Sunday, August 31, 2008

'Tis the season

Take your pick: Tis the season ...
a) for hurricanes
b) for hot air (presidential candidates)
c) making Christmas cards

So, yeah, around here it's all three. Okay, not literally hurricanes, but of course we're keeping an eye on Gustav (family in the Houston area) and praying for all the folks that's going to affect. And I don't see how anyone can keep from getting blasted by some of that candidate-ial hot air. And, yes, I have been making Christmas cards. Not for myself, mind you. Just desperately trying to get some stuff going for this craft fair.

So here's one set I made:

Pretty basic. I got the inspiration from a card my friend Ret (SUFriends) made a year or two ago, but changed colors and some of the stamps and the orientation/arrangement of the elements. I'm trying to keep my to-sell Christmas card sets postal-service-friendly, so I'm not putting on lumpy embellies, etc., that would make them cost more to mail. So ... this one uses the Peaceful Wishes (retired) SU set, as well as the berry branch from the "Always" SU (current) set. Colors are Bordering Blue and Cranberry Crisp (the latter of which is a retired '06-'07 In Colors color), and I used red pearl paint (I can't remember the name of it -- it's made by the Stickles people) on the main image berries. The card base is Confetti White SU cardstock (is that retired now?). I originally had the three panels arranged differently, which is why the sentiment is to the right on its rectangle. If I had planned to do it the way it ended up, I would have placed the sentiment to the left. Ah, well. C'est la vie.

Okay, so HUGE, FREAKIN' BIG DISCLAIMER ON THIS NEXT CARD: PLEASE DO NOT USE THIS DESIGN FOR PERSONAL GAIN (I.E. TO MAKE CARDS TO SELL) OR FOR SUBMISSION TO PUBLICATIONS. That's standard in my "note about CASEing" in the sidebar, and I always really, really mean it, but I just wanted to remind you of that here before I show you this one. Okay, so here goes:

Do y'all remember the "Wishing You" set from SU that came out a couple of years ago? So, yeah, this is it, but the white bits on the stamps just looked so empty, and then I got to thinking about how swirls in white space are all the rage now, so I found a swirl from another set (non-SU, but I'd have to go look to see what set it's from ...) and put some swirls in! See, I'm incredibly proud of myself because I don't normally come up with stuff like that on my own. I usually see someone else do that and say, "Hey, what a great idea!" and then go off and do it myself. But this time I CAME UP WITH IT ON MY OWN!! I mean, sweet as! So, yeah, anyway, I used only that stamp set except for the swirl/flourish. Paper is all SU, too -- Garden Green, Wild Wasabi (from last year's In Colors), Riding Hood Red (yay, I can finally use the new In Colors!!) and "Cerise" DP from last year (I think ... copyright on it says 2006, but I thought it was more recent than that). Oops, I'm lying about only using SU paper -- the three dots are from some Paper Company red shimmer paper. Again, I don't want bulky embellies so I just punched out the dots and adhered them on with Mini Glue Dots.

I will tell you that making 16 of these nearly made me a nut case. First, stamping all three blocks 16+ times (because some wouldn't come out good enough), then adding the swirls, then cutting out, then matting on the green paper, then scoring the large mat, then stamping the "Wishing You" and intending to mat it on the red but forgetting and matting it on green and THEN having to go back and mat it on red, too, then punching out 16x3 red dots and adhere all of them ... Last night when I was becoming all too intimate with the blocks and the green matting, I started thinking about Red Army uniforms (couldn't think if they would be Soviet or Chinese -- Aidan said both) that were green with red stars on them. And then the "Hope" word made me think of that being an Obama buzzword. So I'm sitting there chopping away as I mat thinking, "Hmmm ... I'm making Obama/Commie Christmas cards!!" Definitely NOT implying that Obama is a communist. This was meant as a hybrid thing. Anyway, that just goes to show you how loopy you can get if you spend too long on one thing in the craft loft!!

So, speaking of politics ... (massive groan from the readership). I'm not sure what I think about McCain's VP choice. At first I was pretty ecstatic -- she seems like a fantastic go-getter, she's a Christian, she's pro-life, she's young, she's female. Sounded like a winning combo to me. But I've heard so much stuff in the media, on both sides of the coin, that I'm not sure what to think right now. I do like Sarah Palin. She seems, as I said, like a very competent woman who can get things done. And I do think that, God forbid, if "President McCain" were to die in office that she could do the job, with enough advisors. I think I'm at the point in the campaign season where I'm just tired of hearing all the rhetoric now. I've already made up my mind, I don't intend to change it, and I'm just ready to go vote. However, there are plenty of people who aren't ready yet, and they need to be persuaded, so there still needs to be time to get them on board. But I'm just weary of the whole process, of the backbiting, of the negativism, of the "McCain sucks because of this" and the "Obama sucks because of that" that has to take place. I guess I have campaign fatigue!

Well, anyway, now we've got even bigger problems with Gustav drawing a bead on the Louisiana coast. My parents lived in Lake Charles for four years, so it's hard to hear how close it may be to that city. Of course, it's just tragic that it's going to hammer New Orleans again. Can you believe that there are people using this hurricane to "prove" that God is a Democrat?? Yeah! I read on some news network online that a former Democratic National Committee chairman joked that this proved God was on the side of the Dems because the hurricane was timed just right to screw up the Republican National Convention. Of course he later apologized when he found out someone had leaked this little private joke to the news, saying he was just playing off Jerry Falwell's thing about 9/11 happening because of gays and whatever. (Both statements are pretty nasty.) And then Michael *cough cough* Moore (you know, the evil documentary guy) had the gall to say that, for the same reason, this proves that "there is a God in heaven." It's disgusting! Moore didn't exactly apologize for his remark, but did say that he "hopes nobody gets hurt," in the hurricane.

I don't know. Has anybody checked the Republican or Democratic voting rolls yet? Did you find God's name on one or the other? Maybe He's a Libertarian or an Independent. *rolls eyes* The man who used to be our associate pastor had a great bumper sticker on his car during the last presidential election. It said, "God is not a Democrat!" and then under that it said, "Or a Republican!" Amen, brother.

Okay, it's getting close to bedtime and I need a snack, so I'd better run. No big plans for Labor Day, just stamp, stamp, stamp ... (and maybe run to Michaels to get some frames that are on sale ...)

BTW, I don't know if I have any readers in the hurricane strike zone, but if I do, I pray that you're somewhere safe as you read this! Let's all remember to pray for everyone who will be affected by this storm, okay?

Blessings ...

Friday, August 29, 2008

What a week!

Okay, so that sounds like I've been super busy or something -- and I guess I have, stamping-wise. Mostly, though, I've just felt rotten and I'm trying to readjust to the school waking/sleeping schedule so I've not figured out where "blog updating" comes into the mix yet. I have time for it, I just keep forgetting until it's bedtime and then it's too late, because you know how long-winded I can be, and there's just no time for that!

I'm beginning to wonder if anyone noticed that I posted TWO entries last time? I haven't gotten any comments on the long post (the one that included the stuff about Hagar International and the blog about little Caed), and there was so much in there I'm kinda suspicious that it was overlooked because of the short post afterward. Anyway, if you didn't notice that entry, please go back and read it.

Okay, I do have a couple of pics for you. The first one is a counterpart to the last card I posted (in the possibly-missed post): Same company as the other one, for the stamp. I used a combination of Copics (I actually have, like, six of them I got a couple of years ago before the Copic Craze and before I really knew what they were for) and SU markers on the image. I used my Cuttlebug Swiss Dots folder to make the golf balls -- just turned them over after punching them out so they'd have dimples instead of dots. The paper is all SU (well, okay, I think the grey behind the golf balls is something else, but since any ol' grey will do, it doesn't really matter, I don't think). Around this neck of the woods, I really think this sentiment will get a laugh or two, and hopefully sell!

The other card is, as the Monty Python guys say, "something completely different." I saw this stamp set by Papertrey Ink on the blog of the woman who created it and totally, totally fell in love with it. It's called "First Fruits" and it's very autumn/Thanksgiving-y, and very elegant. This was actually the purchase that tipped me over into my stamp/non-neccessity-purchasing moratorium. (I'm doing quite well on that, BTW, although I've still managed to spend almost $40 on gold cardstock and just ordered $40 worth of adhesive! Yikes!) I used the "Colorwash Batik" technique from Technique Junkies to make the card front (using shimmer colorwash sprays -- why can't I ever remember the names of these things?). IRL it's very, well, shimmery. Then I stamped the leaves in Garden Green on some green paper I had lying around and cut them out (yep, I made six of these cards so it took awhile). Then I stamped the third pineapple again on So Saffron CS in Rocket Red Gold Brilliance Ink (same ink is used on the border) and adhered it over the last pineapple with Stampin' Dimensionals. Matted it on Ruby Red (there it is again!) and put it on a So Saffron card base. (Yes, I know that pineapple leaves are entirely different than the ones that came in this set -- actually, there was a set of spiky leaves, but they were, oddly, very small, so these had to do.)

If you're wondering why I'm feeling bad (and you may not care, and that's okay, you can go on to other things now), I think it's a combination of things. First there's going from my usual 9:30am summertime wakeup time back to 6:30am, and trying to fall asleep at 10:30pm now instead of 12:30am! That's been a difficult adjustment. I also got permission to stop taking the Lopressor (beta blocker) I was taking for the weird heart stuff that was going on in the early part of the summer so that I can take allergy shots. You have to taper down off the Lopressor, and I did, but going from a nice, slow, 50-something beats per minute heart rate back up to an 80-something beats per minute rate is hard on the ol' bod, and the first couple of days I was off it my heart rate zoomed skyward with almost any kind of exertion. It seems to have leveled off now, but that was a little exhausting! Then it's that "time of the month" (more info than you needed? lol), and I've had a couple of almost-migraines that I've had to deal with and take meds for. And I seem to be having a fibromyalgia flare-up. And pollen on things I'm majorly allergic to is going into the "high" range. So, yeah, not the best week! I'm hoping that once I get my hormones back on track and get a little more sleep with the long weekend that I'll get into a more "normal" place and feel better.

Despite it all I have kept plugging away on my craft fair creations. I found out the fair is on October 4th (aaaaack!), so I don't have much time left to get some good stuff going. The e-mail they sent out with the date on it also mentioned that there were some "new and different" types of things going to be sold this year, and it was a great time to do some holiday shopping. Um ... yeah, I need to do some holiday MAKING, then. So I need to concentrate on Christmas cards and gift goodies, I think. I did a couple of mats for picture frames (I'll photograph and show 'em off soon). They were pretty easy, so I think I'll do a lot more of them. And maybe I'll make some cute little boxes/bags to put the notecard sets I'm making in. We'll just have to see how the month goes.

Okay, I'll write more soon (hopefully tomorrow, as I'll have more time). Hope everyone here in the States has a great Labor Day weekend and stays safe. And everybody else in the world -- have a great weekend in general! (You stay safe, too!)

The cats are yelling at me to feed them, so gotta run!

Sayounara! (Aidan tells me that's how it's "supposed" to be spelled ...)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Quickie -- because I promised to tell

Okay, I promised to tell where I got the "I believe in God ..." stamp on my red/yellow card from Friday. It's from Heart & Soul Rubber Stamp Company. They have TONS of great Bible verse stamps, and the lady who owns the place is super nice.

And the red DP on that card IS from K and Co., as I said from a paper pad I bought at Michaels.

Hope that clears things up and gives credit where credit is due!

The Olympics are over. Waaaaaah! Anybody wanna go to Vancouver for the Winter games in 2010?? :-)

Okay, so I'm not EXACTLY on time ...

Sorry I didn't write yesterday, as promised. It was another one of those "first one thing, then another, then the Olympics" days. It's gonna be so weird not to have the Olympics on TV anymore! We're going over to the folks' to watch the Closing Ceremony tonight, but of course that's not the same as competition, and it already looks like it won't be quite as good as the Opening since it's gonna have rock-star-boringness in it. (Hey, no Phil Joel or Newsboys-with-Phil, can't be good, KWIM? lol)

So, first, a card:
Some men may need a little "jogging" from time to time, so I thought this card would be perfect! Never mind that there are flowers on it, they're actually from a Basic Grey line called "Oh, Baby! Boy", and they're blue, so I figured that was masculine enough. The stamp is from American Art Stamps. This was a "try" of mine on "Faux Copic Coloring". Yes, this is an actual technique, of sorts, using Bic Mark-It markers and/or Sharpies. I think I got the tutorial off Splitcoast, but there are several tutorials floating around the web, even one with a video, so if you google "faux copic" you can find them.

I wasn't overly happy with my results. I think there's still too harsh a line between my darker and lighter color of each shade. And the brown ... basically that part just didn't do well at all. I'm hoping whoever buys these cards won't notice or care as much as I do! I did read on one blog (as I was trying to find the tutorial for you) that they suggested using watercolor paper, which I did not do. And the tut I have said to lay the colors down quickly so they'll still be wet when you blend them. Maybe that was my problem. Anyway, I'm still not a huge fan of marker coloring (i.e., of doing it myself). I prefer watercolor crayons or pencils and blending pens or Gamsol. For me it just makes things smoother and prettier. But I'll keep practicing. (The other problem I have with coloring in general is that it kills my neck if I'm doing more than one card at a time, even with the "desk on a desk" thing that I have for this very purpose.)

So, that was my card for the day. I spent yesterday working on two more designs -- finished one and am still working on the other (well, okay, I haven't been in the loft yet today between church, lunch at the folks', watching a "catch-up" episode of Mythbusters, napping, and writing in my blog). I feel hopelessly behind for this craft fair. Bjorn's sister is coming to visit on Friday and staying for the long weekend, and I won't be able to get much done in the loft then. The fair is just weeks away now (still don't know exactly when -- I'm gonna call the activities center this week to find out), and I haven't finished the Major Project (scripture "flip book") that I really wanted to have ready, and I'd like to do a few other non-card things, plus I don't feel like my inventory is big enough. *SIGH* That's what the stinkin' chronic sinus infections have done, and now I feel like I'm scrambling to catch up. And it's hard to "force" creativity, y'know? I am seriously considering selling cards, etc. online after this so I can create sort-of as I go, not under a deadline, and still have hope of making a bit of money out of this habit.

So, speaking of selling cards ... I told you last post that I was going to tell you about a couple of things that have been on my mind lately. One of them actually does have to do with my selling cards. There's a cause that I've become very interested in/concerned about lately -- human trafficking. It tears my heart apart to think about young girls being sold into brothels so their parents can have money to live on, or young women selling themselves so they can feed their families. And there are children who are sold into or stolen and placed into these situations all the time all over the world, but particularly in Third World countries. Imagine if one of these children was your daughter or son! I can't personally imagine ever being poor enough to even consider such a thing, and I'm not sure I would even if I WERE that poor. But there are thousands upon thousands of families who do this every year, and more thousands of young women who feel they have no other recourse but to use the only thing available to them in order to survive in this world or to keep their families alive because they have no marketable skills, no other way at all of making a living.

Praise God there are Christian people rising to the occasion, creating places where these women and children can go to receive hope and healing. There are several good ones that I'm aware of -- the International Justice Mission, Freeset Bags (storefront where you can buy bags made by women in Calcutta who have been rescued from these situations), Servantworks (unfortunately I just noticed their web account has been suspended, and I'm worried about what this means for them), and Hagar International. I've been thinking I'd like to donate $1 of every card/project I sell to one of these organizations. The one that keeps popping into my head to commit to on this is Hagar. I gave them some money back in April after my grandmother died and I received a bit of money from her estate. I've had some contact with one of the women there, and they just sound like a really wonderful organization. Since I can't move to Cambodia to help these women and girls personally, I thought this might be a cool thing to do. So if the craft fair organizers will let me, I thought I'd hand out some brochures (or just have them on the table) and put up a sign saying I'm donating to this cause. And then if/when I start to sell online, I'll make that part of the deal.

Anyway, please check out these websites and see if you feel led to do something, too -- give money, pray, whatever. I can't stand to think about what life has done to these children and women. But it thrills my soul to know that God has His people out there working His love and healing in their lives.

Okay, the other thing that's been on my heart: Just a couple of days ago one of the ladies on my SU Friends Yahoo Group posted about a friend of hers who has a little 5-year-old boy named Caed with a really awful condition called a volvulus (twisting of the bowels). They've been struggling with this since March, and it's been very hard on them. Good thing is, Caed survived the initial "attack" of this. Bad thing is, it's still going on, and even though his condition has certainly improved from then, he's not out of the woods, and they're getting down to their last resort on what to do to fix him. This family is a wonderful Christian family -- the father is a youth minister, I believe -- and they're having to be split apart location-wise because of little Caed's condition and where he has to go for treatment. Also, Caed has an older sister and a baby brother, and his poor mother is seriously exhausted, mentally, physically and spiritually.

So the lady on SU Friends sent a link to their blog, and I'm going to post it here because Caed's aunt "hacked into" the blog asking for people to please post comments telling the family they're praying for them and where they're located so the family can see where the prayers are coming from. First, I think you should read this post, because it explains just what happened to Caed. Then you can go to the top of the blog (here) and find the August 22, 2008 entry to read the aunt's plea. I'd also encourage you to read the mom's post just below that (Wednesday, August 20, 2008) to see just how stressed and exhausted she/they are right now. It just really grabbed my heart, and I know I'll be praying for all of them as part of my daily prayers now.

Aidan had to have surgery when he was barely five. He had a partially blocked ureter (the tube that goes from your kidney to your bladder) on the left side, and the doc said if we didn't get it fixed it would eventually block completely up and he would have kidney failure. So, of course we got it fixed! But I remember how terrifying that was, just to have him go in for three hours of surgery (major surgery, yes) and back in to a regular room, home again in two days. To read the account of little Caed, having to have two surgeries when it first happened, being in ICU, being in the hospital for so long and still having to have a feeding tube even now ... it just breaks my heart. At the same time, I am amazed by the faith this family has, and the wonderful way that they hold on to God and trust in Him, even when I'm sure they're ready to just throw in the towel. So please keep them in your prayers, too, okay? I'm sure they'd appreciate it!

A last Olympic quickie: The women's 4 x 400 meter relay was amazing last night! I was so thrilled they managed to come from behind and win the gold. Allyson Felix is a Christian (they had a neat little bio of her -- her daddy was a preacher for years, and she was testifying to the strength her faith has given her), and I think at least one of the other girls in that group is, too. No, I'm not saying they won the gold because they're Christians and God gave them favor. He just gave them the amazing talent and they worked hard to get where they are and to win. And then they gave Him the glory.

Okay, gotta run. If I keep up like this I won't have any time in the craft loft at all today! Hope your weekend was wonderful and that you have an awesome week ahead.

School starts Tuesday. Pooh.

Friday, August 22, 2008

AWOL: A-way W-atching the O L-ympics

Well, I have been intending to blog every night for the last several, but we've been over at my parents' watching the Olympics until late, so by the time I've gotten home it's already been past time for my blog to be sent out via e-mail update to those who subscribe. Then the next day I'd intend to write it earlier, but I'd forget or something would come up and it wouldn't get done. So here I finally am because Bjorn and Aidan got tied of watching the men's diving tonight and wanted to come home. We had to sacrifice the men's 400-meter relay, but I'm pretty tired tonight, so I gave in.

I have been making cards! And working on another project while at my folks' – something that involves a lot of repetitive stamping, so I could do it and watch races or diving or whatever. Of course, I had to stop both last night and the night before to watch the Beach Volleyball finals, since you really have to be watching the whole time on those. But before getting into that, here is one of the cards I made:

I will apologize up front because I can't remember where the stamp came from and I'm too lazy to go upstairs and find out. I'll try to remember to look it up tomorrow and let you know. Same with the red DP. I think that's K and Company, but I'm not sure. It's from a book of DPs I got at Michaels awhile back. I do know the orange paper with the flower-circles is Club Stamp. Oh! And the Ruby Red CS behind the gold CS behind the DPs I stamped with a leaf stamp that came from a set of clear stamps (stamp, stamp, stamp! lol!) from Basic Grey, using Versamark. Did that make any sense at all? Whew!

For the sentiment, I stamped it on Whisper White CS using Ruby Red Craft (pigment) ink and embossed with Clear Detail EP. Then I sponged over the whole thing with Summer Sun Classic (dye) ink, then sponged around the outside to the edge of the sentiment with More Mustard, then sponged the outside edge with Ruby Red Classic ink. It's a kind-of Michelle Zindorfian look. I wanted it to coordinate with the DP/CS colors and also to be slightly reminiscent of the sun, a la the first line of the poem. I really like how it turned out!

So supplies are:
Cardstock: Cranberry Crisp (SU retired), Ruby Red (SU), gold metallic from Archivers (I think it's by The Paper Company), Whisper White (SU)
Inks: Versamark; Ruby Red Craft, Summer Sun Classic, More Mustard Classic (all SU)
DP: Club Scrap; poss. K & Co. (I'll try to remember to check)
Stamps: Sentiment – I'll check and get back to y'all on that; leaf – Basic Grey
Misc: Clear Detail Embossing Powder; Heat tool; gold brads from office supply store; Stampin' Dimensionals; adhesive

Now, on to the Olympics – I am amazed that I got so into the Beach Volleyball thing!! I mean, before the Olympics I couldn't even have imagined that it would be an Actual Olympic Sport. But after watching the men's game last week with Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers, I realized it was a pretty cool sport, actually. I certainly think the women could dress a little less skimpily, but as far as skill goes, there is definitely skill involved in playing this game – two people on two people in volleyball cannot be easy, and with sand all up your nose whenever you dive for the ball ... yeah, they got my respect pretty quickly.

So we watched the women's final Wednesday night and rooted on Misti May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh as they creamed the Chinese team in just two games. Yay, it was great, the US girls got the gold, blah, blah, blah. (Seriously, yes, we were proud of them.) But last night when Phil and Todd (yep, we're on a first-name basis now, lol) were going against the Brazilians – this was totally serious bidness. I (and my mom, especially, and to some extent my husband and brother, to a much lesser extent my son and my dad) sat and anxiously cheered on the guys as they fought against the stinkin'-ly good Brazilian dudes. ("Fabio" -- I mean, c'mon, could the guy HAVE a more romance-novel name? Yeesh!) It was exceedingly close in the first game (deep breaths all around after that one was over). In the second game Phil and Todd just seemed to lose it toward the end. I don't know if they got tired, hot (it was almost 100 degrees F down on the court), lost their concentration, what, but they were serving into the net, missing blocks, all kinds of terribly unacceptable moves that cost them that game. It was time to bite fingernails. (Mine are pretty short so I was considering toenails, but that was just too gross, even for something this important.) But thankfully in the third game it was the Brazilians who pooped out (poor ol' Fabio & co.). Phil was a total powerhouse on blocking, and Todd was awesome at slamming, and between them they totally blew the boys from Brazil away, 15-4! Yes, to FOUR! So Phil and Todd saved the day and came away with an Olympic Gold Medal. WOOOOOOOOOT!!!! And, no, they're not Kiwis, but they're almost as cool as Kiwis, so they totally deserved that medal, and I'm very, very proud of them. Way to go, blokes!!

Phil's reaction to winning (and loser Fabio's reaction to, well, losing):

Phil wearing the flag:

Phil and Todd with their well-earned gold medals:

But, yes, there has been lots of disappointment at the Olympics, too -- silver medals instead of gold, runners disqualified for stepping out of their lanes (what heartache that must be!!), relay runners dropping batons, Laura Wilkinson's shredded tricep keeping her rattled and unable to make the medal round in women's diving. I could really do without the stinkin' interviewers asking over and over again, "How do you feel at this moment?" Somebody needs to ask them, "Hey, how would YOU feel at this moment?" Like the fifteen-year-old American woman (girl) diver who wasn't able to qualify for the medal rounds who just sobbed on camera despite her best efforts to hold it together while the interviewer lady stuck the microphone in her face. I really hope that interviewer felt horrible for doing that to the poor girl. I would have personally liked to shove the microphone down the lady's throat, but then that wouldn't be very Christlike, would it??

Speaking of being Christlike, it's cool to find out about the Olympians who are Christians! I know one of the women archers is (I can't remember her name), and so many of the runners give glory to God or thank Him when they're interviewed (at least some good comes of it!). The Kiwi runner who got the bronze in the men's 1500m is a Christian, according to the New Zealand Herald. And I read an awesome article today in Today's Christian Woman online about Laura Wilkinson. I'm so happy to know that Jesus is alive and well in the sports world!!

Tomorrow I want to talk about a couple of things that have been on my mind -- one is a little boy (and his family) who need a whole lot of prayer, and the other is a cause that I'm finding myself becoming very passionate about. In fact, I'm seriously considering donating $1 of each of my card sales to this cause. But I've already "talked" your "ears" off tonight, so I'll wait until then to discuss these two. (And if I forget, please remind me!!)

So I hope you have a great weekend, and I will be back soon! (Hey, the Olympics only have another day and then the Closing Ceremony ... which looks lame because of all the rock musicians they're having on, but maybe it'll be good in spite of that.)

School starts Tuesday. Waaaaaaah!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Busy day!!

Wow! It's been a busy day today! First there was leading worship at church -- thanks to all who prayed for me! It went very well and I had a great time doing it. (And thank You most of all, Lord! I do hope You liked the songs -- I think You did since I'm pretty sure You picked them out.)

Then we rushed over to Mom and Dad's to celebrate Dad's 77th birthday. We had fried chicken for lunch, with mashed potatoes & gravy, green bean casserole and English peas. Then Dad opened his presents, and I rushed everybody over to have birthday "cake" afterward. Technically it wasn't cake. It was Berry Nectarine Buckle that I made last night from a recipe in Light 'n' Tasty magazine, and it was GOOOOOOD, if I do say so myself! We stuck a candle in it, lit it, sang "Happy Birthday" and had Dad blow out the candle (the usual birthday routine). Then after I plowed through my bowl of it, I dashed off to ...

My former upline/current demo's SU Open House. (See now why I rushed everybody around?) Actually, I guess it wasn't technically an "open house", but she showed us a bunch of new stuff, including the new SU Sizzix Big Shot machine, then we did three make-n-takes. I won a door prize (a retired stamp set from last year)!! And then I placed a *ahem* "small" order. Okay, my sweet mother gave me a little spending money, but I want you all to know I was very careful in my spending, and only got things I really decided I needed. I did get all the In Color ink pads, as well as two packages of mixed In Color cardstock. And I got the Scallop Edge Punch. And then a stamp set or two, of course. She let me add someone else's order onto mine so I could have a hostess order -- now, wasn't that nice? And I got my 20% off Former Demonstrator's Discount that I get for six months after my quitting date. So I also got a Level 1 Hostess set and $15 in free stuff! Not bad, huh?

I am seriously considering the spending moratorium, though, even though none of that came out of my pocket. I did have to come home and order some more EZ Mount foam for the new sets, since I'm nearly out. But that's a "necessity". I think I'll try not buying ANY new stamp sets for a whole month. You think I can do it? Maybe if I tell y'all I'm gonna do it you'll have to hold me to my word. Obviously I could cheat and not tell you, but I'm not very good at keeping secrets, especially if I've sinned. I'm a "confessor". Y'all know this.

So, okay, here it is: FROM NOW UNTIL SEPTEMBER 17 I AM NOT BUYING A SINGLE NEW STAMP OR STAMP SET!!! (I'm not buying any used ones, either -- I realized that could be a loophole.) Nor will I buy any Nestabilities or other expensive accessories. ONLY NECESSITIES will be allowed, and that's things like adhesive, cardstock and ... very, very basic things like that. Y'all have to hold me to it and help me do it, okay?

NOW -- I will show you the card I made for my dad for his birthday:

This is an Australian set a dear friend sent to me, and I just love it! The images are modeled after aboriginal art. Yesterday was my first use of it. I did the "Faux Distress Resist" technique from Technique Junkies for the background. For the focal image, I stamped it with a rainbow ink pad, then covered it with double-sided tape and covered that with tiny glass beads. Then I sponged a bit of Rust Alcohol Ink over the beads to age them (to match the distressed-ness of the background). The "sentiment" is from the "By Definition" SU set. I'm happy to report Dad loved it. Mom's not too keen on lizards, but she was sweet and said she liked it anyway.

I haven't had a chance to watch any more Olympics since my last rant (aren't you glad!!!). We'll probably go back over to Mom and Dad's and watch some tonight. Think I'll take my new SU catty over there and show Mom what her kind generosity bought me. My mother totally rocks. Even if she hadn't given me the spending money I would think that, but that was icing on the cake!

This coming week is Aidan's last week of summer vacation. I definitely have mixed emotions about it. I'm going to miss sleeping in until 9:30 or so. Six a.m. is NOT a good time of morning for me! (At least I can go back to sleep for a bit after the guys head out!) And at least Aidan will be at school doing productive things instead of hanging out on the computer all day. But he actually has been doing "productive" things this summer -- working on his "con-lang" (constructed language -- i.e., the language he is creating), teaching himself Japanese, that sort of thing. Maybe I'll be more productive in the craft loft, though, if I'm just here totally by myself. We'll see.

Alright, gotta run get some dinner going. Hope your [insert name of day here] is a great one!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Stamp-free Friday :( -- but the Kiwis rocked!!

First of all, thank you to my comment-friends!! I am reading all my comments, and even if I don't answer you directly I appreciate and hear what you're saying. And I'm going to get better about answering y'all. I promise!

Well, I didn't get any stamping done yesterday. I don't know why I was so darned tired, but I just couldn't drag myself up into the loft. I did do my Wii Fit stuff, so maybe I just overdid. I had to take Aidan for his haircut, and it was blisteringly hot, and it was tax-free weekend (half the population of Central Texas was out, and half of them at the JCPenney where he gets his hair cut, so we had to park a mile away), then we had to hit the grocery store (another hot place, oddly enough), so I was drained by the time we got home.

The hairdresser cut four inches off Aidan's hair!!! Ack!!! Fortunately it is a gorgeous haircut, and the front is still pretty long. He's not thrilled, but I assured him it would look great by the time school starts on the 26th, and that it really does look terrific now. I should have stopped her when I saw where she was putting the scissors, but you know how you get at the hairdresser's -- kinda paralyzed. So, honestly, no, it's not a "short" haircut, but it is shorter than either Aidan or I really wanted it.

So ... I DID stamp on Thursday. I finished my card for this week's Techno Stamper challenge. I'm very pleased with how it turned out, but it was a toughie to do, partly because I just seemed to be lacking in mojo, so thinking out the various elements took forever. Then cutting the slit for the rectangle panel to go through was a bit labor-intensive since I had to do it four times (four cards). I know the sketch was for two squares in that spot, but the minute I first looked at it, my eyes saw a rectangle pulled through a slot, so that's what I decided to do.

Here's the sketch:

And (obviously) the card:

The background rectangle uses the Veined Marble (with Reinkers) technique from the Aug/Sept '07 newletter. The medallion is an SU stamp (Baroque Something-or-other) and the sentiment is Club Stamp.

I'm not sure when in October the craft fair is, but the first of Oct. is only six weeks away. I have so much to do for this thing! I've really got to get my derriere in gear and start making SIMPLE cards and some non-cardy things. Help!!

I've also GOT, GOT, GOT to stop buying stamp sets!!! (After the SU Open House I'm going to tomorrow -- and I already have my purchase list filled out so I won't get nuts.) I'm subscribed to about a jillion stamping blogs, and it's slowly beginning to dawn on me that a whole bunch of these babies are designed specifically to entice the reader to purchase stamps of specific companies. (I know, I'm slow sometimes.) Today I read a blog with some GORGEOUS things made by a woman who designs for Papertrey Ink. And then I went to Papertrey Ink's website. And then I put her set into my shopping cart. And then I noticed that I just needed one more big set (their biggies are $24) to almost qualify for the free shipping if you spent $50 or more. So I put another big set in my cart. And then I needed $2 more to qualify. So I put some ribbon in my cart. I got free shipping, but it cost me $26 to do it. (Fortunately the second stamp set was one I had been wanting for awhile.) But I can't keep doing this!!!! I think that, after this Open House I'm going to stop reading these blogs and declare a moratorium on stamp buying. I will only buy necessities like adhesive and maybe brads.

Uh huh. And maybe Phil Joel will be elected President of the United States. (Which is impossible anyway because he wasn't born in the U.S.)

So, speaking of Kiwis -- yesterday (which was Saturday in Beijing and New Zealand) was the Kiwis' best single day ever in their Olympic history! They won five medals! SWEET AS!!!!! They won:
• Gold to shot putter Valerie Vili.
• Gold to Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell in the double sculls.
• Silver to cyclist Hayden Roulston in the 4000m individual pursuit.
• Bronze to single sculls oarsman Mahe Drysdale.
• Bronze to pairs oarsmen George Bridgewater and Nathan Twaddle.

The Men's Single Sculls competition was a sort-of heartbreaker. Mahe Drysdale was touted to win the gold (he's won, I think, a couple of gold medals in this race before), but he's had a stomach flu all week, and the best he could pull off was a bronze. There was some worry he wouldn't even qualify earlier in the week, he was so ill, but he managed to pull it off, and a bronze is nothing to sneeze at, really. It was New Zealand's first medal of these Olympics. After the race he had to be taken away on a stretcher, he was so exhausted and throwing up. But he managed to make it back for the medal ceremony. That's the stuff Kiwis are made of, mates!

Of course, you wouldn't know any of this watching NBC. (Well, I don't know, it might get a nod today on the Saturday coverage, but I won't hold my breath.) Even Americans are complaining about their choice of prime-time events to cover. It's so limited! The two nights that I've been over to my folks' to watch, we've seen Men's Beach Volleyball (and I will admit I got rather attached to Todd Rogers and Phil "the Beijing Beast" Dalhausser), Women's Gymnastics, a smidgen of Track & Field and Swimming. The swimming I totally understand with the whole Michael Phelps phenom. But I was under the impression there were, like, more than four sports in the Olympics? I know it's hard to cover so many sports in just a few hours of prime time, but still. They haven't even really shown basketball, according to what I was reading.

So, wouldn't it be lovely if there was a country-neutral couple of channels where you could watch THE OLYMPICS? I mean, because what if you're interested in a certain SPORT (like sailing), not just specific athletes or countries? Yeah, there's the internet, but I've already told you how less-than-optimum this choice is for a lot of people (myself included). The way things are, if the US isn't sure to win a medal in something, it doesn't get covered (or not well, anyway).

So there's my Olympic Rant for today. Thanks for listening. Tune in tomorrow -- I'm sure there'll be another one! lol

I'm supposed to lead worship at church tomorrow, and I haven't even put a whole minute's thought into what we'll sing! :-0 I've been so bad! I'll just have to show up extra early tomorrow morning for rehearsal and ask God to please, please tell me what He wants us to sing to Him! The tough part is, we'll just have one rhythm guitar and a bass, nothing else except my voice. So, if you're still inclined after reading my gripey rant, please pray for me! (You may want to, anyway -- for my attitude! lol)

Okay, enough for now. I need to go do some Wii stuff (only 20 minutes today, and NO aerobics, so I won't wear myself out), then get into the shower, then go make my dad a birthday card. He turns 77 tomorrow! That doesn't sound so old to me anymore!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Whew! Tiredness today!

Well, I didn't get any cards finished today, although I did go up into the loft and sorta-kinda start on one. I'm working on my TechnoStamper sketch for this week, and have an idea in mind, but didn't really get cranking on it well. I had decided I would make a medallion for the card using Australian Opals embossing enamel by Pipe DreamInk. My Aussie friend Leonie sent me a set of Opalettes (smaller containers than the regular size) several months ago, and I've been hoarding them. They are SOOOOO gorgeous! Ultra rich colors, and honestly prettier than anything I've seen in the UTEE line, or anything else here in the US. (You can buy them in the US from After Midnight Art Stamps, but I'm having to save up! They're kinda expensive, though well worth it, especially if you're really into UTEE.) Anyway, so I made some lovely medallions using the Macquarie (teal) Opals and Gold Encore ink and my Ranger Melting Pot -- but they turned out to be too large to use on my card, since I was following a sketch! Well, after all the effort I had put in, I decided to call it quits and have some lunch, and I just never made it back up there.

So here is the card I made yesterday that took three hours to design and make four of:

As I mentioned, this is the Designer Tile technique from the current Technique Junkies newsletter. And the reason it took so darned long to do was because I had to go through my scraps (because I was determined to use Actual Scraps) and pick out the pieces I wanted to use. I have jillions of scraps, so this wasn't an easy task. And there had to be enough pieces to make four semi-identical cards, which you'd think would be easy with that many scraps, BUT, I wanted Autumnal colors -- the exactly RIGHT Autumnal colors/patterns/paper. And then I had to make a prototype so I would know the dimensions of the pieces I would be using. And I discovered that, for example, the embossed leaf vellum piece on the bottom to the right of middle wouldn't go equally on four cards in the configuration I wanted, so I had to tweak two cards. BUT in the end I really like the way the card turned out, and I'm glad I stuck with it! I really, really need to just start making very simple, "cute" cards for this fair, though. If I were to charge what some of these cards are REALLY worth in terms of labor -- yeah, no one is gonna pay upwards of $10 per card, and I know it! (BTW, the stamp is from an old SU set.)

So I had a lovely visit with a friend that I haven't seen in months today. (Hi, Kim!!) She came over mid-afternoon and we just spent some fun time getting re-connected with what's going on with each other. And, yeah, I did have to show off my craft loft to her. She's so sweet -- she didn't think I was a big showoff. She's truly one of the most encouraging people I know, and she just kept talking about how neat it was that I had such a great place to craft, and she could see why I loved going up there and getting into my own little stamping world, etc. Hey, Kim girl -- I love ya!!

After Kim left, Aidan decided he needed to do his Wii Fit stuff for the day, which inspired me (I had been gonna blow the day off), so I did about 25 minutes of balance exercises and strength training. Then I got the brilliant idea to play a couple of games of Wii Tennis off the Wii Sports disc. I swear, I am not a "do things half-heartedly" girl, at least where fun is concerned. Ten -- yes TEN -- games of tennis later I had to quit because my back was killing me! But it was so much fun! And I discovered that the Wii Sports stuff will connect directly into Wii Fit, so you can get credit for what you play off the Sports game! Isn't that cool? (I just wish I'd realized it ten games before I did!) One of the sweet things about Wii Fit is that you can enter into your fitness log stuff you do outside of Wii Fit, too, so I will be entering that 35 minutes of tennis, I can promise you!

Well, I do want to go do some writing now. I didn't actually do much last night -- something got me worried about The Teenager's spiritual life again, and really about how much influence the girl he likes has on him, and how I'm not entirely certain it's all that positive. So that totally derailed me. First I had to pray about it. Then I had to figure out a way to talk to him about it without him instantly shutting me out AND without him thinking I was accusing his Beloved of being a bad person. Then I had to go talk to him -- I chose the topic "The Importance of Making Wise Decisions No Matter What". Fortunately, he and I have a good relationship (so far!), and I know how to intersperse liberal doses of humor to keep things from getting too "heavy". So the talk went alright (though I do have a tendency to, shall we say, go on and on and beat dead horses, as it were -- can you imagine me doing that? lol). Afterward, though, I was really depressed and gloomy and just so worried about all the stuff Christian parents nowdays worry about. So writing didn't really happen.

But NOW -- it's early still, and my brain is doing alright, so off I go to write! And I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday/Friday/whatever day it is when you read this!

Blessings to you all!

P.S. I woke up early this morning still worried about The Teenager, and I just felt this really neat "hug" from Jesus, like He was telling me a) He understands how hard parenting is, b) He knows my heart for my son, and He isn't gonna just let the Enemy walk off with him, and c) He loves his daughter Stacy very, very much. It was a quick hug, because the Enemy was right there trying to swamp it with more worry, but the wonderful, stabilizing effects of that hug have stayed with me all day. God is so awesome! I'm so glad He loves me in spite of myself!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Oh, for a TV

Once every four years I wish we had a broadcasting TV in our house. We have a TV but we only use it for DVDs and the computer, no network stuff, no cable. We figure it's just a waste of money and brain space (mostly). If we want to watch something we go over to my parents' house and watch over there (like Mythbusters, which Aidan and I totally love). But every four years, when the Olympics are going, I wish we had a TV so we could tune in any time we wanted to, day or night. I know, can I say "streaming video"? But my computer doesn't do streaming video well, and neither does the one we use on the big screen in our living room. We tried watching fencing the other night and it jerked so much I literally got motion sickness. So I have to miss Michael Phelps' try for his 11th medal (we saw him win the 10th one over at Mom and Dad's, which was really awesome, but I was SO disappointed that the Kiwi guy, Burmester, came in fourth instead of third!). And I had to miss all kinds of awesome women's gymnastics. And we've missed lots of other good stuff, too. Ah, well. I suppose it's worth the sacrifice to keep our brains as free of cultural and moral pollution as possible.

Okay, on to card making. I'm going to show you a card I made yesterday. I was inspired by a tutorial on Andrea Walford's blog, which was in turn inspired by Kim Teasdale, who was in turn inspired by Michelle Zindorf. So it's been around the block! If you'd like to know how Andrea did it (and therefore how I did it, too), check out her tutorial.

I used SU's "Stem Silhouettes" for my flora, and the dragonfly from my Gel-a-tins "Wild Things" set for my fauna. When I saw Andrea's card, I knew I didn't want to copy it exactly, so instead of using a butterfly I decided I'd use a dragonfly. That made me remember a dragonfly haiku I have in my set of haiku poems from Art Neko, so I decided since the colors were definitely autumnal, the dragonfly had to be red to go with the haiku! I'm sure Michelle would have done some highlighting and/or outlining on the dragonfly, but since I'm not an "artist artist" I decided I'd better leave well enough alone. Besides, I like the kind-of ethereal quality of the un-outlined red dragonfly. It's a little mysterious, I think, like the sense evoked by the haiku.

The background paper is from an SEI pad called "Oasis", which, ironically has nothing to do with the tropics or anything Arabian, but is very Oriental. I think they need to give their paper-pack-namer person a vacation. Somewhere where there IS an oasis so they'll know what they're talking about!

So that's my card for the day! I spent three hours in the loft today working on one card design and making four of them. It uses the "Designer Tile" TJ technique, and it took forever to decide on which scraps I would use, then how to lay them out. But I won't go into that now. I'll save it for tomorrow!

Happy stampin'!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Another card! Woot!!

I got two cards done today! Sweet as!! Alas, again you don't get to see either one of them because I'm going to show you one from the other day that I haven't shown yet. And it's late. And I have some writing I want to do on my story. So here ya go:

Isn't this THE cutest stamp? It's actually three stamps -- the t-shirt, the "U" and the "ROCK". It's from a stamp set by Gina K Designs called "Little Tees", and it is the most adorable set! There are three tees in the set -- one short-sleeve just outline, one baseball-style with solid sleeves, and one short-sleeve solid -- and tons of sayings and designs you can put on them. You can use the outline shirt over any patterned paper or technique background (or any kind of paper, really, even pages from a magazine). So I stamped the short-sleeve outline tee on a background I had done awhile ago and don't even have a clue now what it was! I think it must have been some kind of resist, using the Paisley background from SU and maybe colorwash inks ... it was in my "miscellaneous backgrounds" file, so I may have just been playing around. Anyway, I stamped the "U" and the "ROCK" on it using my Stamp-a-ma-jig. Then I mounted it with Stampin' Dimensionals on a piece of black cardstock I had "jazzed up" with hairspray and black Pearl-ex to make it shimmer a little, then matted that on a piece of darkish pink Bazzill Bling paper (no idea what the official name of the paper is -- it came out of a paper pack). The heart DP is from the DCWV "Rock Star" Mat Pack. The guitar on the shirt is, too -- I cut it out from one of the mat pieces. Very shiny silver. And, yeah, it's disproportionately small, but I had a little rough spot on the shirt I had to cover up, so this worked out perfectly! The strip of pink across the middle is the same dark pink Bazzill Bling CS. And it's all on a Regal Rose (SU) card base.

It is my sincerest hope that three people will come to the craft fair and decide their preteen/teenage daughters/granddaughters/nieces/girlfriends (that had better be teenagers only)/whatever female will desperately need this card.

Okay, on to grab a quick snack and get writing. Usually this means I spend an hour editing what I wrote last time, and then I don't have time to write. Technically, that can't work every time, but somehow I make it happen!

Here's to a happy Tuesday (or Wednesday if you're on the far side of the dateline)!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Just a card

No huge philosophical ramblings today, or medical reports, or gripes about poor coverage of the New Zealand Olympic team. All I have is a card to show you (aren't you relieved! lol).

This is a card I made with one of the Japanese Kokeshi doll stamps I got this week from About Art Accents. If you're dying to know what Kokeshi dolls are, you can click here and read about them. I love that the idea for the Mii characters (the little Wii people) were based on Kokeshi.

Anyway, I made this card using Yuzen Washi paper that I got at Michael's, and SU cardstock. I used Ruby Red and Whisper White. I also used a metallic gold text-weight paper I got from Archiver's last time I was in there. The Oriental word characters stamp came from Stamp Francisco. (I don't know if they're Chinese or Japanese, and Aidan said he wasn't sure, they weren't anything he specifically recognized.) I used a technique called AI (Alcohol Ink) Painting from the latest issue of Technique Junkies. I used my new Nestabilities ovals, too, but I see that I'm going to need to get the other oval set so the mats won't be so wide. Anyway, I love these Kokeshi dolls, and I'm sure you'll be seeing more of them on this blog!

Hope your weekend was great, and the coming week is even better!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

At the rate of one card/project per day ... (and some commentary on the Olympic Opening Ceremony)

You think I can pull off being ready for the craft fair in October? Of course, you have to take off for "sick days". Like, two weeks per month (rolls eyes).

Overall this was not a good week health-wise, but I did manage to get three card designs done. I'll spread out showing you, in case I don't have just an avalanche of cards to show next week.

I'll show the one I managed to put together for the TechnoStamper challenge this week. It was nice and simple, which I needed after the other two I made. I made this one (three times over) in less than two hours, so that's a pretty good pace.

I started off with the DP as the inspiration (after the sketch, of course). I'm so awful at not remembering details after I've made a card, but I think it was K&Co, from a 6"x6" pad. There were only three pages of this, that's why I could only get three cards out of it. I distessed the DP around the edges with SU Bashful Blue Classic Ink. Then I used my Cuttlebug "Swiss Dots" folder (has to be the most popular one of all time in the card-making world) with some CTMH cardstock from the "Majestic Blue" paper pack (I like CTMH paper for the Swiss Dots because their paper has a white core, and you get white dots on your colored paper!). However, since I wanted cream/vanilla dots instead of white, I ended up going over the dots very lightly with my Very Vanilla Craft Ink pad (SU). The sentiment comes from the old "Memory of the Heart" set from SU. I stamped one of the elements from that set in Bashful Blue on Very Vanilla CS (doing one stamp-off first), then stamped over that with the sentiment in Ballet Blue. Then I distressed it with Antique Linen Distress Ink (Ranger). I then matted the sentiment rectangle on Bashful Blue and Very Vanilla, and distressed the VV mat with the Antique Linen Distress Ink. That got mounted on the card with Stampin' Dimensionals. I added three stick-on half-pearls at the bottom, according to the sketch. That was all mounted on a Very Vanilla base card, and I was done! Nice and simple, clean lines. I like it!

We have been Wii-ing of late. Um, doing Wii Fit, that is. Aidan has been faithful to do his Wii Fit routine every day, but I was pretty "under the weather" most of the week, so I did my initial "Body Test" and some balance exercises on Monday, then didn't get back to it until yesterday. It is, admittedly a TON of fun. I mean, I am a certified Despiser of Exercise in Any Form, but I may have to have that certification revoked now. The Wii people are brilliant. I mean, yeah, there are some "normal exercises" in there -- the Strength Training and Yoga stuff (don't worry, it's just Yoga poses, no meditation or anything). But then the rest of it is like doing video games with your body. Or other fun stuff, like slalom skiing and ski jumping without the cold and potential for broken bones, and running a course with beautiful scenery and lots of Mii people either running, too, or standing on the side cheering you on. (I haven't done the running -- I honestly hate running too much to do that even on the Wii, but Bjorn and Aidan have done it and say it's better than "real" running, lol.) And there are hula-hoop games, step-aerobics in front of a Mii audience (with a host of Mii buddies on stage with you), tightrope walking, all kinds of fun stuff! A lot of it is focused on helping you strengthen your balance (I guess that involves your body core), but, as I said, there are aerobic things, too. At this point, I love it, even if the Wii Fit Board does say "Oh!" sort-of painfully every time I step up on it.

Let's see, what else ... Oh! I had two sinus-related "events" this week. My PA wanted me to have a CT scan done of my sinuses before I went to the allergist this week. Since I landed back in her office again on Tuesday with another potential sinus infection, she got worried I might have a fungal infection. And the only way to tell about that is to have a CT scan. So I traipsed (well, okay, drove) all the way up to the north part of town and had one done, only to be told that my sinuses were BEAUTIFUL! (Her word.) No fungus, not even a sign of a regular infection (!!! -- um, then why did I have fever on Monday and Tuesday??). So we sent that report off to the allergist, and I went to him on Thursday. I am a great candidate for allergy shots (woot). He wants me to get my cats out of my bedroom and not let them back in, but, um ... I just don't see how that will ever work. So I'm just gonna have to be diligent about vacuuming (our vacuum has a HEPA filter on it, thankfully), and dusting with damp cloths, etc. I'm going to see if I can talk my dad into letting me have a teense more Granny-money so I can get a good HEPA filter for the bedroom and some allergen-blocking mattress/box-spring/pillow covers. It's expensive to have allergies. Today we took our decorative valance down (definitely a dust trap, and impossible to wash since the drape is stapled to the rod!). And pulled the beds apart and vacuumed under them really well (our king-sized bed is made up of two twins). And Aidan has promised to dust in there, since I really shouldn't, but a) it's 8:30pm and he hasn't started that yet, and b) I don't know that he'll be all that thorough. I need a maid, but I don't see that happening.

Weren't last night's opening ceremonies for the Olympics amazing!! We missed the first hour, but fortunately we had it recording, so we'll watch that tomorrow over at my folks' house. But the part we did see was just astounding. The Chinese really went all out. I do have to admit that we laughed hysterically when the Chinese soldiers took the Olympic flag and started marching with it. The goose-stepping was classic! All I could think of was Monty Python's "Ministry of Silly Walks", the way John Cleese could get his legs so high and so straight. My oldest brother (who is temporarily living with my parents while he gets his health straightened out) said, "They must've been watching Monty Python," before I ever said a word. It was great.
The only thing that marred the evening was stupid NBC's decision to cut to a commercial JUST AS the New Zealand team marched into the stadium! I had waited for nearly two hours during the parade of the athletes to see the Kiwi team, through Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands and Cape Verde, places like that, and when the New Zealanders started coming in in their beautiful black outfits with the silver ferns emblazoned on them, the announcer said, "And as the Kiwis march in, we'll take a break and be right back!" !!!!!!! The morons! I bet Phil Joel was livid! (Well, okay, he's probably too nice to have been actually LIVID, like I was, but I'll bet he was stinkin' annoyed!) I had to wait until I got home and go to the New Zealand Herald's website to see their video coverage of the Kiwi team marching in to see it. You know what was totally cool? They were all wearing flip-flops! ("Jandals" in Kiwi-speak) I love it! They are so laid-back and awesome. So since NBC screwed up their moment here in the US, I will honor the Kiwi team on my humble blog:

So, anyway, I've talked your eyes off now, so I'll spare you any more agony and save some for tomorrow! So, let's see, in this house our Olympic loyalties are something like this:
Go Team USA!!
Go Team New Zealand!!
Go Team Australia!! (Who, BTW, had awesome outfits in the march-in!)
Go Team Norway!! (Boo! They beat the Kiwi Women in soccer ...)
Go Team Japan!!

Yes, we're very multi-cultural around here. So until tomorrow ...
Go Team Stampers!!!!!!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Why does Fifteen sound so much older than Fourteen?

Well, my "baby" turned fifteen yesterday. Somehow that just seems so much older than fourteen! Is it because he's old enough to learn to drive now? (Gaaaaaah!) Or does it just have a more sophisticated ring than "fourteen"?

He doesn't look any older than he did on Saturday. Well, not much. But, dang, if knowing he's that 1-5 number doesn't make him seem that way somehow.

Okay, so first I'll show you the card I made him, since I shamefully don't have anything else new to show off (hey, I had to make a from-scratch Key Lime Cheesecake on Saturday, plus the card, and Sunday was the kid's birthday and today I'm, well, sick again).

I used two techniques, the main one of which was the "Stamping on Fantasy Film" technique I got from Penelope's Pitstop blog. I'll show you two photos so you can see how just a slight turn of the card or shift in light changes the color of the film:

Isn't that kewl?

I used a dark yellow film, but now I think I need to buy darker film to try on the black cardstock to see if it might actually show up the stamp better. The light yellow I had bought, thinking it would show up the best, actually didn't work at all with black ink because it let too much of the black cardstock beneath show through.

Anyway, you can click on the cards to see them larger. I used an oriental willow stamp from Sparkle-n-Sprinkle for the image on the fantasy film, and the background stamp is actually one I made (therefore it's copyright Stacy's Stamp Loft), and is a segment of the Beatitudes in Japanese! Is that cool, or what? Aidan can even read some of the words! To make the background I stamped the image on acetate with black Staz-on. While that was drying I got out my nonstick craft sheet and dropped a few drops of alcohol ink in a row (I used Ranger Butterscotch and a Pinata bright red, plus some Ranger Gold Metallics), then dropped a few drops of blender solution on top, and used that to ink up my brayer. I immediately rolled the inks across the back of the acetate, going back to ink up the brayer again a couple of times. Then I dropped some alc inks and blender solution on the top of the inked up back and brayered that around a bit. It left splotches where the drops hit, plus added some color where there wasn't enough. I liked the splotches -- they gave it a sort-of distressed look.

Aidan really loved the card, which was exceedingly gratifying! And here are a couple of pics of him celebrating:
This is him getting ready to rip into the packages. Even sophisticated teens get excited about opening presents!

The "Happy Birthday" banner on my mom's china cabinet is so old! She bought it years ago when her grandkids (of which Aidan is the youngest) were still pretty young, and it has served for many, many a birthday since. So the "H" is pretty much gone, and some of the other letters aren't in very good shape either. She keeps saying she needs to get rid of it and get a new one, but I won't let her! As ol' Whatshisname in Fiddler On the Roof sang, "Tra-di-tion! Tradition!"

Aidan will have to have a haircut before school starts in three more weeks. Those of you who know me know I don't mind long hair. I mean, I totally have a crush on Phil Joel's hair, right?
But Aidan's is getting straggly and needs to be trimmed, and he simply won't go for a spiral wave like Phil's (what is his deal, anyway?). Plus the school has a dress code with this ridiculous thing about guys' hair having to be above the collar ... !!! We never fully comply with that, but they haven't thrown him in the dungeon yet, so we'll just keep the length a leeeeetle bit longer.

So, yep, you read right. I'm sick again. Low grade fever, probably a sinus thing. Which is weird because I still have a couple of my antibiotics from the LAST sinus infection left to take! But I feel rotten today (which totally stinks, because I have GOT to get into that loft and get serious!), so I've just been hanging out and taking it easy. Aidan and I went over to the folks and watched four episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation tonight. Not much else to do (although I do LOVE STTNG).

Okay, I wrote you a novel. I'm gonna go now and get this published before the deadline to get it sent via e-mail for tomorrow (Tues) is past.

We're hoping to get some rain up our way from Eduardo, or whatever his name is. We just ordered some "Get Well Soon" flowers for my aunt in Houston to be delivered tomorrow. Were we brilliant or what?? Hope they can stand up to strong wind gusts!

Friday, August 01, 2008

I refuse to be allergic to ...

... CATS!! No, no, no, it can't be true! I went for my allergy skin tests today, and one of the ones that reacted was CATS! That's horrible! Of course, I haven't had the tests "interpreted" yet, I go for that on Tuesday, but I refuse to get rid of my kitties. Won't do it no matter what, nuh uh. They're my babies and I will not get rid of them.

I will admit I may be overreacting a bit -- the doc hasn't said a thing about having to get rid of them, and the reaction written on my score sheet was a "2+", which is rather mild, compared to the "4+" that I got for Cedar Elm, Pecan trees and Box Elder. I was highly reactive to most of the trees, and a lot of the grasses and weeds. (I figured as much on the grasses/weeds.) I also reacted moderately strongly to most of the molds and the dust mites, which is no big news. Oh, and dogs. But I refuse to be allergic to kitties. Period, end of discussion.

SO ... I have a card to show you. I actually did it last week, but am only just now getting around to posting it. I had intended to spend some time in the loft this evening, but the tests actually left me feeling a bit wiped out, I guess because my body was fighting the allergens still (the Cedar Elm and Box Elder whelps are still there, still huge). And then we got into a theological discussion with Aidan tonight about the eye-for-an-eye passage in Matthew Chapter 6. (He wasn't planning revenge on anyone, but Bjorn was having some frustration issues with an insurance adjuster that made Aidan mad, so we eventually go around to needing to discuss this!)

I finally decided I HAD to do some autumnal colors for the October craft fair. So I got out my trusty Technique Junkies notebook, thumbed through it and decided to make some backgrounds using the Spectrum Roll technique. (Want to know how to do it? Join Technique Junkies today! It's SO worth the money, trust me on this ... click on the link to find out all the great perks of being a Technique Junkie!) I used my SU "Pumpkin Patch" Spectrum Ink pad and copper and gold Marvy Metallic Markers for the tech. Then I stamped on it with my beloved Gel-a-tins "Wild Things" silhouette stamps with Adirondack Archival Black ink. I matted this on Chocolate Chip cardstock (SU), then put that on a piece of pumpkin orange textured cardstock from Club Scrap which had been adorned with Choc Chip grosgrain ribbon (SU), stuck on three brown glittery-dots things I bought last year and have no clue who makes, then mounted that on a Very Vanilla (SU) card base. All in all a fairly general-purpose, yet autumnal-feeling card. Hopefully they'll sell!

I've added some new blogs to my "A Few Good Blogs" list. I'm gonna have to rename it the "A Bunch of Good Blogs" list soon! Here's what I've added today:

Stempelglede -- This is a Norwegian blog (written in both Norwegian and English) with FABULOUS cards, etc., and some tutorials on it. (Scroll down to the Brushstroke Flower and Retro Flower Punch tutorial -- this is what grabbed me in the first place!) It means "Stamping Joy", and Gunhild's creations definitely reflect that! She has a sister blog for her shop, to which I also added a link. She's got some great stamps for sale in her shop, BTW. Check it all out!

Paper in the Works -- Gorgeous, gorgeous cards. What more can I say?

Penelope's Pitstop -- Wonderful creations and great tutorials. Scroll down to the one about stamping on Fantasy Film. I ordered some of this stuff just because of this tutorial, and can't wait to get started stamping on it!

KWerner Design Blog -- She's an SU demo who is right now working at Convention and has some very interesting behind-the-scenes views. Plus she's got some great stampin' stuff on her blog, so she's worth keeping up with even after Convention.

Sunny Stampin' -- Andrea Walford is another SU demonstrator. She has online classes (fee-based) for non-demos, and sells class kits to other SU demos. She's got some really cute ideas, too.

And last but not least,
Sarah Kay Weekly Challenges Obviously by the name you can see this site has weekly challenges. They're not all sketch-based, and they just started (they're into week 4), but the two sketches they've had up are great. They do want you to use only their stamps if you're going to post, but they have prizes, so it probably wouldn't hurt to invest if 1) you want to win, and 2) they're your style. But regardless, it's another great place to go for more sketches!

Okay, hope this has given you some new places to check out. And there are plenty of "oldies but goodies" in my blog list, too, so if you haven't taken a look there in awhile, why not do so today? It's a good way to pass a bit of free time, and you might find some great inspiration!

Hope your Saturday (or Sunday, if you're Down Under) is fabuloso! Oh, and my apologies to those of you who received the "Turning Japanese" post twice -- not quite sure what happened there, but I'll try to make sure that doesn't happen again!