August 24, 2016

Exoticity, Simplicity, and Felicity

Greetings, Stamplings!

The critters have climbed up and over the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday hills to take over the blog today for Wednesday Hump Day.

Let's begin with this:
I made this card after seeing the CASology challenge where the cue card is "Fun" and the Less Is More challenge for something Exotic. There are wonderful examples made by the Design Teams at both challenges!

I looked up "exotic" and it basically means "not native." Well, that opens the door to a whole slew of flowers and veggies and critters. Since I had the NBUS "Panda Can't Even" stamp set to use, I went with it, because pandas are certainly not native to California. As luck would have it, I own an unmarked v.o. bamboo stamp, so wallah-wallah-ding-dong, two extatic and exotic panda bears happily chomping away! The NBUS sediment is from the Hero Arts "Live & Laugh" stamp set.

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Twofer

It was Hammy's turn to pick the next challenges and he chose the CAS on Sunday challenge where the brief is "Balloons" and the Inkspirational challenge where our friend Kathy K. is the Guest Designer and where the brief, briefly, is to use PP:
What's better than a balloon? A balloon made of balloon PP!!

What's better than a boozy chicken on a swing holding the balloon? Absolutely nothing!

The PTI fine linen card base was embossed with a Darice e.f. The chicken is from Whipper Snapper Designs. The NBUS sediment, balloon, and string are from the "Smirthday" stamp set by Technique Tuesday.

And, hey, that balloon is a snippet so I'll also take this card over to Pixie's Snippets Playground.


Frog Naming Contest

Thank you all for your really clever and fun suggestions for a name for Hammy's new English frog friend. Froggie was the most obvious choice, but I couldn't call him that because I already have a beloved Froggie. A shoutout to my sister Dood who came up with the winning name! Ta da:

FRECKLES!

What do you think? It's unique and appropopo considering his delightful fabric design!
Freckles and Hammy

New Friends Corner

Due to my holiday, it's been a while since I've introduced my new friends to you, so please take a few minutes to meet:

Maria IllsleyMaria Illsley of Ivy Leaf Crafts. Maria has been blogging since September of last year so she is coming up on her first year anniversary! Maria makes the most exquisite cards, usually in a gorgeous square shape. As is often the case with so many of you, Maria's cards are gifts unto themselves and I know you will find lots of inspiration when you visit!

Elizabeth RobinsonElizabeth Robinson of The Crafty Robin. Elizabeth is from North Wales and she has been blogging since 2009, so you should be prepared for a long visit to her! Elizabeth's love of paper and ink developed in her mother's print studio. Elizabeth teaches art and serves on many design teams, not the least of which is Craft Stamper Take It Make Challenge. You will find Elizabeth excels at every kind of wonderful art from fabrics and felting to layouts, cards, and canvases!

Donna VenneJan Appleton (LLJ) of Lunch Lady Jan's Fabric Frenzy. LLJ has been blogging since 2011. She doesn't make cards, but she works magic with fabric! LLJ and I met on "What's on Your Workdesk Wednesday" (WOYWW) where I met a lot of my long-time British friends. I've been enjoying her fun posts and drooling over admiring her sewing skills ever since. I was so delighted to meet Jan in person while I was in England!

Donna VenneDiane Bromilow (Morti) of Mad Ramblings. Morti has been blogging since ~ can you believe it ~ 2006! She's not prolific, but still, that's an accomplishment! Well, it it is to me, at least, since I wasn't even aware of Blogland until five years later! Morti is a self-described magpie and jack of all trades. She enjoys making jewelry, papercrafts, strawsilk, and stitchery. I had the pleasure of also meeting Morti on my visit to England!

Donna VenneHelen Lindfield of Stamping by H. Helen started blogging in 2009. She is also a friend who I met through WOYWW in 2012, although I sadly didn't get to meet her on my recent visit. Helen's well known over at WOYWW because she does all her beautiful works of art on the floor! Helen's journaling and her expertise with color are amazing!

Thank you for joining, ladies, and welcome to the Playhouse!

~~~

Enjoy your day! No, seriously, enjoy! LITS!*

As always, thank you for coming by to visit the Playhouse and special thanks to you if you take the time to join as a follower! Please let me know you came by, so I can be sure and return the flavor!

Sadly, as I mentioned the other day, something is wrong with the Blogger Follow gadget and so I am currently unable to follow my new friends back. I’ve cleared my cookies, cakes, and history. I am writing again to Blogger Help as this issue has been ongoing for at least a month, which is ridicustrating, and I hope you’ll do the same if it isn’t working for you. The squeaky wheel gets the oil!

*Life is too short!

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~~~

I'll be back on Saturday for the opening day of NBUS Challenge #7!! 
See you there!

August 19, 2016

Fluffy Dreams and NBUS #7 Announcement

Hello there!

Welcome to the Weak End! I hope you have lovely plans as summer is winding down. Are you heading out on an end-of-summer vacation? Or is it over because the kidlets are already back in school?

The grandtwins started middle school earlier this week which can be very scary. All I can do is wish them all the best and hope that when they close their eyes at night they are lifted up by happy dreams.
This happy dream consists of swirling fluffy clouds surrounded by colors of exploding jellybeans flavored with bubble gum and raspberry!

In practical terms, I used a vanilla card base and behind the circulature are swirls from an embossing folder by LifeStyle Crafts. The NBUS sediment went through surgery; it's from the "Heydey" set by Hero Arts. The happy die is from Papertrey Ink.

Don't you think I did a marvelous job with my artful spray spluttering? Well, the truth is this was a super EZPZ card because I simply cut the die from the piece of paper that was lining the bottom of my spray box! I thought it was too pretty to throw out.

Challenges
 
Snippets Playground Badge
~~~

NBUS CHALLENGE #7 ANNOUNCEMENT!

Date Change

Many of you have been patiently waiting for the biannual NBUS (Never-Before-Used-Schtuff) Challenge to begin on September 1st. It turns out we are having gobs of company in September, so I am moving up the challenge a bit.

The challenge will start on August 27th and run for the usual ten days, ending on September 5th. YAY!!
Prize Change

There will be one other change this time in that there will be no monetary prizes. I'm doing this for two reasons. The first reason is that I'm just off a luxury holiday to England and my pocketbook is rather empty. 

The second reason is more abstract. I've had a couple three comments made to me that the only reason so many people participate in my NBUS Challenge is because I offer prizes. Really though? 

Of course, there is truth in that. There are always going to be some who are only interested in prizes. But I've gotten the feeling over the years that you genuinely like to play in this challenge because it makes you stop and focus on using your virginal, forgotten, and set-aside schtuff. Prizes or no prizes. Right or no?

So . . .

if you have one of these:
... or at least one of these:
I hope you will play along! [BTW, if the Mister asks me about this bowl of NBUS, I'm going to have to say it was staged for the purposes of this publication. Cough.]

So mark your calendars for next Saturday August 27th when the InLinkz button will appear! If you are not familiar with Never-Before-Used Schtuff, please check the tabs at the top of the blog to see prior challenges and learn about the origin of the challenge and the rules.

Thank you, everyone!!

~~~

Enjoy your day and the Olympics! No, seriously, enjoy! LITS!*

As always, thank you for coming by to visit the Playhouse and special thanks to you if you take the time to join as a follower! Please let me know you came by, so I can be sure and return the flavor!

*Life is too short!

To open the pop-up comment box that let's you jump to the end w/o scrolling:
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Mwah!
If you ask me a question in your comment, please remember to leave me
your email address so I can respond. Thank you!

August 16, 2016

Cards and Critters Gallery

Greetings everyone!

How are you? I hope you had a great weekend and the greatness is following you into the week!

I'm slowly getting snuggled back into my routine. Today I'm showing you the fronts of some of the thank you cards I made. It's nice to have cards gracing the ol' blog again!
I used my Brusho backgrounds and Memory Box Distressed Collage dies.
For this one I used my NBUS "You're So Sweet" stamps from Simon Says Stamp.
This design I sto CASEd from my neighbor Chrissie at the Happy Little Stampers Retreat. Thank you, Chrissie!

As often happens with learning a new technique, you'll be seeing lots more Brushos ahead. I know they've been around ages already and I'm late to the scene.

~~~

England Epic Log

You might have noticed that Hammy took a back seat on my England trip. That happened so he could make a "surprise" grand entrance at each location. Ever since we've been home, however, he's been insistent that he be given his 15 minutes of FAME!

So here is the Hammy Gallery: "England From a Teacup" with his notes:
I traveled in a pretty little makeup bag, along with my very own flag of the UK. The bag was comfy and I could breath fine, but it bent my whiskers something awful!
Starting in Southampton in the foreground, you can see I had a blast at each stop along the way.
I was able to spend the entire Retreat weekend out of my hiding place and among talented friends. To show off, I learned how to balance a bottle of glue on my head.
The best part? Everywhere I went, I got lots of cuddles!

It was a pleasure being a tiny honorary member of the English society. As my friend Shirley said, it was a bit like being a tiny Olympic torch of love being passed around from friend to friend!


Me, again. Speaking of friends, when I started planning this trip almost a year ago, I made an assumption that the friends I knew in each particular county of England all knew each other, too, and were already friends because they lived nearby each other. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that a lot of them didn't know each other, so it was a wonderful bonus to sit back and watch new friendships being formed around the tables at each location. I was thrilled to be a Friendship Matchmaker everywhere I went!


Introducing Jack

It's was a busy weekend here with the boys and the granddogs.

Wait. What? Dogs with an ess? Why, yes! Allow me to introduce Jack, a German Shorthaired Pointer:
Duke's got a new playmate!
Duke loves mini-duke, but then again ...
~~~

It's hard to beat a new puppy for cuteness, but I'm leaving you with this:
Yup, Hammy has a new playmate, too, thanks to my friend Annie! I think we need to have a Naming Contest, don't you? Let me have your best ideas!

~~~

Enjoy your day! No, seriously, enjoy! LITS!*

As always, thank you for coming by to visit the Playhouse and special thanks to you if you take the time to join as a follower! Please let me know you came by, so I can be sure and return the flavor!

*Life is too short!

NOTE: Anybody else having trouble with the "follow" button now that they have changed this feature (again!) to make it easier to unfollow? Being able to unfollow is all well and good, but now every time I go to follow someone I get the broken e symbol with an apology. It's been going on for several days and I'm curious if it's happening to others. Thank you!

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Mwah!
If you ask me a question in your comment, please remember to leave me
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August 10, 2016

England Grand Tour, Leg X ~ London

Greetings! 

Finally I have returned with the last chapter in my Grand Tour across England! I took 1,677 photos on my trip, a ton of them in London, so it's taken a while to go through them all. Without further a dew, I will get right to it!

With hugs all around, and new friendships formed, we all said goodbye to a wonderful weekend Happy Little Stampers Retreat in Swindon. From there my sweet friend Val gave me a lift to London, the last stop on my tour. Since a major bike race was taking place in the city that day, we detoured north of the metropolis to Val's beautiful home (where she has the wee-est and most organized craft space ever!) to pick up her husband Jim.

[For this part of the story Jim is playing the Sherpa role normally played in my life by the Mister. Bless him. Well, bless them both for that matter.]

After a quick refresher, we embarked together on the London Tube with my worldly possessions which had grown considerably following the Retreat. As I'd never been on the Tube, it was yet another adventure! It is much like our BART system in the Bay Area. Detraining at Pimlico we found my hotel somewhat hidden like a jewel among the bushes.

Val and Jim kindly schlepped me and my schtuff up to the fourth floor. As the hotel was not air-conditioned, my room was 92-96 degrees and the window would only open three inches to stop overwrought hot and sticky guests from jumping. It was no wonder that Val and Jim declined my invitation to sit a few minutes to rest! Again, bless. And many thanks to them both for their generosity and assistance!

I could write a play about what happened next ... . It's a very long story but the punch line is that I ended up eating my dinner in a nearby restaurant dressed in my pajamas under a light jacket. In London. Yes, yup, yes I did. Please don't tell the children.

~~~

In the light of the next day, I could look back and laugh at the comedy of errors from the night before and look forward to the arrival of my long-time bloggie friend Gay Peplow of Crafty Musings.
You can tell from that beautiful smile that Gay was one very fun lady to share my London adventure with! Gay lives about an hour outside the city so she had to trek in by train each day. Originally we had made plans to have lunch on one of the two days I was in London, but as the time drew closer, Gay offered to join me as I saw the highlights of London both days. She also asked me about seeing a play and made all the arrangements for that and for tickets on the bus tour. What a doll!

So you know how I've been bragging that I brought the California sunshine with me and had some sun every day of my trip for fifteen days in a row? Well, shootums, can you believe the rain decided to appear for London? It did dawn lovely, so I was caught unprepared without my rain jacket. Gay loaned me her scarf to cut down the chill as we gamely stayed on the upper deck of the bus despite the drizzle. And despite the drizzle, I got some fabulous photos of this fantastic city.

Some iconic images.
Statues.
More statues.
Jewels.
Enjoying an impromptu and delicious pub meal Monday evening.
Tuesday dawned cloudy and I wore my jacket, but the drizzles were inter mitten. We walked around the city and even went shopping for a second suitcase for me in Primark. I love the architecture of the city, both the old and the new. 
The green space and majestic ancient trees were awesome throughout the city. Most of these photos were taken in St. James Park.
Flowers were all around.
Snapshots.
Before the theatre on Tuesday night, I took a quick photo of Gay outside Pret a Manger.
When I had the film developed (haha), I couldn't help but get a kick out of the guy standing near Gay.
Ahhh, people are sometimes funny and adorable, aren't they? I can't imagine what I said to Gay in the moment that caused such a cute reaction in this guy!

All too soon, we were at the Apollo Theatre.
Windblown and rained on, we were absolutely delighted to be topping off our adventure by seeing "Wicked!"

Thank you, Gay, for the gift of YOU and more for two memorable days in London! It was a perfect ending to a truly perfect trip of a lifetime!

~~~

I hope my trip will inspire you if you ever find yourself thinking you "can't" do something that you want to do! I still have to pinch myself that I did this all by myself even with lots of planning and the help of dozens of dear friends! Believe me, if I can do this, YOU can do anything!


I'll be taking a break to continue to make and write thank you notes (showing the backs of the first batch). Plus we are going to enjoy having the grandtwins for a weekend sleepover!

Enjoy your day! No, seriously, enjoy! LITS! Life is too short! 

To open the pop-up comment box that let's you jump to the end w/o scrolling:
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Click "Jump to Comment Form" and walla, no more car pool tunnel!
Mwah!
If you ask me a question in your comment, please remember to leave me
your email address so I can respond. Thank you!