Monday, December 21, 2009

Botanica Box

It's 5:35 a.m. and I am still awake, packing up those tires-squealing, last second, do-I-maybe-still-stand-a-chance-to-get-these-things-somewhere-on-time gifts. Most of these are, of course, the ones I made by hand, so it's not just putting paper around a box, it's also making adjustments, putting this together with that, and I'll admit it, actually making a few of the items from scratch today. I'm relieved, at least, that my craftsiness only extends to side order gifts because if I had to come up with stuff worthy of being the main course, I would never get to sleep all year.
Well, that's not entirely true. This year Scott wanted his gift to his mom to be a floral arrangement I made. He picked the colors and I even managed to drag him slowly through the faux flora section of AC Moore to get him to pick out all of the flowers (or at least pick from amongst several I picked that weren't too absurd--I had to waft him away from the ginormous globular hydrangia puffs he kept picking out since two of them would have overflowed the container he wanted) so in my opinion, he genuinely deserves credit for the gift despite my assembly. And I did that assembly between 3:30 and now. And here I thought this kind of last minute frantic cramming ended when I graduated. I think it came out pretty well, though looking at it from here I see two flowers that are out of place. It's making me nuts to see those two flowers sticking out, but not quite nuts enough to make me get up and fix it just now, I'm so tired.

On to the photos. The pics I've uploaded depict a project I made for the Alphastamps matchbox shrine swap. Alphastamps is a fantastic store full of all sorts of beautiful trinkets, stamps, and collage supplies, quite possibly my favorite out there. The people in the swap group make the most amazing things. They're all quite talented to the point where I feel almost unworthy of being included. Every swap is a great learning experience, and I highly encourage anyone interested in honing their crafting skills to join.

The matchboxes in this swap are approximately 1.5x2.5 or thereabouts. Think of the kind of matchboxes you used to (and maybe still sometimes do, somewhere) find in gigantic fishbowls on the way out of restaurants. In this case, I ordered mine guessed it...Alpha Stamps, where I also picked up the beautiful floral dresden, the momento mori scrap, and the nifty skull and rose (not shown, but used in some of the boxes I swapped away) cubichon that went into collaging this little "shrine").
Some of my readers may not be familiar with dresden and, oh my, you should be because it's one of my favorite things in the world. These are bits of german paper "scrap", generally dry embossed, often metallic, that were popular in the 1800's to embellish family albums, decorate greeting cards, etc. The other item that might not be immediately recognized is the momento mori scrap. A momento mori is any type of personal trinket intended to keep one's dead a little closer in one's memory. Some that are popular among collectors include hair jewelry (though it's not exclusively made from the hair of the dead, it often is considered funerary jewelry). Check it out online. While I'm hair-phobic (Hair is creepy once it's detached from its human. Seriously.) I have to admit, it is quite beautiful. In this case, however, our momento mori is a sheet of photos of taken after the death of a loved one. Because it wasn't common for families to have their own cameras until fairly recently, and because having one's picture made was both an expensive and tedious production (involving standing very still--this is why people's eye often look weird or blurry in old photos. Their eyes moved during the long exposure process), many people didn't have photos of their loved ones around. So, when someone died, more often than not, if the family wanted to ever see their lost one's face again, would need to have a picture made. To contemporary Americans, who don't really have much contact with their dead anymore, but in the past this was not unusal at all. I know if I lost someone and had no photos, I'd have it done rather than have no reminder of their appearance.
I was playing with the idea of the different ways we encounter flowers, how pretty, innocent, and lovely scented they can be, but also how they can be sad or even sinister. I wanted to have it be a bit of a surprise when you open it, like "eyeew" almost. Like once on the playground in elementary school, one of the girls thought she caught a hummingbird and was completely charmed...until the teacher told her what she was cradling in her hands was the biggest locust she'd ever seen. She shrieked and threw it down. It was interesting how fast her reaction changed, though it was the same thing she had been holding so dearly a second ago.
So, check out Alpha Stamps and give matchbox shrines a try. If you do, please send me a link to your photos. I'd love to see them!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Goodbye Baby Ween.

Ween died yesterday afternoon. He was 17 and a half, but you always hope for a few more years, even when you see it coming.

Over the last year he'd grown thin, and more and more often he'd hit the side of the bathroom counter instead of making his usual satin slick landing when it was kitty treat time (the dogs are less pesky when you're on the counter instead of the floor, after all.)

Lately his back end seemed to be sinking and his knees were turning inward. We debated whether or not we should attempt wresling him into a carrier and sustain his surprisingly shrill howls on the drive over to the vets' office to see if they could offer some kind of medicine that might limber him up a little, but the last time we took him in, we couldn't get close enough to the suddenly armed and ferocious box in the back seat, so the vet had to immunize him like a feral, through the slits in the verikennel. Getting him to calm down enough to prance across the counter and show off his gams just wasn't going to happen.

The organic human-grade holistic joint supplement I ordered arrived on our doorstep today. Oh well.

When Scott brought Ween home, his name was Janice and his head was bigger than his body. We found out later (he wasn't always a threat to veterinarians everywhere) that Janice had an undescended testicle. Oh. So he came home a second time as Tofu-Kitty, but soon his habit of belting out a tune in his Siamese tenor each night (a behavior we came to refer to as "Weening Out"), and his tendency to get into fights with socks--and lose every time, earned him the moniker, Weeny. He was a year younger than my resident cat, Small Change, so we got in the habit of calling him Baby Ween. For some reason he also earned an article and became The Ween, sort of like on Leave it to Beaver. No one can remember why, but it stuck. T.S. Eliot would be proud of this cat.

It's hard. Toulouse, one of my other cats, the one who was best friends with Ween, has been searching all corners of the house and meowing so sadly. It's heartbreaking to hear him crying out and not receiving a response. He knows Ween died, but it probably feels as unreal to him as it does to me. Poor baby. He's going to miss having a friend of his own species that he can groom and tussle with. My other kitty, Weezee, sort of tolerates Toulouse, as cats often do with each other.

Scott took Ween to the crematory this afternoon. I guess I'll put his ashes on the "mantle" (there's no fireplace below it, so I don't know what you call it) next to his old friend Small Change who passed on about 8 years ago from liver failure. It's kind of weird, but Ween dying also stirs up a lot of memories of dad dying just a few years ago at this time of year. It feels like someone's always disappearing. Sigh.

I follow Zen, so I wish Weeny an auspicious rebirth and hope he enjoys shaking off his heavy body, trading it in for a bouncy new one. I hope he maybe finds Small Change again (aka, Mr. Big), his feline big "brother" who smacked him around mercilessly, a beating Ween took with the enthusiasm of the little cartoon terrier who always popped back up, right beside the bulldog announcing, "We's pals, ain't we Spike?"
I hope somewhere, someday soon, they'll be curled up purring like a chainsaw in the laundry of someone who loves them dearly.
Take good care of my boys, okay?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blog RAKs Ahoy!

First, let's get started by announcing the winner of last post's "Crushed Creativity" prize. Jenny, please send me your mailing address, I have an assortment of Stampin' Up goodies for you!
Jenny related her smackdown:

"Well, I was at work and I thought something I had made was just simply beautiful and so I showed it to my collegue! (Steven) He looked at it and said without skipping a beat, "That is the uglist SARC I've ever seen." To say the least I was a little bummed.. I still hold it over his head.. :)"

To curb suicide attempts, I asked that each commenter (commenter? That sounds odd to me.) include a link to something they had made that they were proud of, so Jenny included a link to her blog:

Very neat, I love the unusual color combination. It's nothing I would have thought of, yet it works. Very vintage, like peeling wallpaper and worn red velvet.

In other news, I was lucky enough to win this great doggie-head lunchbox, which is not only adorable, but also highly useful for the vegan who often attends crops where non-vegan meals are served. I can stuff it full of yummy goodness, like peanut butter sandwiches with black currant jelly, little snack pack cups of vegan chocolate pudding, and itty bitty carrots. Mmm.

Well, I noticed the resemblance this lunchbox has to my own dog, Usagi, and sent her photo to Amy at Easy As Pie, the generous woman who drew my name to win her blog prize. Amy agreed and posted the comparison on her blog, Easy As Pie:

What do I like about Easy As Pie? The abundance of animal-free recipes. As you can tell by the chicken recipe near the top, her site isn't vegan, though it's handy for those of us who are. The site celebrates foods and thing that do not make people puff up and wheeze, break out in hives, and otherwise aggrivate one's histines. Whether you have allergies or not, check out her site. The food photos are reason enough to visit. Yummers.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I love Etsy!

I've had an Etsy store for a few months, but only recently have I been really using it to its fullest potential. I quit Stampin' Up with the dawn of the new demonstrator agreement*, which inspired me t0 get serious about my store, Scrappyrat Designs. I'm still building up my inventory, a goal which I'm happy to say has been hampered by a jump in sales. Sure the filthy luchre is nice, but I just love how my heart jumps with every sale message that shows up in my email box. My insides get all smiley knowing someone likes the stuff I make. It's second only to the almost electrical zap I get with each acceptance letter I receive for one of my poems or other projects. I'm sure anyone who participates in any sort of creative endeavor can relate.

We really put something very raw and personal out there, which is more than a little scary. In that harsh reality that is kindergarten, we learn pretty quick that we aren't the apple of the rest of the world's eye and that maybe our Sears catalog collage isn't the greatest work created since Picasso's blue period, as our parents led us to believe. Then there's the horror of Junior High and that time the boy you had a serious crush on for months found your super-private notebook you wouldn't even show your best friend and read your most dramatic and heartfelt poem aloud in a crappy "British" accent, much to the amusement of the rest of the class. Remember laughing along, hoping that no one would know that you were the one who wrote it?

It's nice to feel a little redemption. Every time someone picks up something from my Etsy site, buys one of my books off Amazon or Lulu, or an editor sends me a letter saying they want my writing in their magazine, or when a publisher takes a chance on publishing a book of mine, those nasty little memories sting just a tiny bit less.

Here's the new giveaway...tell me one of your creative horror stories, one of those times a teacher or classmate cut you off at the knees artistically. I'll choose someone at random to win some retired Stampin' Up goodies from my stash to make those wounds close up a little faster. :)

Want to double your chances to win? Finish your comment with a link to a project you're particularly proud of.

Drawing will take place in 2 weeks, on Wed. the 21st.

P.S. Check it out! I've been featured in the fabulous Triangle Street Team blog:

*I won't go in depth, since it's likely that you've already read a ton of gossip about it, some true, some not, on a kajillion other websites. If you wish to know more, the best explanation I've seen is on one a blog I read religiously, Craft Critique. While you're there, subscribe to their blog newsletter. You won't regret it!

Friday, September 18, 2009


I took the above photo to thank lead Fiskateer Wendy Jo for the most excellent Fiskars Valentrio corner punch she sent me. That's Usagi. Unlike Revco, she is not very fond of the camera, being dressed up, or any of those diva-like things. She likes to fade into the background and watch the action, rather than be the center of attention. She's cursed with being completely cute, however, so sometimes I just have to take a few.
Because I have put her in a "sit", and from her perspective, I'm putting a bunch of weird new things around her, then looking at her expectantly. She decides I must want her to do something, though she isn't sure what. We clicker train together, and "throwing" behaviors (basically it's a game of "hot and cold" you play with your dog) to guess what wins a treat is how we start the game. So, here she is slapping the bumper sticker with her paw to see if that works.

Quickly she switches touching it with her nose, another "answer" that often earns a treat. Oh, but then her attention is caught by something else. *Sniff. Sniff.* "What is this thing anyway?"
*Nibble Nibble* Maybe just a tiny taste. Is that glue? Yum!
"So, weren't actually *using* this for anything right? I mean, say, if I was to take it, you wouldn't, oh, chase me now, would you?"
"Chase me? Now? Would you?" Check out that tentative look in her eyes. She *wants* to take it and run, but she's not sure if she'll get away with it or not.
" Clearly you don't want to play and you don't have any treats, so I'll just take this thing away and chew on it. If you'll just, um, let go of it, please." *Tug tug*
"Yay! Mine mine mine mine mine!"
See how quickly taking pics with her degenerates into "hey, let's play!" Even when they seem to pose so nicely in the picture you see, they're nuts in the photos you don't. :) You can't take the dog out of the dog (and why would you want to?)

So, thanks from both of us, Wendy Jo!
P.S. Winners of the tote bags mentioned in the previous email are Mardi and Leesa! Thanks to everyone who left a message! There will be more giveaways to come.

Monday, August 24, 2009

CKC 2009: An Exploration into the Scraposphere (and a prize!)

Attention reader! You may already be a winner (provided you have a time machine). If you don't, it's okay. You still have the power to change the future! Keep reading or just scroll to the end for instructions. (Sure, I understand. You don't have time to read blogs all day. My self esteem won't be completely crushed by the fact that you find me too repugnant to spend five minutes reading what I spent hours putting together. No, really, don't feel bad.) The winner will be announced September 15.

A couple of years ago I went to CKC with Jen K's Table Scraps group (before it was called that) with absolutely no idea what I was getting into. I'd signed up for a couple of classes, and I knew you could shop there, but I had no idea how much goofy fun one craftnerd could have there. Since then,I've been in love with the Creating Keepsakes Convention though I still think "Creating Keepsakes" is a really unfortunate name. It sounds like a place where we all get together and sew eyelet lace onto doilies or lovingly hand-bronze babyshoes--no offense to those who do sew eyelet onto doilies and the like. It's just really not something I can imagine myself doing.

After that first completely exhausting day, I decided that a hotel room was a must from then on. With my spine, I don't have a choice. Last year was hard. I was in really bad shape the first night there and nearly missed the crop, but this year I was pretty proud of myself for having scheduled my events with several hours rest time between each. It made all the difference. Sure, I had to leave the crops early, but I still got to go and honestly, I've kind of come to accept that I generally won't be able to make it through a whole crop anyway. On one hand, it's a little sad to have to lower my expectations, but on the other hand, it's a lot less depressing than constantly being disappointed.

Speaking of crops, part of the reason the CKC crops rule is all the people you get to see who you normally don't. I love running into my friends from various message boards and whatnot, not to mention enjoying the company of people I happen to meet serendipitously at the convention, like the girls pictured above. We had so much fun Friday (despite the really awkward make-a-card game I think we all found disturbing) that we decided to do it all over again Saturday.

Here's Barbie at one of the SEI classes we took (I loooove their classes though it takes me an eternity to actually finish their ginormous projects.) I swear you cannot take a bad photo of that woman. I was really pleased with all of the classes I chose (the other two were a Technique Tuesday card class and a Rusty Pickle mini album one. I highly recommend any class you can take by either company.) which was likely facilitated by the early registration code I received from CKC this year so I was actually able to get all of my first choice classes. Always a plus.

The photo of Barbie, above, was taken just minutes prior to her annual injury. Last year she fell down the escalator, shredding her scheduled-for-surgery knee. This year she sliced her hand open changing the beyond-razor-sharp blade of her Fiskars rotary cutter, nearly causing a pass-out worthy bloodbath and panicking not only the SEI assistant and the CKC workers, but also security and anyone else within view. I would have followed her out as well, but I was afraid we'd exceed the women's room maximum capacity. Oh Barbie. I don't know if the Convention Center's insurance company is going to let you return if you keep this up.

Gentle reader, if you would like a nifty canvas mini tote (think purse-sized) emblazoned with those bright orange scissors we're all so familiar with, hand-stenciled by yours truly, leave a comment on this post (if you're lucky, there may even be some neat Fiskars goodies inside.) Due to the nature of this prize (by that, I mean orange), those who include their Fiskateer number will get two entries (A Nelson-style, "ha ha" to everyone else.) Keep in mind...anyone can be a Fiskateer if you wish really hard and go to and tell 'em I sent you. No, I don't get anything for recruiting you other than an extra bowl of low-protein mush from The Leader and the satisfaction of bringing another crafter into the I mean. :)

P.S. If you look closely, you can a similar tote in one of the photos, above. :)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Club Scrap Summer Camp: Whoo hoo(s)

Rounding out my first year (more or less) as a Club Scrapper, I'm participating in their Summer Camp competition as a member of team "Whoo Hoo" (it's Cabin 2. It rhymes. It wasn't my idea. I wanted us to be Karen's Kninjas, but nobody asked me. Karen is the cabin leader, incidentally.) So far my team rocks. We've won (most project points) two out of three rounds so far. That means we get a discount on our purchases at the GHM (Gotta Have More) store (ooh, evil temptation! I cannot resist! Darn you and your ubercool stamps of late!) *and* a free book kit. Not bad for making layouts and whatnot that I love making anyway, right?

Each week there's a different bonus challenge. Week 1, stencils:

Please forgive the klunky photos. If anyone has tips on taking better pics of 2 page layouts, please let me know. Anyway, the swirly panels were all made using the stencil that came with the Henna kit. I decided to use a dye based Cat's Eye inkpad, running it over the stencil like a dauber. The images came out very nice (I made cards using some of the image and cut apart one for the above layout.) but cleaning the stencil was pretty gross and the images were sticky for several days--not a problem I usually encounter with dye based stamped images, but this was some pretty thick, painty stuff that was pressed repeatedly into the stencil.
My point? Next time, I think chalky ink may be a better idea. Live and learn.
This one doesn't have any stenciled images, but I liked it so i thought I'd post it here. If you know me, you probably know that cemeteries are one of my favorite places and that I have stacks and stacks of pictures taken in them. Here's a layout featuring a little graveyard we ran across in Sonoma. That's the new EK Success flat storing skull and crossbones punch I used. I like the way it's a bit more gaunt than some of the "cuter" skulls that have come out lately. Not that I dislike the cute ones. I have plenty of those, too. But it's nice to have something more serious looking.

Week 2: July challenge

We had to use papers etc. from any "July" kit. I used this year since that's what I had, and ended up making a layout for my calendar. Sleepy dogs!

Week 3: Stamps (I dropped the ball here. Didn't get as much done and we didn't win by just a few layouts. I feel personally responsible.)

Awww! Look at those cute little rats! The green twiggy things and the triangle corner dealies are all made with CS stamps. Oh and it's hard to tell but I assure you the rats are not biting the fingers in the photos. They are *licking* them like puppies! Could they be any sweeter? These pics were taken at one of our adoption days at Ed McKay.

And what was distracting me from doing layouts? (well, other than real life which was taking all kinds of crazy turns including having a really bad pain week and deciding it was time to shut down 3R.) Making this crazy book project! I love the bookbinding kits that Club Scrap sends, but the instructions for this one were comical. Check out that stitching:

I added the glittery bone buttons, the Glimmer Mists in gold and copper, plus the dog stamp to make it look less faux native american (just so not my thing). If you look carefully, you can see the dog one should beware of standing guard in the background.

So, that brings us to this week: fibers. Watch this space for more and wish us luck to win week 4. I need more book kits-I have to give my list of swears a workout or they'll get stale.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bark Book

Our dog album class promises a lot of fun and maximum cuteness, so I wanted to post pics of the pages we'll be making, here. There are 10 pages, one per page protector in the 8.5 Stampin' Up chipboard album, leaving the back sides to be left alone or made into another 10 opportunities to show off your fuzzy friend. I plan to do the latter, so you should see some pics of those pages here as I make them. Go Revco! (Yep, that's him in the pics...)

Oh, and don't worry that the covers are still blank chipboard. I am waiting to cover them till the class convenes so I can demonstrate the covering process on my own album so everyone gets to see the technique in action. Eventually it will be covered in Designer Series Paper and other goodies.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get me.

So if you've been reading the last few entries here, you know about my phobia of germs and children, and of my first experience having little tykes in my house overnight. So, of course I kind of attributed my obsessive lysoling (fauxsoling? I used the cruelty-free alternative, of course) of everything the nephews touched (doorknobs, the Playstation, controllers, cabinet doors, etc. etc.) to my ocd.

Well, a few days ago we get the call that their mom is in the hospital with meningitis she caught from the little kids (though to be fair, it could have been one of their friends, too). My fears? Justified. Yep.

Thankfully, Kelye went to the hospital at the first signs that it could be meningitis and she is doing very well, has been released from the hospital and will be fine. Still, poor girl! She's still needing help at home. (My mom in law came to the rescue. She's a love!) Looks like I need to put together a little get well package. The boys are fine. Apparently viral meningitis doesn't really do much to children. They just get kind of cranky and have upset stomachs and other minor symptoms that are easily attributed to just kind of being a kid. Adults, however, suffer pretty wretchedly.
On the upside of this topic, which I'll shut up about in a sec, I got a huge stack of cute photos for scrapping. Daniel, I swear, looks just like a smaller version of Dewey from Malcom in the Middle. Awwwww...
Stay tuned...we'll be returning to your regularly scheduled craft programming next.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Catching Up and a Winner!

June, june, june. How I loathe dump season at the rescue. Just one unwanted animal after another, one excuse after another. We got one yesterday that read more like a kidnapper's threat than a rescue request. To paraphrase, they announced that they were holding a guinea pig in an outdoor cage in the intense heat where she was being attacked by mosquitos. She's too much work and they need to get rid of her right away. It was a mistake to get her (Really? You think?) and she needs to be gone, now.

See what I mean?

Sadly it turns out that they contacted us from several states away so there's little we can do other than refer her to rescues in her area. It kills me to see guinea pigs or rabbits in outdoor cages or hutches. They're prey animals, so being kept in a cage outdoors, with the scent of predators everywhere, with no where to run (in the wild they would have shrubbery, burrows (in the case of rabbits), the ability to run and run and run, but in a cage they're sitting ducks, if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor. Not to mention the weather extremes, parasites, ugh!
(I heart robots! And stitching on cards using shimmering thread!)

Let's go on to something happier. Last night was my flower arranging class. This week's theme was "garden style" arrangements, which are intended to look wild, or create a mini woodland scene. So fun! I love dioramas and the like so this was right up my alley. We have to use faux flowers for the class (not something I usually like, but they grow on you (no pun intended)) so I found this sprig of lantern flowers that were kind of spooky looking and went from there. I was really proud--I had no corrections from the teacher this time and not because she wasn't doling them out, either! I added some scrubby looking stuff, some vine (that looked a little too much like, ahem, bully sticks in the package, but worked great once they were cut and arranged), and a tombstone I put together using a photo I took in a Sonoma cemetery and some layers of heavy-duty cardstock. I'm rather pleased with the result.

(Giraffe matchbook mini journal. Cute, huh? I loooove the new "in colors" at Stampin' Up.)

I was also busy this week getting ready for my Stampin' Up catalog preview class. It ended up being a lot of fun (it usually does. I really like my stamping peeps) and I like how the projects turned out.

(Yep, that's them.)

(This one is hard to see, but the elephants have a neat batik look that worked well with the somewhat indianish color scheme and, of course, the fact that it's an elephant! The look is acheived by first inking up a stamp with a large, flat, solid design, using Stampin' Up classic ink. Next, ink your intricate design stamp with a Craft ink of your choice. (I used Expressions silver ink. Just in case you're itching to try these techniques, visit my webstite and click "Shop now" at the top, *or* email me.

(Closeup on the ATC. The birdpuddle is made of super thick embossing powder.)

On to what you've been waiting for...the winner of the poetry prize...


Please email me with your address so I can get your prizes in the mail! (It's at the top of the page). Hooray for you!

For those who didn't win, don't worry! I have more goodies and more contests in mind. Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


So at dinner, the littlest kid is playing with his cars quietly, lining them up as if they are in a parking lot. His mother lets us know that this is how you know he is deficating.

Flash to this morning. I'm trying my best to not act like a total crank, sitting in a morning fog, no coffee to galvanize me against the chaos of bouncing, donut-filled chaos. And I hear a distinctive grunting, look over, and yep, he's lining up the cars as the morning is filled with a foul odor.

Reason number something-in-the-thousands why I will never be a mom:

I will never, ever get used to eating dinner while one of my guests takes a crap in the seat across from me.

Everything in my lovely vegan home has been touched with greasy chicken hands.

Or hands that spend the majority of their time holding their wangs through their pants (why?) or scratching their backsides with an enthusiasm rarely seen.

I'm trying to get the kid thing. I really am. It's hard to be a germaphobe and share your home with children, even really sweet ones. And they are. I melt when they speak in a tiny, high pitched tone to my nervous little dog, petting her nose so gently I could cry. I laugh when they go into long, semi-intelligable speeches about orange juice. Still, it's hard. I stand at the ready with bleach and scrubbies when the weekend's over.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Swaps Galore

I love swaps. They give me a great excuse to make things when I probably should be doing other things, like work for example, or cleaning the fridge. Why? Because I have a deadline. "Nope, sorry, can't do the laundry. I've got to get these ATC's in the mail pronto! I have a deadline. " You know it's serious. It has the word "dead" in it.
So...I tend to do a fair number of swaps. Fiskateers, to no one's surprise who has read this blog previously, is the board that keeps me most regularly endebted, swap-wise. ATC's and product swaps are by far the most common ones I sign up for. I love the tiny canvas an ATC provides and it's always very cool to see the results of others' creativity, especially when we've all had a theme to think on. And product swaps are basically a nifty excuse to feel good about buying a big bunch of new embellishments because they're not for you. You're so very nice, you're buying them for other people, not spending the money on yourself. And how lovely! A few weeks later all these people send you something nice. Who would have guessed? All the goodies, none of the guilt. Ta-da!

Then there's Club Scrap, with ATC swaps, inchie swaps, birthday swaps, etc. They're fun and they give me lots of ideas for using my monthly kit. And as if that wasn't enough, you can see one of my ATC's in their print newsletter this month. I feel like a rock star! Sure, no one but me noticed, but who cares. I know I'm queen.

The rest of the swaps would fall into the miscellaneous category. There are ones I do with other Stampin' Up demos, mostly for cards and an excuse to pick up a new stamp set. Alpha Stamps has an amazing group of artists on their email list, so I do theirs when I'm feeling up for a challenge and think I might be able to run with the big dogs (even if I'm well aware that I'm just a little yip yip dog at best.) It's worth the huge amount of work and nervousness that everyone will hate what I made when that box comes in the mail with an assortment of incredible treasures by people who make my crafts look like mincemeat.

(Side and front view of the magnet I made for the Alpha Stamps swap. I used alchol ink on a dauber to color the tin green. Incidentally, the alcohol ink ate the glue that held the pad to the dauber, but I felt like it went far enough before expiring.) I glued the black dresden (LOVE dresden. Go to to get yours. So beautiful, so many uses.) with Stampin' Up Crystal Effects which held nicely and I didn't have to worry about any showing.)

(Then I stamped the glass using Stazon, punched a circle from some shiny green dotted paper from the Stamproom kit of the month, used colored wire to attach a shrink plastic eiffel tower (which I made by stamping an image onto shrink plastic w/ Stazon. That stuff is handy!) to a postcard charm I picked up somewhere. Then I poured in some green microbeads, chunky green glitter (both from Stampin' Up), and tiny watch parts into the tin to add movement. All done!)

There are also a few other message boards I check in on now and then that I pick up swaps on from time to time and once in a while, when I'm feeling really brave, I even host a swap. It's harder than it looks. There's a lot of sorting, a lot of reporting back to the other people swapping, and inevitably there will be some bumps along the way. Some people won't like the rules, some may not like being contacted too often while others want up-to-the-minute-late-breaking-news reports, like a manilla alert (vs. amber for kids or grey for seniors). And then there are people like me who for some reason can't hang onto the address to mail everything to, so we always end up asking to have it sent again at least once (sorry to all the hosts I've done this to and will probably do this to again. I really do try to hang onto the info. It's just that digital elves sneak into my email and they delete anything that will cause me particular embarassment to lose. Sigh.)

Back to's midnight and I've got 2 more ATC's do finish before I sleep.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fiskateer Mystery Chat

Check out my Fiskadogateer!
Okay, so he wasn't too fond of the ponytail holders around the ears, but he was willing to humor me for a blueberry dog biscuit.

Last night was the Fiskateer chat with the author of Paper, Scissors, Death, a fun little mystery about a paper crafter with a lot of problems and some really cute dogs, including a Great Dane and a fashionable longhaired chihuahua (I think...I have a distinct picture in my head of this little dog, and though I'm going with chihuahua, it's possible she was a pomeranian.)
Lots of questions were tossed around, and she mentioned that some Archivers stores were having release parties for her new book, Cut Crop and Die with activities (I'd love me some bloody scrappin' make-n-takes.) and costumes. I'd totally want to be the Great Dane. Floppy ears suit me.
I suggested that her next book feature a murder with a pair of orange handled scissors as the weapon. Fiskars could come out with a special commemorative edition pair with red splotches all over the blades. Marketing? Are you listening?
Well, the visiting short people are getting bouncy, so it's probably time to leave the house for a while. So far, we've only had a tube of glass eyeballs dumped on the floor, a sneeze directly in my face, and slimy bare feet shown off, then rubbed on a stack of stamp sets I will be lysol-ing once no one is looking. All in all, that's pretty good. And some of that gets excused by the cuteness of a 2 year old, running around the house yelling "Cheese" while repeatedly flashing himself directly in the eye with the camera turned the wrong way. Aww.
P.S. Don't forget to check out the RAK in the previous post if you haven't already. I've got goodies for someone!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Back from Savannah, chaos ensues.

(pic: My first me-made flower arrangement ever ever ever!)

It's one of those things that inevitably happens, no matter what kind of mental and physical acrobatics I try to prevent it, the very second the vacation ends, real life comes crushing down, squishing every molecule of oxygen out of my wee little body.

The airport: Due to the world's crappiest handicapped assistance, I missed my flight. 45 minutes between flights should have been plenty, but not for U.S. Air. Instead of the typical routine (guy meets you at the plane, pushes you in wheelchair to gate, gets a nice tip, everyone is happy, takes all of 10 minutes to complete the transaction) they had those glorified golfcarts ("no tips accepted" printed over and over on the sides, dammit! How am I supposed to bribe people under these circumstances?) that are always squealing their way through the corridors. Sure, they *look* like they'd get you there faster than walking, but not after they make everyone switch cars 3-5 times (keep in mind that we're all handicapped and consequently we're slow as molasses getting from car a to car b and for some reason they have to take detailed notes on every passenger after they're settled, apparently doing some sort of detailed algebra judging by how long it took.) I tried to very politely (I've worked in service and retail. I go to great lengths not to be a bitch to people trying to do their jobs.) point out that I only had 2o, then 10, then 5 minutes till my flight left without me flight left without me. Arrgh. At least it gave me time to get a vegan latte on the house, but still. I'm tired, I'm in pain, and I want to go home. Not a good start.

When I did get home, I got a few hours of sleep before Fuz started bleeding. My poor little girl, one of the rat family I adopted a year or two ago, was having a uterine prolapse. I've been up all night for two nights now, first taking her to the emergency vet at midnight, then to her regular vet in the morning (thank you Scott!) then back home (I was up almost all night worried that if I didn't check on her throughout the night, she might prolapse again and suffer for hours before anyone woke up) then back to the vet again this morning. She went into surgery this afternoon, with plans to remove the mass that was pushing everything out. We agreed that if it couldn't be removed, she would not be woken up after surgery. They just called a couple of hours ago and said we can pick her up this evening. Whew! Little Fuz has been through quite the ordeal. She's coming home with pain meds and we're setting up a sick bay cage. I'm sure Kitty and Spider (her aunt and sister, respectively) aren't happy that she's disappeared, especially since Glitter never returned and Twinkle only came back long enough to die. They seem to be hiding in their igloo nearly all the time. It has to be nervewracking to have to wait and wonder. They saw her as she was prolapsing, so they had to know something was up. Still, I always think how they must feel, watching us take her away.

This weekend, my sister in law is coming along with my nephews, 2 and 6, so frantic cleaning has ensued. Kate, my princess of housecleaning and pet sitting generously squeezed me into her incredibly busy schedule, knowing my OCD is on fire. The combination of kids and an imperfect house could send me into a fit of lunacy of the very unfun kind. Mind you, this is also my late father's birthday, falling on Fathers' Day this year for a double whammy, so this weekend is all wrapped up into one big stress burrito. I really want to be a good aunt to my little nephews. It's just so hard to stay calm when they speak in shouts and touch everything in my contamination-free-zone. OCD is not fun, folks. I'm doing my best, but sometimes it's embarassing and makes me feel like a total jerk. I hate hiding from the people I love because they scare me. My nephews are adorable, clever, funny little kids. I know there's nothing to be frightened of, and yet, I'm scared to death.

Let's not end on a mopey note. I got an offer on my 4th book of poetry, Vault from Foothills press and I just got my contributors' copies of the current issue of Open Minds Quarterly, including my poem, "A Bucket of Divinity". Want a copy? Comment below and I'll pick a name one week from today. I'll throw in a little something special for your crafting stash too, just because I'm so darn nice. :)