Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cutting Glass With Fire

I just realized I forgot to tell you about my glass cutting experiment.

I had watched a bunch of videos on how to cut wine bottles with twine and acetone and fire and wanted to try it myself.

So out into the backyard I went, with a bucket, an empty wine bottle (look - if you're gonna make an omelet, you gotta break a couple eggs), some twine and some pure acetone.

I diligently followed the instructions of the numerous YouTube wine bottle cutting people and got to the dramatic moment when the fire goes out and you dunk the bottle and.... NOTHING.

These YouTubers tell you to tie the twine around the bottle (wrapping a few times - I had maybe four wraps), then slip it off, dunk it in acetone, slip it back on (which is nigh onto impossible), light it on fire, spinning the bottle while it burns, and then plunge it into water when the fire goes out. Supposedly the bottle breaks cleanly at the twine.

I'm not sure if these people actually live inside vacuums where there is no oxygen or what, but when I did this, the acetone dried INSTANTLY - by the time I got it back on the bottle, there wasn't enough left on the twine to burn the twine for longer than a few seconds, so the bottle didn't get hot enough to break in water.

So I did it my way.

Loop twine around the bottle so that your twine line is four or five twine widths high. Make it perfectly level or you'll have a wonky candleholder. Then, quickly pour acetone all over the twine, soaking it. Holding the wine bottle over the bucket of water, light the twine on fire, and constantly rotate the bottle so that the fire is moving all the way around the bottle. I did all of this outside.

The second the fire is out, dunk it in the bucket of water and BOOM - you hear a satisfying little plink and you have a gorgeous, outdoor candleholder which the wind will not affect! I love mine, and light it every afternoon when I go outside to color. You can sand the edges if you need to. And the bottom makes a cute little dish/candleholder too. So there you go Tania - sorry I forgot to post this!

Also, I bear no responsibility for you setting your face on fire or otherwise injuring yourself while doing this :).

Here it is with an old candle I made in one of my classes. 

And here's what I do after I light the candle:

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More fun with Country Morning and Derwent Inktense. They go together like peas and carrots.

Or like Lennon & McCartney. Tell me if this video is not the coolest thing you've seen all week! Snagged it from my friend Ilene's Facebook page.

Born to be together. :)


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Emerging From Chillpocalypse

I know you northerners won't appreciate our struggle down here, but it actually has been an unusually cool spring in Austin.

I've actually had to wear pants. Like, more than once!

I know - I will wait while you cry it out.

So it's a good thing that I got us a pop up greenhouse for Christmas, because our delicate Texas plants wouldn't have made it through the chillpocalypse of early 2014.

Because we had the greenhouse, we actually already have about 20 tomatoes on our tomato plants - they are about 4' tall! We are really having good luck with the Sweet Million - we went this direction after last year's $2000 single tomato - and it seems like it will really be a producer. We are also growing our favorite heirloom - the Black Krim. This is the tastiest, funniest looking tomato I've ever had. I hope it does well - we have some teeny tomatoes on it right now.

Now that the plants have been liberated from the greenhouse it's fun to see a little color in the yard, which is tough in our extended drought.

Here's one of the tomato blossoms.

 And this is newly planted this spring - a Leopard Jew. It seems a little tougher than the classic Wandering Jew, which struggles in our heat - so I hope this one makes it. It's beautiful.
 My favorite planting so far is my Oxalis Coppertone. It has such beautiful colors, and teeny yellow flowers. Really, really pretty.
 And my chives, which are going like gangbusters and survived winter in the greenhouse, even gave me a flower this week.

That color and my little goldfinches on their feeder are great inspiration for backyard coloring.

This coloring experiment was with Country Morning (retired) and Derwent Inktense pencils

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I checked this morning and I have three buds on my roses too - so soon I can pop some real flowers in a vase!

Now, in case you missed it, here are two great videos illustrating the profound differences between cats and dogs with how they react to magic:

First - dogs.

And now - cats.

Yep - that pretty much sums it up.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

If Your Website Does This, Please Have Someone Punch You In The Throat

I was trying to read a news article the other day.

I can read quite well. I've been reading since I was three, thanks to my sister. I love to read. I'm good at it. I was an English major, for Pete's sake.

(Who is Pete by the way, and why are we always doing things for his sake, for Pete's sake?)

But for the life of me I could not read this danged article, and that's because it looked like this.

How is anyone supposed to concentrate on ANYTHING when a "news" story looks like this?? And by the way, the title of the article is "YouTube needs a competitor" which I found interesting. But then I went into this ridiculous mash-up of disruptive "see also" non-relevant ads, intra-article social sharing buttons and finally a completely irrelevant video and my face just hurt. Also, I can assure you that Yahoo is not going to do anything anyone cares about.

About 10% of the space is devoted to anything remotely approaching the supposed topic and that 10% is remarkably data-free and clearly designed just to have the user load the page.


I'm all for online advertising. In designated spaces, and without hostage content.  But this is complete garbage.

I think sites like the TechCrunch (example) do a great job of presenting news, WITH ads. Without interrupting an article.

I would like designers of other websites to please begin having people punch them in the throat for giving us all internet-induced ADD. I could probably get a grant to study cognitive disruptions from such horrendous marketing practices.

Sadly, I have neither the time nor the patience for grant writing, probably because of the cognitive disruption presented by interruption marketing. I managed to read War and Peace after all before the internet looked like this...

You know where I have zero cognitive disruptions? Outside, in my backyard, in my after work outdoor coloring sessions known as #backyardhappyhour.

It's a happy hour indeed. Birds tweeting, coloring practice, sunshine, watching my tomatoes grow.

Lately I've been trying to practice a different, specific technique each day.

Yesterday, I was practicing working with complementary colors.

I first stamped the images from Peaceful Petals onto watercolor paper in Groovy Guava. Why use Groovy Guava for the base outline? Glad you asked! It's because my craftastrophe is horrendous right now and that's the ink that I could reach. Keeping it real here. Remember - perfection is for serial killers.

Next, I used Derwent Inktense Pencils - in Shiraz, Cadmium Yellow and Bark to very slowly paint the flower. I was out here for two hours maybe? Mostly because I threw away my first attempt that I spent an hour on, and I was much more careful the second time.

I was perfecting a technique I'm teaching in my Love What You Have class at my retreat in Salt Lake. So obviously I can't tell you what it is yet :).

I'm really happy with the way it turned out - it looks very different from the image you see when you buy the stamp.

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I posted the work in progress on Facebook and one of my friends described the colors as vintage, which I think is accurate. I like the warmth of them and how they are a little more subdued than what I normally do. A wee bit more natural.

I couldn't bring myself to add a sentiment because if I'd stamped it crooked I'd have cried.

Well I'm sure that some of you are probably getting text messages from people who need you to punch them in the throat, so I won't keep you.

God speed - and remember - punch from the shoulder.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

1/7th of The Deadly Sins

I saw something on Splitcoast the other day that has been rolling around in my head (the rock tumbler, as I call it.)

A friend posted that one time she had spent a lot of time on a beautiful handmade gift for someone, given it to them, and their response to this gift was the dreaded phrase all of us arty types have heard at least once:

"Some people have too much time on their hands."

Everyone who has ever said this deserves a smack, in my opinion. A firm, well placed smack. Perhaps an eye poke as well.

It really hurt her feelings, which makes me sad. My response to her was this, after observing this behavior for many decades.

What people are REALLY saying when they say this is actually:  

"I feel an immense amount of envy that you manage to do all the fun things you do in addition work/home/kids/yard etc. - I'm not as organized as you are and/or I don't have a fulfilling hobby that I look forward to immersing myself in every spare moment I have, and I should probably go to church now because envy is a sin."

And in reality, it's a lie. People who spend every spare moment in hobbies they love are the ones with NO time on their hands. The people with time on their hands are the ones not making/doing/seeing things in every waking moment.

We all have the same amount of time. And we all decide what to do with it. And if any portion of that time is spent being envious of other people's choices, then hopefully a smack or a visit to church will set that person on the right track. Perhaps there's a church somewhere that smacks people, which would really bring it all together. Maybe I'll start the Holy Order of the Smack. Or Our Lady of the Eye Poke. Now accepting applications for smackers and pokers.

So instead of folding laundry or doing any number of other things I COULD be doing on this rainy Sunday, I chose to make a card for the Challenge Chicks April challenge which is an I miss you card.

At work, we use heat maps to look at what people are clicking on on the website so that we can make the content more relevant and make the site easier to use.

The heat maps are beautiful little informational rainbows and I love them. Here's what one looks like - the red or "hot" areas are the ones people click the most:

 So, so pretty.

So I thought I'd turn that into a card. A bright, happy card to combat the grey outside.

Step one was to use washi tape to mask off all the vases from Vivid Vases except the middle one.

Then I inked that one up in black and carefully removed the tape and stamped it.

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Hard to see here, but the colored vases are actually cut out and glued onto the card. I inked the edges of them with a black marker after cutting them out so that no white showed.

Then I used a marker to ink up the greeting from Just Sayin so that I didn't get the talk bubble around it and I stamped that under the vases, which are colored very quickly with dry Derwent Inktense pencils.

Love all that color.

So now I'm off to use my time however the heck I want to. I hope you are too.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Will Toilet Paper Be Folded Into Points In Heaven?

I have an informal survey to conduct. Please indicate your opinion in the comments.

I'm wondering if having your toilet paper folded into a little point makes you:

A. Have a higher opinion of the hotel you're in? Do you run to the bathroom and say - ah, yes, now THIS is a classy hotel if you see the telltale point?

B. Feel like your house is cleaner? So if you hire a housekeeping service and they do NOT fold your TP into points, do you get all grumpy and feel like you didn't get your money's worth?

C. Feel like you cannot achieve such artistry in your daily life? Are housekeepers the only ones capable of providing this soul-enriching service? If not, why aren't we all treating ourselves to folded, pointy TP every day?

Where did this custom originate? Are there some opulent palaces somewhere in Europe where some sort of over-the-top royals are beating servants about the head and neck should they encounter a - SHUDDER - straight edge on their loo paper?

Just today's random thought. There's always a conversation happening in my head, you know.

Friday's (I know I'm late - HUSH UP) Free For All challenge was to make a card with circles in the background. After seeing a beautiful, rainbow colored mesh wreath that my friend Dana made, I knew what my challenge card was going to be - another deconstructed rainbow.

I used the the remainder of the Gelli Print I used for my tutorial for the background.

The big bold Thank You is from Another Thank You.

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I'd love to stay and chat, but I need to go fold my TP. It's a never-ending source of joy.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Juice - Or Is It?

I'm SO close to finding out who the murderer is in my latest Louise Penny audiobook - Cruelest Month. So close, in fact, that I decided to clean the house just so I could have an excuse to listen for a while. That should say something to you.

A friend on Facebook recommended this mystery author to me when I asked for some good, clean, suspenseful Christie style mysteries. She NAILED what I wanted and I've really enjoyed the books - so much so that I went to a book signing when Louise Penny visited Austin. She is not only a great mystery writer, but a HILARIOUS and beautiful lady. I thoroughly enjoyed her presentation and I'm loving the series.

So it's weird that the following even happened to me because I normally exclude the rest of the world when I'm engrossed in an audiobook.

I was walking past the living room carrying laundry and there was a commercial on. Out of the corner of my ear, I hear something so ridiculous I pressed pause.

"It's 100% real juice, with no sugar added."

Since when does the word JUICE not mean this? If someone tells me I'm drinking juice, I assume that I'm drinking a smashed fruit or veggie with nothing else. It doesn't need the word "real" or the words "no sugar added" because both of those things hint at something that isn't juice and should be described with another word like Kool-Aid or Coke or anything under the Gatorade brand family.

The definition of juice is: the natural fluid, fluid content, or liquid part that can be extracted from a plant or one of its parts, especially of a fruit: orange juice.

If you use the word JUICE, you do not need add any other words. I speak English. Words mean something. 

Or they should. 

Please see my rant on what the word tea means here.  

I got back to my book after thinking I needed to discuss this with you, but seriously, marketing people. Use English.

Today is the day each week when I do "Show Me Sunday" with my downline. Everyone makes a card or two before 2 PM on Sunday, and then we have a video chat where everyone can show their card, or just chat. Today's call had people from coast to coast and I sat outside for it because it's SUCH a spectacular day today. I actually got a sunburn. Oops. 

When everyone was posting their projects throughout the week in preparation for the video chat, I saw one by Dana that inspired MY Show Me Sunday card. She had made a spring wreath out of a rainbow of mesh ribbon that was so pretty and fun - I had to put it on the card.

So I took the circle stamps from the February My Paper Pumpkin kit and made a deconstructed rainbow.

I really like how the stripes look at a 90 angle in two different colors when they overlap. So fun. Colors - Wisteria Wonder, Strawberry Slush, Tempting Turquoise, Gumball Green, Tangerine Tango.

The greeting is from Another Thank You - LOVE how big and bold it is.  
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This is your last reminder about Sale-A-Bration - it ends tomorrow. If you want any of the free goodies, or want to get $150 worth of goodies for $99 and be able to come to my Show Me Sunday events, you better get busy! :)

Now, I'm off to make one of my favorite recipes - Biscoff Banana Bread - you can see the recipe here.


PS - retreat is filling fast - click below to register! :)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Explain Something To Me

Got to go on a walk this morning - I hadn't been for a few days because of a few unusual raindrops so it was nice to get back to my audiobook and see all the blooming trees and flowers and see little bees buzzing around.

There's a couple that I see a lot on my walks and they're doing something that completely mystifies me.

It's this:

What in the heck is the point of this? The poor woman basically has her head buried in the man's sweaty bum, which is 100% of her view as well. And y'all - IT'S HOT HERE. In case you weren't aware of this, every human being is sweaty and stinky within about four minutes of leaving the house most days. And miles and miles of being that close to anyone's sweaty, spandex-clad nether regions? No thanks.

What are the possibilities here? Can she not ride a bike? Does she get lost a lot and this is the only way her man can keep her from wandering off? Is he terrified to be alone? Is he not strong enough to ride a bike alone? Is this human trafficking? Could they not afford two separate bikes? Why would you prefer that someone else might be responsible for you falling down (and breaking your face on their sweaty hiney) over you being solely responsible for you falling down?

Its just something I need a lot of help understanding, because it looks like a completely miserable and weird experience to me.

Today is the Mix-Ability challenge at Splitcoast, and it's to create a monochromatic card with a hat tip to spring.

Well as usual, before I started, I saw something shiny - Dina's technique here - and I did a poor imitation of it here with Blessed Easter and Derwent Inktense pencils and a little white acrylic.

I cut the greeting off of this stamp set and mounted it separately. I don't like my greetings attached to my stamps and I love these beautiful tulips. Reminds me of Rochester.
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Then I got down to business and made a monochromatic one for the challenge. Can't decide which one I like more.

Come play along! But please do share your thoughts with me on what the point of the sweaty butt bike is. I can't wait to hear!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The PGC Ribbon - REVOKED!

If you have a tortie, or any other variety of mentally quirky feline, then I know you will understand what I'm about to say.

Darling, precious little Splotchy is determined to kill us via sleep deprivation. He loves to bloviate late into the night and for about an hour before the alarm goes off every day. He has so, so much to say on so many topics that the daytime cannot contain his words. (Also, yes, he is actually a she, but that's another story.)

So on those RARE nights when he actually sleeps, like last night, and we get to sleep, we have to praise and reward him. So this morning I came up with an award - the Pretty Good Cat ribbon. It can't really be any better than that because if you only let your servant sleep for about four nights out of 365, you're really only a Pretty Good Cat. It's hard to get to Cat Excellence with that kind of a record. So this morning I awarded him the PGC ribbon.

However, shortly afterwards, I had to revoke it when he surprised me (why I don't notice that he's followed me into the bathroom is beyond me - he's very slinky and quiet when I'm NOT sleeping) by shooting onto my back, slipping, and clawing his way back up - WHILE I WAS PEEING.

I'm quite certain I had a minor heart attack. And I look like I've been lashed as punishment for something heinous.

He, on the other hand, made a little chirping sound and flopped down on my shoulders and purred.

Maybe I should come up with a VBC ribbon. Very. Bad. Cat. Or a CWJOMBWIP ribbon - Cat Who Jumps On My Back While I'm Peeing.


But since I was rested, I felt creative, if scratched, dented and filled with adrenaline.

I saw a beautiful technique by Tasnim Ahmed in an online card class I just took and I had to try it. I stamped the image from So Very Grateful in Smoky Slate, stamped off once. I think I'd stamp it off twice next time. Then I used a gold Sakura gel pen to outline part of the stamp image - it's so sparkly and pretty IRL.

Then I just colored the outlined portions - easy!

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Hey - don't forget - my retreat is filling up fast - and when the seats are gone, they're gone! Sign up below!


Monday, March 24, 2014

The Worm Has Turned

We have officially gone to war.

We had to go on a killing spree in the garden this weekend in the first official skirmish of spring.

All of our plants have been starting their young lives safely in our pop-up greenhouse until this weekend when it was time to throw them out of the nest.

However, to our horror, when we started pulling plants out we saw the dreaded CATTERPILLARPOCALYPSE - all over my chives!!!

The little buggers must have been in the chive soil because that was the only plant that got moved into the greenhouse that lived outside most of last year. The rest were new plants with sterile soil.

Being an urban gardener requires extreme vigilance. Last year we got tomato horn worms - which I will NOT post a photo of because they cause extreme PTSD - ask me how I know. And one of those little beasts can defoliate your entire 7 foot tall tomato in a day, undoing all your hard work in one case of the munchies.

Then I decided to wash my car, because doves roost in the tree above my car. Not cool, doves. Not cool at all. What I didn't factor in is that the wind was blowing 60 mph, so operating the sprayer at the car wash was a lot like trying to control a runaway fire hose.

After all that excitement I was ready for some serious couch time. So I grabbed my TV emergency kit :)  (I like it because I don't need a cup of water) and this watercolor paper (which is so smooth it's perfect for stamping) and plopped down with an old, old stamp set - Stew Pot Pals. You can't see in my photos, but there are teeny accents of Wink of Stella on these, making them sparkly and fun on their accessories, shoes and collars.

I love these images and the little punny sayings. Vegetables make such fabulous anthropomorphs.

Carrots are always *sweet*.

 This yam is just letting its freak flag fly.
 A full figured and yet dainty turnip.
 And that stylish and flirty bean is the life of every party.

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This is why I never sell the stamps I buy.

I love them all, and there's always a day where they just feel so right.

Someday, I'll sell the movie rights to the Great Caterpillar Wars of 2014.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Caturday Painting Session and Recharge

I taught today. I have my Land, Sea and Sky class this month - I'm teaching again next weekend if you want to come - today was a private class for one of my customers and her mom, who was visiting from Florida.

Every time I teach, I have this compulsion to spend the rest of the day experimenting. I don't know how to explain it, but it sort of feels like when I teach, which I absolutely love, some of my creative battery gets depleted, and I have to charge it up again right away by making something so that I can teach again. It works. Not sure if I'm describing it exactly right, but if you teach, maybe you know what I mean.

So today, I thought I'd play around with turning a stamp into a painting. A lot of people don't paint because they can't draw - or they think they can't draw - and that paralyzes them. So I wanted to show you a fun way to use your stamps to get over that fear. The stamped images can just be used as your base drawing and you can have fun, without worrying that your image looks wrong.

So here's what I made - nothing fancy. But I did take photos (bad photos on my Iphone) of each stage of it and I turned it into a little video for you. Hope it inspires something fun - you do have all day tomorrow to play you know before Monday enslaves us all again. :)
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And here's the video - enjoy!

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