A site for my handmade cards, accompanied by my photos and written meanderings which are occasionally witty, often tongue-in-cheek, and rarely profound. Beginning in June 2013, you'll also see lots of NBUS, which is an acronym I coined for Never-Before-Used-Schtuff. Note: my Privacy Policy can be found at a tab below and you can find my NBUS Challenge online. I hope you'll join in the fun there! Thanks for coming by! Have a beverage and enjoy!

November 30, 2012

So Where Was I? Oh, Yes, Christmas This n That and Rum Cake (No Card)

Oh, No You Didn't
Oh, yes, we did.  I can't remember if I told you, but after a 35-year-old tradition of going to various local tree farms and cutting down our fresh Christmas tree every year on the day after Thanksgiving, we succumbed to buying an artificial tree in an after-Christmas sale last year.

Here's a photo from 2011, the end of a tradition.

We didn't want to do it, but sadly, the last few years the fresh trees have lost their pine scent and stopped taking on water within a few days, at which point the needles began to drop. By the time Christmas arrived, we had a Charlie Brown tree with dunes of needles circling the base.  What is causing these changes in Mother Nature's trees?  When these types of things occur, I always wonder, "Is anyone doing their thesis on this subject?"

So this week we opened the box and put up our fancy-smancy Martha Stewart pre-lit-7.5-ft-Paley-Pine-tree.   It took me an hour to comb it out, which made me feel like I knew what it was like to have a girl after all.   The Mister and I have to agree that she is a beauty.   We are going to buy some of those evergreen-scented car fresheners to hide up her skirt and then it's as good as real and we don't have the guilt of cutting down a living thing. 
In all her glory:
One thing I do miss, however, is the ritual we went through with the real tree where Mister laid on his belly like a snake under all the low-hanging boughs and slowly and manfully rotated that heavy pan filled with water, degree by degree, until I was satisfied that the "best" side faced out.  I must say he was quite patient as he rotated it around and around, never saying a word until, inevitably, on the third time around to right back where we started, I declared it to be perfect.


Mr. Murphy, him of the infamous "Murphy's Law," comes to help me decorate every year and he brings with him three phenobarbital phenomenon.
I tenderly unwrap each ornament from the tissue paper bed I had so tenderly wrapped it in the year before. I always wrap the ornament with its hanger. Yet when I unwrap them, why do some have hangers, and some don't?  Hmmm? I wonder, "Is anyone doing a thesis on this subject?"

So now I need some hangers.  Where are they?  I've unpacked all ten giant black totes of Christmas decorations and there are no boxes of ornament hangers.  How can this happen every  year?  (I've run out of paper clips.)  Every year I buy another box of hangers.   Apparently, every year I put them in a "special" place so the next year I won't have this problem.  Obviously, Mr. Murphy moves them out of my special place when my back is turned.  This is a very small house which makes this a very big mystery. 
Okay, whatever.  I've extra hangers now that I've bought more, so, finally, the tree trimming can begin.  It's a scientific fact that I have a 50-50 chance of placing the hanger over the branch in such a way that the front of the ornament faces out.   You would think.  So why is it that 100% of the time I hang it up wrong the first time?  I can't help but wonder, "Is anyone . . .   !"

I'll bet Mr. Murphy visits you, too!  But in the end, we prevail over his ant inks, everything gets bedazzled and festivized and the house and its wall are happily beaming with Christmas joy, from the musical snowman who rocks out, "I'm a SNOWman":

to the uber cool gorilla who sings, "Ho's on the Rooftop,"

to the serene mother-of-pearl nativity set, a gift from Mister's parents on our first Christmas together, reminding us of the true meaning of Christmas:


Moving outside, here is an adorable bird-on-a-birdbath ornament,

which I thought would be cute hanging from the birdhouse this year:

And I wanted to show you this whimsical wind chime pre-Christmas present I bought myself.  Hopefully, you can see it better if you click on it.  I'm sorry I cut the label off quickly in my excitement to hang it, so I can't tell you who manufactures it.  I got it in a local store, not online, and it was the only one.  Along with the froggies, it makes happy Playhouse entry art.


And, finally, here is the rum cake recipe I mentioned in yesterday's post.  I have no idea who to attribute it to; it was passed around our office years ago.

Christmas Rum Cake

Before you start, sample the rum and check for quality.  Good, isn't it?  Now, go ahead.
Select a large mixing bowl, measuring cup, etc. and check that rum again for quality.  It must be just right.  With an electric mixer, beat one cup butter in a large fluffy bowl, and add one teaspoon of sugar and beat again.  Meanwhile, make certain that rum is still the best quality.
Add two large eggs and two cups dried fruit and beat well until bery high.  If fruit gets stuck in the beater, pry it out with screwdriver.  Sample rum again, checking for consistency.
Next, sift in three cups of baking powder, pink of rum, one seaspoon toda and one cup of pepper.  Or is it salt?  Anway, don't fret, just test the rum again.  Sowie . . .
Now, sift in half a pint of lemon juice, fold in chopped buttermilk, and add strained nuts.  Rample the sum again.
Now, add one bablespoon srown tugar or whatever color is around.  Mix well.  Grease oven and turn on cake pan to 350.  Now pour the whole mixture into the oven and ~ oops ~ now where did I put that mop?
On second thought, gorfet it, check the rest of fa rum, and go to bed!


Enjoy your day!   No, seriously, enjoy your day.

As always, thank you for stopping by to visit. Special thanks to you if you take the time to join as a follower or leave a comment!

November 29, 2012

CAS(E) Sketch #7; LIM #95 ~ Glamour and Glitz! and Heck The Balls . . .

Morning!  Don't look, but December is standing right behind you!  BOO!
My post title reminds me of that old hysterically funny recipe that always makes its way into the annual Cookie Exchange recipe booklet.  You know the one for rum cake, where you put in a little flour, taste the rum, put in a little sugar, taste the rum ... I'll put it at the very end.
But let's play cards first.
For my sketch today, I did a horizontal take on challenge #7 at CAS(E) This Sketch.  If you haven't played with this new sketch challenge, do check it out.  The design team members are superblee talented and the folks joining in are producing mucho delectivo card inspirations.

Over at the loveable Less Is More, Chrissie has a tour of Mandi's elegant new shop!  It looks so beautiful, Mandi!  Returning to join Chrissie this week as cohost is the wonderful Jen, back from her holiday.  This is week 95 ~ Recipe Week, and the recipe is to make a card with "Glamour and Glitz!"
I did this:

The hanging "ornaments" stamp is one strand from the "My Friend" SU! set.  I repeativated it two and a half times.  But I have to tell you guys, there is amusement all around us and a reason why I put both of those photos in this post.
After I made this card and went to photograph it, we were in the midst of a wild windy rain storm.  So I took the picture with the red backdrop inside the Bighouse.  I got distracted as I often do ~ oh, look, an ant ~ and went back to decorating the Christmas tree.  In the middle of belting out "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'" with Lynyrd Skynyrd on his "Christmas Time Again" album, I noticed the sun had come out! 
Child, you should have seen this granny go.  I scurried out to the Playhouse and grabbed my card and a cardboard box and some white background paper and put it in the only small spot of sun there was on the wet deck under an umbrella to protect it from the drops still coming off the trees overhead.  I knelt down in a puddle to snap the picture, just as the wind took the whole thing and turned it end-over-tea-kettle.  I think I actually cried out.  By merciful melons, my little card ended up on top of the background paper and not face down in a puddle.  Phew!  I gathered my skirts ~ what?  We aren't on the prairie.  I gathered everything up and tried again.  With success.  Or so I thought.  Just now as I was deciding which photo to post, I saw that I had lost one of my "ornaments" during the dust-up on the deck.  Did you notice?

I know I didn't need to go to all that trouble, but I like to take a photo in the sunlight, if given the opportunity.  Unfortunately we are getting into regular cloudy days, so I'm thinking about setting up a light box.  Last winter I was new to this and hadn't even heard of such things, but now I know that a light box will help me take nicely lit photos.  I hope.  Any tips or how-to-links would be appreciated!
With that, I think I'll close this post and do another one with stuff and such about Christmas decorations and rum recipes.  Even I won't read a post if it's TOO long!  Besides, this darn cold is hanging on and a sneeze just caught me unawares and I wet my unnerwares.  I HATE that!  So now I'm off to be distracted by laundry. 
Enjoy your day!   No, seriously, enjoy your day.  As always, thank you for stopping by to visit. Special thanks to you if you take the time to join as a follower or leave a comment!

Paper:  PTI white; SU! real red
Stamps:  "Joy" from Technique Tuesday;
  "Ornaments" from SU! "My Friend"
Ink:  SU! real red; Brilliance galaxy gold;
  Sakura Gelly Roll Clear Star pen
Nestie snowflake EF
Bling: K&Company and from stash
Corner Chomper

November 28, 2012


Welcome to Wednesday!
I missed the desk parade last week because I was too busy with Thanksgiving to go visiting many of you, so I'm glad to be back snooping around Ms. Julia's delightful What's on Your Workdesk? Wednesday (WOYWW).  Here's my current busyness for you:
What's this mess as you walk in the door?  Cupboards open and pencils strewn about and doors a jar and a sunder?  Containers open with stamps free to walk about?  It cannot be the Playhouse, Shirley? 
Yup, it is!  I'm making a dozen new perpetual birthday calendars which sell like hotcakes in the little boutique in town.  I've got to get them in soon or I'll miss the Christmas holiday gift-seekers.  It's a good thing they sell so well because it's a bit of work and bother pulling out all the various holiday-appropriate stamps to give each month's bare and lifeless page some personality. 

I'd never even heard of such a calendar until a couple of years ago and now I think it's the smartest thing ever.  I'm made quite a lot of them and even have a tab on the top of this page if you'd like to see more.  (The blank calendars are made by Stamping Up!)  I love not having to copy over a year's worth of birthdays and anniversaries onto the new year's calendar.  Of course, the young perples do all their calendaring on their digido smart phones and computers so this may be my last batch.
Speaking of young people, has anyone else noticed that Korean phenom Psy's Gangham Style dancing looks a lot like a dance we did in the 1900s called "The Pony?"  It's terrific that the kids today take it to a fantastic new athletic level.  We just pranced around pretending we were on ponies, without the worry of falling off.  Of course, we protected our massively ratted hair with two cans of Aqua Net hair spray in the unlikely event we did fall off.
On a more serious note, I want my British friends to know they are in my thoughts and prayers as they recover from the severe flooding there. 

Happy WOYWWing, everyone!  I hope to get around to see you and, of course, if you get here first, I'll return the flavor.
Have you ever gone to someone's blog and been unexpectedly surprised to see your own name and read lovely compliments about yourself?  I've had the pleasure a few times and today I would like to thank Geri of Manitoba Stamper for the nice things she said about my zany long-winded blog.  I happily return the love.  Geri's work is extraordinary and it's worth your time to click over and be amazed!  One of the awesome things I love about this community is that we often leave compliments on our blogs about other crafters without even letting them know.  So I thank any of the rest of you, too, if you've been so kind and I didn't even know it!  Mwah!
Finally, with delight I ask you to help me welcome CarysL from CarysL Cards.  Get it?  CarysL, like, carousel!  Adorable.  CarysL is another crafter brand new to Blogland, so I know she will appreciate your visits.
Enjoy your day!   No, seriously, enjoy your day.  Take a second to be thankful you don't have to spend an hour ratting your hair!

As always, thank you for stopping by to visit.   Special thanks to you if you take the time to join as a follower or leave a comment!

November 26, 2012

PDCC158 Colors; Pixie's 48 Snippets; SCS CCC12

Welcome to Cyber Monday!
Like anyone is going to see this post today.  I know you are all cyber shopping.  I'm going to be doing a bit of that myself here shortly.  I read in the paper that Cyber Monday is passe.  Really?  Sounds like that's a rumor being spread by the still-standing brick-and-mortar stores, but I may just be suspectious.
My card today came about via round-about.  I was at our local crafty store, sort of a small Michael's, and I found this scrummable ribbon in the cheap bin o' ribbons:
I bought it because it's like a finely textured sweater with impossibly thin threads of gold weaved into the material.  Also, I remembered I had some ancient Christmas tree paper in the same sagey colors.  I hoped I still had some.  This morning I found it, one tiny piece a bit larger than the front of an A2 card.  It was, indeedy, a perfect fit with the ribbon.
So I knew what I wanted to do, and I knew because I was going to use that last snippet of paper, that I could enter Week 48 over at Di's fun playground site, Pixie's Crafty Workshop.  I so appreciate having found that site because it serves as a reminder to me to reach for my snippets paper drawers, instead of my uncut paper drawers.  I could say something ear reverent . . .
I next looked to see if any of my other favorite challenges might fit my card, instead of the other way around.  I was pickled to find the perfect colors over at The Play Date Cafe:
This week's suggested colors are ...
and they have a brand new sponsor:
who is offering a fabulous prize!

And just for fun, I went over to Splitcoast Stampers where I found a thread for Holiday Cards for 2012.
Now that you are all suspended, here's my card:

This is definitely going to be a custom one-of-a-kind card now that the paper is gone,  but I seem to really be loving using ribbon lately, so I'll make more cards with this design.  I usually avoid the hard-to-mail cards, but at Christmas we send a family photo card to everyone out-of-town.  As a result, all the cards you see on my blog will be cards that will be hand-delivered.  It's fun to be able to go wild and shut up that incessant, insistent, practical voice in my head!  I'm kidding.  I can't shut it up because I am unable to extinquish it from all the other voices in there.
I didn't tell you yesterday because I was already running long (read boring), but Mister woke up Friday morning with a terrible sore throat, which then blossomed into a cold.  Last night, it jumped through all the precautions we were taking and came to visit me.  Not only that, but I had the added pleasure of waking up to find Lar N. Gitis had snuck into bed next to me during the night.  Rat bastard.  Let's be honest, the Mister is okay with that.  It's so blessed quiet around here!!

Enjoy your day!   No, seriously, enjoy your day.  And enjoy my blooming camilia!
As always, thank you for stopping by to visit. Special thanks to you if you take the time to join as a follower or leave a comment!

Paper:  PTI vintage cream;
  unknown bp; PTI autumn rose
Stamps:  SU! unknown set
Ink:  Vivid! cobblestone
Ribbons: leaf label says:  Ribbon,
  Sold-by-the-Spool 79856 58554;
  and Offray Au Rouge
SU! tag punches and eyelet

November 25, 2012

Papertrey November Blog Hop Challenge; and Freshly Made Sketches #62

Hi Everybody!
We made it through Thanksgiving with thankful hearts in tacked, despite eating outrageous amounts of carbs and sugar!  Story and photos of our Thanksgiving holiday are below, if you'd like to see them.
First, it's back to creating and challenges.  Oh, how I missed thee.
My sketch inspiration today came from Freshly Made Sketches.  This sketch was designed by the superb crafter, Jen M.
And today is the monthly one-day blog hop challenge over at Nichole Heady's brilliant {capture the moment} website. 

We are to make cards using cover art for our inspiration:
I was inspired by the "sweet cream, sugar cones" cover art, mostly because I have the PTI cupcake dies and stamp set, never used.  I also wanted, however, to make a Christmas card, so I did this:
I traced the top of the PTI cupcake die and drew it longhand into a sugar cone shape and topped it with peppermint icing.  Joy, indeed!
If you're doing the blog hop, this is the end of the card talk.  Thanks for stopping by to have a closer look!  If you'd like to leave a comment, just page down to the comment section.  (Mwah!)  I'll return the flavor!

Thanksgiving Memories
Holiday "incidents" are as expected and traditional as the sunrise.  This year I nearly had my defibber go off when all of a sudden the house smelled of something burning. 
You know how you have those side dishes that need to be reheated, but there isn't room in the oven with the gynormous turkey in there?  So you wait until the turkey is out to put the side dishes in, but they never have time to really heat through?  Well, this year I noticed for the first time that there are notches on the very bottom of the oven to put a rack.  The turkey just fit on a rack a few inches higher, which allowed room for the shallow dishes of creamed onions, Brussels sprouts, and stuffing to be put on the bottom rack to begin reheating before the turkey was out.  How cool is that?!  Now everything will be ready at the same time!
Not.  At the first whiff of something burning, I whipped open the door and there were the onions boiling over!  Setting them (basically) on the floor of the gas oven, right above the flame, was a kin to putting them on the stove top, turning the flame on full blast, and walking away.  If I only had a brain.  And why are there notches to put a rack there in the first place?!
I pulled the dish of onions out, but they were still loosely covered with foil, so I couldn't really see the roiling sauce, which left it free to pour out into the crack between the door and the oven, all over the glass on the inside of the door, and then all over the front of the stove, sliding down behind the stove knobs, and over the stove top as the dish came to rest with an unladylike bang.
It takes an awful lot to steam my kettle and this was one of those times.  I'm afraid to say that grandma lost her cool and began to speak a very colorful language.  Folks who had the misfortune of stepping into the kitchen at that moment took one look at my eyes and beat a hasty retreat.  Fortunately, my whistle is only set to blow for a couple of minutes, so very quickly the clamity was mopped up and I resumed my attitude of gratitude.
What was your little "incident" this year?  No holiday meal would be complete without at least one!
Here are some photos from our house, beginning with the turkey table decorations I made with the twins.  I didn't have enough paper towel cardboard rolls to cut up to make the turkeys into napkin rings, so instead we made them as cute table decorations, one for each place setting.
(I love their crookedy smiles at this age, full of both adult and baby teeth!)
One of the two tables: 

My beautiful DIL Rachel and me.  She was an enormous help!  (I'm wearing a narrow scarf that Adam "finger-knit" for me!)

Here I am being licked ferociously by my SIL's new and delightful puppy, Cisco:
The twins again.  Their daddy took them to Rock City for a couple of hours so they could spend some boyish energy.

And the mad dash towards Christmas now begins.  We stayed far away from Taupe Thursday and Black Friday and Scarlet Saturday to avoid being trampled to death.  I'm surely and forever old because now it all seems so cray-cray to me.
Enjoy your day!  No, seriously, enjoy your day.  I hope you found all the items your heart desired at 80% off, plus a coupon for 20% off your next visit!
As always, thank you for stopping by to visit.   Special thanks to you if you take the time to join as a follower or leave a comment!

Paper:  PTI white; unknown
  glossy green, peppermint;
  SU! dsp for the cone
Stamps:  Technique Tuesday
Ink:  SU! real red
Dies:  PTI Cupcake Collections
Ribbon:  SU! real red
Bling and candy from stash

November 19, 2012

OLW#114, ATCAS#1 ~ Holiday Snowy Thanks and "Fun in the Night" Part II

Hey, hey, it's a Monday!

I have missed a couple of the One Layer Wednesday challenges.  This week our terrific hostess is Cheryl at A Paperie Journey, where she challenges us to get a head start on our holiday thank yous.  As in written.  On a card.  An old-fashioned idea in an age of emails and tweets.  Personally, nothing gets me all atweeter like a real card in my hands.  So thanks, Cheryl!

Here is my one-layer holiday thank you card:

I love that image which I picked up on sale after Christmas last year, so this was its first inking.  You could think those spots are stars, but since it is called "Merriest Christmas Wishes," I think we are safe to assume it's snow.  And if it's snow, it is also going into Addicted to CAS's first challenge as my second entry in my third paragraph.


Boyfriend Pillow Conclusion

Before we all forget there was a Part I, and as a follow-up to "Fun in the Night," here, I wanted to report to my fellow Fibromyagony sufferers, or anyone with sleep issues, on my trial of the petite version of the Comfort-U pillow.

I returned the first pillow, affectionately called "Big Boys" and through a different company, I ordered the petite version, affectionately called "Little Fellows."  It arrived in a much smaller box.

Froggie wanted in on the action right from the get-go!

Here he is with both the Big Boys and Little Fellows.

At one-third the size, the Little Fellows left more room for Mister.  Due to viewer demand following my first post, here I am with Froggie, modeling it.

While stunning I know, that picture is decreptive.  It makes me look long and lean, but IRL, I'm short and dumpy, so given that, you can see that the petite is a reasonable size.  I gave it a try for three nights and that was long enough to know I was sleeping better without it.  It was definitely more comfortable than Big Boys, but there was still too much flailing about taking place and, even with a second covering in the center, I found that it was too rough and annoying against my neck when I tried to snuggle in the apex of the curve.   I'm not sure curves have apices, but it sounds impressive.
Plus, Froggie was jealous.
DDIL is going to try it because they have a king.  Bed, I mean, not like a live-in.  If she doesn't like it either, I think I might cut it into two long pillows, so I can use my normal pillow for my head, given that the underlying (oh, ha, get it?) idea for front and back support is a good one.
So that's my report.  If you would like to try one for yourself, here are the specs:
Company:  Comfort U
Item:  Petite Comfort-U Body Pillow CU8000
Price:  $74.95
Okay, there may be radio silence from me for a few days, which will give you the chance to catch up on old posts you missed while trying to back your mouse out of the driveway.  This time it will be for a fun reason ~ I'll be doing arts and crafts with the twins while Rachel does all the heavy lifting prepping for the Thanksgiving Day pig-out!  Me and the boys will be making these adorable turkey napkin holders you can find at Karen K's site, Studio At The Lake.
Enjoy the coming days to my non-American friends!  For those of you in the States, enjoy your special Thanksgiving Day!  No, seriously, enjoy your day. 
As Uncle Phil ties one on and Joey pulls Mary Ellen's hair and your mother wants to know why you didn't use her recipe and you forgot the dinner rolls are in the hall closet, and the dog is chewing something behind grandpa's recliner, be the calming force which reminds everyone that this is a holiday to pause and appreciate all of our blessings, not a free-for-all-football-and-feeding-orgy.  Wait.  What?

Paper:  PTI white
Stamps:  Hero Arts CG877,
  "Merriest Christmas Wishes"
  PTI thank you #2339 from
  "Thing Big Favorites #2"
Ink:  SU! night of navy and
  poppy parade

November 18, 2012

CFC79; ATCAS #1! ~ Winter Snowy Blues

Hey!  How's it goin?
It's a sunny day here in northern California and where we are, we don't get the snowy winter blues.  But Mister and I have lived many years where we have experienced it.  Snow is a drudge, but it's also strikingly beautiful, especially fresh-fallen.  How I miss those first snows, looking out the window at the soft pillowy flakes floating toward the ground.  And the heavy wet snow, so perfect for making big, fat snowballs.  Reaching up on tiny tippy toes to break off big glisteny icicles to lick, pretending they were flavored.  How none of us kids ended up being impaled by one of those razor-sharp Miss Isles is a miracle to be sure.
We'll just take a moment as you dial up your own snow memories.
That was nice.  Okay, here we go with the snowy challenges.
I told you a few days ago about a fun new challenge coming to the sphere and it is here!  It's called Addicted to CAS (ATCAS) and like another favorite challenge of mine (CASology), we are given a code or cue word.  The word for challenge #1 is "SNOW."  The design team are ladies whose work I admire and their inspiration cards are amazing!
Next, a long-time popular favorite challenge I enjoy is CAS-ual Fridays (where the owner, Michele recently opened her stamp store and blog ~ check it!).  The week 79 challenge is "WINTER BLUES."

My card:

This card started forming in my head when I remembered I had "snow" vellum.  A search revealed one single sheet.  I have no idea where I got it, but isn't it awesome fun?  I masked the circle moon, sponged the glossy cardstock base with blue inks, added Santy Baby and Rudie, stamped the blue-shaded trees, and added the over-layer of snowy vellum.  Clean and Simple, Easy and Peasy.  I didn't add a sediment because the whole idea of CAS is lots of white space, and anyway, I thought it would be too distracting, like footprints marring the pristine expanse of snow.
I love this cartoon and had to share cousin I don't want you to think I've gone all deep and poetic on you! 
One of our favorite comics.
Why does that seem like one hundred years ago???
I may not have a card tomorrow, but I have to do my follow-up report on the Boyfriend Pillow before we all forget it entirely and get too 'wrapped up' in Christmas, so I'm hoping to do that.  'Til then,
Enjoy your day! No, seriously, enjoy your day.
As always, thank you for stopping by to visit. Special thanks to you if you take the time to join as a follower or leave a comment!

Paper:  Stampland glossy; unknown
  snowy vellum
Stamps:  Unmarked Santa; SU! trees
Inks:  Memento black, soft baby blue;
  DI weathered wood;  SU! brocade blue
Die:  Nesties circle