Monday, January 31, 2022

Cards instead of envelopes (YMCA)

A couple weeks ago, I saw a blurb about United Way volunteer opportunities. So, I clicked on it - thinking that MrW might be the one who needed more volunteer work. Instead - there was a listing for *handmade birthday cards* that jumped out at me. So, I clicked on it. It looked like something that was right up my alley. So, I contacted the agency and they were thrilled to hear from me. 

It is a YMCA sponsored agency that serves people who are ready to transition from homeless shelters to actual apartments and get jobs and get back on their feet. The person I emailed with said that they make sure everyone gets a handmade birthday card. They have 150 residents. That's only 12-13 per month. Heck, I could make 12 or 13 in a day.

Pictured above are the first 6. It's actually more fun than doing envelopes because I obsess too much over each name. This is perfect because I have the same two words every time. I do not need to put anything on the inside because they will write their own greeting and everyone in the office will sign it. Plus, these will be anonymous. Nobody is going to think that Jean is slipping.

A couple days later, I made some more. I had been organizing exchange envelopes and several people who send *empty* envelopes actually put really nice folded card stock inside the envelopes. I save that paper because I can't make myself throw out perfectly good paper.

So, exchangers, when you get your Feb exchange list, feel free to send blank cards inside your envelopes, if you have extra card stock. I suppose you can write Happy Birthday on the fronts, if you'd like. But, it takes me all of 5 minutes to do most of these. Obviously, if there is poor planning, I have to spend extra time disguising the mistakes.

It is also giving me an opportunity to go through all my pens and markers and weed out the dry ones. Some of the ones that look a little *blah* are better in person because there are layers of sparkles that don't photograph that well.

If anyone wants to contribute to the project, you may send blank cards that say Happy Birthday on the front - and blank on the inside. 5" x 7" will fit in envelopes I have on hand.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

WTHIMWWMTJ (a rant for those who like the rants)

 Where The Heck Is Mr W With My Taco John's? I'm forced to surf while I wait for my lunch

These leaves are flat enough to use for a bookmark. But they are not real leaves. They are pens.
They also come in an oak leaf.
DesignBoom has tons of cool stuff

MrW stopped to get a coffee and ran into a friend. He apologized for being tardy.* Then he told me about someone telling him that for a while he has seemed *tired.* He thought that it was either turning 70 or maybe a reaction to the vaccines and boosters, 

I sat there for a minute, enjoying my TJ and then told him that I needed to say something and he needed to just listen and after I was done, I really did not need to hear what he thought of what I said. I repeated the part which was a request to not hear any response to my comment.

Here is what I said: For nearly 6 months, he has had to do all the things that I can't do and they are mostly the really mindless tasks that I have been doing for 41 years and all of those things add up to mind-numbing tiredness. It's not that they are hard to do. It's that they are soooooo routine and lacking in a fun component. I added that in all the years of fulfilling mindless tasks, at no time did I think he was taking me for granted or act like he did not appreciate everything that got done. He's always been appreciative. But, until you've shuffled around in my uggs, you have no idea how exhausting mindless chores are.

Do you think that he was able to just nod his head and honor my request to not utter any response?

Does the pope wear a funny hat?

He proceeded to tell me that he tells people that *things are different and he can't do all the things he used to do.* Well, join the club.

Did I nail him for not honoring my request? No, I was very polite and tossed out a completely different topic and he headed off on the new topic

As Kahil Gibran says:

“I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.” 

Not me. I'm eternally grateful. 

Envelope for the day. Another one that I did not use. I made the J and then realized that it was an upside-down lower case R - but then I made it too long - and while I like the idea, I didn't like it enough to redo it. So this is another *non-sendable* that ended up inside the envelope that was also uber-GRRRR. 

There is a piece of white tape covering up the bottom part of the R that should not be there.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Too loose to Janet

Remember how I said thatI like it when I get looser. This is too loose. I also flipped the process and wrote the letters and then outlined them rather than drawing outlines and filling them in. This one might have worked if I had done a skinny A. It looks too much like JANE. I'm just going to use this to stuff the envelope - 

Then I tried this - I found a darker blue - but it was way too strong. If those two blues were swapped, it might work. I can't decide if I am going to try that. How many rejects do you think I can cram into an envelope?


I just deleted pointless jabbering about my pet sitting. It was fine. I'm more interested in the things I did to the house while my son was gone.

Also - I am posting the things that I put inside the exchange envelopes that I thought were rather lame. I bought two wedge brushes and thought I would give them a try. They are lots of fun. I was too lazy to get my gouache out, so I just used some random sparkle stuff. 

That big mush of a flower clashes with the hearts. I rather like that style of writing - but it needs to be planned out or fit into an actual layout. Winging it is not my cup of tea.

I thought maybe adding words would fix things.
I was wrong.

Then I switched to flourish-y type stuff. 
It's OK - but not really my style.

Then I tried writing with the triangle brush and the Happy was OK.
But, I messed up on the flourishing and then turning it into something for V-day didn't work out.

I should know that it takes a fair amount of puttering about to get the feel of anything new.
It was pointless to try to make something pretty -- but, it gave me something to put inside the envelopes that I deeply regretted.
Duh. Why don't I write *deeply regret* 

At the last minute, I added the letters D-I-S-C-O-M-B-O-B-U-L-A-T-E
to some of them. I like little penciled words.

Friday, January 28, 2022

J's Jan to Carolyn - Pets, Part 1


I'd give this one a B+ - but, it needs some dark blue. It would have been better if the O had mimicked the stamp better - or maybe the stamp should have been the O. Duh. I have 5 more envelopes to do for the Jan exchange - and there is not a single O in any of the names - first or last. Guess I'll have to wait for February.


Three days to fill in Jan. It is Dec 2nd and I have just spent my first night -ever- sleeping with a pet. My postal worker son and a couple friends have been planning a week-long trip to Hawaii for quite some time. I agreed to take care of his pet for the week. I have had reasonable success caring for pets considering I have never had one of my own and we did not have them when I was growing up. With the horrible weather, I also thought it might be easier to just stay at his house on days that the weather was wretched.

My first experience with a dog was a golden retriever who came up behind me, and jumped up and put his paws on my shoulders. I was 6 or 7 and it scared the livin' daylights out of me. It wasn't until college that I met a dog that was friendly and restored my willingness to be friends with a dog. Same thing with cats. At an early age, the first cat I met bit me. The owner just plopped it in my lap - and it bit me. Most likely, it was a friendly *hello - you look like a darling little girl* but, I had no way of knowing that. In my 30s I met a cat who restored my willingness to make friends with cats. 

I know there are dog-people and cat-people - and then there are no-pet-people, like me. We know that we seem cold and heartless. But here's the thing. Watching people love their pets, often times more than they love other people has made me very aware of how amazing it is to have a relationship with a pet.

And then the pet dies.

Why do people put themselves through that? I have never understood. 

This is getting too long. The rest of the story comes up tomorrow. Feel free to explain to me why you willingly set yourselves up to experience the loss of beloved pets.


There was a post up yesterday for a few hours - Finnbadger alerted me that it might not be a legitimate website - hopefully everyone ignored it. Thank you Finnbadger.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Who sent this one?

Who sent this one? The postmark looks like Suburban IL -- but maybe not. I hope whoever sent it reads the blog and lets me know. You may just email me - I know it can be very confusing to leave a comment in the comment section. I think you have to have a gmail account to leave a message - and then, I have to moderate the comments (OK them) before they are posted. 

This is DuBosch Jubilee style lettering - something that I love to do and look forward to doing again.

That "snowflake" is really fun. Obviously not a traditional snowflake and maybe they meant for it to be something other than a snowflake. Maybe they will tell us what inspired the design or if it came to them in a bolt out of the blue.

One would think that I could figure out the penmanship - and know who sent it. I could, if my envelopes were filed by sender. But - they are not and it would take me forever to go through all the envelopes - looking for this little script. There is also a very nice block print on the back - not a return address - just PTEX JAN '22 - Empty. The J on Jan is very distinctive. So, I'll be mad at myself when I find out whose it is -- because both the script and the block print looks so familiar.

If I had to guess - based on the exchange lists - and who has already sent a Feb envelope - I would say it's from Debbie. 

There were a couple monster-stamp-envelopes ready to run today - but, I bumped them to March.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

J's Monsters - snowman mailbox

My first attempt to get back into mail art. I love the stamps and figured it would be easy to have fun with them. I'm not thrilled with this first attempt - but kept trying to find something that works. I ended up sending consolation-art in the form of cards, enclosed in the envelopes. I'll show all of them in a later post.


This is off topic and I would redo this post - but, I have way too many posts that are written and don't have any photos. 


 I have only 3 more days to fill up in January. As the month rolls by, I can use this spot for something better. 


Well, here it is Jan 24th - and I deleted some pure drivel. Luckily, a Pittsburgh pen pal sent this photo of a mailbox in her neighborhood. She said the mom who lives at the house said it was harder to build than what was shown on YouTube. I Googled snowman monster mail box and found another version - plus LOTS more creative mailbox ideas -- only one made out of snow.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Wooden card - buffalo check

This card came from Coppes Napanee, a company in Indiana that makes kitchen cabinets. I like buffalo checks a lot and the card is printed on an actual piece of wood. Normally, I would not devote a post to something like this, but, then I thought - maybe there is someone reading this blog who had a mid-century kitchen that is in need of some renovation and would like to maintain the mid-century flavor of the cabinets.

When we bought our house in 1984, we remodeled our 1949 kitchen. Rather than take out the one wall of cabinets, we maintained the mid century look by adding cabinets along two other walls. Coppes had a style of cabinet that matched the original cabinets. Thirty-five years later, it's time to re-configure the original 75 year old cabinets because of ominous original plumbing.

I went online and was happy to see that they can custom build cabinets that still look mid-century and will  match the 1984 cabinets. I drew up a plan and got an estimate in early 2021. Clearly, they want my business, since they sent me a holiday card.

So - this is way off topic - but if you are interested in any kind of kitchen remodel - this is an interesting  company. They go way back to the era of Hoosier cabinets - which some of you might be familiar with. They are better than builder grade without being *Poggenpohl.*

I was wondering if it would be fun to paint a buffalo check and found this - by Googling *buffalo check painting.* Lots of DIY instructions. It might be fun to try a loose version on an envelope.


Monday, January 24, 2022

Mia's Dec envelope - rough exemplar

Fairly new exchanger, Mia, from Canada has a highly stealworthy idea. Put a question in one corner and the answer in another corner. Filling up the envelope with words is one of my favorite ideas that lurks in the background and should get more attention. The tree detail is adorable and I love the stamp. Her spelling out of forty-fourth caught my eye. I've always wondered why the U is dropped in forty - but not in fourth. Does anyone know?


I made a huge effort to fill up January yesterday -which was Dec 31st. It is now early on the 1st and I have only 4 or 5 dates in Jan to fill. Right after I wrote the post about embracing chaos, I switched to clearing off the folders on my lap-top-desk-top - and UN-BEE-LEAVE-UH-BUL - I found the 2020 October and Dec exchange envelopes. Those are the ones that I usually save and run the following year. Obviously, the chaotic events of 2021 contributed - but it feels good to have found them since I know I had done some searching.  So now I have envelopes for Oct and Dec of 2022.

Unless I lose them again.


Mia asked for a full alphabet that was on the red envelope a couple days ago. I used the double tip ZIG writer and the larger tip is not ideal. Plus, I had not warmed up. The writing on the bottom with the smaller tip gives a better idea of what it should look like. Sharpie on really nice paper - which is what the gold on red was - is a whole different (and wonderful) feel. So, finding something new that works - is never about the exemplar alone - it's about using the right materials. I'll see about getting a better exemplar. Or maybe a video. 

There are a lot of notations - on the letters that are wonky. I need a name for this font - because it is my own - that has evolved. The A, M & W are probably appropriated from things I've seen. If anyone has any ideas for a name, let me know. I call my own personal script style - Jean-arian - a riff on Spencerian.


Sunday, January 23, 2022

JanetW's Dec env (aesthetic torture)

 JanetW, not to be confused with Janet - who is an exchanger - sent this in Dec. I got a kick out of her little note on the card suggesting that she messed up on the envelope. I can't figure our what part she considers *messed up.* It looks fine to me. I was surprised how well that stamp looks with red and green. It's not something I would have even pondered, but I like it a lot.


This rant was tacked on to another topic that seemed too long so I bumped it ahead. 

I guess everyone obsesses about something. Artists tend to obsess about aesthetic things. If I were to go into deep Freudian analysis and discuss the issues I had with my mother about those navy blue socks that she forced me to wear with my red shoes (when I was 4 or 5 years old), I am sure the Freudian analyst would come up with some theory - but I am also sure the analyst (unless he or she was also a full blown artist) would actually miss the whole point. 

Whenever I relate stories with a fellow artist - about the *aesthetic torture* that my mom subjected me to - we start sharing stories from our childhood where we were so desperately misunderstood. Many of these stories were also shared by my students when I was teaching. It was sad that some people were not able to work through the issue and put it to rest. Hopefully, none of my readers are still suffering. If you are, feel free to pop an email in this direction and maybe I can offer some tips for how to leave that particular baggage out at the curb. Or if we need to drive all the way to the landfill, we can do that.


WiFi tip: Mr Wilson spent 4 days try to figure out the WiFi problem. Finally, a nice lady on the phone asked: Is your modem sitting on the floor. Yes - it was. She said, move it off the floor. Voila. It's fixed. I'm seldom interested is the *why* behind any of this stuff. But, this time, I'm actually curious. Let's see if the BigHelpfulBrother has the answer.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Christi's flip side and card

I forgot to add this to the envelope from ChristiP. She has a character - it might be an alter ego? I'd should go look at her blog and re-read the [about me] - I'll leave that for those of you who need some other places to go today. I'm on a roll filling up all of January.

I like the character -- it is an I. Dang, it has a name. I'm so tempted to make a corresponding J person.

Normally, I would do the research to find the name - but, I'm going to leave it as it is - to illustrate a point I need to make. I'm having a lot of trouble with my memory. Sometimes, it is essential that I stop and figure things out. But, that uses up brain energy - and I have a finite amount of brain energy - so I have to be careful to only research things that are essential.

As previously mentioned, I had ideas for organizing the blog posts. Then I was blessed with a new idea from the Greeks to just embrace the chaos. So, that's what's going to happen. 

Whenever I go back and edit something I have written - I find a lot of typos. I also find a fair amount of gibberish. On top of that - I also find that I have very little memory of having written the gibberish. 

Getting back to more lettering and talking about lettering and design should be good for all of us. So, that is where we are headed.

Oh -- I think it came to me -- I think the I's name is EWO - Eyes Wide Open. Or Ewo? <Link to her blog


Idea on the day before this pops up when I am doing a final edit: What if we all made a little alter ego of ourselves using the first letter of our names? I should have used the monster stamps as inspiration and made little monsters out of the initial letters on the first names - on the most recent exchange. As luck would have it, Feb is coming up.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Hey, Christine - today's post is below this one

 On Feb 3rd, there will be an adorable envelope from Christine. It arrived in Dec and I sent a thank you a few days ago. The envelope was bizarre -- and while I had fun puttering on my desk - after I dropped it in the mail, I thought that Christine might think I'm a little nuts. I don't think I am nuts - just a little loopy.  

Our WiFi is down -- and I was able to connect with my hot-spot - but all of a sudden - that's not working - otherwise, I would have added this P.S. to that post.

Grrrrrr - OK now it is working.

Here is the envelope - heavily redacted since Christine did not sign up for an exchange. She has a lengthy last name - and she referenced it in her note to me. This is an idea that I saw many decades ago - and I wish I could remember which book. It might have been one by a guy named Ferber? Does anyone recall?

And then - I got to thinking -- did it even have the last name - or did it have the town -- 

Was it more like:  THAT DULUTH WOMAN

I wanted to explain this in a note - but, was headed out and preferred to just get it in the mail. I also wanted to explain why the red envelope is clearly a mistake from a job that I turned inside out. But, this post is too long - so, maybe I will talk about that some other time. I should be less concerned about Christine thinking I am nuts because if she reads the blog and then spontaneously sent me an envelope, she must have some sense of whether or not I am nuts.

Grrrr. Every time I start feeling better and spend a day getting stuff done, the following day I am discombobulated and ramble like this. 

Scroll down for the daily post.

Beeline and Blue - wall photo

Does anyone know how that address included the bar code? I can see that it is presorted mail. I guess people who know how to print presorted mail would have computer programs that automatically printed the bar code. Beeline and Blue is a company that creates all kinds of very large images. Many years ago, the business was Des Moines Blueprint - and they printed out blueprints. Even though there is no handwork on this card or envelope, I like the way they figured out the envelope and I'm a fan of stripe-y designs.

They sent me a card because I order things from them once in a while. My most recent project is this large photo of my grandkids. The room is solid windows on the other three sides, and to the right of the door is all cabinets, so that odd shaped wall is the only place for any artwork. The woodwork around the window is such a strong element that I could never picture any framed artwork on that wall. So, I was happy to learn about a material that is fairly heavy and it clings to the wall. The photo is repositionable. I chose to print it in black and white. It costs the same to print in full color. 

If you want something like this - I found an online company that has a ton of options. If you live in a town where there are large format digital printers, I would recommend going to one of them. For large images, you need to know how to transfer the image at the highest possible resolution.

The table where we eat is to the left and the kids are at eye level when seated. If I were to take a photo specifically for that wall, I would probably choose a slightly different proportion. I did print out a paper image as a test run - and it was larger - but seemed to overpower the space. That window into the kitchen is great for the light it provides - but the shape and that wall really bug me. Thankfully, I am getting less picky about all these random details. 

Thursday, January 20, 2022

ChristiP's Dec mailing (Chaos)

Isn't this fantastic? It is from ChristiP. Remember - there is a link to her blog over on the right side of the blog in the *web view* (I think.) Of course, the missing stamp on the front is on the back. I love this so much.


As already mentioned - my great idea for how to fill the odd and even days did not work out at all. At first, I was disappointed, but then I downloaded a new book from the library and the very first chapter provided a whole new perspective on how to manage my situation.

The BigHelpfulBrother is not going to like this one bit. He's a dyed-in-the-wool-7-decades-long scientist. The book is Mythos -by Stephen Fry. It is a *stylish* retelling of the Greek myths. I can just hear the BHB sputtering. He won't be entertaining the thought that the Greeks figured everything out and the scientists have just been making things way too complicated. 

But, guess what, BHB? The Greeks have a much more compelling body of evidence than scientists with their Big Bang. They have the Big Chaos. That's right - everything started with complete and utter chaos. So there.

Now that I do not have to be bothered with all the complicated (and convoluted) scientific stuff -- I can just embrace my chaos and know that chaos rules. So there.

And one more thing from chaos we (everything) sprang and to chaos we (it) will all return.
So there.

I was not able to continue beyond the first chapter. Once they launched into all the characters and stories, it became so complicated that I could not follow it. So, that seems to be a recurring theme. Too complicated. I'm on the end of the bell curve that needs to keep things fairly simple. Nuf said.


Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Mailbox that was bumped - Lynne's Dec env

An adorable mail box Nanna saw in Chicago.

I had originally put this mailbox on the Jan 1st exchange sign-up post, but changed my mind. It seemed like too much to add to the big news that all y'all had to adjust to a new email address for me. I will report how the change went. 

Here is a wider view of the holiday display in this yard across the street from my grandkids house in Chicago. The neighbor has lots of decorations for every holiday. I would be tempted to create yard displays if I lived in Chicago - because there are so many people walking by all day every day.

I ran this photo in 2011 - it's the little mailbox at my main post office. I forgot to ask my son if he saw it this year. As I recall, he does not have any reason to frequent the lobby.

Lynne's card and envelope - fun vintage stamps.
This might be the last post where the envelope comes after the add on.
I'm ditching this format.


Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Paula's Dec mailing

I was wildly excited to hear from Sam's friend at her post office. I have had Paula on my list of people to send something to for a very long time. She wrote that she thought her design could have been better - but I think it's fun and festive and totally appreciate that she was not too exhausted from the holiday tsunami to send mail. I even like the way the cancel looks like a smiley face. 

The snowman on the card is adorable and I keep thinking that February is still a solid winter month - so why not combine snowmen with valentines? Perhaps I will find time to play around with that idea. 

I'm writing this on Dec 31. There are nine days to fill up in Jan. My idea to do exemplars and design ideas on the even days and off topic chatter on the odd days has not worked at all. But, I had fun trying. Both OriginalJean and NewJean tend to have fun while trying new things. That's about the only thing they have in common.


Monday, January 17, 2022

JeanR's Dec mailing - Portrait contest


This stylish set came from JeanR. Fun colors and clever way to tie the celebrate stamp into the winter holidays. The card has a very retro feel - and it is a perfect design for valentines - just flip those triangle over and  turn them into hearts. The star could become a rectangle - for the greeting.


During my non-productive moments, I find some of the competition programs to be entertaining. For the longest time, Project Runway was a favorite because I learned to sew when I was 9 or 10 and enjoyed many years of sewing - until three kids transitioned me into the *mending and costume* years. Project Runway usually had very interesting challenges and I could relate to the process of interpreting a challenge while still making something that reflected one's own point of view. 

The Great British Baking show was about 50/50 of interest to me because I do enjoy baking. However, the time constraint bothered me. I'd rather give people an adequate amount of time to execute their vision. I stumbled across another British series, Portrait Artist of the Year. Oh.My.Gosh. As a painting major, I always wished I had had time to learn how to do portraits. There are a ton of videos on YouTube of the competition - and I have only watched two - so it is hard to know which one to link to. 

The first one I watched had 3 well known people, posing for groups of 4 artists. The artists were chosen to participate based on self portraits. Out of the winner in each of the 3 groups, one finalist was chosen and from those three - a winner was chosen. That person won a commission ($10,000) to paint a portrait of a very famous person and the painting would become part of a collection in a major portrait museum.

I watched a full hour of a most recent winner - and what he went through to produce a museum quality portrait. It was sooooo interesting -- to someone with an abundance of watching people push paint around - with skill. I will link to that video. You'd have to search around to find other videos. This appears to be the 3rd season - and there might be 9 episodes.

The channel is All Documentary - so there are other topics. I tried the landscape series - but it didn't catch my interest the way the portraits did. But if you are fond of landscapes -- you might like it.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Smash's Dec Envelope (more DSM)

Look at all this loveliness from Smash. More pointed pen work. And I think it would be very inspirational for valentines.

And there was a bookmark, too. 
I can't tell you how much I appreciate all the goodies I get in the mail. 
Technically, I did just tell you. Maybe I'm saying that the words I choose do not reflect the magnitude of my appreciation. Yeah. That's better.

Here is my list of favorite things about life in DSM.

1.  The longest it takes to get to the airport from anywhere in the city limits is 14 minutes. From the furthest suburb - it might be 21 minutes. And the airport is roughly in the center of the city. 

2.  Bauder's ice cream - nationally ranked, within walking distance of my house. It's an old fashioned soda fountain and they make the ice cream in house. Ice cream isn't even that high on my list of lusted-after-no-nos- except when somebody says *Bauders* and then it takes a ton of willpower to not go. 

3.  La Quercia cured meats - a newer company - the founder lives a couple blocks from me. He had a perfectly good career but the prosciutto he had in Italy and the abundance of hogs in Iowa inspired him to start a company to rival the products he enjoyed in Italy.  You'll see it on menus in fine dining establishments all over the US.

4.  Fancy Breads. A local bakery that has my third favorite bread in the whole world. My first favorite is no longer available. My second is the baguette at Fairway Market in Stamford CT. Fancy Breads, here in DSM, has some weird distinctive flavor that many people are addicted to. I can't explain it.

The airport and 3 things to eat.  I'll have to work on this list. There must be other things about DSM that are wonderful. It's compact - doesn't take long to get anywhere and there is always plenty of parking.

I have always enjoyed the people I meet here. Most of the time people are pretty friendly and polite - even at places. you might not expect it - like the DOT. I still have PTSD from that one lady at a post office in *a big city.* Yikes. 

I won't name the big city because I think you can find ornery people anywhere. And I have experienced tons of very nice people in very large cities.

Actually, I just recalled one of MrW's cousins who grew up in DC. She spent some time visiting us and when we would head out on errands - she thought it was pretty amazing how friendly people were - and I have heard that from other transplants - so I guess the Midwestern *Nice* is an actual thing - and I appreciate it.

Oh, this is getting too long. But, I remember my daughter bringing a friend from Chicago to visit for a weekend and she thought our neighborhood was *Pleasantville.* And Iowa has been one of the most eager-to-sponsor-refugees. There were/are 20+ different languages spoken at our neighborhood high school. And that is why people are so nice to me at the DOT - because I speak English. They are polite to the non-English speaking people, too. But, I can tell that it's an extra layer of work - and can be very challenging. 

Even the postal workers have to try hard to communicate with people who are struggling. For example, I have watched them explaining to people that they are not at the right office to pay their taxes. 

Apologies for the length of this. I have to start the Feb postings ASAP - so no time to edit.


Saturday, January 15, 2022

Lauren's Dec env - Why Duh Moines?


My usual comment on Lauren's envelopes -- soooo cute, soooo clever.
I saved the card and it is already scheduled to pop up on Dec 24, 2022.
I need to get some of those stamps!!!!


Back in December, Leslie wondered (in a comment) why I refer to our fair city as Duh Moines. I try to be nice about the middle-ness of life in the midwest. We are clearly different from *costal people.* I tend to see the humor when there is good natured rivalry between states or regions of the country. Lots of us have been places where people will poke fun at the concept of being from Des Moines. So, not being a native - it's my leftover *turf-swagger* from my upbringing in the Twin Cities - to call it Duh Moines.

Technically, Duh is phonetically correct - and I wouldn't mind changing it to Duh Moin.

There is one other circumstance that probably makes me poke fun at DSM. A few of the locals (and they are usually natives) exaggerate how wonderful some of the local features of DSM are. For example -- they will  overstate how wonderful our very regional museum is. It's not a bad museum -- but I have been to other regional museums that are so much better. Milwaukee for one. I usually win this argument by pointing out that our museum is one of the few (maybe the only) regional museum that can't get people to pay to see the works. It has always been free - except that one time a new director thought it was egregious that we did not charge - and she instituted a fee for visiting the museum - and everybody stopped coming. They had to revert to *free.* So -- I think that says something.

There will be a list coming up - with all the wonderful things about life in DSM.


P.S. Museums keep track of attendance and they receive grant money based on how many people visit. So, the lack of paying visitors would have also reduced their grant funds - which would have probably put them out of business

Friday, January 14, 2022

Maggie's Dec envelope (cupid-santa)

I saw some images on Maggie's IG before this arrived and was looking forward to seeing it in person. That stamp is perfect with the gold and black. Not doing any holiday mailings has left me with an empty spot so now I have a yearning to do something like this.

Perhaps I can figure out a way to valentine-ize it.

Even the back is pretty - and that is exactly how it arrived with that sticker over the return address.
Below is the card that was inside -- it's so cute. I wonder if it could be turned into a cupid. Do cupids require scanty apparel? I can't even remember if they have wings. What the heck are they? More on this topic coming up.

When I came back to review this a day before it pops up, I had no memory of what I'd written and no idea about what I might add to the topic - unless it was research into what cupids are - or maybe cupid is just one *creature* - like Santa.


Thursday, January 13, 2022

Sharon's Dec env - Grant Wood


Isn't this pretty? Sharon might have a wedge brush or maybe she can do this with a round pointed brush. The card inside was in it's own envelope and I was so happy to get one of those new stamps - and without the cancellation. There is a lot of holiday mail yet to come on the blog. Maybe we can look at holiday designs and see fun ways to morph them into valentines. The ornament could easily become a heart with additional heart designs.


If you want to delve into oddities, this odd-day item is from a blog that specializes in what they call *ridiculously interesting* things. 

Although the couple in the iconic painting are often mistaken as husband and wife, Wood intended them to be read as a father with his spinster daughter. He chose his sister Nan and his dentist (Dr. Byron McKeeby) to model.

I knew someone (who has passed away) who went to Dr. McKeeby when she was a little girl in Cedar Rapids. I have already posted (in Dec 20, 2016) about Grant Wood, his very cool studio that is open for visitors as well as that little house in Eldon, Iowa which you can visit and stand in front of it and take your picture. 

Link to the blog where I found this - which could be a rabbit hole if you need one today. Warning - there is some creepy, weird stuff, if you surf off of the link. You have been warned.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Jeri's Dec envelope

There are lots of examples of Jeri's work on the blog. She often does very tiny lettering, which I always love. This one is stellar because the shape of the name and address is a subtle echo of the shape of the skull. Most of Jeri's envelopes end up in my all-time-favorite file - and this one will. I even love that the Day of the Dead stamp worked so well for a holiday mailing.

From a design standpoint, I can see how some people would not love the amount of open space there is on this one. I, however, love it. Even the shapes on the cancel work nicely. It's nice that the skull did not get smudged. 

I finally got around to buying some of these stamps and am feeling inspired to get back to mail art. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

From Christina - Off topic - Food

Christina mentioned Fong's Pizza on the inside of the card which means she's been to DSM. We have a bar/restaurant that was a Chinese restaurant for many, many decades. Mr Wilson and I went there on dates circa 1976-78. In 2009, new owners wanted to preserve the vintage Asian decor but they wanted it to be more of a bar. They also had a large collection of tiki style bar ware - so they came up with a fusion of Asian and pizza. The crab rangoon pizza in sooooo good. Alton Brown raved about the place.

When they first opened (and the crab rangoon pizza was a sensation) - I did extensive research online trying to find a recipe for crab rangoon pizza. There was nothing. Now, there are all kinds of recipes. There are probably all kinds of stories about the origin and all kinds of not-very-close recipes. Unless the story starts with Fong's Pizza in DSM, Iowa, it's not the true story. 

I looked at a couple recipes and will link to one that I think is pretty close. The only thing they forgot (or did not know about - because they never had the original) is the crunchy topping -- crispy won ton - crunchy little strips of fried wonton noodles that you can buy in a bag.

Here is what they list as the ingredients on the website:

Crab Rangoon base, surimi, green onion, mozzarella, and asiago topped with crispy wontons and sweet chili sauce.

Actually - their whole menu is pretty cool. I'll link to that. And I've made the crab rangoon pizza on top of a flour tortilla in a toaster oven and it is delicious. If you are not opposed to the fake crab (surimi) - it works just fine. I suppose you could use real crab - and it would be delicious.

Link to crab rangoon pizza recipe

Link to Fong's menu - with so many ideas. if you like to make fun pizzas or flatbreads

And don't get me started about how many terrible recipes there are for the original Buffalo chicken wings. I've been to the Anchor Bar -- and it's just butter and hot sauce. Anything other than that should not be allowed to say *Buffalo.* Grrrr