Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Snow Men, Scotland and Summer in December

Well, Christmas is over.

Apparently here in Burlington, NC, so is winter.

I went to bed last night, snuggled under my favorite down comforter, dressed in my best (Wal-Mart) quasi-faux-velvet-een-ish sleep pants, and a light, long-sleeved cotton shirt. 

Around 3am, I woke with my pillow soaked with sweat, the comforter on the floor, and my pants twisted around my knees, forcing my body to contort until my face was (still sweating) on my husband's back and my feet resting on the nightstand. 

My husband woke with a groan. "Good Lord...what are you doing?"

I tried to rearrange myself, with little luck. 

"Question." I said, quickly trying to figure out which leg connected to which hip, in order to untangle and right myself in a way which would spare the lamp and my iPad. "Did you try to take my pants off at any time during the night?"

My husband paled and he resembled a deer in headlights. "NO!" he said, horrified. "We're married! I would never do that to you!"

Needless to say, this didn't really help the situation.

So, three days after Christmas, I had my A/C on 70 while curled up under a cotton sheet with sleep shorts and a tank top-neither of which no living in this hemisphere had any interest in trying to remove from my sleeping body.

Once again, I digress.

When I lived in Florida, it was always around 80 at Christmas. The difference is that it's SUPPOSED to be that temperature. 

In NC, on the other hand, we should have a dusting of snow on the trees. At least a sixteenth of an inch so that schools-and the town-would shut down, leaving us to enjoy being 'snowed in'. 

But this was not to be. 

Instead, there I was, having the mother of all hot flashes, sans hormones.

But avec pants.


For Christmas, I decided to make these little snowman ornaments. I'd taken a wonderful online class with Deryn Mentock of Something Sublime called The Merry Men of Winter. Using sterling silver vintage salt and pepper shakers, I glued swarovski crystal chains and broken pieces from old jewelry, I made hanging ornaments, shelf ornaments and, my fave, glass ball ornaments. 

I made the heads from Sculpey and the base of the glass ornament is paperclay that I spread glue on and glittered, then pressed into the bottom. I arranged my elements, then removed them to let the paperclay dry. They were truly adorable. It ALMOST made up for my having to order the &%^$% things from CHINA. That's right...after searching high and low for DAYS, I ended up having to order from China. But ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Now, I know you are waiting with bated breath for my 'Scotland' tie-in and you KNOW I never disappoint! 

Wait...ok...maybe I assumed that most every woman in the world has read Outlander. If you haven't, then get the book. Read 50 pages. The put it down if you don't like it. 

Good luck with that.

My Aunt Sharon actually told me the same thing when she told ME to read it. As you can see, I never put the book down. 

Sassenach is the Scottish word for "English" or "Outlander". So, I made sure my Aunt knew this was her ornament, and only hers.

Thanks for stopping by...I know I've been remiss in my posting, but living life in daylight savings time in a thousand degree heatwave is truly taking its toll on me. Not to mention taking the same toll on my sleeping pants, instead of my husband. 

More's the pity. 😁

Monday, November 7, 2016


Ok. I'm not writing that much during this post. Mostly because the hundreds of picture are going to put you to sleep before it's all over. 

I have a habit of doing that to people. 

Anyway, I want to present you with what I've been working on for two months. TWO MONTHS. Why? Because that's what happens when you have carpal tunnel release on both hands and then decide the logical thing to do is make a miniature conservatory for your mother's birthday.

Most of these supplies came from alphastamps Several months ago, I saw an incredible piece from Laura Carson at artfullymusing. She'd created this UNBELIEVABLE Conservatory and the next thing I knew, I was ordering like a madwoman and perusing the internet, trying to learn how to create miniature flowers.
 The floor is actual wood, which I darkened using Tim Holtz Vintage Photo ink. I cut strips of the same paper and darkened it even more to serve as a an inlay around the outside of the room. The 'inset' is a graphic image that I resized and printed. In retrospect,  I SHOULD have cut a hole and actually made it an inset, but I'll try next time. The blue and red flowers I handmade from various tutorials. I ordered the curtains from Maggie Melinda Janet is an absolute goddess and made these  beautiful drapes for the ridiculous amount of 35.00. And that included shipping. 

I think the white lilies and carnations turned out well. The table is from alphastamps, along with various other planters. I painted it turquoise and distressed it with dark wax. Many of the pots and planters feature VerDay paint patinas  I used it for the copper root, the rusted pineapple at the top and the bronze doors. Just paint, let dry and paint again. While still wet, spray the reactor. When patina is complete, use a paper towel to rub some of the patina away, if you like. I LOVE this stuff!

The chair is from alphastamps, as is the table beside it. I made the geraniums and miniature book in the chair. The pillow was compliments of Miss. Janet at Maggie Melinda.

The light is my favorite, mostly because I figured out how to make it a magnetic feature which you can reach in, pluck out, turn on and off, then just stick it back up. This shot was one before I fixed the kink in it, so please try to admire the ceiling medallions and ignore the kink.\

 I made the little topiary with toothpicks and this green stuff I got at a train store. I made this and all the green moss that covers most of the house and STILL have 3/4 left. Scary.

The stone work is from Bromley Craft Products in England. Not only is the mason work incredibly easy, you can order this mix you mix with water and I can tell you that it truly is a must-have for anyone wanting to do authentic miniature mason work.

NOW you see why it took FOREVER to get this done. But I'm grateful I could draw on the experience of other crafters and had use of products that made this job easy enough that I COULD finish it! Thanks for hanging in there! 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Tim's Tags October 2016 ROCKY HORROR LIVES!

I LOVE Rocky Horror Picture Show!! 

Tim Curry was awesome! And the theatre actors! And all the movie cues that we played with in the theatre!!

I tried to explain the cultural significance to my 3 boys, tonight before dinner. They'd come in under the pretense of admirning my latest creation, but it was really because I was delaying dinner.

"So, let me see if I'm understanding this." my oldest said. "When it rained in the movie, everyone squirted each other with a squirt gun. And when the marriage scene was played, everyone threw rice."

"Yes!! Yes!! That's it!" I said.

"That's a real mess to leave for the people who clean up." my middle son chimed in.

"I want to wear clothes like Dr. Frank-N-Furter." my 10-year-old, autistic kid yelled as he bolted from the room to find my high-heeled shoes he'd suddenly taken a liking to.

I sighed. "You don't understand. It was so cool! We all came together and were happy when we went to Rocky Horror. The people who were acting the move out under the screen..."

"Wait." My oldest said. "They were acting the movie out as it was playing? Are you kidding me? You think that's cool but you bless us out if we even LOOK at our cell phones BEFORE the previews, even!" 

"This is different." I said, stammering just a bit. "This is...oh, just forget it. I'm going to do the Time Warp before dinner. All of us. It's easy! You'll love it! Just follow...." 

I turned around to find my audience had disappeared, leaving only the faintest trace of ozone behind.

The problem is, you CAN'T explain Rocky Horror to anyone. They have to have the actual experience of simply having fun with a squirt gun, rice, other food items and-my favorite-yelling the requisite words every time the names "Brad" and "Janet" were said.

And no. I can't repeat them here.

ANYWAY, the moment I saw Tim's Tag for October, I KNEW old Frankenstien would need a little Tim Currty treatmentl. Using pink archival ink and eye and lip treatments, along with some beautiful earring bling made from Tim's clips and charms, set me on my way. 

We used a crackle treatment on the paper, and used distress crayons to color and accent the surface. I attached good ol' Frank-N-Furter and cut out the letters to spell out "Time Warp" at the bottom, which I coated with glossy accents. I used black flocking for his hair and attached a chain for hanging at the top.

Needless to say, we DID get to dinner, sooner than later. Granted, there was some serious bargaining over the odd crescent roll (I won, this time, thanks to my threat of performing "Time Warp" during dinner) but, at the end of it all, my kids had turned their noses up for the umpteenth time, over something that was so COOL when I was young! 

But that's ok. They can think what they want. Because I had a late lunch and I'm not terribly hungry. Let's see how much fun they'll make of me in an hour or so, when they're ready to gnaw their own arms off from hunger. I bet Rocky Horror will be the best thing that ever happened to them..

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Tim's Tags September 2016

Oh, how much fun I had with THIS tag, my friends!
(Description at the bottom of the post)

Par for the course, I'm sliding in under the wire, but hey...I can only work when the creativity hits, people. Well, it's not so much as when the creativity hits as to an actual deadline making me panic and create something as fast as I possibly can.

Which is tough going with the disability I didn't know I had. That was, until my husband looked down at my hands and said, "You know, Liam (our youngest minion) has fingers just like yours! Little sausage fingers!" (Fig. 1)

You know that moment when men say something they think is funny, but is actually a legitimate defense in a manslaughter trial? (See Fig. 1)

Seeing me NOT laughing, he tried valiantly to correct his mistake. 

"Wait, what I meant was that...well, Liam...I guess..." (Fig. 2)

Have you even noticed that men, in realizing they said something that will lead to their suffering months of passive-aggressive spousal behavior, begin to try to explain that they didn't mean what they meant? But, since they have no way out, mostly due to being only able to process one thought at a time, they begin speaking in half sentences. (See Fig. 2)

Next, perhaps knowing that there's not really a way out of the "Quagmire of Idiocy" they are sinking into, they next try to put whatever positive spin on it they can come up with. (See Fig. 3)

"Look, what I really meant was that I think your fingers are simply adorable! They're so cute and chubby, kinda, and just...they feel so good to squeeze!" (Fig. 3)

It's about that time, that they feel they can move a little closer, perhaps to try and hold your fat little fingers and give them a loving squeeze, while inadvertently checking to see that there are no knives concealed in the hand with the huge, obese fingers.

This is a mistake. 

Because even though they may get a hug, or soft words of forgiveness and understanding, the bottom line is that they pretty much just found a body part that CAN'T lose much weight, thereby nullifying all diet attempts made to this point, and effectively sentencing their target to a life of sobbing into a bowl of ice cream while whispering, "Why me? There's nothing I can do! I'll have to wear gloves for the rest of my life! Do they even make them in 'sausage fingers' size?"

Not to mention the incessant planning, from that moment on, as to how to punish a man for such an egregious mistake. Acts of refusing to clean or cook, claiming my 'sausage fingers' can't manage the the respective implements used in each task. Or claiming my obese digits can't possibly be expected to manage to drive a car for groceries, or to pick up children, or even allow a conjugal visit? 

Sorry-too much emotional baggage from my stunted fingers to even THINK about letting go and enjoying a little 'connubial bliss'. I'd be too self-conscious to even think about it. It's not like there's any type of sexy lingerie that could possibly help. So, I'll have to pass.

I mean, you think I'd allow these fat fingers to be seen naked?

Now for the September tag:

The mash-ups were to make a marbled tag, which I did using rusty hinge, china and fossilized amber, along with plenty of metallic brass. The second was covering Yupo in alcohol ink and stmping an image using archival ink. I used  black alcohol ink and orange archival ink. Once stamped, take a clean, cotton cloth and blot over image, creating a resist. I jazzed it up with skelaton hands, cut from some little plastic images, and used Tim's Cross Movers and Shapers, covered it with Tim's texture paste and used hickory smoke, weathered wood and Iced Spruce to make it look like a concrete marker. Then, using tea bag tea, I created a freshly dug grave with another skeleton hand.

The noose I created myself and using the filmstrip and stickers (with Ranger Liquid Pearls 'blood') 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Tim's Tags 2016 August

Talk about sliding in under the wire! I don't EVER think I've come this close to missing a tag deadline.

So, let's get the business part out of the way.

I brayered different greens over the tag, then stamped with a stamp from Urban Tapestries in Green Archival Ink. Using Iced Enamels and VersaMark, I covered the edges. Since I didn't have any of Tim's dies, I used his mixed media dies and cuts lots of different textured paper and Tim's fabrics and used the cutout as a guide to lay the hexagonal pieces. Sort of a different take....I HOPE. I tried sewing...AGAIN...and the machine continues to hate me. But I pressed on, adding the silver bamboo branches with another cut in black to shadow it, then added the text and fragment with a bird image from Tim's Vellum pack. Lastly, a little cherub is tied into the ribbon.

Yes...I know this tag is busy. It really reflects my mind as of late. 

My father is on life support, and sleeping is difficult. School started at the same time so I'm trying to budget time for the kiddies, hospital and everything else that pops up. 

But I HAD to do this tag. If not for anything but a little consistency and to purge my mind for awhile. I'm pleased to say I DID find some peace in this.

Because my children continue to confound me, I'm pleased to say I have new material and will try to amuse you later on when things settle down. It has been a heck of a summer, friends! Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Tim's Tags July 2016 and a BONE to pick with SOMEONE

I WANTED to title this post "From my lips to God's "Man Brain" part that is constructed to tune out any female voice in the vicinity when it has reached maximum overload", but was encouraged, by my husband to adjust said title since, he said, I'd just gotten out of 6 days at the hospital and really didn't want to push it.

Then he rushed out and bought a Virgin Mary candle. 

**PAM (pre-adderall moment)** Do you have any flipping idea how many prayer candles I have in my house, courtesy of my Hispanic, Catholic husband??? I mean, really....we have enough to provide luminaries for every danged driveway from here to the Vatican. Because, you see, what exactly do you DO with them when they're done? You can't just toss Jesus-or the Virgin Mary-into the trash. And trying to justify it by using the Recycling can doesn't cut it either. So, the only thing we can do is try to work them into our current decor (which is an eclectic mix of Asian, French and a mere touch of 2 chairs that are definitely Egyptian Revival) and it gets kind of hard when I've got a mack daddy Chinese ceramic horse on one end of the mantel and three headless Chinese female form pieces on the other end, and 27 garishly colored, half burned prayer candles shoved in between it all. I don't care WHO you are....ain't no way you're selling THAT as any kind of design motif. And since I'm throwing caution to the wind, can I just ask how REALLY effective a prayer candle can be if it's sold at the GROCERY STORE???? 

Anyway, yes...I was in the hospital for 6 days. A disc slipped and I went to Duke University, where I was promptly placed on a PDA (that thing where I can push the button every 8 minutes for pain relief in the form of Dilaudid.Which would've been AWESOME had I not been in any pain. And, by the way...they will NOT prescribe it to assist you in getting your children to the age of 18. I asked.) 

But the pain? I can only ask you to imagine living for 6 days having to use a potty chair (WHEN you were able to sit up, which was about 30% of the time because of the nerve compression and spasms) and longing for a shower and just ONE night's sleep where I wasn't awaked every 2 and a half seconds by someone to take my vital signs, and then chide me for not sleeping. 

On the positive side, I watched so many of those forensic shows back to back, that I now feel fairly confident I can either poison or murder pretty much anyone and get away with it. How's THAT for educational TV?? 

Oh crud...I think my husband just ran out to buy a fresh prayer candle. 

Well, at least I can probably thwack him in the head with it while wearing gloves. Then, I would take the candle WITH me, just in case of DNA evidence, then enter through the back employee door of Target to establish a camera alibi...

Oh he's buying two. Sigh.

NOW, for Tim's Tags, and a little powwow with the man who redefined art and mixed media for the masses (and probably uses 100 dollar bill to light HIS prayer candles). 

First of all, I took some watercolor paper, stamped and used markers to color. Then, I applied Micro Glaze to the parts I wanted to create a resist. I actually left a few parts of the dress unglazed so the pink background would run into the dress form.. I colored the hair red, as a nod to Dyan Reavley (from whom I purchase MANY products, but forget to mention a great deal since I'm focusing on Tim so much-her paint is to DIE FOR) and then, I tried to color the skin.

Dear Tim: name is Carmen and I am not white...I am pretty much 'translucent'. However, like everyone else, I tend to paint my images skin color about the color of my skin. So, I'm checking out the very light tans and find a couple of possibilities. One is "OLD Paper". There's also an "ANTIQUE Linen" that's close. Or I could lighten up some "VINTAGE Photo" or "FRAYED Burlap" and then touch it up here and there with "AGED Mahogany". 

Do you see what I'm saying here, Tim? NO? You DON'T???

Well, to be fair, I'm really not either. It's probably just the PTSD I've developed from being stared at by sacred figures and the ever present 'grocery store' aroma that runs anywhere from Rice-A-Roni (that's usually the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus who has the bleeding heart) or the subtle scent of curry from the grown-up Jesus with the bleeding heart, and which I find a putting. But I don't like curry anyway, so it really doesn't matter. I just make sure we stick to either all Mary or Baby Jesus brands. 

Wait a second...where was I going with this ANYWAY???

Danged if I know. Let's go back to the tag.

I decided to overcome my fear of sewing and tried, once again, to sew SOMETHING without it looking ridiculous. 

This would probably be a good time to have a talk about using metal thread from the 40's. I had a cool stash of it and tried to sew the bottom part. If I actually told you the words I used as I tried to SEW with this very heavy, metal thread, I would probably suffocate from prayer candle smoke. But, I managed it. And to cover up the terrible ends, I also used the metal thread on either side of the watercolor pic and the pearls, in hops the corners wouldn't show and frighten any of you.

At the end, there was a cool piece that fit the top and a porcelain rose for the center seemed to work. And three pink ribbon eyelets for the bottom. 

I figured you already put together the theme of the tag. And the reason is, that while I was in a LOT of pain in the hospital, I did run into a couple of ladies in physical therapy, who were in the same pain, but filled with nothing but hope and positive energy. "Ya gotta have hope!" these beautiful women said.

Trust when I say this was the first and ONLY prayer candle I lit with all the right intentions. 

It smelled like peaches.

And you know what? I really think HOPE would smell like that...don't you??

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Tim's Tags June 2016

I can't believe it's almost the end of June. 

I also can't believe I'm 48, still chubby, with the same unruly hair, and STILL accompanied by my ever constant companions OCD and ADHD. Both of which are pretty much as underachieving as I am. You'd think that with the two of them hanging around, by definition, I would have a really clean house and constant output of creative work. But that's not the case. 

No one but yours truly could screw up not one, but TWO anxiety-based psychological disorders. 

It's not that I don't WANT a clean house, it's just that when faced with the vast devastation of my abode, courtesy of one hyperactive ten year old and two angst ridden Y chromosomes running around, I'm worn out just THINKING about what it would take to get this place into even a quasi-liveable state. 

It wouldn't be so bad if it were just the three Y chromosomes uniting to leave their possessions all over the floor (to include the Lego bricks that I decided to leave in the carpet, in case a totally inept burglar decides we actually have something that is worth stealing, and breaks in. One step on a pile of Legos and he'd be begging me to shoot him.) or leave scraps and piles of drool around their feeding troughs (aka the kitchen table) make a united effort in destroying everything in their path together as a single, united force of domestic destruction. I could handle that a bit better than the reality, I believe. Especially when the reality is having the 10 year old leave every possession he has ever owned-or stolen-lying around in the house, followed by my 12 year old pre-teen camouflaging himself in all that mess, so that he may enjoy his contraband (soft drinks, candy and youtube) in relative peace. Not so bad until you refer back to sentences #4 and 5 in this paragraph, and realize he's leaving food invites for every ant and 'Palmetto Bug' (read: Flying Roach) in the Southern Hemisphere to come join the party. 

If that's not enough, the 17 year old has to join in the fun by lying on every fabric covered piece of furniture I own, and leaving his own, distinct and very unique smell on all of them. That smell that says "I am a teenage male and I believe deodorant is a choice and not a necessity. Oh...and I also believe that I'm going to graduate from high school and land a job that will pay six figures and ask nothing more than my showing up on time and being sociable. And while we're at it, I'm convinced my parents are completely ignorant of life as a teenager because THEIR experiences as a teenager were TOTALLY different than mine."

Don't get me wrong...I'm totally grateful for the little termites. I adore them. But my OCD and ADHD aren't really as appreciative. So, I just ignore the disaster that is my home, buy cases of Ant and Roach killer, and shut myself in my craft room. This way, everyone-from my minions to my anxiety disorders-is happy.

All except the roaches, I'd think.

Tim Holtz Tag Info-

Tim's plain tissue wrap stamped in black, red and green adirondack ink using a music background stamp and Deco Christmas CMS176. Using green and red distress ink, I stamped the beige fabric from Tim's Textile pack with his winter sweater stamp. The die was cut using movers and shapers tin soldier and 'staff' is the long arrow from Idea-ology line. Charms also from Tim's Idea-ology line. Letters were printed in green and I used Crystal Accents to form 'glass' over them. Poinsettia cut from red flocked paper and green cardstock.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Tim Holtz 12 Tags May 2016

This month, it's tissue tape resist technique and tattered florals. 

Using the antichrist of all crafting materials, the MISTI, (I'll elaborate...don't worry) I stamped this negative image several times on tissue tape, until I got the image to really pop. I also cut stars from tissue tape and adhered them to the tag. Then, I used white embossing paste and a few different stencils. Using stains and brass spray stain, I created the tag. Afterwards, I stamped a flower/vine image and substituted tattered floral flowers made from Tim's papers. The leaves as well. Using red stickles, I jazzed up the flowers a bit. I also used Tim's stars-offset-to leave some of the tissue tape exposed and used a Dresden gold frame, that I painted silver with alcohol ink, I put it around the image and trimmed tape accordingly, using sponged ink to cover traces of where it was. A metal tag, blotted with three different kinds of alcohol ink and distress ink crayon finished it off.
 While I love the color and images, etc., I feel it's so empty!! I tried arrangements at the bottom of the tag, fabric, sequins, everything! But it was just too much. So, I sucked it up and erred on the side of leaving more background exposed and giving each element its due. 

For a long time, I fought the power of the MISTI. Sure...I saw it in use and saw how dang convenient it could be, but I was able to stay strong and stay away. Besides, I told myself, I'm not stamping a whole lot anymore, so why would I need one??

Then, I saw how you could create perfectly centered AND straight sentiments and/or images, then I saw where you could actually overstamp if you had a 'not so great' image the first time. Pretty soon, I began dreaming about a MISTI, and how it would solve all my life problems. On top of that, everyone ELSE had one and, dang it, I HATE being left out!!!

I was so excited when it came! I set it to the side and spent several days looking at it, but unsure what to start stamping. By this time, I'd moved from making cards to a lot of 3D chipboard based products and ATC's. But I KNEW I'd have something to use it for, eventually. But in the meantime, I decided it would work perfectly to put over pieces that I'd glued together and needed to dry flat.

Soon after that, my MISTI served time as a containment unit for tiny things I decided against using but was too lazy to put away, a fan for those occasional hot flashes and a support for my coffee cup. The fact is, I've had the dang thing for 3 months and I FINALLY used it. For this tag. And when I was finished overstamping it in archival ink, I returned it to its original job of supporting my coffee cup WHILE pressing glued pieces flat. 

I wish I could say, with confidence, that my MISTI will become a tool that I use a great deal one day. I've thought about selling it, but it works so well as a presser/storage unit/coffee cup holder that I'm not sure what I'd replace it with should I manage to get rid of it. So, despite my better judgement, I'll hold onto my mini MISTI for now. I may even go berserk and purchase the REGULAR sized MISTI! 

 Just one more inch and my laptop height will be perfect.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

VPI Jungle Theme

I can't even BEGIN to tell you how insane things have been...seriously.

I haven't crafted in about a month. Lots of reasons, but for now, suffice it to say that while I'm not necessarily going to go all out, I'm TRYING to ease back into things. A bulging disc in my neck and lower left lumbar is driving me mad and sitting is miserable, as is standing. So when I tell you it took a WEEK to do these 3 ATC's, you know I'm not kidding. 

This is for VPI Jungle Theme. Safari was on my mind. The top is my fave. I forced my teenage son, Blake, to accommodate my wishes to surround it with a wooden dowel I stained with ink. I'm not able to do the sawing, so I walked him through using a miter box and between the both of us, we accomplished it. 

I'm sorry this post is lacking in humor, but I have now reached my maximum of sitting, so I'm back to pace the downstairs until I sit again. Sigh.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Blast from the Past: December 2014

This Altoid tin project was the first I tried in the 'expanded form'. It was displayed with my Splitcoast Dirty Dozen DT projects. It's funny how I can look back on this work and see how much I've learned. Enjoy!

Earlier, I uploaded 8 pics of 2 projects. Each had a story that I slogged away at for over an hour. Something told me I should always save what I write, just in case. Well, I didn't listen. To say I'm so mad right now that I could cuss a blue streak is the understatement of the century. So...I'll give the deets and attach the story before I get myself into trouble.

Removed the top from the altoid can and glued the bottom into it. Covered it with greenery and flowers. Cut Alice and the Chessie cat from a collage sheet and used IO tree die for background. Table is chipboard with 2 chipboard supports under linen napkins. The cool, calm and collected is what an English tea is all about. Made this for a friend who loves Alice.

Boy...can't tell I'm still fuming, huh????

This article was previously printed in Carousel magazine, in an article series I wrote named "Diary of a Desperate Housewife"

I grunted and tried to ignore the Kid in hopes he’d go back to bed.
“Mommy!” He was insistent.
I made a sound somewhere between a growl and a whimper.
“Mommy, I need breakfast!”
“Go see if your Grandmother can make it.”
“They left yesterday, Mommy. Don’t you remember?”
I leapt out of bed filled with joy. I’d forgotten I’d made parole almost a week early with my in laws.

The Holidays almost did me in this year. It was the first Christmas I’d experienced without the warm embrace of long term employment. Budgets, sacrifice and discovering the true meaning of the Holidays may have worked for Scrooge, but I was finding that Christmas day with no Beef Wellington or David Yurman just didn’t feel like Christmas at all.
I’d spent the last half of December wandering around in a stupor. The man I’d wed, obviously having read a bit too much Machiavelli, had thought it a good idea to invite his parents to spend the Holidays with us. My mother in law spent the entire time attempting to ‘enhance’ my experience as a stay at home mom.

“Now dear,” she said as she washed out a Ziploc bag for the third time, “Losing your job was hard but you’ll find that economizing isn’t difficult. You have to look at it in a creative way. For example, do you really need these plastic bags?”
“Yes. I use them for a lot of things.”
“Like what?”
“Well, like loose screws, crayons that I can’t find the box for and leftovers.” I said, secretly wondering if I could take a nip of the vodka I’d hidden away for emergencies without her noticing.
She gave me a half pitying smile. “That’s what I’m talking about, dear. You can buy little plastic boxes that are reuseable. Here, let’s take a trip to Wal Mart.”
I obediently slipped on my new Louis Vuitton purse.
“That’s an awfully convincing knock off.” she said, eyeing my evidence that Christmas Joy could most certainly be bought.
“Uh, yeah! It’s a good one.” I said, laughing nervously.
She pursed her lips and gave me a knowing glance. “Well, let’s be on our way.”
I made it a point to make sure she was buckled into the car before I, under the pretense of having forgotten something, ran back into the kitchen for a much deserved hit from the liquor.

Hey, Santa’s not the only one who needs ‘helpers’ to get him through the Holidays.

A trip to Wal Mart is an experience, no matter what. But combining Wal Mart with an elderly person on a mission, brings a new meaning to the word ‘entertainment’.
When I tried to buy the name brand plastic containers, she almost spat on the floor in contempt. She drug me a couple of inches down the shelf to the store brand and proceeded to pick up the most damaged package available.
“See?” she crowed. “This is called the deal within the deal! They’ll give you extra off for damage. Works for food, too. What time is it?”
“Ten thirty.”
“Time for lunch.” she said, grabbing me by the arm and leading me to the other side of the store.
“The car’s out this way.” I protested.
She ignored me.
“See?” she finally said, pointing to a man in a green hat who was busy poking halves of Vienna Sausages onto toothpicks. “Here’s what you do. You go first and take two. Say it’s for you and your mother. Then, I’ll go and do the same thing. That way, we get two each!”
“But I don’t like Vienna Sausages.” I whined.
“Fine. More for me.” she said, shoving me toward the line that was beginning to form.

After our lunch of granola bars, chocolate pudding, frozen lasagna and honey roasted nuts, we headed home.
“I’ve got to take a nap, now. When I get up, you and I will start rearranging the cabinets.” She said, going to her bedroom.
I curled up in bed too…with the vodka. I figured if I played my cards right, I could at least maintain a good buzz for the rest of their stay.

The Kid, on the other hand, was having one of the best Christmas’ ever.

“Guess what, Mommy!” He burst into my bedroom later that afternoon. “I got some cards in the mail and they all had money in them! Grandpa gave me twenty dollars, too!”
“Wow.” I said, trying not to slur. “That’s great!”
“Yeah. Grandpa said I should save it for an emergency. He said the way you spend money that we might need it for food. What does that mean?” his brow furrowed in consternation.
“It means your grandparents are overly cautious. Not to mention a little deranged. Listen, go out there and ask them to tell you stories from when they were kids. Ask them what things cost and what they got for Christmas. It’s really cool!” I said, not feeling sorry in the least that I was setting the Kid up for one of the most miserable experiences in his life.
My husband poked his head in the bedroom. “Are you okay?”
“No. I’m sick and by my calculations, I won’t be well for another six days.”
“Interesting how that coincides with my parents leaving.” he said, smugly as he closed the door.
Taking a deep breath, I capped the vodka and sat up in bed. I knew I couldn’t stand anymore of my in laws and had to take drastic measures. If I didn’t, I’d be loading up the dishwasher with aluminum foil and in rehab, to boot.

I called my stepdaughter, Meredith.

Meredith was my husband’s teenage daughter from his first marriage. Meredith was currently being controlled by her raging pituitary and oil glands and was making an excellent case for adoption during puberty or, at least, boarding school.
We haggled for a while over proper payment for her services but finally reached an agreement. I didn’t have to worry about her mother’s approval…she’d been in her bed recovering from a biannual face lift and was on enough pain medication to assure she’d stay comatose for at least a week.

Later that evening, we were eating dinner that consisted of fried Spam and generic, instant mashed potatoes.
“I’m not eating this.” the Kid said, firmly.
My father in law gave him a stern look. “Back in my day…” he began.
“Okay.” the Kid said, sounding panicked. “I’ll eat it.”
The front door opened and slammed shut. An icy wind blew through the house. Everyone froze. Meredith came ambling into the kitchen. “I’m hungry. I’m not eating this crap.” she announced.
My husband and in laws paled.
“Honey! How did you get here?” my husband said.
“I took the bus. I was bored so I came here. What? That’s not okay? You don’t want me here or something?”
“Baby! No! I just…” my husband began.
“Hey grandma and grandpa. What’s happening?”
My in laws took in their granddaughter. She was dressed in black and had on enough eye liner to shame Marilyn Manson. “Hi honey…how are you?”
“Daddy, I want Chinese. This stuff is gross. Mom would freak if she knew you were feeding us Spam.” she said, picking at her nails.
“Your grandma made dinner.” he said, throwing his mother under the bus. “I’ll get Chinese, of course!”
“We didn’t have take out when I was your age…” her grandfather began.
“Yeah, yeah, I know. But Grandpa, a nickel doesn’t buy a candy bar and a hamburger isn’t fifteen cents anymore. Besides, who wants a hamburger when you can have Thai? Did you get me a present?” Meredith said in a bored voice.
“Uh…we did but we left it at home…we were going to mail it…” my mother in law began but became silent under Meredith’s cold stare.
“Here, honey.” my father in law said, digging into his pocket.
“Forty bucks? Thanks grandpa. That only leaves two hundred for the ipod I wanted for Christmas. Hopefully I’ll get one anyway but I haven’t had Christmas yet because mom’s still in the bed from surgery. Did you have a good Christmas here?” she said, wide eyed.

I silently admired her technique. She was truly a master of her craft.

My in laws left the next day, several hundred dollars poorer. They claimed that since Meredith was here, that we should treasure this special family time and they didn’t want to intrude.
With her Grandparents gone, Meredith turned immediately to her father. “I guess I’ll stay for the rest of the week. I’d love to go home early and buy my ipod but I don’t have all the money yet. That’s cool, though. I like hanging here.”
My husband couldn’t get to the ATM fast enough.
“Thanks, daddy.” Meredith said, tucking the cash into her purse.
“Look at that. You two have the same purse.” my husband said.
We managed to look surprised.
“Wow. Great powers of observation, Daddy. See you later!” Meredith said as she left with the last scrap of happiness I’d managed to salvage from the Holidays, swinging from her shoulder.
It could have been worse, though. I could’ve been still scrubbing out Ziploc bags and searching out ways to sneak liquor around a woman who smelled of camphor and Jean Nate’.

I think I got the better end of the deal.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blast from the Past: Cigar Box ATC Armoire January 2015

This is the 3rd installment of my 'Blast from the Past" series. From October 2014-April 2015, I was chosen to be on the Splitcoast Stampers "Dirty Dozen Design Team". We did 6 projects a month. Needless to say, those were ONLY projects I did in each of those months. Since I average a project in a 7 day week, you can imagine how difficult it was to produce a project EVERY FIVE DAYS. 
These haven't been published on the blog, yet. So enjoy. Saturday and Sunday were such great days for me! Out at the barn with my histrionic mare, Coco, the weather was gorgeous! Then on Monday and Tuesday, good ol' Dercums flared up and last night, my lower back spasmed. I don't know if you've ever experienced a lower back spasm, but that's good for a 9 on the ol' pain scale. So, here's hoping for a better rest of the week, huh? Without further ado....

I have always counted myself lucky in the friends I’ve made over the years. I have been so very lucky to meet and forge relationships with some of the coolest women I’ve ever-and probably WILL ever-know. In return, I try my best to be a good friend. I’m not high-maintenance (except to the Lord and my husband-but one created me and the other married me…so, they’re pretty much stuck) and my good friends know that despite my MANY faults, I am ever loyal and will be there when I’m wanted or needed.

OR, if there happens to be really good food and wine involved. I’m absolutely ‘there’.

Or wine…just wine. And I’ll never leave.

It’s important you take the time to talk and share with friends. It’s one of the things I’m particularly good at. You see, I have NO problem totally ignoring the kids while chatting with an actual grown-up. Because a grown-up USUALLY isn't constantly complaining about lack of food, perceived lack of quality of available food, dissatisfaction with current regime and unhappiness with their current status in the hierarchy.

Of course, I do take time to communicate with my children. I admit it takes everything I have, at times, to keep the proper straight face. It's important because it convinces the little snot-noses that I’m actually concerned with their opinions regarding my parenting skills (or lack, thereof) and whether or not ‘everyone else has this game/video system/sneakers/clothing/etc. and I don’t!!!’

But I have to say, they’re ADORABLE when they’re delusional like this!

I have 3 boys at home. One is 16 and, you may not have heard…and I certainly DON’T want to brag…but he’s a genius. That’s right, I’m totally serious when I say he knows EVERYTHING. And if you doubt me, then by all means….just ASK him.
He’ll be glad to tell you how he is repressed in speech and action, as well as how he is worked to the point of exhaustion by the repressive Communist regime he is ruled by. He’s right, you know…taking out the trash, and being made to dig the dirty underwear he has hidden in his closet (and apparently, by the look of them, they’ve been there since the good ol’ days of family dinners and representative government) is completely and totally irrational on our part. Not to mention his being forced to do his homework and having one of his parental units checking his grades and whether he completes assignments…DAILY! 

The next child we have made into an indentured servant, is all of 11. He doesn’t understand why he isn’t given an allowance like all his friends. I have explained-NUMEROUS times-that one must WORK to receive money. He usually counters with the pointing out of that the government GIVES you money if you just ask them. He says that all you have to do is say you can’t work and fill out about “10 or 15 pieces of paper and explain that you can’t work because you’re too tired, then they give you a card for food AND they buy you a house and you can stay home and watch TV and play games. I know it’s the truth because my friend Tim told me and even a lot of our family do it. You know, the ones that live in the trailers over in McLeansville.”

I don’t know what bothers me more…the fact he thinks the government actually MAKES money or the fact that out of over 200 years of Conservatives, some wild and crazy gene mix-up has caused me to somehow produce a Progressive.

The last kid is 8. He’s my little high-functioning autistic minion and HIS attitude regarding his living situation is…well…to be honest, as long as he has a supply of Nerds candy and Legos, he really doesn’t have an opinion about the trifling domestic matters the rest of us deal with on a daily basis. He plays his WII, lines up his 30 plus stuffed animals in weird places. Case in point, last week, I ran into the house from the grocery store, needing to make use of the ‘WC’, if you will. I flung the door open and almost had a heart attack…there were at least 20 stuffed animals gathered around a small, fluorescent Christmas tree, with each one holding some sort of food item. Zombo the Zombie had a slice of cheese covering his face and Mario’s head had been stuffed into a Ramen Noodle cup. If that wasn’t scenic enough, he had completely ringed them in with about 10 wine bottles, arranged by size and label color.

I mean, really….where DID he get so many wine bottles?? **cough, cough**

**NOTE** I DO want to take a moment and clarify that we MUCH prefer this type of tableau to the very public ramifications his stuffed animals suffer when their disobedience elicits his disapproval. The punishments for that disobedience or non-conformity (or just when the Dictator is overstimulated) are harsh and we wouldn’t mind so much if Justice was served inside…and NOT in the FRONT YARD.

Do you have any idea what it’s like to back out of the driveway and see a stuffed animal in the middle of a thorny rose bush with a piece of packing tape over its mouth and hands tied to feet??? Or…MY personal favorite…Woody from ‘A Toy Story’ hanging upside down with an electrical cord by his feet? At the TOP of a 20 foot Maple?????

No WONDER the neighbors cross the street when they walk by our house!


I know what you’re saying…you’re speaking in that soothing voice and saying, “Now Carmen…ALL teens and pre-teens are pretty much like that! We totally understand! We’ve been through all of it, too! Well, except for the weird stuff your 8 year old does…I mean, we’ve TOTALLY never seen that in our LIVES.”

And I want you to know I appreciate those kind words of support and encouragement. But I really have most of it under control. I simply remind the 2 older kids that if I DIDN”T somewhat like them, that I would’ve already commandeered their rooms for a paint studio and sewing room, respectively. That seems to really get my point across.

I know, I know…I’ve gone even more off-topic than usual. But I DO think it’s important we share our experiences. That way, we can support one another and then, at the end of the day, have some great gossip to share with our other friends.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I believe there’s some sort of celebration I’m interested in attending, that should be well underway, and I don’t want to be late. Fortunately, I hear the party is close by.

In the downstairs bathroom, I believe.

Once again, my thanks to Laura Carson at Artfully Musing! She has great tutorials and though I’ve made a ton of stuff using them, I don’t even think I’ve scratched the surface of all the things she has done! I’ve totally been on a cigar box kick. In fact, 3 of my projects this month use them. And there might be another one…who knows?? But the ATC Armoire was something I loved because it was different, practical and downright GORGEOUS!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Blast from the Past-March 2015-Cigar Box Purse

Bringing some blasts from the past during my Splitcoast Dirty Dozen stint from October 2014-April 2015. I tell you, those were the days! Now that I can put these on my blog, and it happily coincides with several days of miserable back and Dercum's pain (former Dercum's post HERE). This way, I continue to look busy while lying around on the sofa reading the Outlander series. Again. Cheers!

Now, before you start thinking you're getting deja vu with this Cigar Box purse, let me reassure you that you're NOT. This IS the second one I've done during my stint on the dirt pile. But I've got a pretty good reason...I think. If it's not, tough'll have to suffice. 

ESPECIALLY since it ties into our theme!

There has been only ONE project out of the 36 (holy Mary...can I just say I honestly can't believe I pulled that off??? What a testament to better living through wine and medications!) that I downright HATED. I thought it was terrible and I swear to you that if I could pull it out of my gallery and toss it into the abyss that is the internet, I'd do it without a thought. Even my beloved Nancy (stiz) who is the most supportive person in my LIFE couldn't convince me it was even remotely not GAK inducing.

The project? The OTHER cigar box purse I made.

So, I'm behind ANYWAY this month and I'm sitting around thinking about what to do and how to tie it into the Keys of Happiness thing, when it hit me: 

One of the main keys to MY happiness is having the opportunity to make things right. Whether it's an apology, a repair, a repayment, or merely the chance to atone for a GAK inducing project, one of the keys to my happiness is not stopping until I make it RIGHT. we are. And DANG if I'm not happy with this!! 

I'd had this SU! fabric I bought probably 2 years ago just floating around the craft room. So, I took some tacky spray and placed it on the front and back of the box. Then, I adhered the lace to the front...I wanted it to look like a sweater over a shirt or something like that, and the bling to be the necklaces. 

I pulled a lot of small brass charms and some jump rings and...what is the jewelry craft word for 'put them there suckers on a little circle and clipped it to another circle on that chain right there'? 

Last month, I bought 4 different lots of broken jewelry...about 5 bucks a lot...and these pearls were in there. Never mind they were broken...they were perfect for this! So, using E6000, I attached all of the bling. 

I used a lace trim on the side, along with this white embossed dp that I found lying around and VOILA! it was done!

I used another piece of fabric from the same collection for the inside.

So, project done...theme met and ONE more on the way...the last one EVAH for the DD. Is the suspense driving you crazy???

I know! Me too! I have NO idea what's going to happen either!! ;)