Friday, May 20, 2011

Wrapped up in a blanket with my Kindle.

If you've been emailing, calling, or sending messages via bicycle courier, I apologize for the lack of response. My spine has been very angry with me for some reason and I can't seem to get it to settle down. I'll be huddled here in pain until further notice. Let's hope further notice comes soon.

P.S. Still trying to keep this little infant rattie alive. Wish me luck. It's exhausting...he's a little chow hound. :) It's stressful because there's always that fear that he won't make it, but having experience in rehab, I also know that survival is the exception, not the rule, for these little ones. Send good mojo his way for me. If he makes it a few more days, I might take a photo. We'll see.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Clearly, I Have No Concept of a Deadline

You'll understand my lamentation shortly, but first, I would like to show off a few cards that *aren't* late. :) Dustin Pike, the artist who draws these adorable dragon digi stamps (such as the little gothy girl you see here) is asking for cards to be sent to a friend of his who is quite ill. You can read more about the card drive here. Check out his digis while you are there. He has created hundreds (maybe thousands) of them. This first card is actually for a friend of mine who's also got a bit o' the gothic in her, and being the challenge nut I am, I decided to do the two-birds-one-stone thing and make it fit the requirements for this week's add-a-tag challenge at Do You Stack Up. I love all metal edged tags, but the one I used here is especially delightful with it's rusty edges and delicate golden shimmer. I wish I could say I distressed it myself, but it came that way from Stampin' Up, if you want your own.
I liked these little tags so much, I used them again on the card I made for Dylan, the recipient of Dustin Pike's call for cards. Since it's going to a teenage male, I tried not to go all out with the foo foo goodness, but hey, the dragon is a goth *girl* so it seemed fair enough to go a little dainty. Plus, I try not to get too obsessed with traditional gender roles anyway. Everyone can enjoy some fluff from time to time.

Aaaaaand, finally, here it is...late by several hours (simply because I didn't pay close enough attention to the deadline when reading the site. D'oh!) my contribution to the Haunted Design House Mark-of-the-Beast challenge (must have 6 of 3 different things). I copiced a cute little lucifer, and surrounded him with 6 vellum tombstones, 6 metal bats, and 6 wee skulls. SO cute! I have like six kajillion of these degu food (degus are chilean squirrels, for anyone who's thinking, "what food?") containers awaiting altering, so I thought I'd go ahead and cover one. I think I'm going to use it to store black ribbons inside. Black ribbons of the damned, I mean.

Forgive me for being so late yet again. Today I was doing well until I got a call from the wildlife rehab group, looking desperately for someone (read: a sucker like me) to try to save a tiny little infant rat. Naturally, because he lacks fur on his tail, most squirrel rehabbers aren't interested in helping him and while my health prevents me from doing this kind of thing regularly, I'm the sucker who's doing feedings every 3 hours 'round the clock and risking heartbreak if he doesn't make it (it's sadly common for rehab animals to die, even with all the help in the world.) I have to say, the person who called me was a pretty darn wonderful rescuer to have cared for this wee one all weekend. I'm surprised this little animal is as strong as he is. Wish us all luck.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Weddings, Paper Flowers, and Delayed Cards

 First, I simply must show off my adorable brother, Mikey, (If you're reading this, I think you're adorable too, Nick!) and his so very fabulous bride, Cassie. I wish I had better pics, but there were incidents of cameras left in cards, lighting issues, etc. Cassie promised me a CD of pics, which I can't wait to get my filthy mitts on so I can scrapbook the hell out of them. :) I've already bought a half-ton of papers and other supplies I found that totally match their invitations.
Anyway, this pic was taken at the rehersal dinner. Unfortunately I didn't get any really good ones of the wedding, but hopefully that cd will rectify the situation.

And here's one of Mikey and me at the reception. Don't you love my dorky pose? I was a bit giddy.
 I got to make all the bouquets for the wedding, which was incredibly trusting of Cassie. :) These pics aren't the greatest (I'll post some of the actual wedding later), but hopefully you can see the basic design. This one was Cassie's. I used unicorn lollies for the center, then made pinwheels out of book pages and when the pages proved a bit too dusty to hold together very well (the adhestive was slipping on the dust and page rot) I added some Stampin' Up simulated book page papers, too. There are tiny satin ribbon flowers with rhinestone centers in the middle of each pinwheel and I made leaves from black chenille stems. The white flowers are actually made from cupcake liners (3 per flower) and there are tiny pearly pips for stamen in the center of each one. There are black and white jellybean stamen floating around as well (could I be more freudian?) The colored flowers aren't showing well in this photo, but they are made of red, blue, and yellow polka dot vellum. Again, different colored pearly pips are stamen inside each one. They matched her nails and shoes perfectly!

This is one of the bridesmaids' bouquets, made with one unicorn lolly and pinwheels. I put different types of centers inside each pinwheel, from black heart gems to clusters of googly eyes.

Okay, okay, let's get back to the subject of cards. Here's one I'm entering into the Buttons and Bows Challenge at Fab and Funky Challenges. I love those wee little carrot buttons! Check out that french fry brad in the middle of the bow. I'm also entering it in Sparkle's Forum's "recipe" challenge--2 papers, 2 embellishments (er..a little extra never hurt!), and a bow. Plus, you know, I liked the "recipe" pun. :)

This is one I made for the Phindy's embossing challenge, but the Blogspot debacle made it impossible to enter in time.
The swirls are embossed using this neat peppermint scented embossing powder I had in my stash. It's red and white mixed together so it comes out really cool.
Even though I'm too late for the challenge at Phindy's, it's not a total loss. This is one of the cards I made to send in my next package to Card Cupids.

Speaking of Card Cupids, their current challenge is cards with flowers...ta da! Card Cupids is an organization that sends handmade cards and care packages to kids in hospital. If you're inclined to contribute, they have a special need right now from a Title I school. They need donations of journals, cool pens or pencils for the kids to write in the journals with, a card wishing them a happy summer, and handmade book marks to keep kids reading and writing till school starts again. In addition to being a really nice thing to do, you can also win some neat prizes with every item you send. For more info and guidelines, visit this post.
Just one more, and this one has cupcake flowers! This one's being entered in Craft Your Passion's "check" it out challenge. I'm so digging this mouse stamp!
Sorry to cram so much into one post, but I was knocked off kilter by the Blogger breakdown. Have a happy weekend everyone!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Wendy's Gone

When you love little animals, you say goodbye a lot. Wendy was my little girl who was escorted to my home a few years ago by a wildlife removal service. Some people in an apartment complex thought they had squirrels in their attic, but what they had was a scared little white rat who had been living feral, taking care of herself as best she could. The removal worker said he thought she had escaped from an apartment nearby where rats like her were being fed to a snake, so she may have been up there for a while since she was full grown (most people who still cling to the arcane and inhumane practice of feeding live rats instead of frozen will feed young rats since adults can (and do) kill snakes.)
She was so frightened the first day she arrived, we put her in the cage I'd set up for her, travel box and all. When she finally ventured out and saw one of my cats walk by, she froze and didn't move a whisker for a full half hour, despite my efforts to console her. Over time she came to accept me as a friend and loved being talked to and petted. I would scratch her little ears and under her arms and she would brux with contentment. She never took to being held, so she was always invited to crawl onto me instead. She was very timid and only actually crawled onto my arms a couple of times, but I considered it quite the compliment when she did. She had a tumor early on, which we had removed. She was spayed at the same time in hopes that it would reduce her risk of mammary tumors and increase the chance that she might be able to join forces with my neutered males who you've seen on this blog before. She remained pretty skittish, so we decided, in the end, to put them in a split ferret nation (read: huge) cage so the rats could see each other, but not get into squabbles or anything. The boys are so rough and tumble, I was afraid they'd overwhelm her and scare the crap out of her.
Anyway, Wendy seemed fine when I sat with her and gave her her afternoon scritches. She was very happy to have her neck scratched and stretched out for all over pets. That night, when Scott went to feed her, she was having severe convulsions. One of her eyes was clearly bulging in a bizarre way, something I have, unfortunately seen in a previous rat--my first one, actually--when he died. Though we didn't have a necropsy done on him, the vet I asked at the time said it was likely a brain tumor that had grown very suddenly, causing massive pressure on the brain. Wendy didn't seem conscious after that, though I tried to get her to take water from a syringe periodically while she was still breathing quietly. She didn't seem to be able to swalllow, so all I could do was wet her lips I was afraid to move her to get help from a vet or even to cuddle her for fear I'd cause her to die in terror, rather than letting her go quietly. Still, I can't think of a worse feeling than watching someone struggle and to be completely helpless to do anything.

 On a happier note, I made several of the memorial cards you see at the top of this post, since I was in that sort of mood. They'll be posted in my Etsy shop shortly. Incidentally, all proceeds from the sale of "charity items" in my shop will be going to Carolina Pet Rescue this month. They've had a lot of special needs dogs arrive and can really use the funds.

Also, take a sec and visit For Fun Challenges this week. My smiley flower card (which you need after this depressing post) is featured *and* you can win some nifty prizes if you join in.
And speaking of challenges, I decided to cheer myself up with one that celebrates my favorite color: purple! I used one of my favorite digi stamps by Phindy to make this card. I'm actually quite pleased with the outcome, but then, you can never go wrong with purple and blue together. The challenge I'm entering is at one I visit a lot, the Do You Stack Up challenge. And nothing quite cheers me up like doing challenges. :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Puppy Mill Action Week

Sorry I've been neglecting you lately. I was in San Francisco, then Fort Walton (where I grew up in Florida) to see my brother Mikey get married to my new ubercool sister-in-law, Cassie. Photos will follow.

In the mean time, it's Puppy Mill Action Week, which is a darn fine opportunity to do a little something to help out exploited and abused dogs. It's all easy stuff, I promise.

Puppy Mills are mass breeding facilities for the pet trade. Though puppy mills are the most talked about, there are similar mass production companies for other animals as well. Think about all those cute little fuzzy guys you've seen for sale--hamsters, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets, etc., they are often bred in little drawers stacked on hundreds of shelves. They're pretty dreadful places for any species. Breeding bitches spend their lives in little cages where they are kept in a near constant state of preganacy and lactation, producing litter after litter only to have their pups taken away, typically very young--long before they should be separated from their mother. Puppies should be given time to finish being weaned, to be taught some important life lessons that will make them well-adjusted dogs. There's how to have a "soft mouth" instead of biting hard during play and how to relate to other dogs so they can be taken to dog parks or live in harmony with others of their own species, just to name a couple of the vital skills mom would teach her little ones if the mill workers didn't take them away so early. I've even known of some puppies being sold still requiring puppy formula feedings to survive. Why do the mills do this? Pet shops, internet brokers, and others want their puppies to have the longest "shelf life" possible in their stores. The public tends to think "the younger the better" when it comes to buying a dog. Many buyers don't understand the behavioral problems that arise when a pup is torn away from his litter too young and think that a younger dog will bond to them better. Pet stores and other outlets know this. They don't want to be stuck with a 6 month old puppy who's "too old" to sell. They know what the custiomer will buy, and once that dog is out of their shop, they know that dog is the customer's problem now. These dogs are merchandise to them, not individuals with a life ahead of them.

And what happens to the adult dogs? When they can no longer be bred, they are either killed or dumped on the streets, in shelters, etc. The result of years of constant breeding, the small dog mothers may be recognizable by the wasting away of their lower jaw. These dogs never get to recover from their pregnancies before becoming pregnant again, and they rarely have a proper pre-natal diet offered, so their bodies resort to leeching calcium from their teeth. When their teeth have gone, the lower jaw begins to waste away to nothing.

Puppy Mill Action Week provides an opportunity for animal lovers arround the country to work together to help put an end to the abuses that go on in the name of profitting from puppies. Please visit the Humane Society of the United States' website for easy actions you can take every day this week. Today's assignment is super easy--just sign the pledge to never purchase a puppy mill dog. Want to do more? Hit puppy mills in the pocketbook an additional way by refusing to shop at any pet store that sells animals. There are plenty of pet supply stores that responsibly choose to stop treating animals like merchandise, both in brick and mortar locations and online. When puppy mills stop getting our money, they'll stop the mass production of puppies.