123759)
Paper: Daffodil Delight, Basic Black and Whisper White card stocks
Ink: Rich Razzleberry, Calypso Corral, Daffodil Delight, Pool Party and Basic Black Classic Stampin' pads
Accessories: Elegant Butterfly punch (New item - 127526), Rhinestone Basic Jewels (119246), Stampin Dimesionals (104430)

My family is going through a really challenging time at the moment and I'd really appreciate all your good thoughts and well wishes. There are so many things I want to write, but I can't find the words to describe them. Has that ever happened to you? When you are overwhelmed with emotions, but you don't have the words to express them? I am in that state right now. Anyway, have a wonderful week, everyone!
Sunday, July 8, 2012

Faux Suede Flowers

It has been a very slow recovery and healing for me since my surgery almost three weeks ago. It's frustrating not being able to do a lot of things. Reruns of Friends, Sex and the City and Monk have been keeping me entertained. Oh, and I've been to many exotic places via the Travel channel. Watched two seasons of Downton Abbey and read a couple of books.

Yesterday, I was surprised and excited to wake-up without pain. I took a short walk and cooked some breakfast. I got so exhausted that I could not get-up all afternoon...pain returned with a vengeance in the evening. Oh well. It breaks my heart to see my crafting table untouched and my brand new stamps and goodies from my last order still in the box. I cannot wait to have my energy back and to be able to move fast. Note to self: be more patient with ME. Smile.

I just want to share with you a couple of cards from my Life's Events Cards class last month. I really like the Faux Suede Flowers technique. It takes time, but the result is definitely lovely. You can learn how to make them via this video 3D Faux Suede Flower Technique by one of my favorite Stampin' Up' demostrators Dawn Olchefske.

Card Recipe

Stamp Set(s): Very Vintage Jumbo Stampin' Round (117693), Loving Thoughts (Wood 125843, Clear (125845)
Paper: Very Vanilla, Calypso Coral and Basic Black card stocks
Ink: Basic Black Classic Stampin' pad, Stampin' Write markers in Calypso Coral and Lucky Limeade
Accessories: Eyelet Border Punch, Blossom Punch, 3/8" Designer Printed Brads (122940), Smooch Spritz in Vanilla Shimmer (118772), Jumbo Stampin' Around Handle (103661)

Card Recipe

Stamp Set(s): Very Vintage Jumbo Stampin' Round (117693), Loving Thoughts (Wood 125843, Clear (125845)
Paper: Very Vanilla, Daffodil Delight and Basic Black card stocks
Ink: Basic Black Classic Stampin' pad, Stampin' Write markers in Daffodil Delight and Lucky Limeade
Accessories: Eyelet Border Punch, Blossom Punch, 3/8" Neutral Brads, Smooch Spritz in Vanilla Shimmer (118772), Jumbo Stampin' Around Handle (103661)

Well, that's it for now. I will try to spend time creating this week, it might just be the thing that will cheer me up. Have a great week, everyone!