Monday, August 30, 2010

A rose by any other name...

No crafting tonight...I'm too busy having a vocab moment.  lol :) 

So I learned today that "I just got hit by a bus" feeling you get when you wake up suddenly (or even not so suddenly) from a nap has an actual, scientific NAME.  (I'm aware that it's probably weird how excited I get about discovering that things have a proper name).  It's called sleep inertia.  It really makes perfect sense.  An object at rest tends to stay at rest, and all that.  That said, it'll probably still be "hit by a bus" to me, for the most part.  But I'll take secret pleasure in remembering that I know the actual name too. 

Some other things that there are catch words or other fancy words to describe:

1) Crazy spell checker (i.e. spell check replacing words it thinks are spelled wrong with completely incorrect/inappropriate words).     Catchword:  The Cupertino Effect

2) Asking instead of telling (i.e.  "Would you pass the peas?" instead of "Pass the peas.").  Catchword:  Whimperative

3) Doodles.  Catchword:  Zentangles  (if you're thinking it's ridiculous that there should even BE a catchword for doodling, I wholly agree.)

4) Slow and incompetent.  Another word:  Laggard

5) Committing a crime against yourself.  Actual word: Felo-de-se

6) Stare.  Another word:  Glout

7) Chilly or cold.  Another word:  Aguish

8)  Scandalous.  Another word:  Black-burning

9) A poisonous/toxic atmosphere.  Fancier Word:  Miasma  (oh yeah, any of you who went on our Wisconsin vacation...I DID just post that word in my blog...creeeeeeeeepy).

10) Happiness at the misfortune of others.  And one foreign language addition for good measure:  Schadenfreude

Anyway, that's all for tonight :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What a bargain...

So I'm pretty sure every crafter's famous last words when they're starting in this hobby are, "I'll save some money and MAKE my own invitations, cards, gifts, etc.  Then all of a sudden you realize you could've bought a card at Walgreens for $3.50, and meanwhile, you've tanked $35 on your handmade birthday card.  Whoops.  We've all been there.  I could probably look at credit card statements for the last two or three years and tell you just how much I "saved."  lol.  I think we can all agree it's worth it, though.  A beautiful handmade gift from the heart...can say a lot more than the $20 you might have spent at Target. 

The good news is, cheap gifts CAN be done, and still look nice.  Two factors help:  1) making them in bulk, and 2) very careful planning and substitutions for cheaper options.  Particularly the substitutions part.  That's always been my mantra for interior decorating too.  Yes, buy all the magazines of beautiful rooms that you can never afford to do in their entirety.  Circle all the things you really REALLY like.  Then set about finding ways to recreate them for less.  Ikea, Walmart, even Menards or Home Depot...just keep your eyes'll be surprised the things you find that are good approximations of other ideas.  The mistake that people make is that they insist on having the actual item they see in the picture instead of adapting the idea into something they can actually afford. 

Anyway, my point with all of this is that I started making my annual Christmas gifts today (oh yeah, I'm aware of the insanity of that statement, but to be honest, if I started any later than now, I simply wouldn't finish.)  I usually make 15-20 smaller gifts for my staff and whatnot, in addition to the more substantial ones for family and very close friends.  So, it's important that they be reasonably priced, because as much as I'd love to have generous amounts of disposable income, it's just not in the cards in the near future.  I went with frames, because they tend to get used, and if not, they're pretty easily re-giftable.  And don't give me crap about planning for re-giftability, because it's a legitimate concern.  Particularly when you're giving handmade things to people who you don't know all THAT well.  If it doesn't go with their decor and they're not going to use it, it'd be nice if at least it was able to be used by someone instead of sitting in a closet or going in the trash. 

So, below are the before and after shots of the frame I made tonight...and for only $2.50 (once you divide it out across the 20 I'm making anyway)!  I used a Creating Imaginations Audrey frame, My Minds Eye So Sophie paper, Tim Holtz woodblock stamp, American Crafts ribbon, 1 1/8" circle punch, Chestnut Roan Cateye ink, and gems.  Vary the papers for different looks, and voila!  Not too shabby :)



And that's all for tonight :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Feeling like a kid again...

So at my first real college apartment (I say REAL, because I don't count the one that I was afraid to live in prior to that and moved out of four months in because my roommate was a psychopath...literally), my roommates and I decided that coloring would be a great stress reliever.  We went out and bought a few of those giant kid's coloring books and the biggest boxes of crayons we could find.  This stress relieving process morphed into a rite of passage, and everyone was strongly encouraged (although not officially required) to color something in the coloring book upon their first visit.  Everyone signed and dated their work.  It turned into a fun little keepsake, though I'm not sure who wound up with it or if it even survived all of our moving out after school.  Throughout my life, though, despite whatever the heck is going on, nothing is quite so soothing as sitting down with a goofy picture of a cartoon animal and a giant box of crayons. 

So, I was ecstatic to discover several months ago that there's a scrapbooking equivalent.  Doodling.  Like, draw in the margins, color in all the "O"s and "B"s and "P"s style doodling.  There are books on this technique!  Who knew?  So, obviously, I DID buy a book about it (cuz I'm crazy like that, and I need direction for my doodling...yeah...OCD a little, I know).  I found myself somewhat stressed about it because I had never before considered making doodling a PART of what I was doing.  I've always doodled while I was daydreaming about what I may be doing in the future, or to kill time waiting to do something, or to avoid doing something, or maybe just to stay awake while I'm doing something boring.  I've never considered it to be the end product.  This sentiment has been echoed by most of the customers I've suggested it to as well.  So imagine my surprise when I sat down, and it just started happening.  Just like coloring.  Just like pulling out the crayons and coloring in that goofy cartoon animal.  And when I convince customers to just sit down and try it...they agree.  Beautiful, creative, relaxing.  Just...doodling. 

So yeah, here's some fun with doodling I had tonight...basic, boring-ish patterened paper, made fun!

The original:
Starting the outlines:

Filling in pattern:

That's all for tonight :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Just because...

One time in ShopKo, I saw a card that had a rubber ducky on it.  On the front, it said, "Just a happy little card to make you smile..."  And then you open it up, and it says "...or piss you off."  I freaking LOVED that card.  And I have, since then, always stopped at greeting card displays to look for cards that have no particular reason for existence.  I've found cards about belly button lint, navel oranges, drunken proofreading, hamsters, lunch ladies, and plenty of other random topics.  I think they're hilarious.  I buy them when I see them, and I either add them to random art work or mail them for no particular reason at all.  I think it's hilarious.  And whether the recipient calls me laughing or confused, I find myself incredibly amused with the whole thing.  So here's a random card...sorely in need or a random sentiment, but alas...the ideas are lagging this evening.  Definitely not my finest work, but it gave me a chance to use that little chick Stampendous cling stamp that I've had for over a year and have always been looking for an opportunity to use.  I also have a cute raccoon stamp from Imaginisce that I bought the other day that I think is destined for a random card.  We'll see.  Anyway, I should definitely be working on invitations instead of blogging, so I'm off for now.  More later!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Art projects...

Okay, so I didn't make anything tonight, but as I'm beginning to start on a new little art project (a letterblock printer's tray from 7Gypsies), I'm reminded of art projects past.  I'll apologize in advance for the pics...they're not of any real quality, but I took them on my phone in the poor lighting situation that is my apartment.  Anyway, you'll get the idea.  So, being flat broke upon moving into most of my apartments, and then moving in with a (now ex)-boyfriend who didn't believe in spending money on art, I had to find creative ways to make apartment white walls look not so miserably impersonal.  These are a few of my favorite things:

For the base:
- Ultra cheap frames from Ikea and Walmart
- Frames that have layers (i.e. multiple pictures sit in the same box frame at different depths...usually at Target)
- Basic shadow boxes
- Collage frames (usually a large selection at Kohls)

For images
- Greeting cards with interesting pictures on the front
*Bonus:  If you're trying to use a lot of pictures from an event like a birthday or bachelorette party, you can get a card to tie them all together and make a statement
- Giant coffee table books on mega discount at Borders or Barnes and Noble
*Bonus:  If you have trouble trying to match everything together, or if you're trying to pull something together quickly, this is super easy.  All the pictures already "go" together, just cut, paste, and hang!
- Anything an internet search has to offer, printed on photo paper and cut out
*Bonus:  This gives great options for obscure or very specific topics

For texture and a more handmade look:
- Napkins or placemats of interesting textures or patterns
- Discount silk florals from JoAnn's or Michaels
- Interesting little bowls or trinkets
*Make sure you've considered appropriate adhesive for trinkets and whatnot.  They make a great addition to a handmade art piece, but it doesn't do you any good if it falls apart a month after you hang it up. 

Here's a couple of my art projects, photographed with a crappy camera phone in terrible light :)

That's all for tonight :)  Have a good one!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The good times hangover...

Does this happen to anyone else?  No alcohol involved in this one.  A solid day or two of good times and excitement, head back to your real life, and it's like you have a hangover from it.  Just not really feeling well because you overloaded, crashing from your high on fun, and knowing that much fun won't be stopping by again anytime soon.  Back to work and errands and never having time for what you'd really like to be doing. 

I read an article on Yahoo news about this just the other day, and when I went to see Eat Pray Love yesterday, I was reminded again that we're the most overworking, overstressed, overbusy country in the world...and we LIKE it.  The article was saying that overall, most people in America would PREFER to be way overbooked.  We're actually happier when we're a step behind on our to do list, because we feel like we have PURPOSE.  When we finish the list, we have this nagging sense that we're just there...waiting for the next thing we should be doing.  And then in Eat Pray Love (I also read the book a couple of weeks ago...which was better than the movie, obviously, but the movie was quite good as well), they were talking about how we just can't relax.  It's like we need an excuse, or permission, or something.  We have to feel like we EARNED it.  In the book/movie, they were talking about how doing nothing was practically an art form in Italy.  And how American ad campaigns are all about how we've earned a break, and we really deserve to take one...with a Miller...or a Kit Kat...or whatever other product is selling, and we're like, "Really?  You think so?  Fantastic...maybe I WILL go take a break!".  The premise of the conversation in the movie/book was that if one of these commercials ran somewhere else, they would simply, "OBVIOUSLY, I deserve a break...that's why I already have one lunch, and again after work, and again this weekend, and maybe I'll take a day off next week!" 

I'll agree with that (the American part anyway...I can't speak for anywhere else, since I pretty much haven't even been out of the country, but for Canada).  I feel sort of lazy and worthless having a do-nothing day off unless I completely busted my ass the day before and completed 72 hours worth of work in 24 hours.  And I'll be the first to admit that I have a bad habit of worrying about what's happening at work for the first half of my vacation and then panicking about what I'm coming back to at work for the second half.  I'm a LOT better about it than I used to be, particularly since I don't have a job that I can't stand anymore.  Now it's just a distant, nagging feeling.  With my old jobs, I'd be approaching hysteria by day 4...spending disturbing amounts of time considering the cost-benefit analysis of breaking a leg and going on disability for a few weeks, quitting my job and filing for bankruptcy, or moving in with my mom and becoming a waitress...anything but going back.  It's been a breath of fresh air not dealing with that nightmare anymore.  I can actually enjoy myself DURING the fun now, which is definitely an improvement.

But what to do AFTER the fun?  Besides throwing myself back into work and errands and cleaning house and whatever other to do lists I can think of at 1000 mph, I haven't found much.  And I suppose some of it has to do with my control issues and whatnot, but still...there's got to be another option.  Some sort of happy middle ground, where work can happen, and fun can happen, and you can transition easily from one to the other.  Doesn't there?  Well, if I ever find one, I'll let ya know.  Until then, I'm going to enjoy my last 18 hours off this weekend, and then head to work bright and early tomorrow morning to start the rat race all over again :)  lol.

No crafting tonight...back home at my mom's house and I don't have anything with me.  More tomorrow!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Back to school...

Well, it's back to school time, and the most notable changes to my life are 1) my morning commute takes longer because Wadsworth can't get their act together and get a stop light instead of having to have someone direct traffic twice a day, 2) moms who shop at our store aren't so stressed out and don't have kids constantly begging them to hurry up and leave, and 3) there aren't so many high schoolers in loitering and drawing all over the pen fixture.  Since my mom is a teacher and she has a very small class of only l7 this year, I helped her make welcome back cards for each of her students.  It's just a half a gatefold card, an EK floral dot punch, some stemma classmates paper, and old woodblock stamps I had lying around from a few years ago (unfortunately, I don't know the brand name), colored in with watercolor pencils.  Here ya go :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

A home for Millie Sofia...

Well, it's official!  I have a new addition to my little canine family.  We drove all the way to St. Louis this morning to meet Millie Sofia, a sweet little black/gray Pomeranian (the rescue group says full blood Pomeranian, but I've never seen a 15 lb. Pomeranian, and neither has my veterinarian.  But that's neither here nor there.  We brought Lucy along (much to her dismay, since she had to ride in the back seat all the way there, which she certainly did NOT appreciate), to make sure we could all get along so we wouldn't have a dogfight five minutes in.  So the place was a madhouse, and amid a dozen or so dogs loitering in an area the size of my bathroom, and what seemed like another dozen phonecalls at once, we managed to get paperwork signed, and Millie became mine!  She's from a puppy mill and has had a rough life, so she's understandably shy, but VERY sweet, and soooooo cute!  Stopped at the vet's office on the way home, where she got the a-okay to come home without concern, and her and Lucy are already snuggling on the couch next to me.  What a great day :)  No crafting today, but puppy pics below!

Millie's adoption photos from petfinder:

Millie's first night home & snuggling with Lucy

And one more of Lucy looking sleepy from a very busy day for good measure :)

And that's all for now :)  More another day!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It's the little things...

I continue to be amazed at how much the little things can make a difference.  I'm not that person who is constantly seeking validation or support.  In fact, particularly since I've been on my own again, I've definitely grown into that stubborn girl who doesn't think she needs any help.  "No, I've never done that.  No, I have no idea what I'm doing.  No, I DON'T need any help.  I can do it myself!"  Ummm...yeah.  And I do figure it out eventually, sometimes a little more wear and tear to my ego later.  But still, it makes me feel good to know that I can handle it, even if it may or may not be with the level of expertise or grace intended. 

It never hurts, though, to know someone is in your corner.  Not someone to step in and fix it for you.  Not even necessarily someone to tell you how great you are (although that's nice sometimes too).  But someone who will recognize where you are right now, and remind you that regardless of whatever is going on, you WILL get where you're going.  And therein, the lesson that men all over the world would do well to learn early.  I don't know for sure if men are fundamentally different in this, but as a general rule, the women I know don't want a guy to troubleshoot their problems, come up with ideas or solutions, or really even have an opinion on the matter, unless we specifically ask for it.  We just want them to listen, let us know that they understand, and that they'll be there when we're feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, and possibly give us a small kick in the ass when we need to consider getting over it and moving along.  (VERY small...and as a reminder, this move is potentially risky.  lol)

Now, I don't know many guys who have mastered this skill.  Perhaps it comes with age or something.  But, I do know there are guys out there who resist their instinctual urge to just try and fix the problem for you and move on.  One of my best friends is married to one of these guys.  Somehow this guy manages to be some magical combination of the traditional "guy's guy" and the guy who not only volunteers to dress up as Santa, but also writes letters back to the kids AS Santa.  I seriously could NOT make this stuff up.  At any rate, where I'm going with this is my creative inspiration for the day.  My friend has been having a particularly rough go of it at work lately...she's way overstressed and unhappy and overall just has a lot on her plate.  So, her husband, completely out of the blue, drops a little card in her car before she leaves for work.  Nothing huge or earth shattering.  Just a cute card to say that it's gonna get better, and he'll be there every step of the way.  Needless to say, waterworks ensued, but could one tiny effort be any more perfect?  We don't need to be knocked over the head with support.  Just a little reminder that someone is there if we need them.  Perfect. 

So here are some little reminder cards that things are looking up.  I just used solid cardstock, Imaginisce sea creature stamps, Faber-Castell watercolor pencils, and a couple of scraps of self adhesive Basic Grey paper ribbon.

Don't be Crabby...

Just Keep Swimming...


I Know this Blows...


And that's all for this evening.  Some potential I may not be crafting for a couple days after this...going to adopt a new friend for Lucy :)  I'll post pictures! 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It starts...

Well, it's decided. I'm starting a blog...again. It's been years since I kept one in college, and while I loved it, something changed. It seemed like as soon as I got out of school, life took over...spent a few years working jobs I hated and rearranging my life around people who wouldn't do the same for me, and just generally having nothing of interest to post. But, in June of last year, I started a new job, moved to a new place, and started over. So now, a year later, my new life is falling into place. I have a creative job that I ADORE (even on the days when it frustrates me beyond belief). I rescued an adorable little Chihuahua named Lucy, who keeps me from becoming even more of a Internet and DVR junkie than I already am. I've repaired family relationships, and the friends who have stuck with me through all of this I know are the real deal. All in all, I've finally settled into myself. And while, yeah, there are always days when I could tear my hair out, or stay in bed all day, I'm generally pretty well-adjusted and happy with my life.

That said, I've found that my creative job is sapping all my creative energy. I get home and stare at the TV instead of tinkering around with the piles of pretty scrapbooking and cardmaking things I have so obsessively collected over the years. This is where the blog comes in. Such a responsibility, the blog. It's incredible the sense of guilt I feel for not keeping up with something I've committed to. So here's hoping that guilt will spur me on when creativity alone does not.

And now, my first creative project...invitations and matching thank you cards for my best friend's baby shower that I'm hosting in October. I used Popcorn the Bear unmounted stamps, Faber-Castell watercolor pencils, and October Afternoon paper from the Ducks in a Row line. The thank you card is on half of a gatefold card from Archivers, which fits perfectly into a 4bar envelope.

Front of the Invitation:

 Inside the Invitation...I just couldn't resist using the cute little duck from the stamp set:

The matching Thank You Card:

Alrighty...that's all for tonight :)  More soon!