Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Christmas book fit for a card

As presents go, gift cards hardly make the list for me ... not for receiving, of course, as I'll take absolutely any present that's offered.

Instead, I'm not fond of giving gift cards. Some people, from what I hear, don't like choosing gifts. It's a scary thing, with lots of worry about whether the color or style is good for the recipient. My gifty world, though, holds only one real negative: I am generally so excited about what I'm giving that I can't keep my mouth shut.

Not that I'm usually busy keeping even the slightest bit of random chatter to myself, but where most people wrap a present and leave it under the tree I'm dancing around cackling "You wanna open it? You wanna open it?"

I hate waiting for Christmas because I'm dying for everyone else to open presents. Surely this makes clear then, why for me gift cards sort of suck the fun out of gift giving.

This year I found a fix for my addiction: With the help of a Christmas book class we attended in the Spring and a Zutter binder, I found out that gift cards can make me a very happy Santa indeed.

I Zuttered two chip board squares which I'd already covered in distress ink, then embellished with flocked Christmas paper for the base. The front also got a vintage image and a few copper glitter Thickers.

The inside pockets also are punched with the Zutter, of course. These pockets are designed so that they're  more or less open at the bound edge, after all nothing would be going in the pockets that could slip out, and the outer edges are the pocket flaps.

I used 5/8 inch Velcro dots for closures and covered the pockets and flaps with designer papers on the two pocket-style pages.

A third page, and the main "gift" page, has a window and tabbed pull-out to reveal the gift card. The inside back cover has a piece of colored stock for writing a note to the recipient.

Tada! A Christmas book and a way to make a gift card a little more memorable.

Man ... just think of all the books I can make. Birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's, Talk Like a Pirate Day! Yay!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Turning minutes into hours

I hope I'm not alone. I hope I'm not the only one who sometimes feels like a dunce.

In the assumption that each of us have our little hurdles in life, I'd like to tell you that trying to add the Alpha Stamps "gadget" on my sidebar took about an hour of fiddling and googling and swearing.

So, the next time you're frustrated or feeling dumb ... just remember that something the rest of the blogging world seems to accomplish in seconds takes me an hour. And remains still slightly incorrect since the logo doesn't take you anywhere except, well, the logo.

Oh well. I'll figure this out at some point.

Until then, smiles and hugs to you!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Forced to join the fun

Hi everybody! I hope your stockings and Solstice mugs were packed full of frankincense and grog and art supplies!

Santa must have been looking the other way a lot this year, because I got my wish: Check out the brand new printer over there ... on the shelf where my old printer was only a week ago ... it's the HP color printer with built-in duplex and wireless features!

Can you believe this is my first ever color printer? Me who does nothing without color?

Ah well, some things take time and an offer too good to pass.

It's kind of like the deals at Alpha Stamps. Today and every day through January 2, the good folks over at Alpha Stamps are hosting a daily giveaway.

You have got to see what they have that's new and what they're offering at sale prices, let alone the enter-to-win products. I'm wondering what they'll have in stock after smart buyers load up their carts, and then Alpha gives out all of this stuff!

By the way, it's only fair to note that I found Alpha Stamps in general, and this giveaway particularly, by visiting Lynn at Trash to Treasure Art. Check out her blog that is packed full of some of the coolest art you'll see, and features lots of Alpha products.

p.s. Later this week I'll be showing off my very first printer-based project!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Scribble stain: A Studio L3 Compendium Challenge

This week's Studio L3 Compendium Challenge technique, scribble stain distress, makes me crazy!

As you can see here I finally made a bit of scribbly stained paper that is an interesting base for this notebook cover.

But this is the fifth, maybe sixth, attempt. Every other scribbly sheet came out like rainbow vomit in mud. OK, that almost sounds pretty ... my muddy messes were not pretty.

The reason for my scribble stain handicap, I think, is because my touch is not light.

As a child the phrase most often used in my presence was "Don't press so hard!" I squished marker tips, broke pencil leads and spread crayon chunks everywhere.

More than once I was in trouble for "etching" words into tabletops and auto paint jobs (although I still contend that it wasn't me who permanently etched my sister's name into my grandmother's coffee table).

Today's problem is the same as that of yesteryear, it's only the product that's matured. I've moved from Ticonderoga No. 2's to reinker eye droppers and a craft sheet covered in inky swimming pools.

Luckily I love to swim, so it's not all bad. Plus, who really cares what happens when the whole process means you get to play with inks and heatguns and mini metal embellishments?

Not me!

Oh, and this week I even get to show off my Zutter binder "technique!" The Zutter is a somewhat new addition to the CuddlyBunny craft room, but I haven't been able to reveal anything yet because the creations are gifts that haven't yet been opened.

Not to worry, though. I'm completely digging the Zutter binding thing, so you'll see lots and lots of Zuttering in the future.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rock Candy: A Studio L3 Compendium Challenge

Unfortunately I don't have all night to create this post. As usual, in fact, I'm pretty much hiding behind the Last Freakin' Minute for the Compendium Challenge at Studio L3.

The reason I wish there was more time is because I have multiple stories to tell about this One Damn Project.

In case I can't finish, then, let's start at the end. The finished project makes use of tissue paper, a phrase stamp and sheet of ephemera from Firecracker Designs (sadly she's close up shop), a ticket printed from Miss Cutie Pie (I got to her from Terry's) and a sticker from somewhere I forget.

Alright on to the related stories: First, I couldn't find my own Rock Candy Distress Stickles. My own as in the two separate bottles that are hiding somewhere in my craft room.

Second, I couldn't buy them anywhere in town. Anywhere. So, I ordered two more, along with a few other Holtzy things. I ordered the Stickles back on December 10th. Now I can not find the RCDS I already had, nor do I have the ones I ordered more than a week ago.

But I figured, you know, it's OK because Linda and Mr. Holtz will forgive me. After all, I tried, and I do own the right stuff (thank god, because I surely wasn't born with it, ha ha). I only can't find it amongst the other items I'm saving for the challenges.

Still. You knew that I wouldn't do then what I can wait and try to accomplish during a snowstorm, after the power goes out.

Just to prove how devoted I am to The Last Minute, I'd actually posted a comment on Studio L3 just before the power KRAZAPed! out.

Reading Laura Ingalls' books as a child I always imagined myself living without electricity: Huddled near the fireplace for warmth while reading school books by the light of a gas lamp (as if I read my school books) while Ma rocked and Pa fiddled.

It's with a great deal of confidence, however that I tell you while Laura Ingalls might have been able to darn socks and combine quilt squares in near darkness, I can barely find an acrylic stamp block with a LED flashlight.

Oddly my creation ended up being one of my favorites. Maybe that's because I'm busy patting myself on the back for being so resourceful.

Or, maybe it's just that the power came back on 20 minutes ago and everything seems better after the baseboard heaters again start pumping out warmth.

Huh. Look at that. Heat and I got to tell all of my stories related to this one creation.

No wonder My Guy's always saying I talk too much.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas DS style: A Drunken Stampers challenge

I'm not sure that this piece is actually "DS style," but I definitely enjoyed my share of wine while creating it, so I figure that counts for this weeks' Drunken Stampers challenge.

Inevitably my favorite Christmas-themed pieces turn out with lots of blues and whites and snowflakes. I suppose this is because I look forward most to the snow and scarves and serenity that surround the Christmas season.

So, it's no surprise that as I write this I'm not nearly as thrilled by my card as I am by the foot or more of fresh snow that has been falling for the past 24 hours.

Strings of lights glow from the eaves and jingle bells ring every time we walk past the hall garland. Color reflects on the snow and the windows and the glittery baubles everywhere.

Take a minute to enjoy the season, and then put that joy into your very own creation! We can't wait to see how your DS style Christmas looks!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crafting keeping me awake at night

Hello crafty friends! I'm sure you think I haven't been crafting much what with all of the Toasting To The Season and all, but really I've been crafting constantly.

The thing is I have lots of stuff that I can't post because the creations are for people who read this blog and because, frankly, blogging is time consuming (but you know that, don't you?).

Anyhow, the crafting and creating has been keeping me busy nearly every minute that I'm not at work or sleeping ... and last night it even interrupted the sleeping.

I was just about to drop off into the dreamy oblivion of perfect sleep under fluffy feathers and cotton quilts in a nicely-chilled room when suddenly it came to me: A rosette Christmas tree!

Please don't tell me if this wasn't my idea. Nobody wants to know that they lost sleep because of an idea someone else had first. Just keep it to yourself if I've stolen an idea and am calling it my own (unless I actually have stolen it, of course).

Here's how the little tree came together: Cut six rosettes using the Holtz Alterations rosette die (or make them by hand, if you've the patience).

Put together one full-size rosette. Then, before folding and flatting the remaining five rosettes, trim them so that each rosette strip is slightly smaller than the previous. Just eyeball the sizes and keep in mind that you'll want the smallest rosette strip to end up somewhere around half an inch wide.

Make centers for each of these smaller rosettes using a 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch round punch.

Now thread a glass or metal bead on embroidery floss to act as the tree base (a heavy bead will ensure that the tree hangs nicely).

Using a large-gauge sewing needle, pull the floss through the full-size rosette center, and on through to the smallest, using a small bead between each rosette to create a classic, triangular tree shape.

Finish the tree with an origami wishing star (learn to make them here).

And now my friends I have even more to do in the ten and a half days before Christmas ... a whole bunch of rosette Christmas trees!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tags: A Drunken Stampers Challenge

Hello Drunken Stampers and holiday season visitors!

This week's challenge is all about tags: Something that even my busy self has been finding time to create.

Surely you've all seen lots of little tags appearing here and there and everywhere, between Mr. Holtz's 12 Tags and all of us paper crafters salivating over vintage Christmas prints and glittered dreidel chip board stickers and shiny Solstice-ready snowflake punches.

My creation is less tag and more tiny greeting card. I've no idea why, exactly, but a tiny folded card on a gift always seems so very lavish and magical.

My small card, not exactly tiny at three by three and a half inches, is adorned with a chipboard piece, a vintage Santa cut from stationary, a green corduroy brad and three punched snowflakes with very special star centers.

Those gorgeous little stars, each with a single glittering rhinestone, are a kind gift from fellow blogger and friend Terry at Terry2dogs!

I seem to remember promising myself that I wouldn't be a "saver" anymore ... but here I sit writing that I saved these fantastic stars for the perfect project ... and writing further that I won't be using any more until another perfect project reveals itself.

Apparently some old dogs can't unlearn silly tricks. Luckily I know where my rhinestones are buried.

So, where are your favorite shiny and pretty bits hidden away? Why not pull out one or two or three special little pieces and create your very own tag for the Drunken Stampers Tag challenge?

We'll be waiting to see what you create!

Until then ... egg nog anyone?

Friday, December 3, 2010

An office party with Attitude: A Drunken Stampers Challenge

Welcome to the very first Combined Design Team Office Party Blog Hop!

We all worked hard this year and wanted to have some fun, so it's time for a truly unique Blog Hop!

Our theme is Office Party and oh, this will be such fun because we teamed up with Digi's with Attitude to give you a wonderful time! You'll find many chances to win and so much inspiration that you're sure to have a good time!

All Prizes have Attitude, that much is for sure: See what you could win at the Digi's with Attitude! Store. The total of prizes is worth a whopping $115.00! Who needs more?

Read on to discover how you can score a prize!

As you're mingling at the office party (blog hopping) with the fabulous gals from Digi’s with Attitude be sure to leave comments along the way! Each designer will draw from the comments on her blog's Office Party Blog Hop post and that winner will receive the digi which was used on that designer's blog post as well as a $5 gift certificate to the Digi's with Attitude store! How cool is that?

Plus, if you show us your Office Party-themed creativity, you'll be in the running for a chance to win a $20.00 gift certificate from each challenge blog! Simply make a new card with this week's theme or for someone at your office (Digi’s with Attitude stamps are not required but the DWA December freebie is available for download from the Digi's With Attitude! Store). 

Next, post your creation on your blog and enter the link to your card on the The Digi's With Attitude! Challenge Blog or the Drunken Stampers Challenge Blog before Thursday, December 9 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

You can submit multiple entries, but no duplicate creations, and your post must be new as of December 3, 2010 (non-eligible entries will be removed).

The Digi’s With Attitude! Challenge Blog/Drunken Stampers Challenge Blog will draw one winner each for a $20 gift certificate to the Digi's with Attitude Store as well!

Names of winners will be posted on December 13, 2010. Design Team Office Party members will post the names of the individual who have won each blogs' prize, while the the two "big" winners will be posted on the Digi’s With Attitude! Challenge Blog and Drunken Stampers Challenge blog respectively. So, be sure to retrace your steps to see if you are a winner.

We hope to see you at the Office Party!

Below is a list of the designers in the hop in case you get lost along the way!

1) Drunken Stampers Challenge Blog <---- Add your Challenge Entry Here!!!
2) Mari
3) Peg
4) Viv
5) Spike
9) Tazza  
11) Linda
12) Jenny
13) Louise
14) Tracy
15) Juanita
17) Digi's With Attitude! Challenge Blog    <---- Add your Challenge Entry Here too!!!

Other Important Links:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Candied pretzels and other holiday projects

Though it surely places me in the annoying water cooler chatter category along with people who say things like "hump day" and "it's another Manic Monday" I'm left with little choice but to say, "Where the hell has the year gone?"

Wasn't June a month ago? Weren't we wiping August sweat from our collective brows just last week. 'Twas only yesterday when ... okay, honestly, it was freakin' cold here yesterday ... there was no doubt about the month.

Anyhow, what all of this brings me to is an apology, and a hope: I apologize that I won't be around much for the next few weeks and I hope you'll be here when I am ... or at least when I get back to a regular blog "schedule."

I've been surprised and grateful for the people who stop by now and then, read my yammering and give me input. It's like having a whole world of friends! This post is for you, my friends, because I wish to make sure you know how important all of you are to me.

Surely you don't need to be told how much we enjoy the holidays at our house. After all, it's the season of joy and lights and giving and the warm embrace of kith and kin (did anyone else hear Clark Griswold?).

It means fun and happiness and sharing and caring! Yay!

It also means tree decorating and end of year work projects and, hopefully, lots of evenings spent sipping hot toddies while watching Mother Nature's wintertime show.

This week particularly it means lots of candied pretzels and a first attempt at homemade gingerbread houses.

So, if you don't see me as much as usual, don't worry. I'll be back, I promise, and I'll be thinking of you while I'm gone.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Shopping hangover: A Drunken Stampers Challenge

This week at Drunken Stampers we're challenging you to join us with your vision of a Shopping Hangover!

My own shopping drunk begins around Halloween when I decide just how much My Guy and I are going to spend this year, and ends the day I pay the post office or UPS to deliver the last, absolute final, I'm really not sending any more packages this year package.

Then, hopefully, it's off to the pub to meet friends for an evening of shared cheer and stories of happy holidays past.

For Christmas 2010 I'm shooting for December 10 as the final day of my shopping/shipping drunk. So, I'll let you know how I'm feeling on December 11.

Perhaps your shopping drunk began and ended with Black Friday? Maybe you're a Cyber Monday maniac?

Either way, celebrate your own Shopping Hangover with us by participating in the Drunken Stampers challenge, which ends at 11:59 p.m. December 2 (yup, Thursday, because we have a special surprise for you that begins Friday!).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanks to you, from me and The Falls

A favorite childhood memory of mine is "Going to the Falls" for breakfast.

My family lived in a former ranch hand house that was surrounded by fields on three sides with a road running in front.

At one end the road led, eventually, to one of three or four main roads that went to Twin Falls, Idaho. The other end led down to Shoshone Falls. A gorgeous and much-loved waterfall and boat drop and canyon area.

But the waterfall and park where we had breakfast so often was one turn east, one turn north and lots of turns hither and yon from our old road so far from "town." It was again in the canyon, but the technical property of Idaho Power. We really owned it, of course, along with several hundred other Twin Falls-i-ans, but definitely not some "company."

We owned it. We who arrived in the dewy summer mornings with Bisquik pancake mix in  Tupperware pitchers and Grandma with her picnic basket full of plastic plates and bacon and electric skillets and General Electric percolators.

We own it still, in our memories. Even if we're not physically gathering at the Twin Falls namesake, Grandma still joins us from her glass "urn" on the bar (where she is surely happiest), and her percolator sits on our counter cooking home-ground coffee beans. And every time we sip a cup of coffee, we know that it was poured by us just as much as it was by Grandma with the rumble of the waterfall behind her.

So, this Thanksgiving Day and every other day, the message I send is thanks for the family and the friends who have made my life so fun and silly and stupid and annoying and irritating and worthwhile. So. Much. Thanks for So Much.

It's been a lovely, odd and wonderful endless Breakfast At the Falls.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Page 40: A Studio L3 Compendium challenge

Wow! I love this week's Studio L3 Compendium challenge!

First, we have our sweetest-ever Linda who is giving us Two Weeks for the challenges through the Winter Solstice Celebration (aka: Christmas for folks who celebrate with a tree, but not the birth ... or who celebrate with nothing more than ruddy cheeks and jolly smiles).

Then we have this super cool Compendium of Curiosities Double distress technique from page 40 of the Compendium, which incorporates one of my favorite things: Embossing!

Really the only way you wouldn't know that about me is if you've never, not ever been here at Not a Moment to Spare, or at Drunken Stampers, or anywhere at all that I've ever been.

Embossing, whether pressed or heated, is the most stupendous way to upgrade recipients' reactions. What would have garnered an "Oh, that's neat," becomes "Holy crap! You made that? Cool!"

Of course I don't know that's what will happen. It's only how I imagine the exchange. Because embossing is way cool. And so is Tim Holtz. And most of all our Linda is the coolest!

Can you imagine such a person in fantasy or reality? She works her rear end silly keeping the Compendium challenges fun and surprising and fair and inspiring and perfect ... and she thanks us, her readers, for doing so much for her.

Yeah. Pretty much the modern world's version of Athena.

Do your own part to celebrate our favorite real-life goddess by putting together a piece of art using Tim's double distress technique, then share it with Linda and her followers before 8 p.m. Mountain on Dec. 5.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

No stamping: A Drunken Stampers Challenge

Everyone at Drunken Stampers did so well last week with their stitching!

Of course, we knew you'd love that one! This week we're giving you a challenge that might make your brow furrow at first, but we're sure you'll love it in the end.

No stamping!

Oh yes, you read that correctly. This week's Drunken Stampers challenge is to create your card or scrapbook page or altered art without a single stamp!

My first reaction to this challenge was more or less "No problem." After all, I'm far more knowledgeable in nearly every other craft technique. Stamping as a regular addition to my creations has been somewhat limited, and even then was usually as an accent or appeared as the single image used for a one-time-only project.

Unfortunately my second reaction, shortly after starting to work on this piece, was "oh fuh-dge" (but like in Christmas Story, so not fudge so much as that other one).

Which brings me to this seemingly unrelated story: I try to shut down my computer once a week and live e-free for a day. Otherwise I begin to feel as if I'm stuck here in a rolling chair with my fingertips constantly ticking at the keyboard. I being to feel that there is no way to tell my parents how great they are without e-mail. No time for new projects because blogs and e-mails and random news must be read. No way to do anything at all without the reassuring hum of a electricity bringing the world to my desk top.

This week I realized that perhaps occasionally I should also go technique-free: Shun the stamps and reach for the Cricut or close the Cricut and dig out the stencils.

Because it turned out to be quite a trial trying to get through one silly little card without the use of a stamp of any kind (and especially without the use of any inks for edge highlighting, but that aspect was self-imposed, not challenge imposed).

Obviously what happened here is that I leaned heavily on the Cricut. It's a fun little card, isn't it? Very happy and silly, which is perfect for my niece. OK, perhaps a bit juvenile for my 7-year-old niece who is probably a lot cooler than me, but I'm her aunt so she's stuck saying nice things about this dorky stuff.

Ah, and the second one, the ladybug, is for my second niece. Who also is cooler than me.

I know you'll create something much hipper than my little cards, so let's see it! Craft the day away, then meet us at Drunken Stampers before midnight Nov. 26!

And don't forget to schedule your own technique-shunning days!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Alcohol ink splatter: A Studio L3 Compendium challenge

My card for this week's Studio L3 Compendium challenge (page 52, Alcohol ink splatter), makes me happy for so many reasons, not the least of which is that it's among those rare creations that comes very close to my original intention.

The crazy background flows hither and yon with splotches of bright white shining through. It looks to me a lot like stained glass or those faux stained glass made with tissue paper.

My Guy said it reminds him of banners, and I can absolutely see his vision: Two jousters, faces hidden by elaborate helmets, waiting for a fair maiden's handkerchief to drop while the beats of a dragon's wings cause flags and banners and skirts to flutter ... suddenly, the drumming of horse's hooves ...

You can see the banners, can't you? I knew you could, you incredibly creative and intuitive people.

Another thing that makes me happy about this piece is that the dragon stamp was one of those *forehead smack* I Have The Power! moments. It all comes down to this: If you own a Cricut, buy some of the Cricut stamp material.

My dragon stamp is cut from the Cricut Pagoda cartridge! No being forced to use something I don't want to use ... I'll just make the stamp I want! Yay!

OK, so the other supremely cool thing, in my opinion, is the quote stamp "It is not recommended to leave children and hungry dragons alone. -Dragonology"

This stamp is from Firecracker Design by Pamela. Unfortunately, Firecracker is holding a fire sale with better-than-Black-Friday prices because they're going out of business. Fortunately, they still have a few of their awesome and well-made products (including this dragon quote).

Gosh, how am I going to sleep tonight with all of this excitement? I don't know.

But you shouldn't worry about that: You don't have time to sleep because there's only five days until the end of the week's Studio L3 Compendium Challenge!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Perfect distress: A Studio L3 Compendium challenge

Whew, where's the time going? We're nearly at the end of 2010 and already at the twenty-first Compendium challenge at Studio L3!

This week we were asked to create something using the technique on page 38 of the Compendium, Perfect distress.

It's a perfectly fun technique, with lots of inks and shimmery powder and water and heat guns and if your craft room was clean before it's not now, sort of stuff.

My favorite part of this technique is that the finished image always looks like a fresh tattoo: A bit raised and raw, a bit shiny and wet.

Which is exactly how it should look after being put through so much stressful craftiness!

Now, since I'm all for the idea that we're not supposed to tell the tale of Tim's techniques, I won't reveal to you how things are done or with which products. That said, I'm sure Tim will not be offended when I offer the following recommendation.

Choose stamps with thick lines and shapes. Stamps with finely-detailed lines will be pretty, but will absolutely not result in the gorgeous visual "pop" that this method can produce.

See? No smoldering hair from being zapped with a Holtzian lighting bolt (I'm sure glad I wore my tin foil hat today).

OK, go forth people! Dig into your stash of stamps, grab your Compendium and stop by Studio L3 before tomorrow's 8 p.m. MDT Compendium Challenge deadline!

A stitch in time: A Drunken Stampers Challenge

Welcome to this week's introduction to the Drunken Stampers Challenge inspiration: A stitch in time.

You don't have to save nine as the challenge is actually about including something related to sewing. Real or faux, whichever.

I think I cheated a bit as my piece doesn't have either: That adorable little American Crafts flower is probably more crocheted than sewn and even my almost faux stitching on the sentiment frame ... well ... sometimes I have a hard time sticking to a challenge.

You see, I started with the "... saves nine ..." phrase, then drove w-a-y out to the overlook where I considered creating something with a Teddy Bear in need of repairs before I finally hit the turn signal and U-turned back to Main Street.

Come to think of it, my final project actually turned out to be further from the challenge than the idea from which I ran away. And, you know what else? If I slow down and give it more thought, there's the confession that I didn't want to do something with a Teddy Bear, because cute didn't sound like something I wanted to be today.

Which makes perfect sense when you look at my card here, because it's obviously not in any way cute with lots of pale pink and baby blue and butterflies and little crocheted flowers.

Huh-uh. No cute here.

Oh well, at least I finally snuck one of those clever little trinket pins onto a project.

So, drop in with us at the Drunken Stampers pub to show off what you can stitch up -- cute is entirely optional.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Recycling wax and Guinness cans

We burn candles at our house every day during the winter and most days during the summer. Often they're wee tea light or votive candles that melt away and become goo in the air (causing epic diseases, one assumes).

Occasionally, though we manage to burn through the usefulness of a pillar or multi-wick candle. These always result in a pile of smelly wax that is then collected in bins along with emptied, rinsed and dried Guinness cans.

Obviously when I say "emptied" I mean poured into glasses and drank with the gusto only us immortals can muster.

Keep in mind as we go along here that you could probably use soda pop cans or even other beer cans. We don't drink any of those things, though, so we don't have those cans.

Plus, of course, Guinness cans are slightly taller and slimmer than those other cans. You see, candle making is a lot like baking: There are rules. Your wick to wax to scent to size ratios have to stay within set parameters, otherwise you'll have a candle that constantly puts itself out or melts too quickly and ruins the carpet. Again.

What we discovered is this: Following the instructions I'm about to give will lead you to some sort of crazy Einsteinian parameters that make perfect candles. Or Guinnessian. Whichever, it always works.

Using tin snips or kitchen shears, very carefully trim the top off of the Guinness can (past the "neck").

Puncture the bottom of the can, exactly centered (or mostly centered), with a 16-penny nail. Next, pull enough large-sized Yardley wicking through the hole and to the top so that you have plenty to tie off onto a brace.

Tie a tight knot in the wicking near the bottom of the can, then tug the wicking so that the knot "fills" the hole in the bottom of the can. Trim excess wicking from the bottom, if it is keeping the can from sitting flat.

Returning to the top-side, find something to use as a brace that will hold the wicking taut while you pour wax (we like bamboo skewers, but you can use whatever you prefer as long as you know it'll now be for candle-making only).

Place your Guinness molds on a disposable or only-to-be-used-for candles baking sheet.

Finally, in a pan that you are Never Going To Use For Anything Else, melt leftover wax until it's melted (I know, I read it, melt until melted ... I'm tired, OK?).

Pour this melted wax into the Guinness molds. As the filled mold sets it will develop a crater caused by cooling and bubbles from the wick area.

This means that the rest of the "recipe" is up to you. Either wait for the wax to set completely, strip off the mold and trim the candle so it's pretty. Or, keep melting and filling until that sucker is completely and totally full, then do the stripping and trimming.

Tada! Guinness candles!

Now, for those of you who've never dabbled in candle making:

1. When the wax is fully melted it's hot. HOT! Send you to the emergency room if you spill it on a body part hot. Be careful.

2. Wax is going to get on things. It's going to drip onto the floor. It's going to drip onto the stove top. Do not make candles if you're going to freak out in the months to come when you discover *another* splotch of dripped wax. You might manage to find and clean up every drip as it happens. You might not. Be the Buddha.

3. Your leftover wax is probably full of scented oils. Remelting this wax in large quantities, as for this project, causes the scent to stink up your house like a brothel. Or an incense factory. A very sexy, stinky, disease-causing factory that should probably have open windows. And fans.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Punch me baby!: A Drunken Stampers Challenge

Everyone has a punch or two, hell even people who don't really craft have one. So, there's no excuse for you to miss this week's Drunken Stampers Challenge.

You know how it is. You're in the dollar and less store, the craft store looking for stickers, anywhere these little paper-munching tools exist -- you've been there and seen one, or two or maybe even three, that you thought "I could use that to make confetti," or like so many of us who has no money, but large amounts of crap stuff, "Surely I'll find some way to use that neat punch!"

As a lover of all things winter and snow, I can't pass snowflake-shaped punches. I mean, literally, I try to avoid the punch sections in stores because if I see a snowflake ... home it'll come.

It turned out to be a bonus this week, though, with the Drunken Stampers Punches challenge because I got to combine my snowflakes, in various glittery and shiny papers, and a Close To My Heart clear card.

My Martha Stewart snowflake border punch/embosser as well as a little "let it snow" stamp came out for the project, too!

Just one thing ... can anybody tell me how you write a note on a clear card without ruining the design? Attach it on a sticky note, I guess ...


Editor's note: If you need to fix something that didn't post, as this was supposed to have done yesterday ... take a look at the post "date and time" ... if the year is 2011 ... you'll solve a lot of troubles by changing that last "one" to a "zero" ...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I forgot the Sangria!

Why didn't anybody remind me? Why didn't someone say something? Why are all of you still waiting so politely for the Sangria recipe I promised way back on September 17?

Had someone promised me a new cocktail recipe, then not handed it over, I'd be knocking on his or her door before you could say "Where's the bottle opener?"

I guess you guys are just a lot nicer and more patient than yours truly.

Since you've been so good, here we finally go ...

You'll need a 2-liter bottle of Sprite or other lemon-lime soda, one bottle of peach brandy (schnapps is OK) and a box of Franzia Fruity Red Sangria, along with at least one each fresh orange, lemon and lime (or two each if you're smart, because a smart person knows that one pitcher isn't going to be enough).

Stir together six cups wine, three cups soda and one cup peach brandy. Slice an orange, a lemon and a lime into rings. Using your strong crafters' hands, squish the juice into the pitcher and drop in the macerated fruit, too.

Even if you're not into the whole mixing and slicing thing, try the Franzia Fruity Red Sangria by itself. I've never, ever been a red wine girl, but this stuff is sweet and mild and yummy.

Plus, you can cut the Franzia Founding Family photo off of the box for a craft project ... just like I did for my Compendium challenge fragment charms card on October 17.

Oh yeah, if you comment below, please add a thanks to my parents who introduced My Guy and me to Sangria ... our local liquor purveyors are certainly thankful, and I know you will be, too.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Industrial grunge: A Studio L3 Compendium challenge

Maybe it's only the addition of the rosette die to my repertoire of possibilities, or perhaps my juices are still flowing after finishing last week's challenge only yesterday.

Either way, I once again peeked very early at Linda's Compendium of Curiosities challenge and was inspired after work to leave a pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen so that I could hide in the craft room with page 54 of Tim's book -- and the new rosette die, of course.

This also means that My Guy got a little gift, too.

You see, when I say "T.I.M." at a craft store, My Guy would like to have a word or two with our Zen master of grunge. But, when I mention that same name here at home: There are no jealous rages. No upset scowls or even frustrated lonely sighs. No. Here at home "T.I.M." translates to "Holy crap! She's going to leave me alone for HOURS! Woohoo!"

Anyhow, it has been more than six hours since I began playing with Mod Podge and alder boards meant for smoking and grunge pieces and inky goodness and crackly stuff.

And this is what I have to show for it: A sort of vintage, circus, aged poster. Thing. I really like it ... except ...

I'm not going to complain *again* about how the flash always creates annoying shine and crackle doesn't show up at all and the multiple ink colors are slightly off and the metallic-look bits are washed out. Whew. I'm so proud of myself for not complaining.

... all of you kind readers should know that this challenge has been one of my favorites. Obviously I got to play with the rosette die some more, but truly this week's challenge technique is going to be something all of us will use again and again.

It's easy and beautiful and your friends will be very impressed with the cool: Plus, if you attempt it, you can join in Linda's challenge by Sunday 8 p.m. Mountain Time.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Masking to the extreme: A Studio L3 Compendium challenge

This week began with a peek at Linda's blog, Studio L3, to learn about the newest Compendium challenge.

Really, it's supposed to begin with work, but I sometimes can't help first dropping in at Studio L3. So, despite being responsible for more than a few important projects, my brain was already busy thinking of Distress inks and masks and page 61 of Tim Holtz's compendium very early this week.

Those work projects did end up dragging me in and I couldn't get to crafting (not that I had a fantastic idea, anyway).

Then, on Wednesday, I discovered a real problem. A really wonderful and exciting problem: My Fairy Godsister sent me Tim Holtz's new rosette die!

Our house is now full of rosettes. Solid colored, designed, flocked, cut, torn, distressed, inked and altered rosettes. Honestly. I have six sitting on my work desk behind me. Six.

There are more ... those are only the ones I can see from my chair.

You'll hardly be surprised, then, to find out that I love this new toy. Love it like I love quick-dry adhesive and embossing powder. Love it like I might break the arm of anyone who tries to take ... you see where I'm going.

Rosette excitement overtook our house and I completely forgot about the challenge this week. Hmm. Strike that: I remembered the challenge, but for me it became the rosette challenge.

What had begun as a desire to create a superb masking project became a devotion to all things rosette. Which is part of the reason I have so many extra rosettes sitting around.

The clock was probably at about 2 or 3 p.m. today when I realized ... not only am I approaching a deadline with no completed project to show (again) ... but I also was working on the Wrong Project.

First the rosettes taunted me ... You can't use us, you can't use us ... because I'd already thought up ideas for them that didn't include masking. I just couldn't get my brain to break out of the circus.

So, I pulled out some masks and blue ink and thought ... I'll just do something in blue with cog masks and snowflake punches and Ahoy! a nice wintery-like masked project.

Then I noticed the grunge board wings I'd inked and embossed for another project, but didn't end up using. Of course, that led to thoughts of travel and adventure and journey (see the token) and I was back to rosettes. Somehow.

This rosette is trimmed so that it's roughly half size. I used core color core-dinations paper and inked it with broken china Distress ink.

Ah, and as usual I'm yakking when it's time to click "publish" so I can run over to Studio L3!

I'd only like to add that you need the rosette die. And if you don't have a Cuttlebug or Sizzix machine or Tim's new Vagabond ... get one.

Trust me. You're going to wish you owned the rosette die.

Attention: All Warrior Women!

Way back on October 12 a few of us announced the opening of The Pink Ribbon Warrior Women Blog Hop.

Each of us participating in the hop posted art to honor our muse, Sherry Goodloe, and asked you to join in the creative fun!

Eclectic Paperie sponsored our hop, and offered a fantastic prize package to the winner of the hop: Check out this post on Sherry's blog to see who won the Big Prize!

A couple of us offered up individual Prize-for-Participation promises as well: I'm one of those.

Today you're here to find out who won, and what she won, because my blog candy was a surprise.

OK, with a little help from My Guy who kindly pulled a name from a hat full of possible winners, I'm happy to announce that Tracy Evans is the winner of the Not a Moment to Spare Warrior Woman blog candy prize!

And what did she win, you ask? Well, a gift certificate worth $25 at eclectic Paperie, of course!

After all, eclectic Paperie supported our blog hop, just like so many of our friends and family members support our cancer-fighting friends.

Which means I did a little pay back for a good and kind deed!

And, no, I did not choose Tracy Evans because we share a first name (spelled correctly, to boot). Her name was pulled fairly and honestly by My Guy who has much higher moral standards than myself.

Thanks to everyone who participated! Finally, Tracy, please send me the e-mail address to which I can send your eclectic Paperie gift certificate!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Before copics: A Drunken Stampers Challenge

Wow, what a lot of superb creations we Drunken Stampers got to see for Halloween! We were sure you'd do the holiday justice, and there was no disappointment!

Which means we're positive you'll do a fantastic job pushing aside the Copics and taking a trip with us in the ol' Way Back machine.

That's right folks, this week's Drunken Stampers challenge is Before Copics! I know what you're thinking: "Oh no! I started making cards after finding Copics ... there's no before for me."

But, you only have to go further back than some. Maybe your before was last year, perhaps it was 20 years ago ... whatever you used to color stamped or printed images or hand-drawn images prior to Copic mania.

Personally, as you see here, I was a Sharpie and FaberCastell girl. I was that last year, 10 years ago and a lot further back than that, too. Way back when I was stealing the Sharpies and FC colored pencils from my dad to that I could color furniture, pets, walls and, occasionally, paper.

Some of us are just going to be forced to go Way Back, is all I'm saying.

You proved yourself last week, let's see you come through again before midnight Friday, Nov. 5!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Halloween: A Drunken Stampers Challenge

You have another eight days to buy candy for Trick or Treaters, but only seven to complete a creation for this week's Drunken Stampers Challenge: Halloween!

Some of us are Christmas people (I'm a ho, ho, ho schmuck), others are lovers of all things Thanksgiving (Aubry, my best friend is a one of these), and many find Valentine's Day to be the pinnacle of once-a-year joys (I'm not aware of anyone who fits into that category, but you and I know these sappy suckers exist).

And then there are our spooky, boo-worshing, scary-adoring cohorts who live for black and orange and all things bloody.

My friend, an amazing, down-to-earth woman, is the person for whom I made my creation this week. She also is one of those people who makes everyone around her wonder if Halloween really is the best holiday of them all.

She hosts a yearly Halloween party, and invites everyone for Puss-filled Punch (now you wish to be invited, don't you?), costume and pumpkin carving contests and delicious homemade treats (a few tricks, too, with finger-shaped cookies and other gooey-body-part-emulating foods).

Anyhow, you see here a shadow box celebrating her love of Halloween and willingness to let all of us into her home to help party away the night of fright.

Come to think of it, maybe she lets us in to create an appropriate Halloween-y atmosphere: After all, we, her friends, are still fun after a few cocktails ... but admittedly do tend towards a general lack of adult respectability.

So, is our being invited a trick or a treat? I guess it depends on who ends up hanging from the chandelier this year ... could be her this time around ...

Take a minute yourself, and hang from your own real or metaphoric chandelier ... then create the perfect piece for the Drunken Stampers' Halloween Challenge!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dabber resist: A Studio L3 Compendium challenge

Apparently posting my week 17 Studio L3 challenge so late that I didn't have time to chatter left me desperate to talk.

So, I didn't waste any time today finishing my job and household chores so that I could craft without interruption (or guilt).

All of that paid off with this funky piece of Boo-rific-ness.

For this week's Compendium of Curiosities Challenge we have been tasked with trying out the technique on page 37: Dabber resist.

We're not supposed to share instructions, so I won't, but I'll mention that I used a different color of dabber paint than our Mr. Holtz recommends.

And, unless you tell me differently, I think that my Martha Stewart Halloween-y fence still looks just as cool as if I'd used the preferred paint color.

This week my Distress inks include broken china, dusty concord and fired brick. Again, I'm happy with the result. It's happy and colorful, but still a bit dark and spooky.

The archival ink moon is an old Stampin' Up stamp that is a part of a celestial set my sister gave to me many years ago. It's a very cool set which I can assure you has seen plenty of use. The "Boo" stamp also is an older stamp, from Making Memories magnet sets, but it's new to me as I only recently found this set on eBay for $5 (yes, $5 freakin' bucks).

Obviously there's a bit of glittery embossing, some edge distressing and even a little mallet-made cracked embossing from a Holtz Texture Fade folder.

Honestly, now that I've made it this far I have to admit that I'm clearly not feeling terribly jovial and witty today.

Perhaps that's what comes from focusing all day on mundane, required tasks ... depression.

Ah well, I promise the challenge over at L3 is a great time and a fantastic way to learn more about stuff you already own and stuff you've probably never tried.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fragments and deadlines: A Studio L3 Compendium challenge

I'm done! I'm done! With nine whole minutes to go!

See you again tomorrow at Studio L3 for the EIGHTEENTH Compendium of Curiosities challenge!

And, you lucky dogs, no long post to read this week as I'm so close to deadline there's no time to yammer ...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Food: A Drunken Stampers Challenge

Bring together two of life's greatest activities with this week's Drunken Stampers Challenge: Not only will you get to craft away, but it's all about the food this week! Woohoo!

Don't limit yourself to the obvious (and lately popular cupcakes), think fruits and vegetables and holiday treats like pumpkin pie!

Consider spatulas or appliances or even a handful of gorgeous recipe cards!

The creation you see here today is a folder sent to my sister with a recipe and special packet of spices -- the recipe is for a German soup that's been a favorite in my family for years.

I'm not ready to share the recipe yet, nor the neat tabbed cards or pockets from the inside: But that second part is only because I forgot to take photos of those elements. That's been happening a lot lately.

Fortunately I've got these photos of the outside: The front and back. Each side has a background of Die Cuts With a View designer card stock with glitter.

The "recipes" and "from my kitchen" framed phrases, along with the supremely cool vintage-look pot, are provided by the Cricut From My Kitchen cartridge (if you own a Cricut, but not that cartridge ... you're missing out on some seriously great stuff).

Anyhow, take a look at your craft space and decide what sort of edible delight would most benefit from a bit of crafty immortalizing!

Then, craft a beautiful piece, link it up at the Mr. Linky before midnight October 22 and wait for accolades from impressed viewers!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

SURPRISE! You're here for ...

Those of you who've been with me since last week have, I'm sure, been wringing your hands and fidgeting while trying to guess today's big announcement!

Well, you made it to the Big Day! You're here for The Pink Ribbon Warrior Women Blog Hop!

Are you a Warrior Woman? Perhaps not, but you definitely know someone who is! It's your mom or your sister or your grandmother or your boyfriend or maybe even a coworker (What? "Boyfriend" confused you? Pink Ribbons stand for everyone who is suffering from or has suffered from breast cancer -- a disease that is especially common among women {thus, Warrior Women}, but does in fact, unfortunately, attack our men, too).

So, we're celebrating the healing journey of our artist friend Sherry Goodloe. She's recovering from her own recent surgery, and has only recently learned that she won't have to endure chemo or radiation! Sherry is our official Warrior Woman Muse for the hop you're now reading about!

She is someone who we love and admire, and so is the prefect person to lead us on this journey to honor those facing a fight against breast cancer: Friends, loved ones or YOU!

Our art is intended to honor each and every person who has, is, or ever will fight this battle.

Please join us at each of our participating blogs, where you'll hopefully find inspiration for your own art. Leave comments everywhere as many of the participating Pink Ribbon Warrior Women blog hostesses also are offering candy.

So, here's where you are and where you're going ... 

Tracy Jacobs (you are Here!)

And, as Linda so aptly puts it, "Our fabulous sponsor is eclectic Paperie!"

So, what are you waiting for? Visit each of the blogs listed above and then head out to create your own artwork to celebrate the Pink Ribbon Warriors!

Share your piece here: Flickr Warrior Women Blog Hop Gallery.

You can dedicate your art to someone specific or many someone specifics, and we'd especially appreciate it if you'd take the time to use the gallery's "Add a Description" field where you can tell us about the person to whom your creation is dedicated!

To be entered into the prize package drawing, you'll need to get your entry in no later than midnight October 30. Our Warrior Woman muse, Sherry, will choose a winner on October 31!

"Winner?" you ask? Why yes! Daisy at eclectic Paperie (hello? our fabulous sponsor!), will send the winner the prize package you see above and, she said, "I'll also include a pail full of assorted Stickles with this. Every girl needs some sparkle and glitter in her stamping arsenal, right?"

Later this week I'll be posting more about my own creation for this Extra Stupendously Super Special Blog Hop ... in the meantime, until midnight October 30, you'll have to guess about the blog candy from This Very Blog Right Here (which you'll only be eligible to win after commenting below and entering your art at Flickr Warrior Women Blog Hop Gallery)!

One final, but very important note: Please, please ensure that you take a second to mark your Warrior Women photo as "Public" on Flickr otherwise we won't be able to ooh and aah over your amazing work! Don't worry, though, making this single piece of art public won't effect any other items you've uploaded on Flickr.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Monochromatic: A Drunken Stampers Challenge

Whether you're still Thinking Pink, or you're ready to Bathe in Blue, this week's Drunken Stampers challenge will give you something to wrap your favorite color around: Monochromatic!

My single-color piece is a wall hanging with a leaf design cut in various sizes to create a nested effect.

The tones of green, courtesy of an eyes closed I Choose This One finger pointing from My Guy, is a bright and happy piece which I'm actually looking forward to hanging at my office.

After all, Fall colors are fantastic, but overcast skies can turn to overcast emotions if you don't have some summertime colors around.

In fact, even an office in summertime feels a little overcast what with those weird fluorescent lights.

Nothing weird about the light in your craft space, though! I've seen the gorgeous creations you make!

Which means I'm on pins and needles awaiting your monochromatic creation that needs to be posted on the Mr. Linky, here, before midnight October 15!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Wrinkle free distress: A Studio L3 Compendium challenge

This week's Compendium of Curiosities Challenge is actually last week's challenge since we got a "pass" from Linda.

Of course, the pass was supposed to benefit our peers, our lucky peers, our enjoying life more than us right now lucky peers. That's right ... it's the Holtz Cruisers. I call them that, not because they are scantily clad on Reno's own Red Light District, lovingly known as Fourth Street, but because they're off on a wonderful crafty cruise with Mr. Holtz.

And perhaps scantily clad. How would I know? Either way I assume there is little in the way of Red Light District behavior. But again. How would I know?

And why would I care? I wouldn't. I don't. I only care that this week's two week long deadline has been a joy. For the first time since I began this little journey I've tried the technique of the week from Holtz's book in a handful of ways.

And I learned a helluva lot more about the technique this week than I do usually. Now, I'm certainly not asking Linda to start giving us two weeks every week (unless she'd be OK with me asking, in which case I'm freaking begging).

But, I'm definitely going to have to remember to go back to each and every one of these techniques, myself, and try them again. Because I clearly need more time to be creative.

Anyhow, we were allowed two weeks this time. Which means I got to create several projects related to the technique Wrinkle Free Distress.

That actually brings me to something else: What the hell is Tim talking about "Wrinkle Free?" Did any of you manage to get anything without wrinkles? Perhaps he meant it in the more slang or cliched term of wrinkle free meaning "an absence of problems."

He'd be wrong there, too. Despite my now deep love of our Mr. Holtz and especially his trinket things (which I recommend you buy even if you don't like his techniques, because the flowers and swivel clasps and trinket pins ... they're easily high enough quality to use in a variety of techniques, not only on delicate Don't Touch! art).

He'd be wrong in the cliched use because this technique does require a small ability to get over the "oops" didn't mean to do that, moments.

Alright, so back to the subject: I made a lot of projects the past couple of weeks. And now you're stuck lookin' at 'em.

There's the 1/2 Full piece. It's OK. I like it, especially the "1/2" stamp I used on the top left. That's an actual vintage railroad stamp! How cool is that?

Then I punched flowers from one of the papers covered in wrinkle free distress. And tore another one in half to create a, ahm, something. I forgot to photograph the entire, finished piece, so there's no proof, but I think that piece turned out very nicely in the end.

Finally, I made the Postal Bird last night. It's my favorite so far with this technique. It's also the first break into the Holtz idea-ology embellishments I picked up in Idaho a few weeks ago.

Apparently I wanted all of those things so badly that by the time I had them ... I was overwhelmed. You can damn sure bet that you'll see a lot more of those from me in the future! I adore the little metal bits!

Um, what's remaining to blather about ... ah, yes, the last photo is only an example meant as a reminder to me and you: Use the techniques of our Mr. Holtz and make them your own. He says it in his book, and he clearly means it ... play with his ideas!

Whew. I'm done. Aren't you glad I had two whole weeks? I know you are. You would have been done reading my silly blog 15 minutes ago if I'd been given only one week.

Maybe one week is best.

On the other hand ... I still have more than 24 hours for this week's two-week challenge ends ...