Spring’s Full Glory

Oh my!  I can't begin to show you how beautiful this spring is here in the mountains.  I've been spending as much time as I can spare away from my computer and art desk to work out in the yard (to beautify the surroundings and to help minimize my waistline!)  I've never been much for exercise videos and routines, I like my exercise to produce dual results!  My thigh muscles are absolutely aching from bending over and pulling weeds and I won't even go into the shoulder muscles!!

my gardenThe clematis is blooming for the very first time after planting it I think 2 years ago.  There's another clematis that is climbing up the trunk of the ginko tree in the picture to the right of it.  It's going to be so fun to watch it bloom.  Being a warm country girl all my life, I could never grow clematis, peonies or tulips (my peony is going to bloom in about a week or two, yippee!!!) 

If only I could capture the heavenly fragrances.  My rose arbor has miniature roses that smell incredibly lemony and you can smell them all the way up to the house.  I think that the roses really love getting a harder freeze.  They haven't looked this spectacular in the three years we've been here.

I'm a lazy gardener, Martha Stewart is quite safe from me… my goal is to enjoy my garden, not to spend endless hours in it.  I have a couple of lazy gardener's tips to share today.  If there is a task that you can find a way to do once in a season, do it.  There are wonderful timed released fertilizers now that work for an entire season and perfectly release the right amount of fertilizer as it's needed.  I used to think that they were more expensive until I realized that they were actually less expensive!  They cost slightly more than their counterparts, but you only use them once so they end up being nearly 1/2 as expensive overall not counting the time you invest putting them down.

The same goes for treating paths for weeds.  If you can use a once a year weed killer, it costs just a little more initially but significantly less overall.  Just be careful to read the directions and warnings.  You can't use a yearly weed killer directly under trees or in the drip lines of bushes etc. 

For any of you that don't have a garden, buy some beautiful plant pots and add them to your patio or front porch.  There's something that just lifts our spirits about enjoying the beauty of flowers.

Audrey Jeanne Roberts

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Two More Friday Freebies

link to Friday Free Bee(UPDATE: the link has expired.  Please check back for other specials about once or twice a month).This week, DAISIE COMPANY again has two Friday Freebies (one of them because of my boo-boo!)  In a kit released in March, I had a typo on a text piece that was just now caught!  Isn’t it funny how we see what we expect to see when we’re reading?  I’ve written I think 13 books now with four different publishers and even with top-notch editors, proof readers and my own "Eagle-Eye-Roberts" AKA my DH Steve, one out of 2 books STILL end up with a typo or boo-boo in them somewhere!

So, even if you didn’t buy the original kit, you can download one of it’s design pieces that can be used to create a greeting card, gift tag, magnet or?  DAISIE COMPANY angel policy applies.

Link to Friday Free Bee

Lucy Hampton provides the normal Friday Freebie at DAISIE with her absolutely gorgeous "Everything Pink" mini kit. 

Just click on either picture and it will take you to the DAISIE STORE so that you can download them.  You will have to go through check out but will not be charged anything.  If you love working with awesome art and graphics, sign up for their newsletter and you’ll get additional freebies from time to time and be alerted to who’s amazing new art is available in digital art kits now.  There are new kits every Tuesday and Friday and new artists being added virtually weekly!  Come take a peek.

Audrey Jeanne Roberts

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Do You Wish You Could Scrapbook, But Have No Time or Space? Digiscrapping May Be Your Answer!

When I used to have to design old-fashioned scrapbook pages to create my framed print line for Cottage Garden Collections, I used to literally pull my hair out at how messy scrapbooking was.  It destroyed my studio, (which leans toward the disaster zone style of order anyway!)  I would be vacuuming up beads and glitter for ever!  Then somewhere about half way through the process, I figured out I could digitally design my kits, then print the separate elements and put together the 3D pages, VOILA… LOOK MOM!  NO MESS!

new kit link

Digital scrapbooking allows you to create totally flat, quick to produce scrapbook pages, or embellish those pages in what's becoming knows a Hybrid scrapbooking — a mix of traditional and digital.

My new product release this morning at DAISIE COMPANY is a quick, two page scrapbook layout that is in PNG format.  For only $2.98, you can purchase these ready-to-go pages.  All you have to do is drop your photographs in and size them, add your journaling and you're done.  The thing I love most about digiscrapping is that I can create a page for one of my daughters (where this layout came from) and give it to her, but once it's created I can now duplicate it for anyone, anytime!  Next Friday there will be two more sets released (see post below this one), one a two page and one a three page (mix and match to produce several combinations of two page spreads).  With these three kits you could do an entire album.  They are 12" pages, but can easily resize to 8" if you prefer that size scrapbook.

Last Christmas, I determined to make scrapbooks for all of the grandparents (because of my first husband's death and my remarriage we have an abundance of grandparents to attend to!)  These gifts were the most appreciated and commented on of any I've ever given over the years.  If you take the time to create one or two layouts a month from now until Christmas, your Christmas can be simple, restful and in actuality very inexpensive considering the pricelessness of the gift you're giving!

If you want to create your own pages with this art, or add embellishments to the pages, the individual pieces, borders, frames and papers are available as two separate art kits, these quick pages are made from "Audrey Jeanne's Blue Hydrangeas 1" and there is a second kit "Audrey Jeanne's Blue Hydrangeas 2" as well.  (Click on the names to go to the kits) Special thanks to atomic cupcake.

Happy Scrapping! 

Audrey Jeanne Roberts

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New Instant Scrapbook Pages Coming Next Week!

Some of you are quite creative with your graphic layouts and scrapbooking pages and others would like to be but don't have either the time or expertise to accomplish the task.

New products

My layouts have been precreated for you.  All you have to do is find the photographs you would like to scrap and figure out what you want to say on the pages and they're done!

Even better… when you digitally scrap, you can print the pages out for Mom, Grandma, the Mother of the Bride or your sister as easily as pushing the print button again.  If you create scrapbook pages during the year, you can assemble a beautiful album at Christmas time as a very special gift that will be remembered long after most gifts.

product preview

There are two kits being added to the Blue Hydrangeas series, both are shown here.  If you have the art kits Blue Hydrangeas 1 and Blue Hydrangeas 2, you can create these pages yourself.  Feel free to look at how I did them and duplicate the layouts, but if saving time is more important to you, they're very reasonably priced at $2.98 for the two page set and $3.98 for the 3 page set. 

The pages in the trio can be flipped from left to right (horizontally) to create several two page layouts as all three pages go together. 

The last page shown here has a transparent opening metallic tag that you can place your text under to show through as though there were clear glass.  There are also some beautiful jeweled accents to set off the ribbons and stitching.

product preview

I hope you'll enjoy creating a beautiful album out of these pages or using them as an idea of how to use your Blue Hydrangeas art kits to create your own special gifts!  The gift of memories to scrapped to treasure for a lifetime and beyond is a priceless gift!

Audrey Jeanne Roberts 

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With Effort and Practice, You Can Turn Your Blues into Blue Skies

I did a little research this morning on overcoming depression and found a wonderful web site that has some great resource information.  It's www.healthyplace.com and is specifically a community for the depressed and those that love them.  I read through an article on overcoming depression by Chuck T. Falcon, a counseling psychologist and author that was rich in wise counsel.  The article can be found at http://www.healthyplace.com/communities/depression/treatment/therapy/article_overcoming_depression.asp

If you battle with heavy depression, please, please, please seek medical counsel.  Often times it is just too heavy a load for you to try to lift on your own.  Your vision is darkened so much, that even if there were a clear path in front of you, you wouldn't see it.  Remember, I am not a professional in this area, just a concerned friend who wants to see you whole and happy!

What I do want to share in the next few days are some tips on living a happier and emotionally healthier life.  Thank goodness, that not many of us will suffer with deep bouts of depression in our lives, but ALL of us battle the blues from time to time.  There are ways to help limit how "blue" we get and how long we stay there.  Bad physical and/or mental habits can make it much easier for us to become susceptible to those down times.  Healthy habits can help to build our emotional "immune system" so that we can more easily fight off the "bugs" that are going around!

The first key is physical exercise is a fabulous tool for warding off depression.  There is a direct correlation between depression and physical lethargy.  As little as 15-20 minutes a day of walking or light exercise including physical yard work can prevent many people from ever slipping into a depression.  The problem is that once you are depressed, you don't want to move… but you must force yourself.  When you want to do nothing but sleep, give yourself permission to take a nap after you've walked half a mile.  Chances are once you have, you won't want to sleep anymore! Though you won't feel better in a single day, it is amazing how quickly that exercise will begin to restore your natural balance and begin to help you feel better about the world and your life. 

Exercise actually changes the chemistry of the brain.  Perhaps one reason that today's children suffer greater depression than ever before is that they are leading sedentary lives in front of the television set, video games or the internet rather than climbing trees, skating and riding bicycles like earlier generations did.  We no longer lead as physically demanding lives as our grandparents did, and perhaps we suffer more emotionally because of it.

When you walk, if you can, walk with a friend.  You'll more than double the impact of your exercise.  Most depressed people also have the habit of isolating themselves and turning inward.  When you involve yourself in the lives of others, your life has a more balanced perspective.  When you share your problems with a friend, she often can see simple answers, simple ways out of your difficulties that you've been blind to!

If you must walk alone … pray!  You'll turn your thoughts outward and you'll be walking with a friend who will never leave you and loves you more than you can know.  You'll get a double dose of emotional health boosters!  If you walk with God in prayer, talk about your needs, the needs of your family, and about others with needs greater than yourself.  Prayer is simply talking to God like you would an intimate friend.  And, like your girlfriend, God often has simple answers to our difficulties if we will only take the time to ask and listen for His answers! 

I've noticed a pattern in my blues… the more consumed I am with my own troubles, the more likely I am to be consumed by them.  When I focus on actively loving and making a difference in the lives of those around me, the less intense my own internal struggle becomes.    Sometimes when I get down I tend to focus too heavily on everything that's "wrong" with my world.  The more I think on my problems the larger they seem to get.  When I get into that place, I've found it helpful to pray a prayer similar to this one:

"Lord, you are well aware of this crisis that I am facing.  You know my need and I know that you care deeply about where I am and what needs to happen in my life.  But if I keep focusing on myself, I begin to slip down into feeling overcome by the stress and the dark emotions.  So I'm going to leave my cares in your hands and as an act of trust and faith in you, I'm going to pray for others' needs instead of my own."  (Followed by praying for the needs I am aware of that surround me)

A healthy balance isn't too much in either direction, it's neither turned too inward, nor too other's focused (so that I try to escape by meeting other's needs).  If you struggle with your emotions, the book of Psalms in the old testament is a great place to read.  King David wrote many of them and he suffered huge bouts of the blues.  He was amazingly honest with his feelings as he shared them with the Lord, but he always finished with his focus not on himself but on how awesome GOD was and how capable GOD was to change things.  In the words of the child's song Jesus loves Me, "I am weak, but He is strong!"

Tomorrow I'm going to share on taking charge of your thoughts and a wonderful method of changing your thought pattern I've dubbed, "The Red Door Principle."

May God bless you and give you a great day!

Audrey Jeanne Roberts


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Feeling Blue? Please Talk to a Friend, a Trusted Counselor or See a Doctor

A dear friend wrote me this morning about coming to realize that she may be dealing with depression in her life.  She cycles between great spurts of super-achievement and then spurts of missing her deadlines and being unable to function.  She specifically asked me to write about her struggles that others might be helped.  Boy can I identify a little with her patternBlush

I shared with her a story from my own life that I'm going to share with you.  When I was pregnant with Jacqui 21 years ago, I experienced a chemical depression that was triggered by a hormonal imbalance.  For the last four months of my pregnancy I felt as though I lived in a deep mountain valley surrounded by high mountain peaks that blocked the sun for most of the day.  I felt like I was living in a shadow when the rest of the world was living in beautiful sunshine.  I was thrilled to be pregnant, all was well in my life and yet I was depressed.  It made no sense to me at all.

No amount of "straightening out my thinking" would work.  No amount of praying seemed to lift it.  I tried everything that I could think of or knew to be helpful, all to no avail.  The Lord did send a dear friend who was a Pastor to pray for me who didn't know what I was experiencing.  Without my telling him what was wrong, he spoke a word of comfort that let me know that God knew my need.  But still the darkness didn't lift.  I resigned myself to living in the shadow and when I gave birth to Jacqui, within three days it was over.  I felt like a new person.  It was as though a gentle breeze blew the clouds away and the sun began to shine again.  In retrospect I should have told my doctor about what I was experiencing rather than just "tough it out."  It's possible that they could have done something to ease my suffering.

What I learned in that episode is that depression is real.  When it is due to a chemical imbalance it is overpowering and colors all of your perceptions of life.  I want to encourage any of you that are experiencing a depression so deep or so regular that you feel powerless to overcome it to seek medical help.  There is no shame in the diabetic taking insulin to avoid going into a coma.  There's no shame in the heart patient taking nitroglycerin to prevent a heart attack and there should be no shame in the individual that needs help to restore a chemical balance that affects their mind and mood to seek help either.

Being depressed when you lose a parent, a job or life drastically changes is understandable.  We all face great periods of emotional trauma in life and depression often accompanies those losses.  But f your depression isn't tied to circumstances, and especially if there's nothing in your life that should warrant your being depressed, that is a very important clue that you may need medical help to overcome it.  Please understand that I am not an expert on this subject, and I can only share what I've learned though my own life experience, but I hope it will be helpful to you.

For the rest of us that struggle with occasional bouts of the blues, I want to share a few things that I've learned to apply over the years.  For the most part I am a very even-keeled emotional being.  I don't even get PMS very often.  But when I overwork (and those of you who know me know how prone to that I am) I can easily get "blue."  I tend to be a momentum creator.  I get on a roll.  I can turn out incredible volumes of work in short periods of time… but I've also learned that that kind of productivity comes at a great price.  The day I hear myself say "This is so much fun I could work like this forever!" is the day before the inevitable crash!!!!  Once I connected the dots of this behavior and told my family about it so that they could help me to recognize the warning signs, I've begun to experience it less often. 

Rest… relaxation… restoration… these are important to our body, soul and spirit.  When we overwork any of these parts of ourselves, we're more susceptible to episodes of emotional weariness. 

In the bible, there's a story that depicts this very clearly.  It's found in 1 Kings 18:16 through chapter 19.  Elijah was threatened by a very evil queen, Jezebel and stood up to her and her 400 prophets.  He saw God do mighty miracles , he defeated these prophets, brought rain after a severe drought and should have been riding a high, but instead he sank into fear, despondency and depression.  He ran away out into the desert, sat under a broom tree and said "I have had enough, Lord, take my life; I am no better than my ancestors."  Another modern translation of this might read "Lord, I want to die, kill me.  Life has lost its meaning, I'm useless, I'm the only one that's still serving you and I'm just plain tired of living." Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. 

The wonderful part of this story is that God didn't lecture him, He didn't punish him, He didn't even tell him how disappointed he was in him.  Instead he sent an angel to feed him heavenly food and he let him sleep.  Twice, the angel gave him food and had him rest.  Once his body was restored, then the Lord set about to restore his spirit by revealing himself to Elijah.

God created us and He understands our human frame better than we do!  Depression can be triggered by anxiety, stress, and worry.  It can be triggered by poor eating, sleeping and physical care of ourselves.  Depression can be triggered by isolating and not sharing our burdens with friends or family.  All of these areas are things that the Lord instructs us on how to avoid in scripture.  He teaches us to cast all our burdens on Him because He cares for us.  He instructs us to care for our bodies because they are His temple.  He teaches us to gather together with other people to share our burdens and our joys by laughing with one another and crying with one another.  He also instructs us to confess our sins one to another that we might be healed.  It should come as no surprise to us that when we follow the "manufacturer's" advice on how to maintain optimum performance we function better!

Tomorrow I'll share some more life skills that can help us to live a richer, more joy-filled and less depressed life.  For those of you that are a little "blue" I'm praying for you and sending a hug your way.

Audrey Jeanne Roberts


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Little Secrets For a Great Marriage.

In church today, we met up with a young couple that are the daughter and son-in-law of the music minister. They were married perhaps 6 weeks ago and are very happy, but also discovering that marriage is very, very different from dating!  They had attended Family Life's "Weekend to Remember" as an engaged couple and we were talking about their attending it again now that they're married. 

The young bride said, "Things that never bothered me at all are really starting to bug me.  We're in such a different place now, I'm sure that the conference will speak to us in a much different way."  For those of us that have been married for a while (or a long while) we chuckle a little.  We can easily remember back to those early days of struggle we experienced, and perhaps from time to time still experience!

I shared a thought with her, "When we're single, it's like we get to wear many different pairs of shoes.  We have different roles and relationships in life that we're changing in and out of, so if one bugs us, it's no big deal switch out to another pair.  But when we're married we've narrowed things down to  one pair of work boots that we wear every day.  If they start to chaff or we get a little stone in them, it's important to attend to it early not let it rub us until we're raw." 

Marriage is always a challenge.  We are in very close proximity, in good times and through difficult situations.  We come to know our mate's strengths and weaknesses more than anyone else's on earth.  When one of their idiosyncracies or weaknesses starts to bug us, we have a choice to make… magnify it and let it build until we're raw and blistered over it, or work to resolve the issue or come to acceptance about it. 

The operative word is work at it.  Great marriages don't happen by an accident of fate, they are built one conflict resolved at a time, one challenge overcome together at a time, one day of frustration and irritation worked through, one decision to love, one decision of compromise and one decision to give the benefit of the doubt at a time.  True, lasting love isn't a feeling, it's a decision that we make day after day, week after week, year after year.  The amazing thing is that when we choose to love… more often than not, the feelings of love stay strong and even grow.

When we were early in our marriage 12 years ago, Steve and I read a Reader's Digest article together (we read out loud to each other all the time, I highly recommend it to help you draw together).  This article was from a woman who was celebrating her 45th Anniversary and was asked her secret for a successful marriage. 

She replied, "Early in our marriage, my husband and I decided that each of us only had 3 flaws and determined that we would never list the 3 flaws at one time.  So whenever he got on my nerves or let me down, I would say "It's only one of his three flaws!"  We laughed, but we also adopted the attitude and it may sound silly, but it works!  Our children are so familiar with our saying that they complete it for us before we have a chance.  They've learned that Dad isn't perfect, but Mom appreciates who he is as a man and makes sure that they do to. 

When I leave frozen food out on the counter because I was distracted by my computer, decided to check my email and never made it back to the kitchen, my husband picks up the half-melted food and puts it back in the refrigerator saying, "It's only one of her three flaws."

When my husband says, "I'll mow the yard until it gets dark and then come in for dinner."  I begin dinner and when he doesn't come in until 9 PM (we have 5 acres of mountainside and meadow) and dinner's stone cold I laugh and say, "It's only one of your three flaws!"  Then I warm dinner up in the microwave and the issue is over. 

It helps us to focus on the positive characteristics that we each have rather than the areas that we lack.  Some of our areas of lack are simply not possible to be changed… the artist (me) is never going to be the organized, on-top-of-everyone's-schedule mom… EVER!!!!  My creative, wonderfully-sensitive husband is NEVER going to be the super-CPA-every-bit-of-business-super-organized-and-accounted-for kind of a husband — and I wouldn't trade who he is for who he isn't! 

Accepting one another's limitations and in many ways minimizing those that aren't life-damaging (we're not talking about abusiveness or destructive behaviors here) is one of the ways that we "break in the boots" and make them comfortable, hard-working, and functional.  Think about it for a moment, for a ball, a pair of sparkling, diamond-studded glass slippers might be quite cute, and that's a little like what dating is like.  But for getting things done in life, a great, comfortable pair of boots will beat them out every day of the week… the same is true of a great mate!  

Audrey Jeanne Roberts

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Coming This Week at DAISIE Company…

I have finished the take out box kit with instructions for the beaded handle and trim

Tuesday's kit 

Included with this kit will be a mini-gift bag and a couple of gift cards/tags.

Then coming on Friday will be a pair of Scrapbook pages that I created for my daughter's scrapbook and many of you requested to be made available.

These are png files that you simply drop your photograph behind and add your journaling text and you're done.  They are facing pages.

The wonderful thing about digital scrapbooking is that when you've created a page, you can print it out for Mom, Grandma and anyone else that would enjoy receiving it as a gift!


Friday's kit

These pages would be perfect for a lot of occasions including weddings and anniversaries, graduation, prom or just a special event. 

They feature touches of the blue hyrdageas with soft cream and cocoa swirls and topped off with stitched highlights and antiqued jewels.

By the way, please be praying for the family of the Blue Angels Pilot, Kevin Davis, who was killed in yesterday's crash.  I found out this morning that he was a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (the school that Jacqui attends).  This news will have quite an impact on their close-knit family/campus.

Have a Great Day!

Audrey Jeanne Roberts


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For Children… Which is More Important, Self-Esteem or Mastery?

I raised my children right smack in the middle of the "praise your children for everything they do" revolution.  Praise them for going potty.  Praise them because they are special.  Praise them a hundred times a day and they'll grow confident and strong.  Aspects of this self-esteem concept have troubled me over the years, but I just couldn't quite put my finger on why or how.  Now that my children have grown and I've seen the fruit of this teaching mature in our culture, I'd like to make a few observations about what I think might be a better, more effective approach in raising children.

I've been thinking on this for 3 or 4 days and woke up to find an article in the Wall Street Journal "The Most Praised Generation Goes to Work," (subscription required) that addresses the impact of people who can't function without effusive praise in the work place.  Like every generation before us, my generation had our own struggle with the areas of lack in our parents.  Many of us struggled with parents that often were negative, critical and never praised, so we swung too far in the opposite direction thinking that would be better.  As usual, wild swings of the pendulum are more often simply polar opposites that are both errors.

Here's a few differences between effective and ineffective praise.  Praise for real accomplishments and effort has real value, effusive praise for simply "being" does not.  Praise for a character trait that is being built into the heart of a child such as honesty, integrity, diligence or caring is extraordinarily valuable.  Praise for being beautiful is hollow, as beauty or the lack of it is a quirk of nature.  However, praise bestowed for having a beautiful heart is earned.  The important difference is praising for things that are worked towards and earned has lasting value, praise for things that aren't earned is hollow, empty and does not satisfy the hunger of a child's heart it simply creates a greater hunger… a child's heart knows the difference.  There is value in competing for an honor and achieving it, there is little value when an "honor" is bestowed upon an entire class so that "no one feels bad."  Our oversensitive culture is producing more overly sensitive and self-centered people than confident and selfless individuals. 

The scripture encourages us in many places to live our lives in a way that is pleasing (or will bring praise or honor) from the Lord, rather than men. One such example is Col 1:10: And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, NIV.  There is a reward that is greater than the praise of men.

Children that grow up with excessive, un-earned praise can be devastated later in life to find that no boss is going to follow them around and praise how well they refiled their file folders at the end of the day!  They are going to be held accountable to actual achievements at some point in life, and we do them no favors by not starting that process when they are young.  At some point children must learn to know deep within their hearts that they did a job well, they mastered it… whether or not anyone else compliments them on it.  There's a significant difference between self-esteem and self-respect, and I believe of the two, the latter is of greater benefit in life.

A light-hearted example of this is seen every year on American Idol.  If you've ever watched the early auditions phase (a truly painful experience) you have seen people that obviously have absolutely no skill or talent audition.  Why?  Most often they say it's because their family members have told them how well they sing!  Were their family members being loving to them, to encourage them to pursue an area they had no talent in?  Were the judges mean for telling them the truth? 

Praise is important, vital and it is hard for a child to grow healthy and strong without it… yet it is not impossible for a child to grow strong without a single word of praise from his or her parents.  How?  Usually only if they become accomplished and achieve mastery of some significant area of their lives.  So, what if healthy, true praise were added to mastery, how much more successful can an individual become?  What then, do I mean by mastery? 

Mastery is to take on a task, such as baseball and learn the skill set that is required to succeed at it.  Mastery is to love art and begin to learn the concepts and techniques required to execute a painting that shows skill, beauty and is appreciated by others.  No matter the intellectual capacity of any child… it is likely that he or she can master some area in life that holds interest for them.

Mastery can be a long-term process.  If an individual loves children and sets the goal of becoming a teacher, he or she will need to attend years of college to become an educator.  She will have to take many classes that she may not be interested in.  He must master the materials required to become certified to teach, or he will not be.  However, once mastery is achieved, the very skills acquired in its achieving the goal, begin to be used to make a difference in the lives of children.

Your children need to attempt tasks that are hard for them to master.  It's possible that in setting hard goals, they might attempt something they might fail at, but remember true success is only achieved if there is a chance of failure!  That might mean learning the piano and sticking with it until they have learned to "master" it at what ever level they are capable of.  It might mean learning how to sew clothes or earn badges for Girl or Boy Scouts.  There are many valuable lessons he or she will learn in the process of mastering a skill; such as they can accomplish hard things, if they work at it one step at a time and that each skill learned helps make learning the next skill all that much easier. 

I was "forced" to learn to sew as a child.  At first I was interested, but when beautiful objects didn't just fly off of my sewing machine, I soon began to lose interest.  I didn't like that they took long hard hours of pinning, sewing, tearing apart and re-sewing.  I hated that my mother didn't accept sloppy work and made me tear it apart and start over again.  Unlike many of today's parents, who would have let me stop when I whined and complained and made life miserable for them, my mom was "mean."  She made me sew 1/3 of my school wardrobe or I wouldn't have any new clothes, period! 

Sewing taught me life lessons that were greater than purely the application of sewing skills to a task.  I learned to read and follow directions, to figure things out on my own without a teacher, I learned that sewing was a skill that was made up of a hundred little skills — when I learned how to do an armhole, that skill applied to every garment I ever wanted to make from that day forward.  I gained the confidence that though a task looked impossible, if I broke it up into a dozen little steps I was more likely to accomplish it.  The first time I looked at a set of directions I was overwhelmed, but after a few years I skimmed through them looking for anything I didn't know how to do and often found there were none!

If you help your child build the ki
nd of true self-image that is produced through this kind of mastery, you help them to build an internal self-confidence that is far more valuable in experiencing a successful life, than any life based on externally sustained self-esteem can ever produce.   May God give you the wisdom to know how lead your children to seek the Praise of God rather than men and to seek excellence in everything they do.

Audrey Jeanne Roberts

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A Free Gift For Those That Grieve

Many of my readers love to express their love in gifts made from their hands.  When people mourn, a thoughtful, special gift can provide deep and lasting comfort.  With this in mind, and in honor of those who are grieving an inconsolable loss with the passing of their loved ones at Virginia Tech this week, I’ve designed this memorial bookmark.

 Link to download

To download it, simply click on the picture and it will begin the downloading process.  This bookmark is in a png format so that you can simply drop the picture of the loved one behind it, size their picture and add their name or other information in the opening and make as many as you wish.  The terms of this freebie are according to the Daisie company Angel policy, but for this download I will consider one loss as a single use.

The lovely lady shown on the sample bookmark I created is Kathy Cornford.  She was a dear, dear friend that lost her battle with Breast Cancer on June 10th of 2006.  We miss her dearly.  The year has been a long one with many thoughts of her and tears shed in her memory.  She was a woman of great character.  Incredibly wise and funny… she was always a joy to be around.  In her most intense suffering she was consumed with thoughts of those around her.  I was blessed to have been one of those she thought of.

Feel free to share and pass it along to those that are grieving.  We send prayers for comfort and peace from our hearts to accompany it.

Audrey Jeanne Roberts

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How on Earth Can I Know What to Say to the Grieving?

This has been a very difficult week for our nation.  There is nothing more jarring than the senseless loss of young men and women just beginning to live.  Our minds grasp for ways to understand what is absolutely not understandable.  We question God.  We question those in authority and in fact many of us feel such anger that we reach for people, places, authorities to blame and help dissipate that anger, but it only succeeds in making us more angry.  Others simply pull back into themselves and feel numb and gray but can't quite figure out why.

Grief is as unique as each individual, each relationship and each tragedy… it never comes in exactly the same form or with the same emotions.  The same loss suffered in a single family will not be grieved the same by the individuals in that family.  This completely unpredictable course of grieving often leads to much misunderstanding and even separation in marriages or families.  As a culture we are woefully unprepared to grieve any loss, much less the massive and tragic loss our nation is facing this week.

Have you ever been confronted with the loss suffered by a close friend or relative and been so afraid of saying the wrong thing that you've barely said anything at all?  Or avoided the subject for fear that you might cause more pain?  Feeling inadequate to comfort the grieving is very common, most of us feel that we don't know what is going to be helpful and what isn't in comforting a grieving individual.

I suffered the loss of the husband of my youth when I was 36 and he was just 44.  It was in 1994.  He died from Melanoma, which is a virulent form of skin cancer.  I sought out information prior to his death on the grieving process in order to help my young daughters cope with the coming loss, then afterward attended a Hospice grief support group for a season and have since read several good books.  The best of which is "When Life is Changed Forever By the Death of Someone Near," by Rick Taylor, Harvest House Publishers.  It's available at www.familylife.org or most likely also at www.amazon.com.  We buy the book a dozen at a time to have on hand for the unexpected tragedies that happen around us.

Here's a list of a few things that are usually very comforting to the grieving individual:

  1. If you don't know what to say all you have to do is say so!  "I am so saddened by your loss and I have no idea what you must be feeling.  I just want you to know how much I care, but words fail me at a time like this."  You don't have to fix it, explain it, or give them the answer on how to get over it… you just have to weep with those that are weeping.  Believe it or not, that's enough!
  2. If you want to do something, figure out what needs doing and either just do it or offer to do it.  The grieving individual often hears "If you need anything, just call and I'll be happy to help."  The problem is they don't remember who offered to do what as their minds just aren't working right, or they don't feel comfortable asking.  When I was grieving, my friend Sally would call and say, "I'm taking the boys for an afternoon at the library and then we're going to the park.  Can I pick up the girls and bring them along?"  She knew I needed time alone to think and the girls might need time to simply get away from thinking.  It was always something practical, and often quite small that meant the most.  Most people think in terms of grand gestures when it's the small, thoughtful, caring things that are most remembered.
  3. Don't be afraid to talk about the deceased… especially as time goes by.  Most people stop talking about them.  The grieving individual begins to feel like they can't bring up their husband or child any more because you won't want to "hear it again and again."  However, they usually very much still want to talk about them. 
  4. The most wonderful gift you can give to someone is the memories you have of their loved one, especially if it is about an area of their life they might not know about.  Share stories, share what this person meant to you, and especially share ways their life touched yours or they did something for you that blessed you or was very special.  This is especially important when comforting a parent on the loss of a child.  It is extremely important that they know their child's life was important and mattered to someone besides themselves.
  5. Keep remembering them and their loss… after about a month, everyone else goes on with life and stops asking or stops calling.  That's when your support can mean the most.  A card sent at random, a phone call each week, an invitation to dinner — especially if the person has lost their husband or wife.  Couples often feel uncomfortable inviting a single to a group dinner so they don't and the survivor loses their husband and the married friends they shared.  It doesn't really matter if you have 7 instead of 8 at a dinner party, invite them too!
  6. Put yourself in their shoes and guess how they might be feeling… you'll be right more often than not.  For example: the first Valentine's day after losing a spouse is a rough one to anticipate.  Call them a week or two in advance and just offer to talk about it.  "It must be hard to think about Valentine's Day coming up.  Do you have any plans for the day?  Would you like to have dinner with us, we'd love to be with you."  Or, "It must be hard to get in the Christmas spirit and buy Christmas presents for your grandkids and family this year.  Would you like to go shopping together one day so it isn't quite so overwhelming for you?"
  7. Jesus wept with Mary and Martha even though he knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead and they wouldn't have any more reason to grieve.  He didn't lecture them or teach them a lesson… he wept.  He shared their anguish and comforted them with his presence, then he raised him from the dead.  Unfortunately we don't usually have the power to raise the dead, but we can learn a huge lesson on how to comfort the grieving by observing Jesus' compassion.

The most important thing you can do is be there, don't run away or pull back.  Put your arm around them, cry with them, laugh with them, pray with them and walk the long path to recovery with them one step at a time.

Audrey Jeanne Roberts

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The Rest of The Blue Hydangeas Gift Bag & Tag Set

Okay, I'm pretty much done designing this kit, now to get it ready (the much less fun part of the job!) to send to Stacey.  It will still be a while because I have to create the instructions and create both bags in 3 sizes: Tabloid paper (11 x 17 or larger), Legal paper (8.5 x 14) & Letter Paper (8.5 x 11).

Kit previewThe photography can't show it very well, but the paper flower shown to the right is made from three layers and is very dimensional with or without the butterfly in the center.  In some uses I've highlighted the center with a jewel and in others the butterfly.

There are quite a few parts included that you may put together with your own embellishments and imagination to create gift tags and gift cards to match.


The cream and tan bag would work very well for a Wedding gift.  I've added an irridescent white ribbon to the front and back and blue jewels and the large sheer wired ribbon closing the top of the bag for a touch of elegance

If I've left anything off, please leave me comments with suggestions for improving the kit!  Once I've finished creating all of the templates, I'll be able to design quite a few more sets in the months to come.

A reminder… The April Blog referral contest is still on going.  See the post with full information down below a ways (or click on the categories "Contests" to go right to it).  There are only a small number of people that have entered so far this month, so the chances to win the Blue Hydrangea Alphabet kit are pretty good!

Audrey Jeanne Roberts

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An Absolutely Fascinating Link For You Today!

I used to describe Michelle Allen as the daughter of my dear friend, Karla Dornacher.  But now I describe Michelle as MY friend.  She is an amazing artist, business woman and absolutely hilarious to boot.  Well… Michelle is in China working with her factory to produce a line of ceramics and resin products that are just awesomely cute and fun.  Her art is like nothing you've ever seen and yet so warm and charming… We especially love her coffee themed items!

Link to Michelle's Blog

This morning, Michelle shows a picture of a new clock that she's custom designing (probably for a catalog company) that's really fun.  Her clocks have fun little pendulums like a mouse dangling from a cat's mouth trying to get away. 

She's been blogging each day from the factory and you simply MUST see the toilet facilityBlush… simply unbelievable… I suggested to Michelle that they "upgrade" their facilities at their company for the employees.  EEeeeeeewwwww!

Michelle is working on her website and when she gets it completed I'm going to feature more of her art.  I love getting to know other artists… they bring beauty to my life.  Thanks Michelle for sharing your trip with us.

To go to Michelle's blog click on the photo and a new window will pop up and take you there.  She's also always listed in my Blogroll in the column to the right.

I'm going to finish my quilting fabric today I think — I HOPE!  Perhaps I can give you a sneak peek after it debuts at the Quilt Market the first of May.  Have a great day!

Audrey Jeanne Roberts

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Full-size Gift Bag Digital Clip Art Kit Coming Soon

There are quite a few of you that have printers capable of printing on 11 x 17 or even larger paper, but until now there haven't been any kits that I know of (at DAISIE Company) that make use of your capability.  But guess what?  That's about to change!

Lg gift bag preview

This bag is 13" high and almost 8" wide across the front.  It's a normal full to large sized bag like you would purchase at the store for $3.50 to $4.00 and now you'll be able to produce one at home yourself. 

I finished with the template design and designing the actual art layout and have to do the instructions as they're a little bit complicated but not too hard.  I took photos at each step so that you'll have them written and visual.  Personally I do best with visual cues.

For those of you without large format printers, I will include the bag created to print out on 8.5" x 11" paper as well. 

My large sized sample was printed on brochure paper with a semi-gloss finish and it looks like a store bought bag. 

This bag will be a little while before it's out in the store (not too long, be patient with me!)

Audrey Jeanne Roberts

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New For Mother’s Day (& Everyday!) Gift Box, Bag, Tag ‘n Gift Tag Card

I've been working on this for a little while and finally have it ready to preview.  This kit should be to Stacey by the deadline for next week's printables release. 

 previewThe box will have instructions on how to do the beaded handle with button and bead embellishment.  It also has some dimensional elements with the Mother's Day tag and butterfly in 3D.

I've shown the hang tag Butterfly house heart tied to a candle, but it could just as easily be a package tag.  The little bag is using Gina Jane's lovely little free template (thanks Gina Jane!)

Everything will be available in both Mother's Day or blank for your message for all year 'round.

I'm working on a large gift bag that those of you that can print 11 x 17 paper will be able to make at that size and the rest that only print 8 1/2 x 11 will be able to print at that size.  It's really kewl… can't wait to show you, but have to finish the template first Laughing

Back to work!  Audrey Jeanne Roberts

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