Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Find Du Jour

Someone wrote these words on a white board here at the Day Job, so I had to investigate, of course.

Sarcasm Society

And because I do not feel like figuring out how to make the image large enough to read without a magnifying glass, it says, "National Sarcasm Society ... like we need your support."

I just had to share!

ETA: Here is a link to a larger image.

Monday, December 29, 2008

January Holiday Challenge #1

Didja notice how the day after Christmas - and I'm talkin' like 12:01 am on the 26th - people started to make Valentine's Day cards?! I know, I know, it's the next 'big' holiday after Christmas, and one to surely require cards to be made, but ... I started to think, which is always a dangerous state for me... so what about poor old January? It's like January does not even exist! So I started to research if there were any worthy holidays in January, and you know what?! There ARE!!! Yeppers, and quite a few. Okay, they are kindof obsure, but still - I think they demand our attention.

Also, I was totally out of ideas for cards for my January workshops, so I was on the hunt. But don't tell anyone.

Also also, I have a pretty-much nekked 2009 calendar just crying for decorating, and I flat-out refuse to make February pink, so I started thinking some more, and guess what? I came up with A NEW CHALLENGE! Yep, I surely did. Maybe if this takes hold, I will increase my readership from 3 (maybe 4) loyal readers up to, oh, I dunno, dare I hope for 6 by the end of the year? It is a lofty goal, I know, but a girl's gotta dream.

So here's the challenge: I'll find an obscure (or maybe just non-mainstream) holiday that I think needs to be loved (I'll try my darndest to find one for which I can make a card), and I'll challenge ALL OF YOU to do the same! I cannot promise a weekly challenge, but I think twice per month is a noble goal, don't you agree? Yeah, the first* and third Monday's of each month, I'll post a new Holiday and you will have 2 weeks to make a card for that holiday. Can you tell I am making this up as I go? No, really, I have thought about it, I just have not written it down until now. No prizes, unless I actually start cleaning The Other Room and find some stuff I'd like to be rid of. You just never know.

So let us begin! Holiday Challenge #1 is: Penguin Awareness Day (Jan 20th). I was looking for this one specifically since I think penguins are cute, and January is still cold in most Northern Hemisphere locales, and one of my customers loooooves everything penguin, and I needed a card for January's workshops, and I also found this VERY cool turorial on how to make penguins out of SU punches. What else could I do? So here's my entry to celebrate Penguin Awareness Day:

Aren't they cute little guys? Or maybe gals (how could you tell?) I used some Frosty Day papers for the punched hats and scarves, I followed the instructions for the rest of the penguins except I used the 5-petal punch for their noses instead of the punch used in the instructions I linked to above. The base card is Bashful Blue, and the snow is torn pieces of Whisper White, edged with the 2-way glue pen and some Dazzling Diamonds. To finish it off, I used the white gen pen to make not only their eyes, but also little dots for snowflakes on the blue background. VERY easy, and I think it will be a hit with The Ladies in January. And if I change it just a little (read: lose the buttons on their hats) it would be 100% SU, and therefore legal for my workshops. I still have 2 weeks to get it right.

So if you'd like to play along, just post your Penguin card somewhere and add a comment here with a link so we can see what you did! And if you can help me think up a clever name for this challenge of mine, I might just slip you a little something from The Other Room. ;-)

*Yeah, I know, it is not Jan 5th yet, but by then I will be panic-y trying to get ready for my workshops, so just this once, pretend it is the first Monday in January, K? Thanks!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Knowing When To Stop and Another Collage-y Attempt

First I give you: Knowing when to stop. I have set myself a personal goal to get the majority of my inventory of cards uploaded to my store before I hunker down to begin my scrapbook phase of the season. The scrapbooking has been delayed due to lack of ink cartridges for my photo printer, so I took advantage of this weekend and I have been in an upload frenzy. Until today, when I hit a wall. No, I have not run out of stuff to upload, but did you know Blogger has a safety net for us? If we try to do too many uploads in one day, it starts to prompt for that pesky secret word to be entered. And not just once...you have to enter it for each and every upload. What a pain.... So I've decided to give it a rest for today.

Before I began my upload marathon, I did make another attempt at that whole collage-y thing. This time I used yet another piece of the Provence paper (blue) for the background and to stand in as the sky. Not bad, not bad... I will endevor to continue my attempts at this paper piecing thing. Maybe I'll stamp something and put things together that way.

Or maybe I'll leave the house and go to the grocery store and buy myself some food. I am even out of soup. So sad...

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Outside The Comfort Zone

I have been lurking over at Lauren's these days, admiring her paper piecing collage-y creations, something I have never quite grasped myself. So, in this down time between the end of Farmers Market Season and the arrival of my ink cartridges, which will mark the beginning of Scrappin' Season, I have decided to step outside of the ole' comfort zone and try some new things.

First let me say that I am a stampin' snob. Actually, I think I've said that before, but I was hoping you'd forgotten. Anyway, as a card-maker, I feel like I am cheating if I do not stamp something, so a 100% paper-pieced creation just seems unfinished to me. I need to work on this.

Where to begin? Not a problem, since I never put anything away; a pack of Memory Box Provence papers was sitting next to my stampin' spot, taunting me to begin, so I did.

Since I make cards to sell, I need to use images from a stamp or a die-cut or something I can credit as belonging to a source that can be cited, and that (more importantly) allows use of their images for commercial purposes. I cannot use free clip-art or craft magazine patterns or free downloads, as these things are generally for personal use only. Another option: I can make it myself! So I did! I drew a tree on some paper, then cut it out of a scrap piece of cardboard, and voila: trees!

Here is creation #1. For this card, I placed two of the trees (cut from Provence papers) on another piece of the Provence paper. I had to go back and draw lines around the edges of the trees to make them not blend into the background. (I think I see my problem with collage ...). I did stamp the birds and cut them out, so that satisfied a little itch, but I still thought it needed something else, so I set it aside.

This is attempt #2. I tore a few pieces of the Provence paper to create the ground, and placed them plus the trees on a Bordering Blue background to get a sky. This was more in my comfort zone, but not necessarily a way to break out of my groove.

Then, in came BR #2 (Ms. Collage, incarnate) to pick up her SU order, and she wandered over to see what I was working on. She was immediately drawn to these cards-in-progress. Her comments? She liked the first one best (wants me to lose the blue sky on that second one), and thought the torn papers for the ground on the second card could be added to the first one for a really nice look ... ... ... This is why she collages and I do not. If I am to break out, here, I will try that next.

Also, it took every fiber of my being to not add ribbon and a sentiment to either (or both) of these. Every fiber ... my fingers were twitching. BR #2 told me to resist temptation and stick them into sleeves before I succumbed to the urge, so I did.

I am not done yet! These were just my first few steps over that line of mine, and I think it has promise. I'll keep plugging away at it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

National Whiner's Day

Thanks to Lydia, I found out today is National Whiner's Day! How could I have missed that one?!?! Whining is what I do best! If I had only known earlier, I could have planned a major whine-fest for today! Oh, the utter unfairness of it all!

As it is, though, I took today off of work. Yeah, I thought I deserved another 4-day weekend, so I gifted one to myself. And have I done anything constructive? Well, yesterday I went over to a friend's house for a late lunch/early dinner and over-ate, so I came home bloated, yet sated. I may not eat again for days.

Then I posted about 25 more cards to the store, in hopes of someone, anyone, maybe possibly, I dunno, buying one? I got all my Birthday cards posted (except for one escapee who I will take care of here momentarily), and today I plan to tackle the Thank You section. At this rate, I'll be done by, oh, maybe April, just in time for gearing up for my May markets. But you know what? Once all these puppies have been posted, I'll be all caught up! Then all I'll need to is add new cards I make, or delete ones I've sold. It's a solid plan, anyway.

I still have not started on Book 2 of my Road Trip scrapbook, as I still have no replacement ink cartridges for my photo printer, so I spend my time putzing around... rummaging in the closet in The Other Room; fondling the scraps I have in the Scrap Heap; pondering how long it will take me to start thinking about my January workshop projects; blog surfing, getting some good ideas to steal; NOT watching tv; NOT watching the last Netflix movie that arrived (Becoming Jane, in case you wondered) ... I am basically being a total slug, and loving it!

Okay, enough whining for one sitting. I think I've done today proud, and it is not even Noon yet! ;-) Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to have something more worthy to post here shortly.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Little Stamping, and SYFY Tip #8

We were dismissed early from the Day Job yesterday, so I took advantage of the extra play time and did some stamping. I had an idea brewing, and as I rummaged in the closet in The Other Room, I was distracted when I (re)discovered a package of six square kraft note cards, untouched and unopened. Virgin cards. In the same area was a pack of unopened, untouched, virgin DaisyD's papers. I took them both lovingly to my stampin' spot and set to work.

This is what I made with the 6-pack of square cards. I used my PTI sentiments set and chose six of the more common sentiments (b'day, anniversary, sorry, etc.) to make a set of cards. "None of my other card sets sold at my shows, so let us make more", she said, illogically...

Turns out I'd cut more than I needed, and since I will.not.put.the.pieces.in.the.scrap.heap (she said through clenched teeth), I used them to make a few of these:

Very simple, and I even dressed them up with a brad in the center of each square. What? They look almost centered, you say? Really!?! I must be losing my touch! Actually, I took a ruler, laid it corner-to-corner on each square, and made an 'x' so I knew where to punch. Crazy, I know!!!

And now for SYFY Tip #8. I used Not Quite Navy for the blue layer, and when I put the Navy ribbon with the sentiment, it was just wrong, and I could not get past it. What to do ... what to do...

So I made my own ribbon-ish embellishment! Yes, I did! I took a piece of Not Quite Navy card stock and cut very thin strips, and left them attached (I did not cut all the way to the end of the scrap), then I simply stuck the tassle end to the back of the ovals, and there you have it: a custom-made ribbon stand-in!

Here it is up close and personal, but I think it looks better from afar.

For my next trick, I have something I am working on that I'll show you tomorrow, once I am sure I can actually pull it off. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Phonetic Punctuation

Well, yesterday's National Haiku Day post was such a rousing success, I felt I needed to take up the challenge presented to me by Lauren, when she commented thus(ly:)

...the ()'s and **'s are silent...but you MAY pronounce them if you wish!!! (i'd like a .wav file of that, actually!)

Well, Lauren, you've made the mistake of asking that of someone who knew about this man (and yes, I have the video, too):

See what happens when I am not stamping? Actually, I want to scrap, but I need pics, and my photo printer is dead without some new ink cartridges, which I ordered yesterday, and until they arrive chez moi, you are stuck with reading stuff like this. Sorry.

Monday, December 22, 2008

National Haiku Poetry Day

In honor of today being (among other things) National Haiku Poetry Day, I give you a Haiku I wrote in either Elementary or High School (it was a loooong time ago, either way):

When the sun passes
Look among the garden weeds
For asparagrass(es)

That last word was mis-spelled on purpose (poetic license) and the last syllable is illegal, but I put it there because, well, I am a rebel that way. If you swallow that last syllable like I do, then maybe you can get away with it (like I do.) ;)

Keurig Update WARNING

Just a quick note... nay: words of caution! That Keurig coffee brewer I bought? Well, be careful! In the old days (that would be last week!), I would brew a half-pot of mud and when it was gone, it was gone...I'd switch to water. But NOW ... now that I have The Machine, I can brew a cuppa joe any time I want to, and I do! Just because I brew a mug and sip it on the way to work does not remove the need for a mug once I get to work. And then we have the weekend. Oh, lordy. I was brewing until mid-afternoon, because I could. Can you say 'wired'? I was on speed all weekend!

Oh, and this afternoon at work, one of the Water Club folks asked for a demo of the machine, so I brewed another mug o'mud! Then I drank it! I may never sleep again.

So as wonderful as they are, and given the addictive nature of our collective personalities (c'mon, we're stampers here!), just BE CAREFUL!!!!!

I am done now. And I'd go to bed if I weren't so hyper! Sigh ....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Two Cards = Success!

Let me get the whining out of the way, right now!! Once again, Blogger has me completely discombobulated as to how in the heck it orders the photo uploads. A while ago they switched from "how I listed them" to "reverse order" for some reason, and once I'd trained myself to list the images in the opposite order I wanted them posted, just now Blogger decided to mix it up again and they were totally out of order. Totally. I give up. Note to self - you get what you pay for. I am trainable, so I'll just go with the flow here ...

As the title of this post so aptly declares, this was a banner weekend for me! First up, here is this year's Chanukkah card:

I used the PTI Mazel Tov set for the images, and PTI's shimmer blue card stock along with SU's Shimmer White card stock. I'll show you that shimmer in a sec. First, I have to tell you there are a gazillion ways to spell Chanukkah, because it is a transliteration from the Hebrew, meaning you spell it like it sounds. Thus the many different spellings, and neither of the spellings in this set match how *I* spell it, but hopefully no one will notice.

I embossed the menorah and the dreidel on shimmer white with Versamark and some very yummy blue embossing powder I picked up on one of my shopping trips with June. It is by Stampendous, it is called Pearl Lustre Sapphire, and I am in love with it! It was so nice to have something besides Silver or Gold to use on the Chanukkah cards, too.

Now for some details:

This is my attempt to show you the shimmer of these papers. The whole thing is just so, well, shimmery. It came out exactly how I'd hoped it would!

It is difficult to see the beautiful embossed color of the EP, but trust me, if you see this stuff in the store, you want it!

And yes, I colored in the individual candles, using SU markers.

Here is a close-up of the dreidel. I embossed it on shimmer white, then colored it with Copics and cut it out. Note how the ligher color of brown kinda schmeared the blue embossing a little in the center. I am not so sure one should use alcohol inks with embossing, but maybe that was just incompetance on my part. From not-so-close-up, it really does look fine. We are our own worst critics, right? ;-)

That ribbon on the dreidel is from my stash of Blue Ribbon, and I used almost all of it. Yay!

I also embossed the sentiment with the same blue EP on the front of the cards. I really like how this one came out!

I wrote and addressed all of my Chanukkah AND Happy Holiday cards, and they are all stamped and ready to mail tomorrow. All done!

And here is the birthday card all my December birthday customers will get. It came together really quickly, too! I started out by opening (!) my package of SU Frosty Day DS papers, and I selected this really busy design because I liked the green, orange and brown combination.

I just futzed with it for a while and came up with the base and orange strip parts of the layout, then I stamped the words from the Celebrate Everything set in Tangerine Tango on Whisper White. I decided the white was too stark (as I usually do) and I pulled out the 'burst' stamp from Bursting with Joy and stamped it in Kiwi Kiss, stamping off on my paper before I stamped it over the word, just to soften it a bit. I actually lined up the white piece with the edge of the Choc Chip when I layered it, and just butted it up against the brown layer under the orange strip (which, by the way, is the reverse side of the main paper.) And if you followed any of that, you are a better man than I am.

The ribbon is the narrow Choc Chip from a mini catalog or two ago, and the brads were a last-minute addition to make it look more finished. I am pretty happy with it! Aaaaaand, these have been written, addressed and stamped, and added to the pile o'mail in the Kitchen.

Wow, all caught up. This might be a first! Woo-hoo! Now I am off to figure out what to do for dinner, then I'll start in on my scrappin'! Thanks for stopping by!

Geography Lesson (aka: Creative Avoidance)

As I reviewed the last few pages of Book 1 of the Road Trip scrapbook, just to get my bearings on where I needed to pick up and continue, I got confused. You see, I am meticulous in my record-keeping, maybe even anal. I map out a route, then I have a book with the pages of printed maps and what I planned to do. Then I write all over these pages as I drive so I know where I deviated from my plan, and what roads I actually took so when I get to document it later, I can remember where I was when I took certain pictures. See: anal.

Then, when I get home, I write a Trip Report with the blow-by-blow of the whole trip. THEN, when I sit down to scrapbook, I just follow the Trip Report, and it is easy to fill in the blanks with photos, because I knew where I was at all times. (Is anal-retentive hyphenated?)

So imagine my chagrin when I discovered what I thought was a boo-boo on the last page of my effort from last year. I showed myself entering from Missouri into Iowa, then crossing a bridge to take a photo at the state line of ... Illinois? Wha?!?! So yes, I have been losing sleep over this. I mean - where had I gone wrong?!?! I finally looked it up and figured it out, and so, my dear readers, we have a geography lesson today.

Here is where the mystery began, somewhere during Day 4, when I crossed from Illinois into Missouri at Hannibal, boyhood home of Mark Twain.

After leaving Hannibal later in the day, I followed The Great River Road, to the best of my ability, all the way through Missouri until I crossed over into Iowa.

Once in Iowa, I was in a little town called Keokuk, and I drove along the river to a large bridge, walked half-way across it and took a photo of the state line sign: Illinois.

WAIT a minute! I just came from Missouri into Iowa, and now I am in Illinois!??!?!?

Yep, and here's why:

Check out this map (and please appreciate the state line labels. It took me forever to get that Missouri/Illinois one to stick.) Here we have a three-state meeting point (see that handsome red dot.) Who knew that these three states met?

So it turns out what I'd done was drive from Missouri into Iowa, then I drove along the river into town and crossed a bridge that went from Iowa to Illinois. I think it was that yellow line/road in the upper right of the map. Yep, that's what I did alright. Mystery solved!

Okay, now I really need to get to work on those holiday cards. I did have to make some Chanukkah ones last night, and I'll post those later, after I write them. I should be back up for air sometime on Tuesday.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Separated at Birth?

Have you ever met someone, then you find out you have a lot in common? This happens to me often; I think the older you get, the more you have done, thus increasing the chances you will have something in common with more people (if that makes sense.)

So I was just cruising my blog list, putting off the task of writing my holiday cards, and I found that Brenda has the exact same item on her wall that I do! I mean exact! What are the chances?!?! Okay, hers is the mirror image of mine, but still... Check out this post, first pic, and look at the bike she has on her wall to the right (in the photo) of her fireplace, then look at this:

Yep - same thing. Her bike theme is because her husband bikes, and my bike theme, is well, accidental, even though I used to bike. I actually ended up with three bike-themed decorations on my walls, and it was not even planned.

Oh, and I left this photo largely uncropped because I wanted you to see part of my condo without stuff stacked up everywhere. And please notice the lamp is crooked ... how appropriate.

Here's the other two:

This is a metal sculpture I purchased at a craft show, and I had a choice between bikes and trees, so I chose bikes. The one on the right is a bit bent due to shipping issues; I just call it "character".

This one I have had forever. There used to be a great ribs restaurant here in Gaithersburg that had prints of this artist adorning all their walls, and I fell in love with them, so I went on a mission to find one for myself (a print, not the restaurant.) The artist is G. Rodo Boulanger, and I found a local art store that carried the prints. I got ... the bike one.

Have you also noticed the color pattern here: green? Yeah, that's me. Both of my cars are green, too. It is a sickness.

Well, I guess I should go and write my cards now. Then, even though I thought my card-making was done for a while, I realized I have no Chanukkah cards left, so I'll be making some of those this weekend, plus I still need to make my belated birthday cards for my December customers. I swear, I should just plan to make belated cards and I'd be all set. ;-)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Too Stinkin' Cute!

It is all Lydia's fault! She posted this, so of course I HAD to look. OMG, if you like baby animals, then this is the site for you: ZooBorns.com. You can get your daily fix; you can get a widget for your bog with baby animal pics; or like me last night, you can just park for a while to look at the pics and videos, and laugh and say, "Aaaaaawwwww!" for a long time. They do not get a lot of comments, but they told me (because I asked, of course) that they get a lot of happy traffic, emails and links, but as we all know, comments ROCK! Right?! Just check 'em out! You know you want to ... ;-)

PS: I put their link in my blog list over yonder in the right menu bar, too. Just in case you change your mind, later.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Crookedly Domestic

Now that I am in Winter Mode, every once in a while domesticity rears its ugly head. Here are just a few examples that have struck over the last few days.

Earlier this week, my one and only official Christmas ornament came out of its box (stored in the bowels of my closet in The Other Room), and is now displayed on my shelf at work. I think this says it all for me. And in case you cannot read through the blur, it says, "This is as merry as I get." I so love Maxine...she is such an irreverent gal.

Last night I made another batch of buckeyes, partly because I had a clean table top to use as a staging area, and partly because if I did not make them soon, my boys would go without this year, and no Mom in her right mind would allow that to happen! I shipped theirs off today, and another box of the little goodies will end up on the door step of my mechanic and his crew, who have valiantly kept both of my cars alive this year, in spite of the fact I so rarely brought them in for a check-up.

And last, but most definitely NOT least, this beauty arrived on my door step a few moments ago. Yes, I have had the Keurig cool aid, and it is good. We have had one of these brewers (a higher-end model, of course) at work for a few years now, and we are hooked. Big time. Actually addicted to the point that several people bought one for home use, so I finally broke down and got one for myself, too. I had to do some major counter cleaning to make room for it (that would be the domestic part) and I just took it for a test-drive using one of the herbal teas from the sampler pack that comes with the brewer (I can no longer say 'coffee pot'). This thing would be so stinkin' handy for a crowd (yeah, like I ever have crowds here ...): one person can brew high-test coffee, the next can have herbal tea, and the next can have hot cocoa. So I guess I can be a crowd of one and brew whatever floats my boat. I already have a stock-pile of coffee so I can brew a mug o'joe and sip it on the way into work. Sweeeet.

Last on my list of things to accomplish this week, besides the never-ending laundry, is to actually write my holiday cards, address them and mail them. You'll notice that's a three-step process. Wish me luck.

PS: I hope to actually do something crafty some time, soon. Very soon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And So It Begins

Today I have a bunch of random stuff running through my brain, so I thought I'd post a few things that are going on around The Crooked Stamper Homestead.

It all began this morning when I tried to open the Kitchen blinds so I could give kitty a view of the great outdoors while I was at work. (If I do not open them, she will head-butt them until they give in, and frankly, up until now, I've preferred to be in charge. Call me crazy.) So the blinds failed me. They had died, completely. You get what you pay for, and I paid $10 for these babies about 15 years ago, so it is time. Welcome to Crooked Stamper Home Repair! Check out what I did:

Here we have the blinds finally open. See that top arrow? It points to the culprit: a completely worn-out thread that is now all balled up on itself, thus no longer allowing the fiber to pass through the hole in the slats, so it bunches up and refuses to move. Bah!

Those arrows at the bottom mark my handiwork...the only thing keeping the blinds from bonking the cat on the head.

And here we have a (fuzzy) close-up of my I-am-late-for-work solution: nylon rope. Yeppers, and it sure works fine. Proud of myself (but an embarrassment to the rest of my family, I am sure), I left confidently for work.

The Day Job was eventful...one of those days when you are so busy you forget you forgot lunch, so you run down the the cafeteria to see what they have left, and you end up with a 'safe' turkey sandwich. The excitement of my life continues to build.

On the way home from work it started to rain. Great. Rain in the DC commuting world means "slow down, act stupid, and add 30 minutes to everyone else's commute". Not me, of course, but everyone else was acting that way; I was just yelling at them. Criminey - you'd think it was a blizzard or something. The roads were not even wet. It was barely raining! You can go more than 25 mph on the expressway, people!!!!! Ahem... Since it took me so long to get home, by the time I actually got here, the rain had turned to sleet, and it was mushy walking from my car to my front door. Oh, joy. Winter in DC has arrived, and the loonies are already out there. Anyone want to take bets on if schools are closed tomorrow? Or at least delayed 2 hours? I say YES! Sigh ...

Next up: I put away the rest of the ribbon and punches and stamp sets from the workshops, and admired this:

Now here is something not often seen in these parts: the top of my Dining Room table! Look now, because I am about to begin Book 2 of my Road Trip scrapbook that I started last year. It is time. And the table top shall be buried here very shortly!

A quick workshop update: my customers continue to amaze me. I know, I sound like a broken record, but seriously, I set out projects, and the next thing I know, there are people mixing things up all over the place... Swapping out one punch for another... arranging the parts-is-parts differently than my serving suggestion (always encouraged!) ... flipping over double-sided paper to get a different look ... using red ribbon that I put out at the last second "just in case" they did not want all the ones I just knew they'd want to use instead ... you know - mixing it up! It was great!!!!

Kitty assumed her position as soon as the first few coats arrived with their people. She is quite the multi-tasker: guarding the coats and warming the coats while simultaneously napping. Hard to believe, but here's your proof!

Oh, look - round 2. Guard duty can be so utterly exhausting.

The other thing that amazed me was how a project I thought was totally lame was the hit of the day. No, I am not kidding! I expected yawns, rolling eyes, and a bit of whining, but nope! It was embraced by all!

This is a plastic ornament from the craft store. I cut up lots of 12x12 pieces of DS papers, bundling each set together with a piece of ribbon. Each customer selected a bunch of papers, then rolled each piece around a wooden skewer and popped it into their globe. When they were all done, they could tie a piece of ribbon around the top and add a piece of silver elastic cord for hanging it. Too easy (and it used up a whole raft of last year's Holiday papers!) The cool thing about this project is you can make ornaments any color you want - like pink & purple! How cool would that be!?!

Now I am tired and my brain is empty enough to go to bed. After I put the clothes in the dryer. Does it seem to you I am constantly doing laundry?! Yeah, me, too. Thanks for reading this far, and I hope to have some scrappin' to show off later this week.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Music Trivia

Some people think I am crazy, but I like Barry Manilow. And I have liked him for a very, very long time. I think since he was a pup. And anyone who says they do not like him has never seen him perform. He does a Vegas-style act - very high-energy, and very classy. I saw him in Detroit many, many moons ago. At one point in his show, he had his guys select a woman from the audience to come up and sing one of his songs with him, and after she went back to her seat and he had done another song, he called her back up and handed her a video (back then it was a VHS) of her time on stage with him, just so her friends would believe her. It was very cool.

One thing I have learned over the years is that a lot of singers write jingles to pay the bills. Folk singers do this a lot - they write songs for ads, or for other people, and they make their money behind the scenes, and that pays for what they want to do, which is sing folk music, which would never pay the bills. It's kindof like stamping - the Day Job pays for it.

So Barry Manilow has a song he calls his VSM - Very Strange Medley, which is a medley of a bunch of his commercial songs. In my never-ending effort to educate those of you who have probably never even heard of the man, have a listen. This is not a video - just the song. The picture is the album cover of one of his Live albums, and yes I have it, and yes, it is round, and vinyl.

Packaging Completed

Last night I ignored the wise advise of my massaaaaage therapist, and instead of taking a hot bath, I made 24 toppers for my bags o'buckeyes. I had to, I just had to.

And the night before I finally decided on how to finish these jars of Mustard. I put a wimpy, but nicely tied bow of Mustard ribbon on the top of the jars, then I made tags so had something to wrap around the lid (I used elastic gold cord) to make it look less plain.

These babies are all now in the fridge, under all the bags o'buckeyes, waiting for delivery Saturday night.

And for one final touch, to class them up even more, I have these:

I'm thinking I'll staple one to the back of each tag. Now who would not want a free donut, hmm? Hey, I have class...it might be lower class, but it's still class. ;-)

For those who have asked, here is the recipe for the Mustard:

Homemade Grainy Mustard

3/4 C Yellow Mustard seeds
1/4 C Brown Mustard seeds
3 T Honey
1/3 C Sherry or Malt Vinegar
1/4 C Irish Whiskey
1 T Fine Sea Salt

Combine the yellow and brown mustard seeds in a bowl, cover with water, and leave to soak for 6 to 8 hours or as long as over night.

Drain the seeds well and pour them into a food processor. Process until the mixture begins to look creamy and emulsified. Add the honey, vinegar, whiskey and salt, and process again to mix.

Pour the mustard into a bowl, cover, and let stand over night at room temperature. The next day, check the consistency and flavor. If it is too thick and the taste is perfect, add a little more water. Adjust the other ingredients according to your taste. It will be hot!

Spoon the mustard into sterilized jars, cover, and store in the refrigerator, where it will keep almost indefinitely. Homemade mustard benefits from at least a week's rest before using to allow the flavors to blend.

I had more brown mustard seeds than yellow, so mine is even hotter. Look in ethnic (Asian/Indian) grocery stores for bags of the mustard seeds. I also asked if I could leave out the whiskey, and I was told the consistency of the finished product would not be right, so I obeyed the order to leave it in. But feel free to try leaving it out, and if you succeed, please report back on what you did!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Survey

I am in the throes of catching up - I am boiling bottles for my mustard; I am making toppers for the bags o'buckeyes; I have an idea to enhance the lids of the mustard jars; I am drying laundry so I can go to work tomorrow; I am burping and bloated because we had a food fest at work today where we all brought in munchies and grazed all day long. So what, you ask!? So I am posting something I stole right off of Lauren's blog today, so there! I am not a tagger, so no worries there; I just thought it was a fun thing to do, and since I have no real material to post myself, it was perfect timing on Lauren's part to give me something to steal. (Thanks, man!)

Prepare for TMI. Let us begin:

1. What time did you get up this morning? 6:00 am the first time. I got out of bed at 6:30. I was awake by 9:00.
2. Diamonds or pearls? Eh, I am not a jewels gal, but I'd guess diamonds.
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Um ... er .... something with my kids years ago ... um, maybe Ali?
4.What is your favorite TV show? Since I do not watch network TV, I'll have to say Alton Brown's Good Eats on the Food Network. But in the Way Back Machine it would be The Carol Burnett Show. OMG, I still roll on the floor laughing when I see her specials!
5. What do you usually have for breakfast? Either eggs with bacon or a bagel mit cream cheese.
6. What food do you dislike? Beets. And any fish that is slimy, or raw. And Sushi (it's the seaweed stuff I cannot handle.) Oh, only one?
7. What is your favorite CD at the moment? I pretty much do not listen to CDs ...
8. Favorite sandwich? That turkey thing with chipotle mayo from Panera.
9. What characteristic do you despise? Loud.
10. Favorite item of clothing? Comfy jeans.
11. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? I'd go back to Scotland!
12. Favorite brand of clothing? Don't really have one...pretty much anything that fits me. I guess Land's End, cuz they are my jeans du jour.
13. Where would you retire to? I would like to retire somewhere I could afford!
14. What was your most recent memorable birthday? I do not do birthday's any more, so I'll go with my last remembered ones which were when I hit 39 (my pals decorated my condo when I was not looking and they brought over food and we played with silly string!) and again when I hit 40 (TOTAL surprise party.) My most memorable one ever was when I turned 8 and my Dad took me out for lunch and a movie - The Absent-Minded Professor, with Fred McMurray.
15. Favorite sport to watch? The Olympics.
16. Furthest place you are "tagging" this? Not.
17. Person you expect to send it back first? No one, since that would mean I tagged someone.
18. Are you a morning person or a night person? Morning.
19. What is your shoe size? 7, but very wide. Not to worry if I see a shoe sale, as nothing will fit me!
20. Pets? Cat. I need to be greeted when I come home!
21. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us? I think I might actually have turned a profit this year with this money-pit of a hobby. Maybe $2, but still, I'm just sayin'.
22. What did you want to be when you were little? A Teacher.
23. How are you today? Full - ate too much at our grazing fest at work. *burp*
24. What is your favorite candy? I'll say Jelly Belly jelly beans, since I have personally addicted my entire department.
25. What is your favorite flower? If anyone would give them to me, I'd not be too picky! But for myself, I restrict my own purchases to Dahlias from The Dahlia Guy at my summer farmers market.
26. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to? Dec 25 - day off of work!
27.What are you listening to right now? Me, typing, and the cat, meowing.
28. What was the last thing you ate? Something really good, and therefore evil, from the grazing station at work. *burp burp*
29. Do you wish on stars? No
30. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? A really pretty medium green.
31. How is the weather right now? grey...drippy...blech...
32. The first person you spoke to on the phone today? Nobody. Or more correctly, since I did not actually speak to Nobody, I should say I have not spoken on the phone today. [Don't you hate it when I do that?]
33. Favorite soft drink? I do not drink soda - it has bubbles, and bubbles do not like me.
34. Favorite restaurant? Um, that would mean I'd need to go OUT, wouldn't it? Hmmm ... well, if I were to go out around here, I'd go to Roy's Place. It is a total adventure. Their menu has about 150 sandwiches on it, all numbered, and they are weird combos, but gooooood! They also sell their menus so you can study them on your own time. They say on page 1 "if you are in a hurry, you will not be happy here". They have a limit of 92 beers. They refer to Chicken Breast as Chicken Bosom. Definitely a fun place to sit back and relax.
35. Real hair color? Brown, with natural grey highlights. I have NEVER colored my hair! Well, unless you count Sun-In when I was in High School, but those were highlights, too, really.
36. What was your favorite toy as a child? I do not think I had a favorite ....
37. Hugs or kisses? Yes, please!
38. Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla. Good vanilla.
39. Coffee or tea? Coffee, but not after 12:00 noon!
40. Do you want your friends to email you back? If I email them first, yes!
41. When was the last time you cried? A Kodak commercial, I think. ;-)
42. What is under your bed? Plastic storage bins with stuff in them. I told you this place was small! I've got to use every inch I can!
43. What did you do last night? Made Mustard and designed the packaging for same.
44. What are you afraid of? I am mildly claustrophobic. You should have seen me in the MRI tube.... But afraid? Hmmm ... not sure.
45. Salty or sweet? Depends. Ever have chocolate-covered pretzels?
46. How many keys on your key ring? Probably 15.
47. Favorite day of the week? Sunday. It is a lazy day for me. Well, except for Workshop Sunday's, but those are fun in a different way.
48. If you can choose your talent, what would it be? Play the piano.
49. Do you make friends easily? Yep! I'll talk to anyone!
50. How many people will you tag this to? None. I am bad that way.
51. How many will respond? None, since I am not tagging anyone!

Feel free to steal this from me and tell us about yourself! I need to go fold laundry and fill jars with mustard. Ta!!!

My Favorite Chrsitmas Song

I fell in love with this song when I first saw it waaaaay back when it was on tv. Yes I saw it when it aired...in 1977. Told you I was old. ;-) Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More Packaging

I have decided: My life is an unending string of distractions. That really does explain a lot. Like why, if I have two cakes to bake, and toppers to make, and bags to fill with buckeyes, and another batch of buckeyes to make, and workshop projects to finish planning, and workshop kits to cut and bag, and ... and ... and..., then why in tarnation am I making mustard? Yes, I made mustard tonight.

This recent adventure began when a co-worker brought in some homemade mustard and some pretzels last week, thinking no one would eat it. Little did she know we actually lost a few pounds each with all the back and forth we did to the table holding the yummy concoction. And back, and back, and we got it out of the fridge the next day and commenced to eat even more of it, until all the pretzels were gone. Then I took it home.

Then we begged for, and received, The Recipe. This stuff was so stinkin' good that I had to try and make it. This week. My co-worker had actually planned to make the mustard, so she had ordered all her supplies online. Me? No, no, no, no. I am scrambling, big time, to find all this stuff. Do you know it is after canning season, so all those cute jars are no longer in stock, except maybe at WalMart, which is far from my home? And did you know that mustard seeds, both yellow and brown, in large quantities, are difficult to find? The little Aisan/Indian markets carry the brown seeds, but they were out of the yellow ones. I did find some at the megamart, but not enough, so I adapted the recipe and used more brown seeds than yellow - exacly the opposite of what the recipe called for. I mentioned this to my co-worker, and she said, "Oh, that stuff will be HOT!" And boy, oh boy, was she right! I think this stuff will peel paint. But it was terribly easy to make, once I had all the ingredients, that is.

So now that I have the mustardy goodness aging on the counter, I needed to work on my favorite thing to do: packaging. Not. This is the prototype I came up with tonight:

The Front. I printed the words on my computer, then cut out and embossed the label with one of my Nesties. The paper is a pretty piece from the SU Haiku package of DS papers. I just wrapped it around and taped it to the jar, then ran a piece of Mustard (how punny) ribbon through the label tag and taped it to the back at the paper's seam.

The Back. Not too exciting, but I thought people should know the ingredients, and I also needed to hide that seam. I thought about layering the circle, but decided it was an ingredients label and did not need to stand out.
The Top. Could this be any more boring unadorned plain simple? I wanted to tie a ribbon around the lid, but with that Mustard ribbon already there, no matter what I tried, it was too much. I wanted to layer some circles on the lid, but after staring at it for a while, I decided this coordinating piece of paper from the same Haiku pack was the best choice. I mean, after all, the Mustard will be the star of this show. I just wanted it to look like I'd tried, and I think I have achieved that.

Tomorrow, I need to sterilize all the jars I bought tonight so I can bottle the stuff, then make all the labels and decorate them. I am only going to make 6 or 7 for my Pot Luck dinner Saturday night. We no longer exchange gifts, but we are all crafty, so we make things. Like buckeyes, and mustard. Oh, and I am bringing dessert, so some time I'll need to make that, too. Just another distraction.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Topper

Bag Toppers are not my forte...not even close. Every year I struggle with packaging, so this time I thought I'd go for "simple". And it really does not get any simpler than this!

I opened (!) my package of Pacific Point DS papers and pulled out this sheet. I cut the shape with the Top Note die and my Cuttlebug (Shhhhh! Don't tell Shelli!) I was going to trim the edge and layer it on another die-cut of Pacific Point card stock, but I figured the double-sided paper was thick enough to stand on its own. Think of all that trimming I just saved myself!

I wanted to use all current product ... or at least try to, so I used Silver Elastic Cord as ribbon (gotta have ribbon!), and one of the Cute & Curly stamps stamped in Pacific Point on Whisper White, and punched out with the Curly Label punch. Too easy!

I thought the small oval would fit in the center; not quite, but it's close enough for me! I stamped the sentiment from Warm Words with Riding Hood Red on Whisper White, punched it out and stuck it on. Done!

I used bags with those fold-over thingies to hold itself closed, so the topper is not really holding anything - it is just decorative. Soooo, I stapled the folded shape to the bag with a blue staple (I told you I had stuff!)

That's it! I'll bag these up on Saturday, as I need some for my Pot Luck dinner Saturday night, and also for my customers on Sunday and Monday. Between now and then I'll be making another batch of buckeyes, and baking two cakes. No days off from work, so it will be a bit nuts in the evenings around here, but I'll pop back in when I can to report on the sleep quotient, or lack thereof!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday - The Day After

Let me begin this evening by saying, once again, I LOVE MY CUSTOMERS! I posted earlier today about the poor candle that would not be a project this year because I did not like it. One of my customers stopped by this evening to pick up her order, and she thought if I just did all stars on the candle (read: lose the tree), it would be fine. So I might! I'll work on that this week and see if I can make it happen.

I actually got some of the stuff done today as planned. Does it count if you check things off your To Do list, but you also add more stuff to the bottom? I thought so ....

Yesterday was my last craft show of the year, so I took everything to my storage unit and unloaded it this morning. The door to my storage unit barely closed, I kid you not! This is one of those "added to the list" tasks for myself this Winter - give away some of that 'stuff' I have in there!

Once the car was emptied out, I went home and loaded it up again with all the flattened-for-recycling SU boxes and the rest of my massive collection of recycling stuff, including five empty kitty-litter containers. I had been using them as weights for my tent (which I no longer own), and finally, I will be rid of them! So off I went to the recycling center, only to find it was closed. CLOSED! Grrrrr .... I turned around and came back home. Bah! I'll try again next weekend. For now, my car is one big recycling bin. I hope the neighbors don't report me or anything ...

Working backwards, here, Saturday's show went pretty well. If the whole day had gone like the first 2 hours, I could have retired! Well, maybe not, but it would have been really, really nice. Here's the booth set-up du jour, which was pretty much like my last show.

I left the photo un-cropped so you can get the feel for the size of the gym we were in. Oh, and look - card racks with no cards ... I took care of that after I took the photo. The right grid wall holds all of my gift packs.

Here's the other side of the booth with all my City Cards and my pathetic Christmas tree. (You can see some of the GORgeous wooden items for sale next to me.) For the first time, I sold something I thought would not sell - those ribbon bookmarks! My first customer bought eight of them for her book club! Woo-hoo! I also sold some of the City Cards I made last week for the specific towns of this particular show.

I was also surprised by what did not sell. I sold more single Holiday cards than I thought I would, but I sold only one box of cards. No gift card boxes sold at all. Bummer. But all is not lost - they will be added to my online store here shortly.

[Sudden change of subject ... just work with me here ... we're now back to today ...] Then it was time to make the buckeyes. I only did one batch today, which was just about right, given everything else I had planned to accomplish. Here's an out-of-focus shot (sorry) of the assembly line process:

From left to right, we have: extra bags of milk chocolate chips; a BIG bowl of peanut butter + sugar + butter mix; a plate full of already-rolled-up balls of the stuff; a double-boiler with melted chocolate chips + some paraffin; and finally, a cookie sheet with wax paper and the beginnings of chocolate-covered balls of goodness.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, this is as wide as my kitchen is. You can see the side of the fridge to the right (it is black on the side), and you can also see where I stopped painting a few years back. The green paint is the newer color. To the left of those bags of chocolate chips is about 1 1/2 feet before you hit the left wall. See - teeny, tiny.

Remember when I said you'd need some empty table space to allow the dipped buckeyes to cool? Well here it is: a workshop table that straddles all the pantry overflow stacked up on my Kitchen floor. [Please pay no attention to those silly ant traps. They have done their duty and will be thrown away momentarily...]

No, those squash(es) to the right are not part of the process. They had to be moved off the counter to make room for the cookie sheet. And as I type this, the pumpkin is in the oven - cooked and cooling. It is destined to be pumpkin cake later this week.

And THEN, I uploaded about 20+ cards to my online store. Woo-hoo! Um, at this rate, I'll be done uploading them by next April, when I'll need to prepare for my May farmers markets. Baby steps ... baby steps.

Now I need to go finish some laundry so I can go to work tomorrow. I'll be back later this week with an update on that candle, plus now that the buckeyes are finished, I'll need to design a bag topper so I can give them to the lucky workshop attendees next weekend.

Thanks for stopping by!

Stamping On Candles (Not This Year!)

Busy day today at Chez Crooked Stamper, but I'll post later on that. I thought I'd actually show you something stamping-related, first. Crazy, I know!

This time of year, stamping on candles is quite popular. I tried it for the first time last year, and it is really too easy! You can check out the tutorial here on Splitcoast.

This was my first attempt - not too bad. I was encouraged enough to graduate to a larger candle and a stamp set that needed to be colored in.

Here I used the now-retired City Of David set. You can see where I messed up at the top and bottom of the candle where I failed to trim off enough of the tissue paper. I do not re-do these things...instead I show them to my customers as what NOT to do when they make theirs. ;-)

This is the back of the City Of David candle.

Here was option 2 for my customers last year - the Peaceful Wishes set (now also retired...sigh.) The next photo is the back of the Peaceful Wishes candle.

Okay - that was last year. I only did these for my workshops; I have yet to make candles to sell. I dunno know why...maybe it's that whole "if they do not sell, I'll need to store them for a year" thing that keeps me from doing it. Ya think?! :-)

I've told my customers I might include a candle project again, so I've been trying to make one that I felt would be workshop-worthy. It failed to happen. I wanted to use the Christmas Classics set I just HAD to have, but had yet to ink. I also wanted to try heat-embossing some of the images to see how they transferred to the candle. I inked the tree with Artichoke, and wiped off the star at the top. I then colored the star with my Versamarker and stamped it onto the tissue paper, then embossed the star with gold EP. As you can see - it transfers just fine! You can probably also see where I over-heated the candle and melted the bottom edge - not good.

Then I thought I'd get clever and stamp a bunch of gold-embossed stars on the rest of the candle, and you can see I cut some in half and attempted to line them up with the top and bottom edges. I am so not thrilled with this result, that we will NOT be making candles next weekend.

And now I have about 20 candles on my kitchen floor that will need to be stored. Oh, bother. Maybe I'll come up with something else later this week, but probably not.

Well, back to the excitement that is my life here. I'll be back later to share. Hint: Buckeyes in the works ... ;-)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Almost There!

I thought I'd start off tonight with a shot of a typical evening at the Crooked Stamper domicile. That's me (okay, my leg) in my jammies, laptop in its place, and kitty snuggled right next to me. It just does not get much better than this. As I type right now, we are in the exact same positions. :-) [Please pay no attention to those pieces of paper on the right. They are a few remaining receipts that need to be entered in the spreadsheet. Just look away ...]

So I've been not stamping much this week ... guess I really did burn out last weekend! But I have futzed a bit here and there, hoping to get that last project for next weekend's workshops.

Remember this one? I wanted to add some bling to liven it up ...

And here it is. I think it is just enough oomph to make it not so boring. So far, this one is still in the running.

Then tonight I ran across this card on Splitcoast, and I had to give it a try. I changed it up so I could use some of my much-loved but never-used SU stash, namely the Filigree brads and my as-yet-unopened Ski Slope papers. (Didja notice? No ribbon! )

Recipe (All Stampin' Up!): Stamps - Cheers to You; Paper - Kiwi Kiss, Choc Chip, Whisper White, Ski Slope DS paper; Ink - Stazon; Other - Filigree brad, Square Scallop punch, Old Olive and Real Red markers, Crystal Effects.

I think it is a little top-heavy with all those layers plus that yummy brad. I dunno, it still needs work, but not tonight! I am turning in early, because I must get up early to go set up my booth. I'll let you know how that goes later this weekend.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It Needed Ribbon (Really!)

In a Good Demo moment a while ago, I purchased three of the Handmade Holiday Card Elements packs, sans stamps. I had high hopes to use the cards for one of my workshops, using existing stamp sets in my collection, but it never happened. And now, for a December workshop, it would a little too late to show my customers something they will not be able to order and get in time for the holidays, so what to do ... what to do ...

The other day I went through the exercise of opening one of the kits and making all of the cards. Then I yawned and promptly set them aside. I think I need more of a challenge. These kits are really meant for people with no time but still want to make their cards (it took me about 30 minutes to make 18 cards...), or for new stampers who want instant gratification. Now usually *I* want instant gratification, but, well, I guess I am just not a kit kind of gal.

Let's give them a gander, okay?

Here is card #1:

I used the Peace stamp from the retired Perfect Endings set instead of the suggested 'To You & Yours' set that I did not buy. Eh, it's okay. But it was nekkid! Nekkid, I say! The kits had NO RIBBON! The nerve! So - I added some. This one uses the retired Taupe grosgrain (yes, I hoarded it.)

Here is card #2. Nekkid, until I fixed it by adding some ribbon.

And here is card #3. Yes, more ribbon. It needed it, okay?

I need to tell you, though, the story of the fate of these 18 cards (not to worry - it's a happy ending!) It all started yesterday at lunch, when a co-worker of mine mentioned he'd probably not have time to get his Holiday cards this year, so he would just not send any. A little alarm went off in my brain, and I asked him if ...oh, say ... 18 cards would be enough? He thought Yes, so I brought them in today to show him. He liked them and agreed to buy them. I told him I wanted to add ribbon to make them look more finished, but he said I did not need to do it for him. Well, I wasn't; I was doing it for me.

I even went so far outside of my usual routine as to stamp on the envelopes, too:

Things get really wild around here sometimes.

That's about all the excitement I have to share this evening. I am still working on another project for my December workshops, but none of my attempts have panned out to anything workshop-worthy yet. Well, one of them has, but it needs a heat gun for embossing, and I already have two embossing projects. I'll either need to cut one of those (definitely possible) or come up with another idea. I'll do a little more lurking and see what I can dream up in the next few days. ;-) Thanks for stopping by!