Friday, November 21, 2014

This Word "We" - It Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means

So when you're a good little child, raised in a nice small town in SE Texas, you learn manners.

You learn to say sir and ma'am, speak when spoken to (I wasn't so hot at this as I sort of love the whole speaking process) you learn the difference between adults and children, and you respect the adult / child boundary.

I remember when my parents had parties, we had to be upstairs. Did we spy on them from the top of the stairs? Yes. But there was no mingling. They had their fun and we had ours.

We also learned that there were multiple authorities with control over us as children. Neighbor parents, for example. If a spanking was required, they were authorized - encouraged, even - to deliver it. Teachers and principals as well.

Custody of us was transferred each time we were within sight of another adult. This is a great system and should make a comeback.

But one day, in ninth grade, it all broke.

I remember quite distinctly the day that I learned that it was completely okay for me to tell people with a wide variety of experience/age differentials to stuff it.

It was the day that my biology II teacher, who, by the way, I really liked and respected, told the class we'd be dissecting cats.

Yeah, lady, I thought - you keep using this word "we" - I'm not sure it means what you think it means. I'm not your huckleberry there. There is no power in the universe that could make me do that. I wouldn't even do that at gunpoint.

Mind you - the whole class was horrified - not just me. But we were good kids. We didn't tell grownups to shove it.

Until I did.

I said - Sorry Mrs. Loving - I'm just not going to do that.

I left the class. And I was not summarily executed or forced to leave the planet. It was actually surprisingly uneventful.

I got an F. The very first and last F of my life, and the grade I am MOST proud of. I'd like a thousand more F's for situations just like that. Because you know what? I did fail. I EARNED THAT F LIKE A BOSS. I owned it. I didn't even try not to F. It was the perfect score. Any other grade would have been a travesty.

She was surprised and, I can't lie - mad - I think just because she really loved teaching, not because she felt disrespected, but she didn't duct tape me to my seat. She just watched me leave. And she told me I'd get a failing grade. Failing, as I remember thinking, was a wee bit relative in this particular situation. I'm pretty sure I won.

But it's good to find out that just because someone tells you you have to do something, doesn't mean you have to do it. You really don't have to do anything at all. And I'm not an anarchist. I just think that there are times in your life when you should say no thank you. Firmly. And not regret it. And embrace all the things that come with it.

I'd love to say that F had no impact on my life, but it did. It's something I earned, and it's something I think of and cherish every time I say no to something that just isn't quite right for me.

And Mrs. Loving, if you're out there - you were an awesome teacher. I loved the little maps we made when we were studying genetics. Maybe that's why I loved biology and hated chemistry - I remember biology being very visual, and chemistry being very math-y. Also, my chemistry teacher was no Walter White, but that's a horse of a different color.

Luckily, none of this interfered with my dream of NOT being a doctor or a medical examiner! Yay me!

Today's Mix-Ability challenge is hosted by Tiffany Johnson - and it's about FEATHERS!

I decided to try an experiment. For some reason when I do gelli printing, I can't bring myself to throw away the ugly mistakes. I don't know why - it's not like the process is expensive. I guess I keep thinking I'll print over them - I do love that you can fix a bad print a lot of times by printing on it again.  But sometimes I don't fix them and they just sit in a drawer. So today I decided to take an ugly print and use it for my feathers.

Here's the ugly print:

It's just awful. It had some cool shapes, but the colors weren't right. I realized when I used it today that what it needed was red or orange.

I stamped a few feathers from the Four Feathers bundle and die cut them. Then I used a skewer that was on my messy desk, dipped it in some Vat Orange Golden Fluid Acrylic and whacked the paint loaded stick against my finger to spatter it. It was just the right color.

I made circles in the background with a sponge dauber and yellow ink, added sequins from the Frosted Sequins collection, and stamped the greeting from Banner Blessings in black.

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Of course, if I hadn't wanted to do any of that, I could have just said no thank you. :)

Try it sometime!


Friday, November 14, 2014

Shine Like Stars In The Universe

So it really wasn't much of a week. I mean, we just landed a little spaceship on a comet and whatnot - no biggie!

My sister and I renamed the little comet Chigger, because the scientific name is stupid. Why do people have to make everything so complicated? Call it something fun and quit being so stuffy and egomaniacal.

Now last night, I woke up in a cold sweat from a terrible nightmare in which I won a trip anywhere in the world. I had to decided right then while the people who told me I won were there. It was awful. I could NOT decide and still hadn't decided when I woke up. I'm clearly not prepared to win a trip anywhere I want to go, so there's a lesson for a Friday!

In more earthly news, the best stamp set ever was released.

 And I bought it.

Behold its wonder.

I LOVE that hand drawn look. After the comet kerfuffle settled down and I was over my free trip nightmare, I couldn't wait to play with this, and this week's Mix-Ability challenge was the perfect opportunity.

I have discovered that the universe is binary. You either shine or you don't. You're grumpy or happy. You're the comet or you're the spaceship. You're in control of the switch.

I say shine. Shine, little Chigger! Shine! :)

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Speaking of shining, holy MOLY do I have an awesome recipe for you.

You know I'm a soup lover. There may or may not be someone in my house who does not believe soup is food, with few exceptions.

THIS soup was an exception! It's RIDICULOUSLY delicious.

Butternut-Boursin-Bacon Soup

Recipe from: Cathy Pollak for | Serves: 4-6


  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 of a large onion, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 (3-1/2 lb) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 2 (5.2 ounce) rounds Boursin Cheese with Garlic and Fine Herbs
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 6 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped chives


  • In a large (7 qt) Dutch oven, melt butter over med-low heat. Add onion and celery and cook until slightly softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add butternut squash and thyme leaves, cook for about 8 minutes more. Stir several times. (It is okay if squash begins to brown a little.) Add flour and stir until fully incorporated.
  • Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn down heat, cover and simmer on low for another 10 minutes. Squash should be soft. Using a hand-held blender or regular blender, puree squash mixture until smooth.
  • Add soup back to the pot (if you removed) and add Boursin cheese, salt and both peppers. Stir until cheese is melted.
  • Garnish each bowl with crumbled bacon and chives.

    This soup is seriously a religious experience!! You MUST try it.

    The only things I think I would do differently next time is hold back on the salt by maybe 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon - (the Boursin has plenty of salt in it) and maybe add a teeny bit of ground crushed red pepper for bite.

    But it's seriously perfect the way it is. Unbelievable fall dish. I can't wait for lunch.

    For now, I'm off to ponder where I'd take that trip, so next time it's offered to me, I can shine. :)


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Stop Poking Me With Your Elbows!!

I've been getting massages since the 80s.

I am one of those people that develops world record back knots.

Some of this is my artist personality - I can sit for five hours watercoloring a tiny squirrel to get it *just* right. I don't realize that there are humans and animals that require food, or that deadlines have come and gone or that I haven't moved my neck in four hours. I just get... lost.

Part of it I think it just genetic. I think some people's muscles knot up and some people's don't.

Someday I will win a Nobel prize for correlating my horseradish allergy and aversion to seafood to back knots. Then I will curse the shrimp cocktail eaters with my whole face and my million dollars.

In the meantime, I try to cope with massage.

When I was slaving away as an awesome child laborer in the health food store my mom and her BFF ran in Bryan for $1 an hour (BTW - John Mackey, before he hit the big time, delivered to our store), I met the first great massage therapists of my life. These people were born to do this work and they were GREAT at it. We also had a reflexologist who worked in the store. Oh, to find a good one in Austin!

So I started there, and then went on to have massages everywhere - Santa Fe, New York, a fun B&B in Fredericksburg, Lifetime Fitness, Massage Envy and a million others.

And for many years, the experience was the same. Massage therapists used their fingers to untie my knots. It was - while sometimes painful - an excellent experience. And then, sometime in the 2000s, massage took a dramatic turn for the worse.

Someone started teaching people to start poking all of us with their bones.

For YEARS I've been getting massages where NO ONE uses their fingers to untie knots - they are all digging their pointy elbows into me, or "massaging" me with their radius and ulna.



You are making something that used to be awesome painful and scary. You aren't feeling my muscles, and I am only feeling your pokey bones. QUIT IT. I have a pokey bone or two I might retaliate with!

Here endeth the rant.

NOW - speaking of getting obsessed and doing something for four hours straight, that happened to me yesterday. (Which is why my back hurts and I'm protesting modern massage methods.)

I saw this glorious exploding pyramid box project on Splitcoast and I had to try it for myself.

Because it was SO elusive on the Googlewebz, I had to just wing it. If ANYONE knows who made this project - it was a sample from the Stampin' Up! convention in Brussels - please let me know - I'd love to give him/her credit - I fell in LOVE. (UPDATE - the artist contacted me - YAY! She is the incredibly talented Jo Blackman - here's her post about it. It was a design contest entry at convention. Thank you Jo - you are amazing!!)

My engineering skills - well, I'm lacking in the math and all, but I think I did okay! :) Here's the inside of the box - the outside looks just the same.

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Here's what I figure out. You can make a perfect triangle exploding box with a piece of cardstock that is 10.5" X 12". Mark the center on the 12" side and cut from the corners to this point to form a triangle. Then, fold one point of the triangle to the center of the opposite side. Do the same with the other two points. You now have a triangle box - BOOM!!!

To make the DSP triangles for the inside and outside, cut pieces that are 5.5 x 4 11/16. The 5.5 side is the base of the triangle, so on the 5.5" side, mark the center at 2.75 - cut from the corners to this point. Boom - triangles! You need six of these to cover both sides of each side of the box.

For the tree - I used 16 punch outs from the Tree Punch - I just lined it up at the edge of the DSP so I wasn't getting the stem - just triangles. Fold each triangle in half, and glue each to another folded half. 8 make up the bottom layer of the tree. For the top layer, you'll insert a folded triangle into a crease in the bottom of the tree. Then add the next one in the next crease and make your way around the tree.

I used three stars punched out of glimmer paper for the topper - be sure and line them up precisely and hold them for a bit while the glue dries. Tombow Mono Multi is a MUST - don't use any other adhesive!.

Then, I deconstructed some cottonballs. I covered the base triangle with glue, and stuck down my fluffy "snow." Then I put a BIG puddle of glue in the center, stuck my tree into it and used my bone folder to put some more cottonball fluff around the base.

If you look at the second photo you'll see I added some glimmer paper snowflakes - the ones that look like jacks - on top of the snow - LOVE.

I colored some rhinestones and stuck them on my tree.

The points of the box are the same on the outside and the inside. I stamped with Holiday Home the little houses on watercolor paper and die cut & colored them with reinkers. I stamped the sleigh image right on the All is Calm DSP with Lost Lagoon.

Now the only thing I can't figure out is how she made that little topper to keep it closed - can you figure it out? I tried a folded circle but it was too small and the box popped open. Let me know if you figure it out!

Whew. Now I really need a massage!

I hope you try it - it really is adorable in real life.

But get up and stretch while you're doing it. :)


Sunday, November 9, 2014

How a Papercrafter Fries Eggs

Our dishwasher is on the fritz right now - some sort of electrical issue, we think. We eliminated the breaker by replacing it, so now we have a shiny new breaker and a still non-functional dishwasher. So the strategy for cooking has had to change for a while.

I eat a lot of eggs and I absolutely LOATHE doing egg dishes even when the dishwasher is working, so I decided to try an experiment.

I've been watching a lot of Cutthroat Kitchen lately - my newest Food Network addiction, so maybe that's how this nutty idea snuck into my brain.

I decided I was going to try cooking eggs on parchment paper!

I have one of these double burner griddles:
That's where I normally cook both fried eggs and migas. But it's a bear to clean - it's heavy and as you know, eggs are STICKY. So my parchment plan was launched. I put my papercrafting skills to use, and twisted the corners of my parchment squares to make a little paper pan. I buttered it, and set it on the griddle.

I cracked the eggs in there and BOOM - those eggs fried BEAUTIFULLY!! Here they are partly done.

I don't know if it was just that the parchment paper effectively lowered the temperature just a bit or what, but these were some of the most perfectly cooked eggs I've ever made - not ONE brown crunchy spot on the whole thing! When they were done, they slid right off the paper and onto my sandwich. Talk about lifechanging.

THEN I got cocky. I tore off a big piece of parchment that covered the whole griddle, twisted the corners, and I cooked BACON!! With no pan to clean!!

Then I made a whole pan full of MIGAS, which I made into breakfast tacos - about two week's worth, and popped them in the freezer.

I am forever transformed! You can thank me when YOU try it.

Will I go back to my old ways when the dishwasher gets fixed? I SERIOUSLY DOUBT IT.


Now - SQUIRREL - I had this stamp set sitting on my desk taunting me this week. Someone on Etsy had made a die that cut out those little squirrels from Nuts About You - I bought it and was dying to stick tiny, die-cut squirrels all over everything! I also wanted to play in Kathleen's Fault in Our Stars Hope You Can Cling To challenge.

So I stamped two of them in Baked Brown Sugar, die cut them and then added some shading with a Derwent Inktense pencil.

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The woodgrain embossing folder and the silver glimmer paper finished it off.  The teeny heart is from the Hearts Border Punch.

Now even though this card is all cute and romantic, to me that squirrel on the right looks like she is sort of DEMANDING that acorn. I feel like there will be consequences if she doesn't get it!
I've never had an acorn, so she may know something I don't.

But parchment paper cooking? I AM nuts about you.


Friday, November 7, 2014

The Effect of Time Changes on Mixed Media and Refried Beans

Just to follow up on my last post, time changes are still stupid.

 Here's a video illustrating my point:

So if you are suffering from the after-effects of this stupidity, as am I, then I have some things to make you feel better!

Instacart - which has changed my life. Grocery delivery from HEB, Whole Foods, Central Market and Costco - yes, Costco - within two hours for a TINY fee! This has revolutionized my productivity! I'm kind of a daily shopper because I like to get meat and veggies the day I'm going to cook them, and so I used to spend a lot of time hoofing it to the store. Never again! These people are amazing - their website and app are incredible, their drivers are awesome and I am convinced it's saving me a ton of money because I only order what I *need* to cook, and do zero impulse buying. I hope it's in your area - now or soon, because it is GLORIOUS. Every day I give silent thanks to my friend who recommended this to me.

Virtual Stamp Night - Mini Edition starts tonight! The theme is Frozen - whee!! I'm looking forward to a Friday night where I can just stamp. Come join us!

Holiday Tutorial Blitz starts Sunday on Splitcoast! This is a week where we give you a new tutorial every day to prep you for holiday cardmaking and gift giving. Since I've seen the tutorials, I know what amazement is in store for you! Sign up for notifications of each new tutorial here.

I just found the most DELICIOUS American dates!! They are Del Real dates, and I found them in the chilled produce section. Organic and grown in California.

Dina Wakley has a new book out - Art Journal Courage. Just ordered it, because I'm DETERMINED to make 2015 the year of the art journal up in here!

Also, today, I'm making my millionth attempt at the perfect refried beans. While simple and beautiful, refried beans are also elusive and mysterious beans. They are like the unicorn of beans. The correct balance of salt, fat, water - it's a lifelong pursuit. So I try again. Pray for me. And for my beans. I'm loosely following this recipe. If the beans are a religious experience, I'll share my modifications. 

Finally, it's Friday, so that means the Mix-Ability challenge is up. I was excited to see that Ky chose one of my fave artists everrrrrrr - France Papillon - as the challenge inspiration. I LOVE her videos, and she's one of the reasons I really want to start an art journal.

I chose this video as inspiration - because she uses my fave colors together.
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I started with the Dictionary background stamp, which I stamped in black onto a scrap of the paper I cleaned my brayer on while I was gelli printing. That's where the warm orange-yellow comes from. I applied turquoise paint with a credit card over that and sponged the edges with Soft Suede.

The flower is from Peaceful Petals. I stamped it in black on grey pastel paper and then colored it with my Luminance pencils, which I'll share a video for soon - they just GLOW!

I stamped that fun, bold hello from Four You onto a strip of  Typeset DSP and boom - Mix-Ability!

Now that Instacart shopped for me, and I don't have any classes this weekend - three glorious, unencumbered days stretch before me. WhatEVER shall I do?


Sunday, November 2, 2014

You Don't Know What The Word Extra Means - Newsflash!

I had a VERY busy weekend.

I had my class Saturday morning which was a hoot. We had some fall-like weather blow in and I had just happened to design fall & wintery cards, so it was a fun, holidayish meeting of some of my favorite people on earth. We had lunch together, and then I was off to finish prep for my GIANT crafty garage sale. I was pricing things and organizing right up until the time the doors opened to greet my waiting guests. Here's a little taste of how the sale went (here's a link if you can't see the video below):

A video posted by Lydia Fiedler (@understand_blue) on
We had so much fun. I had champagne, gourmet tarts from Mandola's, sweet treats and of course, Halloween candy for them to enjoy while they shopped. Most things were priced at a dollar, so people were walking out with bags and bags and bags of things for $20, $30 etc. Great deals to be had! In two hours, more than 1,000 items went out my front door!

For some reason - possibly a result of temporal shift induced mental illness - I decided that I then - at 10 PM -  needed to harvest some peppers and herbs from my back yard for a marinade, marinate chicken, wash dishes and do various other things that basically made me require a lot of Advil before bed.

When I finally did go to bed, I slept like a zombie. I actually didn't wake up until 10:30, which hasn't happened since 1989!

Now when I woke up, the rest of the world was chattering about how they'd had an EXTRA hour of sleep because of the time change.

I hate to break it to you people, but just because you're calling 10:30 9:30 now, you still slept for the same number of hours. It's just that you lied to yourself about some numbers when you got up. You still have the same number of hours in a day - there are only 24 regardless of your lying. I got SEVERAL extra hours of sleep because I slept longer. That's the only way you can get more sleep.

Now there are consequences of your lying - such as, it will now - post-lying - get dark closer to the time you get off work, but that's only because of your lies. Not because the universe expanded by one hour.

(People seem to lie less often in Arizona, and it seems like a nice place to live.)

I don't mind illusions of any sort - I am an artist, after all - but I do require that they be recognized as illusions. I might wake up tomorrow and decide that the NEW 10:30 (the old 11:30) is now 9:30 (the old 10:30 and the OLDER 11:30) and I could get off work two hours early!!

That would just make me a BIGGER liar and possibly fired. However, it does open up a lot of possibilities. I think habitual liars probably have all sorts of creative possibilities (in their minds) that regular people don't have.

I just want us all to be on the same page.

Now, despite my "extra" fake hour today, I am late posting my card for the Challenge Chicks November Challenge which is  reminiscent of the old Girl Scouts' song - Make New Friends - the challenge is to use silver, gold or silver & gold.

For my silver, I used glimmer paper in a die cut inlay. The base panel for that is one of my brayer cleaning sheets from a Gelli Plate printing session. I LOVE these papers - they are often as pretty or prettier than my prints! No way could you get this effect on purpose, which is what I love. This particular scrap looked like the northern lights to me, so I thought I'd do a starry night. I used the die cut inlay technique to embed the silver glimmer paper into the brayered scrap. I have a GREAT tip on how to keep all the intricate pieces you need for the inlay with a common household item here - you will LOVE this.

The inlay is done with the Wonderful Wreath framelits, the Star framelits and the itty bitty star punch.

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After I did the inlay, it needed a little contrast, so I used a Pitt Pastel Pencil to add shading around the die cuts, and blended them out with a tortillon.

I love the soft, impressionistic colors in the background with the crispy, sparkly silver.

Super festive for the holidays. Which, by the way, is a terrible time to take up compulsive lying and whatnot. Santa is watching your every move, time travelers.

Don't say I didn't warn you.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Oh Bother - You're Not a Pistachio, You're a Deadly Bug

Sooo, when you get older and have to have both your near and far vision corrected with the same pair of glasses, sometimes terrible things happen.

Like you get stung by a venomous asp you think is a nut.


My friend Yvonne came over to help me price and organize things for my crafty garage sale, which is tomorrow. We spent several hours getting things ready, relaxed for a while, and then she left.

I was running around moving a few things hither and yon, and I saw something on one of our barstools in the kitchen that I thought was a pistachio shell.

Here's the part, looking back, where it would have been extremely helpful to realize I actually didn't have any pistachios in the house, and maybe pause for a second to question how said shell got onto the barstool. Especially since I had moved that very barstool several times in the previous hours trying to figure out where everything in the sale was going to go.

But no. Blind old me just goes to pick up the shell.

This was one of those terrifying moments in life when you realize you've just done something you might die from.

It was soft. Furry. Squishy. And VERY bad news. Here's what it was.

I had just read about the sudden plague of these that had arrived in Central Texas this fall, but I hadn't seen one yet myself, so it wasn't in the forefront of my mind.

Ugh. I knew sad times were to come, even though, strangely, for the second time in my life, I touched one of these creatures and felt zero pain. Actually it was a lot like touching a teeny kitten or a bunny, if said teeny kitten or bunny could kill you with its fur.

I grabbed a paper towel and quickly escorted the deathpillar out front. I don't think I flung him far enough.

(He's behind me, isn't he??)

Then I waited. You can read about what I was waiting for in this article.

Nothing happened last night - so for a while I thought I was immune - I had played with a white one extensively when I was in preschool, much to the chagrin of our headmistress, who shrieked, stole it from me and put it in a jar so that she could yell at our whole class about how dangerous they were for an hour. I thought she was crazy because nothing happened to me.

But I guess that one liked me more than this one did because this morning its death rays started kicking in in my hand and my arm and I'm really mad at that stupid fuzzy bug now.

A person cannot stamp with a caterpillar afflicted arm, and I have a big weekend.

I guess I should be glad I didn't pop the little pistachio impersonator in my mouth!

Anyhoo, just as all that glitters is not gold (name that song), but all that's fuzzy is not sweet.

BUT - speaking of preschool and fuzzy I do have a fun fuzzy for you today.

Today is the last day of our Hope You Can Cling To Challenges, and I get to wrap things up with a challenge I've been waiting for all month!

This is our fifth year, so I decided to call it "Another Year In the Books," and use books as my inspiration - specifically, favorite children's books.

I have so many (none of which are from those hideous Brothers Grimm, by the way - they were the asps of the children's book world) it was hard to pick, but I finally decided on my beloved Pooh Bear.

I adored him for his bumbling optimism and serenity - in contrast with that grumpy old coot Eeyore. You know you know some Eeyore's in real life, and they are not all that fun to be around. I much prefer Tiggers and Poohs.

I stamped Pooh in Marigold Morning ink, watercolored him with Peerless Watercolors, and added some details with my Luminance Pencils, as well as some Pitt Pastel pencils.

I love him, I'm not going to lie. :)

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Since I was pulling things out to sell, I grabbed some retired True Thyme cardstock - it really was a pretty color. Perfectly neutral for my bright Pooh Bear.

Don't forget we're giving away $5,000 in crafty prizes for Hope You Can Cling To, and you have until November 7th to play!

And between now and the 7th, I can't recommend strongly enough that you not pick up any furry caterpillars.



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?


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