Thursday, February 21, 2008

Spring me right 'round, baby

It's official...Spring is here in my little pocket of the world ^_^

That's one of the lil' plum trees in front of my home. This was taken a week ago, and now, the two trees look like they've been covered in pink popcorn, they are so full of blossoms! It's been raining consistently the past couple days, but it looks like the flowers are hanging in there =]

I'm definitely ready for Spring:

I love the little posey stamp (the one slathered in bronze ink, hehe) ^.^

I am deathly ill with the flu right now =[ I can barely read, because my eyes start burning almost immediately (is that from fatigue, or fever, or what? My eyes always bother me when I have the flu). I can barely walk, because I'm so dizzy and tired, and I'm so hungry, but it seems the only thing I can get down is chicken broth. Lucky for me, I love chicken broth (with a lil' fresh green onions....mmmm.....). Charlie brought me some Theraflu this morning (one of the few cold meds I can take), and I vomited quite promptly after sipping it. Wouldn't you know, they've changed their formula to make it "better tasting"; this means that aspartame is now the first ingredient on the list. Blech. I can NOT stomach artificial sweeteners.I tried to covered it up with some fresh honey, and fresh lemons harvested from my father-in-law's tree, but nothing can cover up that sickening Sweet n' Low taste >_<

I'm thinking of dropping off Swap-bot for a while. I have so much fun with the swaps, and I have learned a lot of new things there, but I've fallen behind on a handful of swaps already. I know most people there are understanding that sometimes life happens, but it seems to happen to me too much [imo], considering my post office closes earlier than most, and I'm frequently (and without warning) being called into work...and now I'm sick. There have been a couple times that I was a day late sending my swaps because my dear hubby had either taken the car to work, or taken the debit card to work (wouldn't be a problem, if he was actually ever in his office, and I could go pick it up). I have one swap now, which I actually only sent a couple days late, and my partner has informed me hasn't arrived yet. So, I had been working my butt off trying to get together the swaps I need to send out this week, as well as a replacement package for her - insert freaking-out-exhusband requiring an un-planned trip an hour north to pick up my kids, an injured co-worker, needing me to open the bar for a couple hours so that she can see the doctor, scrambling to find a sitter, since I had to pick up the kids almost an entire day early, and then the flu, bringing it's mighty hammer of injustice down upon our household.....*sigh.....I'm not even sure where I am at anymore. Needless to say, I will likely be sending several replacement packages to this woman, for her patience!

Idk, maybe I should learn how to say, "No." But, then, would I have said no to my kids? Or to my job, when it really was an unavoidable emergency?

I should have shouted, "NO!" to the flu, methinks -_-

Monday, February 18, 2008

Scratch, hold the chicken

I've spent the majority of the day in my pjs, cuddled up with my honey, watching movies. It has been fantastic. However, I'm on this cooking kick: 30 new recipes in 30 days. I really love to cook, doncha know. I realized that I was rut-bound, though, and I have been gloriously inspired by Smitten Kitchen. Last night, I made a yummy pasta dish, and we polished off the leftovers this afternoon (actually eating leftovers is a rarity in this house).

I had intended to make Shrimp Tetrazzini tonight. After last night's mania, however, I just didn't have it in me. So, I jumped on this lovely chocolate pudding recipe, from Smitten Kitchen.

This recipe is so quick, and easy! 20 minutes to smooth, creamy, chocolatey yum ^_^

Not that I'm considering buying a double boiler anytime soon, but this bowl-on-pot contraption was a pain in the ass. The steam from below the bowl causes an air-hockey effect, making the bowl tip and slide around anytime I touch it. It wasn't too bad, though, and I will definitely make this again.

I'm going to futz round with it, and see if I can't come up with a good diabetes-friendly version, as this doesn't have an obscene amount of sugar in it to begin with. I'd also like to try to incorporate peanut butter, or maybe marshmallows. Like I said, I love to cook, but I've led a very sheltered cooking life, so I'm not exactly sure what I am doing most of the time ;)

Weekend in Review

We went to see The Spiderwick Chronicles. It was good, but it could have been much better. The whole damn movie was about an evil ogre trying to steal The Spiderwick Chronicles, which was the life work of Arthur Spiderwick, who had discovered The Secrets of the un-seen fantasy world: fairies, goblins, HOG-goblins, etc...It was full of action, and my 5yr old daughter spent the majority of the movie cowering in my lap, begging me to cover her eyes, while she plugged her ears X] She claims to have liked the movie, though *shrug* My 7yr old son LOVED it. I only wish they had spent a little time talking about The Secrets, or the contents of The Spiderwick Chronicles. The movie is based on a series of books; I will definitely be buying them now.

We went to Alameda (that's an island off San Francisco, for you non-Californians) to visit my father-in-law, and his new baby. We went to a farmer's market, and feasted on whole-wheat banana muffins with fresh honey, fresh strawberries as big as a baseball, and the sweetest mandarin oranges I have ever tasted. Good times.

I made some fabulous pasta for dinner. Srsly, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of sliced mushrooms, and a can of green chilies, with a half pound of ground beef, some celery, onions, and zucchini, over spirally noodles ^_^ Try it, it's fantastic!

Sunday night:
We decided to check out a bar down the street that we've never been to. We learned how to play shuffle board, and played all night long (I won every game, ftr). An improbably attractive couple from San Fran came in, and we [kinda] taught them how to play, and we played boys against girls for a while. The boys lost. They lost hard X] Anyway, we totally hit it off with this couple, and ended up taking them home (to their hotel, not to our home). We traded contact info, and invited them for bloody marys, and some air hockey at the Boardwalk, but after a couple one-eyed-focusing text messages later, I think they are too hungover to want to do anything [with us] today. No0bs ;) I prefer the hungover excuse to "D0od, we're sober now, we don't wanna hang out with you." lol

This morning, I found my clothes from last night spread flat on the kitchen floor, completely covered in salt. My nice white sofa is a lovely shade of pink. And there were several Google searches for bus schedules on my desktop. My husband has filled in some blanks: he was making me Cosmos (lemon vodka martini with some cranberry juice), and I was having issues keeping my martini glass steady. He used salt to clean the cranberry juice from my sweater & jeans. We got into a fight because I mentioned suicide at the thought of not being able to have children any longer (I am not suicidal, I was drunk, damnit). I attempted to leave the house, to go somewhere, and he hid my keys in the microwave, hence the Google searches.

At least he was kind enough to offer to pay for my bus ticket.

For the record, I do not drink like that very often [anymore]. We have the kids for all of the next week, and very hectic work schedules, so this was kind of a last hurrah for us. After the drama last night, and this everlasting headache, I have determined that drinking excessively is not as cool as it used to be ;)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

This is...what makes me laugh out loud.

I know, I trendy, so mindless...but ohmy how I love those goofy animal macros. I Can Has Cheezburger is my sanity X]

This is...what makes me laugh:

Monday, February 11, 2008

This is.........late -_-

Yeah, yeah, I'm supposed to post my "This is..." photo on Sunday, but I was SO busy! We spent all day cleaning house, and, to be honest, I'm still not comfortable having anyone over. It's going to take several days of laundry to catch up ;_;

So, as far as This is...Sunday lunch, I got nothing. Because I did not eat lunch on Sunday! Dinner, however, was phenomenal. I really believe that one of the major factors in the ongoing awesomeness of my marriage is that we take the time to cook a meal together at least once a week. Sunday night, we had bbq porterhouse steak, with basil, oregano, marjoram, paprika, and...hell ,idk, he did the bbq part, lol. I made mashed taters from scratch, and steamed some fresh asparagus. Hubby made an awesome sauce for the asparagus with lemon juice, mayo, and some herbs. It was outstanding! Too bad I had left my camera elsewhere =[

In other news...I've been working on several things for my Etsy shop. No, there is nothing there right now, but I have several stamps in the works, and softies. I'm having an issue coming up with a name or theme for my shop. I suppose I should have worked that out before setting it up ~.^ Idk, I had a dream that I opened an Etsy shop, so when I woke, I just kinda did it. I did pretty well with Hippobottomus (cloth diaper and infant clothing biz I had a few years ago), maybe I'll dig up those patterns, and start making the HippoToes (booties), and HippoEars (hats) again.

I'm mentally stuck on a pig with wings as my Etsy mascot. Psychoanalysis not too difficult for that one ;)

I'm also working on a stamp for my mom, and something for my grandmother's birthday, which is at the end of this month. Oh, and I have dipped my toes into decorated matchboxes. I figured I might as well, it's about the only thing I haven't tried =X

Sunday, February 03, 2008


I'm shaking my head...I'm shaking my head at you, Patriots.

Ooooh, New York, you picked a fabulous time to start playing like...oh...professional athletes O_o

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Carvina O'Carver

A whole post about carving eraser stamps?! Who'da guessed? ;)

I started carving eraser stamps back in November 2007. Ages ago, I know. Anyway, I've been keeping track of little tips and tricks as I have learned and failed, succeeded and repeated. I've also got a bunch of links, helpful to anyone that might be starting out, or thinking about starting out =]

Dive, dive! Don't worry if you don't know what the hell I'm talking about; I have links to all the tools and materials referenced later in the post.
-Pink erasers (Pink Pearl, Pink Pet, etc) are a pain in the ass. I've come across at least one tutorial online recommending these erasers. I started with them, and I was pleased with my stamps alright. Then I tried the more popular Staedtler Mars erasers, and my whole world changed! I could carve stamps so incredibly faster, and easier! The pink erasers are much harder, and the rubber tends to break, or gouge, rather than carving away cleanly. Some say that the harder pink rubber allows for finer detail; I assume now that I'm just not at that level of carving...yet.

-Xacto knives work just fine. Everything I read talked about linoleum cutters (linocutters), which are used to carve linoleum for block printing. I've recently been gifted a linocutter, and yes, they are faster, but I still revert back to my trusty Xacto knife for small areas, and most detail. I just feel I have better control with an Xacto knife. Maybe personal preference *shrug*

-Get yourself a nice soft, or extra black, pencil. If you don't know where or how to find one, walk into an art supply store, and ask. These transfer much easier.

-Carve deeper than you think you need to. I have seen such nice stamps, that look almost as pretty just as they are, as the prints they make. However, I have found that when you turn a stamp and press it down to make a print, the rubber compressed more than I expected it to. So, I have to carve deeper, so that the "background", or excess, area of the stamp doesn't pick up ink, and print.
-Turn your eraser! When you are carving around curves, it is imperative that you turn the eraser, rather than your wrist, and/or knife. You'll get much smoother curves this way. I've still not mastered perfectly smooth curves, but I'm getting closer!

-Less is more. You can always take more rubber off, but you can't put it back on. Test your carving out often, to see what still needs to be carved away. This also has the added benefit of coloring the raised areas, which oftentimes makes it easier to see what you need to take off.

-Take your time. After I had carved a few stamps, I was feeling quite confident, and I got excited, and I wanted to make MORE MORE MORE! So, I was carving quicker, and quicker, and my stamps were looking worse and worse >_< Take your time! If you are carving a stamp, chances are you intend to use the image more than once; take time to make it a nice one.

-Take advantage of your access to thousands of royalty-free images! There is this little stamp I have been trying to design. A simple little pie. Sounds easy enough; I am an artist, afterall! Well, this stupid little pie has given me so much trouble! I can't get it to look like I want it! After a few minutes of internet-lovin', I found: .
Pie! And it's free for use (non-commercial only). Print it out, or trace it directly from the computer screen, and there's a nice little pie ready to bee transferred and carved =]

-Don't be afraid to try new things. Erasers are cheap, yo! If you can't draw, if you can't think of anything to carve, just kinda....DO. Doodle. Hell, get out an eraser and a knife, and carve a freeform swirly shape, or flower. Often the coolest stamps are rough, raggedy, or random =]

-Carve on a piece of scrap paper, or notebook. It's much easier to pick up and dump the shavings off a scrap, than to try to sweep them up off a counter or tabletop.

-Keep a journal. I don't care if you've never kept a journal before. I don't even care if you don't know how to write! Find yourself a blank notebook of SOME form or another, and use it to sketch designs, and make test prints. It can be very inspiring to see how far you have come in carving. It also helps to inspire me when I get the itch to carve, and I'm not sure what I want, or need.

-Keep your stamps clean, for goodness sake! They take a lot of love and effort, so take care of them! When I am done using a stamp, or carving it, I put a little liquid soap in my palm, wet the stamp under running water, and I rub the stamp in my soapy palm. Rinse, pat dry, store.

-Speaking of storing, I have heard bad things about storing rubber stamps in airtight plastic containers. I haven't tried it, personally, so I can't speak on that. I store my stamps in an empty cigar box. It's a good size, a good shape, and it keeps my stamps out of dust & light, while still letting the rubber breathe. I happen to work in a bar, where I have access to plenty of people who smoke cigars, and give me their boxes. If you have access to cigar boxes, by all means (they are fun to decorate, too ;). Otherwise, they have those paper mache photo boxes they sell at every craft store would work just as well. I don't like to stack my stamps up; it just feels like it would be bad for them =X

-Oh, yeah, you can carve a stamp image on both sides of an eraser, if you so wish. Just make sure not to cut all the way through to the other side ;)

That's all I've got for things I've learned, or "If I knew then what I know now...".

Yay, shopping! I'm not affiliated with these websites, nor have I ordered from them. I simply used them as references for the things I am mentioning. All the tools and materials I use have been found at local art supply stores - not to be confused with craft stores - the Xacto knife eis the only item on this list I have found at a craft store.

Magic Rub erasers: These are okay, they are cheap, and you can find them pretty much anywhere. They tend to have a lot of bubbles and blemishes in them, and the rubber seems to kind of stick to my knife, making smooth curves difficult. Fine for more geometric, straight-line type designs, though.

Staedtler Mars erasers: These carve so nicely, so smooth, and easy. They have a the major drawback of being very small, though =/ Worse yet, they have a raised design on them, which has to be rubbed off before carving (see my sad penguin to see what happens when you don't take the time to remove the raised design, lol). I bought mine at Staples (office supply store).

Alvin Jumbo White Plastic erasers: These are large, carve very easily, have no raised design...almost perfect! Except that they cost $2 apiece, which is pretty steep for as many stamps as I have been carving. I found them at an art supply store.

Staedtler Mastercarve: big, smooth, practically perfect! Hard to find in the real world, easy to find online. I found mine at a [different] art supply store, one that had a lot of block printing materials.

Speedball Linoleum Cutter: Neat little cutting tool. Makes carving considerably faster, but I find it difficult to use in tight areas, especially curves. The larger handle on this tool allows me to carve for longer periods of time before my wrists start hurting. I found mine at an art supply store, one that had a lot of block printing materials.

Xacto knife: This link goes to the knife and blade that I prefer. I have tried other shaped blades; this one seems to be the easiest to control. I couldn't carve without this guy! Hell, I couldn't do half the art-ing and crafting that I do without this guy ;) I picked one up for about $3 at Beverly's (run-on-the-mill craft store).

Ink pads and paper can be found pretty much anywhere...

Oooh, linkage!
Carving tutorial: There are many. This is my favorite.
Another tutorial: This one is nice, as well.
Tutorial on Flickr: mostly pictures, but shows a linoleum cutter in use.
Very very nice tutorial, with a ton of pics!: There is a link that says, "Labels: handcarvedstampstutorial," there at the bottom of this page. Click that to go to Part 2, and so forth. This tute is well thought out, and well executed.
Carve your stamps!: thousands of photos of hand carved stamps, on Flickr.
Stamp your art out: many photos of different things carvers have made with their stamps, also on Flickr.
Clipart: some simple designs, in case you needed an extra nudge! Remember to read the rules of use at the bottom of the page. These are not to be used for any commercial purposes! (again, not affiliated, but I'm a stickler for artists respecting each others' work).

Now that that's over with (for now....), I'm off to research linoleum carving. Because it looks cool. And that's just what I do ;) If you try your hand at carving rubber stamps, please send me a picture, or a link to a picture! I am still new to this, and I love seeing what others have done/are doing! Also, don't hesitate to message me with any questions, frustrations, or advice! =]

One for the road

Blah, I don't even wanna go to work today. hiss is the first day at this job where I really just want to stay home and bum around ~.^ I'm sure I'll have fun when I get there. You know, being a bartender would be fantastic if I could drink is wonderful!

Here are a couple of stamps I've carved recently:

A lil' quail, and my hand-written name =]

I've thrown together the blog for hubby's booze-making: Buck's Bloody. There's nothing there just yet, but there will be later tonight!

...and the Daddy Tomato says:


Two swaps:

Pink & Lime, and Hearts

Cute lil' pincushions!
I'm getting better at these! They go together quickly, I love making 'em! These were made from two 3 3/8in squares (each) of wool felt, hand-sewn with 3 strands of embroidery floss. I still have a way to go on my blanketstitch. Especially starting a new length of thread in the middle of a project =X
These are both on their way to their new homes ^_^

A whole mess of ATCs:

They click through to the larger images in my Flickr set, where there are also closer-upper shots of some of these cards.
You know, I have a mild hatred of Hello Kitty (check it: Goodbye Kitty)...but the Sanrio-themed card I made was refreshing! I rarely work with pastels; I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I enjoyed working with shiny happy colors ;)

My son has been doing extremely well in school the past two weeks! We're taking him to the arcade tomorrow to celebrate =]

My daughter hasn't been feeling well. She was up at midnight barfing...and it was bad barf, like...she had corndogs for dinner =X Ewwwwwwwwwww.

My husband has started his first batch of wine! I requested apricot wine, and he obliged. I'm taking pictures, and will be making a blog to document his booze habit hobby ;) I'll be back with a link soon!

I have to work today. It's the first day of the drink price increases, so it should be a pain in the ass interesting! Oh, but....I got a raise two weeks ago, so the paycheck I'm picking up today should be a lil' fatter ^_^

I've started drinking coffee in the mornings again. We do not have a coffee pot; we have a stovetop espresso maker. It's nice to be a little closer to human in the mornings, lol ;)