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The Eternal Optimist

I started this blog way back when as a home for my creative writing, then it kind of morphed into a craft blog also. I mostly ignore it, except when I am home for any extended amount of time, like now. For some reason, physical or mental distress always triggers my creative side.

On December 2 I had a hernia repair, again. Not the same as the one I had in 2015. No, my body broke again in the same area, but differently. This time the lining of my abdomen, the lining that keeps your guts from falling out, decided to develop a rather large hole. So I am off work until sometime in early January. I am considered an “essential worker” so there has been no previous quarantine for me. And I live in Texas, so quarantine is an iffy thing anyway. I have had friends and family test positive, but no one has had any serious complications, so I am lucky in that regard. But this post isn’t about that. It’s about my love/hate relationship with my creative muse, Sally.

I don’t remember being particularly artistic as a child. I have a younger brother who can draw quite well, and my mother was always doing jigsaw puzzles and paint by number sets, but I was never really drawn to anything in the visual arts. Of course, there was the requisite art projects in school.I enjoyed them, but had no desire to try anything on my own. Sally had not shown herself to me yet, and I was quite content to be an average child. Most of my spare time was spent reading.Then, in junior high, Sally showed up and convinced me I could write my own book. Sally was wrong. Sally, as I was to come to find out, is just a little bit crazy, and a lot lazy. Like me. If I ignore her, she goes away. I have no idea where, but if my dreams are any indication, she lives a very exciting, if weird life.

Sally is an eternal optimist. No matter how many times I give up on a project, she shows up with a “can do ” attitide. She convinces me to buy things, to organize and clean and get everything ready, so all I have to do is, well, do it. Then she leaves, and I am stuck with a pile of craft supplies and no idea where to start. Tough decisions must me made.

I have a month of free time and more supplies than I could ever hope to use. Don’t believe me? You might have seen similar pictures in a previous post. I have three separate areas I can craft in.

This is a closet I have all my sewing and rubberstamping supplies in. Currently, semi-organized. Most of the binders are full of stamps and stencils.

The next three pictures are of my converted patio. The entire space is dedicated to my crafting, now that I have the exercise equipment in the garage.

The third area is my office/guest bedroom. It houses my 3 printers, Dan’s 3d printer, my Cameo, and my desktop PC. Plus more supplies.

My first decision is a complete halt on buying anything else craft related.These pictures are only a tip of the iceberg. Second, no deadlines. Giving myself a time limit is the surest way to stifle my creativity. That is why I don’t do swaps and challenges anymore.

On my youtube channel and this blog, I started a series where I gave myself all kinds of constraints as a challenge. That did not work out, and I promptly abandoned it without an explanation. I sincerely apologize to anyone who wanted to follow along. So this time, I am just going to take it one day at a time, and see what happens. I will document it here, and do a flip through on youtube. On my own time table.

My first project is a lap book/journal thingy I owe a friend. Then I have a very grand undertaking for another friend. Then 2 more friend projects, lol. I am using all my friends as motivation. Hopefully, they will enjoy the finished projects and I will gain enough experience to make something I can sell. I hope you will check back to see my progress, but if you are not as optimistic as Sally I understand.

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Must. Empty. Brain.

Inertia is a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).(Google search definition)

Combine the two and you get me.

This is a stream of consciousness blog, so I will be jumping all over the place. Not necessarily writing it for consumption, but more as therapy.

My OCD is very mild and has only really been evident in the last 10 years of my life. I just recently turned 57, so in the grand scheme, it has not been an issue I have felt the need to address. It is certainly not something I need medication for, and you could even look at it as a good thing. And really, OCD, as described above, is not the best description of my issue. I don’t do things repetitively, like wash my hands or count things. Although, when I am stressed, I have in the past counted silently to myself. Not sure when I started doing that, but I don’t do it so much any more. ADD/ADHD is not really accurate either.

My main problem is one of focus. My brain never shuts down, or more accurately , shuts up. Writing this is an attempt to declutter my brain a bit. I have a constant dialogue running, and it is extremely hard sometimes to focus on one thing. Which is where the inertia comes in. When you have 20 different things you want to do, picking one and actually doing it is hard, at least for me. So I usually just end up not doing anything.

It is currently 8:13 AM on a Sunday morning, and I have been up since 6. I have drank my usual 2 cups of coffee, and have yet to get dressed. Dan, my husband just got up. He is currently laid off work, and keeps different hours than me. I usually get up at 4:15 AM to get to work by 5:30, so 6 AM is “sleeping in”. I am sitting in my recliner as I write this, and we are discussing the things we need to do today. We just bought an aquarium and need to go and get fish. He has building projects to finish, so a supply run to Home Depot is in order. We probably won’t get going til around 10. Once we do, and get our errands run and get back home, it will be time to think about dinner. I go to bed around 9 pm on work nights, and we like to eat early. This is how most of our weekends go. It is a routine that is not productive and needs to change, but will it? Probably not.

I am 57, Dan is 59. We both have bad backs, Dan has neuropathy in his feet, I am prone to headaches and migraines. I also have a thyroid condition that affects my energy levels. And I am lazy. Always have been, always will be. But Dan is not. He likes to do physical things. So bad back and neuropathy do not stop him from doing things. I don’t like pain, and I will always take the path of least resistance. Because of my back, for which I had surgery that did not work completely, I have pain radiating down my legs constantly. The levels fluctuate, depending on what I am doing. So even when I am doing something I really enjoy, like crafting, I can only do it in short bursts. But I have a full time job, standing on concrete,wearing steel toe shoes, in an unairconditioned warehouse. I do my job, albeit with lots of complaining. I am sure my co-workers are sick of it, but I do my job. I live in Texas, and summer is about to get in full swing. We are required to wear masks,(Covid 19) and combined with the heat, I am going to be miserable. Once I get home, and get cooled off, I will not want to do anything but play on the computer and watch TV or read. I know this from experience.

Sounds like a bunch of excuses, right? Of course it does, because that is what it is. I am the queen of self analysis and I know exactly what all my flaws are, and why I have them. Doesn’t mean I will fix them. Why? Because my number one flaw is lack of will power. I will always take the path of least resistance. I am currently 50+ pounds overweight. The extra pounds are one of the causes of my constant back pain. I hate the way I look. I know, I KNOW, how to get the pounds off. I have done it before. But I was miserable. I love food. I hate exercise. Reducing food and upping physical activity requires will power. No one can make me do it but me. Have I mentioned I am stubborn? Dan tries to motivate me, and I love him for it. Thank God he is not one of those people that uses passive aggressive techniques. I know I am fat, he knows I am fat, it is not something that needs to be said out loud. But if he was to be critical of my weight, it would make me less inclined to lose it. Yes, that is messed up. But that is how my mind works. But he doesn’t do that. Instead, anything I mention or try, he is game. He bought me a really nice treadmill several years ago, and now he has fixed it so I can watch TV while on it, because I said I would be more motivated to use it if I could see the TV. I have mentioned diet plans to try and he is always onboard. So it is not like I don’t have positive reinforcement in my life. And I know I would feel so much better with out the extra weight.

Why am I telling you this? What is the point of this post? Because my weekend morning routine is to drink coffee and watch YouTube videos. And one of my favorite channels had a video podcast about blog posts versus YouTube videos. They do both. It reminded me I hadn’t posted anything here lately. I started thinking about what I might write about.My brain being the way it is, a thousand different things came to mind. Then the fact that my brain was doing that presented itself as a topic. So I started writing. And my brain is still trying to focus. I have no idea what all I will end up putting on this post. I doubt anyone will read it all the way through. That is kind of freeing. I can purge all these random but connected thought streams and maybe settle on one project for the day. If no one is reading, it doesn’t matter if it makes sense, right? If you have made it this far, thank you for indulging me.

Self doubt and low self esteem are things I have struggled with my entire life, and still do. It is one of the reasons I post so irregularly here. Who is going to want to read my thoughts and opinions on anything? I will compose long posts in my head during the day at work, but talk myself out of it by the time I get home. Sometimes it is because it is too controversial, or I just decide it is too boring. I don’t do religious or political posts for that reason. And sometimes I just condense it down to a few sentences and post it on Facebook. I get the instant gratification of knowing it will be read by at least one person and if I am lucky, a conversation will take place in the comments. Blog posts are just tossing words into the void and hoping they land somewhere.

I started this blog initially to post my fiction writing. But the self discipline and self doubt combo keep me from actually writing any fiction on a regular basis. I love serial fiction and know that if a writer does not deliver on a consistent schedule, the readers disappear, even if they like the story. I go through bouts of really wanting to write. I try , I really do. I look at things others are writing and think, well, my idea isn’t so crazy. Take Rick and Morty for instance. How can something so stupid have so many fans? I know the answer. Teenage boys. Yes, I know there are girls who like that type of humor also. But I like to think that the majority of my sex are more evolved. And that is a TV show, so it will reach many more people than a blog.

Building a blog audience is hard, even with regularly posted content. When I decided to add other things to the blog, I thought I would be able to create content easier and more often. I was wrong. With more choices, came more indecision and inertia won out.

One of my problems is that I like too many things. I have too many projects, thus deciding which one I want to work on is hard. When writing was my only creative outlet, I did it more often and longer. I even started a writing club that met once a week to reinforce my resolve. If I had accountability to a group of people , I would be forced to produce, right? Wrong. It just made me painfully aware of how inadequate my writing was, and thus I did not write. This is my brain folks. Always sabotaging me.

If you ask a group of successful writers for tips, almost all will say “Just write. Doesn’t matter if it is good, just get the words on the page. Edit later.” This is where the OCD part of my brain kicks in. I just went back and edited the first sentence of this paragraph. My brain will not allow me to get too far ahead with out rereading and editing. That is death for the creative process. I am also slightly dyslexic, and the older I get the worse it gets, so I have to fix mis-spelled words and missing words immediately. Red squiggly lines are my enemy. I know I can turn off the filter, but I don’t.

My brain will also not allow me to write nonsense. Vomiting words onto the page and putting them into a cohesive narrative later is not an option for me. Believe me, I have tried. I like to think I am an intelligent person, and I would like to think anyone who is reading my writing is intelligent also, so as I am writing, that is in the back of my mind. Knowing how to write and actually writing are two mutually exclusive things. My writer brain knows that you don’t have to tell the reader everything, but my reader brain wants to know things.When I read a book, I am always thinking ahead, trying to anticipate where the story is going. A good writer IMO, will give you just enough to keep you guessing while advancing the plot. When I am writing, I try to do this, with varying amounts of success. The hardest lesson I have learned is when to leave things out. I like to explain things because I want to know things. As a reader, I have no problem with info dumps as long as they are short and sweet and advance the plot or understanding of the character or scene. Doing this takes talent, though, and I am not quite at the skill level that I can allow myself to do it. So I tend to leave too much out, which creates a new problem. It is a never ending cycle that cripples my writing.

When I get introspective, I try to figure out what it would take for me to actually get my writing project done. For starters, no access to the internet. It is way too easy to get distracted, and I do not have the will power to stay off of it. The second thing is a brainstorming buddy to be my muse/motivator. Preferably someone who likes the majority of things I do, and is not a writer but loves to read. They would have to be willing give to my story their complete attention. That’s a lot to ask of someone. I can multi task and do the same for this mythical person, but not everyone can do that.

I started my writing group with that in the back of my mind. I soon realized that other writers are too obsessed with their own writing, as they should be, to help me with mine. I loved everyone in my group, but sitting around for a couple of hours once a week discussing writing in general was not productive. We eventually disbanded when we all realized we were just socializing and not advancing our writing. Nothing wrong with that, but it wasn’t what any of us wanted or needed. We became friends, and still keep up with each other on social media. I would like to think our time together helped us grow as writers in some way.

I have come to realize that finding such a person is not an attainable goal. I have tried repeatedly online. I have just enough self respect to not go on social media and beg someone to be my “friend with special requirements”. I do have friends, I am not a total introvert. Just not one who “gets me” and shares all the same interests. How do adults make new friends? I am not a party person. Although I am religious to a certain extent, I do not belong to church. The is no “club” for artistic types to meet and mingle.There is a website called Girlfriend Social that I had high hopes for, but alas, no one who matches up with me enough to warrant meeting in person. There needs to be an app for creative types that works like Tinder or Match.com. Speed “dating” events for writers to find their soulmates, so to speak. Meetup.com is close, but I am leery of getting back into that since the Covid thing started. I would love to have a monthly event at my house where like minded artistic types could get together to get to know each other. My dream party would be playing card or board games while we discuss our artistic projects over adult beverages. A creative coffee klatch. Covid has pretty much made that impossible.

It’s been a few hours since I wrote that last paragraph. My mind is a bit more settled so I think I will stop this rambling narrative about nothing here. There was no real purpose other than giving me something to focus on, and it accomplished that. If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Please leave a comment, even if it is just to say I need professional help,lol.

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No Spend JJ Challenge Part 1- Gathering Supplies

Last week I gave myself a challenge to create a junk journal using only non craft supplies I could find in my home. I cannot use anything I bought specifically for crafting.  (See my previous post for more details.) Today I started gathering my supplies. Before I show you what I ended up with, I should tell you a little bit about myself.

I am fortunate enough to have a well paying job and so does my husband. We are not rich by any means, but we are not struggling to pay the bills.  So I can afford to buy any craft supply I want or need. I have my own craft room. Yes, it is a bit messy.

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See all those plastic containers? They are full of scrapbook paper. Paper I just had to have and yet never used. My impulse control is not existant. So why am I trying to make a journal with non craft supplies?  Because the basic premise of a junk journal is to use junk to make it. Scraps and found objects, things one would normally throw away. There are tons of videos and blogs about crafting on a budget, but what if you have no budget at all? The idea kept gnawing at me and so I came up with this challenge.

I want this blog series to be inspirational and informative. I know not everyone will have the same  supplies I do, so I will try to suggest alternatives where possible, and use only readily available items. I will also be showing some DYI supplies that can be made with a few ingredients from the kitchen.

The Supplies

Once I got started, I realized I could make several different types of journals with ease. I ended up with three different color themes. My favorite color is purple, so of course I have lots of purple items to choose from. I chose a hard cover book for my cover.

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Then I chose teal, because I have been into that color lately. I am using a three ring binder for the cover, something I have not tried before.

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Finally, I found a lot of brown items, and since I already have coffee stained paper( not cheating, more about that later) I decided that would be my third color. I will be using a reusuable shopping bag and a cardboard box to make the cover for this one.

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I will be doing individual blog posts for each journal and I will be more detailed on the items I am using. Here are the rest of my items that I will use for all the journals. First I have my office supplies. I feel like most people should have the majority of these items in their homes already. The nail is my pokey tool. The glue stick is my cheat item.

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Next is my paper dying items. The instant coffee I bought from Dollartree just to dye with, so I am not using that per my rules, but I included it for inspiration. Dan brews a pot daily and there is usually some left over. It doesn’t take much. We make iced tea, so that is always in the cupboard. Tip: save the bags after you brew , dry them and dump the tea in your flower bed. You can see some under the food coloring. The bags have many uses. I have grandkids, so I keep powdered drink mix on hand. I always have food coloring on hand too for cake icing.

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Blank paper is not a necessity, junk mail is great for writable space! This is the paper I am using. The coffee dyed paper I mention earlier was from this pack, bought at Walmart.  Just paper dipped in leftover brewed coffee and dried. I had some on hand so I used it for the picture, but I will be making more. This is what I use in my printer. I also found an old spiral I had. I write fiction as a hobby too, and once tried to write long hand. It did not go well and this spiral got shoved in a drawer. Now it will find new life! I will be dying the paper to match my color scheme for each journal. I know some of you may not have  a printer, so no printer paper.  If you want to buy some, Dollartree has small packages, but the most cost effective is the big pack at Walmarts. The same with notebook paper.

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Paper towels and toilet tissue  with glue are great for creating texture.

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I found a bag of leftover Halloween makeup and costume jewelry, plus a bag of odds and ends makeup stuff my daughter gave me.

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I shop at Costco,(I work there too) so I have the big packages of parchment paper and foil.  I don’t use wax paper in the kitchen as much, so it is from Dollartree. These are from my kitchen. Not going to lie, I have the same items in my craft room too, but I do use these for cooking.

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From the garage, I am swiping some of my husbands things like paint and wood glue.

Magazines and catalogs and junk mail. I have so many magazines. Most I got for free or greatly reduced subscriptions. You can go online and request free catalogs.

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And then there is the miscellanious stuff.

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Last but not least is the sewing basket I inherited from my mother-in law. I will be using the needles and thread from it, and maybe some seam basting and buttons.

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There will undoutably be more items added as I come across them, plus the DYI things. I am a border line hoarder, especially since I started making journals, but nothing here is something I would not have anyway. I tried to gather more than I would need, to give you an idea of options.

I hope you will join me in this challenge!

 

Episode One -Part 4

Sophie had no idea what she was doing. Things had gotten so out of hand in the last few hours. Watching her friends through the car window, she tried to think of something to do other than call her grandfather. He was a senile old man who lived alone on a run down farm in the middle of nowhere. After everything her mother had told her, was she really desperate enough to ask him for help?

Emily was standing, head hung low, staring at the ground. Sophie could hear Tasha talking to her in that low, calm voice she used when she was trying keep her temper under control. The last thing they needed right now was to have a fire storm come down on their heads. Emily looked up and Sophie saw a determined expression on Emilys usually timid and fearful countenance. The youngest and the smallest of the three of them, Emily gave new meaning to the word doormat. But from the way she looked now, Sophie thought maybe that was about to change. After all, she had left her husband, something they had been trying to convince her to do for ages. Standing up to and angering Tasha was not the best way to start though. Better get out there and diffuse things.

Normally the level headed and even tempered one, Sophie had to keep her own temper in check as she observed Tasha’s body language. Emily didn’t need to be threatened by anyone else, much less a friend. Skin tight black leather showed Tasha’s well-muscled arms and legs were tight with tension. Sophie stepped between the two women and looked into Tasha’s eyes. What she saw sent a shiver of fear down her spine. Normally ice blue, the irises were now ringed with red, and her pupils were completely dilated. From experience Sophie knew she had only seconds to get the situation under control or all hell would break loose. Literally. The smell of sulphur was already strong, and the heat radiating from Tasha’s body made standing so close uncomfortable.  Sophie grabbed Emily’s arm and pulled her away several feet away.

“What did you say to her?”

“I just told her we were going to do things my way, not hers, and if she didn’t like it, that was too damn bad.” Emily said.

“You told her what? Are you crazy?” Sophie looked at Emily with shock. “Look at her eyes Em. You know better than anyone what she’s like. Why would you deliberately provoke her?”

“Things are changing Sophie, can’t you feel it?” 

The sound of something hitting the side of the car brought Sophie’s attention back to Tasha. She watched as the redhead worked out her anger on the only thing available. As she pounded the SUV with both fists and boot clad feet, Sophie wondered what else besides Emily’s rather mild defiance had brought on the attack. Finally spent, Tasha slid down the side of the car, sitting on the ground, head in bloody hands. Emily joined her, putting an arm around her shoulders, and the juxtaposition of roles made Sophie’s head swim. Yes, things were definitely changing.

As a pair of headlights slowed and pulled in behind them, Sophie could only hope it was changing for the better.

***********************************

I don’t believe this.

Claire slowed the truck. Up ahead, on the side of the road, sat a black SUV with hood up and steam pouring out. She could see two figures sitting on the ground, propped against the vehicle, and a third standing.

Should I stop?

She recalled the redhead’s last words. A thinly veiled threat, but one Claire somehow knew was real. But driving by was not really an option, her Good Samaritan streak was too strong. Looking at the GPS, she saw it was only a few miles to the next town. She could at least give them a ride, couldn’t she? Turning on her hazards, she pulled in behind them.

“You must be Sophie” Claire held out her hand to the woman standing. A disheveled brunette, dressed in an oversized sweatshirt and leggings, hair pulled back in a loose ponytail, the woman watched her warily. “My name is Claire. I met your friends back at the gas station.” Glancing at the other two, she took in the dented car and Tasha’s bloody fists, and thought better of offering a ride. “Do you need a phone to call someone?”

“I don’t know. Do we, Sophie?” Tasha said, her tone suggesting this was an old argument between the two.

“I guess we don’t have any other options now.” Sophie’s expression was one of defeat as she went to the car and retrieved her own phone.  Walking several feet away, she dialed and turned from the group.

“Thanks for stopping.” Emily stood up.

“Well, I’ve been broken down before. Least I could do, after….” Claire let the words trail off, unsure of what to say. Emily’s face was now void of any evidence of abuse, not even a faded bruise. Maybe she had imagined it all. The migraine had been pretty intense, much worse than any she had experienced before. She didn’t know if hallucinations could be a symptom, but it was the only thing she could think of at the moment. But Emily still had on the torn clothing, and there was definitely a boot print on the front of the dress.

“I owe you an explanation.” Emily said as she self- consciously covered her abdomen.

“You don’t owe her anything.” Tasha was also now standing. “We don’t need your help, so just get back in your truck, and drive on. Remember what I told you in the bathroom?”

“I think I’ll stick around until help comes.” Not only did Claire have a Good Samaritan streak, she had a stubborn one as well. For some reason, Tasha’s attitude was bringing it out, against her better judgment. Well over six feet tall, the woman could make mincemeat of her with little effort. Claire stood her ground though and after a moment she heard the redhead mutter, “Your funeral.” under her breath as she stalked off.

“Forgive Tasha. She’s been under a lot of stress lately. Unfortunately my situation has only made it worse.” Emily said.  “I wish I could say her bark is worse than her bite, but that wouldn’t be true.”

“What happened to her hands?” It wasn’t what she wanted to ask, but Claire felt it a safer subject.

“Lesser of two evils.”

Claire let it drop. Whatever was going on with these women, it was too much for her to deal with on top of her own problems. She would wait until whoever Sophie was calling showed up, then she would be back on her way to Vermont. Hopefully that would be soon. She was acutely aware of time slipping away.  Sophie started walking back towards them, the look on her face not very encouraging.

“He’s not answering.” Sophie said, concern in her voice.

“So what do we do now?” Emily looked at Claire as if she expected her to have the answer.

“Um,I could give you a lift to the next town?” Claire said. “The cab of the truck is pretty roomy, I think we could all squeeze in.”

“Is there room in the back for all our stuff?” Tasha asked.

“Stuff?” Claire asked.

“Yeah, we all have luggage, and I’m not leaving mine here.” Tasha walked over to the back of the SUV and opened it. Designer suitcases were wedged in with duffel bags and gym totes. “So, how much room is in the back?”

“Not much. So I guess this wasn’t a spur of the moment thing then.” Claire tried to imagine where she was going to put it all. She had been determined to get as much of the supplies as possible, and the truck was crammed packed.

“What it is, is none of your business. You’re giving us a lift, that’s all.” Tasha narrowed her eyes at Claire.

“Knock it off Tasha. She’s going out of her way to help us, despite her own problems. The least you can do is be civil.” Emily said.

“Are your problems bigger than us running from a crazy man with mob connections, who would gladly kill me and Sophie and make Emily’s life even more of a living hell than it was?” Tasha asked Claire.

Something in Claire snapped.  “Put that way, no. But almost everything in that truck is stolen, and in a few hours the police are going to be looking for me. So we can stand here on the side of the road and have a pissing contest, or we can load up your things and find you a motel to stay in. I need to get back on the road. So decide now. Take my help, or I’m out of here.”  Surprised at herself, she waited for Tasha’s temper to flare.

Instead, the redhead gave her an appraising look. “Well, you should have told me that to start with.” She grabbed a bag and started to the back of the truck.  “You gonna open this or what?”  

Claire undid the lock and carefully raised the roll up door. Luckily nothing fell out. She had been rushed at the end, and had just shoved things in.  “I think we can stick things up top. Getting them out again might be a problem, though.” She turned to see three faces all with the same incredulous expression.

“Who exactly did you steal from Claire?” Sophie asked.

Tasha stepped up on the back bumper and peered in. “Time to chit chat once we’re on the road. She’s right, there’s room up top. Start bringing things over and I’ll load them.” A wide grin lit her face. “Hey, Claire, I think you were suppose to take everything but the kitchen sink. I bet you have a very interesting story to tell.”

Claire couldn’t help but smile back as the other women began bringing over the luggage. Tasha hoisted them up with no trouble and soon just about everything was loaded. Emily and Sophie brought the next to last together, a large case that was obviously very heavy.

“What the fuck did you pack Em? This thing weighs a ton.”  Tasha said as she unzipped it enough to reach in and pull out a shoe. “Shoes? Shoes!!! We’re running for our lives and you fucking pack high heel shoes?”

“Designer shoes. I couldn’t pull very much money out of the bank without alerting my husband. I thought maybe we could sell them. Most of them haven’t even been worn.”

Tasha continued to grumble, but she loaded it anyway. Claire walked back to the SUV for the last case, but Emily grabbed her hand before she could get it.

“That’s Tasha’s. No one touches it but her.”

“Oh,okay. What’s in it?”

“Her sword.”

“Did you say sword?”

“Yes, she did. A very old and valuable sword. Got a problem with that?’ Tasha carefully picked up the case and Claire watched as she slid it gently into a spot between the side of the truck and one of Emily’s Louis Vuitton suitcases. Satisfied it would ride safely, she closed the door and locked it.

“No, no problem. I guess you have an interesting story to tell as well.” Claire smiled at Tasha, but it was not returned, the scowl already back in place.

“Not really. Let’s get this show on the road already. Sophie, why don’t you try to call again? His place will be a lot safer than a motel. No way the old coot will turn us away.”

“I’ve tried three times. Still no answer. Tash,I’m worried. He never leaves the farm. Why wouldn’t he be there at 3 AM?” Sophie looked imploringly at Claire. “His place is closer than going into town. Could you take us there instead?”

“I guess so, if that’s what you want.” Claire said. Anything to get moving again.

All four women managed to get into the cab, but it was a tight fit. Emily was next to Claire, and Sophie was almost sitting in Tasha’s lap, but it wasn’t too uncomfortable. They rode in silence for a few miles, before someone asked the inevitable question.

“So, what’s the deal with you? You know our story, only fair we know yours.” Tasha said.

“That’s not really true. I only know a little bit of Emily’s story, and not that many details.”

“You first. You’re the one running from the law.” Tasha said.

“Okay. Short version. My boyfriend stole all my money and used it to buy his mistress a café. They were going to have the grand opening tomorrow, but I broke in and stole everything I could load by myself, and here I am. I have no clue what I am doing or where I’m going.”

“GPS says you’re going to Vermont. Who or what’s in Vermont?” Tasha looked at her with raised eyebrows.

Claire sighed with resignation. She had hoped to drop them off and leave without them knowing where she was heading. The less they knew, the less they could tell the police. She should have known it wouldn’t be that easy. “A cousin I haven’t seen in years. As far as I know she’s my only living relative. I’m hoping she will let me stay there without turning me in.”

“Think she might let four people stay there?” Tasha grinned. “Crazy grandpa is not really a long term solution to our problems. We all need a new start, and I bet Vermont is lovely this time of year.”

“Turn here.” Sophie said before Claire could think of an answer. Taking them all the way to Vermont didn’t seem like the best thing to do, but she would bet convincing Tasha of that wouldn’t be easy. They were now traveling down twisty country roads, and everyone became quiet, allowing her to concentrate on driving. After several more turns, Claire saw an open gate with a cattle guard and an ornate sign that said “Blissful Acres”. A gravel drive lined with apple trees lead to a two story farmhouse in the distance.

“This is it.” Sophie had a worried look on her face.

“What’s wrong?” Claire asked.

“I don’t know. Something just feels wrong. Em, are you picking up on anything?”

“It doesn’t work from this distance Sophie, you know that. Let’s just wait and see okay?” Emily’s voice was doing the weird calming thing again. Claire knew it was directed towards Sophie, but because she was so close, it was affecting her too. She felt warmth spreading from the woman, whose leg was pressed tight against hers. Making her way to the house, she tried to ignore it.

“You should pull around to the back, so the truck can’t be seen from the road.” Tasha said.

“Good idea.” The head lights showed a paved drive going around the side of the house and she followed it. An older model truck was parked to the side, leaving enough room for her to pull in beside it. She didn’t kill the motor, but sat and looked around. To the left was the house, and on the right security lights illuminated a walled garden. Directly ahead another gate, open also, leading to a large barn.

“What’s that?” Claire pointed to a dull glowing coming from the woods behind the pasture.

“Don’t know. Doesn’t look like a fire. Think your grandfather is out there Sophie? Might be why he didn’t answer.” Tasha said.

“Why would he be in the woods this time of night?”

“Let’s drive out there and see. Maybe he’s doing something illegal. We catch him in the act, he’ll have to help us, now won’t he?”

“Shouldn’t we check the house first?” Sophie looked at the darkened windows.

“Nyah, if he was in here, this loud ass truck would have woken him up. Let’s go Claire. Let’s see what Grandpa is up to.” Tasha said.

Claire looked at Emily, who was frowning. A different kind of heat was radiating from her now, and it wasn’t comforting. “Emily, you okay?”

“I think Tasha’s right, you should drive out there.” Emily’s voice was strange, and Claire felt compelled to obey. Putting the truck in gear she went through the gate and across the pasture. As she rounded the barn she could see another open gate and the tail end of a wooden wagon disappearing into the woods.

“Hurry Claire, we need to hurry.” Emily’s voice was tense.

Claire sped up as much as she dared, the uneven ground making it difficult to steer. Once through the gate, the terrain smoothed out, and she followed a dirt trail, barely wide enough for the truck, into the woods. As they came into a clearing, she saw the wagon slip into a large rectangle of light. Without warning, Emily put her foot on top of hers and pressed down, sending the truck speeding after it. As they entered the light, Claire once again heard the words, “Well, this is fucking great.”

Spa Day

Can’t go to the spa because of the quarantine? No problem!

I turned my unused garden tub into a private spa area. The tub is not really deep enough to soak in and that is the only reason I would use it.  Eventually, we are going to remodel the bathroom and put in a soaking tub, but until then, this is a great alternative. Nothing is permanent. With the shower curtain pulled no one would ever know it was there.

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I can read or listen to music while giving myself a facial, manicure, and pedicure.

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This is going to be my new favorite place in the house.

What did you do this weekend?

No Spend JJ–Dying Paper

One of the first things you need to do when creating a junk journal is decide what kind of paper you are going to use. In my last challenge post, I showed you the copy paper I am using.

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This weekend I dyed it in several colors.

First, I took one package of grape flavored dry drink mix and added it to 1 1/2 cups of hot water from the tap. Then I put about 50 sheets of paper(I didn’t count it) in a 13 x 9 baking pan and poured all of the liquid over it.

 

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I also mixed up some blue using half a bottle of blue food coloring.

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I let them sit for about an hour, until most of the liquid was absorbed. Then I seperated them out on a table outside to dry in the sun. It was windy, so I weighed them down.

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I also did yellow and red,although those are not in my journal color schemes. I mixed red and blue to get a different shade of purple. I also coffee dyed some. The weather turned rainy, so I ended up drying most of it in the oven. I simply put the whole stack of one color on a cookie sheet and placed in the oven at 200 degrees for a few hours. It wasn’t completely dry in the middle so I spread it out on my dining table til the next day.

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I stacked it all up, and put it under a few heavy books to flatten overnight.

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I now have a colorful stack of paper for my journals! Here are a few of my favorite sheets. Some were dried in the oven on a pizza pan with holes in it. The yellow and red and green are food color. The lighter purple is drink mix and the darker is red and blue food color mixed. The last is coffee dyed. I ran an extra cup of water through the pot after my husband  was done drinking coffee for the day. By layer them in different directions while wet, you can acheive some great designs.

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Next post, making my first cover and adding signatures.

What I did Last Summer–Wax Paper Dying

Last summer, the big craze in my crafting groups was dying wax paper. So I decided to give it a try. I made a video about it to accompany this post.(link at end)

Supplies you need

Wax paper

Liquid fabric dye-I used Rit

White vinegar

A pan for each color of dye-disposable aluminum or one you dont mind getting stained

Boiling water

Bucket of cold water to rinse

A place to put the paper to dry-I strung some twine and used clothes pins to hang them like laundry.

I took 12 to 14 inch pieces of the wax paper and crumpled them.

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Then I prepapred my dye, using 1 part dye to 2 parts vinegar. I added enough water to fill my container half way.

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I submerged the paper balls in the dye, then after about 15 minutes I turned them so they would be equally dyed.

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After another 15 minutes I rinsed them in cold water.

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Then I hung them on a makeshift drying line.

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It was a hot windy day and they dried quickly. After they were dried, I  ironed them between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Here are some of the colors I ended up with. The yellow was very light, I think next time I will use more dye and leave it to soak for a longer time. I used both synthetic and original dyes. The two blacks(one is not shown) had different base colors one more blue purple and the other more reddish purple. The coral and red were very similiar in color(red not shown).

 

I am planning to do more soon and will post the different colors I use. Please check out my video on Youtube.

 

Junk Journal Challenge

Quite awhile back I became obsessed with junk journals. It started when I discovered pocket letters. If you don’t know what that is, let me explain. You take a trading card protector sheet that has 9 pockets and decorate each slot with paper and ephemera and such. Each pocket can be different or you can have a theme for the whole page, such as a holiday. You can tuck little surprises inside the pockets too, like washi tape samples and tea bags. There are groups devoted to swapping these creations. I got into one of these groups, and then I found a site called swap-bot. That is where I learned about junk journals. I did a search on youtube, and the rest is history. I am now a junk journal junk addict. Or am I?

I spend way more time watching videos about making journals than I do actually making journals. And buying supplies. Every video I watch inspires me, I buy the supplies, and then I just don’t make the thing. I joined several Facebook groups, and I have made several journals for swaps, but overall I wasn’t satisfied with the final product. I keep telling myself, If I just had XYZ, my journal would be better. But the truth of the matter is, unless I start actually making more journals, I will never get better. Practise makes perfect right?

I decided to go back and watch some beginner videos. There are tons of them on YT. One of my problems I think is that when I started way back when, I watched the more advanced videos and thought I could make something similiar. I was wrong.

One such beginner video series I started is based on the premise of starting completely from stratch and buying everything you need with a 25 dollar budget. The purpose is to show that you don’t need a bunch of fancy and expensive supplies to start making a journal. This is a great series, lots of wonderful ideas, easy to follow directions. But it got me to thinking. What if $25 is too much money to spare? What if $10 is too much? Could you make a junk journal with no extra money spent using things you already had in your house? Non crafty items that were not purchased with a junk journal in mind? If you are reading this and are already a junk journal maker, you know what I mean. We pick up things at garage sales and thrift stores that we would not normally buy with the idea that we could use them in a journal . The more I thought about , I knew I wanted to try.

If you want to play along with me, the rules are simple. No craft items, like scrapbook paper, rubber stamps, specialty glues or tools. The goal of this challenge is to not only not spend any money, but to be as creative as possible and not just slap something together in a day and call it done,so no time limit. I have found that is the number one thing that hampers my creativity.

This is going to be a series, and and I will include pictures as I go along, but it is in no way a tutorial. I will explain what I am doing and how I am doing it, but there will not be super detailed step by step instructions. Or maybe there will be,lol. Once I get started, I might get carried away. If you have specific questions , I will be more than happy to elaborate, just comment and ask. I will probably do some short YT videos updates and a flip through video for once it is finished. 

The first step is gathering your materials , and they can be added to as you go along. Not everyone is going to have the exact same supplies, but anything you use has to be functional outside of crafting and already in your home or garage. For instance, I use a box cutter at work, so I have several laying around and can use one to cut. But I can’t use my Fiskars paper cutter I bought just for crafts. Likewise, I have copy paper for my printer, packing tape for closing boxes, etc. I can raid my husbands supplies for paint, stain, masking tape,etc. He is a carpenter by trade and is always making stuff for the house and yard. Office supplies, kitchen and bathroom items, make-up, cloth items,and junk drawer items are all fair game. This is an honor system challenge, and the fun is in seeing just how creative you can be. If you think something you have should be allowed, then use it! Think outside the box. Supplies for other types of crafting, like sewing , knitting , crocheting or painting should be used at your own discretion. I have a sewing machine , but I bought it for crafts, so I will not use it.  But I have a sewing kit I inherited from my MIL , so I can use the needles and thread. I think there are snaps in there too, so that is an allowable option. I don’t crochet or knit, but I do have yarn, so again, I am not allowing it for me. The only possible cheat item for me is a  glue stick. Liquid glue can make paper wrinkle, and I don’t want that and I have no other use for a glue stick other than crafts.  Everything else I have or can find a good substitute  for within the rules.

 

Here is a list of the most important things to gather.

1.Scissors and/or a blade to cut with, preferabley both.

2.Adhesive–a glue stick is best for paper, but school glue will work too. A stapler is an option , if you do not have any kind of glue. My husband has wood glue in the garage, so that is an option for me. Raid you kids school supplies.

3. Paper for signatures. A journal is for writing, so you need some kind of blank paper. Copy paper, note book paper,etc.

4. Something to make the cover. It can be hard cover or soft. Gut a old book, or use a cereal box. If you are using cardboard, keep in mind the size of the paper you are using and make sure it is large enough for a front and back cover plus the spine. There is no size requirement for this challenge and the paper can be cut down to fit what you choose. If you have an old 3 ring binder, that is an excellant option if you don’t have any way to attach the signatures. 

5. A way to attach the pages inside the cover. Needle and thread, or twine ,shoelaces, etc.

6. A pokey tool- An awl is not something most people have just lying around, but a small phillip head screwdriver will work too.

7. Straight edge-A ruler or anything with a straight edge you can cut or tear against. You might not even want to have straight edges, so this is optional.

 

The rest is embellishments and the sky is the limit. Junk mail, magazines, flyers, packaging, fastners, etc. I will show you all my choices in my next post and elaborate on why I chose them. I already have some thinking outside the box ideas that may inspire you. Also, if you don’t think you have some of these basic items and want to change the challenge to “spend as little as possible” so you can play along, I think that would be great!

Please comment and let me know if you are playing along. I would love to see your creations, you can tag me on IG @dragonangel517.  And I am on Facebook too. Have a great idea for using a non craft item that may not be obvious? Comment below! 

 

 

 

 

Boy, that was a fast year

It has been a year since I tried and failed miserably to blog. I am off work until the first of the year with back problems. If the insurance company agrees, I will be having surgery December 4,2019. I cannot stand or sit straight up, like at a desk, for more than 15 to 20 minutes without my pain escalating. The longer I try, the more I hurt. So I have been spending most of the day in my recliner, leaned back, which is semi comfortable. I get up ever so often and clean the house a bit. Try cleaning your house in 15 minute increments. Fun! And cooking. Let’s just say that the Instapot I rarely use is about to start earning its place on my counter.

So anyway, I am going to give this blog another chance. Work on my writing, try some reviews. Really just a mish mash of different things. I have a YouTube channel I might try to do some really short videos for. I added a Journal page on here that is for short daily musings that don’t warrant a blog post. Medical updates and whatnot.

Thanks for reading!

Episode One Part Three

Claire sat up, rubbing sleep from her eyes and looked at the clock on the dash. 2:47. So she hadn’t been out all that long.A vague memory of being slung over the redhead’s shoulder explained how she had gotten from the store to the truck.Scanning the parking lot, she was relieved to see the black SUV nowhere in sight. Whoever the women were, and no matter the trouble they were in, she had to concentrate on her own problems. Jerry was due to open up his brand new cafe, courtesy of her hard earned money, in less than 4 hours. Prep people would probably be getting there even sooner.

She thought back over what she had told Jerry during their late night talks. How had she been so gullible? Thinking he had simply wanted to be supportive of her dream, she had poured out all her plans. Showing him her project book, with lists of equipment she would need, and recipes she would prepare, she had missed the predatory gleam in his eye. No, not missed, ignored. No more lying to herself. She had told that little voice in the back of her mind to shut up, preferring to believe he was with her because he loved her, instead of the truth. He had seen an easy mark, and had the patience to put in the time to not only gain her trust, but let her get everything lined up, so all he had to do was connect the dots.All because she hated sleeping in that big bed all alone.

The contents of the truck didn’t match up with her carefully thought out lists though. She had wanted a simple little diner, with blue plate specials and fresh pies and cakes. Nothing fancy. Cooking was her one talent, but she was no gourmet chef. Jerry and his new girlfriend had deviated from her plans, stocking the pantry with odd food items, and adding a bar. They must have spent every penny on inventory, judging from the high end liquors she had carefully packed. Even if she hadn’t stolen everything, they would have been out of business in a week, with no money left for operating costs.

Fully awake, Claire realized her headache was still gone. Whatever Emily had done, it had a lasting effect. With any luck. it would not come back anytime soon. Going over her options, she struggled to keep the despair at bay. It was inevitable that she would be caught, sooner rather than later. Running from the law, and staying out of their grasp was not a skill she possessed. When she had hatched the plan to steal everything, she had been so consumed by anger that what happened after was not a consideration. Now, faced with the consequences of her actions, she had no idea what to do next.

She could continue to run. The only living relative she knew of lived in Vermont. Dahlia had come to her parents funeral, listened to the reading of the will, and left promptly when she did not receive anything of substance. Her parents had not been wealthy, and their bad health had eaten up the little savings they had accrued. Adopting Claire late in life, she had sometimes wondered if their only reason was to ensure they had someone to take care of them when they grew infirm. But living with them had been a thousand times better than the foster home she had been in before, and if affection had been scarce, at least there had been no abuse. Thinking of Emily, she knew how lucky she had been to escape that particular horror.

Pulling the GPS from the glove compartment, she typed in an address and was dismayed to see it was almost two thousand miles. Driving that far would take every penny she had left for fuel, and she had no idea of the reception she would receive once she arrived. Dahlia might call the police as soon as she learned of the mess she was in, or simply turn her away. In a spurt of optimism, she had the idea of offering to go into business with Dahlia, and turn the big house she lived in into a bed and breakfast.Claire knew she was grasping at straws, but anything was better than the idea of going back with her tail tucked between her legs.

Had she ever told Jerry about Dahlia? Did it matter? She needed somewhere to go, and her cousin was her only hope. Decision made, Claire fueled up and headed towards Vermont.

Episode One Part Two

Emily curled into a ball in the back seat of the SUV and tried to tune out the bickering coming from the front. Closing her eyes against the threatening tears, she cradled her stomach and focused her thoughts on the woman in the restroom. Could she be the answer? Was she the one she had seen in the dream? The exchange with Claire had left her unusually optimistic, despite the hopelessness of her situation. Somehow she felt…..empowered. A feeling she was unfamiliar with and hesitant to believe in.

“Damn it, Sophie, just call him.”

“You want to go there so damn much, you call him.”

“Give me the fucking phone and I will. We need to get Emily somewhere safe fast.”

“I’m fine.” Emily struggled to make her voice heard over the argument.

“Em…” Tasha turned towards her.

“I said I’m fine.” Emily pushed into a sitting position. “See, all healed.” Even without a mirror, she knew the bruises had faded almost completely away, the busted lip healed. Easing Claire’s pain had somehow sped her own recovery but left her exhausted. An interesting fact she would need to remember in the future.

“Em, I saw the blood.” Tasha’s face had gone soft, real sorrow replacing the usually harsh lines. “Did he know?”

“Does it matter?” She had hoped no one would notice the mess in her bathroom at home. Tasha and Sophie had come to her rescue much quicker than she had anticipated, leaving her little time to clean things up.”I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Okay, okay. We’ll let it go for now. But this conversation isn’t over. I won’t let him get away with it, even if he didn’t know.” Tasha turned back to Sophie. “ Are you going to call him or what?”

Emily lay back down, glad for the reprieve. Once Tasha got something on her radar she rarely backed down. Best friends since grade school, the only thing she and Tasha ever disagreed on was Emily’s husband. They had instantly disliked each other the first time they met. Over the last ten years, things had gotten so bad they could not be in the same room with each other. Thank God for Sophie, who’s apartment served as a safe meeting place. Jerry didn’t care too much for Sophie either, but he had not forbidden her to see her like he had Tasha.

Had Jerry known? That was the question, wasn’t it? Emily wanted to believe he would not have kicked her if he had. After all, his only reason for marrying her was so she could provide him with an heir. After all these years that fact shouldn’t still hurt, but it did. Almost as much as the fact that she couldn’t turn to her parents for help. She had seen the payments scheduled to go out when she had cleaned out the secret account Jerry thought she didn’t know about. There hadn’t been time to see how much had been paid to her parents all these years. He must have threatened to cut them off every time she had run to them. No wonder they had turned a blind eye to the obvious abuse she had suffered at his hands. She hadn’t dared to tell Tasha how bad things had gotten recently either. Because her friend would not have looked the other way, and Jerry would not have hesitated to have her killed, regardless of who Tasha’s parents were.

“Oh, no. No, no, no!” Sophie’s voice pulled Emily’s attention back to the present. Looking into the front, she saw the dash lit with red lights. Steam made seeing out the windshield almost impossible. Sophie pulled the car to the side of the road and killed the motor. Whatever repairs she had made earlier had not held.

“Just. Fucking. Great.” Tasha opened her door, got out and slammed it shut again. Both women watched as she stomped to the front of the vehicle. Sophie reached for the hood latch and popped it, obscuring the redhead from their view. Her voice could be heard though, the curses quite loud and creative.

“Emily, I am so sorry. I thought we could get to Dallas before this happened again.” Sophie rested her head on the steering wheel, refusing to look at her.

“It’s okay.” Emily touched Sophie’s shoulder. “This isn’t your fault.” She allowed a bit of energy to flow between them. “Everything’s going to be okay.” She broke the contact. Sharing with Sophie had always made her uneasy.

Joining Tasha at the front of the SUV, she looked down the road. No headlights could be seen. If they had still been on Interstate 20, the situation would be a little less serious. Three pretty women broke down?  She didn’t doubt someone would stop and help. But they were on a less travelled country road on the way to Quentin Anderson’s farm. Sophie might want to pretend they weren’t heading in that direction, but she had taken the exit without thinking. Emily had no idea if Quentin’s was the place in her dream, or why the woman at the gas station would be travelling this tiny road, but a tiny bit of optimism crept into her heart.  Unfamiliar to hope, she let a small giggle out. Tasha looked at her with astonishment.

 

Stifling the urge to laugh out loud, Emily said “I don’t know what you said to Claire after I left, but I hope she won’t hold it against you.”

 

Episode One-Part One

The bathroom light crackled and popped a few times before settling into a dull flickering glow. Claire closed her eyes, the migraine pounding, and leaned her back against the cool metal of the door. The smell of stale urine and what she hoped was a dirty diaper threatened to bring up what little was in her stomach.

What have I done?

The reality of her situation hit her full force. She had nowhere to go, no one to call for help. Her few friends would urge her to turn herself in, an idea she rebelled against. For the first time in her life, she had done something exciting, something dangerous. And it had felt good. Until now. With the adrenaline rush long gone, she had nothing but fear to drive her.

Bile rose up in her throat, and she barely made it into one of the stalls before vomiting. As she leaned over the toilet spikes of pain shot through her head, triggering another upheaval. Turning and looking up through eyes blurred with tears, she saw someone at the sink. One last stomach spasm brought her attention back to the toilet. A wet paper towel was shoved into her hands, and she gratefully took it with a mumbled thanks. Afraid moving would start the process over, Claire sank to her knees, willfully ignoring the filthy bathroom floor. A prison cell won’t be much cleaner.

 

“Are you okay?”

The words were hard to understand, sounding as if the speaker had a mouth full of marbles. Claire wiped her face and eyes and took a good look at the other woman. What she saw made her forget her own troubles. Petite, with black hair cut into an extremely short pixie she looked to be no more than a child at first glance. The garbled speech was because she had a busted mouth, to go along with an eye swollen shut. In fact, the whole left side of her face was one bruised mess. Scratches and scrapes on her arms and legs, along with torn clothing completed the picture. Looking closer, Claire modified her first impression. This was a woman. A woman who had been beaten.

“What happened to you? Is that a boot print on your dress?” Claire stood up too quickly, dizziness making her sway. The woman reached out to steady her, and when her hand touched Claire’s arm, an electric shock coursed through them both. Instead of drawing back, the woman tightened her grasp, almost to the point of pain. A strange sensation began to seep through Claire, a warmth spreading from the point of contact and ending in her head. She could feel the headache fading, nausea already gone. Locking eyes with the stranger, Claire tried to ask her what was happening, but couldn’t form the words. Vaguely aware someone else had entered the bathroom, she struggled to keep from passing out.

“What the hell is going on in here? Emily, for fuck’s sake, are you doing what I think you’re doing?” A tall redhead, dressed in black leather biker gear pulled the woman’s hand from Claire’s arm. It was as if someone had doused her with ice water.

“The tanks full, I got snacks, and Sophie is as ready as she ever will be. Let’s go before she changes her mind. Again.” The newcomer frowned at Claire.” If you know what’s good for you, you’ll forget you ever saw us.”

“Tasha, knock it off. You’re scaring her.”

Claire looked from the newcomer to Emily. Confusion set in. Not only was Emily’s voice clearer, it looked as if the swelling in her lips had already gone away, and the bruises were no longer purple and fresh looking, but almost healed. Before she could say anything, Emily touched her arm again. The soothing warmth flooded her entire body this time, but she didn’t feel woozy.

“Everything will be okay. Trust me.” Emily smiled, and Claire somehow believed her.

“Oh no, we do not have time for your little fortune teller routine. Get in the car, Emily.” Tasha pushed Emily towards the door. “I’ll be there in a sec. I just need to talk to your new friend for a minute.”

“Tasha, she’s…..” Emily stopped talking as Tasha turned and glared at her.

“We. Don’t. Have. Time.”

Emily mouthed the words “trust me” as she walked backward out the door. Tasha turned back to Claire.

“Now, I said to forget you ever saw us and I mean it. You might see something in the papers, or on tv, that will make you want to tell someone about this little chance encounter you had tonight. Emily’s husband is very rich, and will probably put up a reward for info. Just remember this, whatever that scumbag offers won’t be enough to keep you safe from me if I find out you told him about us. You understand?”

Claire didn’t , but she nodded dumbly that she did. Too much was happening too fast.The room started to spin again. She was vaguely aware of Tasha catching her falling body and lowering her to the floor. “Well, this is fucking great” was the last thing she heard as blackness took her.

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Synopsis

Four women, each with a reason to run, find a reason to stop.

Claire, Sophie, Emily, and Tasha travel through a doorway to an alternate universe and another galaxy.  With only a few minutes to decide whether to stay or return to Earth and the problems they were fleeing, all four take a chance on a new beginning.

Tellus may look a lot like Earth, but the differences, both large and small, will transform the women into heroes and legends, and their bloodlines will be the start of the powerful dynasties that shape a world with a mysterious past and an uncertain future. The planet is dying and heroes both willing and unwilling are needed.

*Claire*

Sweet, easy going good samaritan Claire is about to discover her inner strength. Adopted at a young age by a couple already in their sixties, and raised an only child, Claire’s life in a small East Texas town has been anything but exciting. Married at 18 to her best friend, and widowed at 30, passion and adventure is only something she experiences through the romance novels she reads. But when her boyfriend steals all her money and her dreams, she finds the courage to take back her life and sets out to Vermont to find her only living relative and start new. Fate has a different plan for her, however, and a chance encounter changes her life forever.

*Sophie*

Sophie’s life has never been easy. Out of work and out of money, she has no reason to not go along with Tasha’s plan to get out of town and start over somewhere new. But when things go bad, she finds herself heading straight to the crazy grandfather she swore she would never turn to for help. His actions when her mother was murdered when Sophie was 16 did little to mend their fragile relationship, but now he may be her best hope to get her and her friends out of a very dangerous situation.

*Tasha*

Tasha was born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth, and promptly spit it out. Always at war with her parents about how she lives her life, she now has to choose between crawling back to them for financial aid or getting her legs broke or worse for a gambling debt. When an opportunity to help a friend presents itself, she sees a way to avoid both. Now, if she could just figure out what to do about her temper, and the strange powers it unleashes.

*Emily*

Emily has finally had enough. Tired of being a doormat and punching bag for her mobster husband, she finally accepts Tasha’s offer of help.  With her telepathic powers growing stronger every day, Emily knows it is now or never. Getting away from Gregory is the easy part, staying alive is another question. She just has to convince Sophie and Tasha to accept the help of a stranger, the woman she has dreamed of for months.

Together, these four women will have to find their place in a magical and mysterious world, unlike anything they have ever seen.

 

 

Crafty Dragon Tips

As a newbie crafter, I am learning as I go. As I said in my earlier post, I am trying to be frugal. Buying name brand craft supplies can get real expensive, real quick. So today, I thought I would update you on my progress in accumulating supplies and share some tips I have learned. I would love comments and suggestions!!!

Crafting is messy, especially mixed media. I am clumsy by nature, as well as messy. If you are too, make sure your work area is where spills will not be a problem. The more room, the better. I have limited work space, so things get cluttered quickly. Paper towels and rags are a must,as are gloves. I buy my latex gloves at Harbor Freight, and I like them to fit snug. The ones I have now are a bit too loose, and I find it makes it difficult to pick up smaller items. Baby wipes are great to have around, as well as cotton swabs. Scissors. I am always losing my scissors.

Dollar Tree is where I am finding some of my basic supplies like containers. As I experiment with making various paints, I am making small portions until I figure out the best recipes. Dollar Tree has the perfect size containers.

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Not all Dollar Trees are equal. I had to go to several different stores to find the LA Colors eye shadows to make my glimmer sprays. Finally found them at a store about 50 miles away. I was on my way home from my daughter’s  and stopped in in the hopes of finally finding some. I was so happy when they had all the colors I wanted, so I stocked up. Now, I will just stop by whenever I go visit.

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I had ordered  a different brand from Wish.com, another great way to save money, however, it takes awhile to get your items. They are much smaller by comparison, and virtually the same colors, so I will stick with LA Colors. I did get a black though, but I am thinking buying cheap cake shadow and crushing it myself will work just as well. I have several eye shadow collections I don’t use, so I will try that. The finer the powder, the better.Once I get better at the actual creation of a project process, I may decide to invest in bulk mica powders, but for now, this is the way I am going. It’s a fun and relatively inexpensive way to try things out.

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To use the LA Colors, you have to pry off the bottom, which is hard. I would recommend once it is open, transfer whatever you don’t use into a slightly larger container so it doesn’t fly everywhere the next time you open it. I used half of one to make some glimmer spray, but when I put the bottom back, it didn’t seal. So I ended up with a mess.

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I didn’t waste it though. I mixed it with some Mod Podge and now have some glimmer paint! I used a whole package of eye shadow to make a bottle of glimmer spray.It still had powder clinging to the sides,so instead of throwing the container away,I put it in a plastic bowl and rinsed with a little alcohol, and used it to finish filling up my bottle of spray.It came with a cute little brush, so I am saving it for future use.

In my previous post, I made a bunch of alcohol ink with cheap markers. The colors are not as intense as I wanted, so I added a second marker to them. Sharpie markers are a better way to go. The colors are much richer. When I transfer the ink to my dropper bottles, I don’t through away the marker bits, but add more alcohol. I’m sure I will have a project in the future that will need paler colors. I also tried using glycerin dies, bought in the baking section of the craft store. Cheaper than regular food color, but my Michael’s did not have a big selection of colors. I haven’t used anything in a project yet, but test swabs seem promising. I broke down and bought a lot of Ranger inks from eBay, just to see the consistency and color range. It’s a lot cheaper to buy a lot than to buy individual packages. Average price at a craft store is 9.99 for a three pack. I paid 39.95,free shipping, for 21 different colors. 1.90 versus 3.33 each.Jo Ann’s and Michael’s and Hobby Lobby often have sales, so if you don’t want to put out 40 bucks at one time, wait for a sale. Once they come in, I will do a comparison post.

When you first start buying supplies, especially if you are starting from scratch, purchasing DIY supplies will seem like it is more expensive, but in the long run it will not be.However, if you are only dabbling, buying name brand might be better. The projects I have in mind for the future require many different items in various amounts, so I am going in whole hog. Besides writing, this is my creative outlet.

I bought a die cutting and embossing machine, a Sizzix Big Shot. This is my biggest expense so far. Dies are not cheap, nor are stencils and stamps, especially the steampunk themed ones I want. So I am slowly amassing them, with the intention of selling some of the die cuts on ebay to offset the expense. I still have to look into the legality of that.Maybe I will just do some swaps with other die cutters.

I also invested in a couple of clay molds to make gears. Never worked with polymer clay, so that will be a fun experience.Got a laminator, mainly to make book marks, which I may sell on Etsy. I am not looking to make a living doing this, but if I can get a few bucks back here and there, it’s all good. I am doing this for my enjoyment only, like my writing.  In watching YouTube videos, I have learned just how much effort  and expense goes into creating some of my favorite mixed media pieces. Which is why I am trying to create my own.

Spray bottles are not cheap. I plan to buy in bulk in the future and sell some extras on Ebay. In my search for supplies, I have found you either have to pay more for individual items, or buy in bulk and end up with way more than you can use. With no intention of selling my stuff for profit, bulk doesn’t make sense on items I can reuse.

I made some texture paste and gesso. The recipe I used for gesso is from a video on YouTube by mytherapyroom.

GESSO
¼ cup Plaster of Paris (or you can use baby powder) *I used baby powder.
¼ cup water
½ cup white acrylic paint
¼ cup white glue (I buy the cheap Dollar Store glue for this)
Pour all ingredients into an air tight container and mix WELL. You want to make sure all of your Plaster of Paris is mixed in very well. If you want a heavier Gesso then simply add more Plaster of Paris. If you want a light Gesso, add a bit more paint.

Gesso dries to opaque white.I found several recipes for clear gesso, but it requires marble dust, which can be bought on Amazon. I do not see me needing any in the near future so I will hold off on that for now.

I got this recipe for texture paste from gauchealchemy on YouTube.
TEXTURE PASTE
1 part white paint

1 part talc(baby powder)
1/2 part glue( I used ModPodge because I had it on hand.)

The texture paste didn’t seem thick enough so I added more baby powder. Still not happy with it, so I will search out another recipe to try. I have one using plaster of paris that looks like it may work better.

That’s it for now. Check back for the further adventures of a Crafty Dragon!

Craft Video of The Day

I am having great fun looking at all the crafting videos I have found on Youtube, so I thought I would share some of my faves with you. This one is from Pink Poodle Crafts. She does lots of instructional videos, and I found her while looking for DIY supplies videos. I may or may not make this, but I think is a great idea.

 

The Crafty Dragon

I have recently been bit by the crafting bug. Again.I must be tasty because that little bugger keeps coming back. The problem is I have no talent. I look at pins on Pinterest and watch YouTube videos and delusionally think “I can do that!” More times than not, I find I can’t do that. At least not well. But this time, I think I have actually found a craft I can do. And so, as usual, I am going in whole hog.

Mixed media.Sounds innocent enough. I became aware of it a little over a year ago. I got into making pocket letters, another craft I am somewhat proficient at. But that’s  another blog post. As I looked for paper supplies at the craft store, I stumbled upon the Tim Holtz Alterations aisle.Be still my beating heart. Steam punk and vintage items galore. It called to my inner creative goddess.So what did I do? Googled myself into thinking I had found my artistic calling. And then I was brought rudely back to Earth when I started adding up all the things I would need to buy.

Thank goodness for Youtube, and all those crafty people who, like me, hate paying exorbitant prices for hobby things. I found several videos that have educated me in how to DIY craft supplies. I will still have to buy a die cutting machine to make the chipboard embellishments, but most everything else can be made on the cheap. At least in theory. Since I am a complete novice, I will be trying out  different things and documenting them here. I am sure there will plenty of failures, but hopefully there will be successes too.

Before I start any project, I need to get my supplies stocked  up. The first two DIY things I am attempting are alcohol ink and glimmer spray. In the future I will be making texture compound and gesso.

You will need permanent markers, I am using an 8 pack from Dollar Tree, just to see how cheap I can go. The colors in the picture didn’t seem to come out correctly. They are green, blue, red, orange,yellow, purple black, and pink. The videos on Youtube all use Sharpie brand,which I will try next. I got the containers there also, a ten pack. So far 2.00. To use the ink, I will need dropper bottles, and spray bottles. But for now, I am just interesting in seeing how the ink turns out in terms of color.

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Next is 91 % alcohol. Everyone seems to agree, the higher the percentage, the better. Dollar Tree only sells 50%, so I went to Dollar General,$1.55. Probably could have gotten it cheaper at Walmart, but didn’t have time to go there.Please excuse my messy desk.

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Wear gloves,  this is a messy project. Fill container with alcohol.Using a pair of needle nose pliers, pull out the pin tip and place in alcohol. Then pull top off pen off and take out ink cylinder. It has a plastic sleeve, but be careful, it might drip. Cut in half using exacto knife. Slice through plastic sleeve, exposing the inside and place in alcohol. Clean blade and pliers tip before going to next color.

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Since I had 10 containers and only 8 markers, I found an old blue Sharpie, and a metallic purple marker, so I did those also. Just from looking at the colors of the ink, I am thinking Sharpies will be a better way to go, although more expensive.

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The two on top are Sharpie’s, the two on bottom the Dollar Tree markers. This is after sitting only a few minutes. I will let them sit for awhile, until I get ready to use them and see if the color intensifies.

Next I did the glimmer sprays. Here’s the link to the video I watched.

I couldn’t find the colors she used, but I did find pink and purple.

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I used two old spray bottles I had . Remember, I am trying to be frugal.One tip I have, is to see where the bottom of the funnel comes to and make sure to only fill with alcohol to below that, because it will clog when you add the powder. Instead of glue, I used liquid hairspray, again from Dollar Tree.

 

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This is what I ended up with.

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So that’s it so far. Can’t wait to see how these work out.

curlyvenom:

kenzi fashion // season 2

When an author is trying to sell a character as an ancient immortal being, but they keep acting like a regular angsty /hormonal teenager

bookphile:

blaine789:

la-knight:

bookphile:

Originally posted by trendingifs

Yeah, I don’t know why that’s hard to understand if you think about human brain chemistry. Your brain doesn’t finish maturing until around age 25, and some of the last things to finish up are the parts of your brain responsible for impulse control, emotional stability, and making good judgments. So if you got turned into a vampire, let’s say, at age 16, you’re going to have the judgment, emotional stability, and impulse control of a 16-year-old, mixed with some serious emotional issues if you transform into an immortal (vamp, ghost, whatever) before the big blow of sexual puberty because then you’ve got the mental capacity of an adult sort of and the body of a child, and when that happens, you get characters like Okiku (ghost)

and Moaning Myrtle (she’s been around for at least 50 years)

Vampire Princess Miyu

Claudia the Vampire (she was in her 80s or 90s)

the Master Vampire Nikolaos (she was 400+ years old, made into a vampire when she was about 12-13)

and David from Lost Boys, who’s like, 35 or 50 and he’s physically about 17.

That whole “your brain not maturing and your body not aging while still gathering experience” is seriously bad and should affect an immortal more than you might think. That’s just taking in physiology, but then adding in upbringing, cultural roots, exposure to people. This guy 

acts like a teenage boy around girls even though he’s in his late 20s when he meets Jane because he has zip romantic experience. 

This girl 

can’t handle family drama with any kind of finesse and she’s 200+ years old, due to being out of practice.

This kid 

has no idea how to talk to girls or make friends after a few years because he’s a 40-year-old vampire in a 14-year-old body and he’s out of practice.

And this moron

can’t handle relationships because of years of racist treatment and bad breakups.

There’s more to making someone immortal than just being an immortal if they’re physically not an adult yet.

The issues I take with that the limiting factor in maturity may even be neurological development.  There’s the experiential aspect of it and the effect of the peer group.  So a normal 16-year old and a theoretical immortal 16 year old aren’t the same. 

The brain development between 16-25 is a 9 year experience, and the life experience is also.  But if that 16 year old (let’s make him a boy named Bob) is exposed to life experience spanning hundreds or thousands of years, even the observational knowledge alone would give that “16 year old” a vastly increased functional knowledge.  There’s a much larger ability to learn from sheer practice alone once a person has seen or repeated a practice multiple times.  

You see that even now – if a kid is exposed to a certain type of arguing style, they’ll repeat it.  But if they’re taught a different way, they’ll adopt that which has been the most reinforced.  It’s part of the rationale behind intervention for high-risk teens (they’re not fully developed, but they can be taught not to indulge in destructive behaviors.)  It’s also why a teenager can blow up at Mom or Dad but be perfectly fine with their rules/discipline of their grandparents.  Or argue with a sibling in a way they won’t with their parents.

Also, the brain development is combined with a hormonal component: this includes the capacity for knowledge acquisition (especially in language) and in the “permanence” of memories obtained at that time.  Specifically, what a person learns with their teen brain has a high level of permanence. 

About the impulsiveness – apparently, it’s not that teens don’t think about what they’re doing:  they overthink it.  An adult tends to quickly assess a situation and also quickly decide on their plan of action (to include the question “do I want to get involved at all”.)  But teenagers appear to take a longer time to deliberate and go over possible outcomes.  The problem is that they overestimate the benefits, and underestimate the consequence of their actions (a lack of knowledge, not a lack of deliberation.) 

Also, their decision-making is influenced by what’s known as “arousal” – an emotional heightening.  This can be generated by their peer environment.  But a normal 16-year old surrounded by high-school peers (at the same level of experiential knowledge) is in a different emotional environment than Bob the immortal (does Bob truly have peers?)

It looks like risk-taking is also influenced by this.  Experiments with teens and adults show them to be similarly risk-averse.  But the adults were less likely to be in a state of arousal while in company with their peers, while the teens were more likely to do rash things while in groups of their age-mates.  So the psycho-social component may be more of an issue than the neuro-biological component.

Teenagers can be angsty, but it isn’t an effective interpersonal technique, and that’s why
teens don’t act that way with everyone, or when it undercuts their
better interests.   Unless there’s some real issue, they tend not to make the same mistakes over and over again if those mistakes are sufficiently penalized.  

no good transitional comment here, but

Socially,
I’d expect Bob not to want to interact with teenagers, unless teenagers
could be at the top of the political, economic and power tiers in their
society.

Psychically, I’d expect Bob to be very messed up and have a lot of difficulty relating to a young person (who has their own emotional needs that aren’t fully self-managed.)  It’s
hard to be driven from your home (and one would, if they were immortal
and unable to age.)  That would be really problematic for someone young
enough to be expected to look different in a year or so.  And if one can’t discuss this, it’d be a big problem.  This is why I dislike stories pairing teen-immortals with normal teens:  take out the arbitrary cool-factor of not dying (that feeds into the reader’s adulation of youthful-appearing immortality) and you’ve got a really-damaged character that their partner tries to redeem.  IRL, I’d call that a toxic relationship that, if I saw that in my teens would have troubled me, and now would have made me use every legal trick in the book to separate the two.

So if Bob is made immortal in the teen years, what could be more
likely (based on what we know about the brain and about teens vs. adults strategies for decisionmaking) is that Bob would  display a high level of
knowledge (which would look like intelligence), with a high capacity to
learn and retain information from experiences he’s having – he’d be a very quick study.   That would quickly override “typical” teenage behaviors.

Instead of
being angsty and impulsive, I would expect Bob to be deeply cunning, manipulative,
and highly self-aware – again, due to the effect of seeing the results
of his earlier behavior.  He would know how to use his youthful
appearance to his advantage, so he might play the angsty teenager for show, but with a very calculated reason for doing so.  Hormonally, he should be highly sexual.  So he should be emotionally dangerous territory, for a real teenager. 

I think in literature, the only way they make 16-year-old immortal = 16 year old is by severely isolating the immortal.  Mainly by giving them a sufficient trauma that the person isn’t intrinsically motivated to seek out the world due to mistrust, or by saddling them with a responsibility that make leaving an emotional wrong (emotional blackmail).    Otherwise, I’d expect a characters like (can’t remember the names) from Lucifer who were made immortal as a teenagers.  They were more mature than their adult human counterparts, because the immortals had to be. 

I get super annoyed when 16-year-old immortal = 16 for the reasons I indicated.  But what would interest me is immortality used as a proxy for childhood exposure to trauma, or a proxy for “newly-outsider” status:  where the MC looks like a child, but their exposure to the world has given them an adult’s functional knowledge.  

HOLY SHIT YA’ALL. Is this what happens when the smart people find your dumb posts? This is super interesting, thank you!

Awesome and eye opening, both as a writer and reader.

spacedameron:

Northern Hunter.

starshipspirk:

revfrog:

tenaflyviper:

If you can’t find a place on your blog for Patrick Stewart in a bathtub dressed like a lobster, then your blog probably doesn’t deserve such majesty anyway.

It has returned to my dash and I cannot fight the compulsion to reblog…

the patrick lobster appears only once in a thousand years, reblog for good luck

deansass:

YOUR DRAGON NAME

  • last two letters of your first name
  • middle two letters of your last name
  • first two letters of your mother’s name
  • last letter of your father’s name

mine would be Urlelan. Reblog and tag this with yours!

Racodo