Friday, November 17, 2017

Not Seven, Not Ten

When I was at OnStage I got an email that my debit card had been compromised. It's pretty routine now, and for a moment, as I was telling some friends about it, I didn't think much of it - which made me then ponder something I see a lot online - an imperceptible creep towards a tolerance for perceived "victimless" thefts like these.

Many years ago I went to go see The Kite Runner, by myself.

I had listened to the audiobook, which was nearly more than I could take, so I am not really sure why I went to see the movie, but I did. By myself, in the middle of the afternoon. And I'm glad I saw it alone, because it was heartbreaking and I don't think I could have handled company.

But there was what I call a Milan Kundera moment in both the book and the movie that was magnificent. And that was the author's idea that there is only one sin. Not ten. Not seven. Just one.

And I truly believe this.

Here's how it's said in the book:

"...there is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. When you kill a man, you steal a life... you steal his wife's right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness... there is no act more wretched than stealing." 
                                                                        ~Khaled Hosseini

I love that. I believe that with all my heart. We shouldn't become numb to the even a hint of this particular transgression, because at the end of the day - it's the only one.

At my fall retreat, my friend Holly had really enjoyed a product that we were using in class - the Dina Wakely Scribble sticks. Holly is the most generous, kind person you'd ever want to meet, and has done so much for me, and so many things to help me with my retreats, that I wanted to gift her the Scribble Sticks. I walked over - and mind you - there is complete and utter chaos at all of our workstations at retreat - and I put a tin of them on top of one of her piles. I never said anything to her and promptly forgot all about it.

The following week, she emails me in a panic - apologizing and telling me she must have packed up a box of the sticks by accident and could she mail them back to me? I told her they were a gift, and you'd have thought I'd given her the Hope diamond.

I love people like Holly.

There's no such thing as a victimless theft. If you can be anything - don't be Batman, be Holly. :)

Speaking of retreats, at my mini-retreat in Salt Lake, we did lots of fun projects. One of them required creating eight masks for the little bear in Pieces & Patterns. We masked off some stamped bears with my favorite masking paper and then did some inking techniques. When I was prepping for retreat, I noticed how cute and colorful the masks were all lined up on my desk. So since the theme for this particular class was how to stretch your stamps, I thought I'd incorporate the masks into a second card. I don't think I've ever made a mask part of a card design before, but I hope you agree, these funky little bears deserved to be on one. I discovered that exactly eight of them fit around the round sentiment in the set too. To align them, I put them at 12 and 6, then 3 and 9 and then the last four were easy. Hello there, bears!

Pieces & Patterns Clear-Mount Stamp...
[ SUP ]
Smoky Slate Classic Stampin' Pad...
[ SUP ]
Avery Self-Adhesive Removable Laser...
KAI Scissors
[ SBC ]
MISTI Stamping Tool
[ MSW | SSS | ELH | SBC ]
Whisper White Cardstock - Thick
[ SUP ]
Rotatrim Professional Series Cutter
Absorber - Synthetic Cleaning Cloth
Multipurpose Liquid Glue by Stampin' Up!
[ SUP ]
Dina Wakley Ranger SCRIBBLE STICKS...

A few things on my desk and in my head this week I thought I'd tell you about. First - I'm listening to the audiobook version of The Martian, and it's excellent.

Second - appetizer recipes, as I prep for my Customer Appreciation holiday party. This year I need to triple my cheeseball output because these vanished inside of ten minutes. The other two recipes in this post are outstanding as well. If you have a favorite holiday appetizer recipe - leave it in the comments!

Third - this Pinterest board, for when my brain needs a break.

Fourth, this stamp set, which is my next online class - it will be up by Monday.

Fifth - this locally produced brown butter ghee - OH EM GHEE.

I can't believe next week is Thanksgiving. I need a month credited to my account this fall, I swear.

I hope you have an awesome weekend.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

You're So Extra

Between Falliday Fest and OnStage, there was such a brief period of time for me to do any crafting, that I was dying to just sit down and color something after I got home, and I had my eye on one of the host sets from the catalog that we'd been able to preorder - Cozy Cottage. It was crying out for my Polychromos, so I took my lunch hour yesterday and just gave in.

All week I kept asking people why they were so extra, so I thought this card would be the perfect tribute to all my extra friends here on my blog.
Cozy Cottage by Understand Blue
Cozy Cottage Host Set - Avail Jan 3rd
[ SUP ]
Smoky Slate Classic Stampin' Pad...
[ SUP ]
Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils and...
Artist's Choice 110lb White Card Stock
[ GNK ]
Smoky Slate 8-1/2" X 11" Cardstock by...
[ SUP ]
Whisper White Cardstock - Thick
[ SUP ]
MISTI Stamping Tool
[ MSW | SSS | ELH | SBC ]
Rotatrim Professional Series Cutter -...
Ipoint Orbit Pencil Sharpener, Turquoise
Absorber - Synthetic Cleaning Cloth
Multipurpose Liquid Glue by Stampin' Up!
[ SUP ]
I wanted to soften the lines of the stamp image a bit, so I decided on no-line coloring.

I started by stamping the image in Smoky Slate onto some Artist's Choice cardstock from Gina K. I got to test this cardstock at a retreat last month and I fell hard for it. It has just enough tooth for colored pencils - which is really something she's an expert at, and I'm a tiny grasshopper at. So I was excited to find out that I loved the way my pencils worked on this paper. It's also a good alcohol marker paper. I haven't tried that myself yet, but if there's one person you can trust on the subject of paper, it's most definitely Gina.

Then I just selected some colors I thought would be harmonious - warm greys for the stone, and warm reds and browns for what looks like a thatch roof on the cottage. The only cool colors I chose are in the sky and on the mountains.

FYI for color geeks like me - the Prussian Blue in this set, which I used on the mountains, is SPOT ON and very vivid and beautiful. I actually had to tone it down with cool greys, because it's a very saturated color.

The colors I used (which you can buy in open stock at Blick) are as follows: Cadmium Yellow Lemon, Earth Green, Earth Green Yellowish, Chromium Green Opaque, Prussian Blue, Sky Blue, Brown Ochre, Terra Cotta, Burnt Siena, Burnt Umber, Warm Grey II, Warm Grey IV, Warm Grey VI, Cold Grey II, Cold Grey IV.

The other thing Gina got me addicted to at retreat was her pencil sharpener. I have hated all pencil sharpeners before this one and I am now in love. What's cool about it is that it has an auto-stop, so it's won't over-sharpen, but it gives you that tiny fine point you need for the rock shadows, the birds and the grass above. Life is too short for dull pencils. I'm so mad I didn't know there was a turquoise one!

So then I matted the image with Smoky Slate and put it on a Whisper White card base and called it a lunch hour. Not a bad way to do lunch!

A few things to note before you go!

  • Sign up to receive an Occasions catalog here.
  • Sign up for my RAK database to receive random gifts here
  • See all my online classes (Occasions classes coming soon) here
  • Sign up for my November Arkon giveaway here. You get extra entries for every order in my store, every purchase of an online class. You can always get 20% off at Arkon with my coupon code below.
  • Online Extravaganza is coming! From November 20-26, select products on sale for up to 40% off! On November 20th, there's an exclusive sale for select stamp sets for 20% off. Shop here, and if you use host code Y3YE2BS9 during November, you will be entered to win Occasions catalog product! 


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

That's Not Normal - You Have a Gift

Well, I'm home. :)

I spent an amazing week at OnStage in Salt Lake. The weather was beautiful, despite my fears about needing actual shoes or a jacket. I needed neither. The high desert is stunning in the fall, and last week was no exception.

If only I didn't have to leave my friends, all the things would be perfect.

My friend Brian said to me when we were lamenting having to all say goodbye to each other: "I don't understand how you do your retreats and then have to say goodbye to all those people."

Well I don't either.

Honestly - it just stinks. I hate it.

But today I will try to take Lyle Lovett's advice and not cry about the leavin' - and share some of our fun.

Here's a pic of Brian and Melissa and I in the Product Spotlight. We are all cut from the same cloth. Ridiculously mischievous. Also none of us are looking at the same place on my phone. Give us a break - we had like 15 hours of sleep the entire week.

In my hotel, there was a magnetic scrabble board near the lobby, so we had some fun with that. 

That's Brenda Quintana, Dana Keith, me, Melanie Hopes and Ellie Wilkins.

We had a blast at my mini retreat the day before OnStage.

Here are some shenanigans with my sweet friend Trevor Snyder who works at SU. We had numerous ridiculous pictures at the info booth. I'm not sure why Chad is so mad at Trevor's phone here, but he's clearly upset.

This is most definitely not the most important part of the week, but I am proud of it. I am in the top 250 of the worldwide achievers - so out of the 49,000 global demonstrators, I was ranked at 160. That's super fun. And in the US, I'm #82. And I always have to remind people - this is not my full time job. I work full time for Splitcoast, and truly consider myself a successful hobby demonstrator, so this recognition means a lot to me.

And at the CentreStage event, we had the pleasure of hearing Jason Hewlett entertain us, and then he was our keynote speaker at CentreStage Leadership. He was absolutely amazing. He was hilarious, a fantastic singer, but mostly I loved his messaging. At the leadership lunch he said a few incredible things that stuck with me. 

As you know, I'm on a mission to eliminate cell phone zombies. A story he told really went right to the heart of the zombie issue. He said he took his son to McDonald's to play on the playscape. His son went up to the slide, said "watch Daddy" and slid down. Then he went up again, said "watch Daddy" and slid down again. After a few times, Jason took out his phone and started to post on Facebook - "I'm here on a father son playdate..." and stopped. He said he suddenly realized how terrible that was and that he was not being present, but instead creating content for other people. He said he immediately deleted the Facebook app, and that it changed his life. He urged everyone in the audience to just actually show up for real life and stop living life on the phone. I could not agree more. I've been in situations where people are just completely silent with me while they look at, laugh at, stare at their phones, and it's sad and unnerving. I worry about people I see on my walks who have no clue about what is happening around them because they are captivated by their phones. I didn't grow up with a television, so that whole screen thing is more foreign to me than to most people my age, but still, most people I know are just oblivious of anything outside their phones, and I'd like that to change. I loved every moment this week with real people - and I have very few pictures to show for it, and I am happy that I didn't lose time to Facebook or Instagram. I was just there, and it was awesome. It was 100% fine to upload my photos in my downtime alone in my hotel room and not be glued to my phone while some of the most hilarious people you'll ever meet were inches from me.

But the other part of his message was even better. He has a very unique - (I need a word here that means gift, talent, oddity - all wrapped up in one) - thing - that I won't spoil for you - but it's something that made him seem less (or more) than average as a child. Who can't relate to that? 

The thing that made him different became the reason he has a wildly successful calling, and it's the reason he was our keynote. Had that thing about him been the thing that beat down his spirit, the world would definitely have not had the bright spot that is Jason Hewlett. Thankfully, he had a person or two who was open-minded enough to know that that thing was a huge gift. 

On the last day, during the keynote, he said something I will never forget - something one of these special people said to him...

that's not normal. you have a gift.

That might be the best seven words in the English language. 

Whatever it is that makes you not normal - that is most definitely your gift. Embrace that. Wear it like a satin jacket at a skating rink. 

Thankfully, I was raised in a house where "normal" wasn't a thing. So I never cared what other people were doing. I still don't. I was always free to be my own quirky self, and it has served me well. I encourage you to look at your quirk and fly it as your flag. 

If you ever get a chance to see that man speak, please take advantage of it. He's funny and wise and truthful and positive. Very grateful to have seen him.

If you would like an Occasions catalog, please let me know here. And get ready to save - our Online Extravaganza sale starts November 20th. If you shop this sale using host code Y3YE2BS9 - you will be entered to win Occasions catalog products! 

And finally - on the topic of friends I miss - I finally organized all the videos with Kat into a single playlist - so you can see all our Team Unscripted videos here. More to come when we get together next. 


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Ink + Washi = Love

I've been in kit mode for several months now. Actually, more like several years. I think it started with Art Snacks - a subscription box. At that time, I was also a Penfessional with Pentel, and so I was getting a lot of pens in the mail, so I ended up discontinuing that one. I'm a pen freak, but a pen freak with limited space. :)

But it started me down a road of sampling various all-inclusive kits.

Because I do so much original design work as I do for my blog and YouTube, sometimes I need someone else to design a project for me, so that I can have a mental break while still being creative, which I really need to do every day. So kits are perfect for that. And the internet is full of fun, quirky kits. Last year, I got a kit in Santa Fe where you could build these 3D paper robots. That was really fun. Kids' kits are fun - the paper robots certainly weren't aimed at my demographic, but it was a blast. Sometimes I'm 8 in my head anyway.

The Japanese Creations craft kits are sort of a hybrid. They come with very detailed online instruction that is perfect for kids. As a matter of fact - I think if I were still teaching, these would be very fun art units - perfect for anyone who homeschools, I think.

But the supplies in the kits are very much adult art supplies. They are all sourced in Japan for authenticity, and I loved the materials in the two kits I got - the Chigiri-e (a washi paper tearing technique) and the Etegami kit - which is a sumi ink drawing/painting kit.

The Chigiri-e kit is full of stunning washi paper. Think mulberry paper that has gone to an Ivy League school. The paper is hand-dyed spectacular colors, and has the absolutely finest little fibers in it, so that when you tear it, you have tons of control, and it leaves these beautiful, soft, fuzzy edges that you can see in my simple landscape - the edges really look like grass, and the yellow/orange paper is stunning. Traditional Chigiri-e uses the paper to make much more intricate shapes - flowers, etc., but I wanted to keep it simple to show off that amazing color. I added a die cut for the sentiment.
Now true confession time - I had purchased a whole sumi ink stone setup in Santa Fe at Artisan a few years ago, and then never looked up specific instructions, so this was a good incentive to learn about it. I watched some of the online instruction just to get the basics, and learned a few important things. My tendency in watercolor is to do fine detail with small brushes, and so I'm usually holding my brush like a pencil. With sumi ink drawings they encourage you to hold the brush at the very end, so that your lines are deliberately loose. The paper in the cards included in the kit is a beautiful textured paper that is not watercolor paper - so the ink sort of dives into the fibers and spreads out a bit - it's beautiful and fun, and very different for someone who is used to watercolor. The ink stone comes with a beautiful ink dish that has a slanted well. You put a small amount of water in the well, and then dip the stone into the water and rub it against the slightly textured, slanted well until it "melts" into a puddle of ink that you then paint with. (Since sumi is not watercolor - it will dry solid in the dish if you don't clean it and it will not be re-wettable, so always clean your ink stone after using it.)

I figured I'd better not be too ambitious on my first try, so I went for an abstract landscape, trying to get used to holding the brush by the end, and seeing how the ink behaved with the off-white, textured cards that come with the kit. Like watercolor, you can add more water for lighter greys, and add a little more ink stone for darker ones. I think it would be a fun and relaxing way to do your value studies prior to a watercolor sketch.
[ SSS ]
Prayers - Stamp and Die bundle
[ HA | SSS | SBC ]
Measylife Japanese Chinese...
Yasutomo Bamboo Calligraphy Brush
[ BLIC ]
Zig Kuretake ETEGAMI PAPER 20 Pieces...
[ SSS ]
Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor Sets
7-Well Flower Palette
[ BLIC ]
Heritage Arts Detachable Plastic...
Tsukineko Full-Size VersaColor...
Stewart Superior Memories India Ink...
Absorber - Synthetic Cleaning Cloth
MISTI Stamping Tool
[ MSW | SBC | SSS ]

The kit also comes with a selection of Gansai Tambi watercolors as well, which you can use with the ink. The instruction and projects are kid-friendly, the packaging is pretty, and in general, that was a super fun break from my design routine. You can buy the full kit with all of the online instruction for it (it's extensive - the Etegami instruction has 47 lessons - some video, some written - so that's why I think it would make a great study module for kids) at Japanese Creations, and I've listed some similar individual supplies above as well.

I'll be back next week with the Occasions catalog goodies I got on preorder, so stay tuned for that!


Friday, November 10, 2017

Deck the Halls With Christmas Sweaters

I had my class last weekend, and I was surprised to see that a lot of people hadn't noticed one of the very cutest sets in the catalog - Christmas Sweaters. Every year, my favorite holiday sets are the funny ones, and this one is no exception - it's hilarious and adorable.

Since I don't live in sweater country anymore I don't get to actually WEAR ugly Christmas sweaters, but I do so enjoy stamping them! And these aren't ugly, they're adorable.

This gave everyone a chance to play with the new Stampin' Blends markers too. You'll notice that the light Cherry Cobbler and Light Old Olive are the perfect Christmas combo. I colored his face with Ivory and Pink Pirouette. If you want these at a significant discount - put them in a no-strings-attached starter bundle!

Christmas Sweaters Clear-Mount Stamp...
[ SUP ]
Stampin' Blends Markers Collection by...
[ SUP ]
Marker Holder for Stampin Blends(TM)...
[ S&S ]
Multipurpose Liquid Glue by Stampin' Up!
[ SUP ]
Stampin' Trimmer (126889)
[ SUP ]
MISTI Stamping Tool
[ MSW ]
MISTI Stamping Tool - The Most...
[ SBC ]
My Sweet Petunia MISTI Laser Etched...
[ ELH ]
[ SSS ]
Stampin' Dimensionals (104430)
[ SUP ]
Absorber - Synthetic Cleaning Cloth
Whisper White Cardstock - Thick
[ SUP ]
Crumb Cake 8-1/2" X 11" Cardstock by...
[ SUP ]
Rotatrim Professional Series Cutter -...
[ BLIC ]

I had a few people who couldn't come so I made up the extras and they're in the Christmas card pile, which is getting pretty substantial! I'm enjoying the freedom of using cards I've blogged this year. Usually blogged holiday cards sit around gathering dust, which is really super dumb.

Now I'm hosting the MIX-Ability mixed media challenge today at Splitcoast - and it's featuring my Drunken Acrylic Reveal technique from Wednesday - so come over and play! It's very addicting, I promise!

Hope you have a crafty weekend!

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