Thursday, October 8, 2020

Happy Birthday, Mama!


(Me, mama, mama's middle sister/my Auntie Ruth 10/2/2020)

1963 Mama Northeast High School Honor Society and Miss Aries

Mama at 70+ (We look JUST God, would you PLEASE let me age like this????)

(mama, my brother Matt and yours truly)

 "Oh, Carmen...I love your blog!" a new fan...I mean, "subscriber" wrote me. "You're so funny! You should be published. You are simply the best humor writer on this planet, second only to the Goddess who was Erma Bombeck. You MUST be discovered and reign on the Best Seller lists and become wealthy enough to at LEAST get approved for that TJ Maxx card that keeps eluding you."

Or something like that. I paraphrase, naturally.

I'm actually sitting here with a big, goofy grin as I write this, although I'd appreciate all of you thinking I'm typing with a cool, professional and slightly bored detachment. You someone who gets these types of positive reinforcements from people who are neither relatives nor foreigners who think they've landed on a Martha Stewart mirror website. 

Naturally, I wouldn't dare encourage them thinking they had somehow found a Martha Stewart offshoot, but since I'm sure their English may not be very good and I certainly would NOT want to misunderstood, I simply don't answer when they query. I just send them to a link of a pretty fabulous tutorial of mine and that usually occupies them for a couple of months. I also offer them the link to sign up for emails so that they don't miss any said fabulous tutorials. 

Hey...don't judge! If it was up to you, you'd just barge in and embarrass them at the first opportunity and tell them they made a mistake! But I allow them to save face by giving them the chance to improve their English enough to figure out they haven't, indeed, landed on a Martha Stewart mirror site and they could make the choice to leave at that point. 

So, now we see who the real not-so-nice people are, don't we, hmmm?

The past two weeks have been ROUGH. Not only did I come down with a terrible cold, I wasn't able to get ANY rest for it due to everyone from family and friends to the CDC calling daily to analyze my symptoms to determine if it was Covid.

Look...I didn't have a fever. Just a sore throat and sinuses that simply didn't care if someone slapped tape over my mouth in a kidnapping attempt...they were not going to open for any reason. I could taste ice cream and Oreo cookies. Strangely enough, however, I could not taste broccoli, cauliflower, salad, anything low-calorie, low-fat or anything with letters written in pastel colors which as we all know, tend to represent the two, previously mentioned hyphenated words.

That being said, I could've sworn I heard the whir and saw quick flashes of drones outside my windows, checking on me and my progress. 

Of course, the unknown factor is whether they were sent by the CDC (likely) or my mother (even more likely).

See, October 2nd was my mother's 75th birthday. And she was not letting anything get in the way of THAT party. Even if it was a daughter of whom it was 99.999% certain didn't have Covid but that .0009% (or whatever % was math has always been somewhat...hmm...suspect, shall we say?) was enough to still set off alarm bells. 

Fortunately, by the 2nd, I was in good enough shape to attend. I was finally symptom free and while I chalk it up to rest, Afrin and Ibuprofen, I'm sure my mother's hosing me down with with an alcohol/clorox/ammonia based solution didn't hurt.

Oh, forgive me. The alcohol she drank. 

Actually, I write all this in jest. My mother knows she is my world. She is the most lovely, gracious and elegant woman I've ever known. Her talent for design is simply awe-inspiring and I'm so lucky to to have her! She has always encouraged both my brother and me in anything we took interest in while growing up: dancing, acting, children's theatre, singing lessons, swimming or anything else we could dream up. She would make it happen! 

She's the one who encouraged me to read. She would take me to the library in downtown Greensboro, NC in the summer and I would read for hours. Then, I'd check out as many books as I could carry and walk the 8 blocks or so to her office and lay on the gorgeous Art Nouveau couch (that now resides in MY home!) and read until she got off work. She allowed me to take pottery lessons, fostering a love for all art that didn't take root until 6 years ago when I needed it the most. All of this is because of her.

Thank you, mama. Know that you are loved and treasured and that everything you gave me has become my salvation, even though neither of us could've possibly seen how it would manifest. I love you. I hope you're around for another 75. 

Friday, August 7, 2020

Finally...A Rose for Miss.Bea Part 2

Oh, come on now...did you REALLY think this was going to end with me NOT cooking up the most fabulous rose I was capable of making to give to a 99-year-old woman???

Not that you'd be wrong in thinking that I fought starting the whole project tooth and nail. THEN, when it turned out like this, it sat in my studio for 5 days before I sent it! I almost didn't! 

To FULLY understand this post, you must read part 1. Oh. You didn't. Didn't have time, huh? Ok. Well, let me recap part 1 for you so you'll be caught up. 


Miss. Bea
Ma's friend's Ma
Ma says make card
What like
Loves roses
I hate roses
made begonias
sent in time
decide try roses

And we're all caught up!

I went digging for rose punches and dies. I stumbled on Susan's Garden Rose Dies by Sizzix that I'd never used. 

I'll start by saying that while it's not brain surgery, you do have to build it petal by petal. Every petal needs to be shaped and rolled with tools, including tweezers. It takes time and, if you're like me and cuss like a sailor, then you can't work on it on a Sunday. 


I decided to stay with a simple, pink rose. I always use a heavy weight paper for my flowers. SU! 85 lb is a staple. I'll shape the petal, then spray it with water and shape again then let dry. When all the petals are assembled, I go back and shape some more, then I spray them with at least 3-4 coats of acrylic spray (in the garage!!!) that has just a bit of shine to it. Then I shape again and let dry. 

Repeat spray

Let dry

 Laugh at everything due to unintentional inhalant high 

Take nap

Wake up grouchy

Refuse to part with project because it turned out so nicely and dang it! YOU WANT TO HOLD ON TO IT AND SHOW IT TO YOUR MAMA!!!

But never fear, it's now out of my life and into Miss. Bea's. And in a way, I'm kind of glad it's gone. Because I can totally forget I made it and slip back into the default position of "I don't do roses, sorry."

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Stitched Slots-Careful-Don't Say it Fast-Just Don't Say it at ALL

To be fair, I didn't think I was gonna like these little suckers AT ALL.

The very talented and VERY patient Laurie over at VIA sent us these cut outs from the Tim Holtz dies and said "have at it".

Like I said...didn't know what to do with them, ergo, I did not care for them.

After mucking around a bit, it occurred to me to make the piece a "unit" instead of just random stuff stuck in it willy nilly.

I used a very old piece of scrap-close to a century, I'd guess-to form the idea. Which was the roses in the urn. I glued the slot to make it curve just a small amount so I'd be able to put what I wanted within. I used G45 tags, notes and envelopes. I used another tag at the top I covered with G45 (all from Botanical Tea) and left journal spots (not shown)

The butterflies, also a century or more old, are actual Dresden and were stamped from the moulds in Germany. I was given several sets of Butterflies, Eagles and Asian Samurais from a generous friend and try to pass them on when I can.

I think it turned out nicely. Weird how the things you think you like are the things you struggle with the most...but things like this I think on which I'll crash and burn?? Hmmm.

Or maybe it's just medication time. Who knows?

Begonias for Miss. Bea...Part 1

This Begonia card is one I made for a certain Miss. Bea. This lovely lady is the mother of a close friend of MY mother. I've never met Miss. Bea. But when mom asked me to make a card for her birthday, I said okay.

I didn't even get uptight at my mother's standard 2-day notice. LORD that drives me INSANE. 
But there's NO WAY you can get too aggravated when you find out that the card you're making is going to a woman who's turning 99-years-old. 


I can't imagine living that long! 

Think of what all she has lived through! Not to mention how long she's lived with her children!

Sorry. But I'm 52 and my y-chromosomes have already driven me bat sh*t crazy. Living another 47 years with them and I'll be committed before I draw Social Security.

By choice. But enough of that nightmare, already.

I told mi mamacita I'd make the flower card. I asked Ma what Miss. Bea's favorite flower was and mom said "She loves roses!"

I said, "Great! I'll get started on the Begonias right away!"

Look. It's NOT personal...I swear! It's just that every single time I've attempted a rose, be it via punches or dies-especially those little spiral rose dies-there seems to be a conspiracy against me. I've never...and you can check this blog from start to finish (oh, please don't do that. I created this blog and the thought of doing that makes me want to cry with sheer hopelessness. Seriously.) and you won't see a rose worth its' salt. 

But I knew I could knock out some pretty good begonias with my McGill punches, right? I hand colored and shaped each petal, the leaves have the right shape and shine, the colors will never fade, the sentiment is right, I mean, this is a really good card! One that I'm sure she and my mom's friend will love! I know this with all my heart.

But she wanted a rose. And this isn't a rose. While this will reach her on her birthday, shouldn't I try just once more? As if in answer, I was organizing my dies and stumbled across a forgotten about die from Susan's Garden. I have quite a few from her that I've used many times. Except this one. And yes. It's a rose.

Let's see if I can make this a part 2, shall we?

Sunday, August 2, 2020

ATC Coin “Road Trip” (Imagined) for VIA

Vintage imagery ATC, my swap group over at, came up with a Road Trip coin swap. ATC coins are 2.5 inches and they've been very popular lately.

I want to start by saying that my family never, ever went on road trips when I was young. In fact, the longest car trip we ever took was a designated point A to point B one. Point A being our front door and Point B being Anna Maria Island, Florida. Which, I might add, couldn't be reached by I-95 back in those days. It took 2 hours longer to reach, as we had to make the trip on I-75. 

That trip was also made in a two-door, sub-compact Toyota Corolla, with 4 people and no air- conditioning. As this was a yearly trip that my father insisted on making in one fell swoop, I, always the little wordsmith, quickly mastered the pronunciation and definitions of "patricide" and "matricide", along with figuring out whether or not I could actually be charged as a minor.

Ok. I'm just kidding. I just fantasized about throwing a tantrum and forcing them to buy me a Barbie and Ken Swimming Pool to play with on the way down. At least there'd be someone finding relief from the misery.

So I have to say that I’m grateful the whole road trip idea never occurred to my parents. Since they both worked, I’m not really sure how it would have worked anyway. But good Lord I’m sure glad it didn’t. 

Back to the Road Trip thing...I DID say this whole thing was imagined, right? 

I decided to work with the states in which my swap partners were located. First, there was Texas. I found a background using an old vintage whimsical map and enlarged Texas. I printed it twice and cut the Alamo Route 66 image to pop up over the original. I printed the Texas state flag and, using flower soft, made a poor man’s copy of the Texas bluebell which is the state flower. I used a soft leather around the sides and, taking a long horn pendant I found in my stash, used it to act as a hanger.

For Iowa, I cut the harvester and popped it up. I printed an image of the state flag and some corn, for obvious reasons, and re-created a miniature prairie rose, the Iowa State flower, using my McGill punches. The Asian emblem at the top signifies the numerous Asian sister cities that Iowa shares with many different Asian countries. Last but not least, Iowa's state stone is the geode. 

Now, many of you may be looking at one another and saying, “But, that looks like anything but a geode!”.

This would not be a very nice thing to say. So take it back. Right now. Because after searching Michaels and Hobby Lobby (to include their Clearance sections and you KNOW how long that takes!) for all intents and purposes this is a #*%^*}% geode. 

Forgive me for zooming off into that good ol' worn out section of left hand field again, but every time I look at that Iowa State flag I keep seeing a face and it drives me a little crazy. ER. Sorry. Let’s move on. 

Actually, there’s nowhere to move!! I actually have more art than posts. Can you believe it? I  have at least THREE COMPLETED ART PROJECTS just sitting here waiting for me to post them! Will wonders never cease? Will these miracles continue to happen? When did my meds decide to wake up and actually go to work instead of lying around on their asses all day watching Netflix? 

Who cares?!?  I'm just gonna run with it.

Well, at least walk a little faster than usual. You know, the one where your entire foot leaves the ground with each step?

Talk about a Road Trip waiting to happen, huh?

(In terms of the most awful ending lines I've ever written, this one takes first prize. So, enjoy it. Savor it. Embrace it. Pet and stroke it and...hmmm...that's completely awkward. Just appreciate it, why don't you?)

Saturday, July 4, 2020

The 4th: A Time for Celebration, Smuggling Contraband and the ER

Technique Junkies July New Release "Burst"

BEFORE I even START on the 4th of July, I want to stress you have FOUR DAYS LEFT to take advantage of Technique Junkies July New Release 15% off. AND, if you make it to the end of this post, you'll find you can take another 10% off if you type the winning phrase, which consists of my name and some mystical letters and numbers.


So get your hiney in gear and get to shopping.

NOW...let's talk the 4th of July.

(I reprint this story every year. The original can be found here on my blog. The original post contains quite a bit more of my unmedicated rambling  childhood reminiscences, so if you can make it, great. If not, I completely understand. I tend to wear people out.)

The 4th of July. As a holiday, it's incredibly important to me. But it's also my least favorite. That's right....I said it. Out loud. Sort of. On this blog. Where I can always claim it was hacked, if necessary, by anti-4th of July progressives, who are Communists. Or al quida. is al queda? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW HOW TO SPELL THE NAME OF A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION?

 Look, I am properly reverent, appreciative and proud of this day. I honestly am. I'm an ardent supporter of our troops throughout the year and am a consistent donor to various troop-related charities, such as Wounded Warrior Project  and Fisher House-both of which are very dear to me. (links provided in case you want to throw a little money love their way!!)

My attitude has to do with my actual dislike of the month, itself. July. It's miserably hot and I can't see the proverbial summer "light at the end of the tunnel". 

"Light" meaning "School", mind you. There's also too much humidity and too many kids for me to properly appreciate what this day should represent. Besides, as far as commercialized holidays go, I find this one the most expensive. Not merely in terms of money, but also in terms of my mental health.

The insanity begins the instant July 1st comes around. That's when the Marital Unit, along with the three y-chromosomes, break out a map and begin planning their smuggling route for all the illegal fireworks they plan to buy, just across the state line. 

You see, North Carolina has pretty strident laws regarding the regulation of fireworks. This results in very limited choices of "toys" containing gunpowder. Meaning, the 4th is great here if your expectations don't exceed 40 boxes of Snap and Pops, or those infinitesimal sparklers that cause 3rd degree burns if the stick touches you after the sparks stop. Never mind what heinous injuries they can cause if you forget where, in the dark, you've stuck the things in the ground and step on those &%^$ suckers.

Any self-respecting North Carolinian knows that if you want decent fireworks, you have no choice but to make the trek to the state that gives us everything from the historic Charleston Battery to the flying roaches they have the audacity to call "Palmetto Bugs". That's right; I'm talking about South Carolina.

(Author's Note: I'm not entirely sure that the flying roaches are a byproduct of South Carolina. But at 2-4 inches and solid enough that you can hear them scurrying across hard surfaces, well, all I know is that someone has to take the blame.)

So, the Marital Unit et al spend hours pouring over every highway route to the border and speculating at which major road arteries the North Carolina Highway Patrol will be stationed; presumably to search any and all vehicles for this highly illegal exploding contraband. The discussion then turns to whether they should modify one of our cars to hide the ill-gotten gains. Naturally, it's MY car they want to modify. Even though, they agree, they are sure to be on the watch list of the ATF, FBI (and any other lettered agency unlucky enough to be dragged into this post) so it will be difficult for them to hide. As if a beat-up Volvo station wagon would be lucky enough to generate an APB for suspected smuggling of Black Cats and Bottle Rockets. 

Not to mention what my house full of y-chromosomes MEAN when they start talking "modifications". Dummy gas tanks and tire wheel wells always lead the discussion. About the time they get to convertible conversions and nitrous oxide injectors, is when I step in and have to redirect the conversation. And by "redirect", I mean "threaten to Facebook every nudie baby pic I've kept secreted away for moments such as this, along with the Marital Unit's portrait at the tender age of 19, in which his then-girlfriend snapped him staring stoically off into the distance. Shirtless. With poufy hair. 

At this point, having been forcefully reined in, they move to the next phase of the smuggling operation, in which they begin taking practice dry-runs using my car. This is fine by me because this normally entails a half-hour of taking corners hard enough to see if the the tires will make squealing noises. It also means leaving black tire marks in the parking lot of the local Wal-Mart in order to perfect spin-outs, doughnuts and the rest of the driving techniques the Unit acquired from watching The Dukes of Hazzard. 

Thus, having assured themselves of their vehicular mastery, they move to the final-and most crucial-part of the whole project. This is where they each rehearse what they'll say to police if they're caught and taken into custody.

It's agreed that they will probably be interrogated separately, so they must have similar stories. They swear to never betray one another and make a pact that they'll never fall for the old 'Law & Order' trick of being told that one ratted out the others. This part is pretty harmless, although I DO have to stress they will NOT follow through with selling out the 8-year-old due to the fact he can't be prosecuted due to his age.

With everything in order, they get up early on July third and dress in solid black. This year will be the first that face masks are optional. The Unit confided the decision was heat-related, but I'm pretty sure it was due to the fact he hates messing up his pouf of hair.

Then, they'll pile in the car and swear to abstain from all food and drink (ostensibly negating the need to stop) and off they go, each sitting stiffly and staring straight ahead. They only talking in which they will indulge is out of the sides of their mouth and is merely to congratulate the other on how natural they look. 

The drive is grueling; an hour and forty-five minutes on...well...the interstate. At 70 mph. Until they cross the state line into South Carolina, where there are fireworks stands every seven and a half feet until you hit the Georgia state line.

They'll drive past 7 or 8 of these tented retail establishments before stopping. They all agree this is smart because they're sure NC State Troopers will be watching for the smuggling novices who are idiot enough to stop at the first stand or two they encounter. At the 17th or 18th stand (or, about a mile into South Carolina) they'll load up the car with several hundred dollars worth of fireworks and begin their return home. It's slow-going for a bit because they're usually behind a bevy of NC State Patrol cars, who have ALSO loaded up with the same fireworks and are trying to get home to drop them off. 

When mine arrive, they celebrate their successful mission by lighting all of the Black Snakes on the driveway, which serves as a yearly reminder for me to schedule a power wash. I do this immediately, all the while pondering why they're called Black Snakes when they actually look more like poop when all is said and done. I'm asking asking the question of how both snakes and poop would appeal to a bunch of boys. Then, having solved this conundrum, I feel stupid and go to bed.

The next day, July 4th, as the y-chromosomes are counting down to sunset, I shower and go ahead and get dressed. Past experience dictates that after sunset, when it's almost fully dark, I usually have about an hour or so before the single firecracker explosions become the sound of entire packs at once. Here, I make sure the keys and my purse are in reach and I have my iPad, phone and power cord in my tote bag. Then I sit down at the kitchen table, as I do every year, and ponder why I

A: Never think to buy M&M's for a portable snack 
B: Why did I eat the M&M's I purchased to take as a portable snack.

Right around this time, the menfolk are so deaf from blowing up entire packs of  M-80's that when they decide it's more fun to hold Roman Candles and fire them at selected targets (mostly each other) no one can hear the yells of "Fore!" or whatever the safe word is these clowns have instituted. And since those things are little more than firecracker handguns, I'm off to the emergency room, once again. 

Fortunately, our local hospital has instituted call-ahead reservations, so I only have to wait an hour or two to get my idiot seen instead of pulling the obligatory all-nighter's in the waiting room, as is the norm. When we get home, everyone else is watching TV, having put the rest of the fireworks away for fear my rage would be such I would shove bottle rockets in orifices that would make even South Carolina consider banning them. There, in the garage, the fireworks will join other fireworks from years past, waiting for either dry rot or a lightning strike to occur.

I hope this sheds a little light on why the 4th simply doesn't hold a dear place in the line-up of overly- commercialized holidays for me. At some point, we all have to take a step back and really think on the importance of this holiday. This should be a celebratory time, of course, but one that has more of an emphasis on giving thanks to the men and women who have fought for U, to include their families, who ALSO make their own sacrifices for this great nation. It's also a time to pay our respect to those who have made the ultimate sacrifices for our freedom.

I'll also insist the boys-including the one I stay married to (if only to punish him), stop the madness of this month. Granted, I swear to do this every year, but it's hard to get them to quiet down and focus, so that they can listen to these ideas. There's a sweet spot in which I can deliver this speech (usually between returning from the ER and when the painkillers kick in) where it'll have the most impact. Every year, I seem to miss it.

But at some point during all this, we will come together as a family and voice our appreciation. We will realize fireworks aren't needed (especially when we can go have a beer at a local Highway Patrolman's house and play around with their SC fireworks) and we can give this holiday the respectability it deserves. Only at that point, will we finally be able to celebrate the 4th in the way I feel it should be celebrated.

In the air conditioning.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Technique Junkies JULY New RELEASES! And an "Oldie but a Goodie"!

TJ July New Release "Wish Upon a Starfish"

 I swear on all that is holy, my friends, that it seems I JUST DID THIS FIRST OF THE MONTH NEW RELEASE THING YESTERDAY.

Actually, I DID do this yesterday.

But that's not the point.

I meant this blog hop thing.

It seems that it has only been a few days since I stressed out trying to do all of this at the last minute. How many of you can truly relate to the stress of barely sliding under the wire to finish things I had plenty of time to do, yet managed to not do them?

And please don't mention the "P" word. This isn't procrastination. Procrastinators are merely "wannabes" to those of us who have elevated being "late" into an art form. You see, procrastinators simply sit around and think about the things they should be doing and consciously putting off.

Professionals, such as myself, don't think about what we should be doing AT ALL. Then, as the clock winds down, an internal alarm goes off and we rush to finish whatever it is that needs finishing.

Then while procrastinators sit around feeling guilty because they're late, my people sit around and feel insanely aggravated we had to do it in the first place.

That's why, I'm one of the elite: An Overachieving Underachiever.

And before you get your hopes up, know that many will want to emulate my success and few will succeed. So, you keep not-trying as hard as you can and one'll might not make it.

I was at Hobby Lobby when I saw this cute chest and figured it would be perfect for a little box in which to keep sea shells or other treasures. I covered it with design paper and Dresden scrap, then stamped and embossed the sentiment in white, glossy powder on a piece of adhesive cork paper. I also used splotches of gold embossing powder on the edges of the cork and sides, at random.

I found a small closure and used a small piece of brass I had that was an anchor that I used on the front. This can be a little tricky, but if you use brads to hold your hinges in the back and clasp in the front you'll have some wiggle room...literally!

This project took me less time than most every card I made during this 'seaside' theme. Oh! And I made sure to use 2 coats of white gesso before I even began. And that's how easy it is!

Now, enough of my silly rambling!! It's time for the Technique Junkies JULY RELEASE BLOG HOP! 

You should know the deal by now, but just in case your attention span is like that of a gnat (such as yours truly) I'll remind you:

From now until the 8th, ALL new releases are 15% off. And if you use my discount-TJ10Carmen-you'll get an additional 10% off!

While you're at it, stop by and see my hard-working homies! We LOVE it when you stop by!

Monday, June 22, 2020

A Summer of Sharks, Sots and NOT's

And somehow, once again, another month comes to a close. 

Another month in which I've managed to NOT do so MANY things. 

There's the furniture I have not pulled out from the wall to clean behind. Choosing, once again, to let nature's critters feast on the crumbs left there, until the day I thank them by inviting Mr. Exterminator to the party.

There's the matter of the y-chromosomes, who are still residing somewhere within the utmost regions of my house, whom I have not evicted due to their lame excuses of being "underage" and claims of "child protection laws". 

And let's not forget the Marital Unit, who I have not sued for abandonment and subsequently divorced, only because I can't find him on the golf course.

Lastly, as we're coming to an end of another summer month, I have not dipped even one toe into the body of water we call the ocean.

It's this last one I consider most important, because it means I'm here writing this post and not being digested in part (or whole) by a shark.

I know, I know...I hear it every year. My little sun bunny friends are the first to poo-poo my fears.

"Do you know how rare it is to be attacked by a shark while swimming at the beach?" my slim, tanned and very buxom friend Eva said, while trying on a tiny bikini she was considering as we shopped for summer wear.

"It's not rare.." I said, a bit testily, silently chanting to myself that I did not hate her for having two children and still being able to pull off "twenty-something in a bikini" while in her 40's.

"Oh, come on." she said. "It's incredibly rare! Name the last time someone was attacked by a shark. Especially here in North Carolina."

"Which of the 36 attacks since 2010 do you want to know about?" I said. "Or is it enough to know that our state ranks 5th in the nation in shark attacks?" 

She paled. "Oh, God. Are you serious?"

"I would never make something like that up." I said, grateful that she suddenly seemed less interested in the bikini that rudely boasted only one number in the "size" portion of the tag.

She looked sadly at the bikini as she handed to the saleswoman. "Well, I guess I'll just lay out on the beach and tan this year. By the way, do you have this in a size 4?"

Gritting my teeth, I told myself I did not want my sweet friend to test any
"swimming in the ocean/ shark" statistics.

As bad as friends could be, it was nothing compared to my mother's reaction. We were settling in for a week's vacation at Myrtle Beach and had sunk down into our lounge chairs to read and sunbathe. 

As my y-chromosomes raced to the water, I stopped them at the edge with a shrill whistle.
"Remember," I called to them. "Ankle deep ONLY! What is it we always say about the beach?"

The y-chromosomes chanted in unison. "In to your knees, the sharks you will tease. Up to your bum and you become chum."

Rolling her eyes, my mother said, "What in the world has gotten into you? I thought you loved the ocean! I remember you swimming in it all the time when you were a kid. What changed?"

"You took me to see Jaws at the theater when I was seven." I said.

"Couldn't have been." she scoffed. "That must've been your father. He was always doing silly things like that when he'd had a few drinks. Remember the time he he took you and your brother to the Drive In, then promptly fell asleep in the front seat? Not knowing the movies were scary ones?" 

"Yes, mother. I remember it distinctly. It was a double feature. The movies were Coma and The Omen."

"That's right!" she clapped her hands enthusiastically. "You have such a good memory! Why on earth did he take the two of you to something like that, I wonder?"

"Because he'd had a few Boilermakers and misread "Coma" as "Comma" and thought it was an educational film. And "The Omen" he thought was a film about the Bible." I said, drily.

"Only your Dad!" she laughed.

As June comes to a close, I've found myself gearing up for another summer of remaining faithful to my "not's". 

I have not allowed any surgery to take place unless the Marital Unit has conducted an investigation into the character of the Anesthetist and checked hospital records to see if there have been a rash of patients who've had surgery and mysteriously vanished.

I have not neglected to shave each y-chromosomes head at one point to check for any numbers or signs that might be hidden there. It certainly didn't help that the last one was born on 6/6/06, but that was my fault for insisting on induction at the earliest possible moment.

Don't worry, though...I still have my eye on that one.

Last but not least, I have not and will not ever, in any lifetime, be eaten by a shark.

And in the history of my "not's", this will prove to be the most important of all.

My first is Coral Seaturtle.

I stamped and embossed the image in white, Using masking fluid, I made "spots" on the back of the turtle. After watercoloring him a dark brown, I removed the masking and did a quick wash of the dark color I'd already painted. I really LOVE how this effect came out. And it was totally accidental. Wait...I mean, I just knew that would happen. Because I'm experienced, like that.


My second card was one of those that assembled itself much better in my head than I was able to pull off for you. Using the Inside/Out set, my intention was to make a wall with the mirror showing the outside sentiment "Mirror Mirror". I stamped it with Staz-On, then tried to use little frames with pictures of stern looking people to look like a wall. 

Then, I used the Inside sentiment (which we won't point out to anyone, specifically my parental unit...will we?) and the TJ stamp set Crabby I finished it off with the crab and sentiment. 

ALL of these sets-and everything else you might want-is 10% off if you use my discount code TJ10CARMEN

Thanks for stopping by...and keep on stamping!

It's MUCH safer than swimming in the ocean

Friday, June 19, 2020

She Sells Sea Shells Down by the Sale Page!

Once again, it's my turn to showcase a project made from Technique Junkies July New Releases!!

This shaker tag is the first of 5 that I ended up making-and could have made SO MANY MORE using my Gelli plate and the New Release stamps 


Making this tag was easy. I hate saying that. Naturally, I want you to marvel at it and think "Wow! That Carmen sure is a goddess when it comes to creating spectacular projects! She's so great I bet the Pope will beatify her hands at some point!"

Okay. So maybe only I think that. But pretending you are saying it as well gets me through these post house arrest days. Besides, as my Therapist Darlene says, "whatever works, as long as it isn't manslaughter or maiming".

Therapist Darlene and her ilk are such downers. They're always trying to make us work harder than we should have to with their whole "communication" and "compassion" racket. 

These post house arrest days should be good ones for all of us, right? So why am I dragging and feeling as if nothing has changed?

Oh...right...BECAUSE IT HASN'T.

You heard right, my friends. 

All three y-chromosomes are still in their rooms. They haven't emerged except to eat and complain that there's nothing to eat. Granted, this has been the case for the past decade but I could actually get them to leave occasionally. 

All I had to do in the past is have their room fumigated. Turns out taking away a fresh air supply would make them leave in a hurry and, like little cockroaches, they'd scuttle out and hide in some dark corner with their Nintendo's. But, as soon as the dust (fumes) settled, they were back in their rooms. Now, those little suckers are immune to the pesticides.

Not that I won't keep trying, mind you.

The Marital Unit is working from home and now it's permanent. He sits in the loft at the top of our stairs, watching Fox News, and shouting out random headlines. It's like having a sniper in the house. Imagine pouring a cup of coffee in a fairly quiet house then someone yelling "Trump shutting down air travel!"

Naturally, I tend to jump when this happens, spilling and/or dropping whatever is in my hands at the time. I'm telling you, people...there are NOT enough pharmaceuticals to get me through all this.

NOW you see. House arrest has become a life sentence. And I'm stuck in a 4br cell with a Marital Unit who has developed a television news-based Tourette's and children who used my entire 3 month toilet paper stash in two weeks. 

And when it comes to 3 boys eating and never leaving the house, I can tell you how I've become an expert in toilet plunging!!

Oh, sorry...totally off topic...again. Back to the tag.

I used my Gelli plate and covered it with metallic acrylic paint. Then, I stamped the Bubble stamp and lifted the print. The shine is AMAZING! I love those paints (I got mine at Michaels). Next, I punched a hole for a shaker cup. The only cups I had were Stampin Up! and they made a proprietary punch to fit those cups. So, I used my circle punch, used a small amount of Viva Ferro Amber Gold paste that I'd allowed to dry out as sand and filled it with small shells and starfish. 

After adhereing the cup, I had the flattened part on the bottom so I used pearl trim to surround the scene and crystals to cover the part showing. Then, I used the Ferro again to spread on the bottom and glued my shells to it. 

(NOTE: I can't find Viva Ferro for sale in the US anymore. It's a shame. But you can use a cheap tube of texture paste from Michaels or Hobby Lobby and mix it with paint or alcohol ink for the same effect)

When I stamped the sentiment, I realized that I should've stamped and embossed in a darker color as it got lost in the shuffle. 

Let me say that BOTH are what I call "core stamps". They have tons of usage possibilities and both are less than 15 bucks.  10% OFF USING MY CODE 

Then, YOU'RE PRACTICALLY GETTING THE SENTIMENT FOR FREE (if you purchase by the 8th and use my code!!!!)

Whew...tired myself out with all those caps. But when it comes to "discounts", I get a little excited. 

My second project is using the FLORAL SEAHORSE 

Michaels had these small 4 x 4 white canvases that came in a pack of 9. I painted this with black gesso and stamped the seahorse in VersaMark. I used white embossing powder then mixed my metallic acrylic paints with molding paste, trying to add a little dimension to the piece.

This was NOT successful. 

But, once I started, I was gonna finish! 

I added the sand dollar for 2 reasons: the first is that I thought it complimented the piece and elevated it to "mixed media" since I used two different elements other than paint. 

The second reason is that I blew it painting the flower. Seriously. It was horrific. And what do we do when we totally mess something up and we're almost at the end of a time-consuming project? 


Next time, I'll stick to just paint without the mixer. 

I hope you enjoyed your visit to TJ's this morning. Take my discount and run with it!  


Saturday, June 6, 2020

Vintage Imagery ATC's Triptych

For this ATC swap, I chose a Beauty and the Beast theme.

I named it...ahem..."Beastly Seduction".

No, wait...that's the title of the new book I'm reading. I'm sure that's a copyright violation. Let me try again.

How about "Beast Leaving Hairs on the Couch While Beauty Readies Her Fan to Discipline Him".

Oh, crud. NOW I’m thinking that’s the opening line of the aforementioned book. I guess I could check, but I don’t feel like climbing under my bed to retrieve said book from the hollowed out part of my mattress, hidden behind the third slat from the headboard.

Not to mention it was a little on the wordy side, anyway.

Let me try one more time.

"Beauty and the Beast: You, Me and Hairs All OVER the Couch”.

Oh, good Lord, people. Just make up a name and go get your own book and stop making me dance around here like an organ-grinder's monkey!

You know, that just brought back a VERY early childhood memory. When I was a child, I actually SAW an organ grinder and dancing monkey!

I was about 5-years-old. My parents had taken me to a local fair to temporarily distract from a new little brother, who’d just arrived to usurp my place as ruler of house, home and all things “Grandparent”.

Whoa! Sorry. I’ll get into that at a later date once I’ve worked it out in therapy.

As we left the fair, there was a man who had a large...well...organ...on a stick (I swear...this is NO double entendre...unless you want it to be... no judgement here, my friends) and he had a little monkey on a leash

The monkey was wearing a tiny cap and jacket and cavorted to the music. He also carried a little pewter cup. If you held out a coin, that precious little monkey would come take it from your hand, drop it in his cup, then tip his little cap to you.

I probably begged around ten bucks worth of quarters from my parents,s just to keep that monkey coming my way. And he did. He would turn his nose up at pennies and wouldn't take them. Nickels and dimes were ok, but if you held out a quarter, he was yours!!

Yeah, there was a sign that said "Do not touch the monkey". At least that's what my parent's said. And they kept saying it over and over. But I'd given him so many quarters that we'd bonded, right? He was doing tricks for ME that he wasn't doing for any other kid! He came to ME first when he emptied his little cup and came back for more!! Surely he couldn't possibly mind if I just reached out to gently touch him? Unlike the other stupid children around me, who would grab or try to hug, I-due to my superior animal understanding (as evidenced by our lightning-fast amount of quarters in the world could've MADE that happen, right?) would settle for a comforting, feather-light pat.

So, I reached out and stroked its little arm. The monkey spun around, bared its teeth and made as if to bite me. I was terrified! It was made all the worse by the filthy, toothless organ grinder who laughed raucously at me.

"I hate that stupid monkey!" I screamed to my mother. The monkey was still looking for money and ignoring me completely. So much for the relationship I thought we had.

"Stupid monkey!" I stomped my foot, still crying. Pointing at it, I yelled “Mama, Daddy that's a bad monkey! You tell that man to spank his monkey!”

It was my father who grabbed me and quickly moved us along as the mean-monkey-owning-man guffawed loudly.

And I never understood why.

Is it me or do you fell like you need a shower just reading this far into the post? I swear, this is the dirtiest, non-dirty entry, I've ever written.

The takeaway so far is twofold: Avoid all things “monkey” like the plague. The second is that you have a very dirty mind.

I knew there was something I liked about you!

Monday, June 1, 2020

JUNE New Releases-Covid OUT-Summer IN! Technique Junkies ON IT!

Oh wow! I can’t believe it! It’s June!


You know, I thought I would be a little more excited with our collective house-arrest now coming to an end. And perhaps I would be, had I not been forced into a quarantine with three children, a husband and a dog. 

It would’ve been significantly more bearable had the MU (marital unit) and the three hormone-oozing Y chromosomes been forced to do their American duty by quarantining somewhere else. But this was not to be. Which should prove that our government may not really have Covid figured out, but they excel in human rights violations by forcing me into seclusion with them.  

Finally, this weekend, with whatever "wave" we're in, in terms of things opening at the moment, Friday hit with the restrictions lifted!!  I would have danced with joy!

Had I been able to find a clean space on the floor.

I waited all day on Friday for at least one of the offspring to mention going to visit friends. At 10 o’clock on Saturday night, all three of them were in various stages of sleeping, eating or gaming or-as has been shown in the past to be possible with teenage boys – all three at one time. Which was fine, except they were still here.

So, this morning, while I’m happy things are opening back up and our economy will start to roar as it did before this mess started, there is one thing that I demand from my government. And I will stand tall and speak to both parties as I hold BOTH responsible. With millions at my back, I shall stand tall and rock Washington, with my war cry echoing all over the US.

You jack holes put them in there, now you get them out.”

Now, on to Technique Junkies June release! The most important take away, other than the awesome stamp designs, is that until the eighth you get 15% off new releases. If you add my discount, you get another 10% off the new releases, plus an additional 10% off anything else you purchase.

On my mixed media card, I used Scenic Route and Open Road . Using a round mask, I inked the sky with Distress Ink, then used a metallic acrylic paint for the water. I got texture by making ridges and designs in the wet paint with my brushes and then heat setting them quickly. Any acrylic paint can be made to do this and give your projects a little extra depth and interest.

The sand substance at the bottom is by Viva and it’s called Ferro. The color is amber gold. Unfortunately I can’t find this for sale in the US anymore. I love it because I can spread it on anything and it takes on the look of sand. In this case, once it dried with all those awesome textures, I stamped The tire tracks from the open road sat then use the sentiment take the scenic route stamped on acrylic at the bottom left. The white foam was made with liquid appliqué in white

I was off the month of May so it sure is nice to be back!

Before you go, don’t forget to check out ALL the new releases, as well as the incredible work from my co-designers!! It means a lot when you stop by and comments mean even more.