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...
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