Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Firewall, Schmirewall


Okay, so I know firewalls are important. And I definitely want our son protected from sites that are inappropriate and harmful to his soul and pollution to his mind. But working out the kinks in our updated version of "Dan's Guardian" has added a few extra gray hairs to my head these last couple of days. The entire Blogger/Blogspot site was banned, so my husband had to go in and "unban" the site, which worked for accessing my blog, but I was still locked out of my posting area. Thankfully, he is a genius and managed to fix the problem. Yahoo Groups was banned, too, but I think he fixed that. I could send and receive posts via e-mail, but couldn't log in from the Internet. Grrrrr. I just need to sit down and go through the list of banned sites and see what else we use regularly might be on there. Who'da thought ALL of Blogger and ALL the Yahoo groups would be taboo??

But the good news is ... I managed to finish two cards this week (so far) in spite of all the issues we're having with my Granny's nursing care facility, my exhausted parents, and the fact that Granny had to be moved back into the REAL hospital last night because her pneumonia has come back. Okay, actually I had finished the cards before that happened, but I just wanted to throw that in there, that she's back in the hospital. I could write an entire essay about the nursing-care-facility problems in the United States, but I'll spare you the diatribe. For now. ;-)

SO -- here is the first card I finished:

This was made using two TJ techniques -- the first one was Twinkling H20 Resist, and that's the layer with the Bible images on it. The other tech I sorta tweaked -- I used the Metallic Alcohol Roll, but I sprayed some gold webbing spray over it just to give it a little extra "something," since, with the darker colors it didn't quite have the shimmer or glow that I was looking for. I'm fairly pleased with the way this card turned out, even down to the "bookmark" ribbon I used behind the Bible panel. This is the COOLEST stamp set, BTW, from CTMH. It's called "Come Unto Me," and it has all of Psalm 23 in a block of text (very small), this Bible, this first verse of Psalm 23, plus a couple of other verses and some other elements. It's just too gorgeous!

Okay, here's the second card:

I used a TJ tech called "Re-inker Splash" on this one. It's kinda a weird technique -- you use pigment ink re-inkers and metallic ink reinkers, and part of it involves covering the results of the "splash" with embossing powder and heating. It makes it kinda blotchy, with some shiny, embossed sections and some kinda flat, non-embossed ones. I wasn't sure about the effect, so on some of my samples I sorta randomly sponged some Versamark ink over the card (after the first embossing try), then did the embossing thing again, but I found out later that didn't work too well when I tried stamping an image over it. My "modification" made the surface rather rough (I guess my "sponging" left rough spots), and the image just looked weird (at least with this particular stamp). So I need to do some more experimenting with it.

I also didn't really like the way my sentiment turned out. I was in a hurry and tired at that point, so I kept what I ended up with. I should've left it for the night and come back the next day, but y'all all know how that is sometimes; you just want to FINISH! My first goof was that the whole image didn't stamp, so I just tried to re-align it and stamp over it, which resulted in a kind of double-image thing on the left-hand side. Then I decided it was too "dull," so I stamped over it with a floral swirl thing from a TAC set and brushed it with Pearl Ex "Micro Pearl" to make it kinda shiny. Blech. I don't like the way it turned out, at least not for this particular card. So, oh, well, it is what it is. I may take the sentiment off at some point and totally re-do it. But for now, this is it.

Main image is from Beeswax stamps. Sentiment is from Biblical Impressions (Eureka Stamps). I used Brillance re-inkers for the splash technique.

I tried to do some stuff in the loft tonight, but was just too tired. I managed to make four butterfly images using the "Garden Whimsy" SU set and the Chalkboard technique (got that off Splitcoast). When I got done I was too uninspired to make a card out of them. I also tried working on this week's TechnoStamper challenge, but, again, inspiration just would not come. Could that have to do with the fact that I was up at the hospital until midnight last night with my parents and grandmother, then I had to drive an ill, melting-down mother home, whereupon I was too keyed up to go right to sleep, then woke up with a raging headache and was a zombie pretty much most of the day? Oh, and the already tanking mother (mine) had another crisis this morning when their phones went out while Dad was still at the hospital with Granny, so she had to walk to my house (just down the street, but in her current condition, that was a lot), and then ... well, let's just say our lives have turned into a kind of Elder Care Soap Opera ("The Old and the Stressed"), so even my 1-1/2 hour nap today didn't quite bring me out of Zombieville. I did manage to get the headache under control and, mercifully, was not needed to drive anyone to the hospital (a half-hour trip one-way) tonight, so I got to stay home and just recoup a bit by watching a Mythbusters DVD. I did miss seeing Granny, but hopefully by tomorrow I'll be back on track and ready to resume my role as Support System.

Whew! Didn't mean to write a novel here! That's what I do offline for fun, not on my blog! Okay, off to bed now ...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Metallic Alcohol Roll card for Week 5 of MJ's Monday Lunch Challenges

Well, finally! I squeezed in some stamping time between Granny-sitting, taking care of my own family, running errands for my parents and grabbing a quick nap here and there. I wanted to try Mary Jo's challenge for this week (I actually did last week's, but only did one and gave it to my Granny before I got it scanned), and I wanted to use my new Gel-a-tins "Wild Things" stamp set, but that meant I had to turn the sketch sideways to make it work. So I did! Here's the sketch:

(I've been told the butterfly on each sketch is Mary Jo's trademark, not necessarily a sketch element, but sometimes it's in the perfect place to be one!)

And here's my rendition:

I used the TJ technique "Metallic Alcohol Roll," and then to make the "Wild Things" a little less dull (texture-wise) I covered the whole Summer Sun panel with Versamark and dusted it with Interference Gold Pearl Ex, sealing it with hairspray before adhering it to the alcohol roll panel. The Chinese letters were cut from a background stamp I got at Michaels (can't remember the manufacturer).

I totally love this stamp set! Each of the flowers and grasses and bugs are a separate stamp (there is a grass stamp that has three blades), so you can stamp them in any configuration you want. They're coming out with a similar set that's larger called "Big Wild Things" that I may have to get for scrapbooking, because I think it would make the neatest background papers.

Anyway, hubby is home, kid wants to go over to the grandparents' to watch last night's (taped) episode of Mythbusters, so I hope y'all enjoy the card!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Falling Grannies

Well, this has not been a good week -- mostly. Although I did get to finally meet my ULTRA-ADORABLE new grand-nephew David (who is abso-flamin'-lutely yummy and sweet and kissy and all those things a three-month-old in my family typically is!) ... (and here is his picture:)

... my 95 year old grandmother fell and fractured her pelvis in several places (and it was discovered she also had an infection in her legs from swelling she'd been struggling with, PLUS she has a mild case of pneumonia from a diverticula -- lump -- in her throat that makes eating a challenge and can cause aspiration of food into the lungs). She is now in an assisted living/health care facility that's close to our houses (mine and my parents') until she can be rehabbed back to the condition she was in before she fell. Of course, there's always the chance she may never get back to that shape, but we're not going down that road, that train of thought. My Granny is a toughie, and our God is big, so unless He's got a really good reason that He needs her up in Heaven, we're asking Him to let us keep her for a few more years! (As long as she's comfortable and wants to stick around with us.)

So it hasn't been a great week for stamping. I started a couple of valentines and then just had to give up. Forced creativity wasn't working for me. I've been helping out with Granny, plus my mom hasn't felt comfortable staying by herself at night while my dad stays up at the health care place with Granny, so I've been staying over there with her at night ... I'm worn out! Tonight I get to stay home, Mom has other arrangements.

Some of you reading this probably already know all this, since I posted about it on two of my Yahoo groups, and I'm sure most of my readership comes from there. I'm totally hoping to get some stamping time in tomorrow. I have new stamps I'm dying to try out ... I think I'm going to give up on Valentine's cards, even though I had intended to make belated ones. I'll just make "love you" cards that don't have the specific Valentine theme, so I'm not limited to that. Seems like limiting myself right now isn't working, as I said before.

Okay, now I'm starting to ramble, so it's time to end this post. Hopefully tomorrow I'll have something crafty and wonderful to show off! In the meantime, any of you who feel so inclined, it would be awesome if you would keep my Granny and my parents (especially my mom, who is her daughter) in your prayers.


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Tips, tests and torture

This is all Mary Jo's fault. She had one of these little Blog test thingies on her blog the other day, so I thought I'd go try it out. Hers was something about what your name says about you. I took the test -- total baloney. So I decided to see what other tests they had. Played around for awhile, found out what kind of weather I am (saving that for a later date), that sort of stuff. Then I noticed one called "What English Speaking Country Are You?" Hey, thought I, that oughta be fun. Maybe I can score Australia or something. So, mates, I took the test and here's what I got:

What English Speaking Country Are You?

You Belong in New Zealand

Good on ya, mate
You're the best looking one of the bunch
Though you're often forgotten...
You're quite proud of who you are

Is that too cool, or what??? My cats thought I had lost my mind because I kinda shrieked, "Yessss!" I didn't even figure they had New Zealand on this test (didn't figure these blokes had ever heard of it, to be honest). So I thought it was "sweet as". Of course, if it had come back with "England" or "Wales" or something, I would've said, "Aw, this is a bunch of bunk" (no offense at all meant to my British and Welsh readers -- I have English and Welsh ancestry and am extremely proud of that, it's just that, you know, I have this THING about New Zealand ...)

ANYWAY ... okay, now on to the TIP:
I was looking through some scrapping magazine or other a few days ago, and saw this idea and thought it was really flash (another Kiwi-ism there). Go through your stash of stuff and write down everything you have -- not literally item by item, but general categories (i.e., rhinestone brads, alphabet stickers, chipboard letters, foam stamps, etc.). Cut your list into strips of paper, with one item on each strip, and put them into a jar. (If you're really into it you can decorate the jar.) Next time you sit down to scrapbook or make a card, pull out one of the strips. The challenge is to use whatever is on that strip in your project. It's a good way to use the things you buy that you put away and then forget about. I LOVE this idea! I have bought so many "gotta have" little items (and not so little ones) that get stored away and then it's "out of sight, out of mind", and they never get used -- and I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this! So when I'm finished with the TORTURE of cleaning up my craft loft (which I started today), then I'm going to go through the drawers and boxes and shelves and all that and make that list. This could spark a whole new burst of creativity! (Please, God?)

Okay, well, as you can see I didn't craft today because I was working on straightening up the loft. Got Aidan (my 14 year old son) to categorize my PP for me, with a juicy reward promised (more computer time this week -- better than cash, chocolate or anything else in the universe). He did a pretty good job of it, too! I may have to shuffle a few things around, but overall, I was proud of him for tackling it and doing it well.

Yesterday I went to Archivers, as I had mentioned I would. Can somebody please tell me how you can spend $30 on PAPER??? I went up and down the paper aisles and just pulled paper. I usually always buy two pages of everything, in case I want to do a coordinating 2-page LO, or in case I screw something up. I tried not to buy a bunch of girly, flowery stuff, since I seem to be swimming in that these days. But I still managed to spend $30 on paper! I have lost my mind. The only other things I bought were two Mono refills and a clear stamp set (and I had a 30% off coupon for that). It was, yeah, insane. And this is after I've bought CTMH stuff from a friend, and TAC stuff from someone I met online, and a TON of SU mini-catalog preview stuff ... I have either got to start selling stuff or STOP SPENDING SO MUCH! (Oh, yeah, then I came home and bought another stamp set online -- Gel-a-tins has this really awesome set called "Wild Things", which is a bunch of grass-like flowers, the kinds with long stems, that look like they'd make really great silhouette kinds of things...) I've got to STOP IT!!!

Does this mean I'm out of my creative slump?? lol

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Some things are just darned hard!

This is what I've spent my creative energies on today. Looks easy, right? I mean, looks like you just stamp a little, slap on some 3-D stickers and you're done in a half-hour, right? NOT!!!!! I spent hours on this card today, mostly working on things that didn't end up in the final version, or just staring into space wondering why I couldn't get the "mojo" up and going for this card. It was commissioned by one of my customers for her grandson's Eagle Scout Court of Honor. She's such a sweet lady that I always want to outdo myself for her (and be worthy of the generous amount she pays me). Anyway, I tried to base this on the first week's Technostamper Monday Lunch challenge ('cause I liked the sketch), but ended up leaving off the central focal image because I couldn't come up with a third "non-focal" one (the Twinks-painted eagle was supposed to be the focal image, and I couldn't come up with anything for the upper left square if I had done it that way). So, here it is and I like it, even though it looks "simple".

All stamps used are Stampin' Up! (there's a linen background stamp on the smaller layer of River Rock). Stickers are by K and Company. All paper is also SU except for the "distressed" dark blue layer. No clue what that one is. I've had it for, as Gandalf would say, "an age of Men".

The same customer also commissioned a Valentine's Day card to send to a good friend of hers, and that came somewhat easier, except that I started out on something completely different, wanting to try a new-to-me TJ technique combined with this week's Technostamper challenge. Alas, it was just not coming together in a way that satisfied me for this card, so I put it aside and came up with this one instead (picture follows). It's the Vanilla Double technique (TJ -- and one I just love). The sparkly paper behind the heart is actually just two rectangles of tissue paper, one light pink, one white, twisted in the middle and laid perpendicular to each other (see, I DID pay attention in Geometry!). I used a stiff brush to dab on a little Versamark, then sprinkled glitter on them. This was a mistake. It was supposed to be Iridescent Ice, but I wasn't paying attention to what I grabbed. As soon as I started sprinkling I realized my mistake, of course, so I got the Ir. Ice out, too, and sprinkled that, then heated it up. It turned out alright, but of course now I have Despised Glitter all over this universe, and probably a few parallel ones. Ah, well. What we do for art's sake. The heart has three different colors of Pearl Ex on it, but you can't really see that in the photo. All stamps are by SU except the "Happy Valentine's Day" which is by ... darn! I can't remember! I just bought the little set at Archivers yesterday! I'm too tired to run upstairs and check right now, but I'll try to remember to do that tomorrow. I want to be sure and credit them.

Disappointingly, the embossing on the scallop doesn't show in the photo! The punch I used is a $14.99 Martha Stewart (I'm trying not to shudder) punch I got at Michaels for $1.49. Yes, you read that right. I seriously think it was a huge mistake by whoever input the price, but it might have been clearanced since I don't think MS is selling that stamp on her website right now. At any rate, it's a real story how I got that one AND another similar one for the same price ... but no time for the tale right now.

Isn't it terrible about all those tornadoes that happened on Super Tuesday?!? Now the death count is up to 56! They say it's the worst death toll from a tornado outbreak in the US in nearly 23 years. It's heartbreaking to hear the stories. I was looking at the NOAA website, where they list the "incidents" sort-of clinically (this is what happens in real-time, then they just leave it up as the official report, kinda like a traffic report would be), and to my horror I saw that there had been a smallish tornado in the very county where Phil Joel and some of the Newsboys live! It didn't hit their town (Franklin, TN, in Williamson County), but it did destroy a house in a small town in that neck of the woods! Good thing these guys have basements. (I've seen Phil's basement in a Newsboys podcast. He was having it converted into a Hobbit hole. Hey, guy's from New Zealand, they filmed the movies in New Zealand, apparently he's a big LOTR freak, so cut him some slack, okay? Besides, he has yummy hair.)

And Mitt Romney dropped out of the Republican race today! I am floored! And that's all I'll say on that topic.

It's getting late, I wanna go check the news before I go to bed, so I'll sign off now. Tomorrow I'll be having lunch with a good friend (yay!), and then I plan to visit Archivers again (yay!), and then I HOPE to have some time to just PLAY in the loft!! I have a LOT of new TJ techs to catch up on, plus I got some groovy new Cuttlebug folders today, as well as a boxload of new SU stuff (pre-orders of next month's "Occasions" mini-catalog) ... so many goodies, so little time!!!!!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

No tomatoes, please!!

Okay, I just went out on a very scary limb and put a political endorsement on my blog. I have no qualms about putting a window decal on my car, but somehow getting the finger from a complete stranger in a Volvo is completely different from getting a comment-full from a stamping/scrapping friend.

SO -- even though I'm making my political statement, I'm NOT asking for political commentary here. I'm not good at arguing anything, be it politics OR religion, so don't throw any virtual tomatoes at me (or flames, either, please!). I won't answer any comments re: politics, and may delete them if they're inflammatory. In all honesty, this is the most I've cared about an election in eons (probably because it's all so up in the air, which makes it terribly fascinating), so I just wanted to Make a Stand.

If you don't like Senator McCain, that's okay with me! That's the cool thing about America -- we can all have our own opinions without worrying about getting dragged off in the middle of the night and getting thrown in some black hole of a cell and never seeing our loved ones again. At least from the government. (Legally)

Now back to our regularly scheduled crafting ...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

"Card Sketch" LO Finally Finished!!

First of all -- Happy Waitangi Day to all my loyal Kiwi readers (assuming I have any). Today (well, actually Wednesday, Feb. 6, which it is in New Zealand) is the day they celebrate as their national holiday, which is a celebration of the Treaty of Waitangi (or Te Tiriti, as it's called in Maori), the document that set forth how the Maori and the Pakeha (the white Europeans) were to live together in what they hoped would be harmony. Look it up on Wikipedia. There was a lovely article in the New Zealand Herald today about What it Means to be Kiwi that made me want to move there more than ever! I think the nation of New Zealand oughta at least pay for me and my family a few weeks there, as diehard a fan as I am, dontcha think?

Anyway, on to the real topic ... I actually finished the layout I was working on based on last week's Technostamper Monday Lunch Challenge (#2). Go back a few posts if you need to be reminded what it looked like. Here's my LO:

This is a 2 page LO -- I was too lazy to take the hours to load up Adobe PE to paste them together. Click on each half to see it larger. Papers are Basic Grey and SU. I used my new Cricut machine (which I almost threw in the lake until I finally managed to figure out the settings for SU cardstock!) for the title. You can't read it very well, but the little bit over my (very young) picture says "Why stay home alone with your computer when you can ..."

The photos didn't look as bad when I went up to work on it last night as I'd remembered before I got sick, so I guess it was just the result of coming down with the virus -- I was too zonked to see things clearly.

Okay, gotta run get dinner on and listen to the Super Tuesday returns. I really hope my fav candidate will sweep 'em!!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Looking forward to Springtime ...

... or whenever it is that all these stupid viruses and such stop floating around! Aidan had it last week, now I have it, and although it's a milder version of what took him out of school for several days, I still had fever (am over that part now), still have a bit of a sore throat, definitely have sinus and have been extremely tired. What really stinks about all this is that I got my new Technique Junkies newsletter THE DAY I came down with this! How unfair is that?? Here I am looking at all these yummy new techniques and I don't feel the least bit like going up to try them! All I can do is lie on the couch with my laptop, look at the beautiful cards everyone is making with the new techies and feel incredibly, majorly sorry for myself!

Before I got sick I was working on a LO based on last week's Technostamper Monday Lunch Sketch. I had no real problem coming up with an idea for the paper bits, but when it came to the photos ... well, let's just say I'm less than thrilled with what I've got to work with. I decided to do a LO based on our computer-centric family, which then turned into a LO about my computer-centric son, how he got a pretty early start with a little help from certain family members. The tough thing is that the photos were all from the days of Actual Film and all 4"x6", all snapshot style, and not the greatest. I have TONS of photos like that. Plus our scanner doesn't do well on photos, so I'm really pretty stuck with what I've got to work with (at this point I have no desire to dig out the negatives and go that route). So I'm struggling with how to make the photos work on the LO. Hopefully now that I've had a few days away from the LO my perspective will be better and I can come up with something I can live with. I'm really hoping to feel up to working on it tonight. Our pastor is coming over to hang with Bjorn and Aidan, so I'll have guilt-free time in which to do this!

And I spent money while I was sick. I mean, hey, you're feeling sorry for yourself, you've got your laptop there, you're bored to tears and casually surfing the scrapping/stamping sites "just to see what's out there", and you find stuff you like, and next thing you know ... WHAM! There's a hole in your bank account! Now, how does that happen? (At the moment I'm trying to remember what I even bought! Can I blame it on the fever?)

I'm hoping to have something to show you tomorrow! Oh, and there's a new sketch from Mary Jo/Technostamper for the week, so there's that to do, also! Help! I've got to get well!!!!