Monday, January 30, 2017

Cat People and Dog People - UNITE!

I had my team Facebook Live this weekend, and I wanted to use the cute dog and cat images from Little Cuties for a friendship themed card.

I wanted this card actually because I sort of had this post in my head the week of Creativation and needed a good image for the story.

One of the first comments on my Creativation album was from a dear friend of mine, who said that my photos were such a relief from the sea of political negativity on Facebook that week.

It seems like I'm always traveling when big newsworthy events happen - I was in Santa Fe for both the hanging chads AND the Tiger Woods story (there's a hilarious part of that experience I'll share someday that is still the source of much mirth in my house).

As you know - I'm pretty news-averse anyway. I wrote about my "happiness test" here.

But her comment really confirmed my own certainty about what "sharing" means in the online world, and so I thought it deserved a card.

I really only share things that I consider to be uplifting, funny or fascinating on Facebook, and never a single political thing ever. People who love news have plenty of places to get it, and they don't need me pointing them to it. Unfortunately, I've had to unfollow hundreds, if not thousands, of people on Facebook because of their political posts. It's so sad to me that people are so mean to each other over politics - it's not something I understand at all. And please - don't try to explain it to me :). I'd much rather see your children, your pets, your recipes and your art than your link to some apocalyptic "what if" story about a politician. I really love real people and their everyday lives the most. I know so many interesting and talented people - I'll never have time enough to learn all the things I could learn from them. And sadly, I miss some people I used to enjoy hearing from, because they turned into news machines leading up to the election and haven't let up since.

So I think that if there's a millennial out there who wants to make a bazillion dollars - this is the way to do it. Invent a plug-in for Facebook, Instagram etc. that quietly unfollows people for you when they post about politics - BUT - if they recover and go back to being normal people for let's say - 5 posts in a row - refollow them! I would pay $5 for that app. AND if the app had other filters - for example - a filter to remove all posts about award shows, football, animal abuse, previously Snopes'd stories, copy and paste this if,  and RIP (fill in the blank celebrity) posts - I'd pay $10 for the app. Heck - I'd pay $100 for an app that did all that. Possibly annually.

A friend of mine recently created two lists of friends - friends who love political posts and friends who don't. I thought this was very considerate, and I re-followed her after she did it and just asked to be off the political list. I would NEVER tell anyone how to to run their own social media content - that's not my message. I consider that to be anti-social media, actually. We are all free people and should post what WE like. Everyone can unfollow what they don't want to see and that's what I do. But I sure would love to re-connect with people who no longer post the things I don't like and I'd happily pay an enterprising developer for that to be somewhat automated.

Back in the days of Tweetdeck for Twitter, we had keyword filters, and man did we love them. Total granular control of your inputs. I'd like that for television actually. I've seen enough Viagra commercials to last a lifetime. And while we're at it - I'm really done with Pajama Gram and Property Brothers ads too.

So what I wanted to say with a card this week - is a huge thank you to all the talented, artistic, creative, fun-loving people who share their normal, chaotic and colorful lives as they happen. It's much more entertaining and uplifting than anything that follows a click of the remote. And thankfully, in real life, I know for a fact that we are all a lot nicer and have a lot more in common with each other than any news outlet would have you believe.

Yes - even cat people and dog people. That's how you know real peace is possible.

Friend Like You by UnderstandBlue
links to supplies used:

I colored these little guys on my team Facebook Live event yesterday.

I used my watercolors (I LOVE the pre-panned set of Mijello's above) for some no-line watercolor, and then I added back the facial details with a marker - I had left the stamps set up in my MISTI so I could add those details back perfectly. These are just fun images to paint.

My team always helps me with whatever I'm making on our call, but yesterday when I was adding back the face details using a marker, they totally didn't tell me that I had forgotten the mouth on both critters so I had to put them all in time out and then add the little mouths. Scoundrels! That's what happens when you're as blind as me - you can't see your kitty has no mouth!

I stamped the dog first in Daffodil Delight, and then masked him to stamp the kitty. I just set them up in opposite corners of my mini MISTI.

In the random topics category - before I went to Creativation, I bought a "uniform" - one shirt and one pair of pants for each day I'd be there. Our booth dress code was black, so I bought a very lightweight tunic (which was a good thing because Phoenix likes to blast the heater when it's 65 degrees out) and some of those BetaBrand pants, which are amazing. After a week there, opening a package every day to get my uniform out, I realized I am becoming Steve Jobs. It was so nice to have the exact same clothes every day - I knew exactly how they fit and felt and it was awesome. I get no joy from clothes shopping so it rocked to just buy multiples on Amazon and not have any decisions to make every day.

I also found a new makeup sponge I LOVE at Ulta before the trip. It's kind of a weird shape, but it's amazing how it blends your makeup totally smoothly - I've never had one this good before. It is CRAZY how much better my foundation looks. Also it's latex-free - which is good, since I'm allergic.

They are cheaper on Amazon than they were at Ulta.

Today I'm trying this veggie burger recipe via my friend Bev - who always shares great recipes. She loves them, so I'm excited. I don't like all the garbage that's in commercial veggie burgers, and a local restaurant that used to have my FAVE handmade ones moved away, so I'm hoping this one wows me. I'll be sure and report back. I love a good veggie burger and will be thrilled if I can make a good one.

I am caught up on Leah Remini's Scientology series on A&E, which is great, and I finally got a chance to watch Going Clear, which is even scarier. Then I watched The Witness, which is an in-depth look at a story we all know - the Kitty Genovese murder - by her brother. It's called The Witness and it's very well done and still just a fascinating case.

AND, my Audible credits renewed while I was gone, so I have some new audiobooks in my future!

I hope you have a great week - and I hope the cats and dogs and cat people and dog people and star-bellied Sneetches and Sneetches with no stars can all get along for a while while we make art. :)


Friday, January 27, 2017

Creativation Wrap-Up and a LLAMA

I'm back from Creativation (formerly CHA and I hear it's going to have yet another name next year) and SLOWLY catching up.

Being at an event like that is like being on a diet at Thanksgiving. There are so many fun, creative things to see and yet you can't make or buy anything!

We worked long days - we actually only had about 90 minutes each to see the show floor, so we had to sort of sprint through - but we saw amazing things on that sprint!

Here are some of my favorites.

The whole album of my photos is public, so you can see it here, along with some brief notes. 

But MOST importantly - I was helping out my friends at My Sweet Petunia, and they introduced some AMAZING MISTI accessories at the show, which helped me bring you a little party llama today. Please note - the Delicate Details stamp I used for the background is ONLY available as a free with purchase set during Sale-A-Bration. I thought it emulated the papel picado look in the set and it was perfect for my party llama. Link to the full stamp set images below the card photo.

links to supplies used

The first product is the Creative Corners - which are a set of five magnetized and non magnetized tools to increase the capabilities of your MISTI.

This just doubles the revolutionary nature of the MISTI by giving you additional interior corners and alignment tools. These are available for pre-order now for $15 - video below. They ship next week.

THEN, there is the most incredible bag EVER. It will come in three color schemes - pink trim with pink logo, aqua trim and black trim with a grey logo. I LOVE THIS BAG. You would not believe how much you can fit inside it! It's the ultimate craft on the go bag, with a great price - $30. That ships in March. There's a great video of the details of this bag here. I'm super excited to bring this to my class next week and show everyone.

THEN - there is the upgraded grid paper. The paper is heavier weight, so it won't crumple in the corners, and the grid is now printed on both sides. I LOVE IT.

I should be quiet and let you see the video now though, eh? So you can actually see how all these things work?

I love it when smart people invent smart things.

I hope you have an awesome weekend - I'll be at our annual Blogathon event in Austin - where I will be teaching bloggers how to stamp! :)


Monday, January 16, 2017

Dream Without Fear

I binge watched Leah Remini's Scientology and the Aftermath show on Saturday. It was rainy, and I had about 80 thank you cards to make, so it was a perfect time to see the whole series.

It. Was. Gripping.

I had read two books before I watched this show - Going Clear (outstanding, objective examination of Scientology by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author who wrote The Looming Tower about Bin Laden) and Troublemaker - Leah Remini's book.

Leah's book was nowhere near as detailed as Going Clear - but it had a lot of personal details of her experiences, including some really wacky things about Tom Cruise's wedding.

But neither of these prepared me for this show. If you haven't seen it - I won't spoil it. But in my opinion, it's a must watch. What has happened to the families interviewed on the show is truly shocking. She's a brave girl - several times during each episode, a little worry for her safety crept into my mind - you will see what I mean when you watch. You have to watch online at - it's not available on Netflix as of now.

As always happens to me when I see or read something that is eye opening, it sort of seeps into my artwork. I was thinking about one episode in particular, and sort of unconsciously gravitated to an of peace and safety, and that's what I decided to work on.

I have my Stampin' Up! team online meeting on Sundays at 2, and so I did this project live with them. They are so much fun, and give me tips while I'm working that always make the project better. I also got a tip about an art journaling class and found out that you can use Amazon payment methods at Dick Blick! They are a wealth of knowledge. If you'd like to join these fun sessions, you can get a heck of a deal on the starter bundle right now - up to $200 worth of goodies for $99.

What I did was a no-line watercolor of the most DARLING stamp set in the Occasions Catalog - Moon Baby.

I can't think of the last time I needed a baby card - #oldpeopleproblems - but this set doesn't have to be about new babies. I knew it was the perfect image for the sort of soothing and hopeful card I had in mind.
Moon Baby Watercolor by Understand Blue
links to supplies

One of the things I notice when I teach is fear. People are so afraid to make a mistake, that they are timid with both technique and product. Fear is creativity's worst enemy, so I try to teach people to let it go - it's just paper. Deliberately screw a few things up as a warmup so that you can practice throwing things away, and that will help you be more fearless.

I want you to be the Leah Remini of papercrafters. Brave little troublemakers.

One of my favorite quotes by Van Gogh is this:

If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.

That's all it takes to be brave :).

I edited the Facebook live video I did with my team - it was 65 minutes long to start with! So you can enjoy a sped up watercolor of this image that's just about five minutes. I do recommend watching on YouTube though - since Facebook live compresses the video, it's not the normal resolution and you'll be able to see better here.

I wanted to share a recipe with you all before I go. I LOVE cucumbers. I named my first cat Cucumber (because orange tabbies look just like cucumbers, right?) Cucumber used to go to Baskin-Robbins with us and eat teeny tiny ice cream cones they used to give out for cats. He was an awesome cat. After a long, happy life, he was ultimately killed by a mockingbird - they are horrid birds. Unfortunately, they are the Texas state bird, otherwise, I would operate a food trailer that served mockingbird nuggets. But I digress.

Cucumbers are really at the top of my veggie list - I love them just about any way you can have them - plain, in sour cream with salt and pepper (my mom made this a lot), in tzatziki, as pickles, in a gimlet, tea sandwiches - all the ways. They are a delight.

But one of my favorite ways to have them is in an Asian salad preparation. A restaurant that I used to work near had the best spicy cucumber salad, and I've tried for 20 years to recreate it, and I finally found a recipe I love. Here it is, with my tweaks. Most of the ones you get in restaurants are too sweet.

1 pound cucumbers (I used English), peeled and sliced thin on a mandoline
3 TBS vinegar (I used cider - original recipe calls for rice wine vinegar)
1 TBS sesame oil (My preference is chili sesame oil, but it's suddenly hard to find, so I added red pepper)
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
Green onions, sliced thin
Crushed red pepper to taste - the more, the better
Sesame seeds

Combine everything except the cucumbers and sesame seeds. Add cucumber, stir and let sit in the fridge for several hours. Add sesame seeds when serving. Tip - I dry the cucumbers on paper towels after slicing - they will shed water in the dressing, so you want them as dry as possible before you start.


I am headed to CHA (Creativation / Craft and Hobby Association show) soon, so be sure and check in on Facebook and Instagram for photos and video from the show. It's always fun to see the new products and my old friends. My show pick last year was the stencil brushes - I'm hoping for something equally life-changing this year. One thing I can tell you is that My Sweet Petunia has a VERY fun new product that will be introduced at the show - so definitely follow me to see that live.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Let's Taco 'Bout It

I got asked a question this week that I get asked a lot, so I thought - hey - let's taco 'bout it!

Someone asked me how long I'd been a demonstrator with Stampin' Up! and was surprised to hear that this spring it will be sixteen years. Sixteen years is a long time to do anything. To me, it seems like it all just started last week.

It started for me like it started for all of us. A coworker's wife was having a party, and so everyone in the office got invited. I loved her, but I didn't want to go (surprising, since I had been stamping already for 15 years at that point) - but I didn't know what it was about and that it was actually a craft-focused gathering. I just knew it was something I should do for a friend.

I went to her party, and after the food and drinks, our demonstrator (soon to be my team leader) grabbed the Posy & Vine Stampin' Around wheels, some Green Galore and Pink Passion ink, a white lunchbag - and that was the moment my life changed forever.

I squealed for the entire rest of the demo, all the way through the Make & Take, and if I'm not mistaken, I placed a $700 order.

Yes, you read that right. I was FREAKING OUT. As is my custom, I did not read one single thing that she gave me - I just wanted STAMPS. I signed up to have my own party (that ended up being a $1500 workshop) in the conference room at my work, and I infected a lot of people - all of whom are STILL my customers and team members - with the stamping bug.

I signed up after that event, and have been to 15 conventions, every regional, Leadership and OnStage - I've never missed an event.

I have always had a very demanding full-time job - and stamping - since my early teen years - has always been "just" my weekend art love. I just love paper and color. And over the many decades I've crafted, I've been a loyal customer of many companies - my first loves - Magenta and Hero Arts, and then A Muse, Starving Artistamps, Ranger - and the thousands of stamp companies I've bought from in the last decade or so - I love them all. I have been, and always will be an artistic omnivore and I'm so grateful the industry thrives today. Every purchase I make is so exciting, and I love that we are always seeing new stamp companies, new tools like the MISTI - just great things from great people.

But Stampin' Up! has given me a lot more than stamps. As a matter of fact - I'd say that's the smallest portion of what it's given me. It's given me my best friends, many travel adventures, cherished memories of trips that were filled with laughter and hugs and love from start to finish. It's the core of my larger stamping tribe, and it's brought wonderful, sweet treasures into my life that I honestly don't think I could live without - including you - your sweet comments and encouragement. It's why I haven't burned out, and why I go to sleep at night designing and wake up designing.

It's given me my incredible team community - people who make me laugh every day - inspire me with their projects in our Facebook group, and who are always willing to help each other and me, and send a card to a friend.

When I got asked about how long I'd been doing it, I realized I was unable to remember my life before I started - what in the world did I do for fun? I honestly can't remember. I've always been a papercrafter, but before Stampin' Up! it was a solitary sport, and I think that's true for most people. I love that now I have a community that truly circles the globe, and that we are all the same kind of crazy.

I signed up in May of 2001, and in September, that felt like fate. I had an outlet to deal with what we were all dealing with - and as helpless as I felt - I knew there was one thing I could do - and that one thing was make cards. I made and sent cards for months - to firefighters, to the White House, to city leaders in New York. I received thank yous from every single one. It gave me hope and it gave me a small break from worry and fear.

Since the day I signed up - I have never used one dollar of my day job paycheck to subsidize my hobby - and I'm extremely proud of that. It has been a self-funding enterprise from the get-go - and if you've been to my house - you know that's worth a lot. :) #fullsetsyndrome

So while it's one of many crafty brands I love - it's also a lot more than that. The people in my life who would get on a plane in the middle of the night if I needed them to be here came to me through Stampin' Up!, and those types of friends continue to come into my life through my classes, or on my team, or on my blog or at my retreats.

So yes, it's been sixteen years, and yes, it's been great. Now you pretty much know everything about me, except the Arkansas story, which as I told you in this post - I'm STILL not ready to tell.

NOW. Let's taco 'bout TACOS!! If you cut an Austinite open (which I don't recommend) you will find their bodies are completely made of tacos. Tacos are a holy thing here. People when they get to the word "taco" in a sentence immediately change their tone to a reverent, almost romantic one. A faraway look may appear in their eyes as they speak the most beloved two syllable word in Texas. Tahhhhhco.

So when I saw one of the Sale-A-Bration sets WAS A TACO TRUCK - I MIGHT have screamed a little. I might have screamed a lot. It may or may not be preserved on video.

So today, while waiting on my internet guy, I decided to make a quick video with an appropriately reverent taco card.
Tasty Trucks Card by Understand Blue

links to supplies

I used the MISTI to stamp the tacos in a straight line, and then colored and masked the center taco. Then I created sun rays around the taco and stamped the sentiment. A few tips for lining things up in your MISTI in the video.

If love this set and the other goodies from the Occasions Mini, or you want to see what it's like to be part of my online community of stampers from all over the country - think about the starter bundle. For $99 you get up to $200 worth of anything you want from either the Occasions or the big catalog. $125 in merchandise plus two free stamp sets of any value during Sale-A-Bration. It's a great way to buy a Big Shot if you don't have one yet. And for that $99 you know what else you get? No strings. You don't have to sell anything, you don't have to have events - nothing. You will enjoy a big discount on everything until July 31st at a minimum and you can have fun with us in our group - I have lots of challenges, and a weekly Facebook live with projects and tips for you. Here's where you can join.

I would love it if everyone had the experience I've had over the last sixteen years. If you'd asked me then how long I'd be a demonstrator - I would have said "maybe three months." I wouldn't trade it for the world. Not even for a delicious taco.

Well - maybe a brisket taco. No - no, I wouldn't. :)

I have my winner from Seasons Givings - so sorry I'm late - I just haven't had time to do a blog post this week! I LOVED all your comments - I read every one on every post, you know. I loved how many of you had grandchildren as your favorite moments, and some sweet stories of reconciliation with loved ones. They were a joy to read.

My winner is Margaret.

I will draw again if I don't hear from Margaret by January 20th at noon Central.

I head off to CHA (Craft and Hobby Association show) next week, so maybe I will see some of you there!

As always, thank you for being part of my stampy world. I really appreciate you.

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