Tuesday, September 30, 2008

So glad it's Tuesday!

I'm so glad today is Tuesday and not Friday. If this were Friday (and tomorrow was the craft fair) I would be exceedingly worried about my ability to be there and be "up" all day selling stuff. I am still so wiped out from being sick that, even though I feel better in all other respects, I just have no energy and can hardly get anything done. Plus, my sister-in-law is coming to visit for a few days on Friday, and I don't know how I'm gonna get anything done around here toward that. She's been very sweet to say we don't need to clean anything up, but then she hasn't seen the house lately! Bjorn hasn't had time to help, and neither has Aidan (homework), but they will definitely be helping me later this week!

Anyway, I did make it into the craft loft today to make some mini magazine holders to put some of the card sets in, but I'm not anywhere near finished so I can't show them to you yet. I hope I have more energy tomorrow so I can make the last few and then get them all decorated. I think that's all I have left to do, other than finish deciding prices and put price labels on the non-card items.

So here's another card I've made for this ...

I decided I needed some "dedicated" birthday cards, so I made this one after gleaning ideas from Splitcoast. Image stamp set is SU's "Whimsical Birthday" (or something like that), and I can't think of the name of the set the sentiment came from, but it's SU, too; paper is all SU. Heck, I think even the ribbon is SU on this one! I used a Cuttlebug folder to emboss the bottom part.

Here's another one that I practically CASEd (I hate to admit that!). I did add the spiral notebook edging and I matted it (theirs -- again, a Splitcoaster, and I'm ashamed to admit I didn't keep their name -- wasn't on any layers), and I changed up the colors and used a different sentiment. You can't tell, but the "presents" were cut out and mounted on slightly 3-D adhesive over the stamped "ribbon":

I loved the simplicity of it, so I had to use it! If I can find out who made the original, I will let y'all know so they'll get the credit they deserve. The stamp set is SU's "Eat Cake". Sentiment was made using letters from a My Sentiments Exactly set (I think it's called "Retro Alphabet" but I won't swear to it).

So that's all for today. I do apologize for skipping a day or two, but I've been working on my story since I've been too tired to do anything else, and I get so caught up in that sometimes that I forget which world I'm really living in! (I get so into my characters' heads -- especially the main two -- that I have trouble getting back into my own afterward. They never actually leave me, I think about them a lot during the day, wonder how they would react to some of my daily experiences, try to work that out, etc.) Anyway, tomorrow I really need to get the last of my projects photographed (and the mini mag holders finished and photographed, too), so please pray that I'll be stronger!

And please pray that I'll be in great shape on Saturday! I would hate to have to dump my craft fair responsibilities on my guys and my SIL! I don't guess they HAVE to know anything about how I did stuff, but it is always fun to talk about how I do things, that way people know it's not as easy as it looks, sometimes.

OH, BTW, thanks so much for the comments I've been getting lately! I appreciate the compliments very much, as well as the input on pricing. I have decided to go with $3 each for the cards, and will probably go ahead with $18 for the A2 Christmas card sets and $20 for the 5"x7" ones. I haven't decided for sure about the frames and other things, but I went to Michaels today and bought some large-size gift bags for people who purchase the large frames, and realized I'm going to need to transfer some of that cost to the frames -- the bags were $1.99 each! So, yeah, I definitely will NOT be making money on this little venture, but if I can recoup some of it (and the more, the better) I will be a happy camper. Uh, stamper. Whatever.

Alright. I have an hour left of my evening and I'm too tired to finish any projects in the loft, so I'm off to my fictional world of Cedar Oaks, Texas to pay my characters a visit and keep working on their lives! (It's so much fun to be a Creator! I love that Omniscient thing ... lol)

Blessings all 'round!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Messin' with the blog layout

Hi! As you can tell (if you're looking at the blog online), I've changed my Blogger template. I'm trying to go with a more semi-Autumnal look, and I've designed my own banner, so I hope you like it! I'm having trouble getting used to the sidebar being on the left, though. And the main body being so wide. But I guess I'll get used to it over time.

So today I am feeling a bit better. Not anywhere near 100%, but my throat isn't hurting at all. It settled into my sinuses, so yesterday was the day from sinus h*ll. After two days on antibios and doing sinus rinses and taking lots of Mucinex, the sinuses are at least mostly clear, although they are definitely still inflamed, etc. In fact, I have a killer sinus headache right now, so I don't know what business I have even being on the computer, much less designing blog headers. I'm dying to get back into the craft loft, but I know that will have to wait.

But, luckily for you, I still have things to show you! So, here's today random pick:

This was actually the first set of Christmas cards I made for the craft fair, I just didn't get around to scanning it until the other day. Stamps are from SU's "Holy Triptych" ("Holy Triptych, Batman!" -- so sorry, that ALWAYS pops into my head when I hear, see, mention or type the name of that set!) I don't know where I got the Luke Chapter 2 paper, I've had it at least since last year, maybe even the year before. But I thought it was perfect for the stamps. Oh, and I also stamped on the green CS, and I think it's pine boughs from the "Peaceful Wishes" SU set. Anyway, again, 8 of these in a set, with envelopes. These are 5"x7" cards. Whaddya think -- is $20/box too much to ask? I mean, because if I'm charging $3/card (it would have been $4, but I lowered it because of the bank crisis -- yeesh), 3x8=24, so they're getting a bargain. Or should it be $18? Any opinions? (Thanks for your input on the coasters, Debbie, BTW!)

It's getting down to the wire, and I need to start making up my mind about pricing on these things. I'm actually wavering about the $4/card vs. $3/card. I mean, it IS a craft fair, and it's in a fairly well-off part of town, so would $4/card be too much to ask? I don't want to have to do an end-of-the-day markdown like I've had to do before because the venues wouldn't support the $4/card price. I totally think my cards (most of them) are worth that. When you consider the amount of time I put in on them, and the resources involved, that's actually a bargain. But I know people are freakin' about the economy. Maybe not so much around here, though. But the thing is, I want to sell LOTS of cards and make a decent amount of money, not sell a few cards at $4 and make a little money, like I've done before. (And don't get me started on Etsy and the online craft places where there are tons of people who totally undercut ...). Anyway, what do y'all think? I need help here. (If you need refreshing on what my cards look like without having to go through all the entries, you can click on my Picasa link on the side ... it's the account that Blogger automatically sets up for their bloggers that stores all the pictures I post, so it will have a few non-card pics, too, but I know you can live with that ;-) The newest cards -- the ones I'll be selling -- are at the end.)

Anyway, my head is really starting to scream at me, so I think I'll call it an entry (as opposed to "a day") and leave it at that for now. Hope you're having a great weekend! Oh, and please tell me what you think of my new look!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ugh ... starting the season early

The "sick" season, that is. Aidan had the sore throat over the weekend, settling into a sinus thing, and now I have it. Came down with the throat stuff yesterday, so decided to go to the doc and see if I could nip "whatever" in the bud. Good news -- it's not strep. But it is a "throat virus" that's going around, so I do feel generally crummy. SO, no setting foot in the craft loft today.

However, I do still have things to show you, fret not! I haven't shown you all the things I've gotten done (and there are a few more to photograph), so I'll go pick one out randomly now and show you the ...

Snowflake Extravaganza Christmas Card:

I have two sets of these, eight cards & envies in each set. This card ended up being a "God thing" because it just wasn't coming together at first. I was following a sketch (I'm too brain fogged right now to remember which one ... I'll look it up later), and I really, really wanted to use this GORGEOUS Heidi Grace paper I got at Archivers a couple of weeks ago. (You can't tell from the scan how this paper shimmers and sparkles.) So I had the basic sketch pattern laid out -- the Heidi Grace paper, the rectangle stamped with two different SU snowflake sets and about four or five different aqua-toned SU blue inks, the strip of "crystal" colored shimmer paper above the rectangle. There was a circle on the sketch, and so I decided to use the "Celebrate the Season" stamp from SU's "So Many Scallops" (retired, I think). Of course, using the whole stamp including the scallop edge would have overwhelmed the card (it's an A2/4-1/4" x 5-1/2"), so I punched out just the inner circle. But when I got through it just looked -- bland and boring. There seemed to be no real focal point. So I remembered that I had a snowflake punch that I had bought YEARS ago (we're talking, probably 8-10 years ago when I was just beginning), and I dug it out and decided to do the Baja Breeze colored cardstock. So that was kinda cute, but still bland. Then I decided to put some Stickles on the snowflake tips and a few snowflake centers, and, needing to let them dry, I called it a night.

The next day I took another trip to Archivers to get some stick-on crystals for the big snowflake centers (amazing how I seem to have to go there a lot for those little "necessary" things, huh?). (I may have bought a couple of other items there, too ...) Anyway, to make this long story not so long, when I got home and started to put it all together on the card base, I realized I'd cut the DP too small for my original plan! There was just too much white space around the edges. I decided to just mat the thing on some Soft Sky paper, but then God popped the idea into my head to edge the paper with a fru-fru edge punch. I thought this one from Martha Stewart looked a bit snowflaky ... and in the end decided to offset the two pieces instead of matting the DP on the edge-punched bit. And I really like the effect!! Unfortunately, the way my computer does colors, you can't really tell that the edge-punched bit is Soft Sky and the card base is white. I tried very hard with my photo software to make the Soft Sky not be so bright and washed out, but, alas, I'm not an expert, so this is the best I could do.

However, I am NOT pleased with the quality of that Martha Stewart punch. I haven't used it much since I bought it several months ago, and it's got a "wobbly" punch lever so that it doesn't always "hit" right when you push it. Basically, on my particular punch, you have to use one thumb to press the back of the lever down, and the other thumb to push down on the part of the lever close to the punch. Can you say "OUCH!"? Can you say it 16x3 times? (Took three punches per piece to complete the edging). Sometimes I used the palm of my hand, but that hurt, too.

Okay, so I'm whining. It was worth the pain and agony, though, for the neat effect. Don't think I'll be using that punch on mass-produced stuff anymore, though!

Well, I need to get to bed. On top of just plain sick-tiredness, there's still that Raising a Teenager thing. I d'know -- you Christian parents out there, do you think it's probably harder to raise a Christian kid than it is for non-Christians to raise their kids? I mean, because you have that whole added factor of trying to help them say on the right path without shoving it down their throats (I was accused of that yesterday, not in so many words, but I knew what the underlying sentiment was -- and I don't think I do that at all, not like my parents did to me! -- I "guide" ;-) ). Ugh. What a tightrope we walk -- don't want to drive them away, but do want their faith to be genuine, their own walk with Christ, not mine. I guess as Christian parents we've got enemies galore surrounding our families leaping on every possibly opportunity to distract and lure our kids away from Christ. Mercy, it's tough. I'm so thankful for the ability to pray about this, to take it to God and pour out my heart about my son, my fears, my feelings of total inadequacy, my "need" to control and how in the world do I let go of that, how do I let go of the kid, how do I trust him to get it right, what if he doesn't, etc.

And at the same time -- I'm so thankful that we ARE Christians! That means I have a Strong Tower to run to, a Mighty Defender who loves my kid even more than I do and will fight for him with his mighty right hand, as it says in the Psalms (and other places, too). I have an Advocate, an Anchor, a "Rock that is higher than I", a shelter in the storm (and, boy, can parenting a teenager seem like a Category 5 Hurricane sometimes -- and I've even got a "good kid"!). God knows my frame, He remembers that I am, indeed, MAJOR dust, he knows I'm weak, He knows I don't have all the wisdom I need on my own. But one cry to my Abba, Father, and He comes running to give me the courage, strength, wisdom I need to carry on another day. (If He didn't, or if He wasn't there to, I guarantee you I would not still be here.)

Okay, I really do have to get to bed now!

Hey, have you bought the new Phil Joel CD yet?? Hmmm, have you? If not, why not??? If so, what's your favorite song on it? I have too many, different categories. For plain ol' rocking out I love "DWYL". And the one before that (the "Best Thing" one). For praise, I LOVE "Every Knee". And when Phil lets God sing through him, reminding me that "You Belong to Me" ("Me" being God, not Phil), I totally feel God's love and that wonderful thing about being His child. But all the songs are so awesome! (Um, "Pink Elephant" is weird, but it has a great message for kids/teens about how stupid alcohol is. It's not going on my MP3 player, though. Sorry, Philip!)

Okay, I AM going to bed now! I'm hoping a good night's sleep will help me lick this virus so I can get back into the loft tomorrow and do some finishing up. The fair is just a week from Saturday!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Coasting on in ...

Whoa, that was bad, I know (considering that I'm going to show you one of the sets of coasters that I made -- or, well, "filled"). I LOVE these glass coasters that I got at Michaels. You just slip your photo in the little plastic pouch and you have an instant photo coaster! And it's glass, which I always think is uber cool anyway (I love glass bricks). So how simple to just stamp something and put that in instead of photos. And CHARGE for it! Mwuhahahahaha ...

Okay, here's how the set looks when it's in its little holder:

I did all the coaster pics Michelle Zindorf style, with brayering and sponging. I decided to use the same set ("Wild Things" from Gel-a-tins), and the same configuration of the individual stamps on each picture, with a couple of exceptions: I kept the wildflowers in the same config (basically just didn't move them on the acrylic block), but I did stamp the grass differently each time, and I put in a dragonfly once. (I was going to do a butterfly on one but I forgot and decided not to go put it back in.) I decided to do different types of evening skies, culminating with a late-evening/early nighttime one. They aren't in any order in the holder. I liked the blue one best so it's in front.

Here are the individual coasters laid out for you to see. I had them sideways for some reason when I took the pic (partly to prevent glare), thinking I could just rotate them in my photo program, but when I did they looked goofy, so I just kept the pic at the original angle. Unfortunately, on the red sunset you can sorta see the plastic protective sleeve the pics go in (it's a little buckled and I took the pics outdoors so there was a bit of sunlight in play there). It's not that visible in Real Life (unless a bright light is shining on it), but at least you can get the idea (click on the picture to see it larger):

Anyway, I'm trying to decide what to charge for these sets. There was actually a lot of work involved in this one, since I did all that sponging and brayering (and deciding about colors, etc.). The other set may not be so involved, but either way, it's "art", right? Or at least "crafts". I'm thinkin' in the $15 range. The coaster set itself was $13. Any suggestions?

I've been finishing up another Christmas card set I started yesterday, and now just need to go stamp the sentiment inside. I don't put sentiments in my "regular" cards, but for a box of Christmas cards, I figured I'd better do that. So, off I go to finish that up and play around with ideas for the second coaster set. I just got the SU "Pocket Silhouettes" set today, which I had ordered with the coasters in mind, so I can't wait to play with them! That is, if the Phil Joel songs going 'round and 'round in my head don't drive me to the funny farm. Don't get me wrong -- I totally LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this new album. It's just that my brain latches on to new songs and sticks them in a kind of jukebox that it randomly selects from 24/7 until I get used to the songs and they go into the General Jukebox where all the songs I've ever heard are stored. Then I just get random songs going in my head 24/7. I kid you not. All the time. For two years it was nothing but Newsboys and Phil's other three albums (well, almost nothing but). Then some 80s Euro-pop started filtering back in, along with this one old U2 song that fills my brain when nothing else is there ("Stranger in a Strange Land" for some very strange reason -- it's not even in my top 20 fav U2 songs!) And the occasional 70s thing that I'd hear at the grocery store would dig its way up through the pile of songs I've collected since my birth 45 years ago. I guess it's because I'm a musical person. Some days I like it. Some days it makes me a raving nutcase, even if, as with these new PJ songs, I really love the music that's doing it to me!

Well, I hope you have a blessed day! And may all the music you hear in your head today be exactly what you want to hear!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Oh, I LOVE a church that ROCKS!!!

Okay, yes, we did go to a different church this morning. We managed to drag the kid along even though he "felt like he had a cold" (he had been complaining of a sore throat before we dropped the going-to-another-church thing on him, so it was legit, but I checked out his throat and it wasn't that red, so I'm thinking bad allergies). We chose a church a friend of mine goes to, and it was AWESOME!! Now, this church is not for the faint of heart, where music is concerned, nor for the more "traditional" person. It was like going to a Christian rock show during the praise and worship part, but for me that was fantastic! I am such a rocker girl at heart (not heavy metal or anything, just good ol' Rock-n-Roll, baby), and I loved every minute of it, even if I couldn't hear myself sing. (Well, okay, I hated that I couldn't hear myself sing because I like to hear myself sing, lol.)

And the sermon was excellent. It had to do with how we try to hide things from other people and from God, but that He knows it all, and we should give it all to Him, not try to be in control. It touched on rebellion, all that (so of course it was great for a teenager to hear!), and it was soundly Biblically based, drawn from the 3rd chapter of Genesis. So I was so energized when it was all over. I still love our church, but I will have to go to this one from time to time to get my rock hit. They do have services on Sunday evenings, too, and ours doesn't, so maybe we could do that occasionally.

I do wish, however, that we could get video panels to put behind our praise team, do a kind of light show thing like they did at this other church. It was so awesome! *SIGH*

Okay, on to stamping. I'm going to show you the Scripture flip books I made (appropriate for Sunday, dontcha think? Even though most of you won't read this on Sunday, but God's Word is appropriate every day of the week). I had so much fun gathering the Bible verse stamps for this (and didn't end up using NEARLY all that I have). I wanted to focus on encouragement verses, because I know I need those so often in my own life, and I highly suspect there are lots of other folks who do, too. So here's what they look like:

I did five of the pink fronts, and five of the green, although the insides are all identical. I used a rotating color scheme of blue, green, pink and purple for the inside pages, which look like this:

Every page uses the same two stamps from Club Stamp, and they have a misted or sponged border at the left side and top using the darker of the two colors for that page (i.e., if I used Perfect Plum and Pale Plum, the border was Perfect Plum). I started out using my Marker Spritzer tool-thingy, but after awhile it really hurt my wrist and hands to do it over and over, so I switched to sponging with one of the round yellow sponges cut into quarters and "roughed up" a bit on the edge I was using. It gave a similar effect and was easier on the hands/wrists.

I made the "easel" for the book by studying a larger flip book I have and modifying it to fit this one. You know how SU designer paper packs come with that glossy backing chipboard sheet? I used those to make the cover/easel! For some odd reason (which I now believe to be Divinely inspired) I saved almost all the ones that I've gotten through the years, and I had plenty to use, even extras for the couple of times I screwed up and scored in the wrong place or cut a piece too small. And the way the sizes worked out, I was able to cut off the SU label so I didn't have to worry about that showing on the flip books!

So here's what it looks like from the side, with the easel part showing (the cover flips back, the fold-over flap is what's sticking out in back):

And I used Velcro dots for the back closure (another Divinely inspired thing -- I'd bought them years ago, don't even remember what for, never used them, and when I was cleaning up awhile back I found them, so I didn't have to go buy any!). I smudged out my signature on the photos for security reasons:

So there it is! My prayer is that these books will be purchased by or for people who really need the encouragement these verses provide. There are 33 verses (that's 330 pages to be stamped and misted/sponged, not counting goof ups!!!), plus an introductory page and a stamp credits page. I used my Bind-it-All to bind it all (boo!).

I got the title (God-inspired) from a Phil Joel song (where else?). He has one called "Life is Fragile" where there's a line that says, "... nonetheless there remains perfect hope that will lead us to rest, perfect rest." And that's the whole point of these verses. I had been having a real dickens of a time coming up with a title (you know me and titles!), and I asked God to please help me come up with one, and that song came into my head, and there it was! So, thank you, Lord, for the inspiration! And thank you, too, Phil! ;-)

Okay, it's getting close to dinner time. We always do "scrounge" on Sunday nights because we eat a pretty hearty lunch over at my parents' house, so I'll just probably have a couple of frozen waffles with some peanutbutter. Oh, well, and there goes the dryer yelling at me to come get the clothes out. So I guess my blogging time is over for today!

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Got sumpin' ta show ya ...

Hey, guess what? I finally got out and photographed my non-card (mostly) projects today!! (Well, all the ones that are totally finished.) Woooooot! There are quite a few of them, so I'm not gonna show them all to you at once.

For today I'll just show you one of them. Actually it's two of them, and they have cards in them, but they're pretty much the same thing except for the outer decoration:

Isn't this paper awesome!! It's the K & Co. DP I got at Michaels (the first one, not the stuff I bought the other day). I think it's called "Mira" or something. Anyway, I got the recipe for the bags from Lauren Meader's stamping blog "My Time, My Creations, My Stampendence". I had to change the dimensions so it would fit the A2 sized notecards I wanted to put inside, so it took awhile to do that, then it took a LONG while to decide and come up with the decorations. The actual making of the basket/bag took about five minutes after I got the new dimensions all figured out, but that's never the end of the story, is it?

Here are individual pics of each bag and the cards that go inside (with white envelopes). The cards are the same for each bag, and there are four in each bag:

I used one of the sentiments from Stampin' Up!'s "Inspired by Nature", and a Cuttlebug edge embossing folder, and then the rest of the goodies are either punched or Cricutted. No stamping at all on the card, just cutting and folding and stickin' a brad over a piece of ribbon. Simple! And pretty neat!

And the second bag: Same sentiment stamp. I scored a piece of the DP for the bottom panel, and then Cricutted another piece of the DP for the swirls. You probably can't tell too well, but I also used dots of Stickles all up and down the swirls. Does this just say "fun" or what? I made a third one and gave it to my mom. She totally loved it. I really love making her day that way. She has so many health problems and is really pretty down right now, so it was fun to surprise her with a goodie bag full of notecards!

So that's one of the (two of the) projects I'll be selling. I'm not making vast quantities of any of the except I did make ten of the Scripture flip books (which I'll show you later). I gave one to Mom, and one to Bjorn, and I may send one to a hurting friend, but that will still leave seven to sell.

I finished up the glass coasters today and photographed them, so they'll be popping up on the blog soon (one set of them -- still waiting for my "Pocket Silhouettes" set from SU to do the other set).

Tomorrow our church is having an outdoor picnic for our church service. Since neither Aidan nor I need to be out sucking up the vast quantities of ragweed that are floating around in the air right now, we won't be going to that, but we are planning on visiting another church. Why does that feel like cheating? I mean, as in cheating on your spouse kind of cheating. I'll admit I am interested in looking at other churches' youth groups, but I feel almost guilty for wanting to check out other churches. Bjorn says "We're not church shopping, we just want to worship indoors!" But I'm secretly shopping, a little. I love my church, especially our pastor, but there's the whole youth group thing ... Anyway, we may chicken out -- something weird about visiting a church that's not yours when you're not out of town. But we've made a big deal to Aidan (who does NOT want to do this) about stretching oneself and taking risks and all that, so if we don't end up going we'll look like huge hypocrites. Boy did we back ourselves into a corner!

Anyway, I'll let you know if we did visit another church and how that went. I can pretty much guarantee you we'll be dragging a sulking -- not enthusiastic! -- teenager along!

Blessings until next time!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Actual Card Pictures

So, today's post will be SHORT! And aren't you GLAD!! lol

This was done with the "Firstfruits" set from Papertrey Ink, the one I fell in love with and had to buy a month ago that set me on my month-long moratorium. I'm also totally in love with SU's Pacific Point blue. It is the PERFECT blue, in my book. I made several of these cards to be sold as sets (I can't remember exactly how many go in the set, but I'll know when I get ready to box them up).

And these cards go in another set of notecards:

All stamps are Stampin' Up! -- focal images are from the retired set "Gently
Falling." Background stamps are from retired "Little [somethings]" (I am SO bad at remembering names) and the flowers on the blue card are from the "Reason to Smile" set (retired, too, I think). I believe I put four of each of these cards in each set.

So, nope, I didn't make it outside to photograph the non-card projects today -- apologies! (Say that with a Jack Sparrow voice, lol.) Tomorrow! Yes! Tomorrow!

Right now I have a welt that is 3" long by 1-1/2" wide on my arm from my allergy shot. I have no idea if that's normal or not. It itches. I hope it's okay. I had allergy shots when I was a kid, but hey, I've slept a few times since then, and I don't remember what was normal. I guess if it keeps getting bigger I'll have to call the allergist.

So, I'm done! With the post, that is. Except to remind you all to go buy Phil Joel's new CD. And don't give the man a puny $1 for it, either. If you download it, pay fair, ay? Or go get it from his website, a hard copy. It's exceedingly reasonably priced (I think $9.99? -- I think the allergy shot has left welts on my brain!)

Go out and have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'm not dead!

At least not physically! I apologize profusely for not having blogged in eons, but I have been incredibly busy lately -- with family stuff (stressing over family members affected by Hurricane Ike, sick family members, birthdays, etc.), kid/school stuff and, not least of all, with Craft Fair stuff.

I have been working my ... um ... FINGERS, yes, that's it! FINGERS off trying to get things ready. I now have several frames, eight Scripture Flip Books (although I may send one to a friend who is really going through a hard time right now), umpteen hundred cards and some notecard/Christmas card packets. I would like to have time to make pretty boxes or pouches or something for the card packets, but we'll have to see. I may just end up tying them with a pretty ribbon or something. OH! And I made a few "test tube" sets for decorating cookies and for escaping to the bathtub (i.e., with bath salts, etc. in them). Once I get all the sprinkles, etc. for the cookies ones, and all the bath salts for the bath ones, I'll photograph them and post them so you'll see what I'm talking about.

I have a lot of things to show, I've just been pretty lazy about scanning/photographing them. Well, and as I said, busy. So I am really planning to just take everything outside tomorrow (that can't be scanned) and getting it all done. I don't want to sell things I haven't documented that I created!

In the meantime, my spending moratorium has come and gone. How did I do? Well -- I still ended up spending a lot of money on "necessities" like cardstock, adhesive, that kind of thing. I cheated toward the end of the last week and bought some clear stamps in the "Hot Spot" at Archivers (two clear stamps per package, at $1.99 per package) that I "needed" to finish a birthday card. And of course there were a couple of other cute stamps in the bucket so I had to get those, right? But basically, I feel pretty good about how I did, and that I didn't just go and order/buy on the spur of the moment or on impulse stamp sets that were being shown in blogs or advertised.

However, I'm NOT happy with what I did the day the moratorium expired. I went straight to Michaels (on the pretense that I needed sprinkles for the Christmas Cookie decorating kit), and when I couldn't find the sprinkles I wanted, I discovered they had paper pads for 40% off and immediately bought three K and Co. pads that I fell in love with. And I also placed a Stampin' Up! order for two stamp sets and the square scallop punch. And immediately felt like I had gorged on chocolate cake or something. It's not a nice feeling to binge-spend like that (even if it is "only" a tenner here and a twenty there). Hopefully that taught me as much as or more than the moratorium!

Oh, and I got the new Phil Joel CD and it is AWESOME!! So I highly recommend that you click on the link in my sidebar right now and purchase it. (Phil is not paying me for this endorsement, BTW.) ;-)

If you're still with me, I'll elaborate a bit on that first paragraph. My brother lives in Houston. So does my niece and her boyfriend and their baby (oh he is SUCH a sweet baby pookums!). So does my nephew. My aunt and one of her daughters and her daughter's family live in Dickenson, which is close to the coast and on a bayou. Her other daughter-and-family lives in San Leon, right on the coast. Her son lives in Clute, which is also on the coast. So we were stressing pretty heavily about Ike. But God is amazingly good, and my brother and his kids and grandkid came out just fine (they live in the Sugar Land area so weren't hit all that hard except for high winds and some rain). We had heard Dickenson was hit pretty hard, including flooding, and that San Leon and Clute were pretty severely hit. Well, praise God, when my aunt got back home to check on things, she "only" had most of her trees down (she had LOTS of trees), but none had fallen on the house, and no water had gotten into the house at all! Similar story with my cousin who lives there. My cousin who lives in Clute actually lives a bit out in the country, inland, so his house and property were spared. And my cousin who lives in San Leon also came out well -- her house is up on 8-foot stilts, and the water came all the way up to the top of the stilts but didn't get into the house! Only a couple of old cars and an old boat were damaged (they were in the garage under the house). So we are definitely praising God about that!

As for all the sick people -- well, my mom still has her intestinal problems, and was hit with vertigo this week. My oldest brother (who is living with them for awhile) has something called Spasmodic Dysphonia, which is spasms in the vocal chords that causes one to lose their voice. He had Botox shots in his throat to help that (it's standard treatment), but they just made things worse (which unfortunately happens sometimes), so he's dealing with that. Fortunately the panic attacks and other issues that brought him to my folks' house are getting better. And there's the deal with my niece in Pennsylvania who had the seizure. She nearly had another one the other day, but the meds they put her on managed to stop it before it got too far. She has two tests she has yet to hear back from, so we're still praying there's nothing too serious going on. And my husband is still having major neck pain from his rear-ending weeks ago and is now in phys therapy for that.

And the kid is -- well, a teenager. A great kid, but a teenager, as I have said before. And that keeps me on my toes and on my knees a lot. I just volunteered for several things at his school (most involving the Latin Club, but a couple of other things as well). I hope I wasn't a total idiot to sign up for so much! (For me it's a lot -- for a stronger, healthier woman it wouldn't be much at all.)

So now I've written a Leon Uris-length novel, guess I'll close this up. I really do hope to have some piccies for you tomorrow (that's pronounced "pickies", short for pictures). Just gotta get off my rear end and take 'em!

Blessings to all of you! (The few who are still with me!)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Titles are not my strong point

This is true whether I'm blogging or writing novels. I stink at titles. Well, for novels anyway. The only titles I've ever liked have been the ones I came up with for my Star Wars Alternative Universe Fan Fiction. I guess I did okay with my LOTR "Derivative Fiction" stories, too. But anything else (the non-other-people's-work-related stories -- i.e., the ones I've made up entirely on my own) I haven't even come up with titles for yet! There's probably some deep psychological reason for that, but I have no clue what it could be.

ANYway ... I finally made it into the craft loft yesterday afternoon and made the most adorable bag-thingies to put a couple of note card sets into. Unfortunately, you don't get to see them today because that requires photographing them, and photographing them requires finding a good spot to do it, and that requires effort, and I'm not up for that kind of effort today (besides, it hot outside, which is where the best places would be). So, hopefully tomorrow. They're really cute, and I can't wait to show them to you, so I'll do that as soon as I'm up for it!

In the meantime, I'll show you the other two frames I've finished so far. Don't get too excited, they're pretty basic:

This one is actually the first frame I attempted. I used an early Rhonna Farrer flourish acrylic stamp, and for some reason these don't stamp as well as most later acrylics do. Maybe it's just me, I don't know, but the images tend to be a bit "mushy". I don't have that problem with many of my MANY other acrylic/photopolymer stamps. Anyway, I used pigment ink, too, so that may be why the images came out a bit, as I said, mushy. I was going for a look a teen girl might like, but I think it ended up being more of something for a tween. No biggie, I don't care who it appeals to as long as someone pays money for it! lol I spiffed it up with Stickles and the word "friends" from a retired SU set. For the word, I stamped it in dye rainbow ink, then used an aquapainter (quickly!) to spread the ink into the letters for a semi-watercolored look. Anyway, hopefully some teen/tween girl will squeal and have to have it and her indulgent mother/father/grandparent will shuck out $8 or so for it (it's a 5x7 with the mat making the actual photo space smaller).

And this one, which I admit I like a whole lot better:

This is the same frame as the one above, but I did the "Veined Marble" TJ technique on the mat instead of stamping on it. I really, really like this look. So simple, but really elegant (or cool, depending on how you see it! lol).

So I still have two more frames to decorate, plus two that I bought for 5x7 card fronts instead of pictures (I will supply the card fronts, sell 'em fully furnished, as it were). I also have two sets of "add your own photo" coasters to add my own stamped somethings to. And then today I ordered four sets of five glass tubes with screw tops (they look kinda like test tubes) and clear plastic boxes that I can put them in and decorate to sell with some kind of goodies in the tubes. I'll show you later where I got the inspiration and what I'm talking about.

And today I decided I'm just gonna suck up and finish the Scripture flip books this weekend. That's the goal, anyway. I've done sixteen Bible verses (10 of each) so far, and have sixteen to go, then I have to make and decorate the covers, then assemble and bind them all together with the Bind-it-All that I've had forever and never yet used! So, yeah, it's a goal ... I hope I can do it, though. I want to get those done so I can just relax and finish up what I've got left to do.

So, hey, didja notice the widget in my sidebar announcing Phil Joel's new CD? I'm really excited about it, even though I haven't heard a single song from it yet. Weird, I know, since you can mouse over it and hear samples, and you can hear samples on the website, too. But both my guys are home this weekend, and, I d'know -- they just make me feel so ... teeny bopper or something about my PJ obsession, so I decided I'd just wait and listen sometime when they aren't around to make me feel self-conscious. I did order the CD this morning. I'd rather have a nice, hard copy CD in my hand than just a download, then I can burn songs to the computer and copy them to my MP3 player and have it all! Woot! Anyway, if you're interested, give a listen. Phil's such a cool guy, you can download it for whatever you want to spend (minimum $1), or it sounds like you can just recommend it (officially, via the website) to three friends and maybe get it free. Dang it, Phil, I love you! (Completely platonically, of course -- Bjorn and Heather need not worry.)

Let's see, anything else I need to tell ... Oh, yes! Hey, those of you who have "prayer knees," I would appreciate it greatly if you would keep my niece Kacy (25 years old) in your prayers. On Thursday while she was at work she wasn't feeling well, kinda nauseous, and turned to go to the bathroom and just fell down right there and had a seizure! She has never had one before in her life, and this was a major one. One of the guys she works with (I think it's in a Dollar General warehouse) saw and came tearing the length of the warehouse to grab her and make sure she didn't swallow her tongue. She had to go to the hospital by ambulance, and of course they did an MRI and several other tests. It doesn't look like there's anything wrong with her brain, though they haven't ruled out epilepsy yet. She had some weird blood sugar readings, and there was something about some of her blood platelets being larger than normal (no clue what that could mean). So we have no idea what's going on with her. She did mention that she had just started on the antidepressant Zoloft a week before, but she said she's taken it before and didn't have any kind of problems with it. (I still think it could be the culprit, though, having had my share of antidepressants AND side effects!) She's single and has a 6 year old daughter, no boyfriend and no family up in Pennsylvania where she lives, although she does have quite a few friends, I think. I just can't stand to think of this happening to her. She is such a precious, skinny little thing (well, not "little" -- she's probably as tall as me -- 5'7" -- or a little taller), and very self-assured, very outgoing and everybody likes her. (Not that unlikeable people deserve seizures, but I'm just trying to describe her to you.) She isn't allowed to drive or work until they figure out what's wrong with her. Thankfully she and her daughter live close enough to school that she can walk her there. Oh, she's not supposed to be by herself at all, either. So, yep, Aunt Stacy and Grandmommy and Granddaddy and other various uncles and cousins are worried about her (as I'm sure her parents are, too, I just haven't heard from either of them -- they're divorced). So please keep Kacy and her daughter in your prayers. We're really praying that this is nothing serious, nothing ongoing, just a one-shot weird thing that's cleared up now and won't happen again. It's not like she gets tremendous pay or bennies (that we know of) where she works, either.

Okay, well, the dryer is screaming at me to come take the clothes out, and after that I desperately need a nap. Aidan is going on his high school retreat tomorrow (through his Christian school -- isn't that cool?), and someone at some point has to go to the grocery store to get our assigned snacks and drinks to take. Don't know who that will be since I still don't feel well, Bjorn isn't feeling well and Aidan can't drive!

Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Slowly making progress

Well, I think I'm making some progress, however slowly, toward having a halfway decent inventory for the craft fair. I've got a few frames decorated up, and have made a few note card packets that I hope will sell, in addition to the start I've made on the Christmas card packets. I do need to take a little time and devote the the Bible verse "flip books" (not to be confused with an animation-type flip book) that I really want to have ready. I don't know why I haven't gotten my skit together on those, except that they're "boring" compared to making frufy/multi-layered cards.

So, anyway, here are some of the frames I have ready:

This is a 5"x7" frame (actual photo size is smaller, since it's matted inside the 5x7 frame), and it's adorned solely with SU rub-ons. I wanted to put white rub-ons on the frame itself, but it's a matte-finish hard plastic and it wouldn't take them, so I settled on doing the mat itself. Simple but elegant, I think. Not a lot of work involved on my part, so I probably won't charge too much above what I paid for the frame.

These are 8"x10" sized frames with a 5" x 7" picture opening. I used the retired "I'm Here" SU set, as well as the single dot from the retired "Three for You" Punch Box set. Again, somewhat easy, except it took me hours to come up with the polka dots idea! lol I'll have to bump up the price for the pain and anguish of that "no mojo" feeling that I suffered all day on Monday when I was doing these. ;-)

Yeah, this has not been a Good Mojo week by any stretch. I have wrestled with the ol' creativity block all week long, and even prayer didn't help. (I guess sometimes God just wants me to come up with a FEW ideas myself!) And then today I didn't get up into the loft at all because I am not feeling well at all. It's probably stress-triggered. Stress and I do NOT get along. My body is living proof. I had a great day Tuesday, overdid it on Wii Fit, and then found out my poor mother didn't pass the "clean out" test in order to get her abdominal CT scan run and I was a furious wreck. (Not with her, but with the not-incredibly-compassionate techs at the CT place.)

I guess I haven't let y'all in on this saga, and I'll spare you all the gory details, but she had to have a colonoscopy because she's had some intestinal/abdominal problems the last few months. Clean-outs for these things nearly kill my poor mother, and this was no exception. So she gets into the gastro's for the colonoscopy and he gets a little way into the procedure and comes out and tells my dad he can't go any further (or won't) because she's got a narrowing of the colon and he doesn't want to risk damaging her in any way. So he says he wants her to have a CT scan done since a) we don't know what the narrowing/twisting/obstruction could be, and b) he needs to know what's going on with the rest of her colon. Which, of course, requires another clean-out. Not good, frustration and displeasure all around. The clean-out procedure for the CT scan (which is done at a different place) is different, and Mom does her best, but apparently it wasn't as good as the original one. And so she didn't pass and couldn't have the test. And the techs in there weren't terribly understanding about it until my mother cried and my Dad said, "She cannot go through that again." Then they managed to scrape up a teensy bit of kindness.

So now we're left wondering what to do -- she/we need(s) to know what is wrong with her, but she honestly thought she was going to have to go into the ER during the second clean-out. This is the 21st Century, people! Can we not do better than this??

Anyway, I was crazy angry about it on Tuesday, and it's a darned good thing I didn't know the name of the place where she went or I really, honestly may have been on the phone yelling at some people. I usually talk big about this kind of thing, but this time I really think I could've carried through. My poor mom has enough health issues in her life, she doesn't need to have to go through this kind of thing this many times. So ... aren't you glad I told you all this? lol

This was not good for my physical health. The being-angry stress, I mean, and the overdoing on the Wii. It's made me feel really rotten the last couple of days, and I'm thinking I may even have another sinus infection. Which means I probably won't be able to go on the women's retreat I was planning on attending tomorrow and Saturday. And there's that issue with not going into the loft ...

Wow, what a gripe session this turned out to be! My deepest apologies to those of you who actually stuck it out this far. I do have some other frames to show you, and some more cards, and hopefully tomorrow I'll at least feel like venturing into the loft. Maybe I just need to take some time and REST!! Now wouldn't that be an idea!

Talk to y'all again soon, and I'll try to be nicer next time!

P.S. I think I'm beginning to like this Sarah Palin chick. She sounds like one tough cookie to me, and I don't think I'd mess with her if I was Osama bin Laden! So, yep, I do know who I'm voting for in November. Gosh, I can't believe it's that close!