Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Cavalier Corner

Our first Christmas with a pup.
Almost five years ago I convinced my husband we needed a dog. It took a lot of convincing but I was persistent. Since I was ten years old I'd had a dog on and off. Growing up, I was the child in my family of five children, who asked for, begged/borrowed pets; a steady variety of dogs, cats, and twice, guinea pigs. I've heard it said that people were given three things to make life better, hope, jokes and dogs, but the greatest of these gifts is dogs. I agree.

Shiloh, gone now and missed!
After giving in to me, against his better judgement, my husband tried to steer me towards a small dog that didn't shed. We discussed poodles and poodle mixes, doodles I think they were called. Then we visited my sister in California and met her pup, Shiloh. He was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Dewey fell in love. They had gotten their dog years ago from a breeder in the UK. We found one in Illinois.
Sophie meets me for the first time. She's not sure...
Our pup, a tri-colored Cavalier we named Sophie, arrived in late October. She is a sweet pup who loves me as much as her little heart can love. I've always had this connection with dogs but only three in my life have been this connected and loyal. Of the three Sophie has the most loving heart. We soon came to call her our "love sponge". When I'm home she's always somewhere near me. When either one of us is not feeling well a simple touch from the other will make us feel better.
Ruby meets me for the first time.
She's checking out my nose to see if I'll pass the pet parent test.

No longer feeling excluded. Success!
Dewey felt just a bit excluded. A year later we got a pup for him, a Blenheim (chestnut and white colored) Cavalier, which we named Ruby. Ruby has some quirks. She has never really barked, but can she ever whine or whimper to get her message across. She snores louder than a chain saw. She eats like there's no tomorrow and like the food might disappear in mid gulp. She also has a thing about noses. She needs to lick them. This is how she tells you she loves you. She has a thing for small tennis balls and although she can jump into the car to go for a ride, or climb up on the table to eat your unguarded food, she can not, to save her life, go up or down our basement stairs.

Sophie has located the ball, time for Ruby to do her thing.
I'd never had two pups at the same time before. These two, from the same breeder and similar gene pool, still have some huge differences. Sophie has taken on the duty of keeping our yard safe from the evil of squirrels. She will chase them barking ferociously, and I'm sure if she ever catches one she won't know what to do with it. Ruby chases Sophie, not ever quite understanding what all the squirrel fuss is about, but happy to join in the excitement. Also, we have learned, that it takes two Cavaliers to retrieve a ball. One, Sophie, to be the tennis ball locator, pointing out where the ball has stopped, and the other, Ruby, to be the ball retriever, faithfully bringing the ball back to us. Unless she gets distracted by thoughts of food. They have their duties all figured out. They walk at weirdly different speeds, with
Ruby dragging behind me fearful of my feet and wanting be carried. Sophie plows ahead, straining at the end of the leash and dashing from side to side in search of the evil squirrels. What they do agree on is eating gum left on the walk by previous walkers. They become bottom feeders on a walk.
Keeping high and dry
Although spaniels are known to be water dogs these two dogs do not like water, not anywhere, not any kind. Just the drinking kind! They were cats in another life. Sophie once waited to do her thing outside on a rainy day for over twelve hours. She will wa
lk along the side of the house in rain to be under the eaves. On rainy days they are sad and miserable. In the lake they are terrified. They hate their baths and Sophie has gotten pretty good at hiding when Ruby gets her bath first. They are sorry sad sights when wet.
Our constant companions.
So we try to keep them dry, snuggled and fed. It's a tough job but whatever would we do without our little pups! They keep us company and entertain us. Our lives would be so empty without them.
Sophie practicing her squirrel catching moves.

Sophie meets Ruby. Did I hear her swearing?
Such a sweet innocent face.
Sophie the chair hog. Ruby is determined to keep her spot even if she falls asleep.
Such brave dogs
I am not afraid of cats...I am not afraid of cats!
Sophie sporting her cowboy Halloween costume.
Picture of me with my first pup Tippy. I was ten.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Exploring New Trends in Card Making

I’ve taken a few Online Card Classes to learn techniques and such. These classes are great! They are well organized and really emphasize teaching topics related to card making from start to finish, with great videos showing the step by step processes needed. They also include detailed supply lists and printable written versions of each class that I can refer to for details such as layer sizes, colors and so much more.

I also love that included is the lifetime ability to log in to each class whenever I want to look at the content. If you take the class “live”, meaning while it’s first being offered, you get to post your card creations to the galleries and entering into conversations on the forums. These are then kept on the class websites for students take advantage of whenever they want. I've also done some "independent" classes. For these independent classes, you can’t participate in posting to the galleries or forums, but you can still have all the learning content for an unlimited time.

One more thing that makes these so much fun is if you are joining in a current, active class, which lasts about two weeks (with several days of no classes to finishes up your projects before class is closed), you are entered into drawings to win various prizes such as shopping sprees for card making products, or free future classes. I have never won but it's still a fun experience and really challenges me and motivates me because the more you participate the more often you are entered to win prizes.

Just be prepared for also getting inspired to buy a ton of products you see being used in class so that you can make the same great cards. The teachers do give great suggestions on other ways you can stretch your own stashes. They give great suggestions on alternative ways you can make the same kinds of cards. Unfortunately, it seems I just cannot resist that temptation to buy new stuff! Fortunately, for the duration of the active classes you are eligible for discounts at sponsoring online craft stores. I'm still trying to figure out how to post pictures but here I've posted some of the cards I've made in the Stretch Your Dies Online Card Class.

The above and below cards were made with a stencil cut from transparency for the clouds!

This is a shaker card!

Card Making

Last year's birthday card to my husband from us girls

Card making has been a long time interest I've had. It started decades ago when, in the early 90's, when I bought my first computer. It came with Hallmark Greeting Card Maker software. Does anyone else remember that software from the 90's? I thought I'd be able to write what I wanted and print out colored cards with my new printer. Save some money, right? Then I bought my first ink refill kit. Yikes! Eye opener there!! I was frustrated with the whole process, not only with how quirky Windows 3.11 was and how unstable my Packard Bell computer was, crashing every couple of weeks/days, but also that my cards didn't come close to looking like I wanted them to look. They were printed on printer paper, with silly clip art and fast fading ink.

Well times change. After decades of buying cards, about a year ago, I bought a beautiful card for my wonderful sister that said just what I was feeling about her...and that cost 6 dollars. Yikes and double Yikes! I decided it was time to make my own cards. I really wanted a hobby I could do in winter since furniture refinishing was a summer only hobby for me. And summers were already getting pretty busy. I started out by cutting up old card fronts I'd saved to make new cards. Recycling these cards felt good. I could write my own insides and print that out on the computer. I wanted outside sentiments that I could make on thicker cardstock but couldn't figure out how to do that. Then in February, my daughter showed me a birthday invitation her daughter had just received for a birthday party. I fell instantly in love. It had two layers, one was bumpy with little dots. It had colored stamped images and a stamped inside message. I found out from the mom, who made the invitations, that she'd been putting together scrapbooks over the years.  She told me she used those supplies to make her invitations. She'd used dye ink, stamps and a machine with a crank handle. All new craft tools to me and I was off to my computer to investigate. I quickly discovered a whole new world of crafting I'd never known existed. I was intrigued.

My first purchase was a big shot and some embossing folders. My grandson's birthday was coming up so I bought some cardstock quality paper from a local crafting store, some wooden "You're invited to a party" stamps, and some ink pads. Then I realized I needed something to help my wonky paper cutting look smoother. So back to the computer I went to research paper trimmers. I bought a Fiskars Procision Rotary Bypass Trimmer, set up a space on my office desk, and found a spot for my new papers and cardstock. I was good to go.

First I made party invitations and decorated them with stickers from the dollar store. Then I made party bags, Then I moved on to party room decorations.

After my grandson's party,  I moved on to making Easter cards. I was on a roll and spring was hiding well in the future....I bought a few more stamps (Penny Black Mimi stamps) and my first dies, which were circles and rectangles. I was really glad I'd signed up for Amazon prime earlier in the year because the shipping was fast and free. It was at this time I discovered Copic markers and YouTube became my favorite entertainment.
Easter cards 2014

This is when I came up with my most ridiculous idea. I decided this hobby would help me loose the extra pounds my job had helped me gain with all the sitting, late, crazy hours, and late dinners. I'd watch YouTube while on the spin bike, then instead of snacking all evening, I'd learn to color stamps with Copic markers. This worked through the late spring and through fall. I continued to learn, make cards and buy supplies. But of course winter is a challenge here in the mid-west and weight lost is easily added back on. I learned to eat while crafting of course! Just a matter of time! I do NOT advise paper crafting as a diet plan....Just saying....

I had a real shock this year when totaling up my untaxed online purchases. I realized I'd spent almost 3,000 dollars on various untaxed craft sites for many and varied paper crafting products. Of course what comes into a home must be organized and placed. 

My office, one year later, is now a craft room.
Gotta love boxes, bins and label makers!

It's gone through various transitions to get to it's current deliciousness but, without adding shelves and holes to the walls, or requiring painting the walls, all requests by my husband, the office is now one efficient craft room. Everything I need regularly is well within reach.  I did benefit greatly in the office organization process from our local Michael's Store, who was kind enough to have a grand opening for their new store, with huge discounts on crafting organization items. Thank goodness I didn't actually loose any weight because I'd never be able to buy new clothes! Nor did I save any money by making my own cards. Oh well, I am learning a new craft which I love, sending out cards that say what I want them to say, and have a stress reliever craft I can enjoy as I shake off the work days. I call that a successful venture!

Now that I've dabbled in learning to use the tools of the trade I'm on my second year and wanting to learn the techniques. This year, 2015, I've given over to this process
and have taken a few independent and interactive Online Card Classes. I'm also starting this blog. The blog is to help me chronicle the process better with techniques learned, discovered, and practiced. Along with providing a place to display my cards. I wish I was a better photographer. I've never learned the trick of focusing long enough to make sure the lighting is good, the angle is right and the camera isn't shaking. Hmmm, I guess this may be another learning experience in the future?
Easter Card 2015
To tell the absolute truth, I'm driven to keep learning because of a concern that, if I don't keep my brain busy, it may slip into that dreaded genetic disease that has hit my family for two generations now; Lewy body dementia, (a form of Alzheimer's).
So on to learning more things and exercising my brain!

Here are some recent cards I've made...Spinner Cards!
And some tries at Copic Coloring and Sponging with Distress Ink....both cards cased from Kristina Werner on YouTube.

I used Papertrey products for this card.

Henry's 5th Birthday Card

March is always a challenging time of year in the midwest. It seems like March brings the promise of Spring but the fulfillment of flu and c...