12.29.2008

A new look for a new year

In honor of the new year that's fast approaching, I thought the blog could use a slightly updated look. I little more minimal perhaps. So here it is! I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas. When all was said and done, it turned out okay. I never manage to get everything I wanted to done and in the end, it doesn't really matter. I enjoyed myself and finally had a mostly stress-free holiday and that is something to celebrate! Santa was good to me, the best gift?
132 Prismacolor pencils!, from my hubby. I also got some stamps, a new paper trimmer and lots of crafty gift cards to fuel the fire, so I will have to get to work!

Yesterday was a fabulous day, 70 degrees and sunny, and we were able to finally get out and do some long overdue yardwork-in shorts and a tank top. Gosh, where is winter? I seem to have strained a muscle in my shoulder raking (that's how bad it was!) but the yard looks great. And today is has poured rain all day, so I am glad we got it done. Today I still have some post-Christmas cleanup to do and prep for some dinner guests tonight. Then preparing for a new year's eve away with some friends, which I am looking forward to before school starts back up. Happy New Year to all!

12.18.2008

Christmas cards....

...are finally done! I stamped and mailed them today, so they will actually arrive before Christmas. And, to top that (I am super proud of myself here), each one is hand-made and completely unique. I will admit that they are not all the best creations I've made, but it's the thought and the effort that counts. That is one weight off my chest and today I even got most of my shopping done.

The rest of the gifts are going to be handmade, which leaves a lot left and here I give the warning that I won't be posting much until after the holiday, since I want what I am working on to stay secret! But, for today, I have a quick share of some photos.

Remember last time I talked about our homemade Christmas crackers? Well, they were a big hit and I finally have a snap of them. For those who might think of giving them a try, here's a tip: don't use that shiny foil-type wrapping paper. It rips very easily, but trying to pull it apart in a cracker- it's damn near impossible!

Here's a sampling of some of the Christmas cards (those that haven't already been posted):

Tomorrow it's baking goodies for neighbor gifts and for my Saturday Christmas movie-thon, including homemade marshmallows (more on that later, because they are so fabulous they need their own post :). Then, lots more crafty work...good luck to everyone else with a mile-long to-do list! Night!

12.12.2008

Pop! goes....

...the champagne! This semester has been a really tough one for me for many reasons that I won't go into but all I have to say is: It's finally over! After a long stay, Tuesday we (finally) passes along our foster kitties to their new family. Wednesday night I turned in my last paper and since then, we have kicked into Christmas high-gear.

We had decided to try to make this Christmas mostly homemade, kind of to get back to the fun and spirit of it and to spend less on silly stuff, so, since we had yet to even get our tree, we spent yesterday making ornaments. We made applesauce-cinnamon shapes, which smell divine, ribbon ornaments, and an old-fashioned cranberry-popcorn garland. Here are some peeks at that:

Today, we got our tree and I did some crafty work with my mom for our Christmas party, which is tomorrow. We decided this year to make homemade English crackers, which is a tube filled with small goodies. Traditionally, they contain a paper crown, a bad joke, and some kind of little trinket, and they are just kind of fun to do because when you pull the ends, they "crack" open. I will have a picture of ours soon. For those of you who have not heard of them, check out this site. They sell premade ones (which you can find most anywhere these days) or materials to make your own. If you go that route, skip their tubes and recycle toilet paper rolls from family and friends like we did-a green Christmas project! I also made these little tags to go on the various carafes and pitchers we will have at the party. Nothing spectacular-I made them all in about 40 minutes-but I kind of liked them...

I think that is it for tonight. I am pooped and have some early AM baking to do tomorrow...can't believe Christmas is soo close. Goodnight!

12.02.2008

Thanksgiving and a Christmas sneak peek!

We had a lovely Thanksgiving, two actually, one with my family, one with my husband's. There was lots of delicious food to be had-I contributed a ham, sugar cookies, garlic roasted broccoli, mashed sweet potatoes, and Double Chocolate pomegranate brownies-Yum! As is typical, the women cook and clean up...and the men take a nap. This picture of my husband says it all:

I can't believe that we are in December already! Christmas is just around the corner and, as usual there is so much to do! But, I am finishing up the semester (one day of class and two papers to go) and hopefully I will be on top of things this year with a few weeks dedicated to holiday projects...we'll see. We have had rainy weather here the past few days and so we didn't make it out to cut a tree, which is probably just as well, since I am not quite ready to decorate it anyhow. Maybe this weekend. And! We are having a Christmas party this year! This is a first, maybe starting an annual event? Who knows. I haven't had much general crafting time, but here's a sneak peek of the invite, the rest coming in a few days once everyone has gotten theirs:
That's all for now. Off to do some work!

11.23.2008

kitties!

Jimmy and I have been busy busy this week, what with preparing for the upcoming holidays (food to cook, goodies to bake, presents to finish, crafts to do, and lots of papers to write, for me) and, with kitten sitting! Maybe we are crazy, or he is, for letting me temporarily adopt two kittens, because I always want to keep them. Maybe we like to torture our two cats (I think that is what they think...) but they are coming around. We are on day 4 and we will have them until Friday or so. In the past few days, we've been slaves to the litter box and the various food and water bowls and feeding schedules-like getting two new infants overnight! Here they are, Oliver and Maddy:

Aren't they too cute?!

Before I get back to my paper grading and get on to getting dinner going, I have a quick share. The challenge over at Hero Arts this week was to use up some scraps on quick cards (what a genius idea for this busy time of year). I discovered, however, once I sat down to begin, that I don't really have many. Either I don't do enough stamping, or I throw away too many scraps. Actually though, I think it is just that, most of the time, once I sit down to work on something, I work and work at it until I am satisfied, so I don't have many pieces leftover. But I do share paper scraps and punched bits, and I had plenty of those! Keeping with the idea of the challenge, I didn't spend a lot of time on these, and admittedly, they are a bit sloppy, but I like them overall.

We had a fun outing downtown and to the farmer's market yesterday (it was the first time in weeks that it hasn't rained or that we weren't busy, so even though it was COLD, it was enjoyable), and I got some prints in the mail from out NY trip, so maybe some scrapbook pages are in order soon, as well as a little peek into my workspace (when I get time to make it look most presentable). Have a good last little bit of the weekend!

11.13.2008

Another technique...

Today is my day off, and, despite the fact that I have a huge stack of papers to grade and laundry to do, I wanted to play! I decided to try some distressing, inspired by the HA challenge, and to use some of the goodies in the November Studio Calico kit I won (Thanks again Jennifer!!). Here it is (see all the details here):
This is the first layout that I have done since beginning our wedding album, which I haven't even finished and I am surprisingly pleased with the way it turned out. It's a first step for me. You see, I am quite new to this. Well, I used to scrapbook. But I wouldn't call what I used to do the same thing as what I now know exists and what I imagine creating. And every time I think of starting a project, I get hung up on myself and can't do it. I get intimidated by other fabulous work I see out there, and even by myself, because I am not sure I can recreate my new-found cardmaking style, in a layout. I guess this is proof that I can...

...Full speed ahead!!

As I was starting to cleanup the mess I had made with the layout, I decided that I should just go ahead and make a matching card, using HA stamps, and that way I could enter it into this week's challenge. I did this card, and a matching scrapling, in about half and hour! Amazing! And what's more, I really really like them, nearly more than the original layout! Who knew?? Take a look:

11.12.2008

Technique Challenge...

...and a challenge it has been! This week over at the Hero Arts blog, Shari Carroll is leading a week full of techniques requested by the loyal followers. So far, she has featured ink, resist and distressing and I personally can't wait to see what else she has in store for this week! But, what is really cool about this week is that there are more videos than ever, which really help me to get a grip on a technique. Because of that, I was inspired to finally (try) to learn how to use distress inks. I went out and bought a few more, since all I owned was walnut stain, and also an applicator.

First I attempted to ink the paper using the applicator I had purchased. It turned out like this and I quickly abandoned this idea, realizing that I bought the wrong blenders (mine were for alcohol inks and the felt is far too thin for distress inks-they left awful scratchy marks from the velcro underneath; I will have to buy the foam ones...):

So then I decided I would try the technique where you apply ink to a surface and dip your paper in it. I couldn't really splurge on the craft mat she uses in the video, so I had to come up with an alternative... The first attempt was with wax paper. I thought the coating would be thick enough to resist the inks, but, alas, I was wrong. The paper soaked up the ink faster than I could apply it to the paper, and seeped through onto my table. It came out like this:
So then I thought, what about tinfoil? Worth a shot, right? This seemed to work a bit better, obviously, not as good as a craft mat (or, as I have seen suggested, a teflon baking mat) might be, but okay. Here are two attempts:
In this first one, I used clear embossing ink and clear powder, letting the white of the paper show through. But, either the ink was not wet enough or the powder not thick enough, and the distress inks seeped underneath my stamped image. I tried again:
This time, again, a little bit of seepage, not to mention that I burned the paper with my heat gun and the coloration was not to my liking (too much blue!) I decided that the tinfoil was working, but my embossing was not, so I switched to a thicker white pigment ink and then clear powder, which worked much better, especially if I worked a bit quicker. Here is the final result, in card form, which I am entering into this week's challenge:
So, an otherwise simple card design took me quite a few hours to achieve, but I am quite pleased with the results. Wish me luck in the challenge and to see more awesome entries, visit the Hero Arts flickr group here.

Stay tuned for some pics of my workspace (including my fabulous new chair, which I am far too excited about) and hopefully some creations with the Studio Calico November kit that came yesterday!! :)

11.09.2008

Just a quickie...

Just a quick post tonight to get a few things out before I get back to the books. I have a presentation to give tomorrow on a book I have not yet finished, as well as a meeting to discuss work on a paper I have not yet finished and I have another book, which I have yet to start, to read for Wednesday...I often feel like I am in a perpetual cycle of catching up, but that I never get there.

Despite having no real free time this weekend, I was able to get a few things in:
1. Made a really cute Christmas card in pink and green, kind of inspired by this one by Shari Carroll over at Hero Arts (of which, once my camera charges up, I will be able to take a picture). I had been planning a pink and green color scheme this year, and amassing the appropriate patterned papers before, and I finally got around to getting started. Also check out this card by Leslie Lightfoot over at HA also showcases this cool look. Keep your eyes peeled for my photo!
Note: Updated for photo on 11/11. :) And I swear the papers were straight when I took the photo...arrggh!

2. I made some delicious Almond Joy brownies using this recipe, from Katharine Hepburn's family, and adding coconut, almonds, and chocolate chunks--fantastic and so simple to make, I don't see any need to go back to a box! :)
3. Enjoyed some good laughs with a dose of Cranium, and realized that I needed it.

We didn't make it over to see our friends, who were expecting and just had their baby on Thursday!! (Congrats to Alex and Kathryn!), but we will get to see them soon, I hope.

That's it for now. Oh! I also won something!! The November Studio Calico kit in a giveaway on Jennifer McGuire's blog (thanks to her!), which will be arriving in a few days and hopefully I will have something fun to show with it, so check back.

Off to do some more reading and maybe have a mug of cocoa...

11.04.2008

a great big ball of fun!

As I get on my blog to post and am first drawn to read all the other blogs that I haven't in the past couple of weeks, I realize that I really am not a good blogger. At all. I didn't even think I had any readers. So, imagine my surprise when I received not one, but two comments this week!

The first was from an awesome, hilarious, and fabulously talented lady, Deborah Nolan, who requested the link the the blog I mentioned in my last post-here it is. For loads of neat stamping techniques and ideas, including the one that inspired my witch door hanger, visit Michelle Zindorf here.

The second came from an equally fabulous lady, Jenn Biederman, who, of all things, chose me as a recipient of the Arte y Pico award! This is an award whose name in Spanish means something like "Art and More" (my own translation), but really means that someone really thinks your art is great. Learn more about it at the Arte y Pico blog. Here it is:
Now, the rules state that you choose 5 recipients whose blogs "deserve this award, creativity, design, interesting material, and also contrubuites to the blogger community, no matter of language" and you give the award to them. However, being that I am probably the least deserving recipient based on blog activity, and that I cannot think of any blogs that I read that have not already been recognized by the aforementioned ladies, I am not going to choose my recipients just yet. I will accept the award, lest I be seen as ungrateful, and keep my eyes peeled for new talent...be on the look-out!

As an addition to my Halloween witch, I have a couple of other crafty things to show today:
That creepy wreath I mentioned in the last post, here it is! (Hard to get a good shot of it any way I tried...)
Food name cards for the buffet, which we didn't end up using.
The invitations to our Halloween party.
And here's me and my goofy husband at the party: I was nurse Roberta, he was my geriatric patient, Richard Balzac, complete with diaper and all!

To wrap up this eternal post (hey, when you don't do it often, better make it good, no?)
, I have some photos of a project I am very proud of. Some friends of ours are expecting their first baby in a few short weeks and as a baby shower gift, I wanted to make a wall hanging to match their Pooh themed nursery. I even went as far as to order special Disney themed paper and stickers (who knew they even existed!?) and here is the result, with matching card:
That's finally it for now-hope all you Americans voted today. I am off to make dinner-turkey meatloaf- and see what's going on with the election...

10.17.2008

finally!

I have finally had some crafty time and boy did I ever!

Firstly, because I cannot contain my excitement, I won my first anything in the stamping world!! Last week, the challenge at Hero Arts was to make a masculine card. I am not good at masculine cards (I guess no one else is either, thus, the name "challenge"). I never seem to know what to do. And I wasn't planning on entering. But I had a belated birthday card to make, fast, as it was already late, so I whipped this up:
I used Hero Arts stamps (the croc I already had on hand, colored and cut), some fun plaid paper and my new favorite, BoBunny dot paper. I added some orange vellum scraps, ribbon, and rain dots. This card was actually for a non-girly woman, and I thought it could masquerade as masculine too, so I submitted it....and won! First prize! Yay for me! :)

I have been able to get a few other things done this week...I was directed to a neat blog (the address of which I seem to have misplaced right now...) by another Hero Arts flickr group member for some tips on a neat inking technique. So I gave that a go with my new Inkadinkado Halloween stamps and am really pleased with the result:
And tonight, since I will spend the rest of the weekend glued to my desk, writing the first draft of my final paper (which I am soo not prepared for...), I got a couple other cards done. The first is for my uncle's birthday-playing with a concept I saw in last week's challenge, layering circle stamped images:
The second one uses a little leaf punch I bought in a $1 bin at Target (because I am obsessed with those things..."it's only a dollar, right?"). I thought it would be fun to use colored paper scraps and make a little wreath out of the leaves (I saw a similar thing at Impress Rubber Stamps website). Kept it simple (and kind of elegant for my normal style) with a gold embossed sentiment and I quite like how it came out:

I have also just finished a sinister-looking Halloween wreath for the front door, and as soon as we get a good hook for it, and it is hung up (out of the line of sight of all my junk here in the office), I will take a picture to put up here.

Since I already mentioned one blog, I suppose I'll mention a couple of other online things that are getting me lately:
1) I found a recipe for Berry Pavlovas (which I made and which were indeed fabulous) on this blog the other day. Check it out if you're food inclined, as it seems she has lots of other goodies there!
2) I am hooked on Pandora, an internet radio that matches you up with music that is similar to something you already like. The site is really straightforward and lots of fun--I have "discovered" several artists that I never knew existed but that are just my taste!

For now, I am off to do some reading and go to bed. Hope everyone has a good weekend! :)



10.13.2008

where does the time go?

Seriously. Last I knew, September was finally here and now we are fast approaching Halloween! And there are never enough hours in the day to get it all done, but boy, do I ever try...

Our trip to NY went well. We were fortunate enough to have really great weather and we were able to do a lot of fun outdoor activities that I cannot wait to scrapbook. We got back last Tuesday evening and I dove into schoolwork for the next day. Even though I had spent the entire trip working (managing to get a 400 page book read while on vacation is an accomplishment for me), I had to sort through all the materials for my final paper and write an outline. It did not, however, come out very well, so I have a lot of work to do in writing my first draft for Oct. 22nd. The rest of the week was just as hectic...my university was hosting an annual foreign language conference on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and, being a teaching assistant, I was kind of obligated to volunteer in various functions-working the registration table and driving a shuttle van. My two hours at the table on Thursday converted into 4 because several volunteers did not show up and I spent several hours on both Thursday and Friday nights driving, in the rain!

The weekend proved to be productive--post vacation laundry and tidying up to do, family gathering, several thank you and birthday cards made (no pictures though), some homework done, and a delicious homemade dinner--despite the fact that it rained almost continuously. I still didn't get a chance to do anything with my new Halloween stamps from Inkadinkado, which I finally won on eBay (and some I bought at AC Moore on sale!). I have a neat decoration project that I want to tackle this week, as well as getting the yard all done up, so hopefully by the end of the week I'll have some pics up of those.

The Hero Arts challenges lately have not really been something I am into, and I have been too busy to submit anything anyway, but this week's challenge, using patterned paper, is something I totally do all the time and so I am really excited to get some things done. Keep your eyes peeled for more on that, hopefully soon.

For now I'm off to do some more reading and finish my lunch.....

9.28.2008

The week ahead

Well, hopefully today I can get some crafting done-I am dying to get started on the invitations for our annual Halloween bash, but have yet to find the time to get started. I have also discovered a new love --eBay-- where I am awaiting the outcome of an auction (for the 2nd time!) on some more darling Halloween stamps from Inkadinkado. I hope I win! Mostly today I will be doing some reading for class tomorrow and starting to prepare for our trip to NY this week. We will be delighting in some of the fall treasures from my childhood (like Iron Kettle Farm for pumpkins) and I am hoping that the weather will cooperate for such activities. Also while there, I will be tackling the novel I am reading for my final paper in my lit class, which I should have already started but was waiting for through Inter Library Loan, which takes forever. Now it's here and I can finally get started...(as if I am glad).

Off to make some breakfast...

9.21.2008

shabby...chic?

So, the challange this week on the Hero Arts blog was to make a "shabby chic" holiday card. Now, the concept of shabby chic is not completely foreign to me. While it may not be my personal taste for home decor, I have seen and admired it from afar. But putting it on a card? Took me a while to even give it a try. Here's the card I came up with:
I am not exactly sure that I even captured the shabby chicness of it all in my design, but I am quite pleased with it. I finally found a use for a scrap of lace-like embossed paper and used pearls for the first time, and tried (for the umpteenth time) to use the white embossing powder that I have, which never really seems to come out right. I need to find a different one...
Part of the challenge in this shabby card was that, being that it is an HA challenge, some HA stamps need to be used. I have some. But lately their stamps are cutesy, with little animals like the reindeer above and I am going for a more classic look...However, on a nice little shopping trip to AC Moore on Friday, I found a new brand that I love love love! Inkadinkado has some seriously awesome stamps out! Very frilly and elegant almost, even the Halloween ones, if it's possible. With the fall ones I got, I made these two shabby cards:

I am now on a quest to get more of these stamps and I may have found a new addiction: eBay.

I am off to do some grocery shopping, dinner making, and some schoolwork.

9.02.2008

Project updates

It's been a while since I updated as things have been busy. School started on the 20th and although I only have 2 classes a week, between sorting out TA duties and tutoring and dealing with family stuff and trying to get our home into some kind of shape before I really have to crack down, I haven't had the time to write about my crafting. But I have been doing some! Which is the good news...

I am participating in the class on twopeasinabucket.com, 8 weeks to a Wedding Album. We're on week 4, the ceremony, which ends this evening, in fact, and I haven't done a page for that yet, but I did manage to get a few done: title page (week 1), engagement page (week 2), and the ring page (really kind of part of the engagement, but I did it for week 3, which was for rehearsal and dinner, which we didn't really have, and I have a few more to do for that week as well...pre-wedding stuff). And I thought I would share them here!



The color scheme is kraft, white and brown, with pops of color...be on the lookout for more pages, hopefully soon!

September also happens to be a month of birthdays around here, and I have been trying to get some cards done in advance. Here's one for my mom, whose birthday was yesterday:

Here are two more, one for my niece, who's turning 9, and one for my nephew, who'll be 5:


It's hard to show all the details in this card, because I made it super-interactive--all the cogs spin on hidden brads and there is an extra panel on the front with a pull-out greeting, plus I used wire and brads to hold it all together. The design stemmed from this great paper by Cosmo Cricket.


Well, I'm off to do some chores around the house, try to get some reading for school done and maybe get a ceremony page done for tonight's 2peas deadline...