Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Baseball Revelation

Baseball is superior to other sports in so many ways. It's really the only sport I LOVE watching, both on television and of course live. I tolerate a few other sports, and as you know, I completely shun the National Felons League these days. If I had the time and a park nearby, I think I'd watch a game every day.

Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. ~George F. Will

Baseball is a team game but, at the same time, it's a very lonely game: unlike in soccer or basketball, where players roam around, in baseball everyone has their little plot of the field to tend. When the action comes to you, the spotlight is on you but no one can help you. ~Chad Harbach

Baseball is like church. Many attend - few understand. ~Leo Ernest Durocher

There are so many things to love. The parks, the rooftops, the strategy. The obscure rules that pop out  and make or break a game when you least expect it. The 7th inning stretch. The fact that you need to bring a glove. The games that go on forever. The PEANUTS. The hot dogs. The beer. That time I took a foul ball to the knuckle in Denver and got to meet a bunch of players. The sheer AMERICAN-ness of it all. The movies and the books. The legends. The singing. The fact that it takes place over the best parts of the year. The Cal Ripken Jr.s and Nolan Ryans of the world. The fact that there are 108 stitches on a baseball. The secret hand signals.

Yesterday, I realized, accidentally, one of the things I love the MOST about it. I was standing in the kitchen and there was a game on that I could hear and not see. I was listening to the relaxing, conversational tone of the two people covering the game, and it struck me.

All other sports have commentators who are CONSTANTLY yelling. Even away from the games - in their discussion of the games on sports shows they are just bellowing in this anxiety-producing fast-paced hysteria that I realized annoys the heck out of me. 

Baseball has such a long stride that that hysteria isn't built into the commentary because they'd all be exhausted by the end of a long inning or twenty. So they just talk. And they have SILENCE sometimes, because that's okay in baseball. And when it gets exciting, they get excited. 

It's just so much more peaceful. More suited to the radio than any other sport. And I guess I'm more of a radio person anyway. It's just so much more relaxing.

Speaking of relaxing, that's exactly what I'm doing this weekend. I did a video yesterday that you'll see Monday and then I plowed in for a three hour nap, which I'm assuming I really needed since it was unplanned.

However, I have discovered that the felines have some sort of nap sensing technology. The SECOND you start to nod off, you are INSTANTLY occupied by the nap sensing beasties. There's no such thing as a solitary nap and they don't care which of your limbs become numb while they are occupying you. Splotch for some reason LOVES to sleep on my neck. I think he might be trying to kill me.

After I woke up and extracted the occupiers I thought I'd get cracking on my card for today. It was a quickie with the new Made With Love set. I don't normally buy baby sets but I could NOT resist these little animals in the set. I did a little stamp surgery to cut the baby greeting away from the kitty.

Then I used my MISTI to make sure my red, white and blue kitties were all in a row. (PS - just read there's a 4th of July sale on the MISTI if you still don't have one - read about it here.)

So after all that, I give to you - the most patriotic kitties in the WORRRRLLLDDDD.
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I just colored the kitties with Touch Twin markers, added little silver glimmer paper stars and used the Neutrals Pattern pack paper behind it. It hurt me to glue down the side with that cute handwriting, but the dots looked better with my kittens.

What are YOU up to this weekend? Got any fun Independence Day traditions? Parades? Cookouts?

Whatever it is, I hope it's fun, relaxing and safe. This is one of my favorite holidays.

After you get done celebrating, when your boss isn't looking, come back on Monday for a fun surprise and a big giveaway. :)


Thursday, July 2, 2015

You're So Vintage!

Recently we went and saw Jurassic World with my friend Katherine - which was great - I loved Chris Pratt from Guardians of the Galaxy and Parks & Rec - and this movie was fantastic. (Provided you're ready to suspend your disbelief and just have fun for a few hours).

I read Jurassic Park in one sitting when it came out, and I remember being surprised at what a TERRIFYING book it was, despite the subject matter - and it made me feel silly for being scared. Michael Crichton was one of my favorite writers and I'm sad that he's gone. I still think he was secretly droned for writing Micro. They'll get Richard Preston next!

I think I've only ever read one other book in one sitting and it's still one of my favorites - and that was Into Thin Air. If you haven't read this - DO IT TODAY! (But clear your schedule first).

I've noticed as I've gotten more vintage and the internet has become a bigger part of my life, that I don't read physical books anymore, and I miss it sometimes when I think about these favorite books. I listen to a lot of audio books, and I read things occasionally on my Kindle, but I stamp in all the time I used to read in, I think.

I never was a newspaper reader - the large format and gross transferable ink (hold the irony - I know I'm covered in ink all the time now) - never appealed to me. I do like magazines, but there are fewer of the ones I like being published, and so the only two left that I regularly read are Martha Stewart Living and an occasional crossword or puzzle magazine.

So since I have dinosaurs on the brain and I'm pondering becoming vintage, I had a great idea to combine two new stamp sets - No Bones About It and That Thing You Did for a hilarious result. Look how much he looks like Michael Crichton's original Jurassic Park book cover - makes me laugh. I love this set.

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Hilarious right? Now what old person am I going to send this to for their birthday?? Heh.

And look - I even used GREEN! Cucumber Crush is the perfect dino-green!

Before I go - two things -

I will be closing registration for my Convention Retreat & Happy Hour soon, so please register if you haven't already!

I will be OPENING registration for my fall retreat - which is the weekend of October 16th - 18th, on August 1st, at 5 PM Central time. This retreat is at a GORGEOUS home in South Austin - I can't wait. Here are some more sneak peeks of the venue.

Cool, eh?

We are going to have a great time! And if you come to my retreat and love the house, I'll have a special deal for you if you want to rent it for your own event! Sharing is caring! :)


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Epic Battle of Red and Green

The very first time I picked up a rubber stamp was in (year redacted).

It was a ristra of chile peppers and I had also bought some gold embossing powder and some embossing ink.

Mind you - this was well before the internet, so it was not a video that gave me the embossing bug - I actually don't know where I saw it. Maybe just in the aisles of Hobby Lobby.

Anyway, I brought it home and I stamped and sprinkled. Then I carried the cardstock over to our gas stove, and watched the powder melt and turn gold and I screamed.

A stamping maniac was born.

I got some God-awful cheap markers and I colored those chiles red and green, repeated the process dozens of times, and that became my first handmade Christmas card. I wonder if there's still one kicking around in a box somewhere.

Not one single time in the decades which have passed between that groundbreaking moment and now have I EVER made a red and green Christmas card.

The truth is - I don't believe in red and green. I don't LIKE red and green. Blue and yellow make so much more sense to me than red and green.

But I loved that card, I loved that stamp, and I love that I know exactly when and where the stamping bug bit me.

So when my friends Chriss and Ardyth asked me to guest on the MUSE Christmas visions blog, I knew right where I'd go. Back to the first Christmas card I ever made.

I used what I consider to be "updated" versions of red and green - Ranger Distress Crushed Olive and Ripe Persimmon - because I don't like true Christmas reds and greens, and I decided to sponge stripes of them that looked like little rays of lights.

The greeting is from Wondrous Wreath - and I added Silver glimmer paper, the Metallic Sequin embellishments, rhinestones, and the new thick Whisper White, embossed with the Stylish Stripes embossing folder.

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I made a quick video of this simple card for you, and you can see it here.

Now the cool thing about the MUSE blog is that you use this card as your inspiration and post your own - so let's see what you come up with based on my crazy bright and funky Christmas card!
Thank you to the Muse crew for having me as a guest today - I can't wait to see the cards!

MerryJuneMas! :)


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Hold Me Closer, Tiny Dancer...

I'm a HUGE Elton John fan.

As you know, for much of my childhood, we didn't have a TV, and so Casey Kasem was my connection to the world beyond my neighborhood. I LOVED the radio. I still love the radio - and it's on all day while I work.

My brother used to use me as some sort of circus performer when I was little, as a matter of fact, because I knew ALL the words to EVERY Beatles song and could recite them on demand.

I never understood why stupid stuff like chemistry and statistics were not set to music - I might have had a chance at remembering molality and molarity if that had been the case.

But I loved Elton and Billy Joel the most. I got to see them together here in Austin once and they were fantastic.

We also had this - a beautiful little music box with a tiny, twirling dancer in it that I love(d).

I totally thought Elton John had one of these or maybe knew about ours.

It made the "tiny dancer" phrase make complete sense in my warped child brain.

Please note - I also for a brief time thought that all the bands playing the music on the Casey Kasem countdown were actually INSIDE my radio, so my theories at that time left a little to be desired in terms of realism.

But I'm just being honest.

So when I saw the Talented Trio stamp set in the new catalog and this sweet little ballerina, what jumped into my head was the song Tiny Dancer.

What's hilarious about this is that when I Instagrammed my work in progress on this image, Stampin' Up! totally called it:

I'm guessing Chad and I must be about the same age :)

So what I did with her is stamp her on black Canson Mi Teintes pastel paper with Whisper White ink, and then colored her with Luminance Pencils.

There's definitely a technique to these pencils, which I cover in the video. I love them soooooo much. They really remind me of pastels, but without the mess.

Brush used: Royal Crafter's Choice
Reusable DIY Stamp Wipes

Here's a little video of the process - it's the whole thing but I've sped up the coloring so you don't die of boredom.

And remember - if you want this stamp set - order $25 or more in my store in June and you'll get a bonus PDF of this month's class projects, which I never publish online. 

The pencils are so dramatic and, well - LUMINOUS on darker paper. I haven't been able to move to lighter papers because I got so hooked on the greys and blacks when I started working with them.

They are spendy pencils, but the good news is you can purchase them in open stock and try them out if you want. 

I hope you do - I love the heck out of them!

And, for your daily music fix - here's the video of Sir Elton.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day!

It's Father's Day, and I've been cooking all morning.

Us kids are bringing the food and that's always fun because we have three very different cooking styles.

My brother is very prone to experimentation - he travels a lot so he often brings home exotic ingredients to cook with, like the BEST smoked paprika in the world he brought us from Spain. He made a really awesome fruity paella with it once.

My sister and I are what I'd call seasonal cooks - we like to cook with what is currently either in our gardens, or in season in our local farms.  She never makes the same thing twice or writes her recipes down (Taurus, middle child) and while I rarely START with recipe, I always document what I'm doing and I END with a very precise recipe (Virgo, youngest child).

So we usually end up with very fun, very eclectic meals.

Such will be the case today, I'm sure. My contribution is two goat cheese tarts. This is a recent favorite of mine and very easy to make and customize to whatever fresh ingredients you have. This is about the 4th variation I've made and they are all delicious. Today's features local asparagus as well as leeks and yard eggs from a neighbor. Here's the recipe:

  • Your favorite pie crust, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 24 green onions, cut into 1/2-inch lengths (Sub two leeks, sliced, soaked and cleaned, then carmelized in butter and/or a bunch of asparagus, skinned and broiled with olive oil salt and balsamic)
  • 1/4 cup veggie broth, chicken broth or water
  • 1/4 lb. fresh goat cheese (chèvre)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, plus thyme sprigs for garnish
  • Chopped bacon, fried crisp (optional)
  • Fresh chives for garnish, snipped tiny (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Bring the eggs, sour cream and goat cheese to room temperature. Preheat an oven to 400°F. Press pie crust into glass pie plate or a tart pan.

Line the pastry with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights (for me - pinto beans). Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the weights and foil and reduce the temperature to 375°F. Continue to bake until lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes more.

While the tart shell is baking, make the filling: In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the green onions or leeks, and the broth and stir well. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the green onions are soft, about 15 minutes. The broth is really optional - I didn't use it with the leeks.

If adding asparagus, I clean and peel the stalks, roll them in olive oil, sprinkle them with white balsamic and cook on parchment paper at 400 until browned. Then cool and chop.

Remove the pastry shell from the oven and set aside. Position the rack in the upper part of the oven. Leave the oven set at 375°F.

In a bowl, mash together the goat cheese and sour cream with a fork until soft and well mixed. Add the eggs and chopped thyme and mix well.

Uncover the green onions/leeks and raise the heat to high. Cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Stir the green onions into the cheese mixture with bacon and asparagus if desired, then season with salt and pepper. Pour the cheese mixture into the prebaked pastry shell.

Bake on the top rack of the oven until a knife inserted into the center of the tart comes out clean, 25ish minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish with thyme sprigs. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with more chopped crispy bacon and chives.

This reheats very well!

So then I filmed a great video using Cottage Greetings and the MISTI - I demonstrated perfect alignment tips and coloring with Zig Clean Color markers

Andddddddddddddddddddd the file is corrupted. (sad trombone here)

Oh well. Here's the card. Imagine an awesome video to go with it. Maybe the universe was telling me to get out from in front of the computer for what's left of the weekend.

We are really missing the sun here in Texas. It just will NOT stop raining and I'm so tired of it. My poor retreat people witnessed our suffering in a dramatic way - at one point it was raining so hard we couldn't hear each other talk inside the retreat center. And, in case you weren't aware of this - WE ARE NOT QUIET PEOPLE. 

So I wanted to make a very bright card that looked like it had little spots of light on it. 

I just made very loose circles of color with the Zig markers and just blended them roughly - I wasn't aiming for precision. This would work great with alcohol markers too - or whatever you have.

I love the clean, sweet, precise lines of this stamp set and I wanted to have the color be exactly the opposite. 

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I paired it with my fave paper ever from the neutrals patterns pack - a nice crisp change from my blurry flowers. The center of the flowers have little dots from my white gel pen.

Is there a better sentiment in the world than this?

I do wish everyone ridiculous amounts of happiness. Anything less is just underachieving :)


Friday, June 19, 2015

Rewinding the Unwind Retreat

I wish I COULD rewind the retreat this past weekend.

We had SO much fun - it was even better than I imagined.

We started with my team event on Friday. I bought my team members the Tin of Cards kit and the matching stamp set to celebrate their awesomeness. And they are awesome. Here we are working on it after a team lunch my celebrity chef (center) - Melanie Hopes - prepared.

At each place at our team dinner, she placed a little easel with these GORGEOUS art canvas and palette cookies:

They were as delicious as they were beautiful.

Here they all are together at dinner - HOW AWESOME IS THIS??

The next day, before the public portion of the retreat began, we went about a half a mile from the retreat center where the most severe flood devastation in Wimberley happened. The photos do not convey the scale of this disaster. We felt like ants. The tallest trees we saw had debris at the very top of them - where the water had crested. It was frightening and humbling.

This used to be a bridge. The big trees all down in the direction the water was flowing was pretty scary.

This house was completely swept away.

People there - including the owner of the retreat center - were spending every weekend and every spare moment on assisting their neighbors in the cleanup - Wimberley is a great little town.

One of the surprises I had for the retreat guests was another celebrity guest - the inventor of the MISTI - Iliana Myska. Here she is with me and my teammate - Katherine.

And how cool was it that my guests got to get personal tips and tricks from her? Here she is with Ann Conn.

We did 8 classes, each class with 2 or 3 projects over the two days, and it was just a blast. We did encounter some Hill Country wildlife for the entertainment of our out of state guests.

We took a field trip to an adorable little scrapbooking store in downtown Wimberley - they were fantastic. It's called the Sassy Scrapper if you're ever out that way.

Mel spoiled us with more beautiful cookies and amazing meals throughout the weekend.

She also made these GORGEOUS MISTI bags, with custom pockets for ink pads and grid paper. One lucky person won one in a raffle, one was won in a silent auction, and the rest were for sale.

We gave away DOZENS of stamp sets, embossing folders, dies, punches and a Silhouette Cameo.

I loaned a few people - 7 or 8 -  who didn't have a MISTI one of my loaners that I use for my classes, and then surprised them all by telling them they could keep them. There's a small chance some of them peed :).

Iliana brought a laser-etched MISTI that we gave away in the raffle as well - Marci Payne won that one.

Sunday afternoon, sadly, everyone had to return to reality, but Mel and Katherine and I came back to Austin together and got a few more days of laughing in. Alas, even that came to an end yesterday.


I could retreat all day every day. Who wants to give me a million dollars so I can do that?

On Katherine's last night here - she accidentally bought herself a #bonusday by missing her flight - we went to the movies and then stamped thank you cards - I needed some for my customer orders - with the new A World of Thanks set. We used the MISTI to stamp it first in Smoky Slate on the new Thick Whisper White cardstock (did you know we sell heavy WW now?) and then colored one word with a Basic Black marker and stamped that on top of the original image. Perfectly, MISTI style.

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So cute and clean - I love it.

Gracias to EVERYONE involved in the retreat - I had so much fun with all of you - it really was a magical weekend. Thanks for all the giggles.

I am having another retreat in October - I will announce details soon - but it's the 16th, 17th and 18th.

The workspace is not as large, but the retreat house is AMAZING. Here's a peek.

I will decide soon if I'm going to do 1st come, 1st served for registration or do a lottery, because I'm fairly certain it will sell out quickly.

In the meantime - don't forget - I have a special present for some of you. Anyone who places a qualifying order in my store this month will receive via email, a project sheet with detailed instructions and photos for the three cards I'll be making in my monthly card class this weekend.

I never post these online, so I thought it would be a fun reward for all of you who place orders in my store, using hostess code RPZFP7AY before June 30th.

And also don't forget - you can buy yourself a discount with a starter kit this month and get a BONUS of any two free stamp sets from the catalog. Then you can come to my fun retreats and join our lively Facebook chat group for tips, projects, and lots of laughs. Bonus sets are only available through June 30th. You have no obligation to sell or hold events, and if you do want to, I have lots of tips for you.

Now it's time to get to work on my convention retreat and happy hour - have you registered?

If so - I'll see you in a few weeks!!


Thursday, June 11, 2015

June Bugs - The Ford Pinto of Insects

My friend Katherine suggested that I should invest in a little June Bug flipper I can carry around in my pocket.

This was after I observed that June Bugs are like Ford Pintos - they really are terribly designed creatures.

Somehow they manage to get inside the house and then immediately fall over and require assistance.

I walk around collecting the little idiots, taking them outside and righting them on a leaf or something so they can go fall over somewhere else.

It makes NO sense to me.

Why don't the genes of the two in 9 billion that can stay on their feet win out?

Why don't they stop pirouetting or standing on their tippy toes or whatever causes them to get stuck on their backs, pathetically wiggling their underutilized legs feebly? Maybe they have inner ear issues and they just get dizzy and plunk down like a kid who has spent too much time on a merry-go-round.

Some JuneBugitarian should take up this cause and help these poor things. They obviously need us.

Anyway - it's time for my UNWIND retreat - and I'm so excited! I have guests from all over the country converging on a little ranch in Wimberley (the site of recent flooding of biblical proportions).

I have 8 fun classes lined up, TONS of amazing prizes, a surprise guest or two and I'm really looking forward to hanging out with a bunch of creative people!

By the way, mark your calendars for a mid-October retreat at a GORGEOUS home here in Austin! :)

Details to come.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with some fun from the Simon Says Stamp Color of Fun release, which I squeaked out some time to play with this week.

I obviously had the retreat on my mind. I LOVE this die that says relax from the Find Your Happy bundle. I just wish I had a stamp that says "Heisenberg says...." :)

I cut it out of Watermelon Wonder cardstock, and stamped the sun image over it in Watermelon Wonder ink and added some Everyday Chic washi tape.

Then I used the Explore Nature set and dies to make a simple card with one of my FAVORITE quotes ever. I love Emerson and I love the spirit of this sentiment, along with the imperfect typewriter style font it's in. To make the green panel, I just swiped their new Catkin (seriously cutest name ever) on some Whisper White cardstock. It's a fun acidic lime color - my fave greens are acidic. Perfect with the Watermelon Wonder on the outline. The solid leaf image is also in Catkin, but stamped off once.

 And we were biting our nails a few weeks ago about whether it would still be flooding. But guess what? It's going to be a bright, bright (bright) sunshiny day. :) You're welcome for the earworm.

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Want to keep up with the shenanigans from the retreat? Follow along on Facebook or Instagram!


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Google Fiber, Blue Roses and Other Mythical Creatures

My sister and I have decided Google Fiber is fake.

It was announced two years ago that "GOOGLE FIBER IS COMING TO AUSTIN!"

All of us on AT&T and Time Warner started marking on the walls of our DSL/cable prisons the days, as they passed, until the end of our bondage.

There was kerfuffle when someone posted a map (I'm pretty sure it was a Google employee) of all the supposed digging permits - HUNDREDS of them - where Google was laying fiber.

Then there were these "signups" for certain neighborhoods (not ours, of course) that were going to be the first to be Fiberhoods.

Except nothing ever happened.

I know someone in the first "Fiberhood" and she's got exactly Jack Squat in the way of Google Fiber. So if the FIRST Fiberhood has Jack Squat two years-ish later, I can only imagine what those of us who haven't been allowed to do the fake signup yet have to suffer through. It's sort of a "this way to the Great Egress" situation, as far as I can tell.

It's best just to move on, at this point, with the knowledge that we are all stuck with service that doesn't allow you to operate Netflix and a dishwasher at the same time.

I think it even says in the Bible that hope deferred makes a person stabby.

(That's paraphrased, obviously.)

You know what DOES come right when it's supposed to?

Your Stampin' Up! order.

Especially if you expedite it, like I did. :) My excuse is the RETREAT so stop scolding me.

I thought the first thing I'd play with was a stamp set, but since I needed to put together my Paper Shares, I actually got sidetracked.


I almost fell out of my chair when I opened it up to cut it into share stacks. I cannot believe how amazing it is. And these flowers were hand drawn by one of the designers - amazing talent.

I decided to bring to life another mythical thing - the fake Japanese blue roses all over the internet - with this paper. And holy cow, are they gorgeous. They are nearly as pretty as a truly high speed internet connection, of which I know nothing. Take a look for yourself. You can see the subtle shimmer I added in this closeup (after watercoloring with FineTec) with the Irresistible Embellisher.

 And here's the full card.

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Aren't those flowers amazing?

I wish I could draw like that.

This card is for tomorrow's Mix-Ability challenge on Splitcoast, but I can't tell you why just yet. So you'll have to play along :).

Here's a quick video on how I made this card, which includes the Endless Thanks Set.

Because I love these so much, I have a special present for some of you. Anyone who places a qualifying order in my store this month will receive via email, a project sheet with detailed instructions and photos for the three cards I'll be making in my monthly card class this weekend.

I never post these online, so I thought it would be a fun reward for all of you who place orders in my store, using hostess code RPZFP7AY. If that's something you like, I'll do it every month.

If your order includes both this paper and that stamp set, you'll also get a surprise via snail mail from me :).

Here's a story on the fake blue roses, which are actually lavender. And also fake.

Although we did grow a "silver" rose at our house in Bryan that sort of resembled these purple roses.

But no one was daft enough to call it a BLUE rose and Photoshop hadn't been invented yet.

Now I know I'm a wee bit late, but I have my winners from the Damian Card Giveaway - thank you ALL for your sweet comments and for sending a card to this nice man. You are GOOD people and I appreciate you all.

To my winners - please use the email me link in my sidebar to send me your mailing address so I can send your stamp sets out!!


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