Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Beautiful Market Day

Today could not have been more glorious! The sky was blue, the sun was out, the humidity was low, a breeze was blowing, and the people were shopping! I had a great sales day, and the BBQ truck was there so I could get my fix. He even remembered me and knew I wanted no bun. ;-)

My Sunday market always has music, and part of the time it is a live person or band. Today's group was Crash, The Band, and they are a group of local kids. At first I thought it was some Karaoke thing, but when I wandered up to check it out, this is what I found:

We're talking kids - little kids! Elementary and Middle School are 'little' to me. And they were rocking on those instruments! That guitar on the left was as tall as the girl (in the blue shirt) playing it. And someone told me the kid on the drums (you can barely see his head over the cymbals) has only been playing for a year. They were playing songs from the 60s and 70s, and they were GOOD! Hey - I thought it was karaoke, meaning pre-recorded music. I threw some money into their collection till.

(Yes, their parents were there. No, I did not get a release to post this photo on my blog. Yes, if you are the parent(s) of one of these kids, I will cease and desist. That is, if I cannot get your permission after the fact. May I beg? Would begging work? How about money? Free cards? How about giving me a link to post and I'll help you get a gig? BTW, your kids are MARvelous!)

I sold a bunch of three-fers - three cards for a discounted price, which has turned out to be one of the smartest offerings I've ever had. There is something about a "Three For" price that makes people want that third card. I try to talk them out of it; I even tell them they would only save 50 cents on the third card, but they still insist, so my sales were goooood. I highly recommend this marketing technique to anyone selling cards. Or anything, really.

The gentleman from the city stopped by to pick up his two packs of City cards, so I am almost out of them again...just one pack left. Several other people asked for other cites (towns) that I do not have, to the point where I started asking which city am I missing now? And they'd tell me! One woman said she would definitely buy some if I made them for her, so I'll include hers in my next wave of these cards. I am okay making on-demand cards like this if I think of it as my one store offering, but person-to-person, and without the shipping hassle.

When I got home, I finished up these cards I'd started the other evening:

(Man, I even take crooked photos!) I had some of this paper left out in my scrap pile, so I used it. All gone. Well, except for the pieces of the same paper I had to buy yesterday at Angela's. Shhh, done tell anyone.

Then I decided to use some of the new stuff I had to buy, and here is my first attempt:

The dog, sentiment, patterned paper, wide oval punch, and markers used to color the dog are all new. The Wide Oval punch is from Stampin' Up!, and as you can see it layers very nicely with the SU Large Oval punch. Of course it does.

The paper is from my new Basic Grey pack of Offbeat 6x6 papers. The dog and sentiment are by Rosie's Roadshow. I used my new Copic Ciao markers to color the dog - E31, E33 and E35 for the dog and W7 for the shadow around the dog. The sentiment is stamped in Choc Chip. And I used my Nesties for the ovals for, and under, the dog.

Phew - that's alotta stuff for just one card! I made four of these and put them in my "for next week" box.

My goal for tomorrow is to make up three more projects for next weekend's workshops and also to inventory all my retired sets that I plan to sell. My customers get first dibs on buying them before I post them online (here and at SCS), and given that my customers will be over next weekend for the workshops, tomorrow is my day to do it all. Evenings after work cannot be trusted, or I will be doing my "up till midnight" on Saturday to get ready, and I so don't want to go there again. Wish me luck! I'll need it, as we all know that I am very easily distracted...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Not Your Typical Market Day

Today's market was pretty interesting. Not all good interesting, but interesting all the same. We started out with early arrival (before 7:30 am) due to the scheduled 5K race and associated street closures. The first thing I saw were orange cones closing the street I usually take, so I had to do the round-about to even get there. grumble ...

One of the rules about our market is: Farmers are first-class citizens, and the crafters are second. The farmers have assigned spaces and they get as much room as they want. We lowly crafters have to divide up what's left, or set up tents on the lawn. We are all okay with this, and it works really well.

Today when I arrived there was a band setting up next to our little pavilion. This was bad. Not the band being there, but the fact that they had taken up the whole sidewalk, including the space assigned to one of the farmers. This was the bad thing. As soon as I unloaded my car and started to set up, I went over to one of the band members and informed him they would need to move over to make room for the farmer. The guy got pi$$y with me! First come, first served. He should have been here early if he wanted a spot. Uh, noooo, I think you are mistaken... After much pi$$ing and moaning, I finally got them to move over about 10 feet. Then I was saved when one of the event organizers told them they really did need to move. I returned to my set-up and two of the farmers said the band members had not believed them, either. Hmph.

Now mind you, it is still before 8 am. Next thing we know, the band starts playing, and they were LOUD. I MEAN LOUD, as in YOU CANNOT HEAR YOURSELF THINK loud. At 8 am. And there is a retirement home right across the street. Farmer Mike, who was set up the furthest from the band, had trouble conversing with customers. One of the crafters is very pregnant, and she was standing on the far side of the market, actually out in the street, with her hands over her ears. She said the noise was disturbing the baby. We all had headaches after about 10 minutes, and they played for TWO HOURS. Farmer Mike finally called our market organizer and left her a voice message, which we are pretty sure she could not hear. So the first two hours were a living nightmare.

When the farmer arrived to try and claim his spot, we just sat there and waited for the fireworks - he is not shy. Fortunately for the band, they quit playing at 10. This was REALLY fortunate for us. So the day started off really badly.

But there were some really funny moments, too. While two of us were hanging out at Farmer Mike's to be far away from the noise, there was a guy checking out the watermelons, so we struck up a conversation with him. We tend to do that a lot...we are a friendly bunch. So anyway, he was trying to pick the best melon, and we had some suggestions for him. He stopped, laughed, looked at us and said, "You are talkin' to a black man from Alabama. I think I know how to pick a melon. And a 'mater. Not much else, but I can sure pick a melon." OMG, we laughed so hard, and he was laughing the loudest! I finally stopped laughing enough to tell him I was glad he'd said that. Then he just lost it - laughed so hard he had to put down the melon. Farmer Mike just looked at us and shook his head. It was pretty funny! The guy did buy two watermelons, by the way.

Time for some market photos... Farmer Mike has brought some of these flowers for several weeks now:

This is called Cockscomb, and it is beautiful. He sold it all by the end of the day, too. You can keep it like this by putting it in water, or you can let it dry and use it for dried flowers. You can also keep the seeds to grow your own next year. I know all this because I had to have him explain it to me several weeks ago. Once he'd finished, I told him that was nice, but if I were to plant the seeds next year, did they need sun to grow. He just shook his head and walked away. Farmer Mike shakes his head at me a lot.

I always check out the veggies du jour, and today gave us these:

These are what could be called stunted carrots. They have been growing since February. They have had their greens cut off for, um, greens, and when that happens, they expend all their energy re-growing the greens, so the actual root veggie is out of luck. They finally picked these, and the Rock Lady bought some for her guinea pig, or was it a gerbil?

These are eggplants:

I had the Rock Lady hold a few so you could see the actual size. They taste the same as full-sized eggplant, but aren't they cute? I am pretty sure Farmer Mike was shaking his head at me here, too.

The rest of the market was okay. I had a few sales, so it was not a Zero Day, thank goodness. And the Fruity Pebbles Rice Krispie Treats were a hit. ;-)

After the market, I headed down to Virginia to Angela's Happy Stamper to pick up my ordered goods. I fully expected to see more stuff I had to have, and without fail, I succumbed to the lure of the merchandise. One of the things I picked up were some more A Muse note cards (yes, I needed more, okay?!) to make some "neutral" baby cards. Someone liked the ones I made in blue and pink, but I had no yellow or green for those times when they did not know the gender of the yet-unborn little one. Funny, but I had some baby stamps in my order, too. Whazzup with that? I need to refocus or something. So when I got home, I broke open the pack of green & white card stock and made this:

That should work!

One other funny thing that happened was I sold one of my new 'feminine' milestone birthday cards. That all by itself was not funny, but the actual sales process was. A gentleman picked out one of the cards, slipped it to me upside-down and said "shhhhhh!". I slipped it into a bag lickety-split, he handed me some cash, said we were even, and went back to meet up with his wife. Wasn't that the cutest thing?!?!?! A similar thing happened last weekend at my Sunday market, where the guy picked out the card and had me sneak it into a bag all when his wife was not looking. I love this stuff!!!!

And my last funny thing today was when the Rock Lady asked if I had a card she could give to a new neighbor who did not walk her dog, but let the dog out a 5 am and let it bark and wake up the neighbors. So did I have a card for that? Um, let me work on it, okay?

So I guess the funny stuff almost made up for our earlier misery. Oh, and our market organizer did stop by and apologize for the noise. Seems she had no idea there would be a band, and certainly not a LOUD one, and CERTAINLY not at 8:00 am. My ears are still ringing.

I need to go get some shut-eye so I can be vertical for tomorrow's market. It is supposed to be a nice day, so afterwards I will probably have the strength to stamp something, maybe even something blog-worthy so I can share it with you. ;-)

Friday, August 29, 2008

The CASE of a CASE of a CASE

Or I could call this post "One Good Turn Deserves Another". For any reader who may not know what CASE means, it is an acronym for "Copy And Share Everything", or in some situations "Copy And Steal Everything". When you really, really, really like a card you see, you can use it for inspiration, or copy it exactly. I prefer to not copy copy a card, cuz where's the fun in that!? So in my case (har, har, no pun intended there) , I stole the idea and the technique and the design, but I used a different paper, layered it differently, and used a different stamp. So technically it is inspired, not CASEd, but I guess that depends on who you ask.

I saw this post on June's blog a while ago, and I have always wanted to CASE it and make it my own. I showed it to one of my customers last night, and she LOVED it and pleaded with me to make it one of the projects for September, especially since we all need to blow the dust off our crimpers. Begging and pleading generally work for me, and I am also one short week away from having to have all my workshop projects planned, so here's what I just threw together:

Recipe (All products from Stampin' Up!):Stamps - Think Happy Thoughts; Paper - Whisper White, Kiwi Kiss, Riding Hood Red, Kraft, Bella Rose DS paper; Ink - Kiwi Kiss, Riding Hood Red; Other - brads, 1 1/4" and 1 3/8" circle punches, Lg Oval punch, Round Tab punch, Dimensionals, Crimper.

Isn't it Fabboo? Is that a word? This card was soooo easy and quick. Naturally, since I did not have to think it up! Just make sure to put your piece of folded-in-half oval punched card stock into your crimper on an angle, like the bottom one I did. The top one is a good example of what not to do. I could say I did that on purpose, and take credit for staging a How Not To Be Like Me segment, but alas, I did not see that it was crimped poorly until after the screw-up. Okay, it is not a screw-up, but I do think the more angled leaf looks better.

Moving on before I dig that hole any deeper, in case you were wondering how those Rice Krispie Treats turned out, here they are:

The recipe calls for 6 Cups of cereal, and since the Fruity Pebbles were really fruity, I used 4 Cups of Rice Krispies to 2 Cups of the Fruity Pebbles for color. And also, as it turned out, for flavor. They are really fruity, so I am glad I mixed them up with the plain ones.

I have both my Saturday and Sunday markets again this weekend. I need to be at the Saturday market very early, though...there is an annual 5K race in the neighborhood, and they close the streets for it, which means we need to either set up before 7:30 or after 9:30, and we cannot park on the main street, either. I usually opt for early arrival, so I think I'll bring a good book.

After the Saturday market I plan to head down to VA to Angela's Happy Stamper to pick up (ie: buy) the goods she has been saving behind the counter for me. I have some (of all things) more baby stamps, some of the new Basic Grey 6x6 paper packs, a Copic marker, and some cutting blades and mats for my Carl cutter. And I am sure I will stumble upon a few things I did not know I needed. It always happens. Hopefully I will have the energy to play with my new stuff and show it off a little bit tomorrow. Ta!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

SYFY Tip #1

Seeing as I screw up on a regular basis, probably more than most people do, I find I have to save myself from myself, a lot. Therefore, I have decided to begin a new category of posts on my blog to share my Save Yourself From Yourself (SYFY) tips and tricks as I think of them. Most of these will be obvious, and probably nothing new, but I needed something to post and this was handy. Work with me here, okay? ;-)

First up, as I waited for the exterminator to arrive this morning (he's still not here), I decided to make more of these cards for my market inventory:

This has turned out to be a best seller, and I find myself making more every week! A great way to use up scraps, fer sure. Note the ribbon I looks like a normal ribbon to you, right? Usually I just wrap the ribbon around the layer and tie it - done. But not today! Today I fell into the pit of 'cut it too short'. Not wanting to have to deal with the too-short piece (as in: where the heck will I keep this thing after the Clean Sweep), I simply improvised and did this:

After all, no one will see the back anyway, right? It ties just the same on the front, too ... imagine that. And if you do this on purpose, you'll save about 3" of ribbon per card. For me, that's not a big deal because I have SO MUCH STUFF, but for you frugal people, it might just be an important tip.

Okay, now I really have to make an appearance at the Day Job. I left a message for the exterminator telling him I have to is raining, but if he was not coming, you'd think he'd call. Bah!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Question Du Jour

No stampin' to post tonight, but I do have a burning question that I hope at least one of you can answer for me...

Do they still make the multi-colored Rice Krispies cereal? You know, the box with pink and blue and red and green puffed rice mixed in with the regular stuff. I used to make Rice Krispie Treats using them, and they were AWESOME looking! All I can find now are either the regular or cocoa varieties, so the best I can come up with will be "black & white" treats, no color. What a bummer.

I found a reference online to Berry Krispies, but nothing about the colored ones. I would not mind the berry ones, but I have not seen them in my travels.

ETA: I found this, but it's not what I was looking for. Still hunting ...

Anyone have a clue? Thanks!

PS: Why in the heck am I making these, you ask? The photographer at my markets is always munching on a commercially-made Rice Krispies treat. Yuk! So I told him I'd make him some real ones. :-)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Something Old With Something New

My new SU goodies arrived today, so I simply had to use some of them, and right away! I had four cut pieces of Afternoon Tea DS paper left over from the last wave of Decade cards I'd made, so instead of filing them, or just working around them until the Clean Sweep (which seemed more likely), I decided to use them with some of my new stuff. Thus, the Something Old with the Something New. Clever and original, I know.

The first two new sets I assembled were (1) the Cute & Curly set that coordinates (and is bundled with) the Curly Label Punch, and (2) Pocket Silhouettes. By the way, do you get the sense that SU is challenging our spelling capabilities with the color and set names these past few years? Bayou Blue, Purely Pomegranate, Pirouette Pink, Pocket Silhouettes ... I mean, I don't know about the rest of you, but none of these words were in my every-day conversation frontal-lobe I-know-how-to-spell-that vocabulary until, as a Good Demo, I was required to learn them. I think it is an evil plot to educate us while we play.

So ANYway, back to the Old/New thing. Here is a very basic card that fell together in about 5 minutes:

Recipe (all SU): Stamps - Pocket Silhouettes, Cute & Curly; Paper - Soft Sky, Afternoon Tea DS paper, Whisper White; Ink - Choc Chip, Soft Sky; Other - Curly Label Punch, Choc Chip ribbon.

One trick given to me by Beloved Reader #2 who'd stopped by while I was playing, was to stamp and cut out the innards of one of the label images to mask the outside of the frame so I could stamp the flowers only on the inside. The punch punches outside of the stamped image and leaves enough white space so it looked stupid. Ask me how I know.

To translate that blah-blah-blah into English for you, I decided a picture might be helpful. Pictures are good:

This is my Curly Label mask that will take up residence in the box with the stamp set. You can see the tell-tale signs of the stamped flower stems that fell outside of the frame. That Beloved Reader #2 - she is pure genius. She is also personally moving 12 yards of mulch, one wheelbarrow at a time, around her yard, so maybe not so much genius after all. She was afraid to sit down, and had to keep moving for fear her whole body would sieze up. Okay, genius in the world of stampin', I'll give her that. :-) [Hi there, BR #2.]

And if I use this card with some of the papers in my newly-arrived stash, then it can be one of my workshop projects for September. Ohboy! I love it when a plan comes together.

That's all for this evening. I am going to assemble a few more of my new sets and plan my next project. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 25, 2008

What I Did On My Day Off

As we enter the Back To School season, I am reminded of the traditional "What I did on my Summer Vacation" essays we used to have to write, so that's the source of this post's title.

As most of you know by now, my weekends are crazy busy since I do markets on both Saturday's and Sunday's. The only weekend I do not do a Sunday market is when I have my Sunday workshops. So yeah, no weekends. Well, no weekends for domestic stuff, anyway. So I take a Monday off after a 2-market weekend, and I take a Tuesday off after my 2-on-Sunday and my Monday night workshops. Today was one of those days, and I feel like I should quote George Jetson and holler, "Jane, how do you stop this crazy thing!?!?!", in reference to the proverbial treadmill I seem to be on.

I usually fill my day off with stamping, at least in between all the domestic nonsense. HA! My first mistake today was to leave the house. I almost never leave the house on my day off - not even to get the mail! I seal that deal by staying in my jammies, so I can't leave the house. But alas, I needed food. I mean, I was out of the point where I could no longer scrounge and make dinner out of pasta and cheese since I was out of both pasta and cheese. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I actually got dressed and went to the grocery store this morning.

I came home to two boxes of goods from SU (none of it mine, darnit!). I had to immediately check the SU Web site to see where I'd gone wrong, and my Demo order is due to arrive tomorrow. Sigh.

So now I have set the stage for the treadmill that became the rest of my day. Here's what I've packed in so far:

1. Grocery to buy food. Check.
2. SU boxes hauled into the front hall, while keeping the cat inside. Check.
3. Needed to put perishable food away. But first I had to ...
4. Dump out veggie drawers where-in lived various and sundry science projects in the making. Cleaned drawers and replaced in the fridge.
5. Cleaned and put away new veggies and other perishable food items.
6. Topped off cat food bowl before she could remind me I had not done so.
7. Emptied cooler full of CSA veggies and fruits into my kitchen sink, washed and put away.
8. Read care-and-feeding instructions for the Dahlias. Must replace water every day. Replaced water in both vases.
9. Called Physical Therapy office to make my next wave of appointments. I was instructed my Rx for therapy had expired. Made the appointments anyway, with the promise to follow up with the Rx.
10. Called my Ortho. Dr. to get a new Rx sent to me.
11. Called my Primary Care Physician to get a new referral for the Physical Therapy that the Ortho Dr prescribed. Yes, I am changing insurance companies for next year.
12. Called my cat sitter to leave a message asking if she got my last message.
13. Called my Dentist to try and move my September appointment. Got voice jail. Gotta call them back.
14. Tried to start the Miata and it actually started, but since I was not going anywhere, I turned it back off. Called my mechanic and arranged to drop it off in the morning on my way to work, if it starts in the morning.
15. Divvied up the SU order and broke down the boxes. Cat is enjoying the new packing papers, and is currently nested into some of them.
16. Completed a deposit slip for all the checks from my last workshop in a valiant attempt to get them deposited with the bank. That will get mailed tomorrow.
17. Responded to an RSVP for a friend's wedding. Also being mailed tomorrow.
18. Took out two cards from my August & September stack o'cards to write belated b'day greetings for my customers' August birthdays (both last week...) Not done with them yet.
19. Cut off two slices of bread, slathered them with butter, and consumed them for sustenance.
20. Replaced ink cartridges in both printers.
21. Made up two new dividers for my market cards and printed them on one printer.
22. Tried to print off a Customer order from SU to include with her goods, but the ordering site was acting wonky, so I gave up.
23. Printed extra copies of the current SU sale brochure to include with the catalogs I'll sell the rest of this and next month, plus a few for the Ordering Station.
24. Unloaded the camera into The Big Computer because I was down to 6 pictures left on the memory card. Deleted all pics pre-August from the memory card.
25. Printed off the pics of all the cards I've made in August for my inventory book.
26. Laminated the two new dividers I'd just made and put them in my "for the market" file.
27. Started to place another Demo order, then stopped myself. I will wait for September 1st (one week from today) so I can combine it with my oh-my-gosh-I've-got-to-have-it-all Holiday Mini Catalog pre-order.
28. Decided that I needed to find a better way to store my PTI ribbons, so I re-wound them all onto clothes pins and will recycle all the cardboard spools.
29. Made an appointment with the condo association's exterminator for Thursday morning to get these pesky ants taken care of once and for all. The nice thing about getting sprayed for ants, is that it also serves to minimize the crickets, which are beginning to appear already. BTW, that's one reason I got the cat - to take care of the crickets. But I've found that as soon as they are disabled, she leaves them for me to dispose of. I guess they are no fun if they no longer move. Go figure.
30. Finished up my stack of 'feminine' birthday cards. More on that in a minute.

So far, that's it. It is now 5:45, and I am pooped. Hey, that's 30 things I've done today already, and I still plan to make dinner!

About those feminine birthday cards....Remember the Decade cards I made the other day? They drew some attention on Sunday, but the woman thought they looked too masculine. Now how many times do we hear that?! We card-makers usually have the opposite problem! So I did another Assembly Line and made some of the same layout, but I used the SU Afternoon Tea papers, and I made these (they are not as blurry as this photo IRL):

And here are all of the different versions I made:

Okay, maybe not 'feminine', but at least they are not 'masculine'.

Well, I'm off to make dinner, then hopefully I'll have time to stamp something!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Playing With PTI's Guide Lines Set

Last night I played with my PTI Guide Lines set, trying to see if I could stamp anything straight. I did the first time I used the set, but that could have been a fluke, ya know?

I've always liked light blue with black, so I used PTI's Aqua Mist with SU Basic Black. I started by stamping the grid image with Aqua Mist ink onto Aqua Mist card stock. I wanted the grid to be there, but not stand out. I was challenged to get the second stamping of the grid to line up with the first one, so I ended up stamping a lot of them, then cutting them down into usable pieces.

After I stamped the grids, I went back and stamped one image inside all the squares with the same Aqua Mist color, then I stamped another image in black on the actual grid lines. This is what I'm talking about:

If you look closely at the image above, you can barely see the grid and images stamped in the squares of the grid, and how I lined up the black image on the lines.

I salvaged as much of the stamped grid as I could, then I mixed it up a bit with different black images. This set is a lot of fun to play with! Here are the cards that I made with the various stamped images I chose:

I think I like that last one the best. Maybe it's just a more subtle black image...

When I got home from today's market, I wanted to get these cards off my work space so I could move on to all the cards some people requested I try and make. I always look forward to the suggestions, as it gives me some direction and helps me focus on what to do next. Input - a good thing! Anyway, in an effort to finish these guys, I opted to use my Nestabilities and make oval sentiments to offset all the Square going on.

See that image stamped in black on the last card? I stamped it in the Aqua Mist on White, then stamped the sentiment over it. THEN I used the Nesties to cut them out. You can barely see the color under the sentiment, but I think it looks better than just plain white.

I have a lot of ideas floating in my head, and I have tomorrow off (yay!), so I hope to sleep past 7 am, and then find some time to stamp so I can get the ideas onto card stock. Aaaaand, my order of new SU stuff arrives tomorrow. Double-yay! :-)

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Market Update

Today was a record day for me! 'Record' in that for the first time in 5 years I sold zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Bupkes. Double zeros. N-O-T-H-I-N-G! But I did spend some money buying breakfast from the Bread People...almond croissant, cheese roll, cookies - you know: breakfast. So technically, I spent more than I took in, which makes me a L-O-S-E-R, so I made this when I got home:

Hey, if I didn't make fun of it, I'd be depressed, so I opted to have some fun. We decided the market over-all was slow since this is the last weekend before school starts, so everyone is either at the beach or buying school supplies. At least that's what we decided to believe.

Another thing about our market: it is truly International. We took some time last week to examine the participants as far as background, etc., and we have the following countries represented: China (2), Jordan, Thailand, Palestine and Mexico. And a new vendor that started this week is Greek. The rest of us are Mutts. Now, if WE can all get along, what's wrong with the rest of the world, hmmm? Think about it!

The Dahlia Guy is taking some time off to do some shows, so these are the last flowers we'll see until October. Please click on the photos for a more impressive version ... I shrink these guys so they upload in my lifetime, and something gets lost when they are scaled down:

That's all for today. I am playing with my PTI Guide Lines set to see what I can get it to do for me. And I may have to take a nap to rest up for the Olympics, which are on way past my bed time. :-)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Card Assembly Line 101

Since most of you are normal (that is: not like me) and make one or two cards at a time, I thought I'd show you what an assembly line of card-making looks like.

I generally make only two or three of any card I think up. But when you get as low as I am with my Birthday Card inventory, and when I get a hair-brained idea to make Decade cards (I have done this in the past, so this is not the first time this has happened...just a different design), the whole thing becomes an all-consuming event. Luckily for me, the Analyst part of my brain surfaces and organizes the creative side, which is where the whole assembly line thing comes in to play. It is the only way I can do this without my head exploding, and heaven knows it is already enough of a mess in here without that happening.

So here we go. First, I stamped the better part of two sheets of Whisper White card stock with the Big Deal numbers in Elegant Eggplant Craft ink. I did six of each number, except I did more 5's and a lot more 0's. After each six stamped numbers I'd apply clear EP. After all the numbers were stamped, I heat-embossed both sheets, then cut apart all the numbers and tossed them into little piles.

Here's the little piles o'numbers. When I made my mock-up the other night, I'd discovered the zero was easily punched with the 1/2" circle in the middle and the 1" circle on the outside. Too easy! I was inspired by this success, and suffering from extreme fatigue due to major sleep-deprivation because the Olympics have been on all week and I've been staying up past my bed time, I looked for ways to not have to cut out all these numbers tonight. Desperation: The Mother of Invention. I figured out I could punch out most of these with the various SU circle punches, leaving very little cutting! Yay!

The center of the 6's and 9's (same stamp!) were punched with the 1/2" circle.

I used the 1/2" circle and the 1/4" circle on the 3's.

For the 5's I got even more creative...using the 1/2" punch for the bottom part and the 1/8" punch for the top. This totally eliminated any tight corners to cut, as I just had to cut up to the punched-out part, making these a breeze to trim.

And here we have the 8's... 1/2" circle punch in the bottom and 1/4" circle punch on the top. Too easy!

I went back later and used the 1/2" circle punch on the 2's (no picture), but afterwards I decided it was a little too big. They're passable, but maybe next time I'll just bite that bullet and trim the 2's by hand.

The only real trimming I had to do with an Exacto knife was with the middle of the 4's.

Once I finished the numbers, I cut the Mustard dotted papers with a scallop Nestie square die, stuck them on to scraps of Whisper White and cut them all out real close.

I cut out 12 pieces of 2 3/4" x 2 3/4" Mellow Moss squares, then punched them with the SU Scalloped Edge punch. Yep, that's 12 pieces x 4 punches each, which is 48 punches. My hand and fingers got reeeeeal tired.

Then I stuck the punched green squares on to Perfect Plum and cut them all out, followed by cutting some More Mustard DS paper into 5 1/4" x 4" pieces. Lastly, in the cutting phase, anyway, I cut the Whisper White bases and scored them on the Scor-Pal.

Here we have all the parts-is-parts for twelve cards:

I started by attaching the Mustard-on-white scallop squares to the green & purple layers. Then I marked and punched all the corners and put in all the brads:

Next I attached the Mustard DS paper to the front of each Whisper White card base, but I did not fold the cards until I was all done. I've found it much easier to stamp the sentiment when the card is not popping up to meet the stamp (!), and it's also easier to stamp my copyright stamp and my Web site stamp on the back.

Next, I stuck the purple & green layers onto all the card bases, and then I stamped the sentiment on the fronts and copyright on the backs of all of them using Elegant Eggplant Classic Ink. The last thing I did was stick on the numbers. I put numbers on nine of the twelve cards, leaving three of them nekked for customizing. Then I folded them on my pre-scored lines (love that Scor-Pal!)

And here we have all the little soldiers:

You can see I chose to go totally crazy-wild and I turned over a few of the double-sided Mustard DS paper pieces so I had a variety of patterns for the backgrounds. And one lucky 40-year-old will get one with swirls.

I put all these guys with envelopes into clear sleeves, stuck on an inventory number, and called it a night.

That's it! That's how I do the whole assembly-line thing when I decide to make a lot of one card. Except for these Decade Birthday cards, or my Holiday cards, though, it rarely gets this intense. Hey, my whacko brain has too short of an attention span to do this sort of thing more than once or twice a year, which is why I opted to chronicle it while it was happening.

Well, it is many hours past my bed time, but the Olympics are on, and I love the Diving and the Track & Field, so I am doomed to be sleep-deprived for another day or so. Hopefully my markets will go well this weekend, or I'll be sleeping in my soup! I'll report back later this weekend on how things go. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Organization Has Begun!

My heartfelt thanks go out to all of you dear readers who have adopted some of my card stock scraps! They were neglected and shunned here, so I hope they will get much more attention in their new homes.

As promised, here is a progress report ... the evidence: a half-emptied shelf!

YAY! Woo-Hoo! I have all the remaining colored scraps consolidated into three (3) boxes over there to the left, leaving enough room for me to tackle my PTI stash and finally put it on the shelf:

Here we have not only shaky red arrows, but those arrows point to two boxes on the left for card full and one, um, waiting for um, some more card stock that has just shipped.

The right-hand red arrow points to two Container Store boxes. The top one holds all my PTI stamp sets in their nifty, compact CD cases, and behind them are the 6x6 patterned paper packs. The bottom box holds the inks and ribbons. So organized! Sweet!

To the right of the newly-placed PTI storage boxes you can see the box that holds all my A Muse card stock hoard. I even have an idea that will use some of it, very soon!

Now, if I can rid myself of find a new home for a few more scraps, I'll have room for another one of those plastic boxes to hold my Verve sets, plus a few others. Baby steps, people, baby steps!!!

So come on over to the Great Scrap G-I-V-E-A-W-A-Y and adopt some of my remaining card stock scraps! I have a selection of most of the colors left (I think the purples are all gone, though). Think of them as lonely, potential layers looking for a loving home and you'll do fine.

For tonight's stamping effort, I'll make the remaining two bird cards I started last night, then I have a cool idea for another variation of my City Cards that involves stamping and cutting and bleach, but not a lot of coloring. Stay tuned to see how that turns out!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Copics Part 1, and More Scrap Cards

I have completed my first Copic controlled test, and I'd like to report on how it went. First, you must (MUST, MUST, MUST) remember that I am so far from knowing what I am doing, I qualify as 'inept'. I was not an art student; I needed help selecting the basic colors I wanted; I needed help to know what color 'shaded' the first list; I am largely clueless, most of the time; and I am a collector - I must have it all! With those going-in position disclaimers, you may continue reading at your own risk.

Here is one of my original City Card or Your Town Card images. The same one, in fact, I just copied from my store.

This is the one (and only) item I am currently willing to commit the time to make and sell online. Check out that coloring! This was done with SU Classic inks and blender pens. I'd start with the lightest color, do that color on all the cards, re-inking the blender pen a lot, then move on to the next color. I think it makes the buildings look aged.

This is a tried-and-true method, it works well for me, and it costs me nothing extra - I already have all the inks and blender pens! But up close, like in that photo, all the brushstrokes are front and center, and in your face. In real life, people do not have these so close to their eyeballs, and they look normal.

I thought I needed to explore an alternative coloring method if I wanted to sell any of these on the Web. I was also looking for an easier way to color them, as in 'no reinking for every other blender pen stroke.' I was also looking for a reason to purchase Copic markers. ;-) So I got only the colors I needed for this card and here is my first attempt using the Copics to color the image:

The red, green, and yellow buildings are shaded a la Crooked Stamper, meaning all I did was run a line of darker color down the left edge of the building, color the rest of the building with the lighter color, then lay a few more lines of the lighter color next to the dark line...basically darkening the ink alongside the single darker line to make the transition smoother. And if you followed any of that line of reasoning, you are a better man than I am.

Granted, the color I used instead of Burgundy is much lighter, and the Artichoke is more Olive, but getting past that (I ask you to do a lot of that here, don't I?) , I have made the following observations:

1) Copics go on a lot easier, with no need to re-ink.
2) I still get visable brush strokes with the Copics (check out the roofs) (rooves?).

3) Copics bleed through my SU Whisper White card stock. Here is the back side of one of the cards:

And it was worse when I tried using the Colorless blender Copic to try to 'erase' some of the color.
4) Some photos should never be enlarged.

So that's my first pass with Copics. I will probably pick up a different 'light' version of both the Artichoke and Burgundy so I can get the buildings closer to the color I'd like. I am far from ready to commit to a larger investment, at least not without some serious Copics training so I get a clue.

Moving on to something I'd like to think I am okay with: stamping! I have had this Verve set for a while now, and I felt it needed to see ink. I first stamped the birds on the remaining scrap of floral paper from yesterday's cards. I'd always thought it would be cool to do the whole reverse thing, so one bird's body has the pattern and the other bird's wing has the pattern. I stamped the birds again on some scraps of red I had left from my Brother's scrap book, and pieced the floral cut-out images over them.

Then I went in search of something to use as a background paper, and I thought the red in this dotted piece was pretty close. Plus, the reverse side of the dotted card stock was a very cool blue, and I just cut strips of it to use to border the dotted piece.

My struggles were (1) what to do with those birds!, and (2) ribbon. It's always about the ribbon. I tried the retired SU Cranberry Crisp ribbon first, thinking it was muted, like the paper. Eh? It's okay, but I think it is a little too busy with the stitching. I also added Stickles to the scallops, because I thought they looked plain, but afterwards I think this would have been better without Stickles.

Those darn birds still looked weird, so I rounded just the top corners, and it seemed better. Especially after I went back and rounded the corners of the card, too!

This next card is the same except for the choice of ribbon. I thought the glittery sheen of the ribbon was too much for the soft, muted tones in the card stock, but after the experience of the stitched Cranberry ribbon, I do like this one better.

Note: I was actually in search of the right blue ribbon, but alas, in my hoard of blue ribbons, not one was even close. Will it stop me from buying more? Probably not. But it does reinforce my love of all things SU and how easily things just work together.

That's all for tonight. And remember - there's lotsa scrap SU card stock left, looking for a good home. Check out my Great Scrap G-I-V-E-A-W-A-Y and let me know if you'd like any!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Just A Stamping Fool

Today is Monday, and the day I gave myself to catch up on life. No driving to work, no rules, no nothing. Well, except for the laundry that needs to get from the washer to the dryer. And the bathtub I cleaned before I got into the shower. And the veggies in my CSA share that I still have not triaged. But I DID make it to my pedicure appointment, only 1/2 hour late. Grrrr. I could have sworn it was set for 10:30, but alas, it was 10:00. I called to cancel the manicure part so I'd fit the services into the allotted (remaining) time. They were so nice when I got there! In fact, the woman doing the pedicure got one of her co-horts to do a quick-and-minimal manicure while I was in the chair. So there I sat, one person massaaaaaging my feet and calves while someone else massaaaaaged my forearms and hands, then trimmed up the cuticles on my fingers. Sweeeeet! And I've gotta get me one of those chairs! OMG! I can just see myself sitting at my Stamping Station with that constant "magic fingers" thing taking care of all the kinks in my back and shoulders.

Um, I think I need to get out more.....

I also stopped off at the PO on the way home and sent off the first wave of envelopes for those who have responded to my Great Scrap G-I-V-E-A-W-A-Y. It's not too late to play! I have plenty more scraps looking for a new home, so if you want them, please go to the above post and tell me what color you'd like. I have a LOT of the Blues and the Greens, plus loads of all the other colors, too. Speak up! There's organizing to be done once that shelf is scrap free!

So this morning, before I left for my appointment, I whipped out a bunch of these:

This is the result of me grabbing two pieces of patterned paper from one of my scrap piles and forcing myself to use them. I paired them with Wild Wasabi, and rummaged through my box of Pink ribbons in search of a color that would go with this paper and not be too pink. I found one, and I used it all. Gone!!!

In trying to economize with the ribbon (not something I am good at), I opted to stop 'tying' each piece on with a standard tied knot (like below) and I instead just stuck on a shorter piece of ribbon laid flat against the card stock, then tied a shorter piece of ribbon around it (like the one above). I call this a faux knot, and The Ladies love it! I'll have to remember to include this in next month's workshop.

I economized a lot, but not enough, and I ran out of ribbon with two cards left to go. Rats! So I took out these Cuttlebug dies and made a little thingy for the last two cards.

Not bad for a morning's labors! Oh, and in case you want a picture to show the next time you need to respond to that age-old question: "Mommy, where do scrap piles come from?", feel free to use this one:

Oh, it looks tame and harmless enough now, but give me two more weeks and it will become a veritable monster in need of much attention.

Moving on, I wanted to make more of my CRS cards, and also use the same image with another yet-to-see-ink sentiment I own. I grabbed this piece of patterned paper and got six 5 1/4" x 4" pieces out of it, so I made three each of the following cards:

The colors I chose to use with the paper are Close to Cocoa and Cranberry Crisp (ret.) You'll also notice I opted to not color in the image of the lady. I was being lazy, and I kinda like how it looks without color.

That's all for now. There's laundry to be done and veggies to be addressed. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Drowning My Sorrows, And Doin' Some Stampin'!

As beautiful as it was again today, the Market was ho-hum, though I did get the name of a potential new customer. Sales-wise, I was worried I would not even take in my booth fee, but in the end I made lunch money, and maybe gas money. So to drown my sorrows, I stopped at a Salon on the way home to try and get myself a pedicure, but they were booked solid, so I opted to make an appointment for tomorrow and go back. Hey, I'm worth it!

Also to further bum me out, my SU order is still in Closed status. To non-SU types, this means "we got your order, but we have not looked at it yet". Sigh. So I will not see that stuff for at least another week, and I must instead use what I have on hand. How sad. Actually, I have three of the new Simply Sent Kit Elements that I wanted to play with, so after Saturday's market I broke into one and started to play. When I get one of these kits, the first thing I do is make the cards they give you as examples. I made them, and I do not like them. Here are the two I made:

(Humor me and pretend that purple strip is actually stuck all the way on the card base, and that the circle image stamped in the Mustard circle is actually centered. Thank you.)

I mean, they are okay, but not something I'd normally make, and not something The Ladies would like (I don't think), so I set the stuff aside and started to think about what *I* could do with the materials provided. This is just like making a recipe for the first time according to the directions, then doing it 'better'.

I had seen a blog post somewhere (heaven knows I've tried to find it again!) where she ran a glue pen down the purple stripes in the patterned paper and glittered them up, and it was amazing! (If you know whose blog that is, please tell me so I can give proper credit!) So I took that idea and used a piece of the kit's paper to make another Celebrate card:

If you look closely (please see past that poorly-tied ribbon ...), you can see the four glittered stripes in the middle of the Mustard stripes. The Mustard ribbon is also from the kit, as is the textured Perfect Plum card stock. The overly-distressed star is from my bulk chipboard purchase from the last catalog round, the star rub-on is from my never-opened bulk rub-on purchase from the same bulk order, and the Mustard paper is from the package of More Mustard DS paper I got this time last year, opened and used maybe once.

Then today, since the Plum and Mustard papers and card stock were still out (of course!), I decided to try and accomplish many things with one card. I have always been an is a curse.

I wanted to (1) make some Birthday cards to fill the Big Empty in my market inventory; (2) make some age-specific Birthday Cards for at least the '0' years - 30, 40, 50, etc.; (3) try the very, very, cool thing done here with the new Scallop Punch, that I have been dying to try all week; and (4) mount at least one of the stamp sets sitting neglected on my coffee table. And this is what came out:

I started with the Mellow Moss layer, cut to the necessary 2 3/4" square (from a scrap laying next to my cutter, thank you very much), centered my long scallop punch over one of the sides, punched and then did the other three sides. This is so stinkin' easy, with such an amazing result, and if *I*, The Crooked Stamper, can pull it off, so can you! This technique has such a WOW factor, I am totally using it in my next workshop.

I layered the Moss layer on Perfect Plum since it was already out. Then since my order with my new scallop square punch is not here yet, I used a Nestability to cut the scallop square out of More Mustard patterned paper, because it was also still out. To give the Mustard scallop some contrast, I stuck it to a piece of white and trimmed it really close. I added the 4 brads that were left from the kit (just laying there... do you see a pattern here?), then in a fit of inspiration, I turned the green&purple layer on its ear and then stuck on the Mustard square. Sometimes shaking it up a bit is just what it needs to not be a typical Leslie card. If I'd let that baby square up, that would have been so predictable. Can you tell I live a really exciting life?

All along my plan was to stick some numbers in the middle of the Mustard square, so after I mounted the Big Deal Numbers, I spent quite a bit of time playing with inks to get them to emboss the way I wanted them to. I must have tried 3 or 4 different things before I broke out my Elegant Eggplant Craft Ink that I have not used in like forever, and after 6 stamped images, it actually took some embossing powder. I guess I should use those Craft Inks more often, huh? I chose the number 40 for no particular reason, but I did figure out that the center of the zero can be punched with the 1/2" circle punch, and the outside fits perfectly in the 1" circle punch. No cutting!!!! The 4 was pretty easy to cut out. I stuck the numbers on with Mini Glue Dots.

For my final trick, I found the purple Happy Birthday rub-on. For the rest of the cards I plan to make, I'll use a Birthday stamp.

And my evil plan? Yes, I have an Evil Plan! I cannot tell you how many times people ask for a birthday card for an age I do not have. Either it is a popular number (like 50), or something like 25 or 65, and one year there was even a request for 23, but honestly, I cannot please everyone, so I don't even try to. But The Evil Plan is to make the standard '0' years, and then make some with no year at all, and I'll have a bag of extra numbers and they can glue them on themselves. So whatdya think? Crazy? Crazy Good or Crazy Bad? Inquiring minds want to know!

That's all I have in me tonight. Tomorrow I have the day off to recover and do --- laundry, of course. And clean more veggies...and maybe cook some of them. And clean the bathroom. And the litter box. Oh, yeah, and do some stampin'!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Another Market Update

Today was a GLORious day at the Market. My, my, my, my. It was cool, the sky was blue, humidity was looooow, a nice breeze, and (the best yet) a constant, steady stream of people came through. And they were BUYING! It's what we call "hoppin'". Check it out:

People, big and small, strollers, dogs, bikes - it was wonderful! And people are in such good moods when it is this nice out, too. Although I must say most people who stop by are generally in good moods; I think it's a market thing. Have you ever noticed how people who frequent markets like this bring their own bags? Yeah, we do a lot of behavioral studies and people-watching. It can be very entertaining.

I got set up before 9:00 am, so I visited the Dahlia Guy and got my pick of fleurs. First I took a few photos in the glorious light:

I grabbed four of his larger blooms for my vase this time. I tried to take individual shots of them, but they came out awful, so here is the whole vase:

This was not a zoom. Each of these babies is over 9" across, I kid you not. I had so many people stop dead in their tracks and drop their jaws, that I started saying, "Yes, they are real. No, they do not smell. Yes, you can buy your own right over there." and I pointed to the Dahlia tent. Later in the day, the Dahlia Guy's wife (man, I wish I could remember her name ...) mentioned that people were whining that I'd bought all the good ones. Get here before 1:00, people!!! ;-) The photographer who sits beside me kept prompting me to sell mine for $5 a bloom and make a profit, which I, of course, refused to do. People would stop and stare, and I'd hear this whispering behind me: "Five dollars ... tell them five dollars..." It was pretty funny!

Also, among the many pooches visiting us today were these two beauties:

Both are Greyhound rescues, though the one in front is of the Spanish variety (yes, from Spain.) Not only are these the sweetest dogs known to mankind, what struck me about the female was her string of pearls. The guy said she is a real Mama's Girl. ;-)

I had another great sales day (woo-hoo!), and tomorrow is supposed to be as nice as today, so I hope to do well tomorrow, too. I have donated two packs of my City Cards to the Market as give-aways, so hopefully it will be good advertising. Also, the guy from the City is supposed to stop by and get two more card packs. I look forward to the hustle and bustle and the BBQ sandwich for lunch and the Italian Ice, too! I'll report back on how it all goes.

And don't forget about my Great Scrap G-I-V-E-A-W-A-Y! Help me clear off that shelf so I can get something else organized and put away!