Storytelling: Use vintage greeting cards

Hello. I’ve been gone for quite a while. Some of you know that my husband was diagnosed with brain cancer a while back. He passed in December. It’s a journey I never dreamed either one of us would experience, me as caregiver or he with such a diagnosis. As he often said, “It just happened. It’s life.” To that end and as per his wishes, I will carry on, right here and right now. You are part of my healing.

Art Therapy

Tackle that stash

A few months ago I wondered what it would look like to make a journal using old greeting cards. I had never seen a card journal but the idea was intriguing. My therapy while being a caregiver, journal-making taught me patience and to my surprise, brought great joy.

I have many very old cards, but some were my own. Below is the inside of the featured image card, to me from my great aunt, Hazel.

Therapy yes, but being the packrat I am, I knew that unless these are displayed somehow, they would end up back in the box where I found them and my kids would never see them. I had to do something.

I’m a paperholic. I’ve been collecting since I was quite young (there, I’ve admitted it).

Everything (fit to print) qualifies; I have 50 year old stationary, grade school papers (mine, and those of my children), wallpaper books (mine and my mom’s), my kids’ craft remnants, writing tablets, receipt logs, books galore, magazines, calendars, personal papers, work papers (do you know how much fun it is to surprise people with a periodontal chart in a journal? It gives this hygienist the giggles), envelopes, and the very best: all the genealogy-related papers one could imagine. I have sanitary napkin bags. Anything goes.

One might guess that I have a houseful of paper. I do.

I had the innards but needed a cover. What better than the purple and brown fabric that belonged to either HER MALEVOLENCY or her daughter Lalla, my grandma? That’s when the idea clicked. What a fabulous way to tell a story (OK, and get to play with paper and fabric). Before you break out the checkbook, look around your very own house.

Upcycle and reuse

Use what I have

When I started making journals, since I have a lot of junk supplies here, I decided that if possible, I would buy nothing new when putting one together. I would use what I have.

For the most part, that is exactly what I’ve done. With few exceptions, the paper I’ve used in my journals has come from my house. I bought one pack of floral printer paper and a couple of rolls of trim at the dollar store. I purchased gel pens and paper clips. I couldn’t resist a couple of new rubber stamps; however, the ink I bought when the kids were little is still good. One needs lots of glue so I stocked up on that. The only other item is cardboard–not corrugated–but the kind you get with boxes of Cheez Its. Better yet: the large boxes of Ritz crackers (think Costco).

I made scrapbooks when the kids were in grade school and kept many of the papers purchased back then. A little imagination and your supplies may suddenly boom.

A theme indeed

Postmarked Bertha

My great aunt Bertha, Hazel’s younger sister, saved everything. That character flaw trait passed directly from her to my father to me, which explains how we have a pile of Bertha’s mail. Were it not for her, however, the LETTERS partially responsible for the creation of this blog were likely something I’d never have seen.

You could say I went postal for this theme. I’ve added a few newer items for color and interest. Otherwise, these are from aunt Bertha’s mail box.

Merle was my father. He had just turned 13 when he wrote this postcard.

This beautiful postcard is from a friend who traveled to Iran.

I taught myself how to assemble a journal from watching videos and posts on the internet. There are many ways to do this, and my methods change as I learn more. When I made this one, I was using spray glue and more duct tape than I care to admit. Now, I use Mod Podge and duct tape only inside, beneath the fabric, to better secure the spine.

Above is the purple and brown fabric that belonged to Orah and/or Lalla. The brown duct tape is stronger than a mule and it matches. I will cover it with lace because it is far from attractive. I’ve learned.

Endless

Choices

The nice thing about making journals is that anything goes. The cover fabric can be upholstery, denim, very thin, thick, patterned, plain, textured or anything in your stash. A cover can be made of newspaper, tablet paper, wallpaper, Christmas wrap. The choices are endless. The themes are endless. The insides can include anything you wish.

For this journal, I happened to have fabric that belonged to the family. The cards were all of a similar size, the theme is a period in time when Bertha lived, and I had enough fillers, so to speak, to add interest.

My next journal will be the cards and letters sent to me after Bruce passed away. It may take some time, but I can’t think of a better way to collect and display such memorable tributes.

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What in your home can you make into a journal as a way to tell a story?

Thank you for reading. ❤

  1. Hi, Karen. I am so happy you are back on here. This is a wonderful story, and it sounds like excellent therapy for working through such a difficult situation. You know I am with you.

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    1. Thank you, oh Partner in Crime. I’m back but still have trouble focusing at times. At least I’m thinking about writing again, and that does feel good. Send me your ideas. ❤️

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  2. I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of your husband. Please accept my condolences.

    I’m trying to think of what I can do to honor my mother, who died this past November. I haven’t been able to part with the cards she saved, as well as other paper ephemera. I’ll have to think about a scrapbook. Thanks for the idea.

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    1. Thank you, Liz. I’m hanging in there. Yes, I plan to put the cards, letters, and email messages into a journal for the kids so they will have the wonderful tributes others wrote about their father in a journal for later. I love the idea. A scrapbook is also a wonderful way to memorialize those who have passed. The options are endless. Let me know what you choose to do. Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words.

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  3. I am so sorry to hear about your husband. I had been thinking about you and wondering how things were going. It’s good that you are finding things to help you both remember and look forward to the future. My heart is with you.

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    1. Thank you so much. ❤ I've been thinking of getting back on here, back to my research, but I've had a hard time focusing. I guess that's expected. I've missed it all, but I know I'll be back in full before too long. I see your posts and it pulls me back in, so that is good. How are things your way? Thanks for your nice thoughts. ❤

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      1. Take it one step, one day at a time. From what I know of grief (fortunately not very much), it ebbs and flows. But keep moving forward when you can and find ways to find joy.

        I am doing well. Life has its ups and downs, but fortunately I have a lot more ups than downs. Thanks for asking.

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  4. Be strong!! Your journals are so stylish, thanks for sharing 🙂 have a wonderful weekend! cheers from Lisbon, PedroL

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    1. Thanks, Pedro. I’m hanging in there. How are things over there? Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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      1. dear Karen, things are great, thanks for asking 🙂 wishing you a wonderful weekend 🙂 PedroL

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  5. What a wonderful post with great idea’s. It is nice to have you back and I hope this new project will be just what you need to get through this. I was so sorry to read of your husbands passing and wish you continued strength and healing on this path you’re on. I love your idea of journaling and especially using vintage cards ~ Sharon

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    1. Thank you, Sharon. It’s nice to be back. I have many, many more old cards and I think this will be my way to keep them out of an old dusty box. I don’t even know who some of them are from, but it really doesn’t matter. I love reading them and I hope my kids will some day, too. Thank you for your kind comments. 🙂

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  6. So sorry for your loss…
    I think a journal would be a wonderful memento and tribute to your husband. May it bring you much happiness and comfort with all the memories you created together.

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    1. Thank you very much. Yes, these journals are quite the therapy. I had no idea. A themed journal is perfect for memories. I hope you are well. Thanks for stopping by.

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      1. Congratulations! Your blog has been included in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at

        https://thatmomentintime-crissouli.blogspot.com/2020/01/friday-fossicking-31st-jan-2020.html

        Thank you, Chris

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  7. I have so missed reading you. I am terribly sad to learn that your beloved husband died from that brain tumor, even though it was clear that was going to happen. I loved remembering Mod Podge. There was a time I decoupaged everything. I might try that again and teach it to my grandkids. I never thought about using You Tube to learn something like journal making. A great idea. I will have to see what other crafts I can learn for free and make from what I have around.

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    1. Thank you so much! Yes, there are few positive outcomes with brain cancer and it is incredibly sad. Still, he fought very hard and he would have it no other way. My mother used Mod Podge but I never did until I started making these journals. Yes, there are boatloads of videos on just about every craft. Instagram is great, too. I’m trying to get back into reading…I’ve missed it all. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by. ❤

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      1. You might be moved by a new novel “Dear Edward.” I just finished it and appreciated its depth and kindness for a survivor.

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        1. Thanks. I’ll check it out. 🙂

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