Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Clarifying a Mistake

I read something interesting the other day in a Facebook thread about Ryan Lochte, bless his little pea-pickin' heart.

Some people were chatting about his shenanigans and particularly what passed for an apology after the conclusion of the shenanigans.

One person said "he was clarifying a mistake." Another person said "no, he made a bad choice."

The difference between a mistake and a choice is like the difference between heaven and hell. It's a pretty clear distinction.

Here are some examples of mistakes:

  • Calling one of your children another child's name
  • Calling one of your pets another pet's name
  • Wearing one brown and one black sock
  • Using conditioner instead of shampoo
  • Ordering snails instead of steak because you left your reading glasses at home
  • Driving the wrong way down Hotel Street in Honolulu (I didn't mean to)
Here are some examples of choices:
  • Making an arse of yourself and then making up a story about getting robbed in a foreign land to cover it up. 

 (I didn't really feel like you needed more than just that one example. )

You see this a lot in politicians. Politicians are constantly telling us that they made a mistake when they posted a picture of their nether regions on Twitter or had 25 drinks and then drove into a lake, or when they accidentally spent half a million dollars on hookers and Scotch.

As a lover of words, I think that the words we use matter. We shouldn't use the word "mistake" when we mean "choice," any more than we should use the word "bacon" when we are discussing something which is made out of tofu or turkey. It would be far more respectable of the poor choice crowd (or the people claiming something which is not bacon is bacon) to just make up a whole new word, like snarglblarf or shammytoed or retrosnapple. I would respect that quite a bit actually, because it's been a while since I've seen a good new word brought into the world. And we could all come together around a person who experienced a terrible snarglblarf that they are embarrassed about, couldn't we?

I think so.

I have two fun things for you today. My mom got me the most WONDERFUL watercolors that I'd been lusting after since I saw them in Santa Fe. They are Schmincke and they are spectacular. My Mijello's are crying in the corner now.

I had to do a quick project with them to try them out and they are just a joy to paint with. Beautiful, saturated colors that blend perfectly. So here's a little no-line watercolor for you on some Fabriano Extra White watercolor paper - good stuff.

Gorjuss Hush Little Bunny with Schmincke watercolor by Understand Blue

I filmed the process of making this for you - it's sped up. Watercoloring the image took 55 minutes, and I figured you probably would prefer the 8 minute version here, unless you're imprisoned somewhere and have a ton of time to kill. Perhaps you're in a maximum security facility for those who snargleblarfed and didn't get away with it. If so, I'd be happy to bake the longer version into a cake for you.

Now in addition to the watercolors, I got an AWESOME present from my friend Brian King. This is seriously genius, and it's so cute. We both love pistachios, and somehow he found this ADORABLE, clever bowl and sent me one. It's two nested bowls, so that you can drop your shells down into the bottom bowl, thereby solving the greatest snacking problem confronting humanity.

OMG I love it so much. I'm a pistachio fiend - a FIEND - and I'm in heaven. Perfect for those Breaking Bad marathons.

So while we're on the subject of presents, I have one to give away! I'm giving away the Concord & 9th gift card from my birthday post. Drum roll please!

Congratulations Lee! Email me for instructions on claiming your prize.

And because you were all so nice as to give me your awesome book recommendations, I turned that into a list for all of you to enjoy. Where I could find links to the books, I added them. Where someone recommended everything by an author, I linked to a search result for that author with a list of all their books. I appreciate this list so much - and I look forward to reading all these - especially the ones where several of you mentioned the same ones - they must be great! There was only one I couldn't find - I believe the commenter said the River Book series but that didn't turn up anything for me so if you have an author or more info let me know!

So I hope you enjoy that list - that was nice of y'all to share with me! I will have fun working my way through it! I love having book-y friends.

Now go forth and use words that mean something!


Saturday, August 27, 2016

How To Create a Dictatorship in One Easy Step

This blog post is a 102 blog post.

The requirement for reading this blog post is to read 101 - entitled An Open Letter to Art Guilds, here.


Okay, here we go. I have a simple recipe for creating a dictator in one easy step.

That one step is simply to create a Facebook Group.

This recipe comes with a bonus recipe, or the "frosting" for your dictator - and that recipe is for accelerated Lord of the Flies style anarchy, detailed below.

Now don't get me wrong - I love Facebook Groups. I really enjoy many of the ones I'm in. The platform is very good, offers lots of tools for moderators (not nearly as good as forum tools, but decent) and it's free.

However, it's a breeding ground for dictators.

What happens is, someone sets up a group that is publicly joinable and discoverable (essential for hatching your dictator - it's like plant food.) Let's say the purpose of this group is to share a love for Beanie Babies. Everyone loves Beanie Babies. How could anything but love and harmony result from a gathering of like minded BeanieBabyHeads?

Well, along comes an up-until-this-moment-innocent person who makes a terrible, terrible error in judgement, by deciding to post a cute picture of an adorable Beanie Baby next to a cup of coffee. For some reason, this enrages the group's creator, and a document is started in the files section of the group, entitled RULES - YOU MUST COMMENT WITH "AGREE" TO BE A PART OF THIS HAPPY-GO-LUCKY-BEANIE-BABY-GROUP-WHICH-IS-JUST-FOR-FUN-AND-SHARING-A-LOVE-OF-BEANIE-BABIES.

The document rapidly grows to 48 pages long, detailing every conceivable transgression a Beanie Baby-loving human could ever commit inside the group, and this is followed by the equally long list of consequences that will ensue should said behavior occur.

People who join the group are bewildered when that their first Beanie Baby posts are deleted, possibly because the group has decided that yellow Beanie Babies are no longer allowed, because of "some incidents" that happened with yellow Beanie Babies in the past.

Now it's time for the bonus recipe. The anarchy. The person who posts the picture of the yellow Beanie Baby gets 200 comments on their very first post. The first ten are helpful comments suggesting that the person remove their post before the poor poster is droned at their desk by the admins of the group. The poster asks, innocently, why they would be droned for posting a picture of a Beanie Baby in a Beanie Baby group, which activates what I call the Omega sequence.

The next ten comments are darker, wherein people dredge up the original "incident" and begin fighting with each other, beating their plowshares back into swords. Then there will be the obligatory Michael Jackson eating popcorn meme photos. Then come the conspiracy theory comments, wherein members speculate that the admins don't support the military. There's name-calling, and cursing, and accusations of hate crimes. Then, the one person in the group who had been waiting to post a picture of himself nekkid comes out of the woodwork with style, panache, verve.

With the increase in anarchy, there is a correlating increase in the length of the rules document, and also in the number of admins that are required to run the group (dictator seedlings) because of the specificity of the rules. Entire boards are formed, which then require meetings, minutes, and a separate rules document governing the meetings and the minutes, the end result of which is usually an all-out boycott of Beanie Babies.

To some extent, I get it. I run an online community, and you do have to have rules in places where, for example, financial transactions are taking place, or people are paying for advertising.

And unfortunately, these days, for some reason, it is necessary to tell grown, adult human beings to be nice. I'm not sure why that is, but it's a fact. And they often don't listen.

But most of the art or cooking or interest groups I'm in on Facebook have some dictator-y rule-y overkill, and I see people arguing about INSANE things daily. And I'm truly amazed that groups that start with such a fun common LOVE of something turn into the Lord of the Flies so quickly. Yesterday, fights over truly insignificant things broke out in both an art and a cooking group I'm in and I just had to write the topic down for a post.

Human behavior is rarely improved with a deluge of rules.

In my opinion, there's really only one rule every group should have.

Be nice.

Anyone who isn't nice should be droned.

Most behaviors fall under this rule and do not need to be detailed. Say, for example, you were in the Beanie Baby group and you posted that you were selling "Greenie Babies" which were your own homemade Beanie Babies made out of gluten-free soy coconut rice aminos but they were better for the environment than Beanie Babies. Well that falls under the heading of "not nice" because you're trying to sell something in someone else's group, and you're dissing the common interest.

This does not need to be explained in a 48 page document. I cannot help it if your momma didn't teach you this. It also does not need to be explained or justified to the other members of the group. You will be droned, no explanation necessary, and the rest of the group can continue to live in harmony.

Humans are so interesting. Almost as interesting as cats. But not quite. And you notice I am NOT saying that cats do not become dictators, because they do. But that's for another post.

Have you set your countdown timers? Because the holiday mini catalog is live in 4 days! I have zero patience for that though so I'm stamping with all of it.

This week, I decided to combine the TIPPY TOP AWESOMEST set - Ghoulish Grunge, with Cookie Cutter Christmas because I thought the brick wall worked perfectly as an igloo!

Seriously  - how cute is that? It's an 8 minute card, and I love it. Wait until you see how many things the matching punch does. Here's a quick video of this card, along with my dental floss tip. If you saw one of our recent Crafty Chats, I talked about this tip and Jennifer asked me to video it, so her wish has been granted! I'm always surprised when people haven't used this trick before - it's a real life saver! As a person who makes a lot of gluing mistakes, I can testify to its usefulness.

Peace, love and beanie babies.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Happy Birthday to EVERYONE :)

Well - the fact of the matter is that today is my birthday.

I'm 30.

I'm also a liar.

I definitely am 30 multiplied by X, which you will not be able to solve for because I refuse to give you Y. Take that, algebra!

ANYWAY, because it's my birthday, I am celebrating with some friends who are also having a birthday this month - Greg & Angie at Concord & 9th.

Greg and Angie are unbelievably great people, which is the first thing you need to know about them before we even talk about crafting. They are just sweet, fun, nice, hardworking, funny and kind people. Those are the kind of people I like spending my hard-earned dollars with.

Crafting is a complete luxury, and I don't know anyone with an unlimited craft budget, so HOW we spend our crafty dollars is important. And the nice factor influences me heavily, and it's why I'm a huge fan of these two people and their business.

They are celebrating a super important birthday this month - August 9th is their first birthday.

In some ways I can't believe it's only been a year, because they have been so successful and it seems like such a mature company.

In others, it seems like it's flown by in a blur since their first release.

I'm very happy they are part of the crafty industry and I'm grateful to call them friends.

I had a hard time picking what to use for their birthday card today, but a Dare to Get Dirty Challenge on Splitcoast inspired me, and so I chose the Blossom Bundle, because I feel like it best represents their style.

What's funny about what I did though is that this because a sort of never-ending card, because I was doing die-cut inlay with two different materials - one was white cardstock, and the other was watercolor paper I did washes on with my Mijello Mission Gold watercolor.

So what that means, is that on the first pass through the Big Shot, you already have two cards' worth of stuff - an outline and the insides. But then you have to cut a second set so that you can replace either the innards or the outards. Well now you have the stuff to make FOUR cards with.

And on and on like die-cut inlay is the papercrafting equivalent of sourdough starter!

However I had to stop after three cards because I saw a squirrel or something. But here are the first three.

On this first one, I built a background with their Stripe Builder set and Smoky Slate Ink - just overlapping it in my MISTI. I thought the grey would be a nice contrast to me eye-popping Opera Pink watercolor. Then I put the white die-cut outline down, and pieced the watercolor pieces back in with the help of Press-n-Seal. Then I added some clear mini dewdrops - I don't remember where I got them! (Note - as you age, remember to write notes. You'll thank me when YOU turn 30.)

So here's how card #1 came out. I really loved the warm vs. cool.

Then, to use up the inside pieces from the white die cut, I pieced them back into the piece I'd cut the watercolor bits from.

But because I just put the white inside pieces back in, that meant I still had a watercolor outline to use. So that birthed card #3. But now I had to cut a second white one, because the watercolor outline looked better with white pieces pieced back into the outline!

But at some point you have to stop and get dressed and do your laundry and all those adulting things that don't care if you've created a never-ending card process. Jerky adulting things! Funsquashers!

So anyway - happy birthday to my friends at Concord & 9th! And for MY birthday, they are nice enough to let me give away a $20 gift certificate to their store. And since it's MY giveaway, I get to ask you to do something.

So since I am constantly walking and listen to several books a week on Audible, I'm always running out of good audiobook selections. So in order to be entered in my giveaway, I want you to comment with a book that you just love. Please let me know when you comment if it's an audiobook and if you recommend the recording, but paper book recommendations are welcome too!

One lucky winner will get the shopping spree and I'll announce the winner next week!

And if you want to see the rest of their birthday hoppers, each one has a gift certificate to give away too, so enjoy the list here!

I look forward to seeing your books! I'm off to have bacon and see the new Star Trek movie!


Monday, August 22, 2016

Deer World...

This might be the earliest I've ever started holiday crafting. I'm going to take this as a sign that I am becoming more organized, since no other visible signs of this exist anywhere in my environment.

Since Texas is offset from the rest of the country in terms of weather, it's always fun to play with images that are wintery - just because we never really experience that. It's probably how northern people treasure beachy images.

But one of my FAVORITE images that to us Texicans isn't a wintery image, but to the rest of the world can be, is DEER and other things antler-y.

We live in very close contact with deer here. Billions and billions of deer, and they are such pretty little things. It's pretty common where I am to have momma deer leave their babies on porches while they go eat during the day - they are all over our neighborhoods, and you just learn the various ways to live with them, be careful around their fawns, help them with water during a drought, and plant plants they won't eat in your garden. In real life, as well as in stamp imagery, they're just some of my favorite things.

One deer in particular has caught my little crafty eye this year, and that's the Color Layering Deer. HE'S SO PERFECTLY DEER-ISH!

So, thanks to this sweet deer being in my house, I'm hopping with some friends today to celebrate Hero Arts Winter Catalog, in which my adorable deer resides. I love every single person on this hop - I hope you check them all out after you leave here - they are amazing people!

And since you know I don't normally like traditional Christmas colors, I made this sassy deer in warm pinks (Pink Pirouette, Flirty Flamingo, Watermelon Wonder, Cherry Cobbler) and acidic green (Green Apple). He is cool because while the layers make him very realistic, the style of the artwork is also very poster-y and graphic. So I think my modern colors speak to that modern look he has. I paired him with the Delicate Petals Stencil for the bright background, which I made by lightly brushing Green Apple ink through the stencil with the Clarity Stencil Brushes for a deer-y glow. And since he's sort of a funky little hipster deer, he wishes you nothing but peace, man. Peace. (Sentiment from the Color Layering Cardinal Set.)

Color Layering Deer by Understand Blue
And while we're on the subject of deer, I had to play with another, very different little deer, who also speaks to my deer-loving heart. This little guy is from the Origami Happy Holidays set with a sentiment from the Color Layering Snowy Tree set.

I loved him in black and white, so I just stamped him and cut him out, and then cut up a Gelli Plate print I did a few weeks ago with my sister, using Dylusions paint and the Bold Floral Stencil - because lo and behold - MY PRINT WAS RED AND GREEN! :) After I just got done telling you I never do that for Christmas! I'm apparently a liar. But my deer is super cute and festive! So try to overlook that.We're all sinners, right?

So if you want to see the beauties some of my fellow professional shoppers have made with the Hero Winter goodies, hop along, and comment for a chance to win one of three $25 shopping sprees! Who doesn't want a crafty gift card for Christmas? Crazy people, that's who - and I know y'all aren't crazy.

Do be a deer and make something pretty this week, y'all. :)


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