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Monday, June 30, 2014

Fourth of July...time for celebration, fireworks, smuggling contraband and the ER.






This is a CASE card. I fell in love with it months ago and was determined to CASE it as a gift to a dear friend. The original design is here. Thanks to Beverly Polen for such a gorgeous design.

The 4th of July. As a holiday, it's incredibly important to me. But it's also my least favorite. That's right....I said it. Out loud. Sort of. On this blog. Where I can always claim it was hacked, if necessary, by anti-4th of July progressives, who are Communists. Or al quida. Wait...it is al queda? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW HOW TO SPELL THE NAME OF A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION.

PAM: (pre-adderall moment) I happen to be a girl who had nervous breakdowns over the words 'cocoa' and 'beauty'. Losing a spelling bee in the 4th grade was a terrible blow to my confidence, and has made me somewhat a cautionary tale. The basis for all my failure and underachievement can be traced back to that year, and the pressure that these types of events place upon our children. Of course, it happened to be the year I was sent to an all-girl Christian Baptist school. But I'm sure that had NOTHING to do with my subsequent tics, mania and OCD tendencies. Well, maybe it did....a little...but I'm pretty sure it had less to do with the theology, and everything to do with the fact I was locked in a room for an entire year with a bunch of 10-year-old girls, who weren't allowed to wear anything but skirts. I got into a lot of trouble for wearing gauchos that year. Or split skirts, or wtf ever you call the things, nowadays. Needless to say, I never wore them again. Wait...I did one time and THEN never wore them again. Only because I was too short and chunky to wear them effectively. I know...you're waiting for me to end this by professing how far I allowed myself to wander off track, but this is actually a logical progression: terrorist organization to a class made up of all 10-year-old girls. One and the same, people. One and the same.

Back to the 4th of July. Look, I am properly reverent, appreciative and proud of this day. I honestly am. I'm an ardent supporter of our troops throughout the year and am a consistent donor to various troop-related charities, such as Wounded Warrior Project  and Fisher House-both of which are very dear to me. (links provided in case you want to throw a little money love their way!!)

I just dislike the actual month. July. It's hot and not remotely close enough for me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. "Light" meaning "School", mind you. Too much humidity and too many kids for me to properly appreciate what this day should represent. Besides, as far as what our commercialized holidays cost, this one, for me, is the most expensive.

It begins around July 1st. That's when my husband and sons break out a map and begin planning their smuggling route for illegal fireworks. They spend hours pouring over every route and speculating where State Troopers will be stationed-presumably to search any and all vehicles for contraband. The discussion then turns to whether they should modify one of our cars to hide the ill-gotten gains. Naturally, it's MY car they want to modify. As if a beat-up Volvo station wagon is going to on the All Points Bulletins for potential smuggling of Black Cats and Bottle Rockets. Not to mention what my house full of Y-chromosomes MEAN when they start talking about 'modification'. Dummy gas tanks and spare tire wheel wells always lead the discussion. About the time they get to 'convertible conversions' and 'nitrous oxide injectors' is when I step in and have to 'redirect' the conversation. And by 'redirect', I mean I threaten them with every nudie baby pic I possess and-for the significant other-the picture I found of him when he was 19 and wearing some girl's ring on a necklace, staring off into the distance. Shirtless. With poufy hair. It's so bad that the 80's called and said "Damn! You're making us look bad!!"

But I digress.

This phase of the smuggling operation usually wraps up about this time, and they begin taking practice runs. These consist of plastic pipes, all cut to the length of the average bottle rocket, and stowed in whatever place they can be made to fit. Afterwards, they each rehearse what they'll say to police upon being caught and taken into custody, where they will be interrogated seperately, and must have similar stories. They swear to never betray one another and agree they'll never fall for the 'Law & Order' trick of being told that one of them ratted the rest out. This part is pretty harmless, although I DO have to step in and stress they will NOT follow through with selling the 8-year-old out, even IF he can't be prosecuted due to his age.

The day before, all four get up and dress in solid black. This year will be the first that face masks are optional. My husband says the decision was heat-related. I'm pretty sure it was due to the fact he hated messing up his pouf of hair.

Then, they'll pile in the car and swear to abstain from all food and drink-ostensibly negating the need to stop-and drive off, each sitting stiffly and staring straight ahead, congratulating the other on how natural they look. The drive is grueling; an hour and forty-five minutes on...well...the interstate...across the state line into South Carolina, where there are fireworks stands every 7 and a half feet until you hit the Georgia state line.

They'll drive past 7 or 8 before stopping. They all agree this is smart, because they're sure the cops will be watching for the smuggling novices who stop at the first couple of stands. They'll load up the car with a couple hundred dollars of fireworks-and drive away slowly. Usually behind a bevy of NC State Patrol cars, ALSO loaded up with the same fireworks. Upon arriving home, they celebrate their successful mission and count the minutes until sundown on the 4th.

When that time arrives, I go ahead and get dressed. I usually have about 20 minutes or so before they decide it's more fun to hold Roman Candles and fire them at selected targets-or each other-and I'm off to the emergency room, once again. Fortunately, the hospital instituted the 'call ahead reservations', so I only have to wait an hour or two instead of the obligatory all-nighter in the waiting room. When we get home, everyone else is watching TV, having put the rest of the fireworks away for fear my rage would be such I would shove bottle rockets in orifices that would make even South Carolina consider banning them.

There, in the garage, the fireworks will join other fireworks from years past, waiting for either dry rot or a lightning strike to occur.

I hope this sheds a little light on why the 4th simply doesn't hold a dear place in the line-up of overly commercialized holidays, in my book. This year, I plan to take the fireworks savings and donate it to a much more worthy cause. I'll also insist the boys-to include the one I married-ruminate on the importance of this holiday and give thanks to the men and women who have fought, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice-for our freedoms.

But we'll say thank-you and celebrate the 4th in the way it should be celebrated...

In the air conditioning.


There were no instructions as to measurements and I had to do it all from scratch. Suffice it to say I have a crapload of paper 'remnants'. I can tell you that I have never had a bigger headache. Therefore, I'm taking total designer credit for measurement part. Hee hee. Okay...here's a breakdown of the measurements:

The image panel measures 3-3/8 x 3-15/16   This includes a 1/4 border sponged here in Not Quite Navy. I used a Tim Holtz ruler and sponged the edges, negating the need to mask.

The Not Quite Navy Mat behind the image 5-1/8 x 3-9/16
Sentiment  3-7/16 x 7/8
Red sentiment mat 1 x 3-9/16 
White mat 5-1/4 x 3-3/4
Red card base-4 x 11 or 4 x 5-1/2 mat only
 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Watercolor Roses for JUGS #245




http://justusgirlschallenge.blogspot.com/2014/06/just-us-girls-technique-challenge-245.html



For the first time in over a month, I'm back on the challenges. This week, Just Us GirlS has a challenge based on watercolor technique.

This stamp is from Rubbernecker and it's called Roses in Bloom. It's one of their newest stamps and I find these a little more difficult to work with than their last releases.

The others all had a stamp which had a solid black outline of the picture. I thought it really helped make the image look professional. These are gorgeous but you really have to work with the watercolor to give it definition.

I used all Tim Holtz Distress Inks. This piece took about 3-4 saturations-meaning, I would place water and color, then dry. The roses took four so, while they don't have line based definition, I felt the shading came out pretty decent.

I used Graphic 45 Botanical Tea, some vellum, SU! Thank you, Kindly and two pearls I colored with copics. I really try to keep it basic with watercoloring. It's WAY too easy to distract from the image and take the piece way over the top.

Trust me when I say I'm a MASTER of 'over the top'. heh heh

Challenge is over next Thursday so get to it!!! Click the picture above and join us, why dontcha??

Friday, June 13, 2014

Requiem for Dirty Spies and Stalking

CASEd from Kittie C's Window, Garden Vines and Butterflies here http://www.splitcoaststampers.com/gallery/photo/2486568?&cat=500&ppuser=15179

I want to make something VERY clear...I may drop off the map for a while, but I am NOT a quitter!

Case in point: When I stumbled on Kittie C's blog over a year ago, I knew right then and there, that I simply had to learn to make her beautiful cards. I just had to. So, I made a commitment right then and there to stalk her blog and CASE until she finally wised up and filed a restraining order. Since that time, I have made it a point to be the best stalker Kitty C ever had.

I'm an overachiever like that.

But, to be honest, it has been a few months since I obsessed over her blog, CASEing everything I could get my hands on, muttering under my breath about cats and flowers and butterflies, like the woman at our local Wal-Mart, who is always roaming the aisles talking to herself, but pretty much leaves you alone, until you make eye contact. Then she shouts "Jesus is taking us home!" and claps her hands wildly. I think it's a wonderful sentiment, though it DOES take me my surprise and I yell 'AHHHHH' which seems to please her, for some reason.

Wait a second...I'm so totally lost I don't know if rereading what I wrote could even remotely help me back on track....

Stalking. Got it.

In short, I guess I just felt like I needed to  quelch the naysayers, who whisper that I'm getting soft. That I'm simply not as committed to my pledge to either continue to improve by CASEing Kittie's stuff or somehow absorbing her chi, thereby becoming her and ending up as the subject of some movie of the week on "Lifetime, television for women (and gay men)".

What're the chances someone like Meryl Streep would play me?

Yeah, I know. You're right. It'll probably be Jessica Simpson the next time she gets fat. Sigh.



Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bun in the Oven CASE

First of all, the most important thing...here's the addy for the directions to build this adorable oven

http://www.clearandsimplestamps.com/forms/bito_template.pdf

Secondly, I have decided that I will CASE my a** off if necessary, but I gotta get crafting. I've tried everything....cleaning the craft room, only to tear things out and pile crap at random in hopes to spur some type of manic activity.

I've worked with every creative substance known to man: Watercolor, gelatos, Ritalin and alcohol to no avail.

My very concerned husband suggested getting lost in connubial bliss (look it up), at which I gave him the Evil Eye and he fled in fear that I may actually HAVE the power to cause something to wither and drop off.

I would've even tried illegal substances had I known where to buy them in Burlington, NC. There's the toothless drug dealer who hangs out downtown but he can't be THAT good a dealer-nor one that carried any illegal substance of quality-if he can't afford to practice good dental hygiene.

I'm sorry...I'm just REALLY picky about teeth.

Anyway, I've whined, cried and binged on cake in hopes I would find some burst of creativity.

Okay....I binge on cake anyway. But who knows what will spur a creative rejuvenation??? I'M certainly not taking any chances.

So, I'm going to CASE until I run out of things to CASE, if that's what it takes.

Now, about that cake....

Dear MOJO'....I was lying when I said I didn't need you!!! Please....COME BACK!




I admit it. I was cocky. It's just that I'd felt I'd outgrown the need for the elusive "MOJO". I was convinced I could do it on my own!!! I could conjure any needed inspiration on my own!! I could do anything if I just set my mind to it!!

I was wrong. And I'm here today to beg for forgiveness.

This is the only 'original' card I've created in over a month. I don't know what's wrong with me!! I've looked at simple sketches, work from artist's I've CASE'd before and told myself to find other things to CASE until I broke through this block, and no matter what....I don't think I could stamp/color/paint my way out of a paper bag.

Case in point...I'm so out of sorts that I actually used two different brands of cream paper for the frames behind that watercolor!! Now, I KNOW you say it's no big deal. But come on....I CAN'T EVEN CATCH MYSELF MAKING A MISTAKE WITH PAPER!!!

I don't feel funny, I don't feel artistic.

I need tips, people. WTF do you do to break through artist block? What are your tips and tricks? I've gone through short lapses before, but never one that lasted over a month with no end in sight.

I'm begging all four of you who read this blog-perhaps as a penance or punishment...whatever-to PLEASE help a sister out!!!

Recipe:

Hero Arts Petals of Beauty stamp
Watercolor paper
Tim Holtz Distress Inks
Wet on Wet Watercolor Technique
Melon Mambo Paper
2 different kinds of cream paper (and that STILL chaps my ass, as they say!)
Spellbinders Elegant Ovals 



Sunday, June 1, 2014

"Surviving a Last Minute Baby Shower" or "Why I Still Don't Miss My Uterus" (working title, of course)























Baby shower for my neighbor. Diaper cake tricycle can be found here
Shower name tags CASEd from this talented lady
Baby booties candy/favor holder from here

Name tag vendor info at the end of post

When I found my neighbor was having a baby, I volunteered to host a shower with another one of her friends. Flash forward several months until the end of May. Friend not available AND my neighbors had sent out invites for June 14th. A day we had mentioned months before but I didn't think had been settled, since we hadn't talked about much except for me to say "Have (your friend) call me" or vice-versa. Anyway, it was too late to worry about it. I made the tricycle diaper cake, decorations and  name tags in less than a week. A little blue, sherbet punch with a couple of ducks floating in it and a cake ordered to be picked up on the 13th finish it off. Had to cram it in before carpal tunnel surgery on June 2. Five days, b**ches!!! HAH!  How's that for some last-minute planning?

***PAM (pre-Adderall moment) Unlike the last shower I hosted over two years ago, not ONCE, during all this playing around with baby stuff did I even THINK about 'what it would be like', nor did I fondly reminisce about my long-departed uterus. Lord knows I can barely survive the ones at home at 15, 10 and 8...another baby would kill me. Literally. Now, back to regular programming.

Granted, it got done but don't think I didn't  notice that, despite this chaotic spate of manic activity (accomplished despite hands not working properly due to Carpal Tunnel...not that I really noticed...I've found pain-meds can make any temporary useless part functional), I've not been myself for several weeks, in terms of generating my usual fabulous-ness.

The reason behind this is quite simple. It occurred to me, not long ago, that I had spent the last decade cultivating underachievement in pretty much everything I do. Be it hobbies, marriage or parenting, I find my life is easier when I manage the expectations of everyone around me.

Yeah...you read that right. I know that ol' Frank Covey says to manage your OWN expectations but, to be completely honest, I pretty much gave up expecting too much out of other people a long time ago. The only thing left was to make *&%* sure that no one, in turn, expected too much out of me.

Now, I know that some of you are distressed to hear this. You think that managing even one-half expectations is better than none, right? It's the old 'half is better than none doodie that has been instilled in us for as long as we can remember.

But I'm here to tell you that, in the case of expectations, managing half is worse than managing none. Case in point: I will tell you two tales of people who managed either one or the other and not both. At the end, you tell me if you still think managing half is the better way.

First is the story of one J. Bruce Ismay, whose company built the Titanic. Ismay managed HIS expectations of himself, by considering himself fabulous and worthy of preferential treatment and unearned respect and admiration, but not the other's expectations in terms of safety and behavior from the get-go. Ismay not only ignored the building and safety of his ships, he was also the one who hired the Titanic POS Captain (who had already wrecked ONE of Ismay's ships before this) and made the decision to cut corners and get rid of half the lifeboats because they interfered with the scenery AND it cut down on costs, knowing all the while that most of the passengers pretty much have a one-way ticket to the bottom of the Atlantic in the case of an emergency. If that didn't make Ismay a**wipe of the new millennium, consider the rest of the story. Upon the realization that the worst was about to happen, Ismay calmly stepped on a half-full lifeboat, then had the audacity to refuse to pull others inside the boat, claiming there was no room.

Once he boarded the Carpathia, he demanded a first-class room and locked the door, even as the Captain demanded every officer and crew (including himself) shelter, feed and tend to all the passengers who were saved. Ismay, after putting out a DND sign on his stateroom door, didn't emerge until he got to NY. He tried to cable his company office in secret to get him out of NY on another ship the second he landed, in order to escape US authorities. His message was intercepted and he was perp-walked straight to a Senate hearing. They smacked him on the wrist, he ran back to England (where he lived in a separate wing from his wife and kids-said he didn't like any of them) and lived there until he died. If all that wasn't bad enough, it was because of this SOB that  75 years later, we would have to suffer through 175 trillion radio airplays of "My Heart Will Go On" which managed to lodge in the heads of anyone who heard it once, and will play in loops to a point you feel homicidal, even though you will still cry like a baby when Leonardo slips beneath the water...after ALL that damned hard work)...

Dammit. I totally forgot what I was talking about. Wait a second. Let me scan the previous regurgitation....

OH! Expectations. Got it.

Ismay was an a**hole of the highest degree and lived up only to HIS expectations, ignoring OURS. But poor Leonardo didn't manage OUR expectations when he allowed Kate Winslet to live and let his fine self drown in that cold, dark water.

Do you see how dangerous it is to manage only HALF of the expectations surrounding you??


Believe me when I say that I've taken these cautionary tales to heart. Along with certain rules and regulations regarding manslaughter when I ever HEAR the name 'Celine Dion'. Expectations must be managed on both ends. Then, at the end of the day, you may die bereft of any real accomplishments, but you won't go down in history as a flaming a**hole or unnecessary fish-bait, either.

What does all of this mean? It means I take long breaks, on occasion, to make sure I don't become enslaved to any high-falutin' expectations of my own, and in turn, use that inconsistency (and sheer laziness) to manage all of YOUR expectations, when it comes to your chomping at the proverbial bit for these thrilling communiques I send to all three of you who subscribe to this blog.

Hey! Covey! Top THAT, sucka!!!



Name tag CASEd from artwork created by the Goddess Theresa Miers I'm expounding on where to find artwork and some details I learned along the way. She was able to use software to customize the sizes of the artwork and letters. I went to Ron, who sells the Mother Goose images, and paid him to do it for me and send the png files. Worth every cent and cheap.

Die cut Marianne Designs Creatables Die Labels cut from cream cardstock and sponged with Tim Holtz Vintage Photo Ink. I used Stampin' Up A to Z stamp for alphabet in the same ink. Flip up bottom of tag and glue at lower corners. 

I used scrap cardstock in different colors for the book covers. Cut each book cover at 1-3/4 by 3-7/8. Fold in half. 

I ordered the Vintage Mother Goose images from here  and paid Ron to resize the pics to 1-1/2 inches. 6 dollars total. I made a mistake and should've had him flip the images so that they printed landscape and I would have 6 images side by side instead of 4. I'm having him do this for me later, so the inside of the book will have 6 images (and pages) instead of 4. Theresa's has the 6 and it looks SO amazing! Just a simple concertina fold and glue the front and back pages only inside the folded covers. 

For the letters on the front, go to letteringdelights.com  Here's the link to the actual blocks. I paid Ron an additional 3 to size them to 3/4 of an inch each. I don't have the software, NOR the smarts to do it myself like Theresa. But that's why she's a goddess, my friends!! I'm going back to Ron to have him put together 1/2 sheets of vowels and 1/4 sheets of popular letters so I don't have to print out so many sheets for vowels.