Friday, June 21, 2013

Dobby is FREE!

So yesterday, I walked all the way to Starbucks (exactly a mile away) with a static-filled black sock stuck on my shirt.

That's right.

I'm sure Condoleeza Rice and JK Rowling do this sort of thing all the time.

I got up to the door of Starbucks, where the sock finally gave up, slithered down my arm and plopped onto the ground.

I was mortified.

I wish I had had the presence of mind to pick it up and yell "DOBBY IS FREE!!"

But I just stuck it in the waistband of my tennis skirt and pretended it didn't happen.

 Maybe today will go a little more smoothly.

Happy first day of summer! This year, Austin is as close to on schedule as it's ever been, thanks to a really unusually cool spring. It was only 94 yesterday which is unheard of for the summer solstice!

I did two challenges today - the Free For All Friday challenge to make a summery card, and the Mix-Ability challenge, which is to make brilliant pastels - use bright colors and then tone them down with paint or Gesso.

I stamped flowers from Flower Shop in Crushed Curry, Melon Mambo and Coastal Cabana, punched them out with the matching Pansy Punch, and then used an ITunes freebie card from Starbucks and some white gesso to do Kyra's nifty trick from this video. Then I stamped the flowers in full strength ink on the card base for a shadow and popped them up. The greeting is in Baked Brown Sugar from Regarding Dahlias.

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My advice for you this Friday?

Check yourself for socks before you leave the house.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Great Sinkhole Earthquake of 2011

I'm putting this in writing so that when the entire southwest portion of Austin gets swallowed by the karst, everyone will know that there was a warning sign. At a stamping class. Specifically, my stamping class.

This only recently made sense to me when last week, a sinkhole developed in downtown Austin. Much hilarity ensued, including this Twitter account, and one of my tweets to it getting published on the Austin Business Journal site.

Anyway, something clicked in my brain when this happened.

Rewind to November 5th, 2011. I was having my monthly stamp class at Mandola's. (map here) Also, I have no idea why it says "happy hour - meat sauce" on the Google Map - LOL. Whatever.

About halfway through my class, something very frightening happened. A loud roar, and the building shaking caught us all off guard. It sounded like a 747 was flying right next to the building.

We were very rattled and went and looked out the windows. It was a clear, beautiful day and nothing seemed amiss. It took a while for everyone to settle back into class because it was unnerving.

When I got home I was chatting with my co-worker, Beate, who described an earthquake they'd had that day. She said she heard that same loud roar. I emailed one of my stampy students - Brittany, and said this: "I hope you don't think I'm crazy. I was just chatting with Beate (she's in Edmond OK) and they had an earthquake.What she described is exactly what happened to us this morning :-/ I wonder if we got a rumble on our fault line??" First of all, thank God for Gmail so I could find this email. Secondly, Austin sits on the Balcones Fault, so I assumed that was what happened.

I did the citizen reporting on the USGS and encouraged my peeps to do the same, but they never recorded an official earthquake.

Now, coincidentally, my sister had been photographing the large pond next to Mandola's for several weeks. Her HOA was looking for contractors to repair a leaking pond in her neighborhood and she was doing research, as the company that built the pond near Mandola's was being considered.

Well smack me and call me Edna if a LARGE sinkhole didn't develop in this very location on or about November 18th. It started as a small leak, and got bigger and bigger and bigger until it was what you see in that news story.

So what we heard in my class was the giant karst that runs underneath several square miles surrounding this property collapsing. Here's a picture that was taken after they drained the pond. That building with the red trim is where my class was.

photo credit: Cynthia Wilcox


I will never, ever forget that sound.

But you know what's scary? When this happened during class, the very first thing we all did was freeze. It's impossible to absorb AND react to something big like that. A friend recently told me that fight or flight is a fallacy. What all animals really do is FREEZE, fight or flight. That's exactly what we did. Next time, hopefully I'll be better prepared. Or wait - hopefully there isn't a next time. That's what I meant :).

Here's a card I made for VSN. I love VSN because I get SO many cards done in such a short period of time, and I end up liking them better than cards I spend a ton of time on.

The background for this card is a ghost print I did in my Gelli Printing class. That circle you see was just a punched circle from Whisper White that I used as a mat.

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Stamps: A Round Array
Ink: Basic Black
Paper: Whisper White
Accessories: Lace Tape, Gelli Plate, Star punch, Circle Punches

If I'm swallowed whole by a sinkhole, please remember - I sent up a flare. :)


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Advice From My Dad

Happy Father's Day!

I thought today I would share with you some of the best advice my father has ever given me.

Please don't think I took all of it - part of the reason that people can determine that they have, in fact, gotten fabulous advice, is that they DON'T take it and then realize the wisdom of the advice they disregarded.

Live east of where you work.

What does that mean, you ask? Well, what it means is that you're not staring into the blazing sun for an hour on the way to and from work, you big ding dong.

I, of course, did not do this, and have suffered immensely for 23 years. Listen to him.

Don't personalize your license plate.

I didn't understand this at first. I think he told me this in a conversation when I was 15 or 16. It was embedded in a larger conversation about not calling attention to yourself in a way that made you easy to follow or track. 

As a 16 year old, it didn't really gel, because at that age, you are 95% ego and 5% eyeshadow. But it settled into my pattern-loving brain, and when I moved to Austin in 1990 and, with the rest of my community, lived through a horrible serial killer incident that terrified me, I internalized this like no other advice. I'm a creature of habit for sure, but I'm hyper aware of making that routine private. Just because you're not crazy, don't think crazy people aren't crazy about you.

Print legibly.

We talked about this one yesterday. He used to make us print in all caps when doing our math homework when I was a child and it was maddening for a cursive loving XX chromosome. However, as an artist, I LOVE neat, block printing (as long as it has ZERO to do with math) and I'm glad I got to at least be distracted by how neat everything was from the hideous math problems sitting on the table. To this day, I write this way. 

Nothing good happens after midnight.

This is one of those things you think is complete BS until you've lost your first friend in an accident late at night. Now, in full disclosure mode, I have to say, both of my parents are nocturnal, and I am a creature of the sunlight. But they have the sense to stay indoors at night. And so should you. It's not a normal human function to be active during the wee hours, and if you just want to reduce it to pure biology, your reasoning and reaction time are compromised after the sun goes down. So be safe. You're not a raccoon. Go to sleep. I had a wonderful professor at the University of Rochester - Nathan Rosen, who was HORRIFIED to learn I'd stayed up until 3 AM to write a paper on Dostoevsky for his class. He was 90 years old, and he told me - "Sleep. You will steal your future if you don't."

Unfamiliar cars are dangerous.

Here's another one I thought was overly cautious, but now I know the value of. Every time you get into a rental car, with different controls and geography than your daily car, you increase your risk that you will make a mistake. As if by some sort of dad wizardry to reinforce this, today, on the way to the funeral of a WWII veteran in my husband's family, I, in the passenger seat, reached reflexively over my LEFT shoulder for my seatbelt, even though I was in the passenger seat. We are easily conditioned, and this conditioning can be dangerous if you let it.

No unprotected left turns.

I shouldn't have to explain this to you. Even UPS only takes right turns.

Always back in to your parking space.

It is without a doubt the utmost in safety. Also, as he says, it makes for a quick getaway :). Which I, his model daughter, have never needed. 

Stamp. Every day.

Well, that might be my advice :)

Here's a card I made for the Splitcoast Virtual Stamp Night. I love this event because the 45 minute restriction means I have to keep it simple. 

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Stamps: Nursery Times
Paper: SU DSP, Whisper White, Going Grey

Ink: Memento Tuxedo Black

Accessories: ShinHan Touch Twin markers: 0, CG0.5, BG178, 120, Y37, Y38, R132, CG4, CG1, YR27, YR132, Y36, R139, SU Washi Tape

Keep it simple is also great advice :).


Friday, June 14, 2013

The Zombie Metabolism

Yes, more zombie talk.

Now I'm wondering about their metabolism.

They walk around, non-stop, looking for that rare, delicious, non-zombie to feast on. They never sleep, they just walk. Hence, Walking Dead.

So since they can do this on basically 300 calories per year, I'm wondering what would happen if they really got to start to eat all the time. Would they just get hugely fat since they clearly have the metabolism of super sloths? If so, it might be something to think about for the zombie apocalpyse.

Maybe we could stockpile politicians and reality TV stars for them to eat, let them get so fat they can't chase us, and then we can defeat them.

Bonus - post-zombie apocalypse, we are free of politicians and reality TV stars! Should I throw in large phone company executives while we're in the planning stages? Let me know if I've left off any important zombie food sources. OH - infomercial stars. See? This is going to be fun!

Today's Mix-Ability challenge on Splitcoast is to shade with black. Dina's video is absolutely mesmerizing. So much so that I basically just did what she did for my challenge card.

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First, I stamped the washi tape image from Tape It in Crushed Curry. Then, Off the Grid in Smoky Slate - my new favorite color. Then I stamped the floral from Backyard Basics on the grid and colored it all in with CG4 Touch Twin marker so that if you look at the card from the side, you don't see white paper underneath, you see a shadow. I just really like the dimension that extra step gives. If you want to see a much more artistic development of this technique, check out this AWESOME tutorial on creating 3D images.

Then I stamped the floral again on a scrap and cut it out with the (SQUEE) matching framelit and colored it with Touch Twin Markers. (B67, B182, CG4, CG1) I added the required black shading with a black Prismacolor pencil as Dina demonstrated, and then added dots with my white gel pen. One of my favorite artists in the world right now is over at Lollyrot Scrapbooking. I love how dark and saturated her images are and how she always adds flecks of white to them. Gives it a dreamy effect I think. This was the blog post where I fell in love with her work. So amazing. Since I like so much white on my cards I'll never be able to do what she does, but I sure have fun looking at it.

Finally, I sponged some Crushed Curry ink through some drywall tape and popped up my flower on dimensionals. I love the drywall tape because it has a light adhesive so it stays in place while you sponge. I love how it's sort of the reverse of the Off the Grid stamp, too. And a roll of it will last you long past the zombie apocalypse, believe me.

Hope you have a great weekend coming up - free of politicians and zombies and phone company executives.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

It's a Mirage...

Since I grew up in Tejas, I'm very familiar with HOT. I remember being fascinated with mirages as a kid - it's a common sight on our long stretches of asphalt in the summer.

I don't pretend to know why we only see them when it's beastly hot, or why we see them at all.

I started to read about it in Wikipedia but then I noticed that Maddie had glitter on her ear, which made me take a picture, which made me download the pictures I'd taken earlier today, which reminded me about Candy Crush, because one of my geocaching friends from this morning was playing it and then:

You know how that goes.

Anyway, I'm hosting a Virtual Stamp Night challenge on Splitcoast tonight!

I have to say, the challenges have been amazing. I had some work things to sort out today, so I'm five challenges behind, but I have enjoyed the ones I've been able to do - they've been amazingly creative!

The theme is the Dog Days of Summer, which was the inspiration for my challenge, called "It's a Mirage."

My idea was to create a little mirage in the center of a scene. To do this, I ask that you use the no line coloring method - tutorial can be found here - and the spotlighting technique - tutorial here - to create your mirage.

I chose the Pleasant Poppies image for mine because, well, I'm obsessed with it. I used my Artograph Lightpad, which I'm also obsessed with, and Derwent Inktense pencils to create my mirage.

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I even did a video for you if you're just dying of boredom and there are no glittery cats and squirrels around. :) Click here if you don't see the video player below to watch the process.

Hope you can come play along.

Unless a squirrel intervenes.


Friday, June 7, 2013

An Earth-Shattering Zombie Plot Hole Discovery

I love zombies.

I love zombie movies, zombie shows, zombie jokes, traffic signs that are hacked to warn of a zombie apocalypse - you name it. It's all awesome.

We have recently started watching The Walking Dead on Amazon. We like to watch shows late, because we can watch straight through. Also, lots of things are free this way. So don't tell me anything - we are still in Season 2.

Anyway, in one of those life-changing moments of clarity last week, the Other pointed out a huge flaw in zombie logic after a particularly gruesome and depressing Walking Dead episode.

Here's the gist of it.

Every time you see a zombie attack on Walking Dead, Zombieland, etc., the zombies EAT the victim. They don't bite them and then leave them to scamper off into the woods with a few infected zombie bites - they EAT them. There's nothing left to turn into a zombie.

So, where do zombies come from? Someone needs to do the zombie birds and beasts talk!! I'm so alarmed that now I feel uncertain about the zombie timeline! I have been preparing for the zombie apocalypse so diligently, assembling my team carefully with my friend Kim - we totally thought we were ready. I even have special zombie bullets!

And now this.

I'm sure you can imagine how stressful this is.

I need someone to reassure me that I've just overlooked something in the hundreds of hours of film we've viewed.

In the meantime, to distract myself from an uncertain future, I've been stamping!

I made this card for two challenges today - the new Mix-Ability challenge, which is to smudge on your project, and tonight's red, white and blue VSN challenge.

For my smudging, I just used my finger and Whisper White craft ink to make the clouds behind my bird. I colored him with Inktense pencils and my Aquapainter, and then I added Crystal Effects on top. The orange panel is a Gelli print scrap, under an Apothecary Accents die cut left over from my class last weekend.

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Normally, I would do a patriotic card for a red, white and blue challenge, but when I looked up how Vermilions really look in real life, I couldn't resist a non-traditional approach.

Now please, reassure me about the zombies.


Monday, June 3, 2013

The Fur Code

The other day I was wondering why we have a "Find Your Iphone" app and not an app to find our lost pets. I've used that app on more than one occasion to find my phone or Ipad and it's so easy to use. Microchipping is expensive and you have to keep paying or they turn your chip off - I have a friend with a microchipped pet that got lost and the company had turned their chip off. At least a GPS collar would be a start.

Well right after I invented this in my head, I saw a post by my friend Melissa on the Facebook page of a company called Fur Code.

This is SO brilliant! It's a QR code tag that you buy, link it to all your pet's info to online, and then anyone can scan the code and find you! It's less of a burden for people - they don't have to take them to a vet to get scanned, and they can find the pet's owner 24/7. Nothing's foolproof when you have a little furry escapee, but this is SUCH a great, low cost way to feel safer.

I've found about 40,000 pets that I really could have used this with! So I'll be adding them to the Blue List ASAP.

Speaking of pets, yesterday was the June Challenge Chicks challenge, and it was my turn to host. Our weather has been so beautiful that I decided to do a "Here Comes the Sun" challenge - to use sunny colors or an actual image of the sun.

I chose sunny colors for this little kitty from Longfellows.

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Stamps: Longfellows Ink: Memento Tuxedo Black Paper: Whisper White Accessories: Touch Twin Markers: BG178 ,BG179, Y37, YR24, B66

Now, onto a REALLY great find!

My friend Tiffany posted about refrigerator oatmeal, and I was intrigued. I really like hot oatmeal, but by the time I'm done doctoring it with butter and brown sugar, I really may as well be eating a bowl of ice cream. Also, it's hot here - newsflash, I know - and eating hot oatmeal after a hot walk in the hot sun is just not all that appealing.

Her recipe called for chia seeds, which I can't use - I can't stand anything with a gel texture ever since I had tapioca after I had my appendix out - it just grosses me out. So I looked around and combined a few recipes and came up with THE MOST DELICIOUS THING I'VE EVER EATEN!! OMG this is SO good!! And these two versions are very healthy! You can whisper my name after you've tried them.

Pineapple Upside Down Refrigerator Oatmeal

1/2 Cup Oats (not instant - I used these
2/3 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk. I used this.
1/2 Cup Pineapple Chobani Yogurt - 2%
Dried, unsweetened cherries

Mix all ingredients, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. I just make it in a Mason jar.

Apple Pie Oatmeal

1/2 Cup Oats (not instant - I used these
2/3 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk. I used this.
1/2 Cup Plain Chobani Yogurt - 2%
Cooked apples (I just cooked chopped apples with cinnamon and sugar)

Mix all ingredients, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. I just make it in a Mason jar. 

This stuff is seriously dangerous. The coconut milk in them is AMAZING and so is the yogurt. I could definitely eat this every day. It's quite addicting. Splotchy also would very much like to eat it every day. He climbs up my leg every time I open the jar.

You are not allowed to climb up my leg when you try it, although it's good enough that you'll want to.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Jackson Galaxy - Coincidence?

Okay this is crazy.

Jackson Galaxy was supposed to be in Austin for a book signing on May 7th. I had it on my calendar. I even texted the Other and said "This is what I'm doing on May 7th."

But somehow life intervened and I didn't look at my calendar on May 7th. I missed it.

I woke up the next morning with an inexplicable sense of dread. You know that feeling - when you know something is wrong but you don't know what.

Two days later I figured out that it was that I had missed it. I was so looking forward to it :(.

I love his show, and he seems like such a nice person. I knew he'd never come back here.

I was sad for nearly the whole month.

Then, on Memorial Day, I just happened to be on Twitter when Austin Pets Alive tweeted that there was a private event with him at the shelter - just a small group of people for a chat and Q&A. I have never bought tickets so fast in my life! I didn't understand why he had come back here but I knew I wasn't going to miss this.

So I violated my own rule about never leaving the house on a holiday weekend and headed over. It was amazing. He's such a nice, genuine person, and he truly loves and respects animals. Also, he called me up to be a volunteer in a cat re-enactment and rubbed his head all over me. I'm not exaggerating. Ask Robin.

His book is incredible - I highly recommend it.

After this event, he was headed to Book People for a book signing, so I thought I'd go, even though I'd planned only to stamp on Memorial Day and I was already three hours into not stamping.

This is where the magic happened, and where the universe confirmed for me that there are no coincidences.

Turns out he had cancelled, unbeknownst to me, the May 7th gig. Glad I didn't go. He rescheduled it and the Memorial Day visit was, in fact, the very last appearance on his book tour.

I lucked out. But not like you think.

Turns out that I was sitting next to a man who fosters kittens like my friend Rebecca does, and I started talking to him. Somehow, the topic of China killing my Spotty cat came up and we talked about pet food. A few minutes in, a girl behind me said, "I'm sorry - I couldn't help overhearing you," and proceeded to tell me she, too had lost a cat in this incident.

This is the very first person I've met who has gone through what I went through with Spot and it was such an incredible relief to talk to someone who understood. We had to be shushed when he came out to speak. Finally, I had found someone who knew that unique grief and anger that I've carried around since those evil people killed my pet. Even if it sounds sad, it wasn't. It was like I had been waiting to meet this nice lady for years.

I'm ever so grateful for strange timing and just the way things work. Makes you grateful for those moments where you feel stupid for forgetting to go to things you really wanted to do. :)

To top it all off, my brother texted me from the airport the next morning, where he ran into Mr. Galaxy. Again - what are the odds? Well, my brother flies a lot, so maybe those were higher. Still.

Now there are some other things that are much more complicated that we need to talk about

Like these crazy A Bug's Life creatures on my cucumber plant - what the heck are they??? They stick their butts up in the air like Beyonce!

Please tell me you know what they are. I never kill anything unless I know it's trying to kill me or eat my food, so I'd like to spare it if it is just proud of its butt and is not eating my plant.

I had my background class Memorial Day weekend also - it was SO much fun! This is the faux woodgrain background technique we did with the Everything Eleanor set. Cool, eh?
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I hope you have a good weekend, full of positive coincidence! :)


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