Monday, October 27, 2014

I'm No Physicist, But Where Does The Salt Go?

Okay - let's be clear - I'm no physicist.

But I do remember the law of conservation of matter, which states the following:

"in any given system that is closed to the transfer of matter (in and out), the amount of matter in the system stays constant. A concise way of expressing this law is to say that the amount of matter in a system is conserved."

Like many things they tried to convince me of in school - imaginary numbers and whatnot - this is obviously a complete crock.

I have real world, practical experience to refute it with too, revolving around salt.

Let's say you make a delicious recipe that is perfectly seasoned and delicious - like any of the recipes I've shared here. You are thrilled to look forward to leftovers over the coming days, and lovingly put it into your favorite non-Chinese glass Rubbermaid storage containers with a perfectly tight seal, and pop them in the fridge.

The next day, you warm up said deliciousness and...

This completely defies both logic and the bogus law of conservation of matter.

Where can the salt POSSIBLY go??? You heat it up when you cook and it doesn't transmogrify - you also add it to cold things, like margaritas, olives, pickles, and THEY don't get less salty. So what is it about pea soup and lasagne and enchiladas and chicken broth? Or maybe salt isn't what makes olives and pickles salty - maybe it's some futuristic chemical.

Also, I've observed the same thing with spicy food. It becomes less spicy in the fridge.

Either the inside of my fridge is coated with invisible salt and capsaicin, or physics is a lie.

How's THAT for something to ponder? Hope you don't go floating off the earth when I debunk gravity later.

Before you float off the earth, you should come play in Tabbatha's Thanks X 2 Hope You Can Cling To challenge! She challenged us to do a mixed media thank you card - using at least two mediums.

Since I had just had our W.I.N.O.S. (Women In Need of Stamps) playdate, I had these AWESOME Distress Ink leaves to use. We just smooshed the ink pads onto a piece of plastic and then smooshed the leaves into the ink. So fun. (Chriss cut the leaves so I don't know what dies these are - sorry!)

So for my second medium, I spattered Gold Smooch onto my card base before attaching the leaves and stamping the greeting from Merry Everything.

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Oh - and if you truly do want a made in the USA food storage option (it is very difficult to avoid China in the kitchen, but I do it - follow me) I do love my American leftover containers, despite their theft of my salt and heat. You can read about them here.

In the meantime, I'd advise weighting yourself down with bland leftovers so that you don't float off into space.


Friday, October 24, 2014

I'll Give You Something To Be Afraid Of!

I thought I'd do a little PSA on behalf of children everywhere as we approach Halloween.

I am still extremely angry about a particular Halloween incident I experienced as a child, and I'd like to prevent other children from going through this lifetime of pain and resentment.

I'm not referring to the black licorice some moron decided to hand out, although that does make my tail fluffy.

I'm not even talking about the year I had to sit at the door and hand out candy instead of trick-or-treating because I'd had my appendix out.

What has been simmering under the surface for many decades each October is the rage and shock I (and all my friends) felt when we dumped out our pillowcases full of candy in the living room, started pawing through it, and discovered that one child-hater had handed out...

(I can hardly bring myself to say it)


That's right. We had an activist dentist on our street who, possibly because of severe psychosis or a brain parasite, thought HALLOWEEN would be a good time to evangelize.

It is not.

I repeat - IT IS NOT.

Halloween is about candy. It's not about encouraging children to brush their teeth, showing them the wonders of low fat soy-based candy substitutes, fish oil pills or any other sort of distraction from CANDY.

Give them CANDY or turn your porch lights off.

That is all.

Now I feel better.

Now you won't be nearly as scared of my cute ghost as you are of your crazy, toothbrush-wielding neighbors, will ya?

I made this little ghostie for two challenges: Patricia's "Get Inked" Hope You Can Cling To challenge and today's Mix-Ability challenge. These are both super cool and were fun to combine.

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The Mix-Ability challenge today is "Ghostly Outlines" - to create soft instead of hard ones, with techniques like retiform, etc. I decided to die cut a ghostie with the Fall Fest Framelits and temporarily adhere him to a black card front. Then I sponged around him with Whisper White ink to give him a little aura. Then I removed the mask and added two different sized googly eyes, just to make him look crazy :D.

Next, Patricia's challenge is so cool - it was inspired by the tiny dots or "tattoos" that can be a result of radiation treatments - she saw them when her mother was being treated - so she challenged us to spray or splatter ink to make little dots. So while my mask was still in place, I loaded up the brush from my Moonlight Smooch, held it over my card and thumped it to spatter dots all around my ghost. Then I squealed because I love it! :)

I added some washi tape and the greeting from Holiday Home in white.

So let's review:

  • My ghost is not scary
  • Toothbrushes and wheatgrass juice handed out for Halloween ARE scary
Give them candy and have a fun & safe Halloween!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Grab a Tissue...

So yesterday I was feeling sorry for myself.

(That's a lie, because I never feel sorry for myself.)

(Well, that's a lie too, because I do feel sorry for myself every time I have to renew my driver's license or go to a post office.)

(I know you don't know what to believe at this point, but I'm telling the truth. Don't make me get out the iocane powder.)

But I had a little chagrin over the fact that I've eaten way too many sauces out of a jar in my life.

WAY too many.

My relationship with spaghetti is complicated. I liked it when I was little. Then, when I was 7 or 8, there was a very unfortunate incident at a Howard Johnson's during one of our summer trips which really made Ebola seem tame. I might have actually caught Ebola from that Ho-Jo spaghetti. If not, I definitely suffered mightily. As did my father, upon whose head I barfed in the parking lot. After that, I did not eat spaghetti until I was 20 years old. That's how long it takes to get over the Ho-JoBola, in case anyone needs that for their science book.

Thankfully, I recovered from Ho-JoBola at age 20 in upstate New York, where I was attending college. Those people up there know their way around a marinara. So I eased back into Italian food in the safest and most delicious environment possible.

Then I moved back to Austin. And I'll say this - some of the best food on earth is in Austin. HOWEVER - none of that food is Italian or Mexican. We just don't do those two things well. Yet.

Having been out of the spaghetti scene for most of my life, I hadn't been present for the devolution of jarred marinara. But I quickly discovered that it was horrid. I tried EVERYTHING. Classico was new then, and there were a few varieties of theirs I liked, but they, too, devolved quickly and started to get watery and flavorless. I found a local one a few years ago that I loved, and then it got watery and flavorless. It's probably the introduction of cheap Chinese garbage into our food supply.

So last year, I decided enough was enough and I tried a few marinara recipes of my own. GOOD LORD why did I waste all that time on the jar? It's SO easy and so delicious, and I have PROLIFIC herbs in my backyard. GAH. So much time wasted on sub-standard marinara. Now I eat so much I worry about lycopene poisoning. If you have to go though - that's not a bad option.

But it doesn't end with marinara. My favorite Thai sweet chili sauce suddenly started tasting like cardboard too. I'd eaten this stuff for years and one day, it tasted AWFUL. Again, probably Chinese garbage.

So I set out on a mission to make my own. After all, I have a Thai chili plant in my backyard that has about 30 so-hot-they-peel-paint peppers on it at all times. So I tried a few recipes and combined them into one I LOVE.

So, to go along with yesterday's DELICIOUS crockpot Thai peanut chicken recipe, here is the recipe for the homemade sweet chili sauce - a MUST in that recipe.

Sweet Chili Sauce

  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 5 thai chilis, tops cut off + 1 jalapeno (adjust to milder peppers if you're a Yankee :) )
  • ¼ cup white distilled vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ tablespoon salt

  1. In the food processor or blender, purée together all the ingredients.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until the mixture thickens up a bit and the garlic-pepper bits begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Lower to low and cook until thick. About 15-20 minutes.
  3. Let cool completely before storing in a glass jar and refrigerate.

1. I keep the chili seeds in, but your mileage may vary, so adjust the heat accordingly. More seeds = more heat. Keep in mind, however, that the heat is the strongest the day you make the sauce and starts to dissipate gradually. This sauce keeps for a long time, and after a couple of weeks, you can’t even taste the pepper.
MMM you will be so glad you made this. Maybe I'll share my marinara recipe next time.

In the meantime, if my story about Ho-JoBola made you cry, grab a tissue!

Or, grab some tissue paper and make an AWESOME card! WAIT till you see how I did this!!

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Don't you love that?? I'm not gonna lie - I do. I saw this crazy awesome tutorial using tissue paper collage by Carol Kutz and I had to try it.

My inspiration to do this card came from today's Hope You Can Cling To challenge - you MUST come play! We may or may not have $5,000 in prizes to give away :).

Mine is not super original - I copied the design from Carol's tutorial until I got comfy with the technique, and man is it easy and fun. Here are the steps:

  • Do a watercolor wash on a piece of watercolor paper - I used reinkers of the colors below.
  • Take a piece of white tissue paper and scribble all over it with Melon Mambo, Coastal Cabana, Daffodil Delight and Pumpkin Pie Blendabilities markers. (Do not use Stampin' Write markers or any other water-based markers).
  • Cut the tissue paper into the shapes of flowers and leaves.
  • Using a foam brush, apply some matte gel medium (this is what I use - it's my fave) to the watercolor paper and smooth tissue paper onto wet medium. Then paint more gel medium on top of your flower gently - don't oversaturate the tissue paper or it will tear.
  • After it's dry, trace and doodle around the flowers with a Project Life pen.
  • Stamp the greeting from Ray of Sunshine.
  • Admire.
It's a fun combo of zentangling and freer, relaxed techniques like watercolor and collage.

I think you should put the peanut chicken in the crockpot, start the chili sauce and come stamp with me today :)


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

You Have Ebola. God Bless And Have a Great Day!

You don't really have Ebola.

Well, not as far as I know. I won't be inviting you over for a while, just in case.

But it's time to talk about something far more serious.


I get about 150 emails per hour. So I see it all. And a LOT of people apparently are too busy to type "Thanks" or "Sincerely" or "God Bless And Have a Great Day" on every email they send, so they plug it into their auto-signature. Now, full disclosure -  I use an auto-signature - with my contact info. I'm not opposed to auto-signatures in general. Or even in specific.

But I am opposed to auto-salutations. Automating your best wishes can be tricky, depending on your topic, and your decision to leave them, regardless of the subject of your message.

Here is the result - and I leave you to discern which of these have actually happened in my life:

To: Site administrator


"People will never remember what you say, but they will remember how you make them feel." ~ Anonymous awesome human being

Dance like no one is watching,
Sweet Mary Jane, awesome person

To: everyone
cc: everyone else

I am NOT your mother. Your mother doesn't work here. If she did, she'd DENY being your mother. You are filthy PIGS! I slave away all day every day selflessly and then I HAVE TO CLEAN YOUR DISGUSTING COFFEE CUPS. You are swine. I cried myself to sleep this morning at my desk over your insensitivity. You will burn in hell for this. You will.

God Bless And Have a Great Day,
Your sister in Christ
Mary Theresa Saint

To: Nameless corporate enemy
cc: Imaginary law firm

To Whom it May Concern:

I'm copying my lawyer. he's the one who will be dismantling your ill-gotten empire when I'm done with you. You seriously think you can get away with telling me Red Bull Gives You Wings?? DO YOU SEE ANY (*#&$)#( WINGS ON ME BRO??? I WILL OWN YOU. Also, my legs are broken.

Warmest regards,
Mr. Toolazytotypewarmestregardsonlywhenimeanit
Middle America


From: Dr. Curesalot

Dear (redacted):

This will be my last email to you, as the BSL-4 protocol demands that I cease communicating with you and move to the outer reaches of Siberia. I did want to let you know that I got your test results. You have Ebola. Your Ebola virus has somehow contracted Marburg. Also, toe fungus. Your prognosis is negative. If you are dead already, this will be harder to read. If you're not dead, I bet your eyes don't work. If you need me, I'll be in Siberia.

“Each patient carries his own doctor inside him.” ~Norman Cousins

Healing thoughts,
Dr. D. McDumberson


I mean, really. Would it be that hard to delete your 1st Corinthians verse or Zig Ziglar quip when you're ripping someone a new one? Just highlight and delete. Takes one second and might burn off some of that nervous energy.

Let's try a little harder, America. Let's just try.This is why we can't have nice things.

I have, however, considered ending all my emails with YEE-HAW as my auto-signature. It has sort of a Die Hard feel to it and I like it.

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I was the host of the Mix-Ability challenge Friday and I called it Pin Ups - you have to cut out a mask out of a magazine, prep it, and then use it to spritz or sponge around on your project.

It's also a sneak peek of a Hope You Can Cling To challenge at the end of the month, but I can't reveal why yet :).

What I CAN reveal is that we have more than $5,000 in prizes to give away during these challenges - YEE HAW! Are you playing? If not, why not? :) 

Now one of the coolest things about Hope You Can Cling To Chatter is our awesome recipe thread, which has an index and is full of yumminess. Check it out here.

I was perusing it this morning and realize I haven't shared a recipe with you in a while. Here's one I made tonight that is DELICIOUS!!!

So here you go.

Crockpot Thai Chicken With Coconut Rice

1.5 lbs. chicken thighs (for me, this was about 6)
1 cup Wright’s Hot Habanero Texas Salsa (Cold section WFM - if you don’t have this, use either cilantro salsa or something with a lot of citrus flavor instead of a lot of tomato flavor)
2 tablespoons fresh ground ginger
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used Peter Pan - don’t judge - it’s awesome)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tsp. fresh garlic, grated
2 tablespoons lime juice (I just squeezed two limes - might have been 3-4 TBS)
4 thai peppers, tops cut off
Sea Salt
½ C. Sweet Chili Sauce

I put 4 whole thai peppers in for heat.

Put thighs in bottom of crockpot. Salt thighs on both sides. Mix all ingredients except sweet chili in a bowl and cover the chicken.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours depending on the size of the chicken pieces. Mine was done at about 5.5 hours and I have a big crockpot.

Before serving, stir ½ cup sweet chili sauce into chicken and sauce and mix.

Serve with coconut rice. ( 1 cup rice, toasted in oil, then cooked in one cup coconut milk & 1 cup chicken broth. When done, add half a bag of frozen peas, cover for a few minutes until they warm up. Serve chicken over rice.)

Now - ponder those auto-salutations, okay?


Monday, October 13, 2014

Strength In The Background

Happy Monday!

My friend Chaitali Narla got some of her crafty buddies together today for a pink blog hop today - so welcome to the last stop on the hop!

You already know I've been crafting all month for our Hope You Can Cling To card drive for the patients at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and I was stoked to be asked to hop along with these great ladies.

This is a cause near and dear to Chaitali's heart because her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year. She actually designed the stamp set we're using today to honor her mother. I love how all the artists I know really put their heart into their work, and if you look closely enough you can always see that. Thanks for including me Chaitali - it's an honor!

For my inspiration today I used Susie's challenge which is words of encouragement. I made a collage with the strength and hope images from Pink Power for my background with Smoky Slate and Melon Mambo ink. I think a lot of the women who receive our cards during this card drive (we are over 1,000 now!) have more strength daily than most of us can imagine - they have to - that's always in the background. The moments of hope really pop during tough struggles - and I tried to echo that in my design. I also created a little shadow for the ribbon with grey as well. I love doing that with solid images - it's amazing how much that adds.

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I finished it off with a little silver glimmer paper and some striped grosgrain ribbon.

If you just came here and didn't know about the hop, start back at the top - these women are amazing!

I hope you can find some time this month to make a card for one of these great ladies and send it to MD Anderson - you never know when it's going to be just what someone needs.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Certainty Kills Possibility

A few years ago, I added something to my resume that I really thought (think) was (is) important for people to know about me.

"I'm glad I live in a world well suited to the curious."

I am (was).

But I have noticed that (especially regarding a few recent events) people lock onto certainty in a way that unnerves me.

I realized why it unnerves me a few weeks ago when we watched a documentary on Sherlock Holmes, and the influence those stories had on modern forensic science. I highly recommend this show.  It settled all my unease about something I couldn't quite put my finger on, and that is this:

certainty kills possibility

Perhaps I have a tiny bias from growing up in a house full of scientists and Irish people. Absolutely nothing (aside from spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs) was really accepted at face value. Boundaries are meant to be pushed in this gene pool. It's all I know.

I remember vividly in Sunday school asking our pastor WILDLY inappropriate questions for a six year old, like "HOW did he turn water into wine - I mean - actually HOW?".  I wanted a demonstration. Those poor other children in my classes were generally mortified.

(By the way, our pastor, a great man and a stoic Lutheran, handled me with grace and patience and never stifled me or rebuffed me with dogma. He also lived next door to us and smoked a pipe with cherry tobacco in it, which is a smell I hope accompanies everyone to heaven.)

But here's the deal. When you KNOW something, you are done with possibility. You don't entertain options, because options get grouped under impossibility. And as Sherlock taught us, once you've eliminated the impossible, what's left is the truth.

However, if you are wrong about what's impossible, you aren't left with the truth at all.

That can have terrible consequences.

There's a lot to be said for doubt, in my opinion. Doubt can save your life. Doubt is why your palms sweat when you walk onto a balcony 90 stories up. Or, if you're me - when you walk out onto the observation point at the Grand Canyon. I doubted every step, which I'm quite certain kept me from falling off.

So in praise of uncertainty with less than deadly consequences, I have a funny story for you.

I don't remember life before this Quik Stik tool.
I honestly don't. I don't know how I picked up embellishments at ALL before this thing. Maybe you do and can tell stories around the campfire to the younguns.

But I was so excited to get it and be able to pick up teeny stars with it (you'll see what I did in a minute) that I was certain that was its sole, glorious purpose. Also, I don't read instructions.

So I was watching a video of +Jennifer McGuire's the other day and she pulls out a little pokey tool thing from the OTHER end of the thing and says she doesn't know why she doesn't use it, but she doesn't.

Well I can tell you why I didn't use it - I DIDN'T FRACKING KNOW IT WAS THERE! I was so excited I paused her video grabbed my dealie bopper and sure enough - there's an awesome acrylic tool in the handle - a piercer on one end and sort of a screwdriver tip on the other end. REVELATION!

Don't worry - I'll wait until you're done laughing. Ready?

Today, when I made this card, I picked up these teeny stars with the business end of the tool, dipped them in glue, and then used the tool to hold them onto my card while I pulled the tool off the star! IT'S SO AWESOME!

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I did this for Bridget's Hero challenge for Hope You Can Cling To today. My hero choice was easy. :)

The image is from For Your Country, the stars are from the Confetti Stars Punch, and I sponged Pear Pizzaz, Dafffodil Delight, Pumpkin Pie and Real Red ink over it.

So don't be too sure of yourself. You never know when a little curiosity might save your life - and/or your card.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Low Tech Solution to a High Tech Problem.

I have stopped using a paper calendar completely. I used to arrange my work tasks using a paper calendar - moving to-do's from day to day if they were unfinished.

I realized one day that my first task every day was to transfer yesterday's unfinished tasks to today. What a COLOSSAL waste of time.

Now I have a great, simple system that really works for me.

My tasks generally fall into three categories: Work, Design and Home. So a few years ago I went and bought a beautiful, spiral-bound, college ruled notebook by Martha Stewart. I started drawing two lines vertically on the page, creating three columns for these categories. I write things that I need to do there, and because I'm using vertical space instead of tiny squares that don't allow me discriminate by task type (because they're too small) - it takes me a long time to fill up the page with crossed off items. As a matter of fact, I'm still using the same notebook I bought a few years ago. If I used the backs of pages (which gives me a facial tic, so I don't do it), it would probably last forever. Sometimes, I art in it, or clean my paintbrushes on it, so it gets some character as it ages.

At the front of this notebook is a few pages of notes I took at an Edward Tufte presentation. He's a genius - I've seen him twice, and if you ever get the chance to see him, do it. I was flipping through those notes the other day, and with a commercial for the Iphone 6 on TV in the background, I read the following quote: "Paper is the highest resolution display technology available."

It's true. A screen will never get to the resolution of paper and ink. Amazing, isn't it? Just like lighting technology will never approach the beauty and purity of sunlight.

Paper and sun, baby. :) Keeping people organized since, well, forever.

Today's Hope You Can Cling To challenge is hosted by Diane and it's so interesting - it's based on the Sister Study, which she participated in after her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. So the challenge mimics the logo of the study - we had to use something purple, something pink and two of something on the card.

It's so cool, because I shared a room with my sister when I was little. One time, my mom let us "remodel" our room, and we chose pink and purple for the remodel. So she bought fabric we picked (it was God-awful, 70's garish) and bought us matching purple bedspreads and we had the perfect room! I still remember how awesome I thought it looked when she was done. I wish I had a picture of it so you could laugh with me. To this day, purple is still my sister's favorite color, while I prefer a derivative blue :).

But it inspired me to make a card that reminded me of that crazy bright room we loved and shared as sisters, so I pulled out a retired stamp and my Brusho watercolor and went to town. The sentiment is from Good Greetings

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I really, really enjoyed watercoloring this using the highest resolution display technology available. :)


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Rip Out This Page

I had my monthly W.I.N.O.S. (Women In Need Of Stamps) challenge & meeting last night and it was so fun, as usual.

We were talking about art of course, and things artists can be afraid of. Painting in a book for example. That is a serious phobia for a lot of people. Let's go ahead and call it biblioartophobia.

So Yvonne said she is reading a book right now that has a page in it that says "Rip out this page." She didn't of course, and turned it over and it said something like "You didn't do it." So she did it. She ripped it out.

She said she felt simultaneously overwhelming joy and overwhelming guilt!

It's funny how we worry about things like that in our short time on the planet.

I found a CRAZY price last week on some Derwent Artbars - I mean CRAZY. I've been waiting to buy these and I could not pass up a 70% discount, so I got them. (The price is still there if you want some.)

Anyway, I posted it on Facebook and a bunch of friends took advantage of the sale as well. So since I had enabled them, we had a video hangout to learn to use them together.

 It was really, really fun. As you can see, some of our pets came too. 

One of the first things I told everyone to do when we started to try techniques was to break a piece off of a blue artbar. There were GASPS! "Break it? Really?"


We love wholeness. Perfection. Even though there's absolutely no example of that anywhere in the human experience. 

We are funny creatures.

Anyway, we had a heck of a time playing together. One of my favorite ways to use the crayons, which are water-soluble wax, and highly pigmented, is to dip them in water and then rub them on wet watercolor paper. First, we did a wash of blue and a wash of brown with an Aquapainter - picking up pigment directly off the bars - for a background. Then we did the dip & rub technique to create clouds and add color to the sky and earth. Really super fun. These are addicting. 

After we got done, I finished the card with one of my fave stamped greetings from Pursuit of Happiness.

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Today's Hope You Can Cling To challenge is "Hope Floats", by my friend Rebecca. She is an animal lover and fosters animals regularly so that they are safe until they can find homes. She does her little bit of good where she is every day, and I adore her.

So my floaty clouds I made with broken crayons are for her challenge today. :)


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

For Whom Does the Paper Tole? It Toles For Thee.

Today is a day that we wait for all year at Splitcoaststampers - it's the first day of October, which means the first day of Hope You Can Cling To!

This is a month long card drive for the patients being treated at the breast cancer unit at MD Anderson in Houston. Because our community at Splitcoast is impacted so much by this disease, we decided to dedicate a month to lifting the spirits of the ladies in Houston with handmade cards each October.

The cards we send (all 4,000+ of them) are kept on the unit in baskets for the patients and their families to pick from when they need a card. Since many of the patients are there for quite a while, having access to a beautiful, handmade birthday card, thank you, or just because card can really be a joyful experience that adds a little normal to their decidedly not normal situation.

So we are thrilled to kick it off today with three inspiring challenges, and every day in October, there will be a new challenge. Please join us and make a card (or 35 of them) that makes a difference to a real person in need!

My challenge today is called "You Raise Me Up", because the people in our community who make these cards and send them every October do raise me up. So the challenge is paper tole.

Now I have never tried REAL paper tole before this - I just did the poor man's version - stick a dimensional on it! But that's not real paper tole. Tole involves cutting up several colored images, shaping each piece to be slightly rounded on top, and then layering them back onto a colored image at varying heights. We have an AMAZING tutorial and video on this process here.

I thought that Santa's belly was a perfect place to do tole! So I cut out his torso, and separately - his beard - and rounded and shaped them, and popped them up with some clear dimensional adhesive. Oddly enough, this stuff is called "foam tape" but it's not foam - it's like a clear, sticky silicone tape. But what do I know.

Here's a picture of his belly.

And here is is with his GLORIOUS belly and poofy beard - which is glittered, BTW, along with the fluffies on his uniform. When you open the flip card, the back has the Visions Of Santa sentiment on it. Hilarious.

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Then I did a more adventurous version with a more detailed image from Lili of the Valley, called You & Me.

This took me a really long time - I used gel glue on this one, which required more patience than the clear adhesive, BUT - it was more forgiving when it came to getting the curved pieces into just the right spot.

Cute, right? I watercolored this with my Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils, which I adore. (I also blame Dina for making me buy them.) They give me the real feel of pan watercolor in a portable format. And they have lots of good warm colors which was perfect for my animals. 

The items I cut, colored, shaped and popped up are: the dog head, dog nose, dog arm, two dog legs, cat head, cat muzzle, cat nose, cat arm, cat belly, cat leg. There's Crystal Effects on both noses :).

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So how about you & me make some cards for a good cause, eh? I'd love it if you joined me.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Say PFFFFT to Dogma

I know just seeing that title my parents are thinking - "see? This is why you were always in D-Hall."

The ACTUAL reason I was always in D-Hall is there are a lot of people in the world with sticks up their butts about one thing or another and I ran across them more often than I would have liked.

You should not associate with, for example, people who believe that there are circumstances in which laughing should not be allowed.

I'm not talking about sermons or funerals or golf courses. I mean grumptastic people who don't want to hear laughter at school or work. People who are annoyed by anyone else's mirth really have something wrong with them.

99% of my D-hall sentences were handed down for the terrible crime of laughter.

The other 1% were assorted misdemeanors like writing hall passes for myself (only during SUPREMELY boring classes, during which I might have ended up screaming and writhing on the floor - I was just being considerate of others) and really taking my French class to heart by calling another student who was being a little pill a French epithet. Had I epithetted in English I could totally understand getting in trouble - but I was really putting my soul into my work there! So wrong.

And maybe all that was the genesis of my rebellious, artist personality.

I really think there's no place for rules in art. No "hold your pen this way" or "you can't use this with that" or any other sacred cows. Just because an artist makes something up, doesn't mean that that becomes the only acceptable way to create art. Think about how ridiculous that would be in literature. What if the ONLY way we were allowed to create verbal art was in sonnet form? Or in numbered verses? It's just silly.

If you want to make something, make it for you. Make it however you want to make it. Don't worry about how other people make it. Don't worry about what it's called, or how you pronounce it, or if you used the "right" stuff. The "right" stuff is in your colorful little soul, not on a store shelf or in an instruction manual.

As a matter of fact, with the exception of power tools, I recommend that the FIRST thing you should do with any art product is immediately throw the instructions into the garbage without reading them. Touch the stuff with your fingers - scribble it on things - do whatever the heck you want to in the way of experimentation. The "right" way will reveal itself to you if you just play.

Also, don't equate a botched experiment with failure. Where in the world would we be if science worked like that? Lots of people set their chemistry labs on fire (cough +Bob Blakley cough) before they figured out what the heck they were supposed to be doing.

I like to build in chances for mistakes by preparing four or five of everything before I start working with a new technique - stamp four images, prep four surfaces, etc. When there's only one of something on your desk, it feels sort of sacred and you're terrified to screw it up. I have finally realized that this is why a lot of art classes are stressful for me. With just one piece, I feel pressure to get it perfect. With my home method, I always get at least three more chances at the trash - more if it's more involved - and I don't feel the pressure to get it right the first time. Or even the second time. It's a simple psychological trick and it works.

I taught about dogma at my last retreat because I think it's important to the joy of creating to be dogma-free. (Notice it's not called catma - just sayin'.)

Dogma is a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true. It serves as part of the primary basis of an ideology or belief system, and it cannot be changed or discarded without affecting the very system's paradigm, or the ideology itself.

Dogma can creep into everything if you let it. Don't let it. To artistic dogma, I say...

So, that brings me to today's very traditional, conservative Christmas card.



I actually bring you - Joseph and his technicolor nativity!!

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Yes, I am still using this Newborn King set. I cut four pieces of watercolor paper yesterday to play and clear embossed the image. #3 and #4 were yesterday's card and this one.

#3 was ALMOST awesome, but resides in the trash from a rookie mistake.

This one has a mistake I ended up liking on it. I had taped the edges because I like that white border when I watercolor. However, someone who will remain nameless loves to spirit off my favorite orange artist's tape, which actually WORKS, and I ended up using 3M masking tape, which is great for masking, not so much for keeping watercolor away. So the watercolor bled under the tape. At first I thought I'd cut it off but then I decided I liked it so I kept it.

I love how the crazy colors make it festive and joyful. Thematic happiness.

I will probably get D-Hall for this card. And you know what? I don't care. The funnest people are in D-Hall.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Newborn King

So you know how you buy a stamp and it's like the BEST STAMP IN THE WORLD and you can't wait to play with it? And then three months go by and you haven't touched it?

Well that happened to me with today's card.

I LOVE the Newborn King set. I LOVE it. I love how it's so modern and yet so funky, so 70s and doodly. It's so me.

And yet, many squirrels intervened and kept me from playing with it. Until today, when I had a World Cardmaking Day webinar. Yes, +Andrea Withers - I was paying attention :).

Webinars are a fabulous time to color. You can listen and make something pretty at the same time.

So I brought out the ice cube tray that has some dried Brusho in it from a previous session, an aquapainter, and my Peerless watercolor binder. Why did I mix watercolor types? Oh - well that's because I forgot to grab yellow Brusho from my watercolor drawer which is 15 feet away from my desk, and my Peerless notebook was 6 inches from me.

Yes, I'm that lazy.

I just used three colors - violet, aqua and yellow - I love this combo. I wanted the colors to be modern, bright and non-traditional.

I debated with myself about adding glitter, but in the end I felt like I needed to let the image shine by itself.

So here's what I did.

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I love it in its sweet, tiny modernity. I love the zentangly trees.

Too fun. And easy to do during a webinar.

Don't you love that bright glow from the manger? I think the colors are just happy, like Christmas.

Speaking of World Cardmaking Day - if you need me, I'll be busy gearing up for Hope You Can Cling To - a month long card drive for the breast cancer patients at MD Anderson. This is our fifth year, and our first year, we kicked the event off on WCMD - the perfect day to illustrate the power of a homemade card to create good in the world. I think we can all agree that the world needs more good. :)


Monday, September 8, 2014

Does Anyone Actually KNOW a Junker?

It's White Trash Week here in the old neighborhood.

White Trash Week is that lovely week when people are allowed to pile junk at the curb for bulk collection pickup. You get to drive down the street seeing people's old toilets, broken dressers, scrap lumber and everything else under the sun, and pretend for a week that you live in a neighborhood full of meth lab owners - but without all the fun of Walt & Jesse.

It's only half as disturbing as the parade of junkers that accompany it though.

These junkers prowl the streets in trailers that look like something out of White Trash Harry Potter.

Photo credit - Evil Vince

You can hear the junk towers creaking as they prowl by and you just pray they don't swerve to avoid a squirrel and unleash a torrent of washing machines and lawn chairs onto your car.

Here's what I don't understand - is junking a business? Can you make a living from picking up suitcases with busted zippers and broken particle board furniture? Does anyone actually KNOW anyone who junks for a living? And if so, what is the lifestyle and income potential? Do you have to get a special junk trailer insurance policy for when a toilet goes flying off your precarious rig and through the windshield of an ice cream truck? How much does a policy like that cost? How many tetanus shots must you get annually as a junker? Who BUYS the junk?

Is this the real secret of IKEA?

I have just so many questions, as I gaze out the window at a tumbleweed of chicken wire the size of a hay bale and a pile of used brooms.

I might have to hide inside all week and stamp. There are some things you just don't want to know about your neighbors.

I'm obsessed with the Four Feathers stamps & dies right now, speaking of stamping. I LOVE the bold graphic designs SO much in black & white. I actually haven't stamped them in anything BUT black yet - I just can't help myself!

I just took two of these little buggers and put them on one of my Gelli Prints I made last weekend. I just bought the teeny 3x5 plate and played with that. It takes a little getting used to after you're used to printing on a big plate, but it's really fun to have a print that doesn't have to be cut down to go on a card front.

I thought I'd pick one of my jumbly alphabet prints to go with my White Trash day questions. I love the way that images tend to look embossed after multiple prints, like the letters do here. 

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I also love how the red and yellow and black all play together nicely. For the shadow underneath, I used the negative of the die cut as a stencil and rubbed metallic black Pan Pastel through it and then offset the cut feathers a bit. You can't see the sparkle here but it's cool. The greeting is from Kinda Eclectic.

Like the ecosystem of junk.

We have junk.

Junkers want junk.

White Trash Week - where the junkyard comes to YOU.


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