Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"I Guess I Was Put On This Earth To Make People Happy..."

Did you feel that? A great, great man just left us.

Cactus Pryor passed away today.

For those of you outside of Austin, I will give you an inadequate description of this man who just was Austin to us. He was, on paper, a broadcasting pioneer. Every citizen of our bright, shining city on a hill has heard and loved his voice. He was in the movie The Green Berets, if that tells you anything about how cool he was. Any man that is good enough for the Duke is good enough for me.

But as I listened to him over the years, and now, for many years, as I've listened to his son, I heard what really made me love him the most. He was filled with both joy and wonder - the two things I love the most. His commentaries on Austin painted pictures for me of what is still considered the "real" Austin, but with this kindness, and humor and a profound appreciation for the new things that many in Austin don't share. Imagine an 88 year old teaching you the right way to absorb and be grateful for change. He was nothing if not graceful.

I don't mean to say he wasn't feisty - he did fight for the things that matter to our culture here in a way that demonstrated a soulful passion, not a ruthless one - like his fight to preserve the historic Lions Golf Course, because it was a course that was open to everyone, and that was important to him.  That course played a major role in de-segregation in Austin, as strange as it may sound to have that start on a golf course.

But how I really know that he lived his life with joy and wonder and a sense of humor, and that all of that wasn't just for the radio, was because his son does the same. Every day, I tune in at 10 to hear the next generation of hilarious broadcasting Pryors, and I hear the same compassion, the same kindness, the same zany humor that Cactus was known for - in the voice of his son.

Is there anything nicer that you can say about a person than that they raised good hearted, joyful and funny children who followed in their footsteps?

As heartbroken as I am to say goodbye to Cactus, I'm glad he left us with living proof of just what a great man he was.

In Cactus' own words...

" Sometimes you just know what you are supposed to do.  I really believe I was put on this earth to try to make people happy. After all, it’s what my daddy did."

Mission accomplished. My thoughts and prayers are with the Pryors and my city. Rest in peace, Cactus Pryor.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

How a Manicure Stick Will Turn You Into Martha Stewart.

No, really. It will.

Let's take a little trip through the mind of a stamper, shall we?

So this weekend was Virtual Stamp Night. I actually completed all the challenges, so I'm feeling kind of smirky about that, I'm not gonna lie. They taught me a bunch of new techniques and now I have some fun cards to show you. Seventeen, to be exact. But don't worry - I won't show them all to you today :).

Lori's challenge was to use kraft cardstock with your "brand" on it. You know, your signature stamping move. Your style.

Well heck, I think we all know I was going to put something blue on there. And I had this idea for adding the ornaments from Merry & Type, with glitter for all the stripey bits.

And before I even sat down to make the card, I knew that was going to be hard but I had this brilliant idea to go buy a manicure stick.

See, in the world of a stamper, all objects can be repurposed for a stampy project. I knew that a manicure stick was the PERFECT shape to push errant glue and glitter back into the stripey space where it should have been if the glue hole wasn't too big and didn't goop glue everywhere in a decidedly NON OCD manner.

Was I right? See for yourself.
 Stamps: Merry & Type Ink: Memento Tuxedo Black  
Paper: Silver Glimmer Paper (Holiday mini - starts September 1), Whisper White, Crumb Cake 
Accessories: ShinHan Touch Twin Markers, Recollections silver bling, Silver Galaxy Glitter, Tombow Glue

We all know that Martha doesn't perfectly glitter within the lines every time.

She's got a manicure stick or two up her sleeve, believe me. And she's smart enough to do it off camera too!

I wonder if this is what happens to her sticks while she's not looking. It's what happened to mine.

Hey guess what??

SQUEEE! I'm the Featured Stamper at Splitcoast today! It's a challenge, so if you want to play along and CASE one of my cards, I'd love it. Keyword for the gallery is FS238.

It's a huge honor to be picked on a site full of hundreds of thousands of the most talented people in the world, and to have such an accomplished designer as Ms. Cindy pick me is 100% squealworthy!! Go leave her some love on her GORGEOUS card today!!

Hope it's less than 110 where you are, and that all my East Coast peeps are safe from the hurricane!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pi is Stupid. Yep, I Said It.

Pi is stupid. Mmm hmm - that's right. I went there.

I'm listening to a GREAT book right now by one of my favorite authors - Richard Preston. It's called Panic in Level 4. He writes gripping, page-turning non-fiction about various scientific topics, among them - ebola and apparently, pi.

Now as the daughter of a mathematician, the sister of an equally gifted mathematician, the aunt of a physicist, I do understand the consequences of a statement like pi is stupid.

But seriously.

In this book, Preston describes his conversations with these two completely fascinating Russian brothers who set records in their search to decode pi. They built their own supercomputer inside an apartment in NYC and broke records by calculating pi to 2 billion digits and beyond. I'm not done with the book, so don't tell me if you know what happens. I'm sure there are tons of pi fans in my audience!

Anyway, there's all this crazy talk about transcendental numbers and imaginary numbers and how elusive pi is and all I can say is that if I made something up out of thin air it would be a LOT cooler than 2 billion decimal points of non-repeating nonsense. I mean really - solving pi? When you get to the end of pi, what are you expecting? Does a unicorn jump out? Are there kittens?

Give me algebra any day. Or stamping. Or REAL pie. Sheesh they didn't even SPELL it right.

Or, give me gorgeous blue ribbon from a friend.

I got this stunning blue ribbon I used on this card from my sweet, talented friend America. I hoarded it for a long time, but it belongs on a card.
Stamps: Set Sail (Retired), Ink: Basic Black, Early Espresso, Cool Caribbean 
Paper: Basic Grey Whites Collection DSP, Crumb Cake, Very Vanilla Accessories: Ribbon, Sponges

I just love that boat image. This may not be the weekend to go sailing, what with Hurricane Irene getting all crabby over on the right side of the country, but you can enjoy a peaceful sail right here on my card.

I made this card for our May Virtual Stamp Night and I don't know where the time has gone, because tonight is the kickoff for VSN - and the challenges are AWESOME. :) Yes, I peeked. :) I'm hosting one tonight as a matter of fact, so I hope you'll come over and play along. I think you'll like what I have cooked up.

Here are some random things I've liked lately.

Yummy spaghetti sauce.
A great, moving and unforgettable book.
This light box that I got for my birfday.
A video of my lazy cat chattering at birds without getting up. (Turn the volume way up)

Have a great weekend - I hope I see you in the challenge forum tonight! :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Abominable Snow Bear...

Oh come on. I would NEVER use a word like abominable to describe a BEAR. But I cleaned my office this weekend and found something on my desk that is extremely hilarious and I need to share it with you all.

I used to grade an essay test with some other teachers, and let me tell you - many of the essays were indeed abominable. There was a little board with excerpts of some of the most spectacular sentences, and here are a few:
"I believe that I have matured in abominable proportions since being hired for this position."

Mmm hmmm - your supervisor probably says the same thing. 

"We talked and distinguished between our seven senses." 

Wow - is one of those the spidey sense?

"One day this giant hand reached out of the sky and slapped me. The impression on my face is still apparent today."

Are you sure that wasn't your momma?

Thought you'd enjoy a laugh in the face of an impending Monday. :)

But since it's still Sunday, I'm still on time for today's Featured Stamper Challenge on Splitcoast. The Featured Stamper today is Korin Sutherland, the owner of Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps - our newest Member Company! She is a giant sweetie head, and I adore her. I promise, Korin, it's NOT just because you show me pictures of your kittens!! She is sweet and fun and full of grace, so it was a joy to create a card in her honor today.

The Featured Stamper challenge lets you peruse a gallery - this is Korin's gallery - and choose one of the cards to CASE. I chose this sweet, sweet little bear card for my tribute:

I loved the colors, and the white space, and the simplicity. Did I say I loved the colors?

I busted out my new Pool Party ruffled ribbon for the occasion, some matching Domestic Goddess DSP, the polar bear from Zoo Review, white twine, It's Your Day and some Pool Party Ink.

Now that is no abominable bear.

I hope you had a great weekend and are ready for your week! You should clean your desk too, you know - Virtual Stamp Night is next weekend! Squee! :) I'm hosting a challenge too, so it would be really abominable if you didn't play along :).


Friday, August 19, 2011

Hair Discrimination!

I've been discriminated against my whole life on the basis of my hair color.

My mousy, brown, boring hair.

Yepper. It's the discrimination no one wants to talk about. The elephant in the hair salon if you will.

I was in the grocery store, and a little redheaded boy zipped past me. A woman behind me turns to her husband and says "Wow - that's a fiery head of hair there." People always feel compelled to remark on red hair, which I'm sure small red-headed children hate - but it's just so beautiful and unusual and interesting.

They also remark on that angel white, fluffy hair some kids (and lucky adults) have.

But NO ONE, in the history of hair comments has looked at a little kid and said - "wow - now THAT is brown. That kid has BROWN hair. That right there is a brunette, my friend. Sho nuf."

Nope. Never happened.


Surely we can get a class action suit together.

It's FRIDAY! Did you get the memo? On Splitcoast this afternoon, we have our Virtual Scrapbooking Night kicking off at 4 PM Eastern, so if you want to play in some fun scrapbooking challenges, check in! It goes all weekend, and it's a ton of fun. If you need something to wear, check out my "Keep Calm and Scrap On" T-shirt!

Speaking of Splitcoast - I found this card in the gallery, and it inspired me to make this distressed blue card for my class this month.
Stamps: Nature's Pace, Parlor Prints Paper: Pool Party, Crumb Cake, Very Vanilla  
Ink: Pool Party, Soft Suede 
Accessories: Distressing Tool, Sponges, Decorative Label Punch, Early Espresso Quilted Satin Ribbon

I think Pool Party and Soft Suede may be my new go to color combo. It's so homey and vintage and comfortable. How about that ribbon eh? Quilted satin ribbon coming in the Holiday Mini!

I'm trying out two recipes tonight. One is a pineapple mango jam from my beloved Cindy Lawrence, and then - get this - I'm making a batch of Alton Brown's Potato Leek Soup for the SOLE PURPOSE of making it the sauce for homemade chicken pot pies. How about them apples?

I'll let you know how it all turns out.

In the meantime, next time you see one of us, the boring brunettes, maybe you should say - "wow - you have really brown hair. "


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

They're Selling Victory Tape at the Grocery Store

You know I have issues with the grocery store. It starts in the parking lot, which I've discussed. Then, inside the store there are multiple challenges. There are the yogurt stockers. The maddening, maddening yogurt stockers. There are the people who crawl inside my shirt and breathe on me while I'm checking out. And, for a final insult, there are the bag boys. As I write this, I realize I almost have as many posts about the grocery store as I do stamping and Caturday. It's a bad, bad place.

But yesterday - yesterday was disturbing.

I was shipping out stampy prizes and ran out of packing tape, so I headed for the grocery store. In the school supply aisle, past the grumpy moms with their school supply lists, I fought my way to the tape section.

Where I found George Orwell.

Yes. You're not imagining things. Apparently the government has started manufacturing and selling TAPE. I'm actually quite surprised that it's not called Victory Tape. Was the private sector not doing an adequate job with tape? Are we not closing post offices faster than you can say postal? Is there a reason that the ONLY packing tape available in my grocery store is a 3 roll pack of the worst quality flimsy, useless government tape? I'm astonished. I guess we are still at war with Eurasia. Or is it East Asia? Guess I better get my jumpsuit on and sit in front of the telescreen and find out what's next. Before that happens, I will go hoard real tape that works and put it with my incandescent light bulbs I guess.

To go with my poorly taped packages, I needed cards.

I've been feeling kind of CAS lately - it's hard to create with warm colors when it's so hot out, so I've been drawn to crispy whites.

For this puppy, I scored three lines with the Simply Scored, and then just stamped Kindness Matters and colored the central butterfly with colored pencils, blending them with Zest-It®.
It's hard to see in the main pic, but I added Dazzling Details to the butterfly and it's so sparkly!

I hope Big Brother lets us keep our glitter. Even Victory Glitter would be better than no glitter at all.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Butter Cow For President!

Since the Iowa Straw Poll has taken over the news today, I thought I should reveal my choice for 2012.

Butter Cow.

You might think to yourself - "but Butter Cow isn't running!" Well, you'd be wrong.

Butter Cow IS running, and so help me biscuits, Butter Cow will WIN. The campaign for a butter tomorrow begins with my vote. Read more about Butter Cow on the Butter Cow Campaign site.

With that dirty subject of politics out of the way - let's talk inspiration.

The other day, I came across this beautiful image on one of my favorite inspiration blogs - Polli.

Doesn't that color combination just make your eyeballs happy? It does mine.

I had the little Young Vermilion stamp sitting on my desk, and Sweet Floral on the floor :) so this is what I came up with.
Ink: Poppy Parade, Daffodil Delight, White Craft Ink, Basic Black, Soft Suede 
Paper: Pool Party, Very Vanilla, First Edition DSP, Crumb Cake  
Accessories: Artichoke Denim Ribbon, White Embossing Powder, Heat Gun, Sponge, Aquapainter

A birthday card for a friend. 

Yes, I actually mailed it. 

Try not to faint. 

Oh - and yeah - it's Caturday!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Can't Take the Heat? Stay Out of the, uh... Texas

It's really pretty hot. No one is exaggerating.

We are on day 26 of the hottest hot streak in Austin HISTORY. Our drought map is getting redder and redder. We have loose, wily lady bison right down the road. The snakes are restless. Thirsty bears are killing people. We have rolling blackouts. Because we're not allowed to water enough, the ground is shifting and pipes are breaking.

Seriously, it's hot.

We'll just be down here eating pickles and ice chips if you need anything from Texas.

Today's Ways To Use It Challenge, oddly enough, was HEAT.

I got this one!!

One thing we really can't do right now is any extraneous baking. There's already an 8-10 degree difference in our house between what the thermostat is set on and what the actual temperature is. The oven just makes that worse.

So, to be able to make a nice, warm homemade meal or bake cookies, would really make me feel like I was Queen for the Day! As it is, I need an oven mitt to open my car door. So this card was begging to come to life.
Stamps: You're a Gem, Now You're Cookin', House & Home Paper: Whisper White
 Ink: Poppy Parade, Pool Party, Basic Black Accessories: Dimensionals, Corner Rounder

Stay cool peeps!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Life in the Haunted Forest

Remember how I was ooohing and aaahing over Halloween? I'm not done yet, baby!!! :)

I saw today's sketch challenge on Splitcoast and I happened to have the PURRRRRRFECT stamp on my desk!!

Here's the sketch:
Now - don't you agree that this is the perfect spooky goodness for that layout?

The shape of the trees in Haunted Forest (coming up in the Holiday Mini) make it a cinch for the large circle from the Circles #2 die. I cut a white circle, and stamped the image in Basic Black. Then I punched a 1.25" circle out of a post it and masked my moon. Then I brayered Daffodil Delight and Poppy Parade over the circle and removed the mask.

I highlighted the image with my white gel pen. I used my Sahara Sand marker to trace around the image - it just needed a little something, and I think that was it!

The card base is Crumb Cake, and then I used the Pick Your Poison DSP (also from the Holiday Mini) to finish it off.

My favorite part of this image? THIS TEENY WEENY ADORABLE LITTLE RAT!!!!

Oh my goodness I love that rat.

Cutest. Rat. Ever.

Do you like sketch challenges? I gotta give my homegirl Roxie some serious props for what she does with this sketch challenge every Wednesday. She maintains a whole gallery of all the sketches from the beginning of the challenge that you can use for inspiration. There's also an email notice you can subscribe to so you don't miss the weekly sketch. She rocks like that.

So come play! I'm trying to get back on the daily challenge wagon now that my travels are over for a while. It really helps my mojo.

So do you like this stamp?

I have a little treat for you! Every person who places a $50 online order with me between now and August 31 will receive this stamp for FREE when the catalog goes live on September 1!! That's right - that little rat will be yours! Click here to order.

With the buy 3, get one free DSP sale this month, you can really score some serious freebies.

Go forth and stamp!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Is there a Shadeflower? Or only a sunflower?

My great grandmother used to freehand embroider scenes of the sunflower fields on their farm in North Dakota. What I remember about those pieces is the crows though. She always embroidered in the pesky crows, which necessitated elaborate crow scaring devices. She was not overly fond of the crows.

You can imagine how much the little beasts liked the big fields full of conveniently dense cultivated crow food.

It must have added, in addition to annoyance, an extra level of creepiness to fields of flowers that towered over your head.

I wonder why they made Children of the Corn and not Children of the Sunflowers. You're welcome, movie makers - it will be a huge hit on the horror movie circuit. All I ask is ten percent of the ticket sales.

Anyway, what's not horrifying or crow ridden are my sunflower notecards I made for Dare to Get Dirty. This was for Anna Wight's challenge, and I decided to use my new big Sunflower stamp to make first - a box. It's hard to tell it's a box from this photo, but it is, and the pattern is here - the A2 Card Box.

On the top, I stamped the Sunflower image in Summer Sun, and then stamped the sentiment from On Your Birthday on top of it in black. It's the PERFECT size for this box top!

The notecards were equally quick and easy - just stamped the image on the left edge - well, partially off the left edge of each card - in Basic Black. Then I quickly watercolored each one with an Aquapainter and reinkers - Lucky Limeade, Summer Sun, Island Indigo and Poppy Parade.

The greeting is from Elements of Style, that I punched with the Decorative Label Punch and popped up with dimensionals. I stuck a little rhinestone on each label.

I like the kind of Warhol look I got. Kind of fun to get a pop art look with such a classical looking image.

 I love how the image is giant, just like the real deal.

Hope you're having a crow-free, stampy weekend, wherever you are. :) I did a little live Ustream of two of the cards I did for my stamp class Saturday if you want to watch it. The people I'm talking to are people who were live during the broadcast. Not the people in my head :).

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Creep on Over - I've Got Candy!

There are holidays, and then there are stamping holidays.

They coincide, of course, but sometimes, the bulk of our excitement about a holiday is composed primarily of our enthusiasm for the colors and the images and the goodies we MAKE for said holiday, and less for the holiday itself.

Halloween is this way for me. I hold my breath for each new stamping Halloween season, where all the new spooky paper and stamps come out and I can make scary and sweet creepy treats and cards. I wish it was a month instead of a day. There's hardly enough time to stamp all the things that need to be stamped. So I started early this year, with Ilina Crouse's Dare to Get Dirty challenge.

I used this tutorial for the Treat Box Card which went together in two seconds with my new Simply Scored! I can't wait to show you this thing - it has some very cool features. Soon, little chickens - soon. Speaking of new, this puppy features the new silver glimmer paper from the upcoming Holiday Mini, and the Pick Your Poison DSP and the Pick Your Poison Quick Accents and the Piece of Poison stamp set and OH the Howl-O-Ween Creeps stamp - ALL used in this project. You will SQUEEEE when you see it all!

I showed my class girls this project this morning and there were several near-faintings over the glimmer paper. It's SOOOO glimmery. And now, it's spooky :).

Except for the pull-out, this combo treat box & card is all one sheet of cardstock and it's so easy and fun!

Hey - you aren't scared of my candy, are you?

What are you up to this weekend? Just creepin' around?


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap!

I realized yesterday that I didn't miss the news while I was gone. When I got home, I got debt ceilinged to death. Thank goodness I'm listening to a fantastic audiobook right now that I can break up the insanity with.

But I have been thinking about the economy.

It still completely amazes me that people don't associate their desire for cheap products with all the things that come with cheapness. Like low paying jobs, or jobs that go to China. I think people just think - "Yay - I can get 80 of these for a dollar - who cares if they fall apart after one use? I have 79 more!" You can't pay someone a lot to make something that costs a dime. That's an impossibility.

We need to go back to appreciating things that cost a little more so that we have jobs that pay a little more. It's okay if there are fewer of those nice things.

Here's a great example of a failing mindset that I saw on my walk.  There are companies that have the nerve to call themselves "landscaping" companies. What they are, in actual fact, are armies of mindless, chainsaw wielding cheap laborers that are given general instructions including a vague shape of the landscape and nothing else.

This is the result. Vast swaths of bushes mowed back from sidewalks, with no regard for the plants OR the aesthetic.
Oh yeah - that's so much better than a few branches sticking out a little, right? Those mangled sticks are exactly what the neighborhood likes to see.

 Beautiful, no?

Then I saw a little bird nest that they nearly sawed in half.
These bushes usually chirp and rustle when I go by, all buzzing with little finches. Now where are they?

This isn't landscaping.

This is cheap.

I don't like cheap.

There are lots of nice things you can do with very little and a little time - all stampers know this.

For example, I was lucky enough to be a sample maker for Bev Gerard's Dare to Get Dirty challenge this week. She is one of my favorite people in the WORLD and an incredibly talented stamper.

I decided to keep my card simple and focus on techniques, to make the most of what I had. The stamp set is Raining Flowers, which I got free at convention. I stamped the open flower image in white craft ink on vellum cardstock and heat set it.

Next, I flipped it over, and put it on my piercing foam mat and started to gently dry emboss the little circles with my embossing stylus. On some circles, I embossed a lot for a bright white, raised look, and on some, I just did a little, for a more chalky look. Then I pierced little holes all around the flower.

I put the embossed and pierced piece on some Poppy Parade for contrast, and then finished the card with white twine, Just Add Cake DSP and the greeting from It's Your Day, also free at convention.

You can add a lot with a little time and technique! That's one of the many ways stamping is better than a chainsaw.

Wanna play along with Dare to Get Dirty? There's still time, and there are tons of prizes to be had! So come challenge yourself, learn some new techniques and have a little fun with the Dirty Dozen.

I think I'll go put out some finch food. :)

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