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 (www.mysticpaper.com) and Ink It!, the rubber stamp store in Gilbert, AZ (www.inkit.com) 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: http://stempelgekkie.blogspot.com/2006/09/step-by-step.html
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 (http://wednesdaystamper.wordpress.com/) 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!