Thursday, January 30, 2014

How I Cleansed Your Mind of Politics With a Bunny

We've been being assaulted in Austin by political commercials lately on the radio. They're all the same. Same voice, same accent, same gasbag, lying, political theater. It's maddening.

One in particular struck me as very offensive.

Let me ask you a question.

We all hate our cell phone providers right? That's one thing I think all Americans can come together on. So let's assume we hate all of our cell phone providers and they all give terrible service, send us to foreign call centers, hang up on us and send us to collections over billing errors that they made that resulted in .01 outstanding balances. Strike any nerves?

With that assumption in place, what would you think of an ad that said this: (insert dramatic radio voice here.)

"We here at the insanely incompetent Acme phone are sick and tired of the service provided by Beta phone in Tallahassee. We know that if we took our poor connectivity, lousy network coverage and hideous call center in Bangladesh to Tallahassee, we could really show them a thing or two."

That's what this ad said. From a baby-kisser in Austin, it says "I'm sick and tired of those baby-kissers in Washington doing XYZ."

Really, buddy? Because one baby-kisser is pretty much the same as another. I don't prefer the baby-kisser I know, believe it or not. Perhaps you've never heard "familiarity breeds contempt." I would actually prefer a banana slug. To all of you. I'd prefer that the entire country be run by banana slugs. For one thing, I'm QUITE certain I don't have to pay for hookers for banana slugs. And if your entire marketing strategy hinges on the magical transformational powers of a difference in zip code, boy howdy do you need to be run out of the state on a rail.

Sadly, I don't currently own a banana slug stamp  - I'll have to carve one from Undefined.

I do, however, own the cutest bunny stamp in the world - the insane cuteness of which has the power to erase all thoughts of politics from your mind in one, cleansing glance. Behold.

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Paper: Very Vanilla Cardstock, Watercolor Paper
Ink: Basic Black

There - don't you feel better?

I didn't realize until after he was done - I probably colored 15 bunnies before I got one I liked - that he reminds me of the Velveteen Rabbit - someone had to point that out to me on FB. Your subconscious is a powerful creative force.

I love coloring, but it's not the easiest thing to do - at least, not for me. What I like to do is stamp 20 images on a piece of watercolor paper and experiment while I watch TV. I play with colors that work for shadows, complementary schemes and light and dark. This bunny started as light blue and the deep violet ended up looking pretty with it so I kept it. Sometimes I throw them all away, but I always learn something. This image is fun because it's small, so it's a great practice image. I'd rather do that than read about color theory any day. I learn with my fingers, it seems.

Hope your week is filled with bunnies and no politics. :)


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Got Milk?

We are in round two of sleetpocalypse here in A-town. I went to the store yesterday and all the bread, milk, yogurt and eggs were wiped out in the pre-it-might-get-cold-enough-for-firm-rain panic.

Then today, controversy erupted because one of our school districts didn't cancel school until some kids were already on the bus on our icy roads on their way to school. Other people, who for some reason are unable to determine that ice is slippery, just poured onto Austin's roadways and started killing each other and flipping their cars over.

I remember a simpler time when people were able to determine dangerous weather conditions for themselves, by walking outside, and deciding with no governmental intervention whatsoever that it might be a good day to sit on the couch with a book. Now, they panic and freak out about what the city/school/whoever did or didn't tell them to do, the absence or presence of which caused them to disregard the sheet of ice on their driveway and in the street and just drive at 100 MPH to work/school/coffeeshop, wreck their car and kill people and then be all mad that they got bad advice.

It's entertaining, I'll give you that.

I decided to use my inside time today to hunt around for inspiration for my next Mix-Ability challenge on Splitcoast. Man did I find some fun stuff. I think I have enough ideas for a while now.

But one thing I found I had to try today because it reminded me of invisible ink tricks I did in Brownies when I was a kid, and that thing is stamping with milk.

Actually the sample I saw was writing with milk, not stamping with it, but hey - I am who I am.

So here's what I did.

I folded up two paper towels into quarters and put them on a paper  plate. I use those coated paper plates for all my crafty endeavors, so you don't have to worry about the plate getting soggy.

Then I poured a little 1% milk on the paper towel - sort of like you would do with bleach - to make a makeshift ink pad. I think whole milk would have worked fine too. Next, I tried stamping with it a few times - you may need to add more milk or more paper towels until the stamp picks up the right amount of liquid.

After you stamp your image on your card - I used the big flower from Peaceful Petals and stamped it several times on hot press watercolor paper (this paper has an ultra smooth finish which I needed for this technique) - then dry the milk with your heat gun. It will still be invisible at this point. Make sure it's completely dry before moving on to the next step.

To transform the milk into a lovely, warm, antique brown color, you need to iron it. That's right - the iron IS useful after all! I turned off the steam, turned it on high and just held it on the paper until the images turned that yummy caramel color. I love it because it actually has a gold sheen after it's heated - it's super beautiful in real life! Note - I tried my encaustic iron before I tried the clothes iron and it didn't get hot enough.

On my first sample, I was too timid with the milk, so it gave me just a faint outline, which I watercolored with my Derwent Inktense pencils.

Ink: Basic Black, Milk
Paper: Watercolor Paper, Whisper White
Accessories: Iron, heat gun, Derwent Inktense Pencils, Melon Mambo Ribbon

BUT - on my second try, I got beautiful detail with the milk. In areas where it pooled a little I got a rich, irregular, deep color. In areas with less milk I got perfect petal details, and a pretty, pale yellow color. 

I love the sepia tone. 

I think this would be a fun project to do with kids.
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Ink: Basic Black, Milk
Paper: Watercolor Paper, Whisper White
Accessories: Iron, heat gun, Pool Party Seam Binding

What's really fun, speaking of kids, is to ask people on Facebook to guess what you stamped with using just the photo as the only clue. Nearly 800 guesses later, and after a hilarious game of 20 questions, Lyssa finally guessed milk! I had some people get close - a few condensed milk guesses - which I think would be too thick - and some people guessed other dairy products like yogurt - but we were well into the high 600s before the correct answer came. And holy heck were some of the guesses funny. One person guessed crushed up bugs. I gotta tell ya - I don't love stamping enough to use a crushed bug as a craft supply! :D

But anyone who is stuck inside during the polar vortex might want to investigate their refrigerator for a fun distraction from the cabin fever! You never know where your next pretty card is coming from.

Now I have a few Blue List items for you - I haven't added anything to the Blue List in a while!

I went to a lovely restaurant in Wimberley with my neighbor and my friend Sue after a morning of hiking in a state park, and the soap in the restroom smelled so good I had to ask the waiter what it was. He knew it was Meyer's Clean Day, but didn't know the scent, so I went to HEB and smelled every one until I found it! THIS is the delightful soap.

But while I was sniffing all of them, I also found THIS ONE, which I might love even more.

Onto the Blue List they both go.

Then, I searched and realized that I've never shared one of my favorite recipes with you - my unbelievably delicious green chile chicken enchiladas suiza. This is truly in my top three recipes.

This time when I made it, instead of using plain chicken, I put four chicken breasts, salt, a jar of Herdez Salsa Verde and 1.25 C chicken broth in my crockpot on low for 8 hours. Then I shredded it and let it reabsorb some of the liquid before using it in the deliciousness below:

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas Suiza

Okay - no substitutesky's, because this is really good!

White Corn Tortillas from Central Market (El Milagro Blancas or appropriate local brand)
Shredded Chicken cooked in one jar of Herdez Salsa Verde, broth and salt (see above)
1 onion, finely chopped (zenchop)
16 oz. Mexican Crema
8 oz. cotija cheese, crumbled
1 can evaporated milk
16 oz Herdez salsa verde
1 cup rice
1 Knorr chicken bouillon cube (the big one)
4 tsp. Bolner's Fiesta Spanish Rice Seasoning.
Metric tons of finely shredded colby jack - (4 cups)

Cook rice as follows:

Microwave the Knorr cube in 2 C water till it dissolves - like 2 minutes. (you have to kind of smash it) Brown the dry rice and 1/3 C. of the chopped onion in a little oil in your rice pan. When toasty, add 1/2 cup (use a dry measuring cup, not a liquid measure) of the Herdez salsa verde, the Bolner's and the chicken bouillon water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to Low, cover & cook 20 minutes or until done.
Saute the remaining onions in butter until heavenly. Set aside.

Clear your mind of all negative thoughts. Negative thoughts and dairy products produce carcinogens. 

Heat the oven to 350.

In a saucepan, heat the crema, evaporated milk, cotija and remaining salsa until cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth and warm. Add the heavenly onions.

Put a little sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish. Put down a layer of corn tortillas, tearing pieces to make an OCD person happy that it's all perfectly covered. Follow with cooked rice, chicken, cheese and the sauce & repeat till you get to the top. the top layer should be tortillas, cheese & totally covered with sauce.

Bake for 35 minutes or until all bubbly and fun like me.

Eat and then send me a long email about how these are the best enchiladas you've ever had in your whole life, complete with pictures of happy dinner guests.

Rolled enchiladas are for losers. Stacked are totally cool.

I really hope you try this. It freezes beautifully as well.

Stay warm. Loveyameanitbye.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

It's Always Tea Time

“Yes, that's it! Said the Hatter with a sigh, it's always tea time.”

I'm wondering - have you ever heard of anyone who is allergic to tea?

Living in the allergy capital of the world as I do, I've met people with pretty much every type of allergy: horseradish, garlic, peanuts, capsaicin, pineapple - you name it.

But never in my life have I heard of anyone with a tea leaf allergy.

I'm sure there's a Nobel Prize in that realization, but I don't have time to work on it.

Yesterday I had my January technique class, which was four unconventional things you can do with a heart shape. The class came with a set of heart framelits and was super fun and relaxing. I can't show you all of them, but I will show you my favorite.

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Squee! A heart-shaped teabag!

We used the framelits to cut two hearts from these awesome tea filters.

We hand stitched them together and filled them with this tea, just using a teeny funnel to pour it in after we had sewn it 3/4 of the way.

Then we added a string and a tag from the supremely adorable Banner Blast stamp set and matching punch, which you can get free during Sale-A-Bration, which starts Tuesday! If you're coming to my class next weekend you can play with all the goodies!

What a sweet little gift.

We made a little gift pouch for it  out of the next biggest size framelit with a fun fold technique that makes two pouches at once that I learned from Dina. You fold a 6x6 square of Kaleidoscope DSP in half, and then in half again so that you have a 3x3 square. Then cut it with the bottom of the heart framelit positioned just barely outside the folded corner of the square. Then when you open it up, you have a shamrock! Cut that in half and you have two heart pouches. Seal the open side of the pouch and slip your sweet teabag in!

The label for the outside of the pouch is stamped with Tags 4 You and punched with the matching punch.

The girls loved it - I was afraid they'd get mad at me for making them sew, but I was wrong! :)

I guess the Mad Hatter was right - it's always tea time.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Things of Beauty

I went to my retail church yesterday.

(Whole Foods, for the uninitiated).

Part of the reason I went is that there's something about their air handlers that filters out the cedar pollen. My brother in law is the one who made this discovery, and so when I'm completely miserable, I know I can head over to Whole Foods for an hour and feel like a human again. Unfortunately, they don't let me sleep there.

So of course I shopped. And every time I'm there, I'm aware of how little of the Whole Foods experience is about what you're buying. Some of it is, of course - I love many of the things I get there and only there, but for me, it's about a lot more. More than the air handlers too, although God bless them for that!

When I walked in yesterday, this is what met my itchy eyes:

That, my friends, was made by people with a higher calling than just stocking the shelves of a grocery store with that day's vegetables.

That was made by people who would like you to remember that you have a soul, even when all you're doing is buying some yellow squash.

I stood there at the door for a few, and had one of those moments where the world goes sort of silent and you forget where you are.

When I shared this picture, a lot of people, before they clicked, thought it was markers. That's how you know you've done your job with the arty types.

It was a gorgeous day yesterday, so I spent the rest of my lunch hour on the back porch coloring and making a video. I love what I call our "Indian Winter" - we never get a real winter, but we get this sort of glorified fall in January and February that just makes you happy to be on the planet.

So you'll have to forgive the shadows of the leaves of our neighbor's big cottonwood blowing back and forth in my video. Or you can enjoy them - I find it kind of soothing.

This was a very simple, 8 minute card with a single Derwent Inktense pencil in Iris blue, and my Aquapainter. I did this for our Try a New Technique challenge this week - to use white embossing on kraft with watercolor. I agree with Dawn - this is a look I've loved for many years!

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The stamp set - Vivid Vases - is one we got at Leadership. My favorite kind of stamp, because it lets me color, which I love, but it's not too big, so I don't risk seeing something shiny and wandering off halfway through the image. 

Now when I do my videos, I try to always add a closed captioning track because I have some hearing impaired crafty friends, and every time I do it it completely cracks me up, because Google helps you get started by transcribing what they THINK you're saying, and the whole time I'm correcting the track, I'm cracking up. They also interpret my accent in hilarious ways. Here's a sample:

So here's my video of the process - Hope you enjoy it! :)


Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Gilded Age

I just had the craziest dream.

I dreamed I was writing this blog post - I meant to write it last night, so I must have been thinking about it when I went to sleep. Anyway, I was so excited that I was going to be able to include video I'd taken on my phone of this crazy, bright blue, wiggly horse we had seen in the Barton Creek greenbelt.

We were having some kind of family event down there, and people were passing around samples of plants and flowers from the greenbelt. One of them was bigger, and I held onto it while whoever was talking talked. Then I noticed it was moving! Upon closer look, it was this tiny, bright blue horse.

I grabbed my phone and tried to hold the little horse and video it at the same time. It got all wiggly and eventually bit me and ran off. So the video I got was shaky, but I got it! You can imagine how excited I was that I was going to be able to put the video on my blog!

You can probably also imagine how mad and disappointed I was when I woke up and slowly realized there was no micro horse and no video.

Stupid dream horse.

So I have something different on video for you - sorry if you were expecting a little popcorn horse - I was too.

This is a technique I saw the other day by falling down the rabbit hole on Donna Downey's blog. Janelle was prepping us for the Mix-Ability challenge and referenced this technique -  I modified it a little to fit my style and I LOVE what happened!

Ink: Basic Black
Paper: Watercolor
Accessories: Stampin' Up Paper Daisies & Pop Up Posies Kit, Coastal Cabana Reinker, 
Bob Ross Gesso, Liquitex White Acrylic Paint, Mono Multi Adhesive, Inka Gold.

Isn't that cool? It looks so sculptured in real life - like embossed tin roof tiles or something. Do you recognize the flowers? I bet you don't! Those are the paper daisies that Stampin' Up! used to sell (They are similar to these by Petaloo if you want some) and the flowers from the retired Pop Up Posies designer kit! Now do you recognize them?

I am having just too much fun with this.

I made a video for you to show you how easy this is - it only takes 10-15 minutes to do this. Less if you're not stopping to edit a bad cat out of your video.

So check it out and enjoy! I'd love to see your version! I have some more samples for you coming soon.

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Did you like that? I gave Dina a little preview of it and she did notice that I have paint all over my hands and my nails in the video. This is how I live 99% of the time. As a matter of fact I buy clothes based on how good they are going to look with paint and ink on them. I wear a lot of black. :D

Again - my apologies that there is no horse in that video, BUT I have some horsey news! I'm a little late posting my prize from the Season of Giving blog hop, so I've decided to give THREE!

The winner of the original package is:

The winner of mystery prize #2 is:

And the winner of mystery prize #3 is:

Ladies - please use the email me button in my sidebar to send me your addresses and thank you for your patience! Enjoy your goodies!

And if you see a little blue horse in the woods - be sure and catch it on film!


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Live Leadership Coverage!

This is a live feed of the Leadership event in Houston - newest posts will appear at the top. It might take a second for the live feed to appear in your browser. Scroll down to comment or ask questions! Thanks for joining me! :)


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Lost and Found

So when you walk as much as I do, you find things.

I've found baseballs, handbags, car keys, bike parts, toys, candy, even bullets.

Oh and snakes. Lots and lots of snakes.

But this summer I found two things I'd really like to return to their owners and I was wondering if the world of social media could help me.

The first thing is so valuable that I will not post a picture of it. But I will tell you this. It's a photo of a person I assume to be the owner with a very, very famous person that everyone in America loves and reveres. It is signed by this famous person. The photo has something very unique about it that the owner will be able to describe to me. I'm sure whoever owns it is very sad that they accidentally left it somewhere where I found it and I'd love to return it. So if you live or work in 78749 and you are missing something quite precious, let me know.

The second one is handmade and so fun. It's a handwritten and illustrated story by a child that probably attends Nan Clayton Elementary, so I'm hoping my friend Connie might know whose it is.

Here's what the story says. It says "King Derwin." on one side and "Bartholomew Cubbins" on the other. (Typed as is.)

King Derwin is a not as kind as Bartholomew and he is also confident to make Bartholomew take off his hat. Bartholomew is kind and respectfull to King Derwin. He daring and confident, forward to the King. He is also hardworking almost. 1) King Derwin thought that Bartholomew was being rude because he didn't take off his hat and this was against the law. 2)Bartholomew got arested because he didn't take of his hate (he tried to) so he was took to the castle of King Derwin. 3) The King brought is his servants to take off Bartholomem's hat but none of them could because another hat grew on his head each time. 4) No one could explain why or what was happening to Bartholomew's hat(s). 5) They decided to make the Duke push him off the highest towar and make him fall. 6) Right when they get to the top of the towar Bartholomew's hats turned into the most beautiful hat in the world so he sold it for the King for 500 pieces of gold. 

Now it says "Andor" on it, and then in red pen (RUDE  - right on the artwork) it says "Andor - 100 summary, 80 neatness.) Now, this teacher obviously knows nothing about art or neatness as you can see. Also, she gets a 30 in neatness for writing on his little illustrated book!

I'm guessing his dad is in the military or just a good American, since this child obviously knows that leaving your hat on is disrespectful!

Does anyone know little Andor? Surely his mom wants this adorable, scrapbookable work of art!

Now speaking of art, I didn't forget. :) This "no line piercing" technique is stolen from Dina Kowal and I just love it! What I did was stamp the large flower from Peaceful Petals on the back of the cardstock in Baked Brown Sugar. (Pro tip from Dina - don't use black because it makes it harder to see your holes.) Then, from the back, I just pierced holes all along the outline of the flower with my piercing tool and extra large piercing mat. Then on the front, I used a sponge dauber just to shade outside the flower with So Saffron to make it pop. The greeting is from Perfect Pennants. See Dina's original work of art here.

Since that white on white gives it an Edelweiss/wintery feel, this is my card for today's Challenge Chicks' challenge by Anna - Winter Wonderland. Mine is more of a Texas winter - with sunshine and blue skies, of course. :)

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Don't forget - I'll be doing live coverage from Leadership in Houston next week, so be sure and camp out here starting Tuesday for all the shenanigans!


Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy Little Clouds

As you know - I pretty much didn't have TV from Nixon to MTV. If you don't know this story, you can read it here.

When we did get TV, I had a lot of catching up to do. I didn't see any shows during their time, which is maybe why now I still watch shows (like Breaking Bad) a year or two after everyone else does. It's normal to me.

But one of the shows I watched a LOT of after we got our TV back was Bob Ross' painting show.

Oh how I loved him.

He was so relaxed, so approachable. He honest to goodness made me believe I could paint realistic mountains and trees and rivers, even though I had never, at that young age, picked up a paintbrush. Odd to be riveted to a DIY show for a hobby I'd never done, but I was.

I love how everything about him was positive. Despite my dark Irish sense of humor and my taste in somewhat depressing literature, I'm a bit of a Pollyanna, which I attribute to being the youngest child. I much prefer laughing to crying, unless I'm crying because I'm laughing so hard, in which case I prefer both laughing and crying.

I also don't believe art is a mystery or reserved for people upon whom have been bestowed some special charm by our creator. I believe art is for everyone and that people who are art snobs can generally be lumped in with politicians and people who don't like butter or animals.

So Bob Ross was my spirit animal. A gentle soul. Generous with his art and his techniques, which is also something I feel very strongly about. Not hiding his light under a bushel, that one.

So when I signed up to host today's Mix-Ability challenge on Splitcoast, I used this man as my inspiration. My challenge is called Happy Little Clouds, and you can read about it and play along here.

If there was ever a stamp that was so perfect for sweet Bob Ross it was that "life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful."

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Actually, I bet perfection would be its own kind of curse. But that's for another day.

For this card, I used the retired Stampin' Up! set Bird on a Branch (get it on Ebay!) and my Brother Scan and Cut machine to cut out that perfect little bird.

I spritzed a piece of watercolor paper with water and then dropped Summer Sun and Groovy Guava reinkers on it and smooshed them around with a paper towel.

Then I fingerpainted the cloud with Bob Ross White Gesso and Basic Black craft ink. I drew the wire for the bird with a Faber-Castell Pitt Pen. The greeting is from Perfect Pennants from the new Occasions mini catalog.

Here's a painting I painted in the Bob Ross class I took at CHA - his method really is easy and fun

If you ever get a chance to take a Bob Ross method class, I highly recommend it.

But more importantly, just have fun, whatever you do. :)


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