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She runs with scissors and her degree, too!

April 9, 2016


I love having a key to the Penny Black Blog and an invitation to visit often. I am so glad you all feel free to drop by, too. I love sharing the Penny Black stamps and dies from the So Special release with all of you. It’s another week of “cute to elegant” for the Penny Black designers and because I am one who runs with scissors, I will be doing “elegant to cute”. For me, it’s like serving dessert after dinner where it belongs.


The big and bold daisies from the Sunbursts cling stamp make a statement alone or can be part of a large bouquet. For this card I first created a Memento Luxe ink background and then stamped the flowers with Versamark ink and heat embossed with white. The other half of the card features a sentiment from the Friendship transparent set, decorated with tiny flowers from the Tweet Things die set. This is a design I will use often when I want the sentiment to be featured. Penny Black sentiment sets offer a huge variety in sentiments and fonts which can take you from elegant to cute just like their stamps.


The motto here is “if you find a technique that works for you, repeat”. I did the floral panel the same but differently using the iris from the Love Art transparent set. I did some masking for the floral panel and added die cut flowers from the Flower Bunch die set. It is a temptation to use that Edger die on every card as it adds so much.


If you are thinking this looks like Jill Foster’s art, you are right. I made this card using Penny Black’s Stickeroos set Gentle Blossoms. Stickeroos are beautiful full color stickers of some of the gorgeous art created by Penny Black designers. They can be used as is, or altered and embellished to make them your own. A helpful hint is to stick them to cardstock and trim around in order to make them easier to handle. Another great idea is to buy duplicate sheets of Stickeroos so you can create some dimension by fussy cutting the second image and layering it with dimensionals on top of the original image. I’ve also added real twine and an enamel dot to bring to life the stamped twine bow. The butterfly is from the Touched by Love sheet of Stickeroos and I added it in order to showcase another sample of the stickers available.  I say, “Hooray for Stickeroos”!


Well, this photo is neither cute nor elegant. But it is precious. I am the one in the cap and gown holding, at long last, my BA degree in Business Management. You are right; I am not anywhere near the traditional college graduation age. I am certain I was the oldest person, at the age of 57, in my graduating class. The other women are co-workers and members of our “lunch bunch” at work.

I really did try to take the traditional route after high school graduation: attend college for four years, earn degree, begin career. It just didn’t work out that way for me. My original goal was to be a high school English teacher. Math and Science made my brain hurt, I was too geographically challenged to go into Earth Sciences, and the idea of a career in Home Economics caused me to break out in hives.

I completed one year as a traditional college student and along the way met a man who, as a pharmacist, told me he had enough education for both of us and so I dropped out of school, worked for a year and then married. However, I never thought that my dropping out of college was quitting; I always felt my plans were “suspended”, not ended.

Raising a family became my life’s vocation and returning to college became a dream, not a plan. It wasn’t until my five children were out of the home and Mr. RWS and I were married that it became a possibility. Because I had talked so much about my desire to finish my education, shortly after we were married he encouraged me to apply for admission to the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a full time student. We had my two teen-aged boys at home and his two little girls yet to raise, but we took a leap of faith and started to make the dream come true.

I left my job, bought a few pairs of blue jeans and some dangling earrings and a backpack and off I went. My plan was to pursue a degree in elementary education, having decided that I was no longer a match for high school students. I started with a three credit summer school class entitled Music for Elementary Teachers. One day while discussing various genres of music, the Professor played a recording of the funeral dirge played during President John F. Kennedy’s funeral procession. He was asking the class to identify what made that piece of music so well known. Finally, he looked at me and remarked that we were the only ones in the room who were old enough to remember JFK’s funeral. That was not the worst part of taking that class. A large part of the final grade was based on a SOLO singing performance for the professor.

I begged to be exempted. I tried to tell him how useless it was to try to make a singer out of me. I was told to pick something not too difficult and practice.

We owned an autoharp which I learned to strum a bit and chose the little ditty that begins “My wife and I live all alone in a little grass shack that we call home”. I reserved a practice room at the Music School and resolved to get this behind me the best I could. How mortified was I to enter the Music School building and hear glorious opera, magnificent piano playing, and all sorts of woodwind and brass generated music leaking from the practice rooms. And there I sat, in lonely misery strumming our little autoharp while tapping my toe to the rhythm of that silly little song.

The day of my solo performance, thankfully done in private with the professor, I begged again to be excused. I warned him it wouldn’t be pretty. I told him I would rather give birth than sing for him but sing I must.

At the end of my pitiful attempt at singing, he kindly suggested I focus on other ways to engage my future students and if I sang, to sing softly. Thankfully he still gave me an “A” in the class.

What an amazing experience that next semester was when I became a full time student! I owe much of my success handling a class load of 19 credits to the fact that I had been working for many years while raising my family and had long since learned to multi-task and prioritize. I wasn’t worrying about having a social life or coming to class hungover after a big weekend. Perhaps my largest concern was navigating Bascom Hill, the heart of the UW campus. Those twenty-something students had an advantage over the forty-something me.


My daughter also contributed to my success in many ways. The first item of business was Registration. I had to plan which classes to take and, using the University’s timetable, choose at what time to take them. Rule number one: you can’t be in two places at once.

This all took place in the days before computers and registration for classes was done by standing in line with all the other students hoping to take the class you are signing up for. In my euphoria about being on campus again, I was enthusiastically chatting with the young people in line and if my daughter had not literally grabbed my arm and pulled me from registration table to registration table I would still be standing there chatting.   As it was, she ended up taking a class called Japanese Literature because the other lit classes were all full by the time she was able to free herself from her mother responsibilities and take care of her own class registration.

One of the requirements for my major in elementary education was a class called Elementary Math. By the time I reached the head of that registration line, all Elementary Math classes were full. Except, the young man told me with a wink, the remedial Elementary Math class. Oh, I said, sign me up for that. Well, he said, you have to take a test to prove that you need the remedial class. As a matter of fact, he said, you have to fail that test. Oh, said I, I can do that. And I did.

And the good Lord had been watching over me. During the first few weeks of Elementary Math, the professor noticed I was having no difficulty at all, and as a matter of fact was doing very well. Thankfully, he did not evict me from his class because as the weeks went by and the simple math turned into word problems it was only because Mr. RWS (a former math major) tutored me that I made it through that class. Identifying “x” was always a challenge; and when did you invert the fraction? Was it to multiply? Or to divide?



I have mounted the gift card holder I made using the Gift Card Pocket die set onto a card base. I’ve decorated the card holder with the coffee cup from the Love Cup die set. What a perfect design to hold a Starbucks gift card. The Gift Card Pocket die set contains many embellishment dies so there is no limit to the design possibilities. So happy to see the “You Rock” sentiment in the Well Done die set. It’s perfect for the teens in our lives.


Looks like our fab friends have taken to their tandem bike for transportation. This image is from the Love Life cling set and was great fun to color with Copics. I do believe the lady in the rear seat has kicked off her shoes, a necessity if you plan to love life. Penny Black not only goes from elegant to cute, they have included a bit of “exuberant” in the So Special release.


“Three little ducks that I once knew …” That song entered my head when I saw the cute duckie images in the Buddy and Duck transparent set. I thought the duckies with the umbrellas were fitting for April’s showers. I just stamped and paper pieced the same little duck three times, added some Dew Drops for rain drops and gave each duckie his very own cloud. I always reward myself by working on cute after doing a few elegants.


Cooper and I were really surprised to discover our Knock Out rose bushes were already blooming. We’ve been watching the leaves unfurl and the grass turn green right before our eyes.


Instead of my usual wrap up and closing, I will leave you with an Easter photo of the two youngest Wisconsin grandchildren, Evelyn Rose and Jack Lincoln. I am off to visit the Penny Circle Flickr Gallery where you kindly share your work.

Shop for today’s featured Penny Black supplies:

30 Comments leave one →
  1. Deb L permalink
    April 9, 2016 4:46 am

    Another wonderful series. Great cards. I am right there with you as an older student. I went back to school at age 37 for my RN, continued on a few years after that ending with my last degree at 55. So well worth it……now all I can think of is retirement in a few years so I can spend more time making cards….thank you for sharing. Deb

  2. Mary W permalink
    April 9, 2016 4:57 am

    Have you ever thought of writing a book? I’d buy it.

  3. quilterlin permalink
    April 9, 2016 5:28 am

    Fantastic post today, Judy! I loved reading about your delayed college experience, and can’t wait to hear more. And is that little Evie! Oh my goodness, she’s grown! Sending along some hugs to you today from the frozen tundra here in Ohio!

  4. Marliese Zimmerman permalink
    April 9, 2016 6:52 am

    Another great installment on the life of Judy Jong. I second Mary W’ comment about writing a book.

  5. April 9, 2016 6:55 am

    Congratulations! I loved your story! I went back to school in my late 40’s to earn a Masters Degree at the University of Alabama, but my husband and I are from Wisconsin! He’s from Madison and we both know Bascom Hill very well! You go, girl–don;t let anything stop you!
    Take care!

    • judka permalink
      April 9, 2016 9:47 am

      Michele, thanks for taking the time to comment. Love it that we have an Alabama and Wisconsin connection. And that you know all about trudging up Bascom Hill! Congratulations on your educational achievement as well.

  6. April 9, 2016 7:05 am

    Awesome cards and I love reading your stories!

  7. mjmarmo permalink
    April 9, 2016 7:29 am

    BEautiful cards! Congrats to you on going back to school! Love your writing and inspiration!

  8. April 9, 2016 7:34 am

    I knew you went back later to finish college, but so fun to read more details & see your graduation picture! You’ve done it again with your cards, Judy–inspiration galore! Gotta say, even though cute is not usually my thing, I just adore the last 2 cards! I really should have the ducky stamp. Reminds me of the teasing I got from a California college roommate who always said Quack, Quack to me because I lived in Oregon! Thanks for sharing the adorable picture of Cooper & the grandkids! I have lots of rose buds & one is about to open–very early for here!

  9. April 9, 2016 8:20 am

    Congrats Judy! What an accomplishment! I went back for my BSN at 55 and now at 59 I am halfway through my Master’s. Just goes to show, you can teach an old dog new tricks!! Love your postings!

    • judka permalink
      April 9, 2016 11:22 am

      Sue, thanks for leaving a comment and sharing your back to school story! It is such a privilege to go on to school!! And worth whatever it costs in time, effort and finances.

  10. Kelly G. permalink
    April 9, 2016 8:35 am

    Loved your story; so encouraging!

  11. Lynn Darcy permalink
    April 9, 2016 8:49 am

    I always look forward to seeing your latest card creation but your stories are such an added bonus. Thanks for sharing your creativity whether it be a card or a story.

  12. Cheryl Robertson permalink
    April 9, 2016 9:02 am

    Such cute grandchildren! And as always, your cards are wonderful. You have led such a interesting life! I have a similar story with my education except I haven’t gone back. I always said I would after the kids were older or after I did this or that. I’m 60 and retired now and spend a lot of time crafting and other things I’ve put off. No time again for college but maybe some day ……
    Congrats on your graduation!

  13. April 9, 2016 9:22 am

    Honors to you for completing your degree. Sharing your story must be some kind of fun. Have to tell you, if I had to walk up that hill, chances are, I’d never go to class. But you did and you should be congratulated. Love how you’ve put together your cards. Really impressed with the “Stickeroo” and how beautifully you embellished it. That Love Life card is indeed exuberant but also joyful…love that stamp.
    Cooper looks totally cool in his glasses and the grandbabies are getting so big. Hope they slow down just a tad so you can enjoy this phase of their lives more.

  14. Debra permalink
    April 9, 2016 9:36 am

    Congratulations on getting your degree! That is a great accomplishment and took lots of hard work. Always enjoy reading your stories – maybe a book is your next journey?? Thanks for sharing not only your cards, but your stories, Cooper, and grandchildren too!

  15. barbara lassiter permalink
    April 9, 2016 10:00 am

    I had to laugh when I got to the part of your story where you said you broke out in hives at the thought of being a Home Economics major. That was my major and I loved it, but I think it is obsolete now and some days I feel obsolete, too! 🙂 My minor was in Biology, but I never considered teaching that! Congrats on obtaining that degree and fulfilling that dream! It’s important! Love, love, love those elegant cards and the cute ones, too! Your young grandchildren are adorable.

  16. DebbieP permalink
    April 9, 2016 10:07 am

    Beautiful cards and narrative. Those ducks are too cute, especially because you lined ’em up! Love that you took the plunge and went back to get your bachelors degree later in life. I have thought about getting another degree, but then my husband would make me go back to work…and I REALLY enjoy staying home!!!

  17. creatingincolors permalink
    April 9, 2016 10:50 am

    I always enjoy your cards, stories, and photos. You are an inspiration and one of today’s cards says it – “Love Life”. You certainly do love (and live) life to it’s fullest. You enjoy it and don’t back down from any challenges. Awesome!

  18. donna mikasa permalink
    April 9, 2016 12:19 pm

    You know you really should start a novel. I would buy it. And I love the cute to elegant range of cards–those Stickeroos are awesome!! Looking forward to the continuing saga……

  19. karenajo permalink
    April 9, 2016 1:22 pm

    Your blogs are always intriguing from start to finish. You have such a nice variety of cards and they are spectacular ! Your degree is a great accomplishment and shows – you never give up !!! Cute, cute Grandchildren – look so very happy. Always so glad to see Cooper there too – he is so very cute as well !

  20. April 9, 2016 8:48 pm

    Thanks for sharing your talent with lovely cards……and your witty are very talented!!
    Paper Hugs,

  21. dawnnz permalink
    April 10, 2016 1:03 am

    fabulous post as usual Judy. I really love all your cards and your story about your degree… can’t wait for the next installment. Cooper is looking super cool and your little grandies are super cute. Growing so very quickly

  22. April 10, 2016 3:36 am

    Just wanted to say …what a fabulous read and the most wonderful inspiration thank you x

  23. Virginia L. permalink
    April 10, 2016 7:00 am

    Way to go, Judy on another inspiring post-cards and life! Thanks for taking the time to share with us!

  24. Kathy H permalink
    April 10, 2016 9:32 am

    You have such wonderful stories! Thanks for sharing!

  25. April 11, 2016 5:46 am

    enjoyed your post today and really loved your array of cards.Thank you.

  26. April 11, 2016 7:10 am

    Hi Judy … I’m just delighted to hear your “back to school” story … I can so relate- I quit a job at age 50 to attend Culinary School!!! Talk about being the eldest in the class? Graduated with honors, and loved/appreciated every second of time there! Let me not forget to tell you how fabulous your cards are – always!!

    • judka permalink
      April 12, 2016 11:41 am

      It’s amazing how we non traditional students manage to get the highest grades! Life has taught us to appreciate the privilege of higher education and that learning for learning’s sake is an amazing experience. thanks for commenting.

  27. cmt permalink
    April 16, 2016 6:59 pm

    Had to laugh at the singing test. I studied El Ed too and had to take piano lessons. I was even less adept at piano than you at singing. I got a B, solely for making an effort to practice. When my son was in elementary school, they got rid of all the pianos in his school. A pity, because his first grade teacher actually played and sang with the kids, to their delight. She was good, and she said it helped her control the class (she was always stuck with the most challenging students). You can see how it would be helpful to know how to sing or play an instrument (his fifth grade teacher played the guitar and sang), but not essential. You can fall back on other artistic skills to your advantage as a teacher. Am catching up and can’t wait to read part II!

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