Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chef Marci blings her uniform

I don't imagine that chefs have the option to add a lot of bling to their uniform but Marci has a found a way to add a little sparkle and still look professional.  I've added some Jolee Rhinestones as buttons on her jacket and, of course, the cake sparkles.  So, you decide.  Is Marci being fashionable?  I have grown to love these LaLaLand stamps.  I have them in both rubber and digital.  Rubber is fine for A2 sized cards, I don't have to use toner or chance spots on my paper when I print them.  But when you want a larger card such as an A10, the digital images are wonderful and if you want to combine two digital stamps, there is lots of free software that will allow you to do that.  I think there's plenty of room in your toolbox for both.  If you like Bling, this is the challenge for you, please go to Stamping Scrapping Challenge Central and check out the entries.  Please note:  to qualify for the prize in the SSCC challenge, you must mention a product sold at StampingScrapping.com.

The inside of this card kind of tied in to the patterned paper I used that was all numbers.  I have a bunch of these stamps that always remind me of Art Linkletter's "Kids Say the Darndest Things".

Paper: Beckett Radiance, Making Memories Cheeky, Stash; Stamps: LaLa Land Chef Marci, Inkadinkado; Paper Shapers Corner Punch; Jolee's Flat Back Crystals, 3D Crystal Lacquer Peach; Stickles Fruit Punch; Copics: [Skin E000, E00, E11, R20, 0, G05, R43][Clothes N1, N0, N2, C3, 0][Cake E25, YG05, R21, R24][Shoes E41, E43][Hair Y11, Y13, Y19]

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Magnolia Stamp Lover's "Summer Colors" Challenge

I'm not exactly sure which colors are summer colors.  First I thought green, but green is also a Christmas color.  And then I thought yellow because so many summer flowers are yellow.  But then, water is blue and water is a summer thing.  So, the paper actually chose for me.  I love this paper and now I'm out of it.  I tried my hand at a new design for me - a center step card.  I hate tricky cuts, I don't do math, they never fold right, whine, whine, whine.  You are going to find this really funny, but I just discovered my Fiskars cutter works for these kinds of cards.  Did ya'll know there is a ruler on the cutter slide, too?  You can position your paper, drop your blade at the right number, slide to the next right number and you're all done.  All you need is a little focus.  So, here is my very first center step card.  And, if you are my age, the hula hoop is an iconic summer toy.  In my prime, I could hula hoop with the very best of them - jump rope, too - even double dutch.  Those days are long gone but I'm so pleased to see the hula hoop make a come back.  Hurry on over the Magnolia Stamp Lover's Blog and get in on this challenge and....if you figure out what colors are summer colors, please leave me a comment, ok?

Paper: DCWV The Cotton Bloom Stack; Martha Stewart Iron Fence Deep Edge Punch; Magnolia Rocking Tilda, JustRite Curlz 25 pt., Papertrey Clouds Die, Star Dust Stickles, Glossy Accents, Copics: [Skin E00, E11, R20][Hair E09, E07, E19][Clothes BG000, BG02, BG05][Hoop R29, R24, R22][Shoes C3, C1]

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Today's my anniversary.....

It's been seven wonderful years; every day a new adventure.  Always marry a man who makes you laugh, the journey is so much better with laughter.  We've been together eighteen years, more or less and it seems like just yesterday.  There are so many roads we've traveled down, sights that we've seen, places we've been - and every one was better because we were together.  I was not well traveled when we met and now I've seen the redwood forest, Peggy's Cove, Gettysburg, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier National Park, Jasper, Everglades National Park, Port Angeles, Victoria, Badlands National Park, Volcano National Park and dozens of other beautiful places.  Every road trip is filled with new wonders and we get as excited about the next trip as we did the first one.

Today's my anniversary.....

It's been seven wonderful years; every day a new adventure.  Always marry a man who makes you laugh, the journey is so much better with laughter.  We've been together eighteen years, more or less and it seems like just yesterday.  There are so many roads we've traveled down, sights that we've seen, places we've been - and every one was better because we were together.  I was not well traveled when we met and now I've seen the redwood forest, Peggy's Cove, Gettysburg, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier National Park, Jasper, Everglades National Park, Port Angeles, Victoria, Badlands National Park, Volcano National Park and dozens of other beautiful places.  Every road trip is filled with new wonders and we get as excited about the next trip as we did the first one. 

This is the anniversary card I made for him.  Since he's been retired he has a habit of popping into my craft room dozens of times a day.  Hiding this card made the construction take much longer and I'm afraid I rushed the coloring a little in my haste.  The crochet is something I'm trying on new cards.  This is actually the Eyelet Circle by Spellbinders which lends itself perfectly to crochet.  The card is 5.75" by 5.75" and the stamp by Penny Black is perfect for the two of us.

Paper: Melissa Frances 5th Avenue Paper Pad; Stamps: Cornish Heritage Farms, Penny Black Sharing Spring; Spellbinder Eyelet Circle; Distress Ink Antique Linen; Filligree Butterfly/Button - Stash; Stardust Stickles; Copics:  [Rabbits E30, E33, R20, C00, C1][Flowers YG06, Y38, Y35, C00, C1][Butterfly B52, BG10], Bluebirdflats crochet pattern #2.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Organization: How I roll.....

Back in the day when I used to get up every morning and go to work I used lots of different software on my computer to do my job.  My favorite software was Microsoft Access.  I can organize anything in it.  I keep my stamp inventory in one database, the cards I make for challenges in another database and the really nifty things I find on the Internet but know I won't remember past tomorrow in another database.  I call this database my "Techniques" database but it really contains a ton of information I just don't want to forget.  This database contains records with just 3 fields (think of the database as a file cabinet and the record as a file folder.  The fields would be the pages in the folder).  Field one is the technique or information I don't want to forget, field two is the URL where the information is located and field three is any comments I feel would be relevant.  In this example the technique (field 1) is "background tutorial - distress ink, gel medium, pearl ex powder".  The URL (field 2)  is:  here and there were no comments (field 3).  My comments field might have information like "would be good for Fred's wedding".  Now, the fabulous thing about this database is it is searchable in any field by any word and you always know who to give credit to when you "borrow" someones technique or style.  If you double click on the picture, you will be able to see it much larger.

If I place my cursor in field 1 and hit the search icon, this window pops up with a few options.  I type what I'm looking for, in this case "background", I tell it which field I'm looking in, in this case "technique", I tell it to find this word in any part of the field, and to search "all" of the database.  I might have thirty records that deal with backgrounds and this search will find them all.  So, if in six months my pea-sized brain remembers that I saw this really cool background with pearl ex powders but for the life of me can't remember where - here it is.  I've been doing this so long it's automatic - see a great idea - document it.  At times when I'm out of inspiration, I can page through the records and find something that calls to me.  And the truly great thing is the records are filled out in my words, so I don't have to try to figure out what somebody else called something.

Access is reasonable easy to learn.  And as you learn, you discover it is much more powerful than it appears.  I keep all my stamps listed in a database, I run a query (question) and ask the database, which stamps are Maggies?  Assuming I have a field in the database that identifies Magnolia as the company which produced the stamp, the query will return a list of every Maggie stamp I own.  I can turn that query into a "report" that puts the information on paper in a pleasing way.

This is my stamps database which contains lots of information on each stamp or stamp set.  I have actually combined two databases linked by the "ID", one contains stamp information, the other contains occasion information (how might I use that stamp?).  I can run a quick query (under 2 minutes) and find every PaperTrey stamp I own.  Or Inkadinkado.  I can tell at a glance what the "medium" is (I've enlarged this database to include dies, embossing folders, and punches) - the medium might be rubber, clear, die, punch, embossing folder, etc), is it an image or words (this matters when searching - do I want an image of a fish or do I want the word "fish"), what size is it, where is it stored and what manufacturer produced it?  The second database is a list of what can I use it for, holidays, sympathy, men, etc.  I did it this way because it's very easy to list all of my Halloween stamps or Christmas stamps.  Some people organize by putting each type of stamp together (all of the Maggies in one drawer, all of the Flourish stamps in another).  I'm up to 31 drawers of stamps as well as a floor to ceiling case that contains shelves of wooden backed stamps on the wall side and the door side.  (It was supposed to be all the room I'd ever need for stamps seven years ago.)  When one drawer gets full, I just move to the next.  I have them all mixed up, it doesn't matter where they are - I just query the database and it tells me the heart stamp with the writing on it is in drawer 15.  The drawers aren't so big that searching them takes long.  As I enter each record, the database assigns the next number (ID number), and I put that number somewhere on the stamp or the packaging.  I can locate a stamp by it's number or if I have a stamp, I can tell where it belongs by the number.  I usually leave a drawer open until the stamp is returned but sometimes I get in a hurry and don't return it right away.  It ends up in a basket on my desk until I find time to put it back.  The database tells me where it goes.

The database for my challenge cards (actually every card I make) contains the recipe, the URL to where the picture is stored on my computer, what challenges the card was entered in or what blogs I put it on, what galleries I put it in, and the ultimate disposition of the card - "2011 - Julie Jones Birthday".  I can list every card I submitted to a SplitCoast Stamping Gallery and the date it was submitted.  Once a card has been photographed, downloaded to my computer, entered into my database, I package it with an envelope and add it to my card bin where it stays until I sell it or send it to someone.  If anyone has any questions about Access, I can help you sort them out.  I could even send you the structure for my databases if you'd like them (you have to have Access to use the structures).  I suggest Access for Dummies as a guide, you really don't need to be a whiz on the computer to use this software.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Magnolia Stamp Lover's "Summer Flowers" challenge

I have a Cricut Expression that I don't use nearly enough.  I guess I'm a stamper at heart although I do dabble in other crafts.  I recently pulled out a couple of cartridges to see if I could combine them with my stamping.  This Damask Decor cartridge makes some pretty nice backgrounds.  I cut a 5.5" x 5.5" card and then cut this particular background at 5" x 5".  I have lots of 12" x 12" paper pads with patterns too big to use on cards.  I find they do work well this way.  I actually pulled out my Copic color wheel to find a color that worked well with this particular shade of green.  All in all, I'm pleased with it, I plan to use this cartridge for more cards in the future.  If you like flowers, the MSL flowers challenge is the place you need to be.
Paper: DCWV The Mariposa Stack; Stamps: Magnolia Tilda with Tulip, GinaK; Provocraft Expression; Provocraft Cartridge Damask Décor; Stickles Star Dust; Copics: [Skin E00, E11, R20][Hair E09, E19, E07][Clothes V09, V04, V01, V06][Tulip YG09, Y11, Y35][Shoes E41, E42, E43][Tag E41, E43]

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

SSCC Simple Challenge

I don't often make simple cards.  It's too easy to just keep adding embellishments.  I forget that clean and simple can be elegant.  So, this is my simple card.  This challenge is going on a Stamping Scrapping Challenge Central and there's still time so get on over there.
Paper:  DCWV The Bella Armoire Stack; Stamps:  Stamping Scrapping Designs - Celebrate, Holidays; Spellbinders Labels 14; Distress Ink Antique Linen

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Please answer this question.....

My husband and I were watching John Stewart ragging on Illinois Wednesday night.  We were laughing because it kept us from crying but I'm sure the rest of the country was laughing because he wasn't talking about their state.  Then he turned to Fox News and the on-going feud they have going.  He showed a bunch of his silliest voices, one of which sounded just like Nathan Lane in Birdcage.  I mentioned to my husband how much I enjoy Nathan Lane and if I was hosting a dinner party, I'd love to invite him.  That got me to thinking about the ultimate dinner party and my question.  You are hosting an elegant dinner party for six people and you can invite anyone, alive or dead.  Who do you invite and why?  I would invite:

1.  Sitting Bull - so I could get the other side of the story.
2.  Nathan Lane.  I think he would be wonderfully amusing.
3.  Cleopatra - I want to worship at her feet.
4.  Timothy Hutton - I was in love with his dad, now I'm in love with him.  I never miss an episode of Leverage.
5.  Dean Martin - I have every one of his albums and he can tend bar.
6.  My husband - wouldn't be a party without him.

So, give it some thought and come back and tell me who and why.  You may even comment on my selection.

Monday, July 4, 2011

My garden....warts and all....part fünf...

This is the last area of our little paradise.  This is the back of the pond area.
Our whole yard slopes down to the backyard and to the left.  When my husband was digging the pond (every shovel full by hand), he put all the dirt at the top of the pond in order to dig the top pond higher.  This is our smaller upper pond.  It contains a gorgeous dark pink water lily and several tropical plants that spend the winter in our bay window. 
This is a close up of the birdhouse on the edge of the pond.  The wrens have also taken up residence in this birdhouse which will soon be covered with moon vines that have been planted at the base.  The little blue fairy garden ornament was a house warming gift from our friend, Charla.
These are the Sarah Bernhardt peonies that run around the end of the pond.
This is the gazebo we spend so much time in during the summer.  The pine trees right behind the gazebo are the ones that are dying.  Since they cover our propane tank, we will soon need to cut them down and replace them with another type of cover.  The plant at the base of the stairs is a moon vine which will soon cover the railing all around the gazebo.
This is the table on our deck.  It seats eight and has a chandelier hanging over it.  On the deck I have Black and Blue Salvia for the hummingbirds, two huge pots of double begonias, my palm tree from the house, an angel's trumpet and several air plants we purchased in Florida.  We also have a large hummingbird feeder on the deck.  Our cat likes to lay in front of the sliding glass door and watch the hummingbirds and chipmunks that come to our deck.
This little table overlooks my vegetable garden and the pond.  In the early morning it's a delightful place to have coffee.
And this is my vegetable garden which has been netted to keep the deer out.  We have cucumbers, zucchini, carrots, radishes, 3 kinds of peppers and a lettuce mix.  There is also another large pot of Black and Blue Salvia just for the hummingbirds.  The trap you see is for the chipmunks.  Three years ago we relocated 30 of them.  This year we've relocated seven.  I had to replant the seeds in the pots three times because the chipmunks dug them up and replanted the pots with sunflower seeds.  I don't mind a couple of them, they're cute.  A herd of them is destructive.  We only trap and relocate early in the season to give them time to find another nest and stock it for winter.  My husband just finished this area, it used to be filled with gravel.  He created the frame, laid the patio tiles and mulched everything.
This is the Dropmore Scarlet Honeysuckle that adorns the fences on the right hand side of our house.
This knautia spreads by seed and is helped by the goldfinches who love the seeds.  It's very light and airy so I leave it where it sprouts.  If it makes it out to the grass, it's dead meat.  My husband and I have a deal, he doesn't mow the flower beds, I don't plant flowers in the grass.
This is our gorgeous patch of Siberian Iris among the grass and under the Viburnum.  The ends of the Viburnum branches are eaten off by the deer every year.  It doesn't grow taller, but it does grow wider since it sprouts new branches along the old ones.
This is what the Wisteria looked like in early spring.  It actually has buds on it now for a second blooming but the Japanese beetles have eaten all the buds so they won't open.  And the leaves now look like lace.  Having a garden in the country can be painful.  One year I waited breathlessly for a new asiatic lily to bloom only to have the deer eat the flowers just before they were to open.  We've moved the lilies to the front of the house hoping that their proximity to the house would keep them from being eaten.  And I spray them with Liquid Fence.  So, that's it for the Close garden in June.  Our garden is usually at its best in June.  Feel free to send me a link to your garden, let's compare notes.  Do you have a surefire way to deter deer?  Chipmunks?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My garden....warts and all....part quattro...

In the distance you can see the raised bed.  This is the right side of the house.  There are three pots with dracena in them and lots of mulch.  There is another plow we found in Lacon and another rain barrel.  I use this rain barrel to water the plants in front of the house.
There is also a ground level bird bath next to the rain barrel.  The bluebird house is to the right of this rain barrel and under the crabapple tree.
This is our new front door.  It has a calla lily on it and was just installed last month.  The Norfolk Island Pine comes into the house in the late fall.
My husband made the white bench the birdhouse is sitting on.  There is a wire sculpture next to seven Autumn Joy Sedum and a hydrangea.  A wren house hangs on a shepherd's hook next to the window and the frog is riding a bicycle.
The flower bed that runs next to our sidewalk is filled with violets, Autumn Joy Sedum, asiatic lilies, oriental lilies, and turk's cap.  There's a small (so far) trumpet vine in the center, beautiful yellow iris, and a large patch of yellow tulips in the early spring.
And we're back to the driveway again.  Just one more area to show you....

Saturday, July 2, 2011

My garden....warts and all....part tres...

Along the back of our yard we have five circles.  The first circle contains a birdhouse which has been used by the wrens this year, Joe Pye Weed, catmint, a moon flower vine climbing up the birdhouse and a wonderful plow we found in Lacon.

This shows the birdhouse and plow up close.  All of our beds have been ringed with brick and are heavily mulched.

The second circle contains a wiegela, the third contains an old bed frame donated by our good friend, Angie, and is filled with cannas, the fourth contains a variegated weigela, and the fifth contains a viburnum, siberian iris and the grass that came with the siberian iris.
This raised bed contains our annuals.  We like to plant giant sunflowers but the deer eat them as fast as they sprout.  So, my husband put tree net around the bed.  And we spray Liquid Fence on everything in the garden.  The deer managed to get all the Phlox before I brought out the spray.  Eating the tops of the phlox tends to make two stems from a single one, so actually we get more blooms but they're way shorter than normal phlox.  Our raised bed contains as many kinds of Zinnias as I can buy over the winter.  We also plant cosmos, tithonia, and cleome.  The net makes it hard to weed so the weeds get higher than I like them to be.  The short pines behind the raised bed are filled with dove, cardinal and chipping sparrow nests.
The bird house on the arch (which came from an old portable greenhouse) was occupied by chickadees this year.  We believe a wren got into the box and pulled all the baby chickadees out and left them on the ground to die.  One was still alive when we found them so I put it back in the box but we don't believe the chickadees ever came back. 
This is the bluebird box that contains two baby bluebirds due to fledge on or about July 4th.  There were originally four and the box was originally on the end of the fence on the right side of the box.  On Monday I was working on the computer when I noticed the box on the fence was facing the wrong way.  I went down to check and found wet grass all over the fence and the box (my husband had mowed the day before).  When I opened the box, the grass was all pulled up and two of the babies were gone.  My guess is raccoons.  I moved the freestanding birdhouse stand in front of the fence and moved the birdhouse to the new stand.  My husband put a foundation block on the bottom of the stand to keep it from tipping over and the baffle keeps predators off of it.  When the two bluebirds fledge, we are putting a permanent pole with a baffle on the other side of the fence.  We can use that pole for our bird feeders when we move them to the north side of the house in late fall.
This isn't a very good picture, it was taken from my craft room window, but it is the father bluebird entering the box.  This was taken when the box was still attached to the fence.  We won't put a birdhouse on the fence again.

Friday, July 1, 2011

My garden....warts and all....part deux...

This is the right side of the arbor created by the old ladders.  There is a beautiful unnamed grass growing on the left side of it which has purple seed heads and waves so beautifully with any wind.  There is a Veronica in front of it.
These are yellow day lilies next to a shoe form that cobblers used to use to repair shoes on.  We have several of those around the garden; they were purchased at an old barn filled with 'junk and stuff' in Lacon, Illinois.  The barn and outbuildings are closed now but we used to treasure hunt there almost every weekend.  I purchased all the glass snack sets I use for garden parties there as well as some really unusual yard art and the little red wagon I use to haul my garden tools.
 Here we have Maltese Cross, Veronica, weeds, lavender, and some Autumn Joy Sedum.
Bee Balm that isn't blooming yet, cone flowers, another weed.
This is where our bluebird house usually resides but this year a wren took it over.  I replaced the BB house with a spare wren house and just left them alone.  We have way too many wrens this year, we actually have three males in our yard where we usually only have one.  A wren is currently building in this house and sings from it most of the time.  The little doll chair is something my husband found on his many travels.  To the left of the chair is a new Ligularia.  This bed has been a constant source of Chocolate Mint which came in on one of the plants we received from a 'friend'.  It also has red sorrel that has been hard to eradicate.  I've been using Roundup Sure Shot which is a foam you can use to target a specific plant.  Since it kills the root, it can kill plants inside the garden bed even though you sprayed one outside the garden bed.
This is more bee balm, balloon flowers, more sedum, and day lilies. This chair is another find at the barns in Lacon topped by a birdhouse we found in an antique store in Lacon.  My husband has several chairs stored away that can be pulled out at a moment's notice and set in the garden when photographers show up at our home.  Most all of the plants in our garden were planted to encourage insects and birds to visit.  We have many kinds of butterflies, damselflies, dragonflies, bees, wasps, praying mantis and moths that visit.  We have hummingbirds, bluebirds, titmice, wrens (house and Carolina), rose-breasted grosbeaks, grackles, finches (gold and house), downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, orioles, indigo buntings, chipping, white throated, song, and white crowned sparrows, a Eastern towhee was a frequent visitor this spring, cardinals, catbirds, and house sparrows.  When a male house sparrow becomes fixated on a birdhouse on our property, we trap it and dispose of it.  I know it sounds cruel and people have been upset that we do it.  But most of them have never watched in horror as a male house sparrow pulls out and destroys a whole nest of bluebird eggs.  Or kills the mother sitting on the eggs.  Our native songbirds are protected by law, but English House Sparrows and Starlings are not native and are not protected.  Other birds have hunting seasons.  We don't hunt crows, doves or quail.  We hunt male house sparrows and ONLY the ones that decided one of our bird houses belongs to them.  The male will defend that house even though he doesn't nest in it.  I would much rather have bluebirds than house sparrows.

These are the iris, peonies, Joe Pye Weed and Swamp Milkweed.  The milkweed will be almost eaten down to nothing by the end of the summer when the butterfly caterpillars start eating it.  The butterfly lays eggs on the underside of the milkweed leaf so that when the egg hatches the babies have plenty of food.  We plant this milkweed all over.

Tomorrow I'll introduce you to the circles and 'the cage'.