Monday, May 28, 2007

Outside the Comfort Zone

I have spent much of the last three days playing with stamps I own but never use, thanks to Penelope Pitstop's challenge. This has been a most-excellent exercise for me, as it made me think outside my normal comfort zone.

Anyone who knows me knows my 'style'. I think everyone has a style of sorts, even though it may not be easily-identifiable. Some people like to do collage-y compositions and are really good at putting things together. I am not. I tend more towards the simple, linear, clean lines. I call it boring, others call it my 'style'. Whatever.

So when I am challenged to think outside my comfort zone, or beyond what comes naturally, it tends to be a struggle, and I am usually not quite happy with the outcome.

But today, well, I think I've had a breakthrough! Check out this card I just made. It is soooo not a 'me' card. First, I rarely use the bright colors. Second, putting dots and stripes together - what's up with that?!?!?! I somehow got distracted by the bright embossing stack I had sitting around, left over from my volunteer session with the City of Gaithersburg and their Valentine Family Fun Night. (I set up an embossing station and emboss hearts on the kids' cards. It's a lot of fun!)

Anyway, I got the idea to use three different colors of the bright embossing powders on this cool Gina K stamp, and it turned out okay. Then, laughing to myself, I went in search of 'matching' patterned paper. What are the chances you'd find orange, pink and red all on the same page?! Out pops this piece of Basic Gray. Hmmm....

Then, I waded through my stash o'ribbons. You know the ones I am talking about - the ones that jump into your basket at Mike's when enabled by a thread on SCS that a new shipment has come in. Yeah, that stash. So now that I have all these colors fighting with each other on my card - actually, playing nicely, don't ya think? - I saw this orange ribbon with red and yellow overlapping circles, and there you go. I did not see how I could get more non-me than to add that sucker to the card.

After all this, I am pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Maybe I should step outside my box more often. Perhaps I may sponsor a challenge of my own one Outside Your Box challenge. Has possibilities.

Oh, and the Crooked part of this card - do you see how the sentiment goes uphill? See, it is a curse.

Just Use It #6

Another entry for Penelope Pitstop's challenge.

I got this mouse stamp a while back, then never used it. One of my personal challenges is checking the dimensions of a stamp before adding it to my online shopping cart. Obviously in this case I failed once again to notice the image was almost as big as the whole card! So instead of trying to deal with a sentiment today, I just left him to himself and his 'man'.

The mouse is actually colored in Sahara Sand, but it got lost in the scan. I really must work on my scanning skills.

In addition to using rarely-seen-ink stamps, the challenge said we could use patterned paper, but only if it was not a virgin, un-cut-into piece. So I grabbed my must-have Stampin' Up! Notations Designer Series papers and used some of the scraps I have collected. Sweeeeet!

More details on the recipe can be seen at

Just Use It #5

For Penelope Pitstop's challenge to use our uninked rubbah. I have not one, but TWO of this image, never inked. How embarassing.
I could never figure out what to do with her, so today I decided to keep it simple and let the image speak for itself.
The lady stamp is by American Art Stamps, and the little sun in the corner is from Rosie's Roadshow.
More details on the recipe can be found at

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Blog Thing - Personality Test

I stumbled upon another interesting test... should I be alarmed that the words 'freak' and 'weird' keep showing up in these? ;-)

Your Personality Profile

You are dependable, popular, and observant.
Deep and thoughtful, you are prone to moodiness.
In fact, your emotions tend to influence everything you do.

You are unique, creative, and expressive.
You don't mind waving your freak flag every once and a while.
And lucky for you, most people find your weird ways charming!

Just Use It #4

Another entry for Penlope Pitstop's challenge at This one uses Stampin' Up!'s Walk This Way set that I used once or twice when it first came out, but never again. I pulled it out to go with the never-used sentiment from Custer's Last Stamp - thought they went well together.
The rest of the recipe and card details can be found at

Purple Chunky Book - Complete!

Today we met to assemble our Purple Chunky Books. For our Fearless Leader, this was the culmination of a massive training experience - how many different ways can you explain things to 12 women until they all get it? ;-)

For the rest of us, it was a really neat project to do. We each (well, most of us) made 2 4x4 pages, front & back, 12 copies of each, with the common theme of "purple". What we ended up with was a 17-page book (don't even try to figure that one out!) with samples of each person's art and their interpretation of "purple". It was REALLY a fun experience!

Here are the two pages, I came up with:

Page 1, Front & Back

Page 2, Front & Back

As we arrived with our pages in hand, our Leader punched them all for binding. Then we strategized the assembly - which pages would work best next to each other, either by theme, color, or lack-of-embellishment-infringement (would one page's stuff interfere with the previous page's stuff.) It all went amazingly smoothly, and within a few minutes, we had it all laid out.

We set up a collating line, where we each took a cover, then successive pages, followed by a back cover and a coil. Then we got to learn the art of getting the coil to line up with the holes, making sure to catch all the pages. Some people got it right away, some of us had to redo our books because we missed a page, or one page was upside down, etc. ALL of us learned a new respect for anyone that volunteers to do the binding for a group.

After the coils were trimmed and crimped, the embellishment began! We took extra ribbons, fibers, beads, really whatever we brought with us, and decorated the coil of the book.

This is my final embellished book (left) with one of my pages showing (right). Yes, the cat decided to investigate the new object that had appeared in her realm, so I included her here for posterity. [I really tried to align these photos in the post, but Blogger was having NONE of that! ;-(]

We all voted, mostly democratically, and our next project will be an Alphabet theme. We will each take 2 or 3 letters and do a page for each. We gave ourselves the Summer to make it through, and we are all really looking forward to it.

Just Use It #3

My third entry in Penelope Pitstop's challenge. This one uses a moose stamp I bought last Fall with the intent of combining it with a Merry Kiss-moose stamp to use for Holiday cards. Well, I had good intentions...
I thought he had attitude, so I pulled him out of his shipping package this morning (sad, isn't it?) and used him for this challenge.
The sentiment is one I had custom-made to use with my Red Hat cards, but it works with so many other images, too.
The recipe for this card can be seen at,

Just Use It #2

My second entry in Penelope Pitstop's Just Use It Challenge.

This one uses the Dad Sayings stamp from River City Rubber Works that I bought, along with the Mom Sayings stamp, several years ago. They both saw ink this year. Yay!

I made the Mom version of this for Mother's Day, and thought to make this one for Father's Day. The quote is actually, "Sooner or later we all quote our Mothers", by Bern Williams, but I just changed it so I could use it for Father's Day, too.

I printed the sentiment on vellum with my ink-jet printer, and immediately embossed it with clear embossing powder.

As an added bonus, I got to use a roll of argyle ribbon from my stash of must-have ribbons, and a Making Memories buckle from a set of 8 I have had forever.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Blog Thing - Explains a LOT!

I just discovered Blog Things, and they have some very interesting quizzes. This is one of the first ones I took, and I think it explains a LOT about me: How Normal Are You?

Turns out I am 70% normal. Hmmm ... that certainly leaves a lot of room for "fun", now doesn't it? :-)

You Are 70% Normal
Otherwise known as the normal amount of normal. You're like most people most of the time, but you've got those quirks that make you endearing. You're unique, yes... but not frighteningly so!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Just Use It! Challenge

Here we are, at last, into our long weekend. I hope some of you get a chance to play with your stamp and accessory stashes over the next three days, and take some time to create. I have a pretty booked Saturday and Sunday, but then I rememberd Monday is a Holiday! YAY! I should be able to squeeze in some quality play-time eventually.

The title of today's blog entry is "Just Use It!", and it is not my idea. This Grand Idea is from Penelope Pitstop's blog, and it could not have come at a better time for me! I told myself I'd be a Good Girl this year, and only buy what I absolutely needed to buy for my stamping habit. Yeah, right. Fortunately for me, I already have everything I could possibly want, and more, from the current Stampin' Up! Idea Book & Catalog, so I thought it would be easy to reign in my habit. Unfortunately for me, I have a few excellent local stamp stores, aka: Enablers, Pushers, etc. And I also discovered Rosie's Roadshow last year, and continue to get sucked into that wave.

Then I got blindsided by several enablement threads on SCS, and, well, you know, I have stuff I have never even unpacked that I simply 'had' to have. Come on, you know you do, too!

So when I found the Just Use It! Challenge today, I was encouraged. I have so much cr ... er, stuff, laying around, including some from recent shipping episodes, it was pretty easy to uncover some never-inked rubbah, and I was off and running.

Here is my first Just Use It! post of the weekend, all using stuff I have had for a loooong time (nothing from any recent binges):

The cat stamp is Buster, from Maui Cows. He was sooooo cute I had to have him. Never saw ink before tonight. The sentiment is from TAC, and is one of their Gift With Purchase stamps you just 'get' when you spend enough money. Has never seen ink. The ribbon is from a spool of must-have gingham from somewhere - who remembers. It had never been opened.

The rest of the recipe includes: Marigold Morning, Close to Cocoa and Whisper White card stock from Stampin' Up!; a piece of scrapbook paper (manufacturer name cut off, sorry); scalloped and plain oval Marvy punches; white gel pen (for the dots); black embossing powder (on the cat); and SU markers to color him in.

As for the crooked contribution to my effort, check out the cat - noooot mounted to the card front quite straight, is he? ;-)

BTW, speaking of enablement, I just ordered the rest of the Marvy scalloped and regular punches from, and to fill out my week, I ordered the very cool Gina K coordinating stamps from I tell ya, I am weak.

So you see, it was very easy to put this card together, and now I think I may even like it some. On occasion, I see a sentiment and immediately know what stamp I already have that it will be mated with. But sometimes, well, they come to me in singles, and you have to have a really good excuse to try the mating game. This challenge was perfect!

I hope to play some more later this weekend. So far, there are not a lot of other people playing. Check it out at if you get time. The more, the merrier!

Have a good weekend!

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Chunky Book Experience

I am home today with a version of the Creeping Crud. At first I thought it was poison ivy, and it may be, but this time around it is on my face, too. For that, I have to thank the cat. I was out of town last weekend, and when I got home early on such a bright, sunny Sunday afternoon, I treated her to an outing in my fenced, postage-stamp back yard. I am sure she thinks it is heaven.

The first thing she does when released into the wild is roll on the flagstones. I think she likes the warmth, or maybe she is marking her territory...who knows, she is a Cat. I took the time to fill the bird feeders, and to pull a few weeds from between the stones and from the planting area. Hopefully this weekend I can put in some annuals, followed by mulch. At least it will look like I tried.

Come bedtime Sunday night, once I got horizontal in bed, the cat took her usual position atop my chest. This is our nightly ritual - she gets her daily dose of scratching and then settles down for a snuggle while I read for a while. But this past Sunday, after having been abandoned and left to the whims of the Cat Sitter (oh, horrors!), she was overly squishy, so she over-snuggled by pushing the side of her face against mine. She then let out a most contented purr-sigh, and settled in for a nap.

At first I was all squishy right back - she is a wonderful cat. Then a few days later, I noticed the poison ivy between my 3rd and 4th fingers on my right hand. That's where I always get it, if I get it at all. But I also had some bumps on the left side of my face. THAT's when I made the connection between the Snuggle and the Creeping Crud. Poor kitty has not been allowed near my face since. ;-(

Have you ever tried to put that lotion on your eye-lid? NOT fun. So I have sufferred through a few days of worsening conditions, and the ever-popular suggested solutions to my plight. My favorite one was to scrub all the bumps off until they were open and raw, then apply a diluted bleach mixture. Once the screaming stops, your problem should be gone. Er ... no, thanks.

So I took my chances, and Fate won. I woke up this morning with swollen eye lids - not comfortable, and NOT pretty. I called the Doctor to see if they could fit me in and provide me with some good drugs, but they do not open until 9:00 on Friday's, so I had to wait.

To kill time, I started on my Chunky Book pages. For those uninitiated in the ways of the Chunky Book world, here is how it works. First, a most esteemed Team Member volunteers to be the coordinator. She shall be blessed, and maybe even sainted. A theme is selected - in our case it was the color Purple. Each of 12 people is supposed to make 12 copies of 2 4x4 pages using at least 85% purple. Each 4x4 page has two sides, and you have to decorate both sides. Times 12. Times two separate pages. Get it? Each of us has to make 2 pages for a book that will have 24 pages total, one book for each of the 12 players.

The only rules are (1) the page must be 4x4 EXACTLY so they are all the same size once bound, (2) you must follow the theme (Purple here), you must have 85% of your page meet the theme, (3) no major embellishments within 1 1/2 inches of the left side of the page (so it can be bound), (4) 'things' hanging off the outer, non-bound edges are very cool, and (5) sign the back.

The Esteemed Leader is in charge of getting all the book pages together and binding them. She has a RubiCoil, which is why we need that sacred 1 1/2 inches free of embellishments - so it can fit under the puncher. She is also in charge of creating the covers for the books.

The Group is all a-buzz with all things purple. One of my Stampin' Up! customers recently ordered all the purple card stock to replenish her supply. Hmmm ... wonder what she's doing with that! ;-)

ANYway, have you ever had to restrict youself to using only one color in a project? Have you ever found yourself looking at everything purple in the stores? Have you 'discovered' purple embellishments in your stash? It is amazing what you do not see until you look for it!

Then there's the pesky "EXACTLY 4x4" rule. Well, I sure hope I am not disqualified from the book, since I cannot cut anything straight. I started using coasters, since they are (gasp!) 4x4! Turns out they are too thick, and they do not have an 'inside' to give you the option of wrapping ribbon and punching windows, etc., that a folded 4x8 piece of card stock will give you. So I cut. They are close ... people will just have to deal.

So being an over-achiever, I had mocked up a few pages last month. It impressed the heck out of everyone - soooo much detail! Here are a few of my mock-ups:

This first one uses a coaster, obviously prior to my learning the wisdom of using card stock. The dress on the front was made with a combination of things. The top part of the dress is part of a stamp from Renaissance Art Stamps, which I embossed with purple, glittered embossing powder. The bottom of the dress is made up of individual fan parts (set is from, stamped and embossed on vellum using the same purple powder as the top, then carefully cut out using very sharp snips. The belt is made from a piece of scrap velvet ribbon.

That weird thing hanging from the brad is a string of very light-colored purple beads strung on a piece of purple wire. I plan to not use that - this was just a mock-up, remember.

The background of the back of the coaster (to your right) was made using the alcohol technique. I dabbed some Encore silver reinker on some glossy card stock, then dropped two colors of Stampin' Up!'s purple reinkers on an alcohol-soaked cotton ball, and dabbed until I got the coverage I wanted. I then covered the whole thing in Versamark (yes, my pad was destroyed - use an old one!) and clear-embossed the whole thing. It came out with a very neat, rough texture.

The metal strip was made using the Cuttlebug, and I just cut a strip of it off to fit the card. As you can see, this was a lot of work, and I did not relish the idea of making 12 of them, so I set it aside.

This next one was made with a 4x8 piece of card stock instead of coasters, and I took full advantage of the inside to hide the backs of the brads and to tie the ribbons.

This is what it looks like folded, front view. The purple fibers were tied along the edge of the fold.

First I stamped the background, front and back, with stamps from Stampin' Up!'s Looks Like Spring set.

Then I used Stampin' Up!'s Collage Alphabet to stamp the word 'Purple" using Versafine Purple ink, then embossed the letters with clear embossing powder.

The paper is a piece of scrapbook paper I had, and since it had mostly purple in it, it met the qualifications for inclusion in the project. Hidden under the purple fibers is a stack of Cuttlebug-die-cut stacked flowers. I inked them against the SU Aida Background stamp, then stacked them up and used a purple flower brad to hold it all to the card front.

I also used the SU Spring Bouquet Punch and made some other flower stacks to busy it up, and added a purple grosgrain ribbon - you can kind of see it peeking out from under the purple fibers.

This is what the whole thing looks like opened up:

You can see the background I stamped over the whole thing before I folded it. I used the same Alphabet to stamp and emboss "Flower Power" on the back. Then I stuck on some flowers from a ribbon I got at a local stamp store, and called it 'done'.

My last mockup was a bit much, and I did not get too far, either. I started with a piece of that same alcohol-technique card stock used above and just stuck it to the card, but it was a bit too busy. I then got the idea to punch out a window to remove some of the 'busy', and I used SU's Key Tag Punch. I punched once, then moved it up and extended the opening by punching again. This gave me a window, and people who know me can see the wheels turning. ;-)

The great thing about using the folded card stock for the 4x4 card is you have that inside to work with, too! So I stuck a piece of acetate behind the opening and tried to make it into a window. You can barely see the lines I drew to make it look like a real window, but I am not so sure those will work.

I stamped some flowers on the background of the card stock so they show through the window. Then, I had A Moment. I stamped the Gnome from No Place Like Gnome, cut him out, and had him peeking through the window! It was hillarious! I took him out because I could not figure out how to make him purple, but I may figure out a way and put him back in. ;-)

We are scheduled to gather next weekend for the book assembly and the post-assembly embellishment to-do. (We are allowed to add embellishments to the pages after they are bound, which allows us to creep into that sacred 1 1/2 inches near the binding.) So we have one week - ONE WEEK - to make all our pages. Yikes!!!

So my actual pages are under construction, and I'll eventually post an update with the finished products. On the off-chance that some of my fellow Chunky Bookers read this, I may wait until next weekend to post them. We'll see!

Back to the Creeping Crud - I cannot get into the Doctor until 3 pm. Drat! I guess I will have to keep busy somehow. ;-) I am off to replicate Chunky Book pages.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

To tag or not to tag ...

I am sooo new to this blogging thing, and already I've been tagged twice! First by Jason Sampson, and next by Lorien Clark. Now, it's not that I do not appreciate the tags (actually, I am honored!), and more importantly I appreciate the opportunity to get my blog more widely circulated and read, but I am one of those people with too much to do in too little time.

Therefore, I respectfully decline to continue the tags - they die with me, just like chain letters...I don't forward those, either. Bah, Humbug, I know.

Quite honestly, I do not have the time to read other people's blogs! I surprised myself by starting my own until I realized it was MINE and I could post when I wanted to, or not. I find I may stumble across someone's blog reference in an SCS thread, and I have listed a few on my site that I have read more than once, but really, that's it.

So thanks, but no thanks. I'll feed the blog when I get time, but that's the best I can do.

Thanks, again, for the tags, and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Did you hear that?

Did you hear something? Like a popping noise? If you did, it was something popping in my know, that little thing that allows you to STAMP STRAIGHT! Sigh ...

The Gaithersburg Farmers Markets start this weekend, and I have a table there where I sell my cards. [Shameless Plug: The Main Street Pavillion in the Kentlands. Saturday's 10-2, May-Oct.] In prior years, this is about the time I start to panic, having been a total slug all winter, so that I do not have enough stuff to sell the first weekend in May. But, I actually do this year, so instead of panic, I thought I'd be productive....imagine that.

The Kentlands is one of those upscale planned communities, and the houses are GORGEOUS. Lots of brownstones with lovely yards; lots of old-looking homes without the old-acting plumbing, etc. All new and beautiful. So last year I decided to make up packs of note cards to sell in addition to my individual regular cards. And this is what I came up with:

Classy, huh? Well, they sold like hot-cakes! And as any good crafter knows, if it works, you make more.

As you can probably tell, these are very time-consuming to make. First I print the City & State using my computer (we KNOW those are straight!). Then, using my Stamp-A-Ma-Jig, I stamp the three brownstones (images are by A Muse), one at a time, then I stamp the lamp. Then I move on to card #2, repeat. In my last session I made about 50 of them - might as well crank 'em all out at once.

Then I go back and watercolor each of the houses. First, I do all the yellow houses and the "glow" in the lamp posts (I used Stampin' Up!s So Saffron), then all the Reds (SU's Cranberry Crisp or maybe Bravo Burgundy - I forget), then the Greens (Artichoke, I think). Then I do all the stairs, top and bottom stonework and columns in Sahara Sand, then the doors in Creamy Caramel.

The ritual ends when I pack 'em up with envelopes 5 to a pack, then I take a hot bath followed by a nap.

Fast forward to this year, more specifically to today. I took 1/2 a day off from my Day Job this afternoon to meet the Exterminator (it is ant season, and I live in a basement - it's a once-a-year thing we do here), so with my gift of extra stamping time, I decided to make some of these note cards to replenish my stock for Saturday's market. It was a fine idea while it lasted, then there was that annoying pop.

To get in the mood, I started with something a little different; it's an idea I've been wanting to try. I bought this house stamp (Zum Gali Gali) because it looks like a house in an old artsy kind of town. Part of Gaithersburg, where I live, is Historic and there are a lot of houses that look like this. Sooo, I thought I'd make a few cards using this house, surrounding it with trees (stamp by Rubber Stampede):

I even stamped THIS house crooked. Sigh. I decided to call it "character" and moved on. It will look much better after I color it. Really!

To get the trees to work, I stamped the house, masked it part-way, then inked the trees with green and brown markers and stamped it over the masked house. The partial mask lets some of the tree branches slop over the house to look more natural.

(Please ignore the green muck stuck to the front of the's sticky stuff stuck on my scanner from an earlier scan.)

Then I took a deep sigh and moved on to the brownstone cards. At first I thought I was maybe just a bit rusty, but after about 10 attempts, I realized it was truly Operator Error. I could not stamp those #$(*^#$ brownstones straight to save my soul! Yes, I used the Stamp-A-Ma-Jig. After a while I even drew a LINE on the card to line up the images with the Stamp-A-Ma-Jig. HAHAHAHA! No luck, as you can see here:
To the untrained eye, it looks okay. In fact, a lot of what I consider unworthy of inclusion in a 5-pack get sold as singles, and people snatch them up. We are our own worst critics, after all, no?

Anyway, to most stampers, and maybe to most Engineers, and Carpenters, and IRS Auditors, these are really crooked. Do ya see how that one in the middle is leaning a bit downhill to the left? And I just noticed the one on the right is leaning, too. When they all follow a line uphill, I tell people the houses are on a hill. Well, they COULD be, right? But this one is just plain tilted. The lamp is, too.

Anyway, this one will be a single once I color it in. And this is about the 15th one I made tonight. Some of my early attemps tonight did not even make the Singles cut.

Then I made this one:

Can you see the line I drew to keep it straight? Can you see where I totally missed that line and stamped the light about 1/8 inch BELOW the line? Can you see that I then stamped the brownstone so far over that same line that it obliterated the name of the city? Can you? Huh?!?!?! I believe I said, "Oh, darn!" out loud. Woke up the cat.

It was at this point that my pal and enabler Marianne, via our nightly phone call, suggested that I was a much better cutter than a stamper, and maybe I'd have better luck stamping the houses on patterned paper and cutting them out, then STICKing them to the cards instead of trying to line those guys up over and over again. What a genius she is! I immediately discarded my SAMJ and dug up the patterned paper from my hoard, er ... stash. Here is my first attempt:

Yeah, I even stick 'em on crooked. But I have to tell you, this was WAY easier than that SAMJ! I think with some practice I may even get them straight enough to qualify for a 5-pack! A girl can dream!

I will have to do some cutting out for the door, etc, but I can handle that. I was thinking of trying the white gel pen for the windows. And maybe NOT cutting out the doors and using a brown gel pen for those.

So my plans for the rest of the week, after I prep for Sunday's workshops, that is, (where are my priorities?!?!), is to stamp a bunch of these and take them with me Saturday to the Farmers Market. I can cut them all out while I am not selling anything. I think I'll leave the sticking and the alignment for another day.

Right now, I could use a hot bath and a nap. ;-)