Friday, December 18, 2015

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

 The Nativity figures are up, snow has finally arrived, and I'm nearly ready for Christmas. I'll be spending it with my younger son in Montréal. We'll be Face Timing with my older son and family in South Carolina.

As you can see, the House Mouse mice are
on their way to a Christmas Eve celebration at church, braving a snowstorm, candles lighting their way.

Here's my Christmas card for you, with wishes for a beautiful Christmas, surrounded--even if from afar--by those you love.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Autumn Light

Autumn brings the beauty of pied colour, but also shortening days, morning frost and a change in the quality of sunlight. Even on a clear day, one senses the retreat of the sun in its diluted rays. Darkness comes too soon in the afternoon, and lingers too long in the morning.

In this northern city of Québec, the sun does get a bit of reinforcement on clear, sub-zero winter days, when its rays reflect off the snow, dazzling light-hungry eyes, giving the illusion of warmth. It is an illusion, but one that recalls the true warmth of summer, giving us a smile and a hope.

                                  Winter Hearts
                             Winter hearts fear not
                             The death of leaves
                             Nor the prophecies
                             Of ice and snow.
                             Winter hearts believe
                             In Spring.

                                      Kathleen Chabot

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Think Pink!

In November 1944, when my mother died of breast cancer at the age of 35, the diagnosis of any cancer was a death sentence. Treatments were experimental, and detection was almost always too late. If it was detected, the only way to deal with breast cancer was to remove the breast.

Great progress has been made in the treatment and detection of breast cancer, but there's still a lot of room for improvement in the detection and treatment, and prevention is a challenge.

House Mouse and Friends honours Breast Cancer Awareness Month with their new Challenge HMFMC205 "In the Pink",

This card features Amanda--House Mouse Sweet Scent stamp--doing her best to help us adopt a Pink Attitude. She's coloured with Stamping Up watercolour crayons, applied with a Stampin' Up Aquapen. The sentiment is a digital image from CS Designs, lightly sponged with SU Blushing Bride ink. The pink layer is SU Blushing Bride card stock, dry-embossed with the SU folder, Elegant Bouquet (retired). The base is SU Whisper White thick card stock.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Who's Afraid of Ghosts, Goblins and Ghouls?

 In spite of their disguises, the House Mouse mice won't scare anyone. Sorry, guys!

I loved putting on a costume and Trick or Treating as much as the mice do. After supper was the best time; just dark enough to lend atmosphere and populate the neighbourhood with imagined ghosts and ghouls, but still safe for visibility. A cup of hot cocoa on my return was always a welcome accompaniment to my hoard of treats.

Years later, I relived Halloween memories as I accompanied my two sons from house to house. I had the chance to accompany my older granddaughters once--a special treat!

The three cards in this post were all made with House Mouse stamps. From top to bottom: Tweet Treats for All, Gettin' Spooky, and Incognito.

The yellow card stock on the first card was embossed with Branches with Leaves, by Ellison.The third card was reverse-masked to make the moon before it was stamped with Trees Backgrounder by Cornish Heritage Farms. Stampin' Up Night of Navy was then sponged over the image. The little ghostie was stamped and cut out before being added to the card with  Stampin' Dimensionals.

Watercolouring was done with Stampin' Up Watercolour Wonder crayons.

The third card will be entered in the Fall/Halloween/Anything Goes challenge at

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

On a Magic Carpet

It's time for another House Mouse & Friends Monday Challenge, The subject is Bingo or Anything Goes. This card is for Bingo, and I chose the vertical middle squares; orange, yellow and green. The green is subtle, because the leaves have put on their autumn colours, and only a little summer green remains on the veins and the stem.

The stamp is House Mouse Floating on a Leaf, coloured with Stampin' Up watercolour crayons (retired, alas!); the background paper comes from my stash and has been there for ages, the base is discontinued Stampin' Up Marigold Morning.

I'm drawn to the House Mouse mice because of their irrepressible joy. They take delight in everything, and their--or rather Ellen Jarecki's--inventiveness in using everyday objects for mousy mischief and fun is inspiring. Their mischief is never harmful or mean, and they cherish their friends and each other. Here they're using a couple of leaves for a magic carpet. I think I'll grab that leaf stem and sail along with them. Want to join me?

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Back to the rain!

The new House Mouse & Friends Monday Challenge is Back to School. A card or other project must feature any of the House Mouse & Friends, Gruffies, or Happy Hoppers, and Anything Goes is the alternate subject.

Maxwell, Monica, Mudpie, and Muzzy are on their way to the first day of school. They don't seem bothered by the deluge, semi-protected as they are by the last of the summer's flowers. Mudpie seems a little hesitant about getting his feet wet, while Monica is happily splashing, Muzzy is soaking his tail, and Maxwell is leaping from rock to rock.

The scene reminds me of my first days at kindergarten. My house was not far from school, so after a couple of days being accompanied by my Grandmother, I was to walk there and back--an adventure in itself--and had a shiny new pair of red rubber boots for rainy days. When the first rainy day came, I set out, joyfully splashing in every puddle I could find. I was later told I was to avoid the puddles, which totally boggled my mind, because I couldn't see the point of boots if one was to avoid puddles.

I remember, too, my two sons' back to school days. I always saw them off reluctantly, because it meant the end of more relaxed time together. They were a joy to be with, not perfect, but full of energy, ideas and thoughts that could surprise and amaze. To keep them entertained during family vacation trips, while my husband did the driving,  I made up stories, which the boys haven't forgotten.  It's not so much the stories themselves, I'm sure, which stay in their minds, but the feeling of the four of us being woven together by the magic of imagined worlds.

Rainy Days and Back to School, what treasured, bittersweet memories!

The card base is Stampin' Up Lovely Lilac, overlaid with SU Sheer Perfection Vellum. The stamp is House Mouse Rainy Daisy Day. To watercolour, I used various SU watercolour crayons, markers, and ink. I used Judikins Diamond Glaze on the raindrops.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cat and Mouse Games

House Mouse stamps never fail to warm my heart and make me smile. Ellen Jareckie, the artist who designs the stamps, has created a little world of critters who are all friends. She has other lines of animal stamps, but the mice are my favourites.

Each mouse has a name and a personality. Mudpie, who's shaking the petals from the tree, is said to be lazy, and has a notched ear, due to his brother, Maxwell, mistaking his ear for a piece of cheese. Muzzy, who's enjoying the rain of perfumed petals, is fuzzy and has really long hair. The cat? The cat is a Friend. Only the mice have names.

There are several stamps with the mice interacting with cats, grooming them, giving them treats, bandaging a hurt paw. As one who loves animals, cats in particular, I love seeing cats and mice being friendly. The House Mouse world is an animal Garden of Eden, where mischief is often on the menu, but never a Friend or Mouse.

I made this card for the House Mouse and Friends Monday challenge HMFMC201. The current Monday challenge is Flower Power, or Anything Goes, as long as one of the House Mouse line of stamps is used. If you love the House Mouse critters, do check out the House Mouse and Friends blog.

Blossoming Friendship is the name of the stamp I used. I coloured it with Stampin' UP Water Color Wonder Crayons (retired) and Markers. The sky was sponged. It's an A2 (4 1/4"x5 1/2") size. Note: A base has been added to this card. It was originally a single-layer card, but I had neglected to note that the measurements of the stamp fit those of a 4"x5.25" layer, so I cut the extra bits and attached it to a 4.25x5.5 SU Blushing Bride base.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Stampin' Up Thick Whisper White card stock was used for the card base, the flowered layer is Stampin' Up Sheer Perfection Vellum, coloured on the reverse side with SU Summer Sun (retired) and Garden Green Markers. The Cornish Heritage Farms sentiment was stamped on the front with StazOn Tuxedo Black ink. The cage and bird stamps are from the retired SU set, Nature Walk.

This stamp set makes me think of Maya Angelou's 1969 autobiography,  "I know Why the Caged Bird Sings." The title drew me then and still does. What does the author know, what is her answer? On first reading that title, I suspected that the reason wouldn't be that the bird sings for joy. Her poem,  Caged Bird, gives the dark answer. The bird is a metaphor for the slave and for the freed slave struggling for basic rights. Freedom and rights are seldom gained without struggle and suffering.

The poem Sympathy by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) also uses a caged bird as metaphor for the slaves of antebellum United States, and for their descendants who struggle for full recognition of their dignity as human beings. The poem contains the line, "I know why the caged bird sings, ah me". Dunbar was close to the experience of slavery; his parents had both been slaves in Kentucky, and he was born in the years when freed slaves and their children began the struggle to claim their place as full citizens.

These poems, different in style and voice, both express forcefully what those suffer who are treated as less than human. The images of cruelty and of longing for freedom strike to my heart and lead me to reflect on the dangers of treating any human life as inferior or without value. Human life, from the instant of conception to the moment of natural death, is priceless.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

By the Sea

We're having a heat wave, which for Québec City, located on the St. Lawrence River, means lots of crushing humidity; 61% at this moment, and it's been higher. So I'm consuming lots of iced drinks, keeping the fans going--no air-conditioning, high heat doesn't last long enough--and as the sun comes around to peer through my NorthWest facing windows and balcony door, I close the blinds.

When I'm tempted to complain of the heat, I think of  winter snowbanks that reach my shoulder, and winds straight from the arctic. Doesn't make me feel cooler, but it puts things in perspective.

In addition to cool drinks, and appreciation of the moment,  I take virtual seaside vacations, via cards I make. Nothing relaxes me like the sound of waves rolling onto a beach, the sound of seagulls, and the remembered feeling of some days spent long ago on a beach in Corpus Christi, Texas, where I waded into the Gulf waters, forgetting sunscreen.

I can still feel fish brushing my legs, and see clearly the Ray flying past in the water ahead of me. I laugh again, thinking of waves crashing over me as I tried in vain to bodysurf. I also have a sharp memory of the pain of a never-again sunburn.

Every summer, I get out my favourite water-themed Stampin' Up stamp sets: Summer by the Sea, and Seaside Sketches, from which the images in today's cards are taken. I hope they help you relax a little, and think kindly of the fleeting summer days.

Sunday, August 09, 2015


What does "summer" conjure up for you? Long, lazy days? Unbearable heat? Vacation with family? Picnics? No school? All of the above? When I hear "Summer", I sigh and go into relax mode.

Until I had spent a winter in Québec City, where I now live, I didn't appreciate summer. When it started warming up and the snow banks of that first long winter were almost gone, it was like coming out of hibernation. Suddenly, the sounds of children playing, dogs barking, neighbours calling out to each other drifted in through double windows opened for the first time since October. I took Summer for granted when I lived in Oklahoma.

Notice the orange leaves at the top of the trees on the card. As I enjoyed a cup of iced coffee on my balcony today, I noticed a nearby tree with a couple of orange leaves near its top. Autumn is announcing itself.

 I love Autumn here almost as much as Summer; cool mornings and evenings, warm days, a riot of colours, but winter arrives all too soon and for all too long.  I won't think of the short days to come, I'll concentrate on the last of the long days of Summer.

Friday, August 07, 2015


When I think of roots, I generally think of parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, ancestors, the generations of people whose DNA legacy I carry. But blood relatives are not the only contributors to the person I am today. Certainly, the grandparents, in whose nurturing home I grew up after the early death of my mother and absence of my father, taught me the values and morals I hold today.  Two uncles, really more brothers than uncles, also greatly influenced me. But a challenge on the Stamp Nation website to "make a card for a friend you haven't seen in awhile" made me reflect on friendship. 
Friends are definitely part of our roots, part of what makes us who we are. Friends help shape our character and influence our opinions and beliefs, even when we don't agree. How grateful I am for my first close friends, those I made in early childhood and during my teenage and college years. The closest of them are still in my life, even though we now live far apart. I'm grateful for my solid roots.