Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mojo Blockage

Today was one of those days. Nothing too dramatic; nothing too exciting; major creative blockage; nothing really worth writing about (but that's never stopped me before ...). You know - one of those days.

So tonight I thought I'd tell you about the joys of a Farmers Market. We crafters get to sit surrounded by farmers and their fresh produce, and the gobs of people buying that produce. Most days I succumb to the lure of the produce and buy, buy, buy. Some weeks I even eat most of it before the next week's buying spree. Next to stamps, paper and ribbon, I have no restraint when surrounded by good, fresh veggies and fruit.

This year, though, I am trying something a little different. Several of the farmers offer (participate in) something called CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The way it works is people buy a share of a farmer's crop. In the Fall, the farmers take names and a deposit. Then, based on the number of people wanting to participate, they plan their crops for the following season. Then once the food starts to come in the following Summer, you get your 'share' of the crop. If the farmer has a bad year, you get less; if they have a good year, you get more. The members get a vat of fresh fruits and veggies every week for 16-18 weeks. You can buy a full share or a half share; I went for a half share, being just one person.

For the past five years, I have been buying at least as much produce as comes in the shares I have been seeing picked up each week. The only thing is, if I do not eat all that I buy, I just buy less the next week. But with the CSA, I will get another vat of food the next week, so I must eat it all each week. Or give it away. (The beets will be going to someone else's home. And maybe the kale. I am a Yankee, after all.)

The way I figure it, this stuff was picked in the last 24 hours - can't beat that with a stick! And the price is about the same (or less) than you'd spend in the grocery, so it is even a better deal!

So today I thought I'd practice and plan to actually eat everything I brought home. I bought a sampling of the currently-in-season stuff, which included grape/cherry tomatoes, pickling cukes, radishes, lettuce, strawberries, raspberries, green onions, rhubarb, and two boxes of English peas. Not a bad haul for one day, huh? After I got home, I decided to clean and prep all this stuff. Here's what I created:

This is The Salad. It includes lettuce, maters, cukes, radishes, and peas. Yummm! No salad dressing needed! I just picked at it right out of the bowl.

Now if you must know, the real reason I made this tonight (aside from the fact that all those veggies would never fit into my fridge), was because today my lunch consisted of a bag of Terra Chips. Yes, the whole bag. Sigh ...

Next up is The Blender Drink. This one is pretty funny, actually. I had an overabundance of fresh strawberries and raspberries, and I just knew if I put them in the fridge, there they'd stay, so I thought about making a smoothie of sorts. Now normally one would put a liquid of some kind in with the fruit. Having sworn off alcohol due to the weird dreams I've had the past few times post-consumption, I went in search of a suitable substitute. To make a long, boring story short, I grabbed a mini-can of Mountain Dew, poured it in and threw the switch. And my, my, my, is it yummy!

Oh, and in case you are wondering, even though I do not drink soda, I have the cans of Mountain Dew on hand because I made this recipe, and it calls for Mountain Dew. What can I say? And if you have not made this recipe yet, do it now! If only one time in your life, you must try it. With Vanilla Ice Cream. I kid you not. Then go out and run a mini-marathon, or do two extra hours on the treadmill.

This last concoction is waaay yummier than it looks in the terrible photo I took of it. This is a bowl of cooked rhubarb and strawberries (told you I had a ton of them.) Rhubarb, all by itself, is bitter and nasty. You almost always see it paired with something sweet like strawberries. This dish is from my childhood, and is amazingly easy to make, as long as you keep the heat of the burner turned down so the pot does not boil over. (Ask me how I know.) When it is done cooking, it has the consistency of apple sauce, and since there is nothing in it except rhubarb, strawberries and a little water (and a squeeze of lemon, if I'd remembered to add it...), it is even good for you! A bowl of this as a side dish is perfect. It can also be eaten for dessert. And you could put it over ice cream. M-m-m.

Next week is my first CSA pick-up, and I am sooo excited. I already know my share will include some strawberries, and I think a Hosta plant. I'll report back on what I get and if I'm brave enough to try new things, like kale ....

The rest of today and this evening I have tried to stamp. Really, really tried. But it just seemed that everything I started - failed. I finally gave up and decided to report on the Market instead. Naturally, my monthly SU classes are next weekend, and I have no clue. I guess tomorrow I will be working in earnest to make up the five projects. Hopefully my mojo will return.

One last thing: This is one candidate for my Brother's very, very belated Birthday card:

I figured it was so late already, that I should make something really special. I broke out my new Basic Grey Boxer paper, and also dusted off my SU Baroque Motifs set, and this is the first thing I came up with. And no, there is no special technique to get the striped look, except to use textured card stock so the flourish stamp comes out looking striped. I like the colors, but I am not sure if it is belated-worthy. And as belated as this one is, it'd better get kicked up a notch or two. ;-) I will play some more tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by and reading through all this food stuff. I'll get back to stampin' here shortly. I promise!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Great Moss Massacre of 2008

Welcome to the Chronicles of The Great Moss Massacre of 2008. First, allow me to show you what I believe to be the root cause of said massacre:

It is my pleasure to introduce: The Squirrel-proof Bird Feeder. Yes, folks, it works. I have seen squirrels hanging from the top of the feeder with their back feet in an attempt to reach the feeder openings, but the clever people who designed this baby made the body of the feeder just a bit longer than a squirrel's body, so they cannot reach the openings. HA!

The birds sit on the ring around the base of the feeder, and if they are not too heavy, they can feed out of the holes. If the birds are too heavy, or if say, a squirrel were to hang off the ring, the weight pulls down a metal bar that blocks the feeding holes. HA!

Note the cat behind the tree. This was moments prior to her escape. More on that later.

But those squirrels are not only mean, they are persistent.

Here we have the top of the feeder. Allow me to point out that the white stuff is not bird poop. No, sir. Those are scratches made by mean, nasty squirrels! They literally try to chew their way into the thing. And they have tried more than one time, too. My last feeder was plastic, and when their weight pulled down the sleeve that blocked the feeding holes, they succeeded in chewing new holes. (I noticed them when I filled the feeder and the seed poured out the new holes.) Too bad for the squirrels this feeder has some metal parts. HA!

Here's an unbelievable close-up of the top of the feeder. I do believe that eventually they will manage to chew through the metal, but that does not mean they will get to the seed. HA! It just means they will wreck my feeder and I'll get to buy a new one. (drat!) Maybe next time I'll get the one with the motor that turns the ring at the bottom so they are flung across the yard. HA HA!!!

So now that we have established just why these squirrels are so pissed at me, let's examine what I woke up to this morning, shall we?

Exhibit A. Moss does not grow on the flagstone. Something (something) has yanked it out of the gravel and put it there.

Exhibit B.

Exhibit C.

And Exhibit D. This one was just a mangled mess.

I carefully replaced all the parts-is-parts of moss and watered them to help alleviate their shock and pain. Then I brought out the secret weapon:

Cayenne Pepper. This was suggested by one of my two (maybe three) beloved readers. She said the squirrels hate to get cayenne on their little feet (so do I) and they will not be back. What do I have to lose? The moss will die at this rate anyway, so I seasoned them lightly with pepper.

I will report back if the massacre ceases and the moss is allowed to live without being dug up every other day.

On to the cat's escape. As I chronicled the Massacre, kitty managed to figure out a way to get out of the fence. I looked up and she was gone. GONE! Now that she has a chip, she no longer wears a collar, so I was just a wee bit worried. I opened the gate and began to scour the common area for a streak of white. I finally found her, all crouched down and ready to leap/pounce/run. She even had the nerve to hiss at me. Sheesh! As soon as I'd get close, she'd take off. Now normally when she escapes out the front door, she runs for the first blade of green grass and stops. She almost never really escapes and keeps going, so this was different for both of us. I followed her around the side of the building and back again. She finally went back into the open gate in our yard all by herself and headed straight for the screen door, still hissing. Even after she was inside she kept hissing. Even when I offered her wet food, she hissed. Personally, I think she was scared and really a little lost out there, and was just re-adjusting to being safe and warm and fed and loved. After a few bites of food she came out of the Kitchen and sat quitely, so she seems to be fine, now. Me, too.

Oh, and all of the above - the photos, the catching the cat, the feeding of said cat, and the slow-down of the ole heart beat occurred in the first 20 minutes of my arrival home. Sigh ...

As for stampin, I made these the other night while my StazOn was out, and I plan to color them between now and Saturday's Market. (Stamp by Stampendous.)

I sell these in packs of 5, and I stamped a pack of 20, so I'll end up with 4 packs of note cards to sell. The coloring will be a good, repetitive task to do after my massaaaaaage tomorrow evening. Or I could just take a hot bath instead. We'll see.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day!

Well, it has been a bless-ed and glorious weekend, all three days! One of my favorite statements on Monday's is, "I need a weekend from my weekend." With my Farmers Market on Saturday's, and everything else on Sunday's, Monday comes way too fast for me. I don't seem to get a day to do nothing often enough. But with the three-day weekend, I got that day today! Actually, I spent most of yesterday being a slug and most of today stampin'! That laziness rejuvenated me!

At Saturday's market, one of the things I picked up was a bag of these:

I looooove spring peas! Sometimes I buy them early in the day and have them for lunch. They start out like the photo on the left and end up like the photo below.

One of the sweetest things known to mankind is freshly hulled spring peas. M-m-tasty!

The good thing about fresh peas is they balance out all the sinfull goodness of this heart attack on a plate I made to go with it. I left off the bread, though, so that should count for calorie-negation, too, shouldn't it? *I* think so! Then I had this for breakfast, and my fate was sealed. I needed to burn a LOT of calories, so instead of going for walk on the canal, I walked into my Dining Room for a day of stampin'! (Do you think I need a twelve-step program?)

I was determined to use some of the embarrassingly large stash of goods I have accumulated. Oh, did I tell you I went to the LSS again on Sunday? They called to say the Basic Grey 6x6 paper packs I had ordered were in. Since it was a GORgeous day out, I decided to put the top down on the Miata and drive to Virginia to pick up my stuff. I knew full well I would undoubtedly buy more than those paper packs, but I went anyway. So I was doubly-determined to use some of it to alleviate all this guilt I have.

So here we go!

I have had this card idea in my brain for a long time, but my closer (near-by) LSS that recently closed never had this The Cat's Pajamas image on the shelf, so I kept putting it off, just waiting for the day the stamp would appear. And what luck! There it was on the shelf of the LSS in VA, so I got it. And used it!

The top of this card is made with one of the Polka Dot Basic stamps from Papertrey Ink, stamped in Chocolate Chip on Bashful Blue card stock. I used the same technique to mat the dog as I did with the Grad the other day: I punched out two ovals the same size and just offset them behind the main image. All I really wanted was some contrast, and it works quite well! I put on three lines of grosgrain ribbon, and stamped the sentiment (also by TCP) in Choc Chip. It was very easy to make, as there is no coloring on the image. Brown dog, white bandages - what's to color? :-) I really like how this one turned out!

This one is also from the Ole Brain Archives. I bought this A Muse fish stamp a while ago, thinking I'd use one of the fish buttons I have to embellish it. I have given up trying to find the fish buttons in The Stash, and opted instead to use some of the paper I used for the card base. Clever and original (not), I know....The double-sided striped paper is newly-purchased, and I again used it as the card base. I tried stamping a diamond background over it in a light color (Bashful Blue) to soften the glare of the bright stripes, and I think it turned out just fine.

The fish was stamped on a scrap of the striped paper and cut out. The ribbon is part of the 1200-yard spool of it I have in the other room, left over from my Ribbon Outlet haul. Here I used about 5" of it. (At this rate they can mummify me in the stuff and still have some left over. What was I thinking?) I got the idea for layering the three punchouts for the sentiment from a ton of blog- and SCS-surfing. I like how it looks, and that I am actually using all those punches I have. Every once in a while I even remember to show The Ladies how to do this at workshops & classes.

Recipe includes: Stamps - Fish and Sentiment by A Muse, bg by Cornish Heritage Farms; Ink - Bashful Blue, Choc Chip; Paper - Misc stripe, Bashful Blue, Choc Chip, Very Vanilla; Other - Designer Label punch, 1" Circle punch, Word Window punch, misc brads and ribbon.

This is one of my new (a month ago) Emerson stamps. I soooo identify with this lady. I wanted her to be the central focus of the card, so I chose a soft patterned paper from my new stash, layered it on White Naturals card stock, and wrapped a piece of Twill around it. I added some Pewter brads from the Vintage Brads (love them!), colored her in and called it done. I think she will be a hit at the Market.

This whole card is a bonus for me. It uses my C.R.S. sentiment (River City Rubber Works) which was used on the one card that sold out at my December show and I needed to make more cards using it. I used a very pretty paper from the new stash. And I used a new image I picked up on Sunday - isn't that lady (American Art Stamps) great? Ooooooh, does she have possibilities with all the irreverent sentiments I am collecting!

This one is totally inspired by this post at SCS. It needs some work, but I think it is passable. There is no doubt what I intended to make, anyway. I did spend a lot of time today trying to get the sizes right. I started out with 1 1/4" large circles and a 1/2" small circle. They look great, but the card would have to be H U G E to accomodate all the pieces, so I started over. I found the 3/4" circle worked well size-wise for the billiard balls, but the 1/4" circle was a bit on the wee side. I think a 3/8" punch would have been better, and wouldn't you know it, I do not have one, if they even make one.

Then, of course, once I had it all stuck on the card, with the cue ball, I needed to think of a sentiment, or rather a reason someone would buy this card or give it to someone. Immediately, my mind went to the gutter, and I came up with "Nice Rack". What can I say? It fit in the oval, so I used it. I will let you know if anyone buys one!

Recipe (since there is a lot going on here): Stamps - PSX alphabet; Paper - non-SU textured dark green, Basic Black, Bravo Burgundy, Brilliant Blue, Yoyo Yellow, Real Red, Glorious Green, Only Orange, Elegant Eggplant, Whisper White; Other - black marker, Designer Label punch, Lg Oval Punch, 3/4" punch, 1/4" punch.

And last, but not least, is my reason for being. I am the poster child for crookedness. If I accomplish nothing else in my life, if I can make even one person feel better about their stamping, I have done my job.

As I previously mentioned, the reason for my recent trip to the LSS was to pick up up several 6x6 Basic Grey paper stacks. I looooove Basic Grey. I may not use the paper once I buy it, but I still love it. You are aware, aren't you, that this is how hoarding begins, right? But I digress...

So I decided to use some of the new paper in my collection, and I chose the Cupcake Sugared papers. I opted to cut them into 1" strips, layer them on the card, then add a sentiment and ribbon (of course.) I mean, how hard could this be, right? Wrong.

I started on the left edge of the card front, and by the mid-point I noticed the strips of paper were all leaning to the left. By the time I got to the last piece, it was very crooked. This first one is the best of the four I made, and you can still see the right edge is off. Sigh.

This one was so bad I had to cut off the card front and trim it to a semblance of 5 1/4" x 4" to re-mount it on another card. So sad. It is still crooked.

And in case you were wondering, I no longer hang wallpaper, either.

Oh, one more thing. If you have not already done so, please take a few moments tonight and remember why we have this three-day weekend. I was reminded Sunday morning as I drove to meet a friend for breakfast. On every overpass were clusters of people watching the highway. By the third overpass, I realized they were waiting for the Rolling Thunder. If any of you have not experienced this, you should, at least once. Being so near to DC, we get to see (or hear) it every year, but I believe there are State chapters now, too. Next year, I think I'll pay more attention and be one of those people on the overpasses, camera ready. I am a firm believer that motorcycles are really just donor-mobiles, but once a year I have to say the sight and sound of tens of thousands of motorcycles convoying down the road, with American and POW flags flying, is awesome. So please make sure to thank a vet for all that we have today.

Well, I think I'll go have some of the leftover heart-attack-on-a-plate and call it a night. If I can finish up the laundry, I can go to work tomorrow. Yay....

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Stampin', Storage, and a Science Experiment

Wow, what a rockin' day it's been! There's something about Spring, an all-too-elusive season here in the Mid-Atlantic area, that just puts me in a great mood. :-) Most years it goes from Winter straight to HH&H (Hazy, Hot & Humid), and it stays HH&H into September. But today was mild, sunny, cool, beeeeautiful! Just perfect!

Okay, enough about the weather. Let's get to some serious stuff. First up is the Science Experiment part of this post. I must confess, I go to the grocery store about once a month. I eat breakfast and lunch at work, most of the time I skip dinner, so there is not a lot of occasion for me to buy and consume food at home. A once-a-month trip to the grocery store suits me fine. But when I do shop, I need to remember to eat what I buy. If I forget, then I get Science Experiments.

Without reading ahead, what do you think this is (or was):

Got a clue? I put a quarter next to it to help you. Any guesses?
Time's up. It used to be a tomato. A full-size tomato, too. As soon as I discovered this poor, neglected piece of fruit this afternoon, I remembered that a few weeks ago I thought I needed to remember to put it out when I put out the trash. Guess what I forgot to do? Life around here is just so exciting! You never know what you'll find!

On to stampin'. In a continuing effort to use up the obscene pile of rub-ons I got during SU's Sale-A-Bration (I still liked the name Sell-A-Bration better, but I am just one of the Little People, so who cares what *I* think...), I keep trying new things. One of the Demo Challenges on SCS this week was to use Vellum on a card. Several people posted cards where they had embossed images on the vellum, then put it on a card front that had been stamped. A very cool look. So I thought I'd try using rub-ons on vellum and try the same layering thing.

Of course, I could not decide between Card Stock Vellum or regular Paper Vellum, so I ran a controlled test and made one of each.

I used the Olive rub-ons from the Sale-A-Bration rub-on packs on both pieces of vellum. Then I layered them on some striped paper from the Old Olive Designer papers. The Pretties flower is held on with an Artichoke brad. Actually, I used two brads: one in the flower and one in the rub-on to the right. These brads cleverly hold the vellum to the DS paper. My luck using vellum tape is pathetic - it always shows, or yellows over time, so I constantly seek different ways to make it stick without vellum tape. Today it was brads.

With the DS paper as the back of the layers, it was simple to use tape to stick it to the front of the cards (I used Old Olive card stock for the bases).

The first card above used the Card Stock Vellum, and this second card is identical except it uses the paper vellum. As far as opacity (learned that word from The Pioneer Woman's Photography section) or in laymen's terms "the see-through-it-ness", I like the paper vellum's weight much better.

You will notice there is no stampin' on these cards. Every once in a while I am okay with that. :-)

Sticking with the vellum theme, I had to take it a step further. Last year I made this card using white card stock as the bubble layer, so I thought I'd try it with vellum instead. And I've decided I like it better than boring old card stock. And I used a few inches of ribbon from my stash, too. Gotta love that!

On to Storage. Sometimes you've just got to get the storage solution from the people who make the product you are storing. I tried other ideas to organize all my Cuttlebug folders and dies, but it just wasn't working for me. So I caved and bought the Cuttlebug Storage bag and pages. What a great decision! They are (of course) perfection!

Here it is open to show you all the filled and happy pages.

And here it is closed. Isn't it cute?!?! Unfortunately, all my folders are not in there yet, and it is totally maxed out. So sad. These are obvioulsy not made for us (we) hoarders. I will probably have to buy another one.

Tonight I might finally watch the movie I got from Netflix about 7 or 8 weeks ago. I might have to stamp something, too. ;) We'll see.

Just Practicing

You are never too old to learn new tricks. Man, you should just see me at work! I have a very technical job, and my cube-neighbor and I are diggers...we try to figure out better ways and new features of some of the computer software we use for our analysis. When one of us figures out a new feature, we announce it to the world (much to the dismay of our fellow cubites), and we ask to go home since we've learned something new. Never works, though.

So this morning, as I was being lazy and not showering to get ready for the Farmers Market, I decided to check the ole email and read some blogs. One hour later (!!!) I am still here, but I HAVE LEARNED SOMETHING NEW! One of the things I have always wanted to do is strike out words in my blogger posts. But - the only menu items are for bold and italic. Bummer.

One of the blogs I was reading this morning had strike-through text, and I asked her how she did it. Being totaly into instant gratification, I was not content to wait for an answer, so I looked at her page source. What to my wondering eyes should I see but the HTML tag for strike-through! Well, duuuuh. If I could remember anything, I would have remembered this from HTML 101 many moons ago from The Day Job.

So here we go...let me try striking out this word: duuuuuuuh. Well, would you look at that! It works! New skill! Yay! Can I go home now? Er, wait a sec, I am home. In my jammies. Not showered yet. Gotta go shower and get my fanny to the Market and sell some cards!!! Enjoy this lovely day!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Some Wildlife and A Little Bit About Me

I woke up this morning to more mangled moss in the back yard, so before I even left for work, I had something to do when I got home.

I have a theory: If it is not the squirrels, it is those noisy grackles (is that how you spell it?) Those black/blue birds who make noise and steal bird food from the smaller birds. Just look at this:

Moss parts everywhere!

And over here, too. Sigh.

So Kitty and I went out back again this evening to replace the moss (me) and chew on grass (she). Check her out in action:

Here she has found a tasty morsel amongst the plethora of weeds in my little garden.

Note the sad, sad Hostas. They are supposed to like shade, but I think I have a little too much shade for them, the poor things.

And here she is being a stealth cat. She slinks around the edge of the yard, keeping me safe. I feel so much better about her being there.

Actually, as soon as I popped the can of cat food, she shot right towards the door and came in to feast. ;-)

Okay, enough wildlife. Next up is a list of questions I found on another blog as the result of a tag (hers, not mine). I do not tag, but if I find a neat list like this I feel compelled to take on the challenge. Things like this could easily become TMI, but I sometimes like to read about what other people do and where they came from, so I hope I do not bore you to tears here...

What was I doing ten years ago?

Lessee, ten years ago was 1998. I was working at different computer-related job within the same company I work for now. Boring, but true. And I had not yet discovered stamping. I still had my eyesight, and I was really into counted cross-stitch; the 32-count linen kind. Most of the ‘pictures’ in my condo are cross-stitched pieces I’ve done. Like this one:

This baby took me 2 years to complete. The buildings are over two threads and the windows in the shops are over one thread. Each window took me about 3 hours to do. Like I said - 2 years of my life.

Five snacks I enjoy:

Believe it or not, I am not a snacker. Crazy, I know! So where did all this weight come from? I guess if I do have snack foods, it is instead of dinner, not in addition to dinner. Possibilities would be something like:

1. Cheese and Crackers (Goat Cheese from the Farmers Market lately!)
2. Home-made guacamole or home-made salsa with Tostido’s Lime chips.
3. ummmmm …..
4. errrr .....
5. ??????

Five things on my to do list today:

1. Go to The Day Job.
2. When I get home tonight, take Kitty out back so she can eat more green weeds and I can put back the mangled moss. Again.
3. Make some more Graduation cards for Saturday’s Farmers Market.
4. Print labels for the recent Ribbon Share and divvy up the ribbon (this one may slip to Sunday, though.)
5. Clean up cat barf.
Wow, now that’s an exciting life, huh?

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

1. Quit the Day Job. I have always said I’d keep working if I came into money, if only to stay in touch with the rest of the world. But as I get closer and closer to retirement, it starts to look better and better! As of now, if I could afford medical insurance out of what’s left of my partial pay check, I’d quit tomorrow. So yeah, if I had money I’d definitely give up the Daily Grind.
2. Buy a bigger place with enough room for a dedicated craft room AND classroom.
3. Make sure my kids do not have to worry about money for extended college careers or for starter funds once they graduate.
4. Give big bucks to cancer research.

Five jobs I've had:

1. Catalog department at JC Penney.
2. Waitress at a local Bar & Grill during college.
3. Long John Silver’s (for about two weeks. Long story)
4. Karate instructor during and right after High School. Really!
5. Computer programmer/analyst most of my adult life.

Five of my bad habits:

1. Biting my nails.
2. Buying all the ribbon and paper in sight.
3. Not putting away the folded laundry.
4. Not communicating well enough with Friends and Family. (And it's gotten worse since I began making cards - go figure!)
5. Interrupting people.

Five places I have lived:

1. Dayton, OH
2. Oxford, OH
3. Flint, MI
4. Naperville, IL
5. Gaithersburg, MD

Six random things:

1. I am not a clothes horse, and could care less about what is “in” this season. Or this week. I think this has been true all of my life, even when I was a skinny Minnie. I just do not care. I look like I fell out of a Land’s End catalog, and that suits me just fine. Some things never go out of style, and I am so there!

2. I am a dog person. The only reason I have a cat is because of my lifestyle, because a dog needs way more attention than a cat does. And my cat is very dog-like, so she is perfect for me.

3. I have always dreamed of living in a small town of some kind. Now that I am older, I am not sure I want to pull up stakes and start over again, but the idea is still in there, somewhere. I am not ruling it out. Maybe I have read too many beach novels about women running away from whatever and finding love in a small town. Though they were also 20-something, and I am not.

4. I cannot drive in reverse. Ask anyone who knows me, I just cannot do it. Being a crafter and having to negotiate bumper cars to unload my vehicle at shows gets pretty interesting. One year a bunch of us went to someone’s house for dinner, and they have a really looooong, one-lane driveway. It had snowed, and I was last in so I was first out. And I had to back up the driveway. After I hit the snow banks several times, my buddy offered to back up my car for me. It was quite a hoot to watch me.

5. I sewed all my own clothes through most of High School. Yep, pants, jackets, dresses, you name it. For Home Ec in HS, my girlfriend and I chose a plaid fabric for the obligatory jumper we all had to make. The teacher doubted us, but we lined ‘em up just fine, thank you. Around the age of 14 I bought my first pair of blue jeans, and the thrill of the sew dwindled from there. Right now I could not sew a straight line if I tried. I have thought about taking out the sewing machine to try it on cards, though. Why not?

6. Spring is my absolute favorite season of the year. It is in the 50’s in the morning and gets up into the low 70’s by the afternoon. PERFECT! I do not even bother with a jacket. It is clear and sunny and wonderful. If it stayed like this all year, I’d probably be happy.

That's it! More than you ever cared to know about moi, I am sure.

Now I am off to spend the rest of this evening making cards for tomorrow's Farmers Market; it should be a glorious day weather-wise, too! Oh, and my Brother's b'day is next week, so his card is officially late even before it's been made. I hate when that happens.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Inspiration, Times Two!

Did you ever see a technique, or just something you had never thought to try before, and you thought, "Hmmmm ...I'll have to try that sometime."? Yeah, me too, and it never happens. But then you see it again, like right away?! Well that is what sets me in motion!

Case in point: I got this very cool card yesterday (only parts of these are shown since I did not make them, and I did not bother to get permission to post them...I am so bad.) Anyway, this is the bottom of the card I got yesterday:

My first thought was, "Stamping on striped paper?! Love it!" Then I thanked the sender and filed the idea away in what was left of my brain after a 8 hours at The Day Job.

Then today I got this card (again, only parts shown):

I just love the stamping right on the patterned paper! (and the rest of the card, too!)

Hey, wait a minute! I have this paper! Sigh ...

So off I went to see what I could do with stuff from my own stash. I took out some of the new paper I had purchased on Sunday, partly out of guilt for having bought it (we Jewish Mothers can do guilt really well), partly because I had not put it away, yet, and it was still on the Dining Room chair (no room on the table), and partly because I knew I had coordinating sheets of paper side-by-each in the bag.

And this is what came out:

First up we have a simple Leslie-style card. You know, one layer, ribbon, sentiment ... a Leslie Card. At least that's what my customers call it.

This paper is from the 29th Street Market Collection by My Mind's Eye (had to go look that up ...), and it is actually two-sided card stock, not paper. Soooo, even though I had taken out SU card stock to try and match it up, I decided to go crazy and just use the new card stock as the card. Like I said, crazy! I know!

The really wild part is where I took out my new Ranger Distress Ink and stamped something on the striped card stock. Whoa - stop me now!

Believe it or not, until Sunday I owned no (zero, zip) Distress Ink. MB (who probably owns all of them) helped me pick a color - old paper - that she thought I might actually use. Thanks, MB, it is perfect!

Of course, the card needed ribbon, and of course, I could not find one in my embarrassingly-large collection that looked right. I finally settled on this green satin, but I think the satin is wrong for this card stock. Oh, well. I only made one.

The stamped flower image is from SU's Fabulous Flowers, and the sentiment is from one of the retired SU All Year Cheer sets, and is stamped in Choc Chip.

I kinda like how it turned out!

This next one uses the same card stock and ink, but I used a stamp from the SU Petal Prints set.

I switched to SU's Spring Moss grosgrain ribbon. I also stamped the leaf image on the accent strip, but it is kinda difficult to see.

I futzed with the sentiment a while and ended up stamping it on the back of a scrap of the striped card stock and tearing the edges to match the torn edge of the card. I even went a little nuts and inked the torn edges of everything with the Distress Ink.

At the last second I added that swirl clip thing - stuck it on with Liquid Glue. It needed something, and without my traditional layers, where was I to put a brad?

Maybe not my best work, but it certainly gives me room to stretch my wings and try new things. ;-)

Oh, and I got an email from one of my beloved three (maybe four) readers. One who took my Candy With A Catch challenge and used a piece of ribbon I sent her. Check out what she did at her blog. I love this idea! She has sent me a piece of her ribbon in exchange for mine, and as soon as I get it I will get right to work! (Apparently the US Mail takes longer to get something from VA to MD - neighboring states, than they do to get something cross-country...go figure.) If anyone else wants to play, let me know. I have a ton of that ribbon.

And one last parting thought: Squirrels are cute, but they are rodents, and unlike the cute chipmunk, they are mean. Mean, I tell you! I think I really pissed them off when I got my squirrel-proof bird feeder, so they are taking it out on my postage-stamp yard. One of the reasons I stopped planting tomatoes, in addition to the lack of sun, is the darn squirrels! No sooner would a tomato turn red, I'd go out to pick it and it would have a bite out of it! Like I said, darn squirrels!

Ahem. Okay, back to the moss. As I looked at my back yard this evening, I was shocked to see this:

Just look at this! See that shredded moss? See that red arrow? That's where the moss used to be. Sigh. Kitty and I had to go out and put it back. Well, I had to put it back. She needed to chew on all the nice green weeds so she can throw up on my carpet later.

Now here is some well-rooted, happy moss:

Please ignore that pesky weed growing up through the well-rooted, happy moss. I'll get to it another day.

Well, it looks like it's time to hit the hay. I finished my last book (yes, past lights-out time) last night, and I need to go start the next one!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Some Recent Discoveries

This evening I feel like posting random discoveries of mine from over the past 36 hours. And what a 36 hours it has been! This could be quite revealing. ;-)

1. I am not capable of sleeping past 6:00 am. Even on weekends. Ever. And heaven knows I try! On weekend mornings I find I actually wake up earlier than my alarm goes off on weekdays. How sad is that? I lie (lay?) there, wide awake, and the ole brain starts to make its lists, and I am doomed. I get up and wander around in my jammies, just doing random stuff. Sometimes I make coffee, sometimes I read email. Eventually I shower to really wake up and become a semi-productive member of society. But sleep in? Not.

2. I should not go to my LSS right after I've had a bad sales day. I had planned my LSS Field Trip for this past Tuesday, but I was sick on Monday so I went to work on Tuesday, figuring I'd just go to the LSS on Sunday. Saturday night I spoke with MB and she decided to come along for the ride. Actually, she offered to drive. When we arrived, I picked up my order and started my usual browsing of all the goods on the shelves and displays. This is one of those LSS where you'd better grab a basket when you walk in the door, because you'll grab stuff off the shelves on the way to the counter to pick up your pre-ordered items. And I saw a lot of stuff I liked. When Recollections went out of business, this LSS bought a bunch of their paper display racks and she now stocks a ton of paper. Rats! One of my weaknesses. I used to be safe in that department since she had a small but tasteful paper section before. I now have quite the collection myself! Sigh.

3. I should never go to the LSS with MB. No, she is not enabling. Well, she is, but not forcefully so. If I show her something as if to say, "Do I need this?" she might just look at it and say, "Oh, cool! Do they have another one, because *I* sure need it!" As if this would talk me out of buying something...

4. I should never go to the LSS when the owner is there. Talk about enablement! But she is SUPER! She knows your name and remembers what your last special order was, what did not come in yet, and what she will need to pull out of the box and hold for you when it does come in. Like I said, SUPER. And enabling. She was teaching a class with the new Mini Clipboards from Stampendous:

I knew about this class ahead of time, and had agreed with MB to not take the class, but to just get some of the clipboards to play with on my own. So out the owner comes with the bag o'clipboards and asks me how many I want. See? Enablement! (I took two packages.)

Then later the owner came to the front of the store and rummaged through a box of stuff waiting to be put out on display. She pulls out this mini craft knife:

Then she looks up at MB and me and asks if we've seen these. Um, no... do we really need it? Oh, yes we do! DARNIT! We each took one and tossed it into our respective baskets. The owner just smiled and went back to her class. Her work with us was done. Sigh.

5. Stamping, or even just buying stamps, is fattening. I have reported this finding in earlier posts, but now it has been confirmed. And scientifically, too, I might add. MB has been losing weight. Not because she is trying to, but because she is in a hiring frenzy for her family biz, and she gets to deal with teenagers and their parents for 4 months each year. Just about now she is close to postal, and yesterday was her much-needed day off. She called me this evening and told me that the greasy and very yummy hamburger we'd stopped for after the LSS extravaganza made her gain back 2 pounds. See, scientific proof. And she even stamped something, too, which we are sure contributed to the weight gain. (Oh, and CB, if you are reading this, MB had a Veggie Burger. With grilled mushrooms. And bacon. And fries. Me, too.)

6. If you are in line at UPS, and someone comes in after you, they get to go first. No, really. It must be so, because it happened to me this evening. I have no idea where these rules are written, but I tell you the guy who got in line behind me tonight handed the lady his pick-up slip ... even reached around me to do it. I looked at the woman and she noticed I had a huge - H U G E - box, then noticed it had a pre-paid label, so she took it, then went back to the guy behind me. Truly amazing.

7. I did not lose my DVD remote. I thought it had gone missing, but it was just under something on my coffee table. I only plowed through the stack of papers 6 or 10 times this weekend, but never saw it. It is found! Now I can watch the movie I got from Netflix about 6 weeks ago.

8. I did not lose my Basic Gray and Basic Black markers. I actually have 3 or 4 of the black, so all but one of them are still missing in action, but I did find one of them, plus my Basic Gray one. I had stowed them in a safe place, which usually means I will never see them again. I am still looking for my Basic Gray reinker. I need Lo-Jack for my stampin' stuff.

9. Just because I have a schnitload of ribbon does not mean I will ever find one to go with the card I am making. I swear to you, I have gone through all my ribbon spools trying to find a color that coordinates - not even a match, just a 'goes okay' - for several cards, and I am at a loss to understand why I am failing so. You'd think this fact would make me stop buying. Nope.

10. If you get into a new habit of suplementing the cat's free-feed dry cat food with wet food at dinnertime, she will remind you loudly, over and over and over again, that you are home from work and you have not yet brought out the good stuff. She might even scratch at some nearby furniture, just to piss you off, then remind you again that she has not seen wet food yet this evening. 'Scuse me a sec ........ okay, I am back.

11. If you buy ribbon because you just know it will go with something, it won't. Here is an example:

This card uses the Mike's purple and yellow ribbon that I just knew would be a perfect match. But you know what? After several hours of futzing, I am not so sure. I have several failed attempts at drafts that are definitely not blog-worthy, but this is one that survived the cut. It was made as a b'day card for MB, as she feels like banging her head on something most of the time these days.

If you can get past the bad lighting, you might see the ribbon.

This is one of my Viva Las Vegas Stamps sentiments. This might be a good seller if I can get the right color combo .... I know a guy at work that could use one of these right about now ....

Since I had the Pale Plum out, too, and had all the sentiments nicely layered on colors I was no longer lovin', I pulled out a ribbon that does kinda go with the rest of things:

I also used my bought-long-ago, but just-now-taken-out-of-the-package Cuttlebug embossing folder to give the background of this card some character. I think plain cards are boring, though I am constantly challenged as to how to correct that. But hey, if it were easy, they wouldn't pay us. Oh, wait, I do not get paid for doing this...forgot myself there for a moment.

Here's another one, just a different sentiment.

(Sorry, kids, you will have to enlarge these if you really want to see them. I am too garaged to just crop out the good stuff...thank you.)

And another. Love that dog image (Inky Antics). I also pair him up with a 'Celebrate Silliness' sentiment I have.

Oh, and these sentiments are from the SU Smarty Pants set from the Spring/Summer Catalog. I actually mounted it this weekend to use it. ;-)

One more. Oh, wait, this one uses the ill-fated "it will go" ribbon. Eh? Maybe not so much ... Click on the pic to get a good gander, and let me know what you think.

12. It is graduation season. Not having kids in local schools, I tend to forget these things. I do not usually make a lot of special-occasion-type cards, because after the event has passed, I have to store the cards that did not sell, usually for another year. Like I have space for this! But Graduation cards seem to last all year round. You have your usual May-June frenzy, then you have your August 'needed to retake that @#$& Senior Econ class' group. And your December 'missed it by a semester' group. So I keep them around. But my collection is really sad, so I decided last night to make some new ones.

This is what I had as of last night. I made two each of four colors: Hunter, Burgundy, Red and Navy. Every year I look up the local High School colors, and every year I am stumped, so I have come up with Plan B. Plan B states that most schools have a rich color as one of their two main colors, so by only using one color on a card, I have a chance of hitting a few of them by at least 50%. Of course, my sons' HS colors were light blue and silver, so forget that. But I would hope to hit a few of the local schools. Actually, last year most people buying the cards did not know the color of the HS or college they were buying them for (for which they were buying them), so it really does not matter much.

So ANYway, you will notice I could not decide on which sentiment to use, so I made one of each. Also, I used the Marvy oval punch to punch out the grad image (A Muse), then realized I did not like the next size up as the under-layer - too big of a border of black. So improvising as I usually do, I punched two black ovals the same size as the white one and just offset them a bit behind the white one. I really like how it came out.

This evening I decided the cards were boring without something in the background. I was going to either Versamark some star images or emboss them, but then I remembered I had some sticky gold stars in my stash, so I grabbed them and created this:

I think they add just enough oomph to make it look more finished.

13. You can still get good customer service. Once in a while, anyway. A few years ago I had new windows and a new front door installed. The windows are guaranteed, even if some neighbor kid puts a ball through it. So I emailed them on Sunday to ask if the weather strip on the bottom of the front door was covered under the same, excellent plan. Within the hour - on a Sunday! - I had a reply that my email was being forwarded to their Customer Service department. Wow! I was impressed. And I know it was not a form auto-response since the sentences were so poorly constructed, but I digress. The point is: they got right back to me!

This morning at work I was minding my own business, and looking quite busy, too, when I got a phone call. It was the company switchboard operator, transferring a call from the window company. Turns out they knew who I worked for, but did not have my personal work number, so instead of just leaving me a message on my home answering machine, they called the main number for my company and had the operator hook us up!

But wait, it gets better! Not only do they have the part in stock, they gave me the first appointment of the day, and this Thursday! They actually care!!! How refreshing! (Man, am I channeling Sally Fields right now or what...)

14. Cats age, as do people. My kitty, who is nearing the 12 1/2 year mark, has always been challenged jumping up onto, and down from, surfaces, even when I first got her at 3 1/2. She must have had some trauma in the early part of her life... Sometimes I find myself reminding her she is a cat, and she can do it! However, as I slow down, so does she. I had to pick up her food bowl last year because of impending Ant Season, and I put it on a small bookcase in the kitchen. I also put a stool next to the bookcase so she could get up to her food bowl. That started to become tough for her, so I moved her bowl down to the floor, but I have it up at her neck level on top of something, to avoid the dreaded ants. Now that I did not need the stool in the Kitchen any more, I pondered what to do with it.

Oh, did I mention that when I got this water fountain thing for my end table, she adopted it as her new water bowl? Okay, now you know. So her water bowl is in the Living Room, on an end table. She went to jump up on the table last night and missed. So I have moved the little stool to the Living Room. For her. Poor dear.

15. If you read in bed, and you are reading a really good book, you will read far beyond the time you needed to be asleep already in order to wake up and go to the Day Job. I know this. I do it every night. Even if I go to bed early so I can read more, I still read way past lights-out time.

And for my last revealed discovery for this evening:
16. If you neatly fold a polo shirt, and put it on the pile of newly-folded laundry, then you fold, say, some blue jeans, and put that on top of the polo shirt, then you take the whole pile to the bedroom and put it on the bottom of the bed (you will put it away later, right?), then on Monday morning, when you are bleary-eyed and praying you remembered to fold the stuff from the dryer, and you retrieve your polo shirt from the pile of clean clothes, it will be wrinkled beyond repair. But it is Monday, and you really do not care too awfully much. If anyone were to say anything to me about it (and they wouldn't), I'd blame it on the seat belt. Seriously! Did you ever wear a just-ironed shirt that contained even 1% Linen content? If you so much as look at it, it wrinkles. I would look like I'd slept in that shirt by the time I got to work, so a few wrinkles in a cotton polo shirt won't bother me. Not one bit.

Okay, my plans going forward for this week include touching, fondling, and maybe even using some of my newly-acquired stash. I'll identify the new items as I break into them. ;-) For now, it is past 9:00, so if I go to bed now, I might be able to mostly finish that book I am reading ....

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I Love Mother Nature!

After two weeks of almost steady rain, Mother Nature blessed us with a picture-perfect day! I spent the day at the first annual Jubilation Day celebration at our City Hall band shell. We had a series of performers all day long and after 5 1/2 hours of Gospel singing, I feel almost righteous.

Unfortunately, no one was shopping, so I had a dismal day sales-wise. I sold two (2) cards, and one of those was a pity sale. I kid you not. As soon a vendor would bail, the guys from the City were right there to take down the city-provided canopy. I joked with one of the guys as he passed my spot, asking him if he wanted my canopy, too. Just give me a reason to pack up and leave! Please! But no, instead he bought a card. I told him I do not do pity sales, but he insisted, so I sold it to him. That made it official: I took in the same amount I paid the Kettle Corn guy for kettle corn (!) and a soft pretzel.

Although, one of the performers did ask me if I would do a custom card for her, and make her about 20 of them. I got her business card, and she took mine, so hopefully that will translate into a sale. I hope!

So I dragged my sorry butt and my lunch bag down my steps when I got home and looky what awaited me on my front walk:

Well, he started out on my front walk, but as soon as I went in to get my camera and came back out, he had mosied on over to the mulch, where it would be almost impossible to capture him on film, er... pixels. But I tried! I know chipmunks are rodents, but isn't he cute?!

And then we have this:

This is a sorry excuse for whatever kind of plant it is (Salvia?), but there is a story here.

I kept seeing all these in full flower, so one year I bought a few and planted them in my back yard spit-of-a garden. Over the years, they got sadder and sadder as the sun got less and less because my tree keeps growing and growing, creating more and more shade.

So last year I moved them to the front of the building where they would get at least morning sun. They slowly died, or so I thought. They were nothing but brittle sticks by last fall, so I pulled them up and trashed 'em.

This spring it was still just dirt. Then a few green leaves sprouted. Then the landscape guys (Condo Association landscape guys, not my personal landscape guys, puleeze!) mulched around it. Then it got tall. And this is what I have now. From dead sticks to a new plant! This thing must really want to live!

So here I am, weary from too much fresh air, and I'd planned to just lie on the couch and watch a movie. But noooo, my DVD remote went missing, and I love the pause button, so I may just have to stamp something. Or I could lay on the couch, watch Food Network reruns, then go to bed early so I can rest up for my LSS trip tomorrow. The options are staggering.