Monday, June 30, 2008

What a Weekend!

This weekend is not one I plan to re-live any time soon. Let's recap, shall we?

Saturday was a very long but rewarding day. Most of the day, the sky looked like this:

Then it would go back to a blue sky with fluffy white clouds and a blazing sun, then back to this again. The third time it looked like this greyness ...

... this happened. It was just a little rain. We were under a pavilion, so most of us were okay, but we did get rained on sideways. Then it stopped and the sun came out. Crazy, I tell you, just crazy! Unfortunately the humidity did not go away, so damp and hot, we packed up and left, and our Saturday market came to an end. All in all, it was a good day, though.

One aside for which I am giddy with glee... The corner at the pavilion is a three-way stop, and the word 'stop' is used here very loosely. The wacko drivers do provide us with limitless entertainment while playing Chicken in the intersection and arguing over who was less in the wrong, but we are just waiting for someone to actually die. We are sure it is only a matter of time.

So Saturday I spied a City policeman on a bicycle right outside the pavilion. Their squad cars have bike racks, and they often park their cars and bike through the neighborhood, chatting it up with residents. He was stopped and talking with someone, so I went up to him, waited my turn, and told him he could get a month's quota of traffic violations if he would only stand on this corner on a Saturday. So he did!!! And not 3 minutes later he pulled someone over. He pulled a LOT of people over and ticketed them for not stopping. He left for something else he had to do, but he came back and stopped even more people. Man, did we feel good about that!

Okay, back to business. Have you ever seen garlic plants?

This is what garlic looks like when harvested. You probably only see the bulb parts in the stores. Sometimes you will see braids of garlic, where they braid all those tops. Those are very cool.

I also picked up some blackberries in addition to the cherries I got in my CSA. Check out this monster. I had a bunch of them in my basket.

And peaches, oh the peaches! Some of them got rained on, and the farmer was going to toss them since they were not going to last the night, so I took some home and made fruit smoothies for my dinner guests. They were yummy!

Speaking of dinner, I had to do this to have people over:

Look now, because I have not seen the naked top of this table in about 18 months, and it may not be seen again for another 18 months. I took the opportunity to oil the table (which is why it is so shiny), kindof to give it a drink after the long drought.

Dinner went well, and we sat around and ate too much, as we always do. I used paper plates and plastic cups, so cleanup was a breeze. ;-)

Sunday morning I packed up and went to my Sunday Farmers Market, and most of the day the skies looked like this:

Look familiar? And it was stinkin' hot and humid, too. The market was slow, but my special order was picked up, and by the end of the day it turned out to be a pretty good day sales-wise. I cannot remember being so dripping hot, though.

Oh, and the BBQ guy was there! And he got a standing ovation when he showed up - it was pretty funny! Since we also had an Italian Ice vendor (OMG, it was good!) and I'd just finished a very large serving of Strawberry-Lemon Ice, I was too full and too hot to contemplate eating hot BBQ, but it sure smelled amazing. I will definitely save room for some next time.

When I got home Sunday, I showered to wash off the hot, then laid down on the couch to rest my eyes. Two hours later, I woke up and decided I'd seen enough of the table top, so within 10 minutes it was covered again, and I made this:

I first saw these on SCS, and I Favorited this one. The tutorial for these can be found on Diana Gibb's blog here. The directions are very easy to follow and they are really cute. I think I grabbed a too-busy piece of DS paper, but I think I may offer this up as one of my five projects for my July classes.

In real life, the Wild Wasabi card stock really does match the DS papers....just remember who took the picture.

As if this was not enough excitement for one weekend, I got my new SU Decor Elements order today. Woo-hoo! I got the Flourish Frame, the lower-case Alphabet and an extra E and C. I'd planned to put up the frame and then spell out 'Create' inside of it. Having today off, I decided to put the items up where I'd planned, but, well, let's just say apparently I cannot handle anything larger than my head.

I started with the frame. All went well until I realized there were actually three parts to it, and I wanted the middle part of the frame. After much wrestling with the bugger, I got it off the backing as instructed, and then I promptly forgot the rest of the instructions that said to be careful not to let the rub-on fold over onto itself. I was left with this sticky mess:

Okay, the wrinkled-up part was my frustration, but inside this wad of paper is a much-stuck-together former Flourish Frame. So sad.

Then I proceeded to Plan B, which was to just put up the word by itself. That came out pretty well, I think.

It is almost straight, too. I drew a pencil line with a ruler and a level, and the line was straight. Except for the cockeyed capital 'C', the rest of it came out okay.

One of the reasons I got the whole lower-case alphabet instead of just the individual letters I needed is I did the math, and even though it worked out to be a little more money, I got all those extra letters to use somewhere else, so I could do this:

This is where my customers sit when they place their orders. A little gauche, I know, but it will drive home the point that these can be used almost anywhere.

THEN, I remembered I also got the white Baroque emblems, so I did this:

I originally wanted to use them on the Bathroom mirror, but they are larger than I thought they'd be (I totally ignored the measurements given in the brochure ...) so I opted for this larger wall instead.

Then I rested.

The rest of today will be a lazy day. Maybe a little laundry, some feeding, and definitely some creating. Actually, my little Brother turns 50 in August, and I am planning his very special gift. Guess I should get started on that, too.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Do They Make A 13-Step Program?

I've heard of 12-step programs, but I think I may need something a little more intensive. Earlier this year I invested in all the Nestabilities. The whole shebang - all the circles, squares, ovals and rectangles, both plain and scalloped. Hey, it was a 'deal' if you got them all!

Then I tried a few of them in my Cuttlebug, and I decided I really did not need them after all, so I sold them on SCS. Talk about a 3-ring circus! I had so many emails in my PM mailbox, it filled up! And I was going to the PO every night for about a month. I finally sold all of them, recouped almost all of my initial expenditure, and I made a lot of people very happy.

Then I got this special order for some cards last weekend, and I sat down last night to make them. I got them all done, right up to the little scallop tags, when I realized after several minutes of searching and trying several of my punches and searching some more, that I'd made the nicely-nested scallops ... with my Nestabilities. Aaaaaaaugh!!!!!

So guess what I did today? Can you think what it might be? Hmmmmmm? Yep - I bought all the Nestabilities again. CRAZY, I know!!!! But now I simply must use them, or I'll never live it down.

Next up: Will the Crooked Stamper cave and buy the Scor-Pal? Stay tuned! You just never know!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

DC-Area Driving, Revisited

I have previously posted my interpretation of the DC-area driving laws. I feel most qualified to do this, having driven these roads for 20+ years, 17+ of those in my current daily commute. These laws were summarized here, and they still hold true.

But today I've decided to expound on the good things about DC-area traffic. Yes, you read that right - there are a few good things, or at least predictable things, about our traffic. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Federal Holidays. Living spitting-distance from our Nation's Capital, we have the singular pleasure of commuting with Federal workers. So when there is a Federal Holiday, none of those people get out of bed, so they are not on the roads. Sweet.

2. School Holidays. When the schools are closed, traffic is much reduced. So a snow day, or a Teacher In-Service Day ... whatever, means none of the busses are running, none of the parents are driving their kids, none of the High School kids are driving, and most of the myriad of Private Schools are also closed. Sweet.

3. Federal Holidays where the Schools are also closed. Read 1 & 2 above. Sweeeeeeet.

4. School is out for the Summer. This is about 100 strung-together #2's from above.

5. August. Washington, DC was built on a swamp; there is a reason Congress recesses in August. For locals, that means we can finally get a seat at a lot of usually-booked-up restaurants. For commuters, that means none of the members of Congress or any of their staffs are driving to work when we are. Yay! August is also the biggest vacation month of the year here (Washington was built on a swamp, remember?), so most people leave town for a week or two in August. Double-Yay!!

6. Friday's in the Summer (especially in August). With the popularity of tele-commuting (except with my Company), and with Friday being the most popular day for people to take off or work from home, the roads on Summer Friday's are like ghost towns. Or maybe like normal traffic in other parts of the country. All I can say is I love 'em! I can actually get up to 55 mph on the expressway on a Friday in the Summer!

Now for the most hated day of the year: Labor Day. Don't get me wrong...I love the Monday off. But what is the day after Labor Day in most areas? The first day of school. Can you say, "commuter's nightmare"? But today, I am just sooo happy it is Summer in our Nation's Capital. I can get up late and still be at work early. Ya gotta love it!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Old Reliables

I have only been stamping for a little over 5 years, and I have to say that I feel each year I grow as a stamper. I learn new techniques, I learn a little more about techniques I already know, I find new stuff ... it is all a journey. ('Journey' - man, I do crack myself up sometimes!) So it is a rare thing for me to go back into the archives and re-make a card from several years ago. That's years with an 's'.

But this baby is a card-maker-who-sells-her-stuff blessing:

Not only is it a cool card, it works for so many different occasions. I have it in the Sympathy section, but I pulled it out twice this weekend when people asked for a Sympathy-but-not-like-someone-died card. I think both were intended for people going through some kind of personal crisis, and my customers were looking for something a litte more than a Thinking Of You card. They both loved this one, and I am now out of them. Sold out!

So I did what I almost never do: I went back into the ole archives and made some more. I even pulled out last year's In Color card stock and inks to make it happen. I just love this combination of Vintage Violet, Marigold Morning and Very Vanilla, and the inks just go so well together (Cranberry Crisp, Marigold Morning, Buckeroo Blue and True Thyme.) See? Hoarding can be a good thing!

The stamps are by Endless Creations, and I got them at a LSS a few years ago. I believe they are keepers!

Now for a radical change of topic, this guy is a total experiment:

I have so many of the A Muse building stamps that I felt compelled to try and use them. During my Brownstone Marathon this past weekend I had a few of these retired (and hoarded) Raised-Edge Note Cards left over, so I played and this is what came out. I am not lovin' it so much, but I think it has potential. I've only made a few, so I'll test the waters this weekend to see what the shopping populace thinks. I'll call it Market Research. ;-)

By the way, all these photos are crooked because I am working in about an 8"x8" stamping space, and it doubles as my photography spot. To take the photos I kinda have to lay my head down on one side and take the picture cockeyed. There you go - cockeyed pictures! There is only so much I can do with the tools I have. Please bear with me. I thank you.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

To Market, To Market

This was my first weekend doing two markets - one on Saturday and one on Sunday. It was an experiment, if only to see if I stayed vertical the whole time. I did, but Sunday is not over yet....

Saturday's market - my regular one that I have done for 5 years now - went well, especially since the weather was way nicer than predicted. Can't trust those weather-predicting people! It was sunny and warm, but not too humid, so it was tolerable. Business was fairly brisk, and we had an okay day.

Lookey what I got:

Have you ever seen purple onions like this before? I hadn't, so it was the perfect reason to buy some.

And the farmer from south of us has these already this season. YUM-O!

The highlight of my day, aside from some pretty good sales :-), was the arrival of Krum's adoptive Mom with recent pictures of him, and he is gorgeous! He is just shy of a year old now - my, how time flies! She is going to make me a copy of one of the pics so I can show you all.

After I got home, I knew I needed to finish watercoloring all those townhouse cards, but I laid down on the couch, just to rest my eyes, you know. Two hours later, I woke up. Yikes! I spent the rest of the evening finishing the cards, and I actually got them all done!

This morning I went to my Sunday market for the first time. It is the first year for this market, and it is a lot larger than the Saturday one I do. They have several bakers, a guy making omelettes, today they had a cooking demo, and they have live music. I had a pretty good day sales-wise. Lots of new people who loved the idea of not-so-standard cards. :-) I sold one pack of the townhouse cards, plus I got a special order for 5 Thank You cards. And I met a LOT of great people. From what everyone told me, today was an unusually slow day, so I guess I could do even better with more traffic. I told them I'll be there next week, too.

But to show you what I do when things are slow ... I had my camera, so I decided to do a study in tent anchors. You know, those heavy things you put on your tent corners to keep it from blowing away when a big wind hits. A lot of people had empty gallon jugs filled with water or sand, but for me, I'd need to store them somewhere, so they are not really an option, so I had to be more creative. I was actually surrounded by a lot of tent anchor creativity, so here ya go:

Here's mine - 20-lb containers of kitty litter. They are compact (I can store them in my car) and useful (I bring one inside when I need one for the litter box.) I am actually down to three in the car since I dipped into the reserves, so if we had a big wind, I hope the three I have would do.

My booth neighbor had these hanging tubes, filled with something heavy like concrete or maybe just sand. Very professional-looking, but not very practical, in my opinion. But he's been doing this for many, many years, and maybe he has a bigger place than I do, and can store a uni-tasker like this one.

Across from me was a booth with wicked-good bread, and they had this on one of their tent legs. Practical, but not nearly heavy enough. But he was a pretty big guy, so I bet if he stood in the middle of his tent and just held onto the center, he'd be fine.

This is the sand bag version. Some tents come with bags you can fill with sand, but I think this guy went out on his own. Very heavy and very effective, if you have some place to store them, which I do not. Also, I think he actually needs to attach these to the tent for them to work very well. I wonder how many of these 'anchors' were there just to appease the market organizers. ;-)

You will notice the tent behind this one is not anchored at all. Baaaad people! :-) I'd probably bungie my tent onto the one with the sand bags ...

While I was taking these pictures, the photographer in the next booth came out to talk with me about my camera. I told him how the photographer at my Saturday market told me I need to upgrade, but this guy said since I am not blowing up the pics - just printing them for cards, there was no reason to upgrade unless I was not happy with the pics, which I am (happy). But he said if I do upgrade, I should get one with separate lenses, which sounded expensive, plus it would not fit in the bag I haul to the markets each week, so not upgrading sounds better all the time. Think how many stamps and how much paper I can get instead! Hey, I think I've just justified all my purchases so far this year!!! I love it when a plan comes together!

Then we noticed the cool clouds in the sky. It was supposed to be really hot and stormy and nasty today, and we kept looking for evidence coming our way, so that is why we were looking at the sky. So I took this photo. Like I said, a slow day. I'll try to use this one a card, somehow.

Right now I feel another nap coming on .... this may be my ticket to a decent Monday at the Day Job. Off to snooze a bit. Catch ya later!

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Eagle Has Landed

Remember that card blockage I had the other day? Well, the lovely ladies over at Stamping Critique made enough great suggestions that I finally got a clue. Here's what I ended up making:

I think it came out just fine. :-)

Before the blockage set in, I'd made this one; all by myself, too! This one is much closer to the original one I'd cased from the May Stamp Of The Month over at Cornish Heritage Farms, so it was a little less challenging than the one above. Sometimes it just happens that way, ya know?

I have my Saturday and Sunday Farmers Markets this weekend, so tonight and tomorrow evening I'll be doing a lot of watercoloring! I've made a bunch of these:

I made some for both the markets, each with the name of the respective town. I should be quite occupied - I think I have about 100 of these waiting for me ... I guess I'd best get started. :-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Card Blockage

I am in the midst of a serious creative blockage. I made a card and it came out nothing like I'd imagined it. Don't you hate it when your idea does not work when ink hits card stock? Yeah, me, too. So the little guy is over at Stamping Critique being, well, critiqued, then modifed by moi, then re-posted and critiqued again. Go check it out and see the progress! And feel free to comment, too! I need all the help I can get ... As soon as I feel I have it juuuust right, I'll post it here. But not until then!

So as I wander around in here, I do a little moving of Stuff, then mosey back to look at The Card, then I move something else. It is very boring and very non-productive.

Remember I told you I had 10 people coming over for dinner on Saturday, and that I needed to find my Living Room floor? Well, I started that project, and I even sent out the REMINDER email to everyone. HAHAHA on ME! Dinner is not until the 28th! Phew! So I called off the panic and I am moving stuff around instead of actually putting it away. Hey, I have a WHOLE EXTRA WEEK now to do that, so why do it now when I can put it off until this time next week?

One of the things going on at the same time as the aforementioned panic was a temporary cube move at work. They were replacing the carpet squares under our cubes, so we had to be gone, along with anything breakable. Or heavy. And all that stuff on the floor had to go, too. So since I have 17 years of stuff in my cube, I had a bit of work to do. To try and work on the box content, I took home all the books I never use any more. I used two of the moving boxes they gave us and packed 'em up, with plans to get some plastic storage boxes for the books and haul them out to my storage unit. Yesterday I got some plastic boxes and moved the books out of the cardboard boxes. So where am I going with all this blah, blah, blah?

Anyone with a cat knows that boxes = FUN! And boy, has she had fun with these new additions to our Living Room! Then she got tired.

You know, it must be tough being a cat. You have to get up in the morning and make an appearance in the Bathroom and get your morning hug. Then you have to point out that your water and food bowls are not completely topped off. You get a few treats, then once The Staff has left for work, and you have the whole place to yourself, you nap.

Then mid-day you have to move to the Living Room and follow that sun beam, getting up and moving with it as the hours pass. Finally, you need to find some place in the other room to sleep off all that exertion, so when The Staff returns home, you can meet her at the door and check out any boxes that were delivered and rub your stink all over them to make them yours.

After all that, it is time for a nap to rest up before bed.

Here you can see she decided that sleeping while vertical was not a good idea, so she curled up in the box instead. What a tough life.

Oh, back to stampin', I got accepted by another Farmers Market which is held on Sunday's. I have said in the past that I often find myself saying on Monday's that I need a weekend from my weekend, so can you imagine what I have committed to? I think *I* should be committed. But seriously, I have heard very good things about this market, and I already told them I cannot do every Sunday since I already do a Saturday market, and they are cool with that. One of the things I have heard is there are food vendors, and one of them sells BBQ. Can you say, "Bingo!"? :-) I'll see how it goes this weekend and report back.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Creative Avoidance, Part 36

Part 36? I made that up. Pretty much everything I stamp is helping me to avoid something else I should be doing. It just goes without saying! I am surprised the cat has not run away from home, yet, though I do buy her food and treats, and keep her watered, and she has her sun beams, so I guess she can put up with me. It is probably a good thing I am single, though ...

Anyway, today I am supposed to be working on finding the Living Room floor, but, as I suspected, I got totally distracted by all the things I was touching. I have a policy to never put a stamp away before I use it at least once, which probably explains all the boxes and bags of things laying around here.

First up is my card inspired by the Berry-wearing market customer from yesterday. I took out my new Berry Sorbet card stock and the coordinating patterned paper from PapertreyInk and started to play. One thing I like about the PTI colors is the two pinks not only coordinate with each other, they also go with the other colors that have been released, which makes it very easy for people like me to know which green to use with that pink.

The first thing I did was cut a strip of the patterned paper and match it up with the green. That was boring, and such a Leslie thing to do, I felt I needed to alter it a bit, so I cut it into pieces to get the green to show around the patterned pieces. I went back and forth with the pink ribbons, trying to decide between the light and dark pinks. The light pink is a perfect match, of course (oh, how punny!) but I opted to use the darker pink for more contrast. I played around with the ribbon, trying for this look, and No, I have no idea how it is supposed to be done. I guess I'll read up on that before I try to show anyone else how to do it!

I pulled out my retired SU sentiment - one of the ones I will never, ever, sell - and stamped it in the Berry Sorbet ink. Oh, are you surprised I got the ink, too? I'm not. These are Palette inks, and I am starting to love them.

The coordinating flower stamp set is one I have not bought, so I used a small image from Baroque Motifs to stamp on either side of the sentiment. I also broke out my Dew Drops and tried to stick them down with green Stickles, to get the green to show through the clear dome. That sounds easy, but I struggled with it. The green dot of stickles sat nicely in the center of the flower, but as soon as I stuck on the dew drop it spread out to where you could almost not even see it. Maybe I need to let it dry a little bit before I stick on the embellishment. If anyone out there knows how to do this, please enlighten me!!!!

See - you can kindof see some of the green Stickles through the dew drop, but most of it squished out. ;-(

So then I moved on to this card:

It was inspired by this post on SCS. I was very impressed with how she used so many images to create a scene, and I thought I'd give it a try. I also wanted to use the sentiment before I put it away. :-)

The dog started out on the couch, but it looked too busy in one spot, so I moved him. Now it looks like the furniture does not even belong there, but I was going for "the dog cannot be trusted", so if you are one of those people who never lets the dog on the furniture, he looks guilty on two counts. :-)

I am pretty proud of all the stash items I used here...A Muse card and striped pieces; neglected A Muse stamps; funky ribbon; and even scraps of the patterned paper from that first card, used for the lamp shade and pillows.

I must apologize for this next card. I have no idea where it came from, and it is not my intent to offend anyone. Okay, I do know where this card came from - from the stamp that I just had to buy because it called to me. It is one of the items from my recent Viva Las Vegas Stamps shopping spree, and I needed to use it before I could put it away. I may never use it again; it all depends on how many customers love it or leave me once they see it in the "A Little Out There" section of my boxes.

It also uses a piece of ribbon sent to me by a beloved reader who, for some reason, felt I did not have enough ribbon. I made three of these cards, which used all of this piece of ribbon. Can you say, "Gone."? One less thing to put away!

I now have a small stack of new cards for next week's market, and one load of laundry done. Not too bad. Let's see how long it takes me to actually put anything away today.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Updates: Market, Card, and KRUM!

Today's Market was pretty good. The weather held out on us, and the sun even came out a few times. It was hot, but not oppressive, so we held off setting up the fans. We'll save those for July and August!

Farmer Mike had more 'Maters this week. You know, these:

These look funny because they are Mr. Uglies variety. I bought that one in the middle with the little nubs on it. These are still from the hot house since even where Farmer Mike lives - a few hours south of here - it is too early for vine-ripened out-in-the-field 'maters. That's okay - these are the next best thing! I also got some cukes, and fresh green beans.

Ah, the green beans. I made this recipe with them, but I went a little overboard on the caramelizing part. Some might call it burned (burnt), but I call it really, really brown, yummy goodness.

My CSA share included lettuce, onions, garlic scapes (tops), cillantro, basil, radishes, and beets. I knew the day would come when I had to face the beets, and it has arrived. The beet is one of the few veggies that I detest. I think if I were to get okra, though, it would be worse. But I did get beets today. What to do, what to do ... I have cooked beets before, really, I have. I saw a show many years ago called The Surreal Gourmet, and he made a roasted beet appetizer that he swore would make someone such as myself like beets. I tried it. Given that it had a lot of either Feta or goat cheese in it and it mostly masked the taste of the beets, I guess it passed. But I would not make it again. It was still beets. If I had to choose between pickled or roasted, I'd opt for neither, but lean towards the roasted. When I was a kid, we used to have borscht when we visited my grandparents. Beets, yes, I know. I ate it with a LOT of diced dill pickles and sour cream mixed in. Can you tell beets are not my favorite thing on the planet?

So as I did my marathon veggie cleaning this evening, I put the beets in some foil and roasted them. They are cooling now, and I am still undecided as to what to do with them. I have a week to figure it out. Next week I'll probably get more beets, plus I have already been warned I'll get some more kale. Lucky for me I also bought more raspberries, and I blended them with my remaining pitted sweet and sour (all mixed up) cherries to create this week's blended fruit drink. At least I am getting my fruits and veggies, which was the whole point of doing the CSA.

Enough about 'bout some stampin'?!

Remember this guy? This is a version of my Inspiration Card from the other day. I still thought it needed something, so I added that little tab thing over the left side of the ribbon.

Here is a little detail (I love a closeup!) ;-) It was very easy to do! I just punched out a short row of the scallops with my slit punch, cut out one section, lined it up, marked and punched the holes for the brads...done! I kinda like it! I made two of each - with and without the little tab. I'll get some shopper opinions next week.

And lastly, remember Krum? The little kitten stowaway one of the farmers discovered last year in her truck? If not, you can read about him here, here and here. Today, Krum's Mom stopped by for some veggies, and we begged her for an update. She said he has the most gorgeous coat ... a blue-gray, and very soft. He's all grown up, and he's built like a wild cat, with his back legs longer than the front, which makes him a very good jumper. She said he is the sweetest thing, and we were all soooo happy to have found him a good home. ;-)

Well, I am supposed to be cleaning the Living Room to find the floor, but as I suspected would happen, I got distracted by some of my Papertrey stash, largely because someone at today's market was wearing a shirt and matching Crocs the color of PTI's Berry Sorbet, so you can understand that I simply had to act on that bit of is really not my fault.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dippin' Into The Stash

Ever since I bought this sentiment, I've had this card in my head. Tonight - it met paper!

This was a major dive into The Stash, and yes, I am very proud. The dog is part of an Emerson stamp I have had for a month or two; I just inked him without the sentiment that accompanies his image.

The patterned paper has been sitting on top of a pile of other papers in The Other Room for about 6 months, so tonight it got used! At first I was planning to use it for a manly card, but I thought it would a nice touch with the dog, and I really liked the blue in the pattern - I chose Not Quite Navy to use with it. In real life (as opposed to my photo) it is a very close match.

The ribbon is from my last LSS shopping extravaganza, and the brads are from my "must have them all" purchase from SU a month or two ago, trying to fill out my brad collection.

Let's take a moment and talk about the ribbon. I have learned a valuable lesson this evening about printed ribbon, especially printed ribbon with a definite 'top' and 'bottom' to the pattern. I use mostly side-agnostic ribbons (is that even right?) know what I am trying to say ... ribbon that does not care if you turn it upside down or inside out when you tie it. Well, that is not this ribbon.

THIS is this ribbon. Obviously, if you want the words to show, you have to tie it right, right?

Here is attempt #1. I threaded the ribbon around the card stock with the words sitting right-side up, thinking that it was the correct thing to do. Nope, at least not how *I* tie knots. I even tried tying it upside down, to no avail. So I turned the ribbon over and tried it again.

Much better! Unfortunately, to get this, I had to do .....

this. I guess it needed to be upside-down somewhere...

So this was a lesson learned for me. Let's take bets on if it will influence my future purchase of printed ribbons. ;-)

Moving on... I found this photo on the Verve blog:

It is an inspiration challenge, and while I do not usually take these on, I was likin' this bed spread pattern, so I thunk about it for a while. Then I forgot where I'd seen it. Then I searched and I searched and I stumbled upon this next photo:

This is some bedding I found in my desperate search (I forget where ... ), and I liked the combination of the pattern with the stripes. Then I re-discovered the Verve one. Isn't that always the way things happen?

So naturally, I did something that was a combination of both photos. It's all about the inspiration, right?

In keeping with our Stash Dippin' theme, I thought to use the now-retired Cerise DS papers that I bought a LOT of for a Stamp Camp last November, and I have a LOT of it left. I wanted a very narrow red & white stripe, but it was not to be, so I made do with what I did have, and I made this:

The sentiment is from my last shopping spree at Viva Las Vegas Stamps. The ribbon and brad are from my stash. The scallop was made with my Slit punch.

I dunno. I think it's okay. The top is a little nekked, but that may be something I have to learn to embrace. If you have any ideas to dress this up a bit, I am open to suggestions.

This weekend sounds like it will involve suffering - on my part, of course. I'll be out in the HH&H on Saturday for the Market, then I get to spend the rest of the weekend trying to find my Living Room floor. It has become my de facto stash overflow storage area, and that is fine by me, except that 10 people will be joining me for dinner next Saturday evening, so I must find the floor so they have somewhere to sit. I'll try not to be distracted by all the stamps and papers I'll have to touch along the way ... Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Photos Are Your Friends

I only have a few rules about the cards I make, and one of them is all parts have to be mine. What that means is I will only use a photo if I took the photo myself. People have given me permission to use their photos, but as generaous as that may be, I always turn them down. I want everything on that card to be by me!

I have mentioned previously that I have a 3.2 megapixel camera, which means my photos are even worse than most point-and-shoot cameras you can get today. Even worse than a current pocket camera - the kind as big as a credit card. Yep, worse than that. Add in the fact that I am not the greatest photographer, and I have almost no knowledge about my camera settings except the little knob that tells me I am in Portrait mode versus View mode, and I cannot even make them look better with Photoshop since I do not have Photoshop, I am considerably constrained. But once in a while, it works.

Last weekend was HH&H (Hazy, Hot & Humid), but the sky was a gorgeous blue. And we've had so much rain this season, all the greens are really green! When I looked up at the sky over the neighboring townhomes, this picture was just screaming to be taken, so I obliged:

Now I'm not saying this is a great photograph, but it works for me, so it is good enough. And *I* took it, so that's all I really care about.

Now all I needed was to print it off and figure out what to do with it.

(Isn't it pretty? I mean the colors, of course! This is a straight-out-of-the-camera, unretouched, unmodified photograph. Really!)

I thought and I thought, then I rummaged through my bags of bought-but-not-yet-used stamps, and I pulled out the A Muse Nature Set. This is what I ended up with:

I decided to stamp the owls on a separate piece of card stock instead of directly onto the photo, then I cut them out, colored them and stuck them onto the photo with Dimensionals. I stamped the sentiment right onto the photo, though.

I think it's kinda cute!

That's all for this evening. I have to go get some shut-eye so I can go back to the Day Job in the morning. I have a massaaaaaage scheduled for tomorrow evening, so I should be all relaxed and happy when I get home. And I'll smell good, too! :-)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Crooked Stamper Expounds on the Benefits of Bling

As I have said at least once in the recent past, I feel part of my reason for being is to show others how good they really are in comparison to me. If only to make you feel a tiny bit better about yourselves. I think if I can come out and show you all my crooked stuff, then how bad can yours be? Really!

Today's topic is The Benefits of Bling. I like to think I can recover from almost any stamping-related mishap. Well, anything but that card I made Friday night and, um, threw out. Man, it was not worth saving ....

If you stamp crooked, or schmear something, or generally have an opportunity to embellish (we have no mistakes in stamping, remember? Tragedies, maybe, like that card I buried, but other than that, no actual "mistakes") ... then you know Bling can be your friend. I cannot tell you how many times I have saved a card by adding a little something and telling myself "I meant to do that".

A little aside on not being perfect out of the gate: When I was in college, oh so many moons ago, I took one of the required classes for my then-relatively-new Computer Science major. I was such a screw-up that one of my fellow students gave up helping me. Everything came easily to him, and I seemed to have to work very hard to get to the same point, so I think he just lost patience with me. I would have lost patience with me, too. Now, anyone who has coded long enough to remember green-bar paper remembers dumps. A dump is what the computer does when you mess actually dumps its memory and all its innards in hexidecimal codes, and you have to know how to follow it like the complex road map that it is to figure out what your error is so you can fix it. Nothing like today's in-your-face here's-your-error messages you get. We had to work at it ... uphill ... barefoot ... in the snow ... both directions ...

Fast forward to the final exam. One of the things we had to do was debug a dump. Well guess what?! I knew exactly what to do, because that is all I ever did the whole semester! Guess who struggled with that part of the exam? Mr. My-stuff-is-always-perfect-the-first-time-you-are-a-screw-up. HAHAHA!

Ahem ... So you see I am used to not being perfect, and I just do my best to recover, and sometimes I think I am pretty good at it. Okay, let's move on to today's patient...

I made a bunch of these cards in an attempt to use some of the embarrassingly-large stockpile of SAB rub-ons I still have. I made some black-on-white, green-on-white, brown-on-white, plus some white-on-brown and white-on-black that I layered on white card bases. They all got a piece of ribbon from my stash, too, and let me tell you, brown is not an easy color to match!

I had a few spare moments this afternoon, so I took these out of the Clean Sweep pile and started to put them with envelopes into clear sleeves for sale at next week's market.

Here is one of the black-on-white cards:

It's plain. It's simple. Maybe a little too much of both. Then I spied that schmear on the right side of the rub-on and I knew it had to be covered up somehow. But how?

Then I remembered this:

I have had this for several years, probably from when I first discovered 'gems' and I thought this was them. It wasn't. This is one of those self-contained sticky things you can stick onto an object. Cell phone, maybe? Back pack? I dunno. But I thought they were individual 'gems', so I bought the thing.

Notice how I have been ripping the buggers off the sticky backing...these will go far! I just stick them onto my projects with some two-way glue.

Now, when you add something like this gem to a card, you cannot add only one. Nope - think about the Rule Of Three. I do, a lot, so I had to add three of these gems. One was going on the schmear, and I found places for two more. Here is a shot of the card post-bling:

I used the green gems ('gems', right, but you know what I mean) and they look pretty cool in real life, even though it is hard to see in the picture I took.

This is a closeup of one of the gems so you can see it is really green. And I got to do a close-up. ;-)

They all turned out pretty good, and I think that added bling was just enough to take them from 'boring' to 'interesting'. And if I make about 50 more cards, I'll even use up this small card of faux gems. But for now, it's back into the bling drawer.

Change of subjects ... time for a little Farmers Market update. Saturday was Hazy, Hot and Humid, just like it was billed to be. I went out to my car early in the morning to put my large rotating fan into the back of the car to take with me, and it was so humid you could see the air, and the air was so heavy it took my breath away. Ugh, it was going to be a long day.

Turned out we had no power at the pavilion, so we could not use our fans. We were all dripping within a few minutes. Fortunately for me, I did not make coffee at home to take with me, and opted instead to stop at Starbucks on the way to get a Mocha Frappachino. Icy and cold and caffeinated. Aaaah, bliss. It really hit the spot. Well, except for the brain freeze I had. I hate when that happens.

Overall, the day could have been worse, and thinking back to last summer, is has been worse. It was oppressively hot, but we did have an occasional breeze that felt sooo good, and I had packed a cooler of not food, but frozen towels. From my years of long, summer bicycle rides, I know the value of an ice-cold towel on an overheated body, especially on the temples and around the neck. I brought several, so I shared. ;-)

Most of us were in shorts and sleeveless shirts, except for Farmer Mike. Farmer Mike was wearing long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt over a T-shirt...he did not want to get chilled. He just sat there and shook his head at all us (we) citified folk and listened to us whine about how hot it was. He actually suggested I try wearing long sleeves next week to see if I stay cooler. Not gonna do it - I am hot just thinking about it!

I got my first CSA share, too. It consisted of lettuce, radishes, kale, spring onions, strawberries, garlic scapes (the green tops of the garlic plants that get cut off so the garlic bulb will grow larger), two herb plants and a few other things. I also bought some taters, raspberries, and both sweet and sour cherries from Farmer Mike (even though he was still laughing at me.)

When I got home I had a marathon of washing and putting away all that produce. Knowing I would not get to the fruit this week before it got fuzzy, I opted to make another Mountain Dew blender drink. This week it had not only strawberries and raspberries, but I also added in some of the cherries!

This is a very yellow shot of the cherries. I was stupid and dumped both the sweet and sour into the collander together, so it will be a total surprise when they get consumed.

I actually pitted all of them, but I saved this pair, because they were too perfect. This shot also shows you how poor the previous photo was. Too yellow. I tried to fix it, but alas, I failed. This is how red they really are. And they are yummy, too!

About the kale. Let's just say I learned a bit about kale last night. I cooked it as instructed: sauteed some onion and garlic, cut up the kale, added it to the skillet with a little water, covered it and let it steam for about 10-15 minutes. It was like slow-cooking spinach. Unfortunately for me, I was not aware of how much fiber is in kale, so I ate it like spinach - a whole plate full. Can you say "intestinal distress"? This was all explained to me by one of my more alert (and kale-wise) customers this afternoon. Her first comment was, "You did not eat a whole lot of it, did you?" Uh-huh. Kale is good for me, maybe, but fun? Not. I may give the vile stuff away next week. I am such a Yankee. And a pansy-arsed citified Yankee, at that!

That's all for today. I am mid-workshops (got another one tomorrow night) so I cannot get too creative this evening, as I'd just have to clean up after myself, and that sounds like work. I think I'll take it easy and do some laundry (how fun!) and watch my latest Netflix movie, "Mrs. Brown". It's about Queen Victoria, post-Albert. I love good historical fiction!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

We Had a Bit of Weather ...

Yes, we had a bit of weather tear through here yesterday. I first heard about it when my cube-neighbor said, very quietly, in a shakey voice, "Oh, no." See, he had to leave by 2:00 to get to VA where he takes college classes in the evening (yes, I said 2:00...we have traffic issues), and his school had just posted a toronado warning. The kind where they tell you to not go out unless you need to. Unfortunately they did not cancel classes, so he packed up and said, "Sigh, wish me luck ..." and he left. Then the lights started to flicker, and we stood up to look over our cubes to the windows (think prairie dogs and you'll get the image), and it was black out. Just black. I walked across the hall to the other side of the building and it was raining so hard you could almost not see anything. It was down-right ugly.

Naturally, traffic was a mess going home last night. Heck, it's a mess when it just rains, but this was weather, so it was bad enough to write about. Actually, traffic for me was good because I made good choices and everyone else made bad choices, so I got home lickety-split. However, there were plenty of downed trees everywhere to really snarl things up (for everyone else, not for me.) But when I arrived home, there was no power.

A funny aside: One of the traffic reporters cracked me up! She reported there were trees down on the George Washington Parkway, and it was closed in both directions. She said to NOT get on the GW Parkway if you were not already stuck there. But if you insisted on taking the GW Parkway anyway, plan to sit there for a very, very long time. And she finished with, "And that's all I am gonna say about THAT!" Too funny!

Now back to our irregularly-scheduled program ... There are some advantages to being of the older persuasion. You see, my expectations and needs are way less than, say, a 20-something. Or even some 40-somethings I know! I am one of the rare breed that can come home and not turn on a radio or television. I love quiet. I also could live without a cell phone because I have real phones. The kind that have wires and plug into a wall. The kind that cost $10 at Target and last forever. Real phones. I actually had a REAL real phone until I got DSL. You know, one of those Ma Bell phones that hooked right into the wall in the Kitchen and had a REAL ringer, not this electronic garbage we get now. But the DSL filter was too fat and would not let the phone plug connect into the wall, so I had to get a fake phone. Boo-hoo!

But anyway, the weather. So I had no power. So what. I got into my jammies as I always do when I get home, lit some candles, found my flashlight, grabbed a book, and settled onto the couch to read. It was still light out, so I read until it started to get dark. (I was gonna stamp, but since my work area is down to about a 6" square, I thought the introduction of a candle would be kindof incendiary-like, and not a good plan.) Then I turned on my itty-bitty book light and continued reading until about 9 pm, when I went to bed. It was a wonderful, quiet, evening.

Fortunately for me, the power came back on around 4 am, and my internal body clock woke me up around 6 (I turned on the radio to make sure), I had hot water, so I showered and went to work. No big deal.

Once I got to work, all the "kids" (anyone younger than 40) were talking about how there was nothing to do with no power. Really? No cell phone juice. No Internet. No television. I asked them why they did not just read a book, and I tell you, the looks I got!

So there are advantages to remembering life before the electronic age. I actually feel a bit sorry for people who cannot function without electricity for one night.

Okay, now for some stampin'! This first card is a total case of the sample that came with the stamps. Actually, the sample card is the whole reason I bought the stamps. Boy, do they know how to hook us or what?!

This eagle and sentiment were the May Stamp-of-the-Month at Cornish Heritage Farms (CHF). I just love the look of that eagle, and the sentiment's font looks so much like SU's Warm Words and the now-retired Small Script (is that right?) that it just called to me. It called to me over and over again, and I kept putting it into my shopping cart, then closing my browser; then I'd go back another day and do it again. I finally caved during last week's point-and-click spree and got it.

That background stamp was also used in their sample (the sly buggers!) and I love it! So, of course, I had to get it, too. The main reason I was at the CHF site is because they carry the Prism papers, and I was looking at them ... just looking. But once that eagle and backgrounder ended up in the shopping card, I simply had to justify the shipping costs, didn't I? So I got some of the papers, too. I did not use them here, but one of these days ....

Other things about this card: The star brads really should have been something like antique brass, but I could not find any in the stash, so I thought I'd cover some shiny brass ones with gold stickles. Not sure why I thought that was a good idea...maybe I thought it would tone down the shine...but then the stickles are sparkly .... sigh ... Also, I used a ribbon (from the stash) and the original did not have a ribbon. But, well, you know ... me ... ribbon ... I was pretty proud of the fact that it does not 'match', but it still goes. At least *I* think it does.

I still need to play with this eagle to make something of my own, maybe a la Fourth of July. We'll see.

And now for the star of our show: my latest irreverent creation:

Creating cards like this is why I love to stamp. There are just so many possibilities! I got the sentiment in my last wave of stamps from Viva Las Vegas Stamps, and I saw the image of the lady when I cruised by this set at Crafty Secrets, having been enabled to check out the stamps by this post on JanTink's blog (darn her!).

But I have to say, she is perfect with that sentiment! Oooh, and with my growing collection of irreverent sentiments, I'll bet she'll come out to play again one day very soon!

Please ignore (1) the blurry photo, (2) the over-used layering of the sentiment on multiple punch-outs, and (3) the fact that I have not colored her in yet. I may decide to not color her, though, so then this card would be done. Okay, then, she's done! (That was easy...)

As for other things on the card, I discovered that this scrap of patterned paper went swimmingly with Groovy Guava. So then I got out my 'Melon' brads from PinkHedgeHog. Aaaand, I used a piece of the ribbon sent to me by one of my beloved readers!

I still have one more card to think up for this weekend's classes, but it is formulating in my brain and should make its way to paper before Sunday. I may not come up for air again before then, what with the impending Clean Sweep and all, so be good, and go stamp something!