Chicken Water And Craft Fairs

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Colder weather has arrived here in Minnesota, and you know what that means.


I made a batch of chicken soup from a grocery-store rotisserie chicken carcass. It was a two day process.

The first day, the chicken was stewed 8-10 hours in the crockpot with garlic, onions, and miscellaneous veg (I actually only had celery). That made the stock.

Day 2, I pulled out all the bones, skin, and old veggies. Then, after going shopping, I put fresh onions, garlic, carrots, and celery in the crock, along with the chicken meat, broth, and plenty of spices. I let that stew for another 8-10 hours.

And voila! After two days of cooking, I had a big batch of chicken water. I mean soup. The blandest soup ever made.

It was very audacious of me to think I could have any sort of culinary success without a tried-and-true recipe.

Anyway, if cold weather means soup, then soup means crackers, and crackers mean cheeses. I love cheeses. After making the grocery store veg run, I made a cheese run.

cheese and crackers


The other thing cold weather means is Christmas craft fairs. My niece, S2, e-mailed and asked me if I’d like to participate in the craft fair her kids’ school is putting on.

At first I said no, since I’m retired and it kind of sounded like work. But then No.2 Sis (S2’s mother) pointed out that I have a whole room of my apartment stuffed with craft supplies, and I could possibly turn some of those supplies into cash.

Hmm, was that brilliant or what? I started thinking of the room of “The Vault” instead of “The Studio.”

So I signed up for the craft fair at Nativity of Mary School in Bloomington, Minnesota, which will be from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 9th. And yes, this is a shameless plug.

So far, I’ve made 90 Christmas cards, 40 pairs of earrings, and 3 necklaces. I’ve got almost 2 weeks left, so I’m sure I can get those numbers higher.

My goal is to run out of Christmas paper for card-making.

I’m sure I have too many craft supplies to run out of most of the other card and jewelry components. And remember, this is what I have left after a considerable amount of down-sizing! It’s a little embarrassing.





hand-made Christmas cards


Stay tuned…



Mass-produced Birthday Cards, May 2017

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Me and No.2 Sis, on the couch, watching TV and playing on our phones.

No.2 Sis: I’m tired.

Me: Me, too. I found this shade garden on Pinterest.

Sis: I think it’s nap time.

Me: I could grow ferns and hostas.


Me: But, for color, I could add blue veronica.


Me: Day lilies would add color, too.


Me: I wonder if Tiger lilies grow in the shade.


Me: OMG! You’re tired, and I’m still sitting on the couch, which is your bed!

Sis: {snore}

I guess once Sis chants the magic words, “nap time”, nothing else is required.

I had a lot of birthday cards to make in May, so I wanted something I could mass-produce. I used Freshly Made Sketches #207.

I found three coordinating designer papers in a feminine pack, and three in a more gender neutral pack. All supplies are from Stampin’ Up.

I cut a 2 inch strip from each piece of paper, then cut each strip into three lengths. I shuffled the papers so each card had a variety of patterns, then glued it all down.



Added the sentiment and, kapow! shazam! Six cards in less than half an hour.



I can’t wait to get into my own apartment, and I’m sure No.2 Sis feels the same (although she’s been a very generous hostess).

The furniture’s been delivered, so it’ll be as soon as I can get off the pain-killers. Yay!

Stay tuned…



The Ghost of Christmas Future, and New Year’s Resolutions

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This Christmas is over, and after all the gift-giving, card-sending, partying and over-eating, all I want to do is…start on next year’s preparations.

Am I sick, or what?

It might be because I never finished decorating for this Christmas. Or it might be because I haven’t had time to do anything very creative for a while, so I want to make some more Christmas cards and some earrings to give as gifts. Goddess knows, I have enough earrings for my own wearing for this lifetime!

But, it’s New Year’s eve today, so I must review my 2015 resolutions to see how I did.



Oh my, oh my. This was a complete and utter FAIL. I started 2015 with $8000 in credit card debt, and ended 2015 with $12,600 in credit card debt. I had approximately $6000 in medical bills this year, while I had $1500 budgeted. I also had to buy new tires for Gypsy Blue, to the tune of $1000.

This week I withdrew $4500 from my retirement savings (gulp) to pay off the “small” cards, and I refinanced the $8100 balance on an expiring 0% interest card to a new 0% interest card.


This went pretty well, if slower than I would’ve liked, so I’ll call it a WIN. Yay!

I started 2015 at 231 bags, boxes and small pieces of furniture cleared out of the house, and ended the year at 309.


This was a 50-50 success-fail. I had a weight loss of 25 pounds, then fell of the lo-carb wagon in slo-mo, gained 15 pounds back, got back on the wagon, lost 8 pounds, fell off the wagon from Thanksgiving through Christmas, got back on the wagon, lost 2 pounds…

Up and down, back and forth, to and fro…you get the idea.

I just decided, a tie is a WIN.


FAIL. I bought a new camera last year and can’t even figure out how to turn it on.


FAIL. This was an “I should do this to try to make extra money” resolution. My heart wasn’t really in it.


FAIL. This was an “I should do this to make Dr. Paul, my naturopath, proud of me” resolution. My heart wasn’t really in this one, either.

I didn’t make a resolution to get back into my Herbalism course, but I started it up anyway. I had left it a little while (cough*years*cough) ago, when I was just 60% through part one of three. I finished parts one and two this year! Yay! BONUS WIN.


Embarrassing to admit, but probably my most successful year ever.




  2. BUILD UP $1200 EMERGENCY FUND. (Not much, but $1200 more than I have right now).
  3. PAY CASH FOR EVERYTHING. (No new charges).

Of course, I want to eat well more consistently, and I want to continue decluttering, and I want to learn to use that damn camera, but I don’t want to focus my resolutions on those things.

Hey, to make sure I’m extra successful, maybe I should resolve to NOT take a tech writing class or learn Tai Chi!

Stay tuned…

p.s. I made $59 extra in December. I sold $24 worth of household goods to a thrift store and won $35 at the casino.


249, or Last Minute Laurel

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I gave myself a month, A MONTH, to clean my dining room for my Stampin’ Up party and it’s not done yet. The party’s tomorrow. Here’s what I did all week.

Saturday: Did my taxes. Helped No.2 Sis shop for furniture for her new townhouse. Played cards with the City Sisters.

Sunday: Cooked Heroin Chicken Tenders, yum. Made a lot of progress on clearing the dining room table, then got distracted by making just a few more cards before getting the last of my stamp sets put away. (Ooh…look! Something shiny!)

Gorgeous Grunge cards

Monday: Was going to read a few pages of a novel. Got caught up in it and didn’t put it down until I’d read the whole thing. Compulsive much?

Tuesday: Got a call from an old friend who was feeling down. Talked to her for two hours until I had her laughing hysterically. Well, it was either my jokes or the wine she was drinking.

Wednesday: Started another novel. Don’t I ever learn? Read it through to the end.

Thursday: Called No.2 Sis to meet me for dinner at a local restaurant. We sat and talked for three hours. I should have left a bigger tip.

Friday: Got Gypsy Blue’s oil changed and wipers replaced. Gassed her up. Went to the bank. Went to the hair salon. Organized my underwear drawer (because THAT’S important).

No.2 Sis came over and helped me out by packing up 5 bags of recycling (I let go of a large swath of my magazine collection) so I could finish putting away my stamping supplies. Took Sis out to dinner to thank her for the help. Went to the grocery store for party food. And I’m ALMOST ready. Just a few (dozen) things to finish up tomorrow before the party.

Yes, my name is Laurel. Last Minute Laurel.

In high school at Our Lady of Sweet and Sour Perplexity, I would often go into the math study room the hour before advanced algebra class. Some nervous math geek would ask me what I got for an answer to one of the homework questions, and I say “Just a minute, I haven’t done that one yet”.

I’d start to calculate the homework problems until I came to the one that was causing them trouble, and then confirm whether or not they had the right answer. I realized later that their shock wasn’t because I had the right answer. It was because I was starting the assignment minutes before it was due.

I always thought that I did my best work under pressure. I know now that it’s not my best work. It’s just that I do the MOST work under pressure. It’s the adrenaline, you know. I’ll be ready for tomorrow, but I’ll be sure to do it in the most stressful, adrenaline-filled way possible.

And I wonder why I’m so tired most of the time? (Note to self: Google symptoms and treatment of adrenal fatigue.)

Stay tuned….

p.s. The cards were made with Stampin’ Up papers and inks in Pacific Point, Soft Suede and Whisper White. The stamps sets are Gorgeous Grunge and One In a Million, also from Stampin’ Up.

p.p.s. I found this cool website that articulates the lessons I’ve been trying to teach myself the past year. It’s www.TheTortoiseKnowsBest. Check it out.

p.p.p.s. I shared this at Chic on a Shoestring.



VD Cards For My Girlfriends

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Here’s the first set of VD (Valentine’s Day) cards I made. I’m sending them to my girlfriends so they’re all girls, no boys allowed.

Valentine's Day collage cards

I made collages with Graphics 45 papers, then collaged a layer of tissue paper over top of them. I decided I didn’t like the tissue paper.

Here’s the second set I made a few days later.

Valentines cards 2

I like these better. No tissue paper layer. I thought the tissue paper would add some texture, but not deaden the colors so much.

By the way, I believe I mentioned that one of my 2015 New Year’s resolutions was to take a photography class. I haven’t done that yet, obviously. I start a Tai Chi class (another resolution) next Saturday, though.

Stay tuned…

p.s. I shared this at The Cottage Market.

And at Cozy Little House.


How to Write Out Christmas Cards

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Writing out Christmas cards can be a daunting task. Here’s how I make it easy and fun.

1. Write a Christmas letter. That way you can just write “Dear So-and-So” (not literally) at the beginning and “Merry Christmas” at the end. You don’t have to hand write the highlights of the year in every card. Print the letter up on pretty holiday paper.

2. Gather your cards and supplies on the bed. Supplies include your fluffiest robe and favorite slippers. Cat is optional.

Christmas card writing supplies.

Christmas card writing supplies.

3. Brew a pot of tea. Schnapps adds a little zing.

A spot of tea.

A spot of tea.

4. Put on your favorite Christmas movie. It’s a Wonderful Life , A Christmas Carol, the Patrick Stewart version, or Elf. If none of these are your favorite, then I don’t think we can be friends. Okay, I’ll include A Christmas Story, but that’s it.

5. Write out the cards. Remember, minimal greetings, let the letter do the talking.

6. Address, add the return address label (which may help to hold the fatter cards shut if you stick the label across the back of the envelope), and add your Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer stamp.

Rudolph stamps.

Rudolph stamps.

You’re done when the cards are all made out, OR the movie is over, OR the Schnapps is gone. Really, there are limits.

I don’t think we’re surprised who really ended up with the fluffy robe, are we?

Cat on robe.

Bella gets the fluffy robe.

Stay tuned…

p.s. I linked this to Classy Clutter.

And to Cozy Little House.

And to Savvy Southern Style.

And to Fluster Buster.

And Oh My- Creative.

Note to readers: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the link (whether it’s the product I recommend or another). Thanks for helping me earn margarita money!

A Delicate Tundra Flower

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One of my dashboard warning lights was flashing at me Monday morning. It was the tire pressure warning, so I pulled up outside the tire store to get it checked. They had a window in the lobby that looked into the garage, so I was able to watch the whole song and dance that went into fluffing up tires.

A young man took several minutes to put on his gloves and then he slowly opened the garage door. He took the air hose off the wall and went outside and attached it to one of Gypsy Blue’s tires. Then he dashed back inside, jumping up and down and slapping his hands on his sides to warm them. He repeated this drama three more times. Then he came back in for good, shut the garage door, and turned a heat gun onto his gloved hands.

It was cold out, zero degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius), but my goddess, what a delicate tundra flower that boy was! No one bothered to tell me that the car was ready to go, because the youngster was still working himself over with the heat gun. I thanked the guy at the desk, and took off.

I was 20 minutes late for work, but Gypsy’s tires are nice and plump again.

These last few evenings, I’ve been more inclined to work on making cards than work on cooking or cleaning. After all, it’s only a few weeks until Christmas, and I want to give some card sets as gifts.

So far, I’ve done this one….

Stamp Set Have a Seat

Have a Seat

It’s hard to see, but there’s a lacy piece of paper under the blue card stock.

This was my inspiration.

And this one…

Stamp Set Birthday Bakery

Birthday Bakery

The ribbon is velvet.

This was my inspiration.

Stay tuned…

I linked up to Chic on a Shoestring.






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Now that my carbohydrate laden Thanksgiving is over – my nephew’s girlfriend brought Snickerdoodles (from the Betty Crocker cookbook) – I’m back on my detoxifying food regimen. Just say no to carbs!

Unfortunately, I’ve had a headache for three days now, because of the carb withdrawal. Was it worth it? Probably not. Will I do things differently at Christmas? Probably not.

And, now that bonus days off work are over, I’m back to my decluttering. First, maintenance on the rooms that are pretty good.

Queen Bath: 5 minutes to put away things on the counter. I also had to try this drain unclogging recipe. The bent hanger’s not doing the job. It took two treatments and 30 minutes, but the recipe eventually worked.

Queen bedroom: 20 minutes to mate socks, put clean clothes away, and put away things from night tables.

Kitchen: 25 minutes to load dishwasher and clean up after making pot roast (I couldn’t find a low-carb recipe, so I just threw the roast, low-carb veg, and spices in crock pot). I also made herbed butter for  flavoring vegetables during the upcoming week. Meh, I’m not sure it’s possible to improve on butter. I won’t make that again.

Queen closet: 35 minutes to try on pants and fill 2 donation bags (that’s 224 bags in total). Also, I put away clothes piled on the dresser and reorganized the hanging clothes. I like to organize tops by sleeve length. It may be weird, but it makes things easier to find.

Queen closet (left side).

Queen closet (left side).

Queen closet (right side).

Queen closet (right side).

Queen closet, after.

Queen closet, after.

Queen closet, after.

Queen closet, after.

Oooooh, look, something pretty! I was starting on the living room, but I got distracted by my Stample books. They’re 3-ring binders that I fill with index cards and card samples, one for each stamp set.

Stampin' Up card samples


Beside the 70 or so Stamples I still need to create, I want to make “Emergency Card Kits” for a couple of friends. Each kit has 8 hand made birthday cards, 8 envelopes, and 8 “Forever” postage stamps. That way, whenever they realize they need a card at the last minute, they’re all set.

I just reread that last paragraph, and it occurred to me that I have WAY too many stamp sets. I pulled out 13 sets to sell. Hmmm, I’ll have to go through them again, and get a little more ruthless. But for now, I play.

Stay tuned…

I linked up to Cozy Little House.

And Classy Clutter.

Note to readers: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the link (whether it’s the product I recommend or another). Thanks for helping me earn margarita money!



Christmas Card Hack

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I was kind of slouched down in bed, reading, when Bella the cat climbed into my lap, as she often did. But this time, she used my soft belly as a trampoline and vaulted herself to the end of the bed. The force of her hind feet pushed the air out of me with a big “Oof”! Not cool, Bella. She came back and I thought she’d lie down now, but no, she vaulted again, trying to improve her distance. Then she came back again! No, no, no. Well, one more time and that’s it!

It’s a good thing I don’t read while laying on my stomach. If she had vaulted off of my full and generous bottom, she might have hit the wall and concussed herself.

I brought the “keeper” boxes, the things I thought I couldn’t live without, in from the garage. I’m going through them again with the goal of paring them down by half.

I found some little gift cards from many, many Christmases ago. I figured I’d donate them, since my family, friends and I don’t exchange gifts anymore. We’re all trying to live more simply and get rid of our clutter. But then No.2 Sis came up with a brilliant idea. Why not cut the backs off the little cards and mount them on a standard size card? Voila, easy peasy Christmas cards!

snowflake emboss Christmas cards GE DIGITAL CAMERA

I made a Stampin’ Up Very Vanilla base card. Then I embossed some Real Red card stock with a snowflake pattern and glued that onto the base card.  I mounted the little gift cards on the red card stock with SU dimensionals. I love how they turned out. I wish I was a better photographer, so you could love them too!

I’ll keep practicing 🙂

Stay tuned…

p.s. I linked this to Cozy Little House.

p.p.s. I also linked this to Tiny Sidekick.

p.p.s. I also linked this to Chic on a Shoestring.

p.p.p.s. I also linked this to Summer Scraps.



Photo/Collage Cards

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Due to an unfortunate misunderstanding (clusterf*ck) with my insurance company, I have been without insulin for a week. High blood sugar turns me into a cotton-headed ninny muggins. Playing cards with my sisters this weekend, my conversation was full of Spoonerisms and outright gibberish. I assured my card partner that we were losing because I was the “leak wink”. Commensurate became commacommacom, and endoscopy was endododo. All this explanation is just to prepare you for these cards I made from my leftover vacation pictures.


Photo cards.

Photo cards.

I cut the pictures into strips and glued the strips on a piece of paper. Then I sketched the desired shape (house, feather) on the back and cut it out. Not my best work, but it’s the thought that counts, and the size of the check enclosed.

I’ve been collecting ephemera for collage cards, so I set aside the vacation photos and pulled out a book on the history of farm equipment. Fascinating stuff. I dabbed a little ink on the main page, cut out some butterflies and added some phrases from the book.

Collage cards.

Collage cards.

Those were fun to do. I think next time I’ll use smaller pieces of the book pages, and add some stamps and some color.

Stay tuned…

P.S. My insulin was finally delivered. I can now speak English fairly well and I only need to sleep 8 hours per night, as opposed to 15. Life is good!

P.P.S. I was looking at some of my old bookmarks and found the blog that inspired the Sedona pix cards. I also made Christmas cards using this technique. I made Christmas trees with strips of old tech journal covers. Look here to see this done well 🙂