bicycles and Lamaze

Life is like riding a bicycle —
in order to keep your balance,
you must keep moving.
~Albert Einstein

Yay! It’s time for Libby Hickson’s second annual Tour de Craft. Libby is crazy nutty about le Tour de France (the 21-stage, 3,664 km bicycle race). Since I’m crazy about Libby and a little nutty about bicycling, I’m tickled to join her and her other stamp-happy friends to honor the Tour.

I knew I had to pay homage to the almighty climb when Libby told me I was assigned to Stage 13, one of the six mountain stages of the Tour. We’ll see who wins the coveted Polka Dot, King of the Mountain, jersey for their Alpine climb.


Keep On Pedaling

I used to ride my bike all over the rolling hills of Southern Indiana. I rode the Hilly Hundred, led beginner bike tours as secretary of the Bloomington Bicycle Club and used the Hoosier landscape to train for Iowa’s RAGBRAI. Don’t be impressed – all I did was just stay on my bike and keep on pedaling, slowly.

I’ve climbed only ONE mountain on my bicycle. When we were bicycling Vermont’s Green Mountains on our honeymoon, my poor groom reached the top and had time to read War and Peace before I finally caught up with him. (That probably should have been a big clue to him that he’d be doing all the heavy lifting in our marriage.)

Despite all that, or maybe because of it, I have a love/hate relationship with climbing. I don’t much like climbing hills (we won’t even talk about mountains), but I sure do love the view at the top and I really love flying down.

Bicycle Shaker Card

Someone said bicycling is a metaphor for life. (I don’t know who, just trust me.) That was never more true than when my son was born.

Back a squillion (okay, 30) years ago, Lamaze childbirth classes taught me to visualize something happy to engage my senses and decrease my awareness of pain. My happy-inducing memory then was riding down a hill in October through Morgan-Monroe State Forest. A breeze had just lifted the leaves off the trees and the leaves showered me with color as they fell. It was life-altering gorgeous splendor. I practiced my Lamaze techniques by mentally putting myself back on the downward descent of that hill.

But when labor pains started and then persisted, happy visions of Autumn leaves weren’t cutting it. I had to switch gears (sorry, bad pun).

Pedal Pusher

Instead, I imagined myself slowly pedaling up a hill.

See, no matter how long or steep a hill was, I refused to get off and walk my bike. I usually switched into my lowest gear and just kept pedaling. I went so slow sometimes, the bike barely stayed upright. Even as the inclines became steepest just before the crest, as long as I kept pedaling I eventually got to the top.

So 30 years ago I approached each labor pain as if I were climbing a hill on my bike. Mentally I reached for the crest so I could coast along the ridge, back into the valley and to the next hill. It worked. I never got a polka dot jersey, but healthy Baby Ben arrived six hours later with just imaginary hills as my pain killer.

You Can Do It

There’s probably some profound lesson there, like pedaling up hills taught me more about life than coasting down them, you grow more from adversity, persistence wins the race, never give up . . . Shoot, that’s too deep for me.

But, you know, they say bicycling is a metaphor.


tips & techniques

I know this is a crazy busy card. I can just hear my daughter say – Mom! My eyes don’t even know where to go on this! I wanted to capture all the movement of climbing up a hill on a bicycle.

  • Inside the shaker box I created a hilly landscape with sequins to mimic falling leaves.
  • The wheels of the bicycle are attached with brads so they really can spin.
  • I put the bicycle at an upward slant with blue sequins falling upward to represent climbing a hill.
  • And fishtail banners illustrate the prize at the top.


The inside of the card is more simple with room to write and to say “You Can Do It!”

I’m thrilled to add this card to Curtain Call’s Anything Goes challenge. Happy 1st Anniversary to Curtain Call!

Here are the rest of the ingredients.

Thanks for hanging out with me. Enjoy the rest of the Tour – and Ride On!


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Beautiful Ride

Life ain’t always beautiful, but it’s a beautiful ride.
~ Gary Allan

Bicycle Ride

Sometimes life isn’t beautiful . . . I know everyone feels that way occasionally. Mr. Catered Crop and I were sure feeling it , and we know our limits. Sometimes we just have to get out of Dodge – or at least dodge the Texas heat. So, we packed up the car for a Road Trip!

Beautiful Ride

In less than 48 hours we’ve savored decadent dark pecan toffee bars at Wiseman Chocolate in Hico, Texas, chilled to live music at Santa Fe’s Bandstand in The Plaza, gobbled up amazing cheese blintzes at the all-organic Cafe Pasqual, visited the gallery of pick-up artist Barbara Bowles, and been pampered by The Inn of the Five Graces.

It feels good to put up our feet and prove to ourselves that life really is a beautiful ride – especially with my favorite riding buddy.

Feet Up


Tips & Techniques

I didn’t have time to snap pictures of this card before I left, so I brought it along and took these pictures in the courtyard of our hotel. It’s for our Map It! challenge – have you played yet?

I love that, even with MapQuest on our phones and GPS in the car, my husband still likes to map out our trips with an old-fashioned Atlas. I snagged some pages from an old Atlas to embellish the card – and clipped the streets from my neighborhood to personalize it.

HOT Neighborhood

I used Karen Giron’s fun Sweet Sunday Sketch Challenge #191 (SSSC191). Here are the other ingredients.

Finished Size: 4-1/4″ by 5-1/2″. Also included: Stampin’ Up! Barely Banana Classic Ink and Cardstock (retired); Stampin’ Up! Cameo Coral Classic Ink (retired).


We’re planning more adventures tomorrow. Until next time, I’ll leave you a with part of my favorite Gaelic blessing: “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back.”

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Summer Smile of Light

Oh, the summer night
Has a smile of light
And she sits on a sapphire throne.
~Barry Cornwall

Summertime Charm Jar

Catching lightning bugs (or fireflies) in a jar should be mandatory for every child at least once, don’t you think?

We used to hammer holes into jar lids with a nail, fill the bottom of the jar with grass clippings and catch dozens in a space as small as Grandma Heaton’s back yard.

Summertime Charm Card


But, I really can’t remember the last time I saw a firefly. I thought it was because we moved to Texas and it might be too dry for them here. But, unfortunately, I hear these enigmatic, enchanting moon bugs are becoming endangered.

Fire Fly Jar

Scientists are blaming the dwindling firefly population on development and light pollution. I didn’t even know there was such as thing as light pollution. But, they say the spread of artificial lights is disrupting the mating behavior that depends on a male firefly winning over a female with his sexy flashing backside.

Glow Stick Card

Besides turning off our porch lights, there is something we can do . . . You can help Scientists track these amazing insects.

A nocturnal insect this small can’t be tagged and tracked like bears or butterflies, and counting is difficult because some females spend most of their time on the ground or don’t flash. It doesn’t help that the firefly’s adult life span is just one to three weeks.


The Museum of Science in Boston is running Firefly Watch, a 10-year project, currently in it’s sixth year. You can observe fireflies in your backyards and upload the data where scientists can use it to research population trends. Firefly season runs from May to August, so it’s not too late to sign up for this season.

Meanwhile, the Web site has everything you ever wanted to know about fireflies, including how you can make your backyard more hospitable and catch them without harming them.


Tips & Techniques

Thanks to glow sticks, no fireflies were harmed in the making of these projects. I thought this would make a fun gift for a summer party. You can find glow sticks in the Dollar stores and craft stores in the party sections, and at the party supply stores. Be sure to to read the package for safety precautions and keep them in the foil packages they come in until just before you’re ready to use them.

Mason Jar Tag

If you look closely, you’ll see just a little bit of light blue shading around the edges of the jar and under the lid. I followed a tutorial at the Fawn Lawn blog here: Lawn Clippings Video {3.13.13} mason jar tag. Chari Moss has the brilliant idea of using the back side of a clear stamp to create this look. Just check out Chari’s tutorial – it’s fabulous.

To add to the sex appeal (glow) of the little firefly backsides, I colored them first with Copic markers (see below), and then traced them again with Clear and Gold Spica pens. And, because that still wasn’t quite sexy enough, I added some clear Distress Stickles.

I made the bow around the mason jar from just torn strips of yellow gingham. Cheap ribbon, right?! I got the mason jar in a flea market – love my flea market finds.

Karen Giron’s fabulous sketch provided the backdrop for the front of the card: Sweet Sunday Sketch Challenge #189 (SSSC189).

And, for giggles and grins I got Dirty. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eyelet at the Splitcoast Stampers Dare to Get Dirty 2013.

Here are the Copic Markers I used and the rest of the ingredients.

Mason Jar Copic Markers

I’ll be back later with this week’s Summer Lovin’ Recipe Swap Quickfire. You’re just going to flip when you see what lovin’ our designers have given our Summer Lovin’ challenge.

Glow Stick Mason Jar

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