Friday, February 28, 2014

Broken Things

I remember one time my dad asked me about a quirk I had when I was little.

If a pencil or a piece of chalk (fast forward to extreme art personality here) got broken, I was unnaturally mournful and stressed about it.

Sometime after college, he asked me if it was because I thought that things had a sort of a spirit when they were whole.

I hadn't thought about it before he asked, but yes, I believe that is what I believe(d).

I've noticed that a lot of my fellow artists have this same anxiety about wholeness. Many of us, especially those who teach a lot of classes, get stressed when our beloved art supplies are abused or degraded in one way or another. Many of us, for this reason, have two sets of everything where we can afford to, because we can't bear to have stained wood stamp blocks or frayed markers. It's a mania of sorts. It's painful.

But then I saw something this month that completely astonished me and made me realize that there are these permanent themes in art - and that we are really not all that unique :).

It's called Hari Kuyou - and it's a Japanese ceremony for broken sewing needles. Yes, you read that correctly.

It is believed that these inanimate objects have souls and by using them, some of their pain is released. Broken or worn needles, pins, and some small scissors are brought to the ceremony and thanked for their good service in creating sashiko, kimonos, or even for daily mending. Then they are gently laid to rest in a soft tofu cake.  Source

And this...

It was believed that the tools and utensils used roughly should become the monsters (the Gods named Tsukumogami) to attack people 100 years later. Tsukumogami, or “artifact spirit”, are a type of Japanese spirit. According to the Tsukumogami-emaki, tsukumogami originate from items or artifacts that have reached their 100th birthday and thus become alive and aware. Any object of this age, from swords to toys, can become a tsukumogami. Source

Aha! It's not just me.

I love the idea that broken things get honored for their service. It's like the Navajo tradition of giving ceremonial thanks to the hunted animal.

So when Dina found Kintsukuroi - I was thrilled. It's the subject of today's Mix-Ability Challenge. Kintsukuroi is the art of repairing broken things with gold, thereby making them even more beautiful than they were before they were broken.

Here's an example:

I think there are other examples too - I think that animal rescues do this. I love what The Furrtographer does - he takes beautiful photos of shelter animals so that people don't see a scared, broken animal in a cage, but a beautiful little creature they can imagine being loved in their home. He has also adopted a series of blind kitties, who look flawless under his care.

And just because he's awesome, I have to share this photo of his - perhaps the greatest photo ever taken. Who could imagine that this kitty is a broken little orphan and not a beautiful, confident and  much beloved pet?

My apologies if you have the sudden urge to adopt a cat. Well - actually, I'm not sorry at all. :)

So all that to say - today's challenge speaks to me in a squillion ways -  thank you, Dina.

Now, please enjoy, by contrast, this terrible low resolution Iphone photo of the beginning of my project. I started with garbage - literally - a piece of used grid paper that I had inked, sprayed, sponged and abused in 1,000 different ways, but in Lydia style, could not bear to throw away. It had too much potential. I've kept it for months without knowing what to do with it.

So today I stuck it onto a piece of the Sizzix multi-purpose adhesive sheets and then die cut it with the Beautiful Butterflies die. Then I hand cut it up into a mosaic and stuck it onto Basic Black cardstock.

To "fix" the broken spaces with gold, I used a teeny spatula to put InkaGold into the open spaces.

The much better photo of the cleaned up version follows.

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The greeting is from Really Good Greetings and I used the Deco Labels Framelits and the Decorative Dots Embossing Folder (SAB).

I guess if it's going to get broken, you may as well fix it with something sparkly and gold.

I just love this technique. And the philosophy.

Hope you can play along and make something imperfectly beautiful.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Happy Birthday to Ways To Use It!

Wow - time flies!

Today, our Splitcoast Ways To Use It challenge turns 9 years old! 468 Thursdays and 468 ways to use what you already have in a new and different way. Amazing. And all brought to you by creative women who volunteer their time to freely share ideas and inspiration. My hat is off.

I'm addicted to challenges. I love starting my design process from a totally different place than I would normally.

For example, I normally start designing around an image I feel like using. I decide whether I'm going to color it, or paper piece it, etc. But for me, it always starts with the stamp.

But challenges make me start at a completely different place, and I love it. It breaks all my habits and makes me actually be creative. I ALWAYS learn something and I always love the result - sometimes they stretch me to the point where I feel like someone else designed my card. I love that. That is truly getting out of a comfort range and into a creative space.

 Today's birthday challenge is to use calendar elements - it could be a grid, a number, a date - anything you'd find on a calendar. I chose a few things: red, for a red letter day like today, squares for the date blocks, and a fun date and sentiment from our Remember This rotary stamp. The shapes were made with the Postage Punch.

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And just for the heck of it, I filmed it. I didn't design this card until I started filming, so forgive my hemming and hawing. :)

OH - and I have a GREAT recipe for you after the video.

Okay - so now for the recipe. My friend Sue Farrant shared this with me - she uses some fun Ipad app to find and store recipes called My Recipe Book. The original recipe is from, but I modified it. Here is my modified version. And it's AMAZING. Even better left over.

Crunchy Salad with Quinoa and Ginger/Lime/Peanut dressing.

  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 Cup diced red cabbage
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 Cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 Cup diced green onions
  • 1/2 Cup honey roasted peanuts, crushed
  • Fresh lime, for a bit of tang (I used one half, squeezed - next time I’d squeeze both)
  • For the dressing:
  • 1/4 Cup all natural peanut butter (next time I’d use a sweetened one or up the honey)
  • 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar (I used white wine vinegar - what I had)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (I used hot sesame oil)
  • 1 tsp olive oil

  1. To cook quinoa: Rinse quinoa with cold water in mesh strainer - it will be bitter if you don’t, you knuckleheads. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 ½ cups of water to a boil. Add in quinoa and bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Remove from heat and fluff quinoa with fork; place in large bowl and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. You should have a little over 2 cups of quinoa.
  2. To make dressing: Add peanut butter and honey or agave to a medium microwave safe bowl; heat in microwave for 20 seconds. Add in ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, and both sesame and olive oil and stir until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Add as much or as little dressing as you’d like to the quinoa. I always start out with a little bit of dressing and usually add more to suit my taste preferences. Alternatively you can save the dressing for later and add when you are ready to eat; however the flavors of the dressing usually soak into the salad so I love adding it to the quinoa first. (I added all of it)
  4. Next fold in red pepper, onion, cabbage and cilantro into the quinoa. Garnish with peanuts and green onions (I didn’t read ahead and just incorporated them). Serve chilled or at room temperature with lime wedges if desired.

    This is seriously the bomb. Keeps great in the fridge - it's a week's worth of lunch. You will love it. 

    I had a peanut sauce I used to use for chicken that no one carries anymore and this sauce is now going to be my homemade version. Now I just have to learn how to make sweet chili sauce and I'll be all set. 

    Anyway - have a happy Thursday - hope you find a way to use something I've shared :).


Monday, February 24, 2014

Introducing NAPPY HOUR!

(Northern friends - I'm offering you the opportunity to leave the room right now so that you don't cry and rend your garments dramatically at the following description of an Austin winter day. Stay at your own risk.)

Yesterday was a glorious day.

85 degrees, sunny, slight breeze - beyond perfect. Since I spent the first half of the day updating all my Apple devices because of that security breach (please do the same if you haven't already - info here) I HAD to get outside in the afternoon.

So my sister and brother-in-law and I went to a local spot with a beautiful outdoor patio to enjoy the sunshine.

This restaurant has a little covered area on one side of the patio with long built in padded benches with pillows for booths. They are beautiful, shaded, and oh so comfortable.

Predictably, after a snack, the sleepies set in, and my brother-in-law came up with a BRILLIANT idea - Nappy Hour.

Nappy Hour would immediately follow Happy Hour, and during Nappy Hour, you would be allowed to stretch out on these lovely padded benches like a cat and sleep for an hour. All patrons would have to participate in Nappy Hour of course, so that it was quiet enough to nap. I'm yawning in excitement about how great an idea this is. I could use a Nappy Hour myself today!

We will RUN to the first restaurant that implements this fabulous Nappy Patio idea, now that we have entered the 11 month stretch in which Austinites never eat indoors.

Now while I was waiting for updates to finish yesterday, I cruised around looking for inspiration and I found it from Sandi MacIver - one of my fave paper artists. She was coloring and posting her progress on Facebook and I just had to CASE her - it was gorgeous! I made this card for today's Love Fest challenge on Splitcoast - Lots of Lovely Layers.

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I just embossed the image from So Very Grateful in white, and colored it with a blender pen and Pool Party and Bermuda Bay and white reinkers. The base of the card is embossed with the Pretty Prints embossing folder and just lightly swiped with white ink.

I think it's yummy.

It's so yummy that it should be followed by Nappy Hour. I'm getting verrrryyyyy sleeppppyyyyy.

Hey - don't forget - I'm hosting a retreat in Salt Lake the Wednesday before convention - to reserve a spot (it's first come first served), click here.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Shady Feline Sleeping Habits EXPOSED!

First - an important word from our sponsor. Also known as me.

If you are coming to convention, you know I do a happy hour there on the Wednesday before the festivities. Last year it was so big they almost called the fire marshal :). It was loads of fun.

So this year, the plan is going to change so that none of us spend convention in jail.

I'll be holding an all day retreat on Wednesday - with at least three 90 minute classes, more with time permitting, for up to 100 people per class. I want to keep the class price low - the goal is to spend the day together and have fun and relax, since we will be running like race horses for the four days following. I of COURSE will have prizes and entertaining breaks and quite possibly celebrity guests :). You won't have to do anything but show up. This is intended to be a fellowship event and a thank you to everyone whose work inspires me, and to all of you nice people who come and look at my blog.

Since I do have limited space available to me, I can only do a first come, first-served pre-paid event. So until I have all the details ironed out, I'm going to let people reserve a spot before they make their flight arrangements, and when I'm maxed out I'm maxed out. So here is the form to indicate that you want a spot at the retreat, happy hour or both! Since there will be multiple sessions, I will also let people attend more than one, but we'll figure those logistics out later.

If you're NOT coming to convention because you're not a demonstrator, I am compelled to tell you that this year, registration to convention is waived for all new recruits :) - no strings attached. Contact me for info.

Now - on to the shady sleeping practices of felines.

I have two very affectionate, loving felines who cannot be more than an inch from me at any moment, due in part, I'm sure, to the traumatic circumstances of their first three weeks of life. They are draped over one of us at all times. They even cry if we are in different rooms.

But I've noticed something very odd. If they are sitting on my while I'm watching TV or at my desk, I can pat them and they purr - even in their sleep. They roll over to let me pat their bellies, and generally revel in the patting.

Here's where it gets weird.

Every night, they plop down on me to sleep, just like they do during the day. I sleep like a zombie with zero movement, so they prefer me.

BUT, if I touch those little fiends or go to pat them while they are sleeping on my belly, ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE! They shoot off me like a ROCKET!! It's so bizarre!

So this is my theory.

Before we domesticated cats and they roamed the savannah, I think that they used to wait until larger animals went to sleep - like rhinos maybe, or wooly mammoths - and then they snuck up on them and slept on them to steal their warms!! So it was IMPERATIVE if there was any sign of the host organism stirring they had to jet off into the grass never to be seen again.

Nocturnal warm stealers.

Traces remain in their little limbic systems. But I am on to you, warm stealers. I am on to you.

Now talk of convention made me want to play with my World Map stamp which I completely forgot to order until last week. So I thought I'd do a little simple masking technique, which I royally screwed up, but made a video of it because, like most mistakes - it didn't matter :).

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See? Not all those who wander are lost. :)


Friday, February 21, 2014

I'd Like To Thank....

Thank you speeches are fun.

Since the Olympics are dominating the airwaves right now, I've been thinking about how fun it is to see someone truly be thankful for something which most people consider a solitary victory.

I think the reality of life, my belief in rugged individualism aside, is that if you are engaged in any pursuit that depends even in the smallest way on inspiration, you most definitely never have a solitary victory.

Art is uniquely a collective pursuit.

One of the things I am compelled to do in my alone time is view and learn about art. I would say for every single card I make, I've viewed 1,000 cards and/or techniques. That's the ratio, probably conservatively.

I bet it's not just me. I bet you do too.

So please imagine me climbing onto a festooned stamping medal platform in an obnoxious red white and blue Ralph Lauren sweater and saying the following:

  • Thank you for making the 10 minute video that I know for a fact took two hours of prep and 6 hours of editing and photography and an hour of uploading. It inspired me, cost me nothing and only took ten minutes of my day.
  • Thank you for cropping, brightening and adjusting your photo and adding a full supply list to your Splitcoast gallery, even though it took you ten minutes to make the card and an hour to edit it. It helped me make my version of your card. 
  • Thank you for Facebooking your messy desk and your work in progress. It made me feel happy and normal. :)
  • Thank you for pinning your favorite cards - I re-pinned them.
  • Thank you for commenting on my blog and my gallery and my Instagram pics - it makes my morning walks so fun to interact with you while listening to little birdies and drinking tea. 
  • Thank you for posting your hilarious failures. It keeps it real. 
Now we should play the stamping national anthem. I am imagining that it is traditionally played on a kazoo. 

 Today I'm hosting the Splitcoast Mix-Ability challenge, and it's based on a happy accident.

I was actually filming an upcoming tutorial for Splitcoast when I had a little artistic accident that resulted in a super fun little abstract landscape. And believe it or not, it happened when I was CLEANING! (pauses for fainting)

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The black part of the image is actually the product of me cleaning my brayer in between prints. So basically it's trash - but I discovered some pretty images in the cleaning process. Spooky little misty landscapes. The greeting is from Really Good Greetings.

Here's another one with my fave retired set EVER - Branch Out.

So I made a little video for you of this simple process. I hope you try it and come play in the challenge!


Friday, February 14, 2014

Secret Ham Directives - EXPOSED!

Something awful has happened in the world of deli slicing.

I don't know when it happened or why it happened - I only know it happened, and I don't like it.

Back in the olden days, I used to be able to go to the deli counter and say "I would like some ham, please, sliced as thinly as possible." I would then get ham, so thinly sliced you could read the teeny font on a Facebook notification email through it as plain as day.

But then, without anyone notifying me or asking for my approval, a secret directive was given to all deli slicer operators: "NO MATTER WHAT A CUSTOMER ASKS FOR, GIVE THEM A THICK, CHEWY PIECE OF HAM THAT CAN BE USED AS A TOBOGGAN IN CASE OF EMERGENCY."

And no matter WHAT I say to these people or HOW I describe my ethereally shaved ham needs, I get these danged ham slices that are the thickness of bologna. It's revolting. We have to take back our rights.

Last time I went to the store, I said I'd like a pound of ham, sliced at less than 1. 1 is the thinnest setting they have on their little diagram at the counter, and it's "thin" only in the loosest sense of the world. Secret ham Nazi alliance guy brings back toboggan ham and says "how's that?" Well it sucks buddy - it's not acceptable - I WANT THE THINNEST HAM POSSIBLE. He says "well it's really not going to hold together thinner than that." HOW IS THAT YOUR CONCERN? I DO NOT CARE - I WANT YOU TO TURN IT INTO POWDER.

GAH. Yesterday I said "shaved until it almost disappears" and I finally got some acceptable ham. But not without a lot of glaring and crazy eye.

I WILL stand up for my shaved ham rights. Do not cross me.

This week I went to a fun Prismacolor demonstration at the UT Art Co-op. The instructor was great and she taught us a fun new-to-me resist technique with gouache-*. (Which is a stupid word by the way - it makes me feel like they couldn't decide whether to call it goo or wash.)

What you do is draw or stamp an image in a permanent ink on watercolor paper. The Prismacolor people recommend going over the lines with a Sharpie after you do that, but I forgot. Then do a pale wash of yellow or blue all over it - I did Summer Sun reinker mixed with water. Then you paint gouache over the parts of the image you'll want to preserve for coloring. Then, paint India Ink all over the whole piece. I had this Soho student grade India Ink left over from my drawing class. This step is scary, because now you have a black piece of paper and you feel frightened and alone.

But then, under running water or in a tub of water, you scrub off the gouache with a toothbrush and it reveals your image and anywhere else you had the gouache, leaving the background black. VERY fun. The last step is to color and embellish your image!

I used Derwent Inktense Pencils, Caran D'Ache Pablo pencils, a Montana refillable white acrylic marker and a Prismacolor .03 art marker to color and detail, and then added Crystal Effects to the eggs, because that's today's Mix-Ability challenge - to use a clear medium.

This card is also for today's kickoff of the Member Company Love Fest challenges on Splitcoast!

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It was really fun to do, and a very zen-like recover from yelling at people about ham. Although I'm sure I'll yell again.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

In a Surprising Twist - LASER CATS

The inside of my head is crooked.

And I know exactly HOW crooked, thanks to Photoshop. Every time I take a picture of something, I have to rotate it exactly three degrees to make it straight.

The same is true of my stamping. I stamp EVERYTHING crooked. It's not me, it's my brain!

So in an insane flash of brilliance one day, I figured out the solution! I'm illustrating it with this simple card I made for customer thank yous this month. How cute is that cat??

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Ink: Basic Black
Paper: Whisper White
Accessories: Bosch Laser Level, Rhinestones

So you wanna know what the secret ingredient is in this card??

It's the cure for the fact that my brain tilts everything exactly 3 degrees to the left - it's - DRUMROLL PLEASE -  this amazing laser level - squee!!!

Seriously. A laser is now part of my stamping arsenal. A LASER. Behold this lasery awesomeness in the following quick video!

Now RUN, don't walk, into the garage and start appropriating tools, or better yet, do what I did and buy your own. But then you better find a good hiding spot, because everyone is going to want to steal it. I had to do a lot of research to find one that would work for putting flat on a work surface for stamping. So I will NOT let this sucker into the garage!


Friday, February 7, 2014

Powdered Hearts

MUAHAHAHAHA! That makes it sound like I'm a witch - like I have a little cauldron of eye of newt and powdered hearts.

Which I don't, just for the record. Really, I don't.

Today Birgit is hosting our Mix-Ability challenge and it's all about hearts. Since I just taught a heart framelits class, and because I rarely clean my desk, my framelits were within reach.

I took one of the smaller hearts and used it as a stencil, with a sponge dauber and some white craft ink until I had some white hearts on Crumb Cake cardstock, embossed with that adorable arrow embossing folder. Then I just used a sponge dauber and my Stampin' Pastels to color the hearts with yellow, orange and red. I love how soft they look on that crisp texture. It would probably be even cooler on white, but I wanted a warm background today.

Then I used the free Sale-A-Bration set Banner Blast and the matching punch to make little pennants with Daffodil Delight, Tangerine Tango and Real Red ink. Then I popped them up over some of that new silver and white twine. So cute and easy.

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Now, in case you've been worried about us down here in Austin because of our severe weather that has closed our schools for two days, please view this dramatic footage.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Letters And Numbers Are Different, You Stupid Romans!

I'm a little angry about two very important aspects of the Super Bowl. Actually, three aspects.

First of all, I realize there's nothing important about football or the Super Bowl, so there's that. I will never, ever, ever forgive the NFL or watch a game again over their decision to let that monster Michael Vick continue to 1) walk the earth and 2) be rewarded for being a monster and make an obscene amount of money in the National Felons League.

So I only have three connections to this event:
  • Dips
  • The National Anthem
  • Roman numerals
 We'll go in reverse order.

Roman numerals are stupid.

Why say XLVIII when you can say 12 - or whatever the heck XLVIII means in real life? See I don't even know what Super Bowl it was because I don't know what those letters mean. Thank God we don't number our presidents that way. Newsflash - letters and numbers are different, you stupid Romans. This is why we all like Greeks better. So there.

The National Anthem deserves respect and civility.

The only part of the game I watch is the National Anthem. Don't talk, laugh, hop around or mumble to yourself during the National Anthem (which is NOT America the Beautiful, by the way. Although, it should be, because it's beautiful.) Stand up straight, take your hat off, put your hand on your heart, face the flag and either shut up, sing or prepare to be deported by me when I get my deporting license, which I'm working on. 

Here's a tutorial in case you are as big a boor as that freak on the Seattle team who was doing all those things that I listed as prohibited. He will be deported immediately after Michael Vick. 

Finally, there's dip.

When a person goes to the store on the THURSDAY before the Super Bowl, they expect to be able to find Lay's Potato Chips to go with their once a year dip.

This person found no Lay's Potato Chips. It was like chip locusts or hordes of Irish people had torn through the store. The only thing left was Lay's Kettle Cooked chips. 

I'm just going to be honest here. If you reached into a bag of regular Lay's Potato Chips and pulled out and ate a kettle chip, you'd say "Dang it! These chips are stale!"

I'm not saying there's no place for kettle chips, I'm just saying they're not regular potato chips, and they're not good with onion dip, which I only have once a year. As I ate the chewy, thick, sub-standard chips with my dip, I thought about how stupid Roman numerals are.

I had my class on Saturday and it was the complete opposite of Roman numerals. It was fun and it made sense!

We played with the new fringe scissors, and I borrowed this ombre fringe idea from my talented friend Julia Stainton. I used Island Indigo, Bermuda Bay, Coastal Cabana and Whisper White cardstock - each layer is cut 1/2" shorter than the next. The stamp is from Countless Sayings 1. See how that's not a Roman numeral? IT'S A ONE. Just sayin'.

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Hope your Monday is free of kettle chips and Roman numerals!


Sunday, February 2, 2014

My Super Bowl Commercial

I do not have the millions of dollars it takes to buy a 30 second super bowl ad spot, which is a shame, because I think everyone watching the puppy and kitten bowls today would find it hilarious.

I'm not really sure what product to pitch - probably toilet paper.

I came up with this idea the other night when I observed a mysterious daily occurrence that anyone with a pet will find extremely amusing - the poop crazies.

Maybe a scientist out there can tell me why after a cat or a dog visits the facilities, they immediately RUN at 90 miles an hour with a speed and intensity that seems to communicate "OMG I'M SO HAPPY I POOPED NOW I AM RUNNING LIKE THE WIND AWAY FROM THE SCENE OF THE CRIME I'M FREEEEEEEEEEEE!!"

What could the possible reason for this be? And why don't people do this? Which leads me of course to think how completely hilarious it would be if people DID do this. What if immediately after you heard a flush, a crazed adult that you know just went into an insane sprint around the house, knocking things off surfaces as they went until finally settling down and grooming themselves like nothing weird just happened?

You'd laugh. Really, really hard. And it would be a really funny commercial for something like toilet paper.

These are just some of the things I think about.

Today is the monthly Challenge Chicks challenge - which is not unrelated - because the challenge is "My Furry Valentine" - to make an animal valentine. EASY - I've been coloring bunnies all week! Do bunnies get the poop crazies? Please weigh in on this important question if you have a bunny.

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Paper: Brights Color Collection DSP stack, Retired heart DSP, Real Red Cardstock, Watercolor Paper
Ink: Basic Black

I just stamped him and colored him, used the heart framelits to cut him out, and used Inka Gold on the edges of the heart.

Maybe what I should start doing is after I make a card just run down the street like a crazed post-poop animal - that has to entertain the neighbors don't you think?

Hope you enjoy the Super Bowl, even if it's lacking my awesome toilet paper commercial.

Here are the other Challenge Chicks projects for our challenge for your enjoyment.

Diane (our hostess this month)
Anna (she included a video!)
Jeanne (hers is a purse)
Kelli (she is asking what the fox says?)
Kelly (SQUEE - heffalumps!)


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