Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How to care for feet, prevent blisters and what to do with the extra, pairless half of lost socks

Do walking shoes and socks matter? How do blisters have anything to do with a book?

Good shoes are important to enjoy long walks in the countryside. 

My favorite walking route is a five-mile-round-trip south of Solomon, in Dickinson County, Kansas. I cross the bridge where tributary Solomon River joins Smoky Hill River.

As I walk, I try to let go of concerns I dream-up, like: aging may cause me to develop knee pain and what if I become unable to walk? I contemplate future events, like: I may move away from this area someday.

All this thinking spoke: I want to remember this beautiful farm/river landscape! So, I brought my camera along one day to shoot some photos. Inspiration comes naturally in God’s creation while I’m soaking-in my environment, imagining and praying.

As an artist in need of a creative outlet, I became curious about experimenting in publishing. I authored words to go with the images I shot and designed an inspirational/spiritual, art/photography book for adults, similar in format to children’s books. It’s a quick, easy-read about my stomping grounds and the Word of God.

5 Miles Round Trip for Exercise and Inspiration
Read more about 5 Miles Round Trip for Exercise and Inspiration pdf Ebook Edition at my gallery. I published my 6x9" trade-size paperback book via print-on-demand (POD) at Blurb, Inc. who handles the sale of it through online booksellers. You may find the Print Edition at Amazon or by searching ISBN 9781320458795. Consider giving the book as a gift. You may scroll over to the right column on this blog to find a preview of the entire book which can be viewed full-screen.

Why are two feet of the same person slightly different sizes? 

Our Creator designed humans with internal asymmetry. By paying careful attention, we notice that our external features are asymmetric as well. For example, the left side of our face is not an exact mirror reflection of the right side. The sizes of the left and right feet are often slightly different.

I don’t go to the trouble of ordering custom-made shoes; so I buy hiking/walking shoes to fit my bigger foot. The smaller foot heel slips and rubs against the inside, causing the heel area of the shoe to wear out. The rubbing forms a blister on my heel—ouch! If I buy to fit the smaller foot best, the larger feels squished, cramped and tires-out easily.

Listen to advice about what to do and what not to do on important matters of life; also the trivial matters such as when one foot is a little bigger than the other.

I visited a shoe store, looking for stick-in-back-of-heel-cushions. The manager knew what I was asking for, but he told me, “that’s not the best way to resolve the problem because it causes the foot to push forward and can actually cause more rubbing on the heel; depending on the type of shoe, a professional repair can be done; it works best on shoes that have a removable insole”. Well, I didn’t have my shoes along to discuss it any further. My impatience lead me to Target where I found the heel-pads. I bought them despite what he said. When I gave them a try, I didn’t like the way they felt. I should have listened to the shoe salesman.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
Proverbs 12:15 ESV

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Proverbs 19:20 ESV

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. James 5:7 ESV

flexible foam soles wear out and catch pebbles
I bought this pair of shoes while Stan was going through daily radiation treatments for six weeks. During that time, one day a week he was receiving chemotherapy for several hours. Upon completion, six weeks later, he spent 10 days in the hospital for his esophageal cancer surgery. There are times in life that things are new and go well, but the worn shoes represent that physical bodies wear out in this world. Memory foam insoles are a comfy feature of these Skechers®, but their lightweight foam outsoles didn’t hold up well over many miles of pavement and the cracks that offer flexibility catch pebbles and nature debris. Shoes in use won’t last forever and aren’t designed to perform on all terrains. After this pair, my mission became “find the perfect shoe and keep walking” or better yet: “The Perfect Christ has found me! I thank and praise Him that He keeps walking with me and He carries me when I am weak.”

There’s a tough carbon rubber outsole in these Eddie Bauer® shoes, but size issues caused friction and a big blister on my heel. What appears to be wonderful on the outside…

hole worn in heel of shoe
…may hurt on the inside. My foot rubbed the upper back lining until it wore a hole through the fabric. What do I do when people rub me the wrong way? …

how to patch hole in heel of shoe lining
…try to do everything that can be done to fix things (pray that God’s will be done) and with the help of the Holy Spirit, forgive others as I have been forgiven. I cut a piece of 2-inch bias tape and used Krylon® spray adhesive to apply it as a patch to smooth out the hole in the shoe heel lining.

spray adhesive upside down while spraying for 4 seconds to clean the nozzle
Remember to hold spray adhesive upside down while spraying for 4 seconds to clean the nozzle after using it. Read number 18 [below] for the moral here :-)

My favorite shoes for hot weather and perfect fit—these Ecco® sandals have adjustable Velcro® straps across the ball, ankle and heel. Open toe and flexible heel strap eliminates pressure in those areas. They aren’t the sexiest footwear on the market, but, oh… my feet love them! I used these shoes for long walks while my bandaged blister was healing.

finding the best sneakers
Trying again for tough-sole and perfect-fit sneakers, I found
ECCO Women's Biom Train Core Training Shoes.
 One of them is too big for one of my feet. I conclude…

The best solution for miss-matched feet size is to double-up on one foot by using pairless socks.


what do do with extra miss-matched or pairless socks
On top of a normal pair of socks, I use an extra sock on the small foot to prevent my heel from rubbing a hole in the shoe and a blister on my foot. This is an excellent use for extra miss-matched pairless socks. I look at the three socks in similarity to the Holy Trinity: Father/Son/Holy Spirit by Grace/Faith/Word—even though I don’t deserve it, they’ve got me covered.

Water blister on heel—to pop or not to pop? 

My unbroken blister was the diameter of a quarter coin puffed up about 1/8th inch. I Googled what to do for blisters and skimmed all kinds of advice including to leave them alone (don’t pop them) and also that it’s okay to do so if it’s a big blister. I didn’t weigh it out extensively. For lack of patience, I let my instincts trump. After washing well with soap and water, I sterilized a needle, poked a few holes on one edge, gently squeezed it and watched the fluid squirt into a Kleenex®. I smothered it in Neosporin®, left it open when barefoot around home, covered it when out-and-about in the elements, and the blister was completely healed in about a week. Later, when I got another blister, I used the same method the second time, it became infected and took longer to heal.

So, the moral of the story is:

    1. Ask for help.
    2. Listen to advice.
    3. Accept instruction.
    4. Wait patiently for the Lord.
    5. Take proper action—persevere.
    6. You screw up—just admit it.
    7. When big pride puffs you up, clean up your act and pop your bubble.
    8. Learn by experience.
    9. Strive to avoid making the same mistake twice.
    10. Use God’s gifts of creativity and wisdom to try to fix things.
    11. Realize those in darkness hide from the Light and resist wisdom that can be found in the Word. 
    12. Pray.
    13. Remember baptism: Christ has already done it for you.
    14. Look to Jesus when you’re rubbed the wrong way and experience friction.
    15. Cover your pain in the comfort of prayer.
    16. Reach for the healing balm of Holy Scripture.
    17. Healing comes in God’s time, through hearing His Word (in church).
    18. Bend over backwards, keep your head clear and nozzle clean in order to be prepared for and prevent sticky situations.
    19. Trust God in the race of life—the prize He already has won is for all people.
    20. Believe the mystery—the power of His promises/invitation/forgiveness—as you receive Him in the Lord’s Supper.
    21. Live a thankful life.

      Word from the Greatest Book Ever Inspired:

      The Whole Armor of God  >  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:10–20 ESV
      Final Greetings  >  Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. Ephesians 6:23-24 ESV
      Were you inspired by this story? Feel free to share by commenting.

      Thursday, July 30, 2015

      How does your workspace inspire you?

      Etsy shop workspaces: FreshRetroGallery interior design

      Drawing room, photography studio, storage/shipping: places I work to design, create, list and send handmade, art supply, vintage items worldwide.

      The search for inspiration on how to layout a creative workplace can be found in the spaces of Etsy sellers. Etsy Success blog asked a question, “Where do you go to design and make? Share your creative space—invite us in by posting a photo on your favorite social media channel with the hashtag #inspiringworkspaces.”

      Artists have a way about seeing beauty in everything. 

      My inspiration comes from exploring nature, exercise, reading, music, surfing the net, traveling, worship and other life experiences. My children Nathan and Laura inspire me. I collect sentimental things from my family as well as found objects for someday when I’ll make mixed media art. My creative mind works overtime and I often wake up dreaming about something to improve, do, draw or write about. My husband Stan is artistic, too, and also a vintage treasure hunter. He likes to clean up old things.

      There’s a story behind almost everything in my home, so I’ll add a few to explain the pictures. In two of the photos, look for the beautiful Jesus with a flock of sheep picture by Giovanni titled Der Gute Hirte (German for The Good Shepherd). You might notice the cross in more than one photo because there’s one in almost every room in my home to remind me and everyone who comes here of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection—God’s grace by this sacrifice to atone for my sin. By the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith through baptism and hearing the Word, He comforts, guides and protects me and all who believe and, ultimately, promises eternal life.

      I didn’t spend time cleaning, rearranging or staging this series of images, so things aren’t picture perfect. I could have made an attempt, but time is precious. Enjoy the tour. Welcome to my Etsy shop space!

      rubber stamp wall cabinet and drafting table
      Here’s my drafting table and chair draped with a soft, fuzzy fur Nathan gave me—besides art, this is where I pay the bills and balance the books. We went out for lunch Mother’s Day to Panda Kitchen Chinese Restaurant and the waitress gave me the big pink paper flower. Notice the giant red pencil sticking out of a roto tray cabinet? I collect pencils. I designed and built the oak wall cabinet with sliding glass doors at an adult woodworking class to display my rubber stamps.
      Drawing room iMac desk is an antique courtroom table found at an auction in Abilene, Kansas.
      The drawing room iMac desk is an antique courtroom table found at an auction in Abilene, Kansas. My dad made the iron plant holder on the wall which I use to hold some of my good junk. You might notice the wire racks holding all kinds of keepsakes including an “Uff da!” napkin I’ve had for a long time. Far left, you can see a sliver of an oak chifforobe wardrobe closet. I keep my cross country ski boots in one of the drawers and a lot of paper and art supplies on the shelves in that cabinet.
      wood file cabinets and rubber stamps
      I inherited my mom’s rubber stamps, displayed on shelves Nathan built below the covered fuse box. Stan refinished two antique wood file cabinets which work great to store and organize many things. Do you wonder what is in one of the drawers? Visit the post How to organize an artist file system, upcycle cards and reap benefits of a creative life. The bark cloth draped over the cabinet is a curtain from early days of childhood. I stack up the stuff… a Pepsi bottle full of sand collected from the Pacific Northwest, a funny Dilbert cartoon, a flexible lamp for extra light, framed quotes, gifts, photos and another miniature 2-drawer file cabinet on top of the legal 5-drawer.
      wall storage and shelving under the stairway
      A friend Scott built this wall and shelving under the stairway. Stan and I built the decorative shelf with iron hooks which hold my hand bags, totes and purses. We offer hook racks in the Gallery. On the table in the foreground, the little yellow crib toy saved from childhood, re-purposed as a container for gel pens. Wow, this image needs work—what a clutter mess!

      Etsy photo studio with manniquin
      Here’s my Etsy photo studio with an old mannequin. Stan did body work plastic surgery, gave her a spray tan and I painted her face. A friend Kathy had a wig for her. I hope to add more vintage clothing pieces and accessories to the shop soon. Stan made the hinged rod hardware which allows for the curtains I made to swivel open and shut. Our neighbor Ginger, a professional drapery designer/maker, gave me the idea. It works well for windows that open inward at the top and also like a door, for safety, to get out in case of fire. Sometimes I stand on the upside-down plastic crate to get a higher angle on the photography. To get a bird’s eye view, I climb the stool or stand on a chair.
      photography light box and manikin
      On the left is my photography light box on top of an old kitchen table. I made this white container out of large sheets of tag board paper stock which originally was packaging to protect printing plates during transportation. The manikin lady is good company. She never questions my ideas of how to do things and doesn’t rush or demand too much of me.
      photography light box set up to shoot vintage and handmade Etsy items
      In the upper right area of this photo, you see a decorative iron porch or carport post which holds one of three light strips. The yellow stand is from a halogen light Stan wasn’t using in the garage. Since halogen lights are hot, we replaced it with a daylight florescent bulb strip. The other light strip on the tripod in the foreground gets moved around quite often. The three fixtures hold a total of 10 bulbs. When timing is perfect, I can use natural daylight from the window.
      The antique iron bed frame came out of storage in a barn from a farm nearby. I found the cotton crocheted rug at a garage sale. See the vintage mint green box fan tucked behind the stool? It’s handy to have in case of an AC malfunction. A few items waiting to be shot sit on the extra old chairs. Formerly Laura’s room, this now doubles as a second guest room. Big sheets of white tag board and thin packing material are tucked underneath the bed.
      boom box, portable TV, oak school desk chair, Victorian dresser
      Some of Laura’s artwork and memorabilia decorates the walls. My 1980s boom box rests on the Victorian walnut dresser we bought at an auction. A vintage portable TV sits on an oak school desk chair. Beyond the door on the wall hangs a beautiful antique quilt I found at a flea market.
      apothecary cabinet with glass front drawers
      At left is shelving for boxes I recycle to send orders. The old treadmill never gets used because it’s covered with vintage items waiting to be photographed. There’s a map of the United States on the wall and Kansas is smack dab in the center. Stacks of old catalogs, books, hats, clocks and you name it will eventually make it to the store front. Stan refinished the antique apothecary cabinet with glass front drawers that came from friends Robert and Robin.
      Antique boots, typewriter, paper cutter, butter mold, framed lithograph art
      A sneak peek at vintage items to be photographed, described and added to the gallery, now rest on the old treadmill. Antique boots, typewriter, paper cutter, butter mold, framed lithograph art, and more.
      Cameras, frames, pottery and other vintage items in storage on top of an old cherry wood dresser.
      old frames and brass metal art
      Stacks of old frames waiting to be filled with new art are stored in front and on top of the partially hidden coffee table Nathan built. You can’t see them well, but I use old wooden auditorium foldable seating for shelving which lines part of two walls in this room. Some of our wine bottle metal art pieces are shown here. A collection of vintage children’s picture books are in the shelving in the background.
      Here’s a box of my 19" x 13" family tree charts waiting to find new homes.
      My sewing machine served its first purpose years ago when I created many garments documented for 4-H projects. The wonderful creative tool taught me about design—choosing patterns/fabrics—and how to custom tailor my own garments. On the wall is a clock Laura made with her dad’s help, using markers, silver paint and the lid of a number 10 envelope box. My family tree chart is hung with miscellaneous keepsakes and a couple original paintings titled Resurrection and Peaceful Energy available in the shop.
      family tree chart on sewing machine
      Family tree charts are ready to be rolled with patch paper, tag; inserted into a tube, labeled and shipped. The workspace is an oak sewing machine cabinet that belonged to Stan’s grandma.
      Here you can see my antique retail store glass counter case cabinet complete with Pictionary, two barrels full of monkeys, Jenga and many other games and puzzles. It’s the perfect surface for a large paper cutter I use to make the gift tags that go with each item I send out. It’s space for stereo equipment, a few of my dad’s horseshoe trophies and an antique fan to keep me cool. Against the wall is a cabinet for fabric and craft supplies with a globe, some cobalt blue glass pieces and a vintage goose-neck desk lamp. In front of the cabinet is my NordicTrack stepper where I workout, read, and listen to music. The rough looking furniture hasn’t been touched yet by Stan’s skillful refinishing capabilities.

      We’ve lived in this home since 1987. We added-on in 1996 (the addition doesn’t show in this photo—it’s behind the original house you see here). All of the images in this post are taken in the basement where working in a chaotic atmosphere makes sense. We are careful to keep the main floor living space tastefully calm—decorated in eclectic style with an artistic flair. The young tree in the foreground is a cutleaf weeping birch. The shrubs are overgrown—time to do some major trimming!

      Monday–Friday, FreshRetroGallery packages are picked up by our USPS mailman when he makes deliveries at our jumbo-large-huge mailbox. I sketched the design for Stan to build this structure out of a salvaged decorative porch post. After painting the faux vintage patina grunge texture, I hand lettered and embellished it with sign paint before he installed it.
      Thank you for visiting my workspace.
      I look forward to listing some wonderful new items soon.
      Please click in to browse in my Etsy storefront!

      Note: Many of these photos are obsolete as of 2017. I’ve updated, organized with new shelving, painted paneling, and trimmed the shrubbery! Improving efficiency and aesthetics of my work and living spaces is an enjoyable aspect of my job. Change is good!

      Wednesday, July 22, 2015

      40 Questions to study friendship, character and virtue

      Friendly relationships are blessings. 

      The Holy Spirit trains Christians to be friendly people. God’s Word provides discernment, guidance, comfort and strength in matters of every type of relationship.
      • casual acquaintance
      • professional acquaintance
      • childhood friend
      • college friend
      • distant old friend
      • new found friend
      • church friend
      • younger friend
      • elderly friend
      • intimate friend
      • friend found in specific, temporary circumstances
      • life-long bond of matrimony between a man and woman as husband and wife

      How to be a good friend and find a good friend.
      Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.
      Proverbs 27:9 NIV

      How to be a good friend and find a good friend.

      Examine the kind of friend you are before you can understand the kind of friendship you seek.

      Self improvement and ability to put myself in somebody else’s shoes begins with questions.
      1. Am I a friend of everyone?
      2. Do I test everything—hold on to good and abstain from evil?
      3. Do I take time to listen, be reflective and encourage others?
      4. Are people comfortable in my home?
      5. Do I prioritize how to spend time with things that matter?
      6. Do I work hard on priorities that are in order?
      7. Am I willing to serve with a cheerful heart?
      8. Do I value learning about others in order to show respect?
      9. Do I seek and apply courage in uncomfortable situations?
      10. Am I willing to take on leadership and responsibilities?
      11. Do I trust God with every aspect of my life?
      12. Is intelligence a virtue I strive for?
      13. How do I rate with integrity?
      14. Is my good reputation compromised by bad choices?
      15. Where do I go to gain wisdom?
      16. Whom do I look up to and why?
      17. Do I understand my place in life?
      18. Is everything clear, so I’m confident; or do I need more time to analyze things?
      19. How do I discern—upon what do I base decisions? 
      20. Am I seeing realistically; or blindly looking through rose-colored glasses?
      21. Can others depend on me as a source of wisdom and reason?
      22. Am I loyal, even in adversity?
      23. Am I willing to put everything on the line to follow my heart?
      24. Is my heart focused on Truth?
      25. Am I fearless to declare what I believe?
      26. Can I be looked on as the center, the rock, for many people in my life?
      27. Am I an example of a humble and contrite person?
      28. Do I understand that forgiving is essential to move forward regardless of how much success I have? 
      29. Am I willing to give things up and make changes to begin a better life?
      30. Do I exhibit faith and reverence that is rare in the world?
      31. Have I gained tremendous wisdom with all that I’ve gone through?
      32. Am I creative when it comes to enjoying entertainment with others?
      33. Am I happy and positive so that I make others feel better? 
      34. Do people feel safe and respected when they spend time with me?
      35. Do I try to control others; or am I willing to listen with an open mind?
      36. Am I disrespectfully critical; or gently honest and careful in making an effort to help others?
      37. Am I patient?
      38. Do I build others up?
      39. Are my thoughts, words and deeds kind and thoughtful?
      40. Do I pray always, with a thankful heart?

      Bible verses about friendship

      True friends are brothers and sisters in Christ, focusing on truth, hope and wisdom within Holy Scripture. Our Heavenly Father is the perfect picture of love, humility and grace.
      A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 ESV

      Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, Proverbs 22:24 ESV

      Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. …Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:5-6,17 ESV

      Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. Ecclesiastes 4:9 ESV

      “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. John 15:12-14 ESV

      A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17 ESV

      One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. Proverbs 12:26 ESV

      A prayer for relationships

      Dear Lord,
      Lead my children, as well as each person in my friends’ and relatives’ families, to safe relationships with faithful people. Help us to trust Your Word. Forgive selfishness and pride. Lead others to be gracious to me, forgiving all wrongs I have done. Guide me to value others and be a good friend with virtuous qualities.

      Wednesday, July 8, 2015

      How to update exterior concrete steps: replace old carpet with tile

      Can you use tile for a front entry makeover of worn carpet on concrete stairs?

      Tile was the best solution for our front steps update. Our home was built in 1969. My husband and I bought it in 1987. Before we moved in we replaced the out dated worn out indoor flooring and painted walls. To maintain a fresh look, homeowners must keep up property on a regular basis, constantly fixing things, requiring small and large investments. We remodeled with a major addition in 1996. This stairway entrance update in 2015 taught us once again about home improvement decisions, timing, materials and labor.

      Tile for front entry makeover of worn carpet on concrete steps.
      Tile for front entry makeover of worn carpet on concrete steps.

      Backtrack nearly three decades in remembrance of the home we rented before buying this home

      My husband and I moved over 500 miles from South Dakota to Kansas in 1986 and as a couple, we rented a house. Soon after, I was expecting our first child. It was a nice place. The large kitchen had a red counter top. But the green, long shag carpet hid oodles of stick pins which couldn’t be vacuumed out. I love the word oodles—it reminds me of Grandma Sonnack. As a seamstress, I understand how all those stick pins got there. During the process of working quickly to proceed to the next step on the guide sheet, pins hastily land on the floor. It wasn’t a problem in my Mom’s sewing room because the floor was sweepable. But, I’m thinking that whoever lived in this rental house before us should have been more careful. Stick pins aren’t healthy for our baby who would crawl on this dangerous floor if we don’t move. Yikes!

      The home we rented was on an unpaved gravel street. Besides indoor plumbing and mid century modern appliances; open windows and electric fans were our only amenities. As a native Minnesotan, I’d expected this to be fine, but little did I know that the move south would make such a difference in temperature. Here we were at home in our new state which bragged, “Ah, Kansas!” in their promotions. I mocked claim on this slogan as I walked outdoors on a windy summer day into heat which felt like a clothes dryer set on high. The Kansas August record high of 118° is a scary thought for a woman well into the final trimester of pregnancy. Having open windows helps, but oh the dust each time a car drove by is not so lovely. Finding a place with central air and a paved street became a priority which eventually brought much joy.

      We’d purchased a couch for $1.00 at an auction. It would have been called a davenport in my childhood home. Vintage 1940s fit our eclectic decor. I liked the style and color. We cleaned it well before bringing it in. It was a great place to put up my swollen ankles, but as far as comfort… well, it would have to do until we could afford a better one.

      When you buy a home, it’s wise to start a savings account to allow for replacing, fixing and making improvements later


      Professionally installed porcelain tile covers old concrete steps.
      Professionally installed porcelain tile covers old concrete steps.

      “Before” photos don’t exist, but try to imagine wear-damaged plastic green outdoor carpet on the front steps. 

      The exterior steps remained the original plastic-green until 1996 when we built an addition. At that time we replaced it with a neutral gray carpet which looked great at first, but wore out its welcome in 2015. The carpet was literally worn out with frayed edges and dark spots that were probably mold. Yuck.

      Coming up with a solution came about by process of elimination—by deciding what not to do after we ripped off the old carpet on the original concrete steps.

      • Re-carpet—This would’ve been fairly cheap, but from experience we know how time flies and what to expect from it. Besides that, dirt and debris sticks to it, not to mention snow.
      • Strip to bare original concrete—The old glue amd black stuff they used to attach the past two carpets was stuck on hard. We feared it would be impossible to remove entirely, even with a lot of chemicals and elbow grease.
      • Paint over—The texture from adhesives left a tacky appearance and paint would probably wear off unattractively.
      • Tear out the old steps and put new in—The existing steps are in good condition and it seemed like such a heavy-duty project for something that’s just asking for a face lift.
      • Cover with stone—Even though it might have looked awesome, the idea of actually doing it seemed overwhelmingly out-of-the-box.
      • Cover with slate—The slate tiles we found could flake or chip easily and cause a cut if walking on barefoot.
      • Cover with cork—Fun thought, but not ideal for exterior flooring.
      • Cover with wood—Wouldn’t work with the height of the threshold.
      • Cover with recycled rubber gym flooring—It isn’t bendable enough.
      • Cover with concrete patio brick—It’s too thick for the threshold.

      Finally, our solution: Cover it with tile. 

      Choosing tile for covering concrete steps was fairly easy. Instead of looking for the most appealing tile, we considered the surface first and foremost. This narrowed down our choices drastically. We chose an indoor/outdoor porcelain tile with a rough surface for walking grip so it wouldn’t be slippery when wet.

      An extra single piece of tile is shown in the foliage near our front steps. FYI, cut hydrangeas (the flower in the corner) stay fresh longer in a vase which has a pinch of alum added to the water. This item is marked Nutrasand Tusk 12 x 24 887275009675

      For labor and expertise, we contacted a reliable and talented person who accepted the job.

      The father-daughter team used a wet cut tile saw with a diamond blade for cutting the porcelain tile. I don’t know the full details of the entire process. The tile project was reasonably expensive because of the excellent quality material and craftsmanship. Consider the factors which helped us decide to do it:
      • The look.
      • Easy to shovel or sweep
      • Durable for longevity.
      • Ability to hire the service.
      • Utilize and support someone’s vocation.
      What do you think? Do you have experience or ideas to share on this topic? Add a comment below.

      In closing, here are Bible verses to encourage you:
      Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
      The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

      Monday, March 16, 2015

      How to organize an artist file system, upcycle cards and reap benefits of a creative life

      How to organize an artist file system, upcycle cards and reap benefits of a creative life

      Collecting inspiration and useful materials for art and design.

      Cards and paper ephemera have been designed to be useful or important for only a short time. Writers, artists and graphic designers are paid by card companies to create beautiful, meaningful works of art to sentimentally touch your heart. Some greeting cards are hand stamped or uniquely crafted. After they’ve been briefly cherished for the hallmark moments of life, it is acceptable to throw cards away.

      How long do you keep or save greeting cards?

      • minute
      • day
      • week
      • year
      • 5 years
      • until I figure out a way to reuse it (often, this is me)
      • forever

      Why keep or save greeting cards?

      • it’s handmade and so lovely
      • sentimental keepsake for scrapbook or treasury box
      • photo-cards for picture box, album or frame
      • reminder to stay in touch or pay it forward 
      • recycle or reuse it
        — tear off the signed panel
        — write a personal note on the back of the cover
        — hand deliver or find a new envelope to mail it
      • upcycle or redesign cards
      • use as element of collage, mixed media, altered art or assemblage art works
      • cut into gift tags
      • improve plain color gift wrapping, place mats, place cards
      • make decorations such as ornaments, mobiles and paper chains
      • frosting-glue photo cards to the inside of next year’s holiday gingerbread house before roof is added—faces show through windows

      5 ways to handle used items, found objects and created artwork

      1. Give it away and make someone’s day!
      2. Sell it. My shop announcement at FreshRetroGallery includes this quote, “Everyone lives by selling something.”
        —Across the Plains (1892) Robert Louis Stevenson
      3. Recycle to take responsibility in handling waste as you treat or process materials to make suitable for reuse.
      4. Upcycle to honor a good, beautiful item by altering it to serve a new purpose. Create something that is often better than the original.
      5. Donate to help or inspire someone who can use what you have. Find items to use in your own creative works at these places that accept donations. Donating to and supporting thrift shops such as Bethesda, Goodwill, Salvation Army and Disabled American Veterans make win-win situations. 

      Creativity runs in my blood

      Dad was born in 1922 and Mom in 1929, the year the stock market crashed. The Great Depression influenced their families to save things and become innovative. Hardship encouraged the practice of creativity as a necessity to make ends meet for our family of eight. Mom and Dad’s development of a seed cleaning business from the ground up is evidence of their entrepreneurial spirit.

      Dad working on his elaborate Purple Martin bird house
      Dad loved designing and building all sorts of things during his retirement. He’s making finishing touches on his Purple Martin house rigged with electric motor, gears, chains and cables (raise/lower/tilt) to manage the cleaning and counting of bird residents. His imagination was versatile and fun. To contrast the industrial magnitude of his works, he once made quirky little containers from plastic pudding cups riveted together to form a swivel cover… and made enough for all of his children and grandchildren. The fancy iron plant holder hanging on the garage wall, partially hidden behind the base of his elaborate bird hotel, was one of the decorative items he crafted.

      Mom inspired me to make greeting cards when I was a young child. I celebrate that those little art projects influenced who I’ve become. Beyond frugality, it fueled the ability to dream, attention to detail, confidence, career focus, decision-making, motivational, structure and time management skills. Art is an important aspect of an individual’s life and should be nurtured preschool through adulthood.

      Today, a printed card may cost up to $6 or more plus time to find the right one. I don’t shop for cards, instead my time is well spent in making them. The value of a handmade one-of-a-kind piece is measured by the pleasure that comes from making and sending it.

      Save and organize free or inexpensive art elements in a way that makes them convenient to use in fun, quick, creative projects.

      Filing system for artist

      While studying Communication Art and Design at Alexandria Technical College, one class assignment was to create a “morgue file”. Graphic designers use this term to refer to a collection of reference photos and drawings for creative inspiration much like many people use Pinterest today. Artists remember that other people’s art is not to be copied, yet, it inspires us to create our own unique art. The graphic arts industry has changed over the years, but the idea of organizing and filing for creative purposes will always be useful.

      Most artists have a collection of paper, text, textures, patterns, printed ephemera that’s sparked a meaningful idea or is just too cool-looking to throw away. The compilation naturally builds up from a variety of sources. We swim in a sea of “found objects” that can be glued to a card layered with colors, words, images, slipped into an envelope and sent to cheer someone up. Much better than a text, Tweet or Facebook “like” is something to physically find in a mail box, open, touch and hold.
      • someone gave it to you
      • you clipped it from a magazine
      • prints of photos you shot
      • from grandma’s closet when you helped her move
      • thrift shop
      • online source (bookmarks and pins)
      • craft store
      • old cards
      • church bulletins, devotion booklets, etc.
      • old paper game pieces
      • band-aid, sticker, decorative tape
      • picked up on a hike—feather, flower, leaf pressed in an old book
      • you name it!
      Artists often look for unique material sources as an alternative to the card rack at a common discount store. 

      Wausau Paper® Astroparche® 60 lb. text stock and envelope set
      Wausau Paper® Astroparche® 60 lb. text stock and envelope sets make a classy neutral base for handmade cards
      Personalized hand stamped monogram cards
      For special event money gifts or everyday personal notes, made-to-order hand stamped personalized monogram cards are a commendable choice
      Design and print your own cards with FreshRetroGallery clipart for a variety of occasions. This example would be appropriate for graduation (handy to have a print file for many graduates), moving, big change, farewell to past, New Year, etc. Use it plain and simple or layer it with other colors and textures. Artists have a license to play!

      Art material collecting can become overwhelming chaos without a plan. Treasures are efficiently useful when you start organizing with 3 simple items:
      1. file cabinet or box
      2. file folders
      3. scissors or x-acto knife
      Label folders alphabetically by topic, paper, color and art material categories.  Choose a few to get started or make a comprehensive file with this full list.

      Art materials morgue file index to print for quick reference—keep in front of folders. You may want to color code the index to match the folder tabs. Use a file cabinet or box that is large enough to fill with bulky items you collect over time.
      Art materials morgue file index to print for quick reference—keep in front of folders. You may want to color code the index to match the folder tabs. Use a file cabinet or box that is large enough to fill with bulky items you collect over time.

      Get out your glue, pencils, pens, paint, cutting and paper scoring tool. Start creating wonderful new personalized greeting card art, spontaneously, at the very moment a need arises.

      You may discover that you want to spend hours at a time building up your own card stash. Handmade cards are fun to send one at a time or give as a gift set.

      Throw a party for friends from your church. Make cards together as a group to send to members. Ask everyone to bring something along such as papers, envelopes, embellishments, rubber stamps, old cards, clippings from seed magazines, tools, scissors, glue, etc.
      I threw a party for friends from church. We made cards together as a group. I send them from our local Lutheran Women in Mission organization to members celebrating baptism, dealing with health issues, those in the hospital and sympathy to families who’ve lost a loved one. I supplied the goods for this party, but you could ask everyone to bring something along such as paper, envelopes, embellishments, rubber stamps, old cards, clippings from seed magazines, tools, scissors, glue, etc.

      Use your coordinated collection of art materials for more than cards. Try making an art journal, scrapbook, wall art or decorated box. Push the envelope and find out how rewarding it is to be an artist/creative/designer who is organized and always ready to make things.

      Benefits of a creative life

      • pushes us to listen to ourselves and fight against unhealthy distractions that lure us
      • helps make people happier—both the creator and the recipient of created works
      • offers a sense of purpose—it fills the void, empty feeling
      • reduces anxiety
      • exercises mind, eye and hand coordination
      • makes us resilient
      • requires that we develop a schedule and routine
      • equips us to solve problems in the face of hardship
      • passion toward activity is healthy and allows us to work harder and longer rather than face boredom and struggle with work that is meaningless or less satisfying
      • innovation requires spiritual discipline and inner strength
      • ideas, perception, vision, dreams and imagination from within are given a voice and come to life in tangible art form
      • feeds our spirit of curiosity
      • honors God as we grow and use the gifts He created within us to love and serve others
      Recharge with 
      • church
      • play and recreation
      • physical work
      • exercise
      • nature
      • music and performance arts
      • reading
      • travel
      • study of paintings, photography and other visual art
      Live life to the fullest and bring out the capabilities or possibilities of your artistic talent. Experiment with my methodized system to begin enjoying creativity at a new level of efficiency and organization. Pin (or bookmark) this reference to find it when you are ready or share it with someone you know who might enjoy it.

      You might also be interested in Wording ideas for handmade cards, favorite Bible verses and Christian encouragement for 25 occasions