Friday, May 30, 2014

Remembrances of Glues Past...

I think kids had more free time when I was little.

I was contemplating today's Mix-Ability challenge yesterday and since the challenge is to design with glue, I had a pleasant flashback to elementary school and the beginning of my love affair with glue.

I know that Elmer's Paste is too pedestrian a subject to conjure up Marcel Proust with, but the fact of the matter is that the smell of that paste can instantly transport me back to Sul Ross Elementary. That yummy, pepperminty scent, and the delightful, soft texture of it. I have zero memories of the projects we made with the paste, but I vividly remember the paste. I thought it was SO amazing learning you could STICK things to things. Sometimes when I pass the school supply aisle I'm tempted to buy it just for nostalgia's sake.

I remember in later grades graduating to "real" Elmer's glue. The white glue that I love to this day. It also has a strangely pleasant, if not edible smell.

I remember - please tell me I'm not the only one - discovering that if you got it all over your hand, you could peel it off in one big sheet, and how, for some reason, that was endlessly entertaining. I also remember doing this a LOT in school. We must have had some nice quiet time back then where we were not being badgered, if I can remember a lot of times where I had the luxury of putting glue on my fingers and letting it dry. I'm glad we did. When I started reading Nancy Drew, I noticed what perfect fingerprints it made, which might have led to my obsession with forensic science.

Now, I don't go a day without using glue - are there people who don't? People who have an old bottle of glue, unloved and dry in a drawer? I should set up an outreach. An evangelical organization to reveal the wonders of glue to people whose sad souls are glueless.

So Birgit's challenge spoke to the kid in me. I took my grown-up glue - Tombow Mono Multi - and just wrote "hi" on a piece of watercolor paper. (I orginially tried this with glossy cardstock and alcohol ink and I didn't like it.) I waited for it to dry (thank you Breaking Bad, for being there for me in moments like this) and then sprayed the paper with water and dropped Tempting Turquoise, Orchid Opulence and Green Galore re-inkers on it. Then I let that dry overnight and cleaned the ink off the glue with a Q-tip®. The background was made with the Stylish Stripes embossing folder and added some sequins.

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Other than that, I've been busy making samples for the Unwind Retreat - you are going to love it! We are also giving away one of our helper aprons to a lucky winner - a zentangle apron, of course - handmade by the incredibly talented Melanie Hopes, the zentangle and sewing BOSS. :)

See you soon! :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dirty Pioneers

You know how everyone is always going on and on about people who paved the way for us in one way or another?

Like the people who settled the American West, the suffragettes, blah, blah, blah.

I'm not saying those things aren't awesome, but there's a group of humans who were MUCH tougher than anyone who got through the Donner Pass on an admittedly tough trip, or over the Continental Divide in a wagon with no coffee.

I'm talking about the squillions of generations of people who never got to take a shower. I call them the Dirty Pioneers.

When I reflect on what sort of mental fortitude it must have taken to lurch around one's cave, or even survive in a castle in a corset, a dress and possibly a very stinky wig without being able to take a MINIMUM of one hot shower a day, I realize that I could not have survived that.

I would have definitely started drinking laudanum by age four under those circumstances. Give me a tough hike, a snowstorm and a cannibal any day as long as there's a shower waiting for me.

Also, it's reason number 38 squillion I'm not in the military.

Speaking of water, I've been practicing watercolor for a project we're doing at the retreat. Thanks to a nifty tip from +Jennifer McGuire, I found something that improves the process immensely. My cup of brush water was always a pain. For one thing, I have frequently taken a drink from it by mistake. That's fun. But also, it gets dirty so quickly and I find myself stopping often to change it out, which really disrupts the flow of my work. She uses a little craft locker that has lids on the wells, so that kids/pets don't bump it and spill it. I don't really need the lids, so I just bought some cheap ice cube trays and labeled the sides with each of my color names with a Sharpie:

Cool & simple! After I use a color, I swish it in that color water, and then in the well with clean water in it - it's awesome and saves so much time and headache. And I have yet to drink out of the ice cube tray :).

During one of my backyard coloring sessions, I played with Bloom With Hope and the no-line technique with my Koi watercolor set.  The background was made with drywall tape.

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Mel said she wanted this one, so it's in the mail!

Go forth and enjoy some hot running water, some cold running water, or some pretty colored water in an ice cube tray and be glad you weren't a Dirty Pioneer!


Thursday, May 15, 2014

There's No Place Like Home

My sweet friend Ann reminded me of a very important anniversary that escaped my notice this week - and I can't believe it!!

As you all know, 13 is my lucky number, so I'm hoping that this special anniversary means I'm in for something fantastic this year.

I have been with Stampin' Up! for THIRTEEN YEARS!

I joined on May 10th, 2001. In many ways, it feels like yesterday. I remember that first workshop I went to and squealing when my demonstrator and later my upline made a lunch bag with the Posy & Vine wheels in Pink Passion and Green Galore - you would have thought I had just witnessed the birth of the universe. Seriously - a lunch bag. Cracks me up to this day when I think about "wow bags".

A lot of big things happened in 2001, of course, and so it's a year that is very much present in my mind. I remember vividly how stamping helped me deal with 9/11, as it was really the one thing I felt like I could do for people during that time - send cards. I still have the fundraiser flag stamp that SU came out with that year and I love it - I'll never part with it.

I went to Australia in February of that year as well - also a life-changing event and one I'd like to repeat. That was long before Australia became part of the Stampin' Up! family.

I was a low level Rising Star at the next convention - and sweet Glenda Travelstead was #1 that year - we were in the incoming class together - what an honor.

A year after that convention, a Stampin' Up! demonstrator and her husband started Splitcoaststampers for her downline to connect through, and I never would have dreamed that down the road, that site would have become my employer, and complete that work/life circle in a wonderful and fulfilling way.
I don't know that I could have predicted that I'd still be planning for convention 12 Julys later - to me it's flown, but it's about a quarter of my life!

It has been a constant source of blessings to me, bringing me a group of my very best friends in the world, who I can't wait to see at each event. It's divided my years into neat sections - the period between Convention and Leadership and the one between Leadership and Convention. It brought me a fantastic job with talented and fun people.

It has taken me to cities I love, and has evolved my artistic style so much. Not for one second in those 13 years have I ever considered not having this in my life - and I know that that is a rare prize. I know that for various reasons, people come and go from their hobbies, but stamping and art are not my hobbies - they are the center of my being. Every day I still can't wait for the quiet moments when I can finish what I need to do and make something pretty. Or not all that pretty, but most definitely fun. Or even if not fun, at least educational on the way to the trash. I have learned in 13 years that what I truly love is the process of making art. Both the supplies - oooh, supplies - and the finished product are fun, but not as fun as the process. I will never, ever do anything or commit to anything that does not leave time, space or permission for me to create.

The people who work at Stampin' Up! are the nicest, sweetest, kindest and creative people I've ever known. I can't imagine my life without them. They all have servant's hearts and a genuine love for what they do. 

It has been a fabulous 13 years, and I hope there are many more. I'm so grateful to those of you who read my blog who Stampin' Up! has allowed me to meet - it's been so fun hugging all the friends who don't just live inside my computer. I remember the first time someone came up to me and said "You're Blue!" and it just made my year. :)

When my mind wanders - I think of stamping.

So this little card is perfect for wishing myself a happy anniversary.

The scene is on watercolor paper. I masked off the edges with artist's tape and then watercolored the skies, grass and the house, which is a sneak peek hostess set called Life's Adventure. I used Koi watercolors. After it dried, I fingerpainted the clouds with white and black acrylic paint. The sentiment is from Bloom with Hope.

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Thanks for being a part of this thirteen years with me - I've loved the people part of it most of all. The stamps are just what is sticking us all together. :)

I'll leave you with two of my favorite SU highlight reels. The first, is a video I took of my beloved Dana Keith, whom I adore, that Stampin' Up! brought into my life so that I could humiliate her when she fell asleep at convention.

The second is a video I made for the commercial contest for Convention last year. I didn't win, but I love it anyway. My friends are in it and some cherished memories.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!

I'm getting ready to head up to my mom's for our family celebration, and I have to tell you what about my mom inspired my Mother's Day cards for her, my sister in laws and my mother in law.

My mother gave me the gift of contrast.

I absolutely adore absolutes, and she (and her father) are a big part of why.

While I understand that life, and nature offer no such thing as an absolute, what my mother and her father excelled at was conviction.

And since I was a wee tot (ask her), I have felt that conviction and the absoluteness of things that are right and things that are wrong.

And I may or may not have been a wee bit opinionated about them. Please don't ask anyone about this. :)

And she (and her father) may have given me this trait of certainty, for which I am grateful, even if it makes my Libra friends puzzle a bit over me :).

It's very easy for me to say yes, or say no - and I don't very often say maybe, and this is a gift from my mom.

What I've only recently realized is that it is PRECISELY what I tend towards in art. As Gladwell observes, you're not really good at anything until the 10,000 hour mark, and it was about then that I decided that what I was good at was contrast. Light and shadow, black and white, blue and yellow, red and green.

It was very liberating to let go of everything else - like vintage, which I love, and am completely incompetent at. Or shabby chic. Or subtlety.

I embrace the gift of my gene pool now and I celebrate the sharp, clean edges. So thanks mom! :)

For the five moms in my family - my mother, my brother's wife, who raised two of the kindest, sweetest, smartest children I know, my other sister-in-law who is the mother of the most stunning and graceful and kind and ladylike twins on the face of the earth, and my other sister-in-law who is tied with my first sister-in-law for raising the world's most favored nephew, and my mother-in-law who raised three of my favorite boys on earth, I say - thank you and I hope you forget all the barfing and backtalk today. Although I bet it will come up over lunch. In which case, I hope there are lavish gifts.

Mothering is some thankless work most of the time, I think. But trust me - we grown up children appreciate it more than you know.

One of the things (simple, I know) that I am most grateful for is that my mother cooked us breakfast every day. Egg in the hole, just eggs, soft boiled eggs torn up with toast - I cannot cook a glorious egg to this day without being grateful to my mother for starting my day with the world's most perfect food.

Also, I never ate a school lunch. And I did learn how to cook like a boss.

So here are the cards I made for all these great ladies, inspired by my own mom's gift of black and white. Hand zentangled while I listened to the little birds singing out back.

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Hope you have a good, lazy Sunday.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Lake Funk - A Horror Whose Time Has Come

I was reminded on Facebook yesterday that I have a story whose time has come.

I'm not yet ready to tell my Arkansas story, but I AM ready to tell the Lake Funk story.

Years ago, my husband and a friend of his went through a bass fishing phase where they traveled to storied Texas lakes to fish.

Unfortunately, one time, they decided that it would be fun if their wives went with them to the MOABL - Mother Of All Bass Lakes - Lake Fork, which will forever be Lake Funk in my mind.

Now if you guys out there want a tip on how to make a woman angry at you for the rest of her ever-loving life, till death do you part, you tell that woman that there's a "resort" at Lake Fork that she and her friend can hang out in while you fish.

This woman was told this lie prior to her departure to the God-forsaken hell hole at Lake Funk. My friend Luressa, who was a new demonstrator at the time, and I packed up a weekend's worth of cardmaking fun, and got into the truck, as innocent as little lambs. If it had been a movie, there would have been creepy music playing in the background as we packed up, laughing, not a care in the world.

As we approached Lake Funk, however, we started to sense a dark force, and also that perhaps that the word "resort" didn't mean what these soon-to-be ex-husbands THOUGHT it meant. Our fears were confirmed when we pulled up to the filthy, FILTHY, dark, poorly built "cabins" we'd be staying in. Through the clouds of mosquitos and other stinging insects, we realized with horror that we were now four hours from civilization and had no choice but to spend not one, but TWO nights in these glorified outhouses. Did I mention filthy?

For obvious reasons, the interior of the outhouses were pitch dark. Looking back, it was a blessing, but at the time, it sure would have been nice to SEE the Raisinets stuck to the bedspread instead of finding them with one's hand. And no, I'm not making this up. There were Raisinets stuck to the bedspread.

Oh - and here's a kicker - the God-forsaken hellhole known as Lake Funk - for the rest of this story GFHKALF - is in a DRY COUNTY. If there is one place on earth that you should be allowed to drink copious amounts of alcohol, it's GFHKALF.

A definite chill settled over these two marriages, which was intensified when the two Y Chromosomes suggested that we eat food prepared in the outhouse's "bar." Um, no thank you. I'll be drinking Listerine and rocking back and forth in the outhouse, thank you very much.

We started to notice that people were staring at us. A lot. Probably wondering why in the world we appeared to voluntarily be visiting GFHKALF and not as part of some sort of East Texas human trafficking ring. The staring made us increasingly uncomfortable as the weekend went on.

Luressa and I decided to drive 300 miles or something (not far enough) to the nearest Wal-Mart to purchase light fixtures, since we could not see to stamp in the outhouses. Just being on a highway that seemed like it went somewhere away from that place was glorious. I am pretty sure we bought hand sanitizer too. And probably looked for a divorce attorney. Even while we were driving down the road, people stared at us. It was very creepy in a Deliverance/Walking Dead sort of way. We struggled through the Saturday, stamping in the semi darkness and obsessively washing our hands. I don't remember what we ate for dinner that night - probably gum or cough drops. We studied community property laws and revised our wills.

The next morning, we at least knew we had spent our last night in the outhouses. The Y Chromosomes just had to get through what was likely to be their last fishing trip on earth and we could go home, take Silkwood showers and change the locks when they went to work. Once again, Luressa and I hit the open road. It was Sunday in GFHKALF. We found a McDonald's or something edible far, far away from GFHKALF and headed back. And then we saw it.

Driving down what I call the GFHKALF evacuation route highway, we approached a man, walking on the shoulder of the road, in his Sunday best. Dragging a body.

A really BIG body.

Having been desensitized by two days in hell, we weren't surprised, but we were curious. We wondered if it was the body of the person who had told him there was a "resort" at Lake Funk and decided we shouldn't judge him. We slowed down as we got closer to get a better look.

OH - no worries! It's not a human being! It's a 200 pound hog with its throat cut. Getting dragged down the road by a guy in a suit. On a 107 degree day. In East Texas.

Because that's how this part of the world rolls. How else you gonna get your Sunday brunch done?

But GFHKALF had more in store for us - I know, it hardly seems possible.

Did I mention that this is a great way to make your wife angry at you for the rest of her life? Because that's an important part of this story, and I don't want to leave that out.

They concluded their fishing trip, which we certainly hoped had been on their bucket lists, because the buckets were not far off, in our opinion. They SWORE to us that there was another restaurant in GFHKALF where you might actually be able to eat and not die, and that they would take us there before we hit the road. We arrive at said restaurant, walked in, and much to our surprise, there were light fixtures and the appearance of some modern conveniences, like running water and people with teeth. We settled in and ordered "safe" items like a single hush puppy and a can of Coke or something like that. And then we saw it.

A large family had walked in for their Sunday lunch, dressed in the official uniform of GFHKALF - overalls with no shirt - and started to pass our table to get to theirs. The elder of the tribe was facing us as they passed. With a hole in the crotch of his overalls the size of a basketball. And no underwear.

That was pretty much the icing on the Lake Funk cake and a very appropriate sendoff.

I'm fairly certain these two men, to whom we are still married, still sleep with one eye open. As well they should.

I'm still foraging through my pre-order box and having oodles of fun. This little bicycle is in the same set I blogged yesterday - Life's Adventure. I cut the greeting off the image, as is my custom, and stamped the bike on watercolor paper. Then I colored it with my aquapainter and Derwent Inktense pencils.

I LOVE the paper in the background - it's from the new Moonlight Designer Series Paper Stack. Has a fun Bokeh feel.

This card is headed to my friend Libby, who I think of every time I stamp a bike :).

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And, unrelated, this morning we think we had a little butterfly hatch out back. This little guy was hanging out on our tomato netting, a little dazed. Know what kind he is? Sadly, my butterfly bush isn't blooming yet, but I do have other things flowering back there right now, including my herbs. Hopefully he can find a snack.

So remember ladies - no good will come of trips to Lake Funk - and if your husband, intended, or any other man ever uses the word "resort" - that darn well better be backed up by Travel and Leisure Magazine, Martha Stewart and Jesus - because if not, I can assure you, you need to head for the Four Seasons and let him fish at the outhouse with his friends.


Friday, May 9, 2014

I Demand Truth In Recipe Labeling

Having recently made some awesome crockpot meals, I've realized that there is something very important missing from recipe labeling.

I call it the Leftover Consumption Odds Index, or L.C.O.I.

So let's say I make some delicious Enchiladas Suiza... Two days later - they are all gone because they are so amazing. Those would earn a L.C.O.I. score of 100 - meaning the odds they will be consumed completely is 100%.

But randomly, some equally delicious concoction will sit, unloved, in the fridge until it's time to throw it away. It's just a weird issue of timing of what everyone wants to eat, or Mercury being in retrograde, or something that is beyond my comprehension.

I just want to understand the science of it all. I'd like to plug my meal plan into something that will say: "WHOA NELLIE - this is great today, but no one is going to eat this on Thursday - this recipe is a L.C.O.I. score of 45."

Please get right on developing that. Thanks.

Today is the Mix-Ability challenge at Splitcoast - and YAY - it's Friday! Janelle is our hostess today and her challenge is super creative - it's called "Take it away" and it's all about removing the top layer to reveal what's underneath.

I chose the Acrylic Distress Tutorial as my inspiration. I embossed a panel of Crumb Cake with the Alphabet Press Embossing Folder, then painted it with turquoise and yellow acrylic paint to get the perfect green to match an image I'd colored at #backyardhappyhour last week. Then I sanded it to reveal the paper.

The ADORABLE little fox is a sneak peek from the new catalog and a set called Life's Adventure and I colored him with Derwent Inktense pencils.

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Don't forget to sign up for my retreat below - we are running out of seats! :)


Monday, May 5, 2014

The Pillbug Workout

I've hinted at my groundbreaking workout program before, here

But today I'm going to reveal it to the world so that I can start taking everyone's money.

It's called the Pillbug Workout, and it must be done out of doors, beginning in early spring and continuing into the fall. You can take the winter off and just eat pie.

I walk 7 miles in the morning about 4 days a week. I love it. But it changes dramatically to the more intense Pillbug Workout when spring has sprung.

In the winter, I can walk like a normal person, in a fairly straight line on the sidewalk. BUT, when it warms up, that same 7 miles takes TWICE as many steps due to pillbug avoidance. I have to walk in crazy little zig zags back and forth across the sidewalks so that I don't squish those sweet little guys.

An added benefit of this workout is that people think I'm completely insane or have inner ear trouble and so I can avoid having my audio books interrupted by random conversations with strangers. 

Please send in your one time payment for the Pillbug Workout and be amazed at how fit you're becoming for the low, low price of $50 or some colored pencils.

During my Pillbug Workout this morning, a bird was nice enough to poop on my hat. Somehow, the bird sensed that my snarky card for today needed to have been prophetic. Or I scared the poop out of him with my crazy walking.

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Heh. Isn't that cute? This is more pre-order goodness. The supremely adorable Something For Baby stamp set and matching Baby's First Framelits brought this card into my brain. The greeting is from the AWESOME new DIY greeting rotary stamp - Alphabet- which gives you 13 characters - letters, numbers and symbols. THINK of the snarky cards I have in my head!!


Thanks for stopping by. Happy Monday!


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Animal House

Most of you have animals, so I know you'll understand what I'm about to say.

I can't live without a furry creature in close proximity to me. I was born this way. It's completely out of my control.

But even though it's my 100% normal state to see something dark streak by out of the corner of my eye, have a purring kitty stretched out next to my mousepad while I work or have furry legweights all night every night, every now and then I get a little jolt.

Sometimes I just suddenly realize how ODD it is to have little beasts that don't talk in our homes. It's just strange - we just take wild beasts and bring them inside to serve no purpose other than create joy for both beast and us. I wonder if it's odd for them? I wonder if they think "what the heck am I doing here in this box that has no birds in it, with these giant, stupid hairless things that can't feed themselves? Why do they steal my poop? Why do they hang out on the ground all the time?"

It HAS to seem odd to them too. Until the next time they get to eat Greek yogurt, at which point they probably kitty shrug it off and decide to just quit questioning things.

Anyway, today is the May Challenge Chicks challenge - can you BELIEVE it's May? MAYDAY!

The challenge this month is a summer scene. So I used yesterday's Inspiration Challenge on Splitcoast as my starting point - the inspiration site is World Market - one of my favorite stores. There was this beautiful Pumpkin Poppies wall art that I really loved. Everything in my yard is blooming because it's full on summer here - it will be 91 today - so I had a great excuse to use my new Bloom With Hope stamp set from the upcoming catalog and my SQUEE Blendabilities alcohol marker.

I wasn't actually going to turn this into a card - it was just a color test for me - I wanted to cross a few color families and just get a feel for them - but I ended up really liking it.

I stamped the middle flower and then masked it and stamped the other two with Memento. Then I colored them very quickly with Blendabilities as a luminance test. Hard to see here, but the centers are glittered.  The greeting is from Perfect Pennants.
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Do you not love that flower??? I could look at it all day. Seriously.

The rest of the set is lovely too - can't wait until you can see it!

If you're in Austin at the end of the month come to my catalog premiere!

In the meantime, try to figure out why we live with beasts in our midst. And why it's so awesome. :)


Friday, May 2, 2014

How To Make A Billion Dollars While Staring Into Your Pantry

We all stare into our pantries, right?

You KNOW what the cumin container looks like, and yet it's like it has a cloak of invisibility every time you want it. When you DON'T want it, it's all you can see.

Or, you know you have 38 cans of white shoepeg corn, and yet you have to go buy some for the recipe you're trying because you can't see past the tomato soup cans to the secret corn hiding place. This is why I have a metric ton of pumpkin pie spice. Fact.

I also know for a FACT I have a bag of cayenne from Pendery's that I cannot find for the life of me. Danged shape shifting spices.

Well the other day, I was staring into my pantry for some ingredient which I probably had to go buy a duplicate of because I never found it when I saw something which was a complete revelation.



Wait - I'm sure Brits don't eat cumin. Maybe they were looking for treacle or biscuits. But whatever.

This bored Brit then invented a board game that made him/her a billionaire!

GAH why can't I do something like that??

Pretty sure no one is going to buy my "Shoepeg Corn is Blocking my Cumin" game.
I'll have to come up with something else for my billion dollars I suppose.

 In the meantime, I've made you all a card for today's Mix-ability challenge on Splitcoast, which is "Things that Fly."

I love things that fly, so it was actually hard to choose what to do. I eventually decided on watercolor and Oriental Brushstrokes - a retired set, along with my fabulous new Work of Art set we got at the Catalog Premiere.

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I just used reinkers to watercolor the image - starting by spritzing the whole image so that the ink spread out when I added it. Very fun.

On top of the watercolor, I added some shimmer (hard to see here) with green, blue and silver InkaGold and a Q-tip.

You really should come play in the challenge - it's so fun.
While you're waiting for inspiration to strike, please go stare at your pantry and invent something amazing.

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