December 20, 2006

early blog-iversary!

Wow, I started this blog a year ago tomorrow! I don't usually remember things like this... my car turned over 100,000 miles a few weeks ago- I knew it was going to happen, but forgot to look at the odometer till it was on 100,002- that's just how these things go with me!! I know this post is a day early, but tomorrow is going to be crazy... I'm going to work at 5 am, leaving at 1:30 pm, driving home, where we will load up the car and then head up to the airport (which is very close to where I work!) to catch our flight to Chicago. ( I just had a Freudian slip there, I think... instead of flight, I started typing fRight... I sure hope the airport won't be a fright!)

Tom is taking Sedona to the kennel tomorrow, since he has the day off, and we have a sitter coming to the house to check on Cleo while we're gone. And of course, I'll call a couple times to check on them both! Hopefully they'll do okay- this is the longest we've left them- Sedona should have a good time at the kennel; they also have doggie day care, so she'll get to socialize with the other dogs a couple of days, too. Cleo is going to have the house to herself, so we'll see what happens- I have a feeling she'll just curl up and sleep on her cushion, even though the dreaded dog will be gone!

I haven't been a good blogger lately, either. It's been two weeks since my last post- the time is going so fast, though- it seems like Halloween was only last week! We finally had some of the work done on the house for the "2-month walkthrough" that we did at least a month or more ago... we kept having to reschedule, because Tom needed to be here, and kept getting sent out of town. There were a few minor things, like a ceiling light fixture that wasn't installed correctly, a crack in one of the toilets, a bathtub that only had scalding hot water, stuff like that. Really nothing major, thank goodness. The only down side is, the appliance guy came to look at the stove (the top is uneven- it sort of "sags" in towards the middle, so you can't make a round pancake or fried egg) and he said "that's just the way they're designed" which we both think is a load of hogwash!!! He did order a new top for it, so we'll see. Not that I'm a great chef, I'm not by any stretch of the imagination, so I need all the help I can get!

Well, here's to documenting an eventful year in the desert (although somewhat sporadically at times) and hopefully a smoother one to come!

December 04, 2006

etsy update

The crafting is over- for a bit, anyway- all the free sample/giveaway items are on their way to Steamboat Springs, CO, to be divvied up amongst the swap participants. This is for what Etsy calls a "Street Team" which is a grass-roots way to "get the word out" about Etsy in general, and these shops in particular. So, my samples will be divided up and sent to other members of my Street Team, to be handed out as advertising for my shop, and I will do the same for them. We'll see if it works!

This team is called "Old World Shoppes" and was formed as a group of crafters to "promote traditional values and standards in their craftwork. Let us take you back to simpler times with our Etsy shops that honor the past- an old-fashioned marketplace with sundries and goods ranging from needlework to vintage keepsakes to decor items for today's homemaker. Find self-representing artisans that use traditional methods alongside clever crafters that capture nostalgia and deliver quality! We come together for you in the Old World Shoppes. " There are people who do woodworking, quilting, needlework, knitting... more traditional types of crafts; I don't fit exactly into that, but I definitely go in for the nostalgia and hand-crafted aspect of things...

Etsy has thousands of members, both sellers and buyers, but it's still not very well known... plus, it doesn't have near the advertising budget that Ebay or do. So, the challenge is, how to get people to it, and to a particular shop?? Street Teams are one way, so people can promote the site, themselves, and each other. There are teams based on geographic location, craft/art form (jewelry, for example), and genre (such as Goth/Dark Arts-type stuff- skulls & crossbones, lots of black, etc). Etsy also has some pretty cool search features based on materials used and tags- these things get loaded in when you add an item for sale. A shopper can search on a word like "glitter" or "red" and it will find all the items that the sellers have tagged with those particular categories. You can also shop by geographic location, colors, etc. (I'm sure there are more ways to search, I just don't look at the site like a buyer would very often). The site is getting a few mentions in newspapers, radio, and on-line, also- it's a much more "independent" type of shopping experience than a local store or mall, as everything is either handcrafted, vintage, or art/craft supplies, and you're buying directly from the maker, as opposed to buying something in a chain store at the mall.

There are sellers who craft/make art for a living, all the way to people like me, who craft as a hobby after their "real" job... and, you can find pretty much anything you can think of: re-purposed clothing (jeans made into a shoulder bag, or felted wool items made from a Goodwill sweater), hand-dyed yarn, handmade knitting needles, handcrafted furniture, all sorts of jewelry, fine art (huge paintings, both in dimensions and in price), handprinted books and "zines" (independently produced magazines), and all different kinds of gifty-type things and home decor items, just to name a few.

It's a pretty neat site, and I can spend lots of time there, just browsing and clicking thru from one page to the next- hopefully lots of other people do, too, and hopefully I can continue to work on putting together an "image" for my shop and its contents that will catch their eye, and their buying power!

For now, though, I think I need to focus on making our Christmas cards and the swap ATCs for December. (then, get back to crafting, and hopefully some sales from my shop!) The November cards I received back are all gorgeous works of art!! It's amazing what people manage to do with them, even though the size is only 2.5 x 3.5 inches! I'll post pics of them after I get them scanned...

December 03, 2006

Sunday evening crafting

Handcut tags embellished with a small iris-folded log cabin square, mother-of-pearl buttons, and vintage rick-rack. Just a little Sunday evening crafting! In other news, the heat is back on here- it's still getting down in the 30s at night (BRRR!), though it's getting into the 50s-60s during the day.

December 02, 2006

just a test

to see if changing the time zone worked correctly- the last post said it was posted at 5:12 am!!! Still, it is 6:12 am- what the heck am I doing, up at 6 am on a Saturday?? Back to bed!!!

craft-fest continued...

loading pictures with Blogger is so annoying, sometimes! Here's a closeup of the sunflower on the yellow bookmarks, colored with pencils. I need to work a little on my shading and blending, but they are definitely vibrant, just like the real thing!

December 01, 2006

Friday night craft-fest

More like afternoon, running into night... bookmarks and mini cards (3 x 3 in.) for an advertising swap with some other etsy sellers. These things will be free giveaways when they sell an item, so my shop will get additional exposure and advertising. I'll also be sent some things from other sellers, to include with my sales. That's the plan, anyway! The theory is, quick, lightweight things that will be easy to include in a package. I managed the lightweight part... nothing is ever quick when I'm designing something from scratch! Plus, somehow I managed to run out of glue stick, so I had to use white glue- needless to say, I'm going out tomorrow to buy more glue stick!! I like it- it sticks pretty well, and it's tons easier to use than "real" glue!
A detail from one of the mini cards- the butterfly was heat embossed, then cut out.

The two bookmark designs...

The two mini cards...

November 30, 2006

good news, bad news

  • good news: I sold two Christmas ornaments thru my etsy site!
  • good news: I joined a small group of vintage/heirloom type crafters to "band together" for marketing ideas, advertising each others' shops, that sort of thing.
  • bad news: I don't have very much inventory right now to put in my shop for exposure! (I should be working on personal Christmas cards, and other things, not shop inventory)
  • bad news: I haven't sold anything since then! (okay, it was only last week, but still...)
  • bad/good news: I picked up Phoebe's ashes from the vet yesterday... now to find an urn to keep them in.
  • good/bad news: they made a small cast of her pawprints to go with them! I was so touched!! The vet's office also sent a sympathy card, that the entire staff signed, with a copy of The Rainbow Bridge poem included- how thoughtful!!
  • good news: a couple nights ago was the latest in the year that it's fallen below 50 F for a nighttime low.
  • bad news: last night, it got down to 33 F here, only in the 50s for a high temp today, and it's supposed to do it again tonight!
  • more bad news: the furnace didn't work when I turned it on! and, to top it off, no one from the heating place called me back today- the builder's Customer Service office is working on it (I should have called them first, I guess...), but they'll have to see what they can do, working with my schedule. I don't understand why they're surprised that people can't be home during the day!!! I leave for work at 5:15 am, and get home at around 3:30 pm... it's not too bad in here, probably around 65 F, but I'm glad I have a down comforter and flannel pajamas, that's for sure!
  • good news: tomorrow's Friday!!!

Well, I'm off to check out the dinner options- maybe I'll cook a pizza, so I can turn the oven on! (unfortunately, I don't think that will help too much, as open a space as the kitchen/family room is!)

edited: just wanted to say the time Blogger lists for this post is an hour earlier than the actual time I posted this... don't know why, but don't really want to look into it right now.

November 29, 2006

it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

The Thanksgiving holiday only lasted till Sunday afternoon at our house- lol!! We decided to get out the Christmas decorations, the Christmas music, and got to work. I'm glad we did; we're going to be gone for about a week at Christmas, so this gives us more time to enjoy them. Turns out that Tom will be doing some intensive traveling for the next couple weeks (he left this morning for Texas and will be back next Wednesday), so I'm glad we did it before he left. The camera is on fumes of battery power, and won't re-charge for some reason (it's annoying, too- it's only 5 years old, but it's already practically obsolete), but Tom did manage to take some pictures with it. This also gives you a bit of an idea of what it looks like inside our house!
The pic above is standing at the kitchen island looking towards the family room area. We aren't putting up a full-size tree this year- next year we'll have one (it will be in the Living Room, hopefully next to my piano!) Instead of a large tree, I've always hung ornaments on garland (this is practically cat-proof), so that's what we did again this year.
This pic is standing at the island, looking into the kitchen. I was going to crop out the messy corner of the island, but that would be cheating, a bit, and you wouldn't get an idea of what the room actually looks like. My Santa and snowman collection (the bigger ones, anyway) fit pretty nicely above the cabinets! Grandma's springerle rolling pin hangs above the window over the sink, just like it did in her house.

This table is in the small hallway outside our bedroom. It's a mixture of things from both our collections- Tom's spun glass snow, my bottle brush trees, etc. I've accumulated most of my decorations from antique shops, flea markets, or thrift stores (except for a few special ones from Grandma's collection, or gifts), and most of Tom's came from his Grandma. She gave him a Christmas ornament every year while he was growing up- a nice tradition! My goose feather tree (in the family room, across from the couch next to the TV) and Tom's Nativity set- the tree is decorated with some of the smaller, more fragile glass ornaments, and some of Tom's collection. My favorites are the cotton boll (lower right on the tree) and the gold-painted peanuts(near the top), both of which I remember hanging on Grandma's tree every year.

I hope everyone else is getting into the holiday spirit!!!

(by the way, the weather is turning wintry here- it may freeze tonight!)

November 24, 2006

Turkey-day crafting

So, I needed something to do while the duck was roasting... in between basting and turning the duck, that is! I finished up three Christmas ornaments that I dreamed up last week. I love antique Christmas ornaments, and have quite a collection myself- I decided to make some Victorian style scrap ornaments. Finding real antiques like these is rare, and expensive, as they are delicate and weren't made to last for 100+ years!
They weren't difficult to do, just a bit time-consuming... the angels are clip art saved from the Dover website. I cut out the two below... the background above is edged with glitter; the backgrounds below were made with heat-embossed cardstock, to look like stars.

The ruffle was made using regular tissue paper, cut 1 inch wide. I (very carefully) sewed along the edge with a large needle and thread, then (also very carefully!) gathered it into a ruffle, which was glued onto the back side of the cardstock. The ruffle was then covered up with a backing piece of cardstock, and the whole thing was flattened under the unabridged dictionary to dry.

The angels were embellished a bit with metallic pens and glitter, and attached to the ornaments with 3-D foam tape. They are going up for sale in my etsy shop; we'll see if anyone likes them! I also just signed up for Paypal, to make it easier to buy from me... hopefully it's easy to figure out! (and hopefully I'll need to figure it out- LOL!)

November 21, 2006

good mail day yesterday!

Yesterday's mail held more than the usual junk mail and bills!! I had extra ATCs from cards I made recently for swaps, so offered them up for trade on twopeasinabucket. The picture below is what I received in return. The two top cards and the colorful fibers are from Daria... I saw pics of these, but they're all much more beautiful in real life- the postage ATC with the embossed music and the shrink plastic treble clefs is just gorgeous!! The bottom ATC is from Jacque, from her vintage swap- the cute little girl and the bingo card definitely does make me want to smile!!!

Thanks to everyone who left such nice comments here about my latest craft projects!!! They really weren't difficult, just a bit time-consuming, but easy enough to do while sitting in front of the TV. Now, someone just needs to see them in my etsy shop, and want to buy them! I really need to get a Paypal account, I think that might be the ticket to selling relatively inexpensive things that people wouldn't want to use a money order or check on... I also need to make more things to sell... I also need to figure out how to market my etsy shop, since there are thousands of people selling on that site... I also need to figure out how to fit it all in! (Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated... :-) )

In other news, fall is certainly taking its time in getting here- yesterday it was 89F (>30 C, for you metric folks) degrees, a record high for this date! It's supposed to be in the low/mid 70s (about 22-25 C) for high temps! I don't want freezing weather, or anything, but temperate weather would be nice!! Last year was like this too; I remember going to Thanksgiving dinner wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. Cold weather will definitely be a shock when we get back to Illinois at Christmas, I'm sure! (Mom, will you turn the heat up to about 82, to get the house nice and toasty for us?? just checking!)

Fall in Illinois meant raking leaves; fall in AZ means picking up rocks! At least for me, anyway... we got a load of rocks ages ago to spread along the sides of the house, and had some left over. They sat in the road, because there's lots of small gravel mixed in, which we didn't want, and we really didn't know what to do with it. Now, I'm working on cleaning it up, since we got a letter about it from the Homeowner's Association. I'm sorting it, by hand, and the larger rocks are going in the backyard in a pile, to await further landscaping instructions... I know why this kind of stuff is called "back-breaking" work, that's for sure!!!

Tomorrow afternoon and evening I am going to start in on the Thanksgiving meal. I'm being pretty ambitious, which may backfire on me... (Mom, are you sitting down befire you read any farther? just checking!) I'm going to make cranberry sauce (Gram's recipe, and it will be served in a cut-glass bowl, just like it should be), rolls (from a mix, but still...), and wait- a pumpkin pie (with pre-made crust, but still...). Then, I need to bake the sweet potatoes to have them ready. That way, on Thursday, I only need to make up the relish tray (including my favorite green onions and cheddar cheese), mix up the sweet potato casserole, and roast the duck. So, we'll either be eating like royalty, or we'll be hitting the local Domino's for take-out pizza!!!

I have a doggie who needs the ball thrown to her a little, I think, so I should end this (more like a million times, if she had her way)... Everyone enjoy your long weekend, if you're having one!!!

November 19, 2006

today's craftiness

So here's what I've been working on; I put them for sale in my etsy shop- I've neglected it over the past few months, and hope to get it going again. (check out the link in the sidebar- don't just stop at my shop, keep searching- etsy has really amazing things for sale!!!)
This wreath ornament is totally made from paper- a thin paper ring for the foundation, then glued fern frond to it, punched from three different green papers. I added brown punched branches with red glitter berries, and a thin cream ribbon hanger. It ended up being about 3 1/2 inches in diameter, and is light as a feather.

These were a bit of work, but turned out quite cute, if I do say so myself. I made a set of 6 placecards... got the placecard idea from a recent issue of Creating Keepsakes magazine. The snowman is two circle punches glued together, his hat is from a square punch with a brim added (and a glittery hatband!), I handcut branches for arms, and gave each one a festive fiber scarf. The finished card is tent-folded, and is 4 inches wide by 1 3/4 inches tall, with a light blue rectangle added for writing the name in.

Here are three of the six; not the best picture- unfortunately we still haven't gotten the digital camera fixed, so I had to use the scanner. The card is dark blue cardstock, with white heat-embossed snowflakes.


A recent portrait of Phoebe, who left us much too soon.

Sunday evening update

Well, the weekend is almost over. Tom is on his way to New York by way of Nashville and Chicago (from Phoenix to Nashville, change planes, from Nashville to Chicago, from Chicago to New York). Doesn't make much sense, but those were only the flights available, I guess. He called from Nashville, and said the airport was crowded. He flies home Wednesday evening (yes, the busiest travel day of the year), and will be in for more of a shock then, I think.

Yesterday was horrible!!! Taking Phoebe to the vet for the last time was the hardest thing that I have ever done, no question about it... even though I know it was the best thing for her, and I didn't want to see her suffer through wasting away, not eating or drinking, and the cancer was terminal, it was still hard to let her go. Tom also had a hard time with it, even though he's only known the cats for as long as he's known me... he couldn't stay in the room, but I had to- I couldn't just leave her with the vet. Enough said- I can't think about it any more right now, or I'll fall apart again. We're having her cremated, will keep her ashes safe, and eventually she and Cleo can be together again (hopefully sometime far in the future!). I think that Sedona is a bit lost, too, actually- she enjoyed playing with Phoebe (in a rather clumsy way, to a cat's way of thinking), and Cleo wants nothing to do with her. We may eventually get a younger cat from a shelter, so Sedona can have a playmate again.

So, I am filling my day with some crafting. I should be working on Christmas cards, but I have re-visited my etsy shop (, re-activated some expired listings, and actually added some new items. Pics and details to follow in another post.

November 15, 2006

still here...

yes, we're still here... I'm amazed to realize that Thanksgiving is next week, Christmas is only a few weeks away, and we've actually been in Arizona for just over a year! Lots has been going on the last week or so; it seems like so much longer than that since I've posted... unfortunately, what's been going on hasn't been good- I can't really write the details about it now, it's too hard... nothing's wrong with Tom or me, we're fine, but Phoebe is sick. Phoebe is one of my 12 1/2 year old tabby cats. I've had them (Phoebe and her sister, Cleo) since they were 6 weeks old, they've always been together, and it looks like soon Cleo is going to have to learn to get along by herself. I know it's a fact of life, but it's still hard to face when the time comes... I never thought about it, other than to figure it would be a few years off yet. Anyway, I haven't been too creative lately, between work and regular life stuff... who knew as a kid that adult life would take so much time, and not always be easy??? Remember when you were little, and you only wanted to be older, so you could be in charge? It looked so good from a kid's vantage point! It's not as easy as it seemed, after all...

November 05, 2006

a wonderful evening was had by all

On Thursday, Tom and I spent the evening at the Mesa Performing Arts Center. We spent a lovely evening attending dinner and a music performance: a pre-performance Cajun dinner of gumbo, blackened catfish, and jambalaya on the Contemporary Arts Sculpture garden terrace, then an amazing performance by the Wynton Marsalis quintet. What an experience!!! We felt like we were "those artsy-fartsy people" for a few hours- you know, those people you see at an art gallery, or wherever, and you think "they must be so cultured and sophisticated." I happened to see an advertisement for it in the paper, and we jumped on it... The Mesa Performing Arts Center opened last year, and has many spaces for performances, along with a Contemporary Arts gallery and arts studios.

And, we both love Wynton Marsalis... Like Tom said on the way home, "he can do things with a horn that you just don't think are possible." The music was amazing. The musicians he played with were all relatively young; he makes a point of finding younger musicians and giving them venues and opportunities for furthering their careers. After Wynton, we were both most impressed with the drummer. At one point, that drummer was doing four completely different things: using his feet to control the high hat cymbal and base drum, and using his hands on the cow bell and snare drum... I know I could never do four things at once!!!

It's been nice to have Tom home for a longer stretch of time... he's been home all week (got home late Monday night) after spending four straight weeks on the road, with only weekends off to rest/recover. He took a few days off, so will go into the office again tomorrow to find out what's on the schedule next as far as work and traveling. He's spent some time relaxing, and building us a new computer to run the updated version of Flight Simulator. He wanted to buy the components and build it himself "it will be fun!" I don't understand how that could be fun, but that's the difference between us... LOL! It runs fine- much faster (and other improvements that I don't understand, too, I'm sure). Now we just have to make sure we have all the important files off the old computer.

November 04, 2006

Fall Fiesta Fun!!

Yesterday, after a leisurely morning, I headed to the rubber stamp show in Mesa, AZ. It was pretty crowded when I got there; I couldn't even get into some of the booths! I was looking for a few specific things- a Christmas card sentiment, a couple smaller size acrylic blocks, and I'm always on the lookout for new techniques.
Above are the stamps I bought (all unmounted). The corner flower stamp was bought to go with the hummingbird; not sure if it will work or not, but I'll keep my eye out for more flowers. Now I just have to get a close look at our hummingbirds to see how exactly to color them! I saw tons more that I could have gotten, but I managed to restrain myself pretty well, I think.
The picture below is of the one technique that really caught my eye; it is "encaustic wax painting" and was being demonstrated at the After Midnight Art Stamps booth. Their website has a few more examples... the paint is "suspended" (? I don't know if that's the right word) in wax. The artist (Cory Celaya) used a small craft iron, the wax/paint, and glossy cardstock- she melted and blended the colored wax onto the iron, then spread it onto the paper. It's amazing what just a few strokes of the iron and wax can create! The sample below reminds me a lot of the rolling hills and fields in the midwest,with trees in the foreground. She has a studio in Glendale, AZ, which is a NW suburb of Phoenix- she teaches classes on this, and many other techniques. They were selling kits for doing this at their booth, but I held off on spending money on it. I'd rather take a class on this first, to test it out, but in the meantime, I think I'm going to try it out using crayons and my mini craft iron!
The sample above is of different pens; I've been searching for the "best" white pen to use for coloring- some of the 2peas (Godelieve and Sylvie, especially) stampers do amazing things using white pens. The first one I bought was the White Writer, which is on the left... it has more of a "paint" finish, but the ball in the pen leaves a bit of a "line" thru the ink and it doesn't cover very evenly. Yesterday, I stopped at Target on the way home, because someone on 2peas mentioned they found the Signo Uniball pens there- Yup!!! The white uniball is a lot smoother, and a finer point. It came in a set of three, so now I have gold and silver, too. Now, I just need to do some stamping, coloring, and probably will make a big mess with the iron and crayons!!!

October 31, 2006

October Swap ATCs

For some reason, pics never upload in the order I add them, either!!! Anyway, here are the ATCs from October swaps at two local stores- Mystic Paper, a scrapbook/stamping store in Mesa, AZ ( and Ink It!, the rubber stamp store in Gilbert, AZ ( They both have some neat stuff, and offer some really interesting classes; hopefully I can get the time and $$ to take a couple sometime.
The first pic is my ATCs for the Halloween swap at Mystic Paper. The design took a while to come up with, but I think they were worth the time- hopefully the recipients do, too! I started out with a darker purple cardstock, but it just looked to dull, so I went with all bright colors, offset by the black. The moon was made using the "crinkled chalk" technique- using crumpled plastic wrap to stamp multiple colors of chalk ink onto glossy paper. This sort of layers and blends the colors together. The cats (stamp: Magenta) were stamped onto the inked paper using black StazOn (permanent ink, suitable for glossy surfaces), then the moon was punched out using one of my round CM punches. The spider was stamped with a pencil eraser, then I drew on its legs. The "spiderweb" is actually a fishnet stamp from Stampington, but I don't have a spiderweb stamp, and didn't want to draw them on. (...use what you have, right? it's always good when you can do that!)
Below are the Halloween ATCs I got back- top left is a really cute vintage image (maybe from a postcard?). Top right is actually a little paper bag with a punched fence and jack-o-lantern... the candy bar inside it isn't going to be around too much longer! Bottom left is really cool- it looks like a vintage movie poster. Middle is a cute cat stamp, accented with googly eyes and glitter. I don't usually like googly eyes, but they work with this stamp! Bottom right is a multi-layer ATC that didn't scan good at all- the top layer is a transparency with a witch stamped on it (towards the left side), the bottom layer is orange, then the little girl was cut out and sandwiched inbetween along with some eyelash fibers.

These are the ATCs I received from the Ink It! swap- the theme was fall colors. The hedgehog at upper left is really cute, don't you think? Upper right is a pocket card; the cream colored card slips out, and is stamped with a colorful bunch of Indian corn. The girl at bottom right is raking punched leaves, and at the top, FALL was stamped with a Dymo label maker (I need one of those, I think!) and applied onto buttons.

Below are the cards I made for the Ink It! fall colors swap... bright blue might not seem to fit, but I think it does- the cooler air in fall seems to make the sky so much clearer and brighter! Sunflowers were my inspiration... I always remember sunflowers as being one of the last colorful things in Mom's garden, before it got cleaned up and "put to bed" for the winter. The basket of sunflowers (stamp: SU!) was stamped onto white cardstock and watercolored with a blender pen, using markers and chalk inks for the colors. The blue was added with dry chalk. The cardstock was all distressed around the edges with my one-and-only distress ink pad (Vintage Photo is the color, I think). It might not be my one-and-only for long, though, because this weekend is the 10th annual Rubber Stamp Fall Fiesta at the convention center in Mesa, AZ! Hopefully I'll come back with at least a few things (all of it desperately needed, I'm sure!! LOL!). These were a lot of fun to do, and I'm already starting to think about November's themes of Thanksgiving and Holiday Glitter... I should do more than think; they're due in a couple weeks! I also need to start designing our Christmas cards... plus, I'm way behind on 2peas challenges, I haven't scrapped in months... maybe I should end this post, then, hmmm!! (also before something bad happens to my pictures!)

will I never learn??

I hate trying to post pictures with this stupid blog!!! I couldn't get them posted yesterday, no matter how many times I tried, then today I got them to load, got the post almost done, and accidentally deleted one. Then, trying to get it back resulted in deleting the whole post because I didn't save a draft!!! One more try, then I give up!

October 17, 2006

flora and fauna

I did manage to get a few things from my list completed over the weekend... got a haircut (I got over 5 inches cut off, and it's still past my shoulders!), bought some plants, etc. It was a beautiful weekend- temps in the low to mid 80s, clear blue skies, and breezy... great for being outside, planting my flowers! I bought two hanging baskets (one of them a beautiful shocking pink geranium) that are hanging next to the patio on a shepherd's hook I bought a few years ago in Wisconsin at an Amish auction, and some snapdragons for two pots that sit on the patio. I also couldn't resist buying a perennial shrub for the yard... don't know where we'll put it yet, so for now it's in a large pot right next to the patio. This is a picture- it can grow to be about 4 feet high (1 meter), and its common name is Fairy Duster... can't you just picture a fairy plucking one of the little poufs to dust off her toadstool table with?? This is a neat-looking plant, and it does happen to be one of Tom's favorite desert plants. Ours is only about a foot tall right now, but it does have lots of buds on- apparently hummingbirds like them, too! I just hope I can keep it alive till we decide where to plant it!
I thought I'd add a few pics of our hummingbird visitors- not the best lighting in the pics, since it's pretty bright outside... our patio faces west, so the pics are taken into the sun. Sometimes, after drinking at the feeder, they sit on the string from the sun-shade... a pretty "precarious perch" in my opinion, but there's nothing to them (they only weigh a few ounces, I think) so sitting on a dangling string doesn't bother them, I guess.

The next two pictures are another favorite perch for the hummingbirds. Tom took these pics through the bedroom window over the weekend. (we haven't gotten the camera battery issue straightened out yet, but it still has a little juice left in it.) Jackie gave me these beautiful stained glass and copper wind chimes a couple years ago for Christmas, and they hang right next to the hummingbird feeder. As you can see, they make a good perch!!! Too funny!!!

This pic shows the feeder and the windchimes... it also gives you an idea of just how tightly packed the houses are, and how small the backyards are, since you can look across the wall at the houses down the row... the two-story houses are the next street over. Those houses are HUGE for the lot size, in my opinion, but there's a lot of people moving here. Apparently, Maricopa was even featured on a CBS Sunday Morning (nationally televised TV show) segment last weekend that talked about the US population growth, and the population hitting 300 million sometime this week, according to the Census Bureau's calculations.

Thanks to everyone who posted comments, either here or on 2peas, about my Falling Leaves ATCs. They were enjoyable to make (okay, they were a bit tedious because of all the details, but it was still really satisfying to make them, and I think they turned out nice!), and the swap itself was a lot of fun. I've only been to one other "in-person" ATC swap, and that was kind of not what I expected- the participants just sort of put their cards on the table, and you picked up one of each, and that was it. This one was much better... we sat at a couple tables in the store's classroom, and everyone was really friendly. One person sort of "runs" things- we introduced ourselves, took turns discussing anything noteworthy about our card, then passed them around. A couple of the participants were even there via "long-distance" LOL! They live in AZ during the winter, but haven't come down yet, so they send their cards to someone who brings them to the swap. There are two other stores in the east valley that also do ATC swaps, but for those, you drop your cards off at the store, then pick up the trades later after a designated person sorts them all out. I may do a couple of these, because they have some interesting themes coming up, but I'm not sure if I'd do that very often; the in-person thing was a lot more fun to me!

Hopefully I can get some more crafting in later this week; Tom is gone (again) till Friday on a last-minute trip to San Jose, California. It stinks that he had to go so soon, when he was just back from being gone for almost two weeks, but it does mean I can spread my supplies all over the table! (gotta try to find the silver lining somewhere in all his traveling.)

October 13, 2006

to do list- and one thing done

Sometimes my job doesn't require all that much "brainpower." Weighing and testing samples of solution becomes automatic, leaving my brain free to flit around wherever it wants. That's not always a good thing- case in point is the list below, just some of the things that need to be done and/or bought. It's not all "chores" though- I'd like to get the books for the movies we watched last weekend, I need to get my hair cut (it's been over a year!), I want to buy flowers, etc. But, this list involves at least 5 or 6 stores, which does turn it into a chore. Hopefully I can get a few of them done this weekend.
I did, however, get one thing off the list completed. There is a monthly ATC swap tomorrow at the stamp store I found (not so local, it's about 15-20 miles away, but it's the closest, nicest one) in Chandler. The theme is Stamper's Choice. I decided to make mine Falling Leaves, one of the things I miss about this time of year in Illinois. I love the crackling sound when you walk through them, and the musty, decaying leaf smell (weird, I know). We had a huge maple tree in our backyard- it was magnificent when the sun shone through the gold leaves, against the brilliant blue of a crisp fall afternoon! So, these are my "homage" to that piece of fall... don't get me wrong, Arizona has autumn, too, it's just much more subtle. It only gets into the high 80s during the day, and it actually cools off enough to open the windows at night and the smell of the desert early in the morning is wonderfully indescribable. The background was made using a technique learned from Klaartje, a Dutch stamper I "know" through the internet. You can read about it here:
My version was made by patting 3 or 4 colors of chalk ink onto the waxed side of freezer paper, spritzing with water, then pressing linen-textured paper into the ink. The "canvas net" border was stamped with a stamp from the Stampington "shore cliff" trim set, and the letters were stamped onto textured cardstock with the Rebecca Sower Typewriter Keys alphabet then punched out. They were "aged" using brown chalk, and applied using 3D foam tape. The leaves were punched out of metallic paper (don't know the mfr), then details were drawn in with my embossing tool. I think they turned out really nice; I was sort of "inspired" with the design- that's rare for me, to be "hit" with inspiration, but it's nice when it happens!

Tom is on his way home a few days early, because he put in a couple really long days on the jobsite in Texas. He will undoubtedly need a couple days rest, to recover and re-acclimate to the different time zone. So, tomorrow I will head to the stamp store, the pet store, the grocery store, and whatever other stores are on the way home, to get a few more of these items crossed off my list! I hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend, and Mom, I hope your snow (!) has melted!!!

October 10, 2006

a couple cards

Since I was home today waiting on the repair-guys, I did a little stamping. (The water softener is fixed, by the way- there was a leak in a fitting that meant the salt water wasn't getting sent through the system, it was just collecting in the tank. My hair will definitely appreciate the soft water, as will the cats- Phoebe won't have to try to drink out of the toilet any more, although that was very comical to watch!)
These cards were made for a color challenge on 2peas... use a certain combo of colors. This combination was red, green, and gold, but you couldn't make Christmas cards! I was inspired by the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and made much brighter cards than I usually do. The card above was made using Making Memories foam stamps and acrylic paint. These stamps can also be used with ink, but I like the "rustic" (imperfect) sort of feel the paint gives. The card below is a mini-card, 3 inches square. I bought the stamp ages ago at Michael's (don't know why, this is the first time I've used it- I don't even drink martinis!), and thought it would go perfectly with the patterned paper. I also started working on some ATCs for a swap at the (sort of) local stamp store... they involved ink with a spritz of water, so they are flattening out in Tom's dictionary for a couple days, till I can finish them.

Fall is definitely here- it only got into the mid-80s for a high today; I didn't have to turn on the AC at all! I may buy some flowers for the patio this weekend, finally... and soon, we can think about getting some plants for the backyard, so it won't look so square and empty. I apologize for the lack of bona-fide photos, but the camera battery isn't working correctly, and we need to get it looked at. There will be house photos posted sometime soon, I promise!!!

October 09, 2006

the house is clean...

and I don't like it! (because it means that Tom is out of town... LOL!) He flew to Texas this afternoon, and picked up the house before he left. He did stop by my work to say good-bye though... awww! (my work is close to the airport, plus, he is very thoughtful.) He's scheduled to return next Monday, probably on a pretty late flight.

So, it's just me and the pets for the week. I'm still doing overtime at work this week... except for tomorrow, when I am hanging around the house to wait for the water softener repair guy and the exterminator guy. The water softener isn't working correctly, and the guy who was here Friday didn't even attempt to figure out what was wrong with it- he just adjusted the setting and said "that must be it." But it wasn't... so, they're coming back tomorrow. I'm making up the missed hours with the overtime, though, which is nice of my boss to allow.

Tonight I'm going to finish watching the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie, starring Johnny Depp. We rented it on Sunday, got partway through it, and switched movies (to 2001, a Space Odyssey... it's too hard to explain why, but there is a connection between the two movies). I do want to watch the end of it, though- it's very dark, and rather disturbing, and I want to see it all come out okay. (The scene where Violet blows up into a giant blueberry because she chews the gum has always creeped me out!) I don't quite understand Johnny Depp's take on the character, but it makes me want to re-read the book, to see if the book is that way as well... I know I read them when I was young, but I don't remember the dark humor being so pervasive. Now that I've seen 2001 again, I'd like to try and read that, too... I really need to find a good library around here!

and, maybe I will do some stamping. The latest projects I posted in my 2peas gallery (I'm not going to post them here, because blogger gets so goofy with posting lots of pictures) are cards I made for a design team call: stamping and scrapbooking companies need people to make projects for them, to publicize their products- in return for doing the projects, you usually get free stuff, and get your work publicized on the internet, could be in magazines, etc. I didn't get picked, which is a bummer, but I still think it would be kind of cool to see my work in print somewhere, so I will persist. Rejection isn't easy for me, though, so it will be a stretch for me to do this kind of thing... but, maybe that's a good thing, to push me to improve! There's a couple magazines out there that also collect samples of work from readers to publish, so onward and upward...

(note to self: check 2peas gallery again later- it's doing some funky things right now!)

October 05, 2006

one more project

This one is for a challenge on a website called Wednesday Stamper ( Every week they have a theme for inspiration, and stamp artists post links to their projects on the Wednesday Stamper website. This is actually last week's challenge- House. I had it rattling around in my head for most of the week but I didn't get a chance to actually make it till tonight. Collage is not a skill I possess, but I thought I'd give it a try anyway. I used a Deluxe card template for the layout, and stamped images of things that make our house a home, thus my title is HOME, not just house.
The dog stamp didn't turn out quite like I'd hoped (Sedona isn't that dark colored in real life- LOL!), but I think the cats turned out pretty good- Phoebe is dark brown with darker ears and tail, and Cleo is gray and tan, with the more typical tabby markings. I inked the stamp with the base colors, then tapped on it with markers to add the accent colors before stamping it (I learned this at the stamp store last weekend when I picked up my Christmas stamps).

And so, once again, I'm going to bed late, but satisfied that this project is finished. Now, maybe I can just work on this week's theme (Hearts) before the week is done! Or maybe not... we'll see!

October 04, 2006

crafty update- inspiration and completion

I actually worked on some stamping projects the past few days... I had a number of things halfway done, and finally got them finished. Part of that is because Tom is out of town right now; I don't feel quite so bad about strewing my supplies all over the house when it's just me... Somehow my desk just isn't enough space! At least, not the way I create: I get everything down off my shelves that I might use, so that at the end of it, there's boxes of ink, at least 10-15 sheets of paper, scissors, punches, fibers, and tons of tiny little scraps all over the place.

I have a really disorganized way of working- I get lots of ideas for projects (most of them come to me at work), but I have to work at actually finishing them, because I start them all at the same time. Then, I end up working on two or three (three, last night) to finish them, but it gets late, and I usually need to quit before I really want to. I try to do some of the challenges on the 2peas stamping board, but I usually end up finishing them after the next challenge is already posted; unfortunately my inspiration and completion don't always happen on the same schedule.

This was an idea I had that turned out nothing like I planned. I stamped the heart ($1 stamp from Michael's- they have some really nice ones!) on patterned paper, then cut it out. I used my new "stitching" stamps to make the stems and leaves... I made three of these flowers and thought I'd put them all on the same card, but they turned out a bit too big, so I have two left to use somewhere else. I also stamped three or four different backgrounds, all with different stamps and colors of paper, before settling on this one, so I have those leftovers to use also.

This is a card I made for a male co-worker; I tried to make it masculine, but while designing it I realized I have a ton of flower and feminine-looking stamps. (this means that I need more stamps, of course! LOL!) This co-worker is probably only in his 50s (? I think- I'm no good with ages) and just had hip-replacement surgery... it was way past time for him to get it, but the timing never worked out to have it done. I was really excited to hear that he finally scheduled it... I remember how debilitated Mom was when she finally did hers, and how much better she was after it was done. (Remember, Mom?? I'm so glad you finally decided to do it, even though the recovery took some time, so you could do something so simple as walk without wincing in pain! I'm hoping you're glad you did it, too!)

This was another idea I had... I saw some of these scenes last fall at the Mesa stamping show, but never got around to trying it. I stamped the scene and colored it with chalk, then distressed the brown paper to make it look like rocks. I put some 3D foam tape between the layers to give it dimension. It's not actually a card, though- to make it the size I thought it needed to be, it turned out being something like 6 x 8 inches. Not sure what I'll do with it, but it was fun to finish it.

This was a technique I saw in a stamping magazine at the bookstore last weekend (a magazine I didn't end up getting... darn!) The butterfly was stamped with permanent ink on white paper, then the highlights were colored in with white crayon. After that, I watercolored over the whole thing- the crayon resists the paint, so the highlights stay white (I remember doing the same thing with Easter eggs). It didn't turn out too bad; I'll have to try it again.

I did make another card, but I can't post that one, because it was sent to my mom for her birthday- I hope you like it, Mom!! (it was tough- there was actually some math involved! LOL!)

October 02, 2006

news update...

Wow, it's been a while... here's a bit of what's been going on...

I had a cold last weekend- not too bad, but the kind that saps your energy and makes you nap. Not fun! Tom was traveling on business, though, so we didn't miss out on any plans because of it.

He made it back on Sunday, and took a few days off to recover/rest up (it was a whirlwind trip from North Carolina to Illinois, drive to Michigan, drive back to Illinois... he did manage to visit his grandmother while he was in Chicago, though- she is packing up her house in preparation to move to Wisconsin with her son, Tom's Uncle Philip.)

Last week (and this week, too) I've been doing 10-hour days at work- this doesn't leave much free time, considering the commute is 40-50 minutes!!! I leave the house by 4:30 am, and get back around 4 pm... long days, but if I had later hours, the commute would take a lot longer, with the traffic. I haven't been doing much stamping or crafting at all- I have lots of ideas, just not the time or energy to execute them!

Last Friday I got my bona fide "offer" of permanent employment- no more "contractor" status, and I'll actually get medical and dental benefits! (yahoo!!!) Plus, Baxter allows domestic partner benefits, so Tom can be covered on my insurance, if we decide it's better than what his company offers (it probably is). I'll be on the Baxter payroll starting October 16th.

So, Friday night we went out to dinner to celebrate- we went to Bahama Breeze (a chain restaurant sort of like Red Lobster) for Jamaican/Cuban food and drinks. I had a couple exotic sounding drinks, some wonderful Cuban-spiced fish with plantains and garlic mashed potatoes, and a piece of Key Lime pie, while Tom had steak kabobs with grilled red onions and green peppers. We split a couple very tasty appetizers, habanero chicken wings (they weren't TOO terribly spicy- even I could eat them) and a wood-fired goat cheese and portabello mushroom pizza. Needless to say, we had tons of leftovers for dinner on Saturday!

Saturday during the day, we ran errands all over the Valley: picked up my special-order stamps at the local stamping store, so now I can start working on my Christmas card designs; bought cat litter and a new enclosed cat pan (we're still trying to keep the dog out of it!); started looking for a chiminea, which is sort of an outdoor fireplace made out of terra cotta (didn't find one we liked); stopped at a bookstore (I didn't get anything though, fancy that!); stopped at an import store so Tom could re-stock his hot sauce supply; ate lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant; exchanged some cigars that Tom recently bought that weren't good- the first time he lit one of them up, the wrapper practically disintegrated, it was so dry... nothing too earth shattering, but it was a lot of driving, and we were glad to finally get home and relax in front of a movie.

Sunday, we had a lazy day- we relaxed in the morning, then watched the Nascar race on TV in the afternoon. It was quite an odd race- the usual driving speeds are upwards of 175 miles per hour, but the winning car coasted across the finish line after running out of gas on the last lap! Not the usual finish at all! Then, Tom packed for his next trip, we relaxed on the patio for a bit, and somehow it was over before we knew it!!

Tom's latest trip will keep him in Midland, Texas all week, and most likely next week, as well- his company is replacing the existing nurse call system with their own (emergency pull cords, a call button by the bed, and flashing lights outside the rooms, like in a hospital) and it's quite a large site. Fortunately, the hotel he's staying at is one of the nicest he's been in so far: a king-sized bed with a down comforter, a full-service hot breakfast buffet, and it's less than 10 miles both from the local airport and his job site.

So, this week I will be poring over employment papers and insurance enrollment forms, and hopefully getting in some crafting. I have tons of ideas, and some things in progress, that I'd like to get down on paper. If I manage it, I will definitely post some pictures!

September 18, 2006


Sedona had a hard day yesterday, I guess...
She spent the evening trying to get comfortable on the couch.
she wasn't near as interested in watching Iron Chef America as we were!
Of course, it didn't help that we were bothering her-
I tried to brush some tangles out of her hair,
till she made it clear she didn't want any brushing.

Then, Tom started tickling the pads of her feet... she'd twitch, kick her foot, and re-situate herself again.

Her eyelashes are red, too!!!

A dog's life is difficult, isn't it?!?

September 16, 2006

weekend stuff (scrap and stamp related)

This weekend was CKC Phoenix, the Creating Keepsakes scrapbooking convention. It was in downtown Phoenix, at the revamped convention center. I took a couple classes, and did some shopping.
Me with Becky Higgins! I took her sketch class- it was really good! I already know about using sketches for scrapping (and card-making!!), but it was a real treat to take the class from her personally. She was really nice about giving autographs, and taking pictures with people. She also gave a short presentation at the end about "why I scrap" to remind us it's not all about the cute stuff we can buy... I needed a tissue at the end of it, along with a lot of the other students!

a very poor picture (the camera was acting up!), but this is Becky teaching the class. We got sketches for two layouts, and all the cardstock, etc. to make them. We also got some free chocolate! (for energy! LOL!)

Friday and today was also the Bazzill Warehouse Sale, the second year the Bazzill company has done it. They sold "Bazzill by the Box" and some of their other stuff- idea books, boshers, buttons, mini albums, etc. I scored big! I stopped by on my way home from work yesterday, since I needed to get to the convention by 8 am this morning.

I ended up buying 7 packages of colored brads (it was buy 6, get one free so how could I not?), a couple sets of inks that coordinate with their paper, and two packages of die cuts. I'm going to stamp on the die cuts, I think... and look for colored brads on my cards and layouts soon!

Here is my Box-of-Bazzill... it was really hard to pick- there were two rows of shelves, almost taller than I could reach, with stacks of every color (I think, I'm not certain!) A box of 8.5 x 11 was $10, and a box of 12 x 12 was $15... (the boxes were about an inch deep, maybe?) You could get as much as you could fit into the box, as long as it closed! I didn't buy 12 x 12; I haven't been scrapping much lately, and I have a Cropper Hopper full of 12 x 12 already... I ended up with 125 (!!!) pieces of paper for my $10- that works out to only 8 cents per sheet!!! Quite a bargain, compared to the scrapbook store prices!

I also bought a couple things at the convention- a paint can desk organizer that will hold my most-often-used supplies (will take a pic when I have it set up) and two sets of Technique Tuesday acrylic stamps. There was a little excitement, too... someone tripped a fire alarm, and we had to evacuate the building! I was in line to buy my stamps, people were in the middle of classes, etc. Didn't matter, we had to leave. We all stood around across the street for about 10 minutes, till they told us we could go back in. Kind of ironic, but we went back in much faster than we left the building!

September 12, 2006

new stamps! and a card...

My newest stamp set- it's a company I heard about on 2peas (See D's). The stamp store in Chandler had tons of designs... I looked at this set about 4 times before finally deciding to buy them. Not that I needed them (do we ever need stamps? LOL!) They're actually pretty nice, I think- they are "ready to cling" which means they're sticky on the back, and they were already cut out of the backing rubber. This meant I didn't have to cut around each one (I hate that part) or add anything to them, they'll cling to the block right away. They don't come with a cushion, but I can deal with that... I have a thick foam pad to stamp on (it came from Stampin' Up, maybe- I think my sister Judy gave it to me). Plus, the price is right: 12 stamps for $8.50- that's less than 75 cents a stamp! They also come with storage cards (with a slick surface, so the stamps peel off easy), and come in a CD-case style package. Finally, manufacturers are realizing this is how lots of stampers store their unmounteds, so why not sell them that way! They're pretty detailed designs, although this set is "silhouettes" so they can't be too detailed. This is the first card made with one of them... the basic card layout is from a 2peas card sketch challenge.

Stamps: See D's (grass); Rubber Soul (grass, used for background); and SU! (sentiment)

Ink: Ranger Distress Ink, Tea Dye (background and sentiment)

Image was colored with Zig markers... I tried to do the "watercolor" thing, where you color the stamp, spritz it with water, then stamp it, to make it look like you watercolored it. It sort of worked, but I need practice. Or a new spritzer. I got huge drops of water, so the whole stamp didn't get misted with water, like I thought it would. I think I'm going to go practice right now! (or at least stamp something!!)

PS: I can't wait for this week to end... Friday I'm going to the Bazzill warehouse sale- going to hit that on my way home from work! And Saturday I'm attending the CK convention in Phoenix- I'm taking a couple classes: one of them is a sketch class with Becky Higgins! (I need to take my camera with!) And I'm sure I'll find something to buy! LOL!!