Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chipped enamel: A Studio L3 Compendium challenge

Holy Hell people! Is there anything in the world that is better than starting with something plain, dressing it up and then beating it down again? Just to make it Oh-So-Chic?

Well, anything better aside from a pint of Guinness on a hot day or an especially well done margarita? Alright, honestly we might be Jonesing for a trip to the pub.

Despite that, I've finished my project for the 12th week of the Compendium of Curiosities Challenge at Studio L3 and am awfully pleased with this item.

Of course, it only took four homemade cocktails, several rounds with the heat tool, a SPECIAL trip to the craft store and six hours ... but STILL! It's as if it just came together magically!

Honestly, people, you'd think I had a solid plan right from the beginning ... the other five hours were, ahm, refreshing the cocktail ... or waiting for glue to dry ... or rethinking/reworking/redoing my original idea?

Anyhow, if you haven't yet picked up a Compendium and therefore have not yet participated in the Challenges over at Linda's blog ... what are you waiting for exactly?

Time is short, folks! Jump over to Studio L3, check out the superb creations from around the globe and then off with you to make something so amazing the rest of us will drool with jealousy! Go!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Thanks to FireCracker Designs By Pamela

Ouuu! I won, I won, I won! And I couldn't feel any luckier!

Here's how it all happened: I was checking in on some of my favorite blogs last week when I stopped by Trash to Treasure Art, a rather beautiful place to find inspiration and OK, a bit of jealous, too.

Anyhow, my random hopping turned into "official" hopping that resulted in my winning the August FireCracker Design by Pamela blog hop!

And I got to choose a prize! My pick was Women in Character. It's a wonderful, strange sort of set and you really, really need one of your own!

The designs are cool, and the stamps themselves are very high quality -- seriously, do you know how hard it is to emboss teeny, tiny text? Well, this sentiment, from the Women in Character set, is great! It embossed perfectly!

These stamps are uncut and unmounted. I cut mine apart and am using them as if they are acrylics -- honest. A little spritz of water on the rubber backing and they suction nicely onto an acrylic block.

This set includes a total of nine individual stamps with four images and five phrases: The card you see here uses two of the images and one phrase.

It's my first creation from this set which I guarantee I'll be using frequently. So, run over to Pamela's place and don't be surprised if you run into me over there, because I'll definitely be purchasing some of her wonderful stamps!

Candy cane sugar cookies

We own a couple dozen cookie cutters, but they rarely get used because I am easily annoyed and trying to roll out cookie dough in dry, hot Nevada is annoyingly complicated.

Usually this means that I wastefully chuck a bunch of dough because when I'm annoyed I'm also impatient (and have we mentioned that I have a short fuse? I do. Think Looney Tunes' Daffy Duck ... "I've never been so humiliated in All My Life!" ...).

Anyway, earlier this week yet another failed roll-out-the-dough project led to a fun discovery: Candy cane sugar cookies.

You see, the dough wouldn't roll out nicely because the August heat was causing the chilled dough to melt. M..E.L.T.

For once I calmly assessed the situation and we decided to shape the dough into logs which we then rolled in Sugar in the Raw, sliced, dipped in the sugar and baked.

I began running low on sugar, though, so went to My Guy who was clinging to a 2-pound peppermint candy cane that Santa brought. In December.

After a bit of cajoling and work with a tear-covered hammer I escaped with a chunk of candy cane pulverized enough for use as a rolling sugar.

Basically, roll your sugar cookie dough log through a plate of candy cane dust and pebbles. Cut the log into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices.

Place each slice in the peppermint pebble dust, pressing down lightly to really pick up some of the crunchy stuff.

Bake as directed in your cookie recipe, adding one or two minutes as needed to cook throughout.

Finally, separate from one another as the dough was filled with unstable sugar causing it to melt and spread like crazy while baking. Place on cooling racks and enjoy with care!

Ah, you caught me, I did say "with care!" These candy cane cookies, while very pretty in speckled Christmas colors, have sharp sugar edges: Sort of like shards of sugary glass protecting each cookie from consumption.

Either consume the cookies with care or roll each cookie along its edge before storing so that the shards are knocked off.

Also, don't store your peppermint delights with things that you prefer remain non-pepperminty ... the flavor seeps into everything nearby.

Homegrown produce: Not a fantasy anymore

Several weeks ago, in Spring, we placed in our sandy Nevada back yard vegetable seeds and plants.

We were immediately slapped down my Mother Nature, twice, and freezes killed two rounds of corn, potato and tomato starts. The ornamental trees came back, as did the fruit tree foliage, but the delicate flowers which should have led to fruit -- dead (late season snow and ice even killed off two rounds of established iris buds).

We really weren't overly disappointed: Little confidence in our gardening skills and living in Nevada prepared us for failure (in the garden, anyway).

But, if you've been reading along for awhile you know that we've been shocked as week after week the onions proved to be stronger than Nevada weather, the corn fought back for a third round and a shelf in our dining room turned out to be the Happiest Place on Earth for two serrano chili plants.

Honestly, the serranos didn't make it to the garden because we purchased them the same day we picked up tomato, basil boxwood, dill and Asiatic Lilly plants.

The tomato and dill made it to the garden that day, but work obligations meant the rest had to wait. So, the remaining plants were given a reprieve as within two days the first freeze took out the tomato plants (the dill seems to enjoy the cold).

The Asiatic Lillies bloomed in their home improvement store pots and died off as they should, the boxwood basil disappointingly crisped and died.

But the serrano plants just kept growing. Terrified of another freeze I refused to take them outside until I was sure they'd be safe.

Just about the time I was confident the freezes had passed -- you guessed, the second freeze came along.

So, I figured, what the hell. Nobody Touch The Peppers. I placed a plate under the peat pots to catch water and admonished My Guy not to move the plants. Not an inch. Not a centimeter. Dining Room Peppers.

Then, about two weeks ago a friend told us to rub together the pepper plant flowers to emulate bees who would normally pollinate the plants.

Which brings me, aren't you glad, to the end of today's gardening post: Our corn is producing, despite a Greek army of ants, the onions are looking beautiful, the herbs are happy and our Dining Room Peppers ... well, we're gonna have some Texas-style chili soon, folks!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Favorite summer song: A Drunken Stampers Challenge

I know you have a favorite summer song! Everyone does! Even if the song doesn't have a thing to do with summer.

Maybe you only love a particular song, especially during the summer, because it's so fun to have car windows rolled down while you belt out an out-of-tune version of Lady Gaga's Poker Face.

Perhaps you're more of a Chopin kind of person. Neil Diamond's Beautiful Noise might speak to your soul or ATB with his unbelievably delicious techno beats gets your toes moving.

Whether you're a rap fan or a blues follower, you've the perfect inspiration for this week's Drunken Stampers Challenge: Your favorite summer song.

I'm undecided about music in general: My Zune houses everything from classical to classic rock, a bit of jazz and a sprinkling of new age, more than a couple of World Music albums and soundtracks and even Kraftwerk.

Still, since we're the Drunken Stampers we should stick to a theme. So, after having one or two or possibly more cocktails I have to give in to the desire to dance around the living room listening to abnoxiously-loud music with our French doors thrown open to the cool night air.

Thus, you see here my own little Dancing Queen (... ABBA ... and I can't believe you didn't know that).

All of the die cuts are from Cricut cartridges and the mirrors are from an old Dollar Tree Christmas decoration I tore apart. The background paper is from a Die Cuts With a View stack.

Let's hear your creative juices sing, folks! We know you've got a favorite! Is it Willie Nelson or the Rain Forest pygmies?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Blended Batik: A Studio L3 Compendium challenge

The Blended Batik technique, described on page 36 of Tim Holtz's Compendium of Curiosities is this week's Studio L3 challenge.

When this challenge popped up I couldn't have been more excited. What a beautiful technique! I love the result, though I've had some troubles achieving the same distinct appearance that Holtz/Linda created.

Part of the problem surely is my lack of any plain newsprint (How does a former reporter run out of end roll? She packs the house for a move that never happens, but that's another story). I tried the technique with two other absorbent papers, but neither worked really well.

However, I believe that both worked well enough.

So, I came up with two creations. One is a purplish colored tag with plastic flowers embossed in a Holtz distress folder and Distress stickled.

The other is a watery blue card with a "Create" sentiment embossed in blue tinsel and an acetate flower.

Our flower turned out just the way I'd hoped: Distress embossing powder dressed up the top of the flower's brad and a grommet between the smaller top and larger bottom flowers add dimension.

Sadly I discovered one thing throughout this week's challenge: I probably won't often use this technique.

After all, where would I keep the iron? I don't have any more flat surfaces in my craft room and the chances of burning down the house would rise dramatically if I added an iron.

Alas. I'll be sticking to water stamping or heat embossing ... unless I take over the dining room ... which we never use anyway ...

Alright then fellow creators: Drop in at Studio L3 to check out all of the cool stuff that Linda creates and to show us what you can do with a little of the Holtz Blended Batik technique.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Do you know your Inner Diva: A Drunken Stampers Challenge

Does your inner diva dance amongst the embers, covered in paint and playa dust from the Nevada Dessert, while your outer diva goes to work?

Perhaps your outer and inner divas are a bit more connected, and I hope they are because frankly it's one of the best gifts women receive: The gift to laugh and cry and celebrate simply because we recognize that life is itself a beautiful adventure.

My own little diva then, has been looking forward to this week's Drunken Stampers Challenge for awhile: Show us your Inner Diva!

My creation is hardly a representation of all that my inner diva is, but it's perfection for the most important part of her: She loves to be free in that hippie sort of way, hates to be the center of attention and adores light.

She's also organized, thus my piece is contained in a shadow box. The hippie, free love, all bodies are beautiful part is floating behind a piece of velum that has been stamped with another Stampin' Up Wheel, this time it's watercolor vine, which was then embossed in silver. The tiny lights are courtesy Ikea (if you're lucky enough to live close to an Ikea ... shop there for tiny, creative stuff ... they have tons and it's cheap).

Glowing, shining, reflecting, glittering, blinding, twinkling ... luminous life intrigues and tires me. It fulfills and satisfies me, so it is a part of my diva.

What wraps your own diety in joy and comfort? What brings her out and makes her dance or sew or sing or cook?

Drop by Drunken Stampers' blog before midnight Friday, Aug. 27 to show us your Inner Diva!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Distress stickles: A Studio L3 Compendium challenge

This week's Studio L3 Compendium challenge, Distress Stickles, resulted in two completed projects for me. How about you?

Actually, by the official end of the challenge week (Sunday, Aug. 22 at 8 p.m. Mountain Time), I'll probably have a couple more ... because who doesn't enjoy glitter-covered fingertips?

My "official" project is the one you see here with stickled flowers and strangely compelling octopus. This piece has a lot of squeal in it.

First, there's the copper sentiment plate ... it's from a pack found on the clearance aisle at Joann's. Have you checked out Joanns' clearance? You should. Every other week or so. Because Jo, she understands clearance. This once-upon-a-time $3 four-pack of plates was marked down to fifty cents. FIFTY CENTS! A few weeks ago we picked up about two dozen packets of embellishments for less than $10.

I'm especially "Eeeee!!" about these finds because our Dear Mr. Holtz has taught us how to alter things so that what began life as Cheap Craft Store quickly becomes Chic. Yay!

Alright, so the next thing about this colorful underwatery, ahm, thing ... those flowers! Yay again!

Last week, perhaps the week previous, one of the Compendium Challenge participants had created some really outstanding flowers which made me very jealous. Basically, this artist of whom I'm ashamed to admit I can not remember the name, had punched a bunch of flowers. All exactly the same except she had colored, curled and layered so that they appeared to be multiple cuts of different sizes and shapes.

Cool, huh? OK, so I was determined to copy this neat and simple, but beautiful, technique. I figured that between my current limited craft budget and even more limited local craft options ... might be months before I could emulate these awesome flowers.

But, My Guy, Jebus love him, he found a Fiskars extra-large Oopsie Daisy punch, used a Michael's 40-percent off coupon and brought the punch home for $9!

Finally, the octopus paper is from K&Company and it represents something of a new move for me. You see, I'm a saver. Not a hoarder, a saver. I can throw away garbage: That's the distinction, in case you were wondering.

As a saver, I flip through a stack of paper and, if a page seems really, really cool and unique I will probably want to use it. And probably won't. Because then it'll be used, you know?

What if I can't find more? What if I can't afford more? What if I ruin the paper before finishing the project? Can you tell I'm a worrier?

Then, about a month ago, something happened that reminded me ... well ... can't take it with you, you know? Silly people, no one died. I turned 40. For Tee.

And I have sheets of paper I've been saving since I was a teenager. No kidding. Do you remember the Mrs. Grossman's teddy bear stickers from the 1980's? The ones people would stick to paper and draw balloon strings from the paw to little sticker balloons? Yeah? Those stickers. I still have a sheet of them.

I'm saving them. For what? In case.

Because if Armageddon comes and the survivors are those who still have 80's teddy bear stickers to protect them from Big Scary Shit, stand behind me people, I'm ready.

Anyway, the point is that for the rest of my life I'm going to Use My Stuff. And if I run out? Huh. Guess I'll jump that empty craft bin when it tips over.

Oh, yes, the second creation was actually my first one that started out "Ouu, love monochromatic with real computer screws" and ended up "Uh-oh, too monochromatic to photograph well."

I'm sure glad I started again, though. I've got nothing against the very brown and tan project, but I really love the sea life flower thing.

Thanks for stopping by and reading all of my blathering this week ... now get over to L3's Compendium Challenge and Use Your Stuff!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Distress crackle: A Studio L3 Compendium challenge

A few weeks ago, when Linda at Studio L3 announced the Compendium challenges, I bought Tim Holtz's book.

And decided that Mr. Holtz must be one of the coolest guys alive. After all: Crackle Paint! Crackle! All of you are familiar with my love of all things embossed. Well, for me, some days the fight of Best Shit Ever is crackle paint.

I've been using crackle-type paints for more than 15 years. So, you'd think that this week's challenge would have been no problem, right?

OK, so this week has been a bit off. Nothing bad, only a lot happening at work and home and between. Then my creativity went kablooey ... and THEN I couldn't get the crackles to work correctly.

The heart on today's project is a month old -- I made it one night when I couldn't wait for this challenge to come up before trying my single tub of Distress Crackle paint.

It's the One And Only Distress Crackle project I've made that turned out as described in the Compendium. Could be the lack of any humidity here in Reno ... the paint starts to crackle before I can even finish globbing it on.

Perhaps I'm choosing the wrong surfaces (though I tried multiple papers and card stocks and metals and even wood).

Oh, and one other base ... wallpaper. That's the next thing you see here. The lid to a margarita salt tin which I wallpapered and crackle painted and grungied. Five days ago.

Well, THAT didn't work. I mean, it's crackled, but ... yuck? Yuck. Certain places on this lid look, I swear, like puss. You know your project has failed when the word puss floats through your mind. It's making my skin crawl. Crap.

Alright, on to the sentiment block. If you could zoom in on that area you'd see that the designer paper has circle stars (which is why I added stars elsewhere here ... it's a theme, damn it).

Anyway. The paper is crackled. Crappy crackled today.

After seeing all of the pieces and being happy with none of them alone or as the centerpiece to a project I said to myself, "Self," I said, "Look at all of the crappy crackling together. It's almost as if it was Meant To Be."

And here we are: A bit of gold embossing and glue and tada!

My very own Crappy Crackle Can.

It's been a long week, I have eight minutes to get this post finished and submitted at L3, so I'm only going to add this one last thing: Based on other projects I've seen and the very first distress crackle I completed, there will be more crackling for me.

I'm going to wait until winter, though, because I think the heat and dry air are ruining the crackle and inking.

After all, couldn't be me.

Meow! A Drunken Stampers Challenge

As a person who is allergic to fuzzy creatures of the feline persuasion my very favorite cats are those who come from the creative minds of crafters!

So, this week's Drunken Stampers challenge, cats, is quite a pleasure for me.

You can use a photograph or a stamp or whatever you have that meows ... or looks like it would meow, if it could meow.

My own card is based on the slinky cat on the Cricut cartridge "Paisley." I used Die Cuts With a View designer paper and Colorbok colored card stocks. The scallop edge is from a Stampin' Up border punch.

Now, let's see your favorite mouse-chasing friends!

p.s. to anyone who is wondering why I didn't post this yesterday, when I was supposed to ... prepping and cooking for My Guy's birthday party with family and friends last night was apparently SO exciting ... I completely forgot to turn on my computer and click "publish post."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Masking: A Drunken Stampers Challenge

Hello everyone! We had a great time last week, enjoying frosty drinks with our fellow crafters at Drunken Stampers!

Now we're ready to put away the hurricane glasses and get out the masking tools! Masking can be alternately covering and uncovering your project with a "mask" while stamping and inking. This term also can refer to "masking" a particular part of one stamped image and overlaying a new stamp to create a final, brand new image!

I generally go with the first technique. This avenue of masking is awesome and you can make it as easy or hard as you like. Apparently I prefer horribly over complicated.

For instance, there are tons of "masks" available for sale, with designs ranging from hip to sweet. I cut my own. And I don't recommend it.

Cutting your own plastic masks is daunting, at best, and creating homemade vinyl masks ... ahm ... vinyl sticks. One assumes that this usually is among the most positive attributes of vinyl.

However, when you're trying to stick, remove, move, stick, stamp, remove, stick, ink and remove ... you're going to hear the sound of tearing paper long before your project is finished.

This DOES result in one bonus: An opportunity to shout all of your favorite four-letter words.

Also, while many masking projects can be done with one or two stamps and roughly the same number of inks, We at My House prefer to use eight inks, four stamps, two masks, an edge punch and chipboard embellishments.


Honestly! Whee! Despite my own ineptness at masking I often use this technique to create projects with soft, but bright, colors and images.

So? What are you waiting for? Let's see what you create with masks for this week's Drunken Stampers challenge!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Do you like Sopes?I like Sopes! Let's be friends!

Technically a "sope" is the ground corn shell that is the base for a dish which I have always known as Sopes.

It's probably not important to understand this unless you go to a grocery store looking for "sopes shells," as I have. When you stop a clerk in the store and ask for "sopes shells," the person will probably look at you, slack-jawed while mentally questioning your overall intelligence.

Then, suddenly, his or her eyes will brighten "Oh! You mean Sope!"

Think of it this way folks: It's like asking for "flour taco shells" instead of "tortillas." Alright, we're finished with our international language lesson. Let's get on with the eats.

I can't recommend enough that you go ahead and buy some instant corn masa mix to make your own Sopes shells. This is cheaper, for one thing, and tastes FANTASTIC for another. Your homemade shells will break down as you eat, providing a lovely corn flavor in each bite. Store-bought shells are faster, granted, but they sort of "crunch" rather than melt. You WANT melt. Trust me.

For the tomato topper on your Sopes, you can add a slice or a few diced bits. I'm not a fan of raw tomatoes, but I enjoy the slice on top for the sake of beauty ... My Guy wants diced bits because he actually likes the nasty little dirt-flavored fruits.

Finally, do not under any circumstances serve Sopes to a first date or anyone else who you are trying to impress.

However, if your Favorite Other Person has a relative who is often rude to you, this is a perfect dish. Better still if that same relative is in any way persnickity about his or her appearance.

Because these things are messy. Finger licking, several napkin using, you-really-should-buy-a-bib messy.

And well worth every drip, drop and dribble.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Inking grunge: A Studio L3 Compendium challenge

Hello again! Whew, it's been a couple of big creative days for me: You know how it is, some weekends you've got it and some you're too drunk. Ho ho.

Honestly, the only reason I'm back so soon with another Compendium submission is because I knew immediately what I wanted to do. This time it is a bit new though since we're looking at StudioL3 Compendium of Curiosities Challenge, Week 8.
That's right folks! An entirely new week! Woohoo! This week we're Inking grunge!

My piece features a bunch of little grunge, ahm, ettes. OK, a look at the original packaging tells me this stuff is "Grunge" "Shapes" "Plain."

I assume these little shapes, squares and circles and such, are designed to be used individually like the Holtz fragments.

But where's the fun in that?

... you know I just realized that I can't really tell you much more about my project for this week because one of the cardinal rules of the Compendium Challenge is that we don't give away any secrets from Mr. Holtz's book.

Hmm. What can I tell you, then? My piece features 10 grunge board rectangles, three different stamps and distress inks and a Die Cuts With a View base piece.

What's the matter? Expecting more? OK, let's see ... how about this:

Do you ever forget you own something? Or at least completely forget the whole POINT of some things you own?

Yeah, well, I'm sure you've seen my previous posts lamenting my crappy ass project photos. Too dark. Too bright. Too. Much.

Turns out, I own a damn scanner. A really, very nice HP flatbed scanner. And it's two years old. And it's been in the same spot that entire time. And I use it frequently for work.

And the thought has never, not once until today when I needed to scan and e-mail a document, crossed my mind to use it for scanning projects.

Mhm. In the future my images will be a lot more clear ... unless I don't like what I've created ... then I'll just "forget" about the scanner again.