Saturday, December 31, 2011

Next Year's Words...

Happy New Year!!

I, of course, am not awake right now, but you may be, and if so, I hope you are having a happy, loud, quiet, festive or peaceful New Year's Eve - whichever of those you like!

I saw a great quote on Twitter tonight. (via @ken_homer)

For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice. ~ T.S. Eliot

Isn't that the truth? 

Remember - we didn't have Pinterest before 2011.

We won't have Steve Jobs in 2012.

We are going to be amazed and delighted and touched this year in ways we can't imagine, I'm sure.

After all, the internet has more LOLcats for us, there are crafts we've never done, apps that haven't been invented yet, and all those recipes we haven't tried.

I hope your New Year is filled with wonder and joy and peace. 

And LOLcats. :)

This little kitty is a free digi (go get it!) from Sweet 'n Sassy stamps, who decided to set the tone for the New Year with generosity, humor and fun.

It doesn't get much sweeter than that!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

If You Like It, Then You Better Make a Ring Out Of It!

Aah vacation. As it draws to a close, it's just now getting to the point where I can do some fun stuff. 

The first three days I spent shoveling out my craftastrophe. What's funny is it doesn't really look that different. But I spent most of the time on the closet. I threw away three huge garbage bags full of old class notes from conventions past, some old cards that were ugly and I was never going to mail to anyone, and a whole lot of random scraps of things or half finished projects that weren't worth starting. 

After I got rid of the trash, I had a lot of stuff that was brand new or gently used that needed to go. I boxed these up in flat rate boxes (35 pounds across three boxes!) and mailed them off to friends. That felt good. 

I did so much of this that I'm actually sore from squatting in front of shelves peering at ill advised purchases from bygone years. I have lots more to go but it's a start! 

My goal for 2012 is to have exactly HALF of the possessions I have now. I only want to keep things I really love and use. The rest should go to people whole will love what I'm not using. 

I've also decided if I win the lottery I will build a large, one-story home with NO closets, NO drawers and NO attic. Everything will have to live in the space it's used in, so things will have to be useful and artfully displayed. So put THAT in your hat and smoke it. 

So today was the first day I've gotten to the point where I could be crafty. And it was SO fun!!

I used a tutorial I saw earlier in the year to make fake faceted jewels from floral stones!!

LOOK how sparkly and fun they are!! Here's the white one. 


And you KNOW I did a blue one!!!

Don't they just make you happy????

Okay - here's what you do. I started with this fried marbles tutorial on Craftster. However, I tried it with her temperatures three times and it didn't work. So after a lot of failed experimentation, this is what I did.
  • Start with these flat bottomed marbles
  • Preheat your oven to 500.
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
  • Fill a stainless steel bowl with ice water - lots of ice.
  • Spread stones out on parchment paper in a single layer. 
  • Bake for 20 minutes, and when finished, take the cookie sheet and dump the marbles directly and immediately into the ice water, where they will make a satisfying sizzle and crack. Leave them there about 15-20 minutes and dump them out onto a paper towel. 
Some will crack better than others. They are SO fun!! I made a squillion of them. 

Then, take some of this glue and glue them to these ring blanks

VOILA!! Ring bling!! 

How fun is THAT?

And for a few Christmas gifts, I bought these stacking espresso cups and some candle making supplies - a little hot pot (nice because it's easy to pour the wax out of), wicks and some unscented wax and I filled the cups with wax. When they were cool, I added a circle of stamped tissue paper and heated it with my heat gun to melt it into the candle. The stamp is the retired background stamp - Musical score. Aren't they sassy?

Now after I gave them away I was left with the holder the cups came in:

What ever shall I do with it? Got any ideas? Lay em on me, stringbean!! :)


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Forever Praise We...

You know how people (who don't have/like animals) always tell you that the reason your pets like you is because you feed them? That all of the purring and snuggling and tail wagging is designed to get you to give them some pet chow?

Well of course you know I don't believe THAT. I know they love us.

And I also know that not everything that motivates behavior on this earth is food or shelter or some other primitive need.

I know that some things exist solely to give us joy.

One of the ways I know this is because I heard this on the way home on Christmas Eve.

Now listen to that and then tell me that that gift she has serves some utilitarian purpose. I won't believe you.

That is a gift  meant purely to enhance the joy of humans on earth.

And does it ever.

Joy is good. The sense of lightness and fun we all share for a few weeks at the holidays is really a treasure. I hope you are enjoying it, no matter what you're doing, or where you're doing it.

In addition to the joy, I always think on Christmas of our brave men and women who won't spend this Christmas at home, and their families getting through the holidays without them. Today on the radio, a General said "remember the empty chair."

So in honor of both human joy and the empty chair, here is one of my favorite Christmas songs on my Ipod, but with a very special twist :) Welcome home to the troops headed our way, and God bless all the rest.

(click here if you don't see a video player)

This Christmas I decided my card should be merry and bright! You know by now that I love to make monochromatic, sort of subdued Christmas cards, but I decided to step out a bit this year into something splashier. More joyful.

To make them, I used my Aqua Painter and Poppy Parade, Summer Sun and Tempting Turquoise reinkers and painted stripes around four sides of Naturals White cardstock and punched that out with the ornament punch. I got 20 of these per sheet for a total of 8 sheets of cardstock. Then I cut 1/8" strips of silver glimmer paper. This was a wee bit more than half a sheet total. Then 80 sheets of Whisper White, the stamped greeting from Peaceful Season and the music from Nature's Pace and voila! 160 handmade cards for $19.75 in consumables - or .12 a card!

Add the joy of making handmade cards and what do you get?


I hope your Christmas is joyful. And filled with pie. :)


Friday, December 23, 2011

It's Just a Little Primitive

I've been having fun looking at some of the primitive Christmas decorations on Pinterest. Besides just being beautiful and simple, I have been surprised at how many of them can be made with things you already have.

Pinterest is definitely a DIY-ers dream.

Were I not a procrastinator, I would have been able to make many more of the beautiful, simple things I pinned this season.

But one of them really grabbed me and I had to try it since I had all the stuff.

The original pin is here, and this is my version.

You knew I had to make Mary blue, didn't you?

The circle behind them is shimmery white cardstock, and it's hanging with white twine. The star is cut with the Stars #2 die from Silver Glimmer paper. I painted them with Apple Barrel Paints. There are a bunch of different shapes of old fashioned clothespins you can find in bulk, like these.

I love the simplicity of the symbols. So sweet.

I hope you're in that phase of the holidays where you are enjoying some of your hard work and preparation!

This afternoon, we are kicking off a week of Christmas vacation with the second annual wrapping party at my sister's. We provide wrapping paper, tape, bows, ribbon, tables, music and food, a DIY tag craft table and assistance for the neighbors so that everyone can wrap presents in a relaxing setting where they don't have to hide gifts from the kids or do it after everyone is in bed. It's a really, fun, festive little thing we started last year and everyone loved it, so it's year two!
I guess I should go prep the tags, eh?

A gift without a tag is just downright primitive. :)

Oh  - speaking of primitive, how about the instinct to soothe a crying baby? Even cats have it. This video is amazing - shared by my friend Karol. If you don't see a video player, click here to watch.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pea Happy

I made the world's best split pea soup this week.

Seriously - the world's best. And I know there's a lot of good pea soup out there. But this? This is the best.

Now the reason I'm making split pea soup is because Texas is still pretending to be a climate that would be produced if England and Antarctica had a baby. A horrid, ugly, wet, grey baby that no one likes.

So I've just given up being a southerner and decided to buy a sweater and make things like pea soup. I might even learn to knit or go digging for clams in the cold, wet earth.

See how dramatic it makes me?

Well I told a bunch of people I'd share my recipe, so here you go. Don't forget to whisper my name when you taste it.

World's Best Split Pea Soup Ever in the WORLD

  • 1 pound dried split peas. Soak these overnight. Throw away the nasty pea water a few times and add clean water.
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion, lazily chopped into large pieces
  • Fresh thyme - about 10 sticks of it, a handful, whatever
  • Crushed red pepper flakes - I used a lot - like 1 TBSP - you make up your own mind.
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 Smithfield smoked ham hocks
  • 6 C. chicken broth
  • 2 tsp. salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 C half and half

Throw it all in the crockpot - except the half and half. I stripped the thyme leaves into the crockpot and threw away the stems.  Cook it on low for about 6 hours and then on high for the last two or three hours, depending on your crockpot's personality. At the end, toss the hocks, add the half and half and blend the soup with a stick blender until smooth. Whisper my name. It's even better the next day because it sort of firms up and gets that real split pea texture.

Oh - since everyone keeps asking, this is my crockpot and I love it like I love the sun.
It has given me many fabulous meals. 

Now, if the sun would just come back, I'd be totally happy!

I made this card for a Hope You Can Cling To challenge. The hexagons are a Westminster / Sizzix quilting die and the B is from Serif Essentials. The bee is from Nature Walk and the greeting is from my beloved Pursuit of Happiness. I dyed some of our white twine with Summer Sun.

I never get tired of "be happy" cards. :)

And now that you have my recipe, you can PEA happy!


Friday, December 16, 2011

You Might Think I Don't Remember, But I Do

You were counting on me not remembering, I know.

But you're out of luck.

You see, I happen to be old enough to have been alive BEFORE plastic bags.

In the olden times, all there were were paper grocery bags. And it was good.

And then someone got their freak on and started telling all of us who were grocery shopping that we clearly hated kittens and baby seals and that's why we used paper bags. And that it had to change. For the kittens. And the baby seals.

Then, they introduced plastic bags to the stores. For the earth, they said. It's for the earth.

They kept the paper bags, though. This was so that they could ask you "paper or plastic?" and then judge you with a beady you-hate-seals stare when you chose paper. They didn't care if your jar of sauerkraut busted right through the bottom of the cheap, thin plastic bag and landed on your toe, permanently disabling you. They just glared at you and your paper bag and heaped planetary destruction onto your shoulders.

Trust me, I hated plastic bags before hating plastic bags was cool.

So let me attempt to describe my surprise, when suddenly, it is decreed from on high that plastic bags are bad for the environment. My city is considering banning them altogether. Clearly, they have determined that the world is about to abruptly end. And once again, it's my fault.

If I'd woken up with my HEAD sewn to the carpet, I couldn't be more surprised. (source: Christmas Vacation)


I actually always knew plastic was bad. 

However, we are now at war with Eastasia instead of Eurasia and people think we don't remember.

But we do.

So ban whatever you want. Freak out all you want. But paper bags always ruled. We were right. Even when you were judging us.

Line up for apologies here beady glarers. I am waiting here with a smirk, and a lovely recycled brown paper bag.

I thought I'd bring you a little something different today in honor of the new paper friendly world order.

This is an encaustic painting I did in one of my classes, and I think it's my favorite.

It reminds me of Santa Fe, and I love that warm, desert color. It's amazing how much variation you can get with just a little iron. Maybe if my clothes looked like this when I ironed, which I don't, then I actually would. But they don't, so I won't.

Maybe I'll have time to make some more encaustic art over the holidays. This painting maybe took 15 minutes from start to finish. I should tell you it took days or weeks or months, but that would be a fib. And Santa is watching!

Here are some resources if you want to try it yourself.

This is my favorite encaustic technique book. I used this to form my classes. 

Here are some of the waxes. I prefer the opaque colors, but that is just because I'm a newbie. You don't need many colors because you mix them.

Any craft iron (must be smooth - no holes) will work.

You need glossy cardstock, which you can of course buy from me :).

So, I must ask you, "paper or plastic?"


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When You Care Enough To Send the Hairy Beast

I bought a stamp that says that - it has the little Hallmark crown over it and it just cracks me UP!

I thought about stamping it on the back of my Christmas cards, but then I decided I should be more serious so I used my normal one.

That's right - I said Christmas cards. Again.

I'm in full assembly mode at night. I have a mobile command center in the living room and am on phase 3 of assembly. Sadly, phase 3 is always where I discover the flaw in my design that grinds everything to a screeching near halt of slowness. Phases 1 & 2 had me feeling all smirky that I had designed a pretty smooth mass production piece of paper art, but 3 is always the DOH moment.

Oh well. I plod on, still determined to make my weekend mailing deadline! The hopelessness has left me!

Now to today's fun!

LOOK at this gorgeous Color Throwdown combo!!

I knew when I saw this I was going to get all Die-licious all over it,  and I was so tempted to use my butterfly embosslit, but I knew I couldn't resist my new toys.

I busted out my Fashionable Hearts Embosslit and my Labels Collection framelits from the upcoming Occasions mini, along with the Rue Des Fleurs stamp set for a quick & happy card.

Those Color Throwdown ladies are brilliant. This combo just makes my eyes happy. Especially in this drizzly nastiness that will not leave my state.

One of our local radio hosts even commented on how we're all going crazy from this Seattle-ness. We Texans are not built for this. I'll be thrilled to see the sun again. I may not come inside for a while when it comes back.

I'll just post a pic of the sun here and you'll know why I'm gone!


Monday, December 12, 2011

It's That Time Again...

You know - the time when you have cookies in the oven, your holiday lights are twinkling, your favorite Christmas songs are on the radio, and you're all settled on the couch with your Kindle, reliving the magic of A Christmas Carol.

Yeah, if any of that is going on, you have one of the following:
  • Your mom living with you
  • Some sort of delusional disorder
  • A team of elves working around the clock doing your bidding
  • Illicit stimulants you mix into your espresso
The other possibility is that you are not a stamper.

Because what time it REALLY is is the time in between when you got the lights out and when they got up, when your desk is covered with the debris from no less than 40 failed prototypes of your Christmas card, and there is more of a chance that you'll be hit on the head with pieces of the international space station when you go out to start your car than that a cookie is going to get made in this chaos any time soon.

Now is the time we must throw away our dirty clothes, put in scheduled pizza orders (you really can do that, you know) and put out bowls of kibble for any living creatures that require food and buckle down for the stampy opus of the year.

Or at least that's what time it is at my house. After trying all day yesterday to make one particular image work for my Christmas cards, I went to bed in frustration without even a hope of a design.

At 4 AM, after dreaming that a particularly crazy person from my past was piloting a Southwest flight I was on, I was suddenly and irreversibly awake with an idea in my head, finally, for a nice, colorful, simple card.

Since there's not much else to do at 4 AM, I tried it out, and I do, in fact, like it, and *think* I have everything I need to make it. I have to thank my beloved Dana for planting the idea in my subconscious, unbeknownst to her.

She also is responsible for this insanely adorable video of red pandas, which I must reshare, because I adore you that much.

Seriously - is that not the cutest thing ever? I used to think I only needed one red panda, but it should be pretty obvious after you watch that that I do, in fact, need two.

Now while I was procrastinating my own card this weekend, I made a card for the blue Christmas challenge for VSN. Come on - don't judge me - how was I supposed to resist that??

I decided to use one of my fave stampy images on a simple, watercolored background. Oddly enough, Blogger does not think either stampy or watercolored are words. Hmph.
Stamps: Come to Bethlehem Ink: Basic Black Craft, Basic Black Classic Paper: Watercolor Paper, Whisper White  

I took an awesome class on watercolor not too long ago, and the instructor had us doing salted watercolor. In order to do that, you need a lot of pigment to be sitting on the paper when you apply the salt. The best way to do this is to use the tube watercolors, rather than the pan ones. Well what I found in this class is that I liked how saturated the colors of tube watercolor are, so I just kept using them!

Someday, when I grow up, I'll do REAL watercoloring. Right after I bake those cookies.

Yeah right.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pardon Me, But You Look Like a Murderer in That Outfit

Male readers - this post is for you.

It doesn't get cold for too long down here in God's country, but each year, when it does, we Texans just try to survive it with whatever we have laying around.

There's no point in buying a lovely cashmere duster or a mink swing coat or anything because if we can just get through the next month, we'll be back in flip flops, sipping margaritas on the patio and cursing the stinging insects.

However, sadly, this means that our normally gloriously handsome and legendary Texas men look like murderers and rapists for a month.

I'm sorry - but it's the truth.

When the warmest thing you own is black hoodie or God forbid, a knit cap you've owned since your teens, the bare fact is, all women instinctively reach for their pepper spray when they see you lurching around dressed like this:

Take this guy I saw at the Starbucks drive through window this morning. He's actually gone beyond the rapist/murderer/burglar look and fast forwarded straight to the Grim Reaper.

See her reaching into her apron pocket? I'm certain that's where she keeps her taser.

I'm only telling you this as a public service. I don't want you to be surprised if you get pepper sprayed or tased during our little cold snap. You might want to look into a respectable coat.

Until then, try to stay indoors. It's for your own safety. I'll smile at you again in the spring.

Speaking of winter, I had my last stampy class of the year last weekend, and it was a BLAST!

I was inspired by this lady and her beautiful card to bust out a little Pennant Parade fun. Whaddaya think?
Fun eh? I love aqua winter cards, and those sparkly red dots just make me happy.

I'm going to start torturing you pretty soon with some Occasions Mini goodies - you can see some of them in my Virtual Stamp Night cards. Are you playing in our fun challenges? You have tons of time - come on over and play!

I'll sneak peek you one of my VSN cards if you follow me over to Project Reanimate for a surprising "can do" reanimation!


Friday, December 9, 2011

A No Horse Open Sleigh

I hate to quibble with a Christmas song and all, but come ON - you know that horses don't pull sleighs - reindeer do.

And we all know reindeer aren't horses. And horses aren't reindeer. I'm also fairly certain that horses can't fly. Or sing. And also, I don't think their noses light up.

So now that we've settled that, let's talk about open sleighs!

I saw this adorable paper sleigh on someone's blog that the random epic battles between Photoshop and Firefox that always end in a reboot erased, so if you saw it, please post a link so I can give credit.

Anyway, I just reverse engineered it - she didn't say what the sleigh body was made of, but I discovered that it works with pretty much all of my box dies - Box #2, favor boxes, you name it.

I started with Crumb Cake, for my monthly class, and used the Pines and Poinsettias set for the little accent. The white gel pen does wonders for that pinecone, don't you think? It looks so real!

All you have to do to make this is trim off the top flaps of your box - in this case, the Box #2. Then put a large super sticky Post-It Note™ (put the sticky part at the bottom of the box) on one side of the box and draw a curve that you want for your sleigh and cut it. Then use that as a template to cut the other side of the sleigh. Stamp whatever you want on the sleigh before assembling the box and then put it together. I hand cut 1/4" sleigh runner and curved them like you do with ribbon with my bone folder.

So easy and fun!

Using another shape, I made a white one fit for a snow queen - remember her?? *shudder*

This project was featured on the Sizzix blog hop, thanks to sweet Stephanie!

To embellish this sleigh, I added "fur" with a silver pipe cleaner, I embossed the outside with our fun snowflake folder, and added pearls along the bottom. The tag uses the Tim Holtz die and The Stamps of Life Joy2Christmas set.

I love, love love putting these peppermint striped gorgeous Ghirardelli candies in all my holiday projects - I sort of hoard them because they look so pretty with blue cardstock!!! :D

I made the cutest treats for my Starbucks peeps with these candies and Tempting Turquoise.

Anyhow, the important thing is that you are NOT going to expect a sleigh next time you see a horse. Because there isn't going to be one.

If you see a REINDEER though - well, keep your eyes peeled...



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

We Interrupt This Broadcast...

To bring you some squealing!

I didn't finish work today until 9. Normally, that would just be a long day. But today, it was more excruciating than normal because I knew as soon as I was done, I could bust into the box containing my Occasions Mini pre-order that was torturing me with its silent presence while I slaved away!

GAH it was nearly unbearable.

But as I finally sliced the tape on the box and lovingly beheld the beautiful Pool Party twine, the cherry scented embossing powder, the Framelits, and OMG the stamps, I forgot my long day.

Actually I forgot everything else in the world. Most notably laundry and dusting. Actually, I hadn't been thinking about those at all, so that's kind of a gimme. Anyhoo...

Isn't it fun after all these years to still have a box of new stampy goodness turn you into a squealy five year old on Christmas morning?

I love that.

Of course, the next thing that sets in is the paralysis of "where do I start?" "What do I play with first?"

Under normal circumstances, I respond to this paralysis by seeing something shiny and wandering off to Pinterest or Twitter and not stamping anything at all.

But today, I had a mission. This week's Color Throwdown.

Now tell me that when you look at these colors, that you can refrain from thinking about a gnome. And if you do tell me that, I will totally call you liar. Because you're thinking about a gnome.
Well darn it - so am I! And I happen to HAVE a gnome in my big box of stampy goodness. Actually several, ridiculously adorable gnomes and some hilarious sayings. Like "You light up my lawn."

Stamps: Gnome Sweet Gnome (Upcoming Occasions Mini) Paper: Bravo Burgundy, Whisper White, Old Olive
Ink: Soft Suede, Creamy Caramel, Daffodil Delight, Bravo Burgundy, Old Olive, Going Grey
Accessories: Perfect Pennants Die, Circle Die, 2.5" Circle Punch, Blender Pen, White Gel Pen, Dazzling Details

That cracks me up!

This set is called Gnome Sweet Gnome, and also has a girl gnome, a baby gnome - yes, a baby gnome - and 9 other adorable stamps. (Available January 4)

I hand fringed the grass with my rubber scissors. The ticket with this is to put the highest row on first - believe me, I've done it wrong and it's embarassing.

A person doesn't need to be humiliated by an improperly terraced card. Save yourselves. My pain is your gain.

In case YOU have a new box of stamps you want to play with, come play in the Virtual Stamp Night challenges this weekend on Splitcoast! I'm hostessing one with a very "me" theme and I'd love to chat it up with you in the forum so come on over.

Also, be sure and check out this month's Creative Crew gallery (you have to be logged in to Splitcoast to see the gallery) - it's AMAZING.

Oh lookie - we're halfway to Friday. :)


Saturday, December 3, 2011


I remember SO vividly the first time I saw the Sound of Music, (which is great, and I could go on yada yada) that what I loved the MOST was Edelweiss. I don't know why I loved that song more than all the other fantastic music in that movie, but I did, and still do. (Click the link above if you don't see a video player.)

Doesn't that song just make you feel peaceful and happy?

I might have to put the 45th Anniversary edition of the movie on my Christmas list. I don't have a Blu-Ray but the boxed set is a combo Blu Ray/DVD so maybe I could give the Blu-Ray to Kim! :) If that's even what combo means. Honestly, I don't even know. Audio/video/stereo/movie stuff is the one tech area where I'm not a geek and could completely care less. If I can see it and hear it before I fall asleep - I'm fine. I don't need it to come with 3D and aromatherapy and 30 gigahertz of decibels or whatever. But here's what I'm adding to the Blue List.

Every time I make a white flower on a card, I think of that song, even though I've never seen one of those flowers in real life.

Here's a beautiful illustration of one from Wikipedia, in case you haven't either.

I was humming that pretty little tune late on Friday night when I made one of my class projects for yesterday's class. I kept the two cards pretty CAS since we had a more complicated (and adorable) 3D project to make. I will show it to you when the Sizzix blog hop gets rolling because I made the project for that hop - SQUEE!

But speaking of Sizzix, my sweet white flower is just two of the flowers from the Fun Flowers die, curled up with the fat end of my bone folder.
The center of the flower was punched from red glimmer paper with my Itty Bitty Shapes Punch Pack. 

In the background, trying HARRRRRDDDDDD to steal the show, is the stunning Holly Berry Bouquet designer paper. I wish I had oodles of this paper - I love these roses.

This would make a super Christmas card and it would easily mail flat.

Speaking of those - I haven't designed mine yet. I better get cracking.

Oh - before you go - head over to my Project Reanimate Blog and see what I was up to on TV last week with some fun recycled Christmas ornaments!



Friday, December 2, 2011

I WANT to Care About The Drought, But I Don't.

Yeah, so it's raining.

I hate rain.

Rain fills me with despair.

Actually, much to my father's horror, water in any significant quantity fills me with despair.

I feel like some crazed woman in a Bronte novel who will soon be driven out onto the moors and into the soggy heather to lose her mind.

I understand that there are people out their who CLAIM that rain fills them with joy. Or they CLAIM to care that we need rain.

Because I'm about to run into the soggy heather in my petticoat and gnash my teeth and rend my garments, I cannot CLAIM to believe any of these people.

Perhaps when the sun returns I will be more tolerant of the aquarian types, but not now. Do not talk to me about aquifers and your dead grass.

I cannot hear you above the English accents in my head telling me to flee and cast myself into a bog.

The only place where clouds and rain are beautiful are on paper.

Stamps: Pace of Nature Ink: Pool Party, Basic Black 
Paper: First Edition, Silver Glimmer Paper, Pool Party, Crumb Cake 
Accessories: Sweet 'n Sassy Cloud dies, 3/8" circle punch

I miss you, sun.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Shop Small Please, Love, Me

Yeah, so stuff happens.

You know how suddenly after your car is out of warranty the dealership suddenly finds $80 squillion in repairs that have to be done right that second or your car will explode? Well that just happened to me recently and I'm not super happy about it. I wonder if they think we don't know they are complete shysters. In case you dealership people are reading my blog - newsflash - we know.

Anyway, that's actually not really related to my story but I needed to get it off my chest. I do feel better.

However, I did recently have an unwelcome, very expensive problem that I had to get fixed, and I decided to check out a new-ish auto repair place near me called Christian Brothers Automotive.

First, when I called, the guy answering the phone didn't put me on hold, but pulled up a schedule and asked me what would work for an appointment. After I got the smelling salts out, I made an appointment. He told me that I wouldn't want to wait there based on the repair I needed, but that they would drive me home and then come pick me up when my car was done.

I'm sorry if you just fainted. I almost did too.

So I popped over there at my appointed time and went into the business. Instead of the normal grubby, linoleum and fluorescent-light-and-burned-coffee hell that normally greets you, this place had couches and comfy chairs and was playing soothing music. Instead of doors slamming and intercom noise, there was calm and quiet and a nice man in nice clothes waiting to get my info.

Shortly after that, a very nice man in a nice car drove me and several other customers home to wait for our cars.

Sadly, they called me with bad news about a big expense. But instead of the normal ambiguous garbage, this guy told me how they get their pricing from their suppliers, what the cost of the parts were and what they were charging me. He gave me every conceivable option for what I could have repaired, and I told them to do the work.

When I picked up my car, my seat was in the same position I always have it in, my radio was on the same station, and my car was clean. As the service manager gave me my keys, he gently told me I was out of gas. I'm always out of gas, but it was nice of him to notice. Sometimes it comes in handy to be a long distance walker. I realize that some people find gas more important than I do, and I appreciated that.

But the real magic of this experience came two weeks, and then a month after my service.

Two weeks later, I got a hand written thank you card for my business from the owners.

Now THAT is nearly unheard of. But wait.

Last week, I got a phone call from them asking me how my car was performing and if I had any issues. I have NEVER in nearly 30 years of car repairs had that happen. As a matter of fact, I'm fairly sure one he-who-shall-not-be-named repair chain obliterates all customer records immediately after any repair just to guarantee they can never come in contact with you again.

I am so grateful for this stellar service. Even if it hadn't been going well with my car when I got the call, the call would still mean so much. 

So, I ask each of you, as we enter the holiday season, to do a little something for people like Neail & Patti Hand at Christian Brothers Automotive.

Shop small for Christmas. Buy your gifts locally from the people in your community when you can, and buy from small companies or individual sellers online - especially from our sole proprietor and small business friends in the crafting industry.

No one is ever going to call you from China and ask you how your xyz is working for you.

Since that small biz experience made me feel the Christmas spirit, I thought I should express that with this week's Color Throwdown!

When I first saw this combo, I really did think Christmas. Green and red, plus the blue of the night sky and the yellow of *the* star.

So this was my interpretation.
Stamps: Bright Christmas Paper: Crumb Cake, Whisper White Ink: Basic Blac, Real Red, Not Quite Navy, Daffodil Delight, Old Olive, Basic Black Accessories: Retire star punch, Basic Black Marker, Scissors, Foray Pencil eraser, ruler

To make the dots, I used a Foray pencil from Office Depot - the eraser part is white, so after I finished stamping with the eraser in one color, it was easy to see when I had cleaned it all off and could move to the next color. It won't work as well with darker erasers, especially when you're using red inks.

I just covered a quarter sheet with dots and then cut it into trees. I hand - well, with a ruler - drew the trunks :).

By winter wonderland, btw, I mean - here's to 70 and sunny for a few months. God bless Texas.


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