Sunday, August 18, 2013

Comparisons: Distress vs......Distress?

Hi all!  I decided to do a little comparison today with a lovely stamp that found it's way into my stash yesterday.  It's one of Rubbernecker's watercolor stamps and it's whole purpose is  to create beautiful imperfection.  Since this post will be image heavy - I'll try to keep the chatter to a minimum.  Let's start with the image from Rubbernecker.

Original Source: Watercolor Poppies
If you click on the link, there's a pretty great demo video available.  I personally love this set and was super excited to work with it!  While the demo tape uses distress inks and markers to color the images, I thought I'd give distress paints a try as well.  In each picture, the distress paint image is on the left and the distress ink/marker image is on the right.  The final image is colored with distress ink and markers.

A few notes - I really prefer the distress inks and markers for this image with one exception.  I really liked the vibrancy of the first image on the left.  I think the pinks are much more vibrant.  The blue image on the right is my hands down favorite of them all.  I think I might have enjoyed the painted version more if I could have done a better job of lining up the second stamp and would have had the exact same colors.  Sadly, distress paint is not available in tumbled glass or peacock feathers so I was working with a pretty different color palette.  I might give white a try as the base on my next run.  If you want a better look at each sample, click on the picture.

I absolutely can't wait to do more with these sets and play around with a few more solid/brush stroke stamps I have in my stash.  I also have a great idea for some existing flower stamps I have that are outlines.  I'll keep you posted on how things progress.  I'll also start providing full supply information when I've got a better handle on things.  I hope everyone's been doing really well.  Until then...

Friday, August 2, 2013

Am I Crazy?

I might be crazy - but I still think I can do it. I can read 50 books by December 31, 2013. I'll just need to do a few things, like...

Turn off the television.
Stay awake and present.
Take lunch breaks to eat healthy (to keep me awake) and read or write.
Abandon books that don't interest me - no more hanging in there until the end. They have fifty pages to get it together.
Pay my library fine - then I can rent books with a deadline attached...more motivation.
Determine my true priorities.

I still might be crazy - but there's a plan there. I just need to decide if reading 50 books is a "true" priority. It's so hard trying to decide what's important. I will never get over how I've been in this body, mind, and heart 24 hours a day for the last 36+ years and still have no idea what I really want. It just doesn't seem possible. But here I am...Strange how things work. I'll keep you posted on my decisions.

Quick update: I think I've finally narrowed down my CHA picks (maybe) and will be going forward with that post in the next few days. Hope everyone is having a great Friday. Until then...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

So...I Didn't Forget

Real quick: I did not forget about CHA or my promise that I would do an ENTIRE week of posts on my favorite new products. I had every intention of doing those posts. And then I saw Pinterest and other blogs and how beautifully they summarized the new crafty lines and the show and wondered if my voice was needed. And that, my friends, is why comparison is the thief of joy (not sure who said that). So - my plan is to do a post at some point this week. I loved a ton of things - so I'm narrowing it down to eight. I know it seems like a random number - but it's my favorite number and I need to reign it in - so eight.

Right Now: I'm working on scrapbook layouts for my sister about my nephew. I'm using ideas and content from Ali Edwards's class, Hello Story (registration for this class is closed). I'm trying to recover from a string of social activities. As a strong introvert, my energy is completely depleted at this point. I refused to leave the house to get coffee today. I might do a little art journaling. I made a spray mist background yesterday. My only other plan is to rest, with a capital R. Tonks (my beastly kitty) will be resting along with me. Hope everyone is having a great Sunday! Until then...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Thoughts on Living with Chronic Illness

I know I'm shifting gears. This is a crafty blog after all - my identified niche so to speak. But - I think it also serves as a memory keeping tool. It's another way to tell my story. So I've decided to do some documentation here on the blog about my battle with weight and chronic illness and my current attempt to get from under the muck.

I have an auto-immune disease. There are a wide range of diseases and conditions in this category - my particular condition mounts a pretty sophisticated attack on primarily my joints and connective tissues - which doesn't sound horrible until someone tells you that your have an unstable C-spine (neck). Then that shit gets real. I've had it sixteen years and have seen a lot of changes in both my body and treatments. I was only nineteen when the symptoms started - two months shy of my twentieth birthday. Within four months - I had a diagnosis.

I'm not sure people understand what a gigantic blessing it is to have to wait such a short time to get some answers. I've seen posts and read stories about men and women struggling for years to find a name for their pain. They have somewhat similar stories as mine. Negative rheumatoid factor. Bi-lateral pain in multiple joints. High levels of inflammation in the body. Overall body weakness. Insomnia. I was one of the lucky ones. I had quality medical insurance from my parents after my eighteenth birthday. I had the ability to go home to see a local specialist in the area where my parents lived. I had an experienced doctor capable and willing to use x-rays to diagnose my condition. He didn't mess with the negative factor. The downside was that I had developed an arthritic pattern of destruction in my joints which could be detected on x-rays in four short months - still I'm pretty lucky.

My first treatment protocol included immune suppressing drugs called DMARDS, pain medications, and prednisone. At the time, I had no idea what taking these medications would do to my body or what they meant for long term functioning. I do now.

In the last sixteen years, I've experienced a lot in terms of my illness. I've had great days - almost pain free. However, these are pretty rare. My immune system was pretty good at destroying my joints in the early days causing degenerative arthritis in my feet and hands. My body began to both destroy and fuse my joints at the same time. I've had one surgery - on my right foot - and am in desperate need for another on the left foot. Unfortunately, I had a pretty rough time of it the first go around and am in no way ready to leap into another surgery experience. I've been through several advancements in treatments and now get regular infusions to suppress my immune system.

I've had days when I've shrieked with pain the moment my feet have hit the floor. I've had to hold on to walls to get down the hallway at my work place. I've had terrible side effects from medications which have required additional specialists and as you might have guessed - more pills. It takes approximately 31 pills to keep this body running each day, 42 on Sunday. I've gained over a 100 pounds in the first few years after my diagnosis, partly due to long term prednisone use and extremely poor eating habits. I've dealt with depression secondary to a medical condition. I've had to endure the blank stares of people I know and love as I explain RA and that it is not a direct result of my obesity. I've had to listen to people talk about how my RA will go away if I lose weight - like my immune system will magically heal itself (a story for another day). I've faced the never ending process of not knowing what each day will bring. However, I'm learning new and promising things all the time...

I started listening to a nutrition podcast recently which talked about the link between nutrition and autoimmune conditions. I've been doing some research and it turns out that most of your immune system (60-80%) can be found in your digestive track - specifically your small intestine or gut. There are some that believe the key to treatment, reduction, and elimination of symptoms lies in healing the gut. And this is where it gets a little confusing. I've heard a number of different recommendations on what nutritional approach is best, including:

Gluten Free Diet
Gluten Free, Casein Free, and Soy Free Diet
Gluten Free, Casein Free, Soy Free, and Corn Free Diet
Paleo Diet
Paleo Diet (auto-immune protocol)

In addition, there are different protocols and in some cases it includes eliminating a variety of kinds of food. When I contacted my doctor regarding trying a Paleo diet, he had never heard of it. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of scientific, empirical research out there on nutritional treatments for many autoimmune conditions. However he did have some patients that had experienced success with a gluten-free diet. I bought this book and have started to read it. I also have books on gluten-free eating. I started a board on Pinterest devoted to Paleo and have bookmarked several blogs. I've actually thought about going gluten free for approximately two years - but I just can't imagine doing it. I don't cook. I love cupcakes and Bread Co. How am I supposed to live my life without gluten - that IS the question. Don't even think about getting me started on casein free, soy free, and corn free. It's information overload. It seems unlikely at best...if it weren't for this one thing.

Do I love cupcakes more than mobility?
Do I value food more than my family or myself?
Do I want to get better? What exactly do I have to lose from giving it a try?
What if doing this meant I could do the thing I thought I couldn't? What if it changed everything?

So I'm bound and determined to at least try out this new way of eating. It's going to require A LOT of changes. I'm not sure anyone believes I can do it. I'm not sure I believe I can do it. I'm currently in the contemplation stage of change. I could try to delude myself into thinking I'm in the preparation stage; however, I'm currently reading and researching as I drink a Venti Soy White Chocolate Mocha with no whip cream. Can you see the irony? I have quite a long way to go. To be completely honest - I have no idea how I'm going to start.

I just know that I need to do something else. I can't continue to let the pills and pounds pile up. I want to be able to walk with my nephews and niece. I want to be able to run after them. I want something better...and maybe, just maybe, that is worth more than a cupcake. I sure hope so. It's time to be a more active participant in my treatment plan. I plan on doing periodic blog posts as I begin to travel down this new path. My first goal is to provide relief to my digestive track. I'm not thinking about the extra weight at this point. I think it's a good start. Actually, I hope it's a good start.

Please note: I will be doing a series on my struggles with auto-immune disease. These entries are reflective of my experience only. I am not a medical professional. Any content should not be treated as a recommendation or endorsement.

Crafty Update: I haven't forgotten about CHA week. I'm just trying to wrap my head around how to categorize all of the fabulous products. I'm also trying to wrap my head around the fact that they won't all be coming to my house - no matter how much I might want them too. I wish there was a scrapbook fairy - wouldn't that be fantastic? Anyhoo - hope everyone's having a great Tuesday. Until then...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Confessions

Please draw your attention to the post below. Please look closely at the picture. Notice the distress markers located right next to the 2 liter of Sprite Zero and then guess what I found in the refrigerator eight hours after clearing the table. Yes, my distress markers. I can't even begin to wrap my head around how this might have happened. I'm not sure how I didn't notice the big bottle of soda on the table when I walked by multiple times. I don't know how I didn't notice the difference in weight when I was walked the markers into the kitchen. I just know that I was in complete shock when I found my distress markers on the top shelf of my fridge. And then I was pissed, why? Not because my full set of 24 distress markers were in the fridge, but because my soda was warm. So I shook it off with a whatcha gonna do attitude and drank some warm soda. Hoy vey. Life is weird sometimes. Gotta love it. Hope everyone is having a great Sunday! Until then...

BTW: I'll keep you posted on whether the distress markers are effected by their time in the cooler. I did check to make sure one of the markers still worked. Lord, help me.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

My Craft Desk (otherwise known as the dining room table)

I wanted to do a quick post to show what my crafty space looked like after my fiasco yesterday.  I'm considering calling it my triumphant fiasco - as in I conquered it.  I should totally play Conquest (one of the main USC songs) when trying new crafty techniques - it could totally change my frame of mind.  I digress.  So here's a quick picture...

Please note: there are some organization issues with the table.  The box on the upper left is filled with miscellaneous crap that needs to be organized, boxed, and put in the closet.  The big bottle of Sprite Zero belongs in the refrigerator and the mail and newspapers need to be recycled.  Oh, and the comb needs to put away - but everything else was part of the frenzy of crafting.  I would say 2/3 of the table.  I just wanted to share to give an idea of what this space looks like when I go into battle.  I hope it makes someone feel a little better.  Hope everyone is having a lovely Saturday.  Next week, I will be sharing my favorite CHA finds (so far).  It'll be a week of product lusty goodness.  I'm so excited. Until then...

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Fiasco - The Late Version

Today is my good friend's 50th birthday.  Being a self-proclaimed recluse, only big occasions seem to get me out of my house these days.  You would think that with all of that time on my hands I would have had a card prepared before 6:30 pm the night of her birthday dinner...and you would be

Picture in a complete relaxed state watching videos mulling over what new technique I'm going to try on my friend's birthday card.  Picture me choosing this very cool technique from the uber-talented Britta Swiderski.  Picture me reminding myself that things could get dicey BUT IT WILL BE OKAY.  Then picture me sitting down at my craft table to do said technique and basically just losing my shit.  Why?  Because there's a learning curve and no matter how much I prepare myself mentally, I'm never going to be okay with a piece of paper that looks like this...

This is my very unfortunate first attempt.  I decided to give gelatos a try instead of distress ink to change it up a bit.  Rule #1: It is not the best idea to "change it up a bit" when learning something new.  I was frustrated but I pushed on going back to the original instructions.  I ended up with this...

In my opinion, there are a few things that went wrong here.  My color choices were not strong enough.  I really wanted colors similar to the ones used in my first try but I don't have those colors in distress inks.  My friend loves pink and I'm a teal girl - so I was a little stuck (part of the reason I reached for the gelatos first).  I choose to use a yellow spray mist - which really cancelled out the pink and reds I had added from my distress ink stash (spun sugar and worn lipstick).  I'm still not sure what color spray ink to use on a pink project.  My spray mists are uber-saturated and bright.  I thought about throwing in the towel at this point.  But I moved on...

The paper was originally slated to be part of the background of the card.  I had already chosen to use the SHE was a daughter stamp from Unity Stamp Co.  I decided to shift gears and make it the pattern on the dress.  I wasn't so happy with this choice but I REALLY wanted to try and make it work.  Pretty soon I realized there wasn't enough contrast.

So I got out my trusty gelatos and tried to deepen the contrast and even add a little pink and red to the mix.  I wasn't successful in bringing out the pinks and reds - but there was a little more contrast between layers of the dress.  I was somewhat satisfied.  I then moved on to putting the pieces of the card together.  By this time - I had maybe 15 minutes to get everything done so I had to work fast.

And there it is...  the finished card.  Surprisingly, I am really happy with it.  There isn't a strong resemblance to it's original state.  However, I was able to make it work which is really all that matters.  If I had to do it over again - I would stamp the image and color the dress with gelatos.  Unfortunately that wouldn't have been nearly as fun as sweating it out to the finish line (in this case). There were a number of other different errors - the card was too big and I ended up sticking it down and letting it flow over the edges.  I also made a mistake while writing and ended up having to cover the inner part of the card...

Notice the extra portion of the card in brown on the opposite page.  I could not find any envelopes.  I had to put the card in one of those small brown paper bags you get when you buy something small from your LSS.  I stapled it and stamped a birthday balloon on the front.  Done and done.

Anyhoo,  before I head out for the night, I want to leave you with a few things I learned today.

  • Being a beginner sometimes means following directions...EXACTLY.  
  • It's okay to accept your beginner status when trying new things even if you've been doing some other version of that hobby/craft/activity for years.
  • Sometimes you have to accept the mistakes and move on.  Cutting the front of the card down would have been a much bigger mistake than having a 1/4 inch overflow on two sides.  Weigh your options.
  • When things go wrong - reinvent.  I could have totally walked away from my orange background - but I pressed on and I think it worked in my favor.  
  • As's okay to mess up.  It's okay to lose it sometimes.  It's okay to just say screw it and throw your experiment in the trash or to push on and see where it goes.  Both options have value.  Only you can decide what choice is right.  In this case, I had no time and I'm really glad.  

So there it is...two fiascos, lots of steps, and one finished card.  I'm totally ready to try the technique again - staying closer to my own chosen color palette and see where it leads.  I will post the results here.  I hope everyone is having a great Friday evening or Saturday (wherever you are in the world).  Until then...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Disappearing Acts

It pretty much goes without saying that if I'm missing from this blog - I'm experiencing some kind of creative block. Thankfully I pulled out some pictures and really thought about some of the stories I've wanted to tell. I've been trying to create cohesion in my albums and there was a big hole in my nephew's story.

On the day Kai was born, I had the forethought to take a picture. I wanted to document my feelings about the birth of my nephew with a picture of the two of us. Since he lives on the eastern side of the country and I'm smack in the middle of the heartland, it wasn't possible to get a picture together. Luckily someone had flipped the switch on to my brain that morning. I took a picture in the car on my way to work. And then he was born and my heart expanded. I'm not sure why I've waited almost 11 months to scrap this story. I'm just glad I've finally did.

One of the things that I love about the Lucky Charm line is the use of the "You are My Sunshine" lyrics. It is perfect for expressing how I feel about Mr. Kai. I would like to say this layout was easy - but it would be an absolute mother-effing lie. I was constantly trying to make things fit into the rule of thirds, mixing colors, getting the story on the page, etc. I wanted to pull out my effing hair. And then it finally just clicked. Some people refer to that as serendipity...others call it luck...and I call it grace. Grace to be able to tell the story. Grace to be able to quiet the overly critical voices in my head long enough to do something creative. Grace to be blessed with such a beautiful little baby in my life - despite the distance. Just grace...

And I leave you with that and a quick update. Since my fiasco and futile attempts to make cards (which never happened), crafting has pretty much come to a complete stop in these parts. Thankfully I got my ass in my chair yesterday and took another spin today. The success is posted above. Today was nothing short of a cluster@#$!. Plenty of fodder for a fiasco post. I'm going to do my best to be around here more for the second part of the month. I hope you're all doing well. Until then...

Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Fiasco also known as The Time I made an Amalgamation of Crap

I have made the decision to devote Friday blog posts to total effing fiascos and/or failures. Yesterday I mentioned plans to make fifteen cards in a messy, imperfect style by Sunday - clearly showing that I had lost my friggin' mind. I got to work pretty soon after my declaration. These two pieces of paper are the product of my first attempts at mixed media cardmaking.

At this point you might be wondering what products I used. I'm not going to tell you - I think it's a real disservice to the manufacturers. I would feel they were totally justified in telling me to cease and desist in discussing or using their products. I actually like the polka dots on the right. We'll see if it goes on any project. I promise I will share products if and/or when they make the cut.

In the past, I would have thrown in the towel, shook my hands at the heavens, and swore to never pick up another crafty material ever. I would have started to make mental lists of which friends would get my supplies while calling my good friend and cursing her for directing me towards this crafty journey. I am so thankful God has a sense of humor. He must look down at me and laugh or at least I hope...

Moving on...I did not throw in the towel. I made another attempt today. I decided my project on the left fell victim to overly ambitious color choices and should be seen as a a simple mistake, not a complete failure. This is progress people. So I decided to go monochromatic...and then changed my mind (like an idiot).

I stamped a variety of images and it looked okay. And then I decided to add yellow. I was thinking of the paper I planned to use on the cards - and thought it was a GREAT idea. It was not. The paper was saturated with water at the time I took this photo - and maybe even now. When I saw the yellow - I knew I had made a mistake. I tried to correct it by overstamping with the other colors - I don't think it worked. I'm waiting for it to dry and reassessing before declaring it a catastrophe.

At this point you might be wondering when the bitching and moaning is going to end. But here's the thing, most people don't take the time to show their failures. My first attempts suck pretty much unequivocally. Sometimes it takes me years to try something new let alone actually like what I do - I'm really not about the imperfection. And there was a time I would have thrown in the towel and went back to what works for me. The problem is...nothing changes that way - I don't learn anything new. I don't grow or evolve. This is no longer acceptable. So I've decided to share and move forward because I will "master" just might take longer than a few days. Guess what? It's okay. It has to be. Hope everyone is having a nice Friday evening. Until then...

P.S. I will be going back to the "old" way to finish the cards for my friend by Sunday. I'm just not giving up on my mixed-media journey.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Your Mission: Choose to Accept It

I've been home for almost two weeks. I had a very kind friend take care of my beastly kitty while I was away and I've been planning on getting her a gift or even better making something. Handmade is always a good thing. The problem is...I won't get off my keister and do it. It's a pretty simple thing really. Right? BTW: I'm horrible at this kind of thing. I haven't even called to check-in. It's terrible.

So this morning, I collected a large group of stamps. I was thinking more about being creative, having fun, and coming out with a bundle of mixed media cards for my friend wrapped in twine with a bow. Simple. Yes. Unfortunately, simple and I don't seem to be all. Did you notice how many stamps I pulled out? Many of these images are stamps I've never touched OR I've "simply" thrown in the towel after a particularly dastardly craft session. Many of these images have never seen the light of day on any kind of project. It's a shame. To be fair, five of these sets are relatively new - did I just say five? Sheesh! Moving on...

So this is what I'm working with...some might say there are far too many choices. I think it's plenty. I won't be getting up to get more stamps and I have a very loose framework in mind. Make them messy, imperfect, and pretty. I've never done this style before...which makes this mission precarious at best. I'm not sure if it's even my friend's style now that I think about it - but I hope it works out. I plan to use a bunch of my coloring mediums; distress inks, paints, stains, markers etc; inktense pencils; spray mist; watercolor crayons and so on.

I plan to start today by my very efficient visitor (I call him Dad) already has a list of errands to run. He has promised a day spent at home tomorrow. We'll see. So this is my plan or mission. Make 15 cards. Print out a variety of sentiments in pretty fonts, cut them into strips, bag them and put them with the card bundle. I don't usually put sentiments on my cards unless they are part of the set. So I want to give my friend choices. It's the first time I'll be doing it this way. Bundle the cards in teal twine and put in a cute box with a glue stick. Present to friend with apologies for being a gigantic ass and not calling immediately. My mission deadline is Sunday...I'm choosing to accept it. I might make a few changes to stamp images or color mediums but for now I'm pretty happy. Hope you're still having a great day (two posts in one day). Until then...

P.S. I just counted and there are 25 sets of stamps on that table - I've lost my mind.

The Pleasure of Your Comapny

Sometimes it's easy for me to forget. It's easier to keep my head down, avoid eye contact, and not notice the person next to me. As an introvert, I often pride myself on being a loner. Still, I forget. I forget about the opportunities to learn more about people - I constantly miss them.

This reality smacked me right across the face yesterday when I visited a local diner. It's one of those hole in the wall, wonderful gems that everyone has in their neighborhood. Being a consummate loner, I didn't find out about this gem for almost EIGHT years. It's a tiny place. There are only four to five tables, two counters, and really great simple, greasy, diner food.

Yesterday, my father and I went to this little gem for the second time in four or five days. It was clear we were surrounded by regulars, people greeting one another, and having a generally grand time. Eventually, we ended up next to two older adults chatting about all kinds of things including; military service, Vietnam, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Muscular Dystrophy, Lake Tahoe, road trips, rental cars...and the list goes on. This is in large part due to my lovable, affectionate, extroverted father and our two lovely neighbors being willing to chat.

As I sat there nodding, listening, and chiming in occasionally, I realized something important. This is the stuff of life - this is the story. I immediately knew I wanted to tell this story. One of our neighbors - an older woman - said she would maybe see me again if I came in to the diner in the future. What a kindness - just this one small thing. Someone who doesn't even know me - commenting more than once on seeing me again.

It's okay to be a loner. I'm proud of my introverted personality and try to respect it as much as possible. I just need to remember to get talk to look them in the nod and listen. Because these moments are the stuff of life. They are the opportunity to feel connected and part of a larger whole. It's worth the risk. I'm glad I got a chance to see that yesterday. I hope I continue to go there and chat with other customers. It's a small thing but it could be great. Hope everyone's having a great day. Until then...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Foodie Fiction Love

I prescribe to the 8-year old theory postulated by Ms. Alison Lee of Craftcast fame. I don't actually know if this theory is her brainchild or not - but it's excellent. My own interpretation of this theory is that if you want to connect with what you truly love - think back to when you were in second or third grade and you'll find some really great clues.  This idea has worked great for me when it comes to connecting with what I REALLY love.  When I look back on those times, I base my age on where my family lived. We hoped around our town a few times when I was in elementary school - so second and third grade are pretty clear.

Between first and second grade, I visited the classroom of my sister's godmother and found those old school SRA cards and was immediately sucked in. I wanted to read all of them. When I entered the second grade, I remember begging my favorite teacher of all time to let me read those cards - not realizing at the time that they weren't specifically geared for me. She finally gave in...but I had sort of moved on. I think this is around the time I was reading the Ramona books. I loved this year - this class. Coincidentally, it's also the year I remember feeling inferior at coloring and art. I envied the artistic abilities of some of my classmates. And being a little perfectionistic - I wrote myself off as ever being any kind of artist...a longer story for another day

In third grade, my class studied China and I loved everything about this year long project. We did tons of reading, researching, coloring, etc. My teacher made the whole subject come to life. I loved it. I remember the school library and loving the books there. And then there was the bookmobile. Over the summer, my sister, cousin and I would bike down to the local park and borrow books from the traveling library known as the bookmobile. That place was heaven...basically a food truck for bibliophiles. And I definitely was a bibliophile.  BTW: I've put a picture of a supercool bookmobile at the top of this post.  This was NOT my bookmobile.  I wish - it's quite cool. 

Twenty eight years later and I'm still in love with books. I could go into it more - but this post is already getting quite long and after three long paragraphs, it might just be time to get to the point. As time goes on, our passions and interests evolve. It's a natural progression of things. I find that my reading is often filled with what I'm loving in my real life - cupcakes, scrapbooking, books, art, etc. So it comes as no surprise that my newest love is foodie fiction.

I'm currently reading this...

I'm absolutely loving this book. Prior to this book, I read The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. Loved it. Previous to that, I read From the Kitchen of Half Truth by Maria Goodin. Loved it too.  I can't wait to read The Lost Art of Mixing, Erica Bauermeister's follow-up to her previous novel (listed above). I've definitely fell down the rabbit hole and want to read and see more of this hybrid genre.  I've found a number of resources on Foodie Fiction and other possible reads. So excited.  I also have a lot of books on my Kindle and Nook apps ripe for the taking or reading as it may be.

It's a funny thing really. I wouldn't consider myself a foodie - although I do love food. I spend most of my money on books and craft supplies so there isn't much left over for extravagant meals. I call myself a cupcake connoisseur, but that will all be changing very soon. It has come as a little bit of a surprise that I love this sub-genre of fiction as much as I do. There's just something about these books that make me happy. Maybe because food is such a sensual experience? I just know that it's my new obsession. I plan on keeping everyone posted on my reading exploits in the fictional foodie world as time passes. Can't wait to read more.

Today I have plans to get a few errands done, eat at least two meals, drink lots of water, and stay dry.  We've got a path of strong storms traveling towards my area.  Praying that everyone stays safe.  Hopefully I'll get a chance to do some crafting and reading.  I have some cards to make for gifts to a very helpful friend.   I bought those stamps from Monday's post yesterday.   I'm a hot mess.  I have the impulse control of a gnat.  Anyhoo...I hope everyone is having a great day. Congrats on making it this far down - rather wordy I was today. :) Until then...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Product Love: Stamp Your Story

Pardon my nostalgia - but today's product love brings me back to the very humble beginnings of this little blog of mine. One of my very first product love posts was devoted to Hero Arts. I've loved their company for quite some time. As my stash has grown and the number of super cool manufacturers has gone along with it - I sometimes need a little push to remember where it all started. I'm so glad I got that chance recently...which brings me to this week's post.

Last week, I came upon the new Hero Arts Daubers and almost lost my mind. How in the world did I not know about this product? And then I saw this card. And a few days later watched this video and knew it was time to make a visit to one of my favorite stamp manufacturer's site. I was greeted by this lovely image (please click image for source).

I want you to take a moment to look at that tag. It is exactly the kind of breezy, painterly effect I long for on my pages and cards. I had no idea Hero Arts had a new set of products or that they were this effing cool.

So I found my two must-haves for now and am trying to figure out a way to finagle these two products and this class into my budget. Another MUST-HAVE in my book. After a few attempts to get a decent picture of these stamps - I have thrown in the towel entirely and am giving the links instead. The two stamp sets I am loving right now are Not Perfect and Brush Strokes. The cling set is definitely my favorite. There is an entire category on the Hero Arts blog devoted to this new product line here. I plan on taking a closer look today. I'm so stoked. I hope everyone is having a great Monday. Until then...

P.S. For those of you thinking about Ali's class (mentioned above) - there is a really great preview on the Big Picture Classes site which personally turned a maybe into a HECK, YEAH for me. I would definitely take a look if you're even thinking about taking the course.

One more thing...I'm not affiliated with these companies or people in any way (I wish!), I just love great content and products and none of these companies/people disappoint. :)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Random Musings: Pinspiration

I just looked at my boards on Pinterest solely dedicated to layouts - meaning they actually have the word "layout" in the name. I have forty seven. Forty seven. Let me explain - I had boards with hundreds of layouts - they were of NO USE to me. I couldn't find anything - so I slowly started making changes. I started dividing my boards by motif, product, techniques, manufacturers, number of pictures, etc. It took a while to come up with the right mix but I finally feel like I have a place for 98% of the layouts I want to pin. Yet 47 does seem excessive. But here's the thing - I have groupings!
  • Arrows, Banners and Triangles

  • Circle and Grids

  • Confetti, Bursts, and Speech Bubbles

  • Map & Wood Grain

  • Stars and Hearts
Notice these groupings don't always make the most sense. But I have them to keep things underwhelming. The things one goes through to make everything simple can be quite complicated. I've heard things about the answer being simple but the question being complicated and vice versa. This feels like that in some ways. It's a simple concept - but the execution is a little more complicated.

So I'm wondering how you group your pins when it comes to layout inspiration. Do you make a large number of boards to keep small, meaningful groupings? Or do you have a small number of boards with large, meaningful groupings? Which way works best for you? Just in case you're interested, my boards can be found here. I hope everyone is having a lovely day full of fun pinning. Until then...

P.S. Funny thing...I sometimes write my posts early. I had 47 boards at the original time of this post. I now have 48. Someone help!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My First Love

I have no delusions of having a large audience on this little blog of mine...none. However, I know that many of you know that I'm an avid reader. Or that at least, I'd like to be. At the start of the year, I made a pledge to read 70 books which was a bit of a joke. I lowered the number to 50 within the first several weeks of the calendar year. And then, I pretty much gave up the ghost. At the end of May, I had read six books. Six. But something else amazing had happened...

My creative self had blossomed. I was making layouts again. I was being creative, playing with products in new ways, embracing my new role as auntie to Mr. Kai. I started to feel okay about the fact that I hadn't done a lot of reading. Still - reading is a part of who I am. I honestly can't remember a time I couldn't read - which should absolutely be chalked up to a bad memory not an early aptitude for word decoding.

Despite bloom being my word for the year, I yearned for balance. During the school year, it is very difficult to stay focused and self-care is a huge part of my profession - an area I'm working on. But no books get read at the end of the year...and very few layouts get made. The focus is on closing out the year and allowing my body enough rest and relaxation to get it done - period. It's the nature of the beast - at least for now.

So after the school year ended and I flew to visit my sister, I was confronted with a unique idea - a way of reframing this goal for my year. Reading is definitely part of my past - a huge part really. Scrapbooking and memory keeping is part of my present. They both are really. My life feels better when I'm in flow with these activities. It's utterly ridiculous to have these two really lovely parts of my life working as forces against one another. So a new pledge was born - the number is still 50. However, my plan is to add my crafty and reading accomplishments together and have them total the number 50 for the year.

I'm doing well from that point of view and am super excited to have this fresh outlook. Eventually I might want to add blog posts or journal entries to my number - but for now I'm keeping it super simple. I'm already close to the number 30 and am satisfied with this new, improved plan. Who said you can't have both. So that's it for now - just a few random musings on reading, crafting, and pledges. Hoping this day is finding you well. Until then...

BTW: For the source image, click the picture above or here.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Fill-Ins

Here we go...

1. I remember holding my nephew for the first time and being filled with joy and love. I never could have imagined he would turn into this cool little thrill seeker - crawling, standing, and desperately trying to take his first steps.

2. Cold rain is showering down in New Jersey

3. Queensland is a place I most want to visit.

4. NCIS will mostly likely be on my television this week.

5. I was inspired by the beautiful decor and cupcakes at Molly's Cupcake's in the West Village. I loved the Kahlua, Cake Batter, and Cookie Monster cupcakes. This place has definitely went to the top of my favorite cupcake bakeries list!

6. My iPad, Fiona (yes I name them), is the perfect traveling companion!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to hanging out with my sister, brother in-law, nephew, and parents; tomorrow my plans include spending time with my baby K's (Kayla, Kyle, and Kai); and Sunday, I want to enjoy the blessing of my sweet nephew, Kai.

P.S. I've been wanting to do this for a while. Unfortunately the Friday Fill-ins blog appears to have stopped. However, I did find a list on the wonderful Roben-Marie Smith's blog. I have decided to take her lead. I hope you are having a great day and staying dry, warm, and safe. Until then...

Monday, June 3, 2013

Product Love

I know I've been down and out for a bit - but I have not forgotten this place. I've flown the coop so to speak and am in babyland. Babies are precious, wonderful, tiring, and throw a huge kink in my daily flow. It is quite lovely (and I mean that with the utmost sincerity and sarcasm). So back to the "regular" programming, as if there's been such a thing. I bring you product love...

I love these folders and little bits. I can't imagine for the life of me what I would do with them - but I'm going to give it the good old college try once I have a chance. I'm sure there is a perfect project they can be used for...or I can just enjoy looking at them. Either way, it's a win on both counts. These beauties are from Alison Kreft for Webster Pages. I got the original source for the image here.

Alison Kreft is amazingly talented and I've admired her work for years. I'm glad she's doing work with other companies. So that's it for today. It happens to be rainy where I'm at today. After a few blistering hot days, it is a nice reprieve. I hope everything is well where you are at today. Until then...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Challenge Love: Sunday Sketch

Now that I'm part of the Studio Calico club - I decided to go on over to the Sunday Sketch challenge and see if anything there piqued my interest.  When I found this sketch I was initially a little befuddled.

Source Image

First, I don't do double page layouts.  Next, I've never been good at rocking the grid - although I might give it a try the next time I have 3X3's in the house.  Third, for some reason the left side of the sketch read like a card to me.  This is most likely due to my inherent need to layer things.  Finally, the example layout superimposed both sketches and I just couldn't wrap my head around it - despite the fact it was friggin' cool.  Then I scrapped four layouts and posted them on the blog.  A few hours later, my mind was still going and I was ready.

Supplies: Patterned Paper: American Crafts, Crate Paper, My Mind's Eye; Ink: Heidi Swapp, October Afternoon; Washi Tape: Target
I decided to stay with the basic foundation I used all day on Sunday.  I sprayed the Heidi Swapp Mint Green Color Shine Mist and really liked the results - finally a positive departure from the splatters (that I love by the way).  Then I went to work.  I decided to do the left side of the layout combined with the bottom third of the right-hand side of the sketch.  I thought I'd just set down the pieces and move on to something else - but the crafty bug had hit me...and I didn't stop until I was finished.

Supplies: Patterned Paper: American Crafts, Crate Paper, My Mind's Eye; Washi Tape: Target; Stickers: American Crafts, October Afternoon; Chipboard: Heidi Swapp; Ink: Heidi Swapp, October Afternoon; Pen: Sharpie; Other: Buttons
A few notes - the top line of journaling was added last - which should explain the weirdo spacing.  I just had to have that sentence there.  I know odd numbers rule the world of design, however, there are 8 buttons to represent the months this boy has been in our lives.  I used three stickers from the Dear Lizzy Lucky Charm Line.  There are three hearts - counting the one in the middle of the square sticker. That first sentence is driving me crazy.  I digress.

So that's it for this week (for now).  I hope everyone is having a great Wednesday.  Until then...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Product Love: Kit Club

Source Image
For the past few years, I've flirted with the idea of joining a kit club.  Last September, I took the plunge and joined the Cocoa Daisy kit club and really enjoyed it.  After the winter CHA products started arriving in stores, I canceled my membership.  My scrapbooking expenses were going way up as all of those wonderful goodies became available.  I recognized this wasn't a problem after the summer show because those products tend to be heavily holiday focused - and I'm definitely an everyday moments kind of scrapper.  I don't enjoy scrapping events or holidays.  After I had exhausted my spending opportunities at the local stores, I decided to give another kit club a try - Studio Calico.  I really enjoyed Cocoa Daisy.  I just wanted to see what another kit club had to offer.  I got my first kit this week - Planetarium and scrapbooked all weekend.  I loved it.  So I thought I'd devote this post to kit clubs and why they are so wonderful.

  • I get access to one of a kind products.
  • I get an opportunity to try out products I would never buy in a store - which can be surprisingly wonderful.
  • It takes the guess work out of matching products.
  • It opens me up to new color combinations.
  • It feeds the need for new crafty things in my house.
  • It provides an online community and access to oodles of inspiration, challenges, and overall informational goodness.  
  • They do not push holiday products.
  • They give me one more way to tell my story - and be motivated to do so.

I have a few other kits short listed to try out in the future.  If I keep on scrapping regularly, I might consider adding a second kit (if it's in my budget - yes, i said it).  I'll keep everyone posted.  I hope everyone's having a lovely Monday.  It might be time for me to start a count down to the day I get to see my nephew.  Love him so much.'s about that time, so....Until then...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

NSD '13: Lucky Number Seven!

This layout is big.  It's overworked.  It's a little crooked.   It's something!  It's the final layout in a long day of crafting ending in my seventh layout!  I met my goal - even if it wasn't a layout a day!  It also marks a pretty big milestone for this little guy.  He's cutting teeth like a champ - FIVE AT ONE TIME - and still smiling.  Love him so much.

The end of my NSD '13 celebrations is marked with this challenge by Shimelle.  I've had a great week and I can feel my bones starting to say 'what the hell is this girl thinking?'  It's about that time.  I hope everyone has a great Sunday.  Happy Mother's Day to all of you momma's out there.  Until then...

NSD '13: Use American Crafts Papers

Supplies: Pattered Paper: American Crafts, Elle's Studio; Chipboard: Heidi Swap; Stickers: American Crafts, Basic Grey; My Mind's Eye; Ink: Heidi Swapp, October Afternoon; Other: Sequins
I'm absolutely in love with both of these papers from American Crafts and Elle's Studio.  I'm in love with this little baby too.  This was actually the first layout today and it gave me a lot of steam.  I think I wouldn't have been so productive if the mixed-media layout would have been first.  I really loved the finished product.  I could go on and on - I don't know if it's the layout or the boy - either way- I'm happy.

BTW: Another layout for a Shimelle challenge!

NSD '13: Scrapbooking Smaller Photos

Supplies: Patterned Paper: Studio Calico, Crate Paper; Stickers: American Crafts, Basic Grey; Punch: Martha Stewart Crafts; Ink; Studio Calico, October Afternoon, Heidi Swapp; Other: Buttons
Hi All!  I completed this page for Shimelle's challenge: Scrapbook Smaller Photos.  I really love the finished layout.  Not much to say here.  One more challenge down.

NSD '13: Give Mixed Media a Try

Supplies: Patterned Paper: American Crafts, Heidi Swapp, October Afternoon; Embellishments: My Mind's Eye, Ormolu; Stickers: American Crafts: Stencils: Crafter's Workshop; Ink: Ranger: Colored Pencil; Prisma; Pen: Pilot Precise; Washi Tape: Target
This layout belongs in my total friggin' nightmare file.  I cannot get the hang of those 6X6 stencils.  The mixed media part of this layout seems to be the pox on the entire thing.  However - life goes on.  It is okay.  Deep breaths.  One more layout down and isn't my baby so cute?  Life is good.

BTW: Completed this layout for the Studio Calico challenge, Give Mixed Media a Try!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

NSD' 13: When Life Happens

I think we can all agree that I had some lofty plans for this last week.  Unfortunately life had different plans, as it often does.  I had neither the will or ability to take on any crafty projects at the end of my work days.  I actually spent one day at home trying to get ahead of the pain that comes along with my chronic condition.  I was disappointed with myself - until I spoke to my sister.  She told me it was okay - sound familiar?  She reminded me that seven layouts was MY goal and it was okay not to feel well.  It was okay to take care of myself in other ways.  And I accepted it and waited until I could rest up and tackle another story.  So without further third layout for NSD '13.

Supplies: Patterned Paper: Studio Calico, American Crafts; Stickers: Basic Grey, American Crafts; Stamps: Cocoa Daisy, Jillibean Soup; Embellishments: My Mind's Eye, Basic Grey, Studio Calico, SEI; Other: Buttons, Labels; Ink: Ranger, October Afternoon
I'm entering this into two challenges; Challenge #6: Scrap This List at Two Peas in a Bucket and Shimelle's: The Power of Three.  I had a near freak out about the journaling and I might have used too much patterned paper - if there is such a thing.  The balance feels off and I'm not sure why. But you know what....being 36 has put me a little off balance.  Makes complete sense, right?  So there you have it, my third layout.  I hope to do 1-2 more tomorrow.  Maybe seven was a little ambitious considering I scrapped NINE layouts total in 2012.  Man, I need to be more gentle with myself.  One more thing finally hitting home at the tender age of thirty-effing-six.  I digress.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Saturday.  I hope you're taking the time to rest, heal, and take care of yourself in whatever way you need.  I hope you're putting that self-critical voice in your head in it's place.  I hope you're taking the time to be gentle with yourself and remember "it is okay."  I hope...  Until then...

Monday, May 6, 2013

NSD '13: Scrapbooking Square Photos

Supplies: Patterned Paper: Crate Paper, American Crafts, Basic Grey; Flower: Prima Marketing; Stickers: American Crafts; Twine: My Mind's Eye; Ink: October Afternoon, Ranger Industries
The next scrappy layout challenge comes to us from Shimelle Laine.  I finished this layout in less than a hour.  It's amazing what limited time, a pretty good nap, and uneaten dinner will do to scrappy mojo.  Not much to say here.  I'm not sure if the flower fits perfectly, but I love it.  It weighs a ton!  I hope everyone has had a great Monday.  Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.  Until then...

Sunday, May 5, 2013

NSD '13: Sew and Mist

Supplies: Patterned Paper: Crate Paper, American Crafts; Stickers: American Crafts; Embellishments: Basic Grey, My Mind's Eye, American Crafts, Wilton, Crate Paper; Template: American Crafts; Pen: Sharpie; Mist: Studio Calico, Ranger, October Afternoon; Other: Cardstock
My first NSD layout for this week.  This layout has been sitting on my table for a week in different stages of completion.  I finished it today and am pretty happy with the results.  I'm still having a problem with journaling on my nephew's pages.  I have the words - I've said them in my head a thousand times - and I still can't find the place to write.  I have a couple of options - I could add a 6X6 page protector on the side to write the words or attach the journaling to the back of each layout.  Not sure what to do - still trying to navigate this new crafty mindset/style.

BTW: This layout is for American Craft's mist and sew challenge.  I really liked how the flower came out although it's a little high.  It could have been lowered about an inch.  It's done now - I like the layout.  And I guess technically the title could move up but that's just a huge pain in the ass.  So...deep is okay.  So that's it for now.  I hope this Sunday has been a good one.  Until then...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

NSD Update: By the Numbers

I made my list. It has 17 items. Seventeen is my absolute favorite number. I think it's a sign of great things to come or just general all around goodness. Seventeen is the number of NSD challenges that piqued my interest. Seventeen that i actually took the time to write down. My plan is to narrow this list down to seven (another fave number on my list) and post a layout a day starting tomorrow until May 13th. I have exactly eight days to get it done (eight is another fave). The best part...the idea of this makes me very happy.

Why am I telling you this? Why did I take a picture of my list? It's pretty simple - I wanted to keep myself nurture some accountability. I have the photos. I have my stories. I'm ready to go. It's time to practice the butt in chair method. Not to mention, i wanted to try out the bokeh effects on my new photo app Picfx. I also used PicTapGo - an absolute must in my opinion. It works magic...seriously. Please wish me luck or just good will and happy thoughts on my scrappy pursuits over the next week. I have a feeling I'll need them. Until then...

Happy National Scrapbooking Day

Hello all! Today is a pretty fantastic day or's International Scrapbooking Day. I sometimes forget the International part. I thought I'd give you a quick hello and list of crafty sites that've got me stoked for today. As a kiddo said this week - it's going to be epic!

  • Two Peas in a Bucket - I'm digging the vibe here. There are a LOT of really cool challenges here. I'm all over the Pinterest challenge. I can hardly wait.

  • - Shimelle seems to have a mountain of posts and crafty ideas flowing on her sight today. It's a little slice of heaven - information, inspiration, and challenges. Yummy.

  • Studio Calico - lots of great challenges on this site today. Each challenge is open for over a week and there's a pretty rocking chat schedule too...if that's your kind of thing. Excited to check these out further.

  • American Crafts - this site is full of challenges and a very cool blog hop. Plus there's a chance to win one of their collections.

I really hope today finds you well and crafting. I'm currently in my local chain bookstore. I plan on taking a closer look at some of these challenges, making a list, and channeling my crafty inner self. Have lots of fun today. Embrace mistakes. Remember it is okay. And if all else fails...take pics of the gigantic disasters to scrap later. It's all good. Right? Until then...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

It's All in the Process

In the past two or three months, my creative process has really evolved.
  • I've started to embrace spray mist in my own small way.
  • I keep pictures and papers on my "work" table the entire week and take five minutes here and there to move things around and get the creative juices flowing.
  • I use my small bits of creative time during the week to jumpstart my larger blocks of creative time on the weekend.
  • I'm doing my very best to embrace my mistakes.
  • I stamp on my layouts.
  • I try new things.
  • I'm finally realizing it is okay.
So in the spirit of all things creative and process oriented.  I thought I'd show you the evolution of a layout.  Since I've started scrapping about my nephew - I often choose the photo prior to the story.  I'm finding that I don't always need words - which is a HUGE departure from my previous approach.   I still love my words - I'm just okay with them being minimal, and in some cases, non-existent.  I'm kind of loving that right now.  So without further ado....

First I chose the photos and products.  I played around with the photo placement.  I really loved the picture on the left and wanted it on top.  I went with the second option.  

Next, I chose my spray mist and paper colors based on the boys outfit.

Then I placed the pictures based (very loosely) on a sketch from the lovely Shimelle Laine.

Next up, title work - probably one of the hardest steps.  I always wish I had more letters in different styles.

Now the embellishing begins...

Finally - I added some sewing around the clouds and the hearts on the cameras.  Finished!

So, that's it for today.  Hope my process is interesting or helpful in some way.  I can't say enough about splatters and sewing.  I love it so much.  Hope everyone has a great Thursday.  Until then...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Product Love

Pic Tap Go is an amazing app with a lot of buzz right now. It's 1.99 at the Apple app store. It allows users to edit photos through a variety of sweet effects. It allows you to apply multiple filters and save your favorite "recipes.". My absolute favorite feature is its ability to interface with Instagram. I love to edit my photo and then put it in Instagram. I don't add any of those filters. I just make the photo square and frankly, I'm in love. Hope everyone has a great Monday. Until then...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Confessions

Where to start? Well...first things first - my cat is not 12. She is eleven. I'm in my mid-thirties and I can't remember my cat's effing age. Yes, it's the end of the school year. Yes, I'm a hot mess on my best days - and I embrace that happily. Yes, I love her crazy ass with all my heart. Still, I didn't remember her age. I'm considering keeping the title as is and doing a facing page on me at 36 and how I can't count well enough to know my cat's effing age. Quite dumb, I am.

On another note, this page is based on this sketch from Studio Calico. I love their sketches and I've just joined their kit club (another confession). I was a member at Cocoa Daisy for six months and wanted to give another kit club a try. I really liked Cocoa Daisy - I just couldn't make a final choice until I tried Studio Calico. Eventually I'll figure out what club is best for me but for now I'm liking the shopping around phase. So that's it for now. I hope everyone has had a great Sunday! Until then...

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