Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Organizing Books and Carpenter Elves

I love to read, though I find it impossible to read only one book at a time. (I also read magazines back to front. Religiously. Does anyone else do this or am I weird? If you also do this, are you left handed, too? That's my guess why I'm prone to do that. Either that or I was Japanese in a past life.)

So, here's what I've been reading:
Organization Tips for Scrapbookers by Denise Pauley
I bought this book for the same reason I'm sure everyone does, in hopes that it would magically clean and re-arrange me scrap room while I slept. The neat thing is that it nearly did just that. The book's been sitting on the coffee table for a few weeks, since it's that kind of book that reads like a magazine. Very little print, a whole lot of photos of scrap rooms clearly owned by people who never knock things over and can intuitively find the inner beauty in an empty mustard jar. I dream of being them.
The book is light on the how-to, but it's got a lot of great ideas pictured for you to file away in your brain for later when you need them. I like that kind of thing, but if you're a stickler for instructions for every project, you won't be happy. So be aware of this before running out to buy the book. Even the instructions that are included are pretty sketchy. On the other hand, the photos are gorgeous, and full of a lot of ideas that need no explanation since they're just cool ways to use various household objects to help keep your stuff scrapbook-store neat. Like a book of one-liners, they're clever, they make you smile, and there's not a whole lot else to say about it.
One last thing, the price. $24.95 is pretty high, but then it is composed of hundreds of photos on heavy-duty paper stock. It's a hefty paperback even without all the plane tickets and other junk mine has accumulated, marking various pics I liked. And there's always the fact that you can pick it up using a coupon at the big box craft stores and Archivers, so that's always an option.
If you've read this far, you're probably wondering how I managed to convince my copy to clean up my craft room "cobbler and the elves"-style. Magically, when I went to San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, Scott picked up my copy, flipped through it, and when I came home he announced that he was remodeling my scrap room. No kidding! He's down there right now, ripping out pannelling, building shelves, priming the walls, etc.
Anyone else's copy do this? Leave a comment.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wow. Wow! WOW!

We always thought of Scott's grandfather as the God of All Things Plastic Canvas, but I dare say his title has a new owner. Erin, one of my fellow Fiskateers posted a link to her friend Jeanne's blog (I know, that's starting to sound like the start of an urban legend--"So my sister's brother's best-friend's dog made one of those") where you can see a feat of such great plastic canvassing, I can only say--well, you read the title.

It's a Barbie--pardon me--"Fashion Doll" dream house. 2 stories tall and an attic. And check out the detail on the toilet seat! There's an automatic dishwasher *and* a freakin' trash compactor in the kitchen. That's nicer than my real house! (Oooh! Challenge idea...make me a plastic canvas house I can live in and I'll RAK you some prima flowers or something. ;))

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tough Day.

The pain is like an abusive boyfriend. It traps me here and holds me down as strongly as thick-veined arms. I live in the delicate state of constantly and desperately trying to avoid setting it off. It is cruel and unpredictable. Most of all, I can't escape it without dying, and so I'm stuck here, a victim of its moods and madness. It holds me captive, it dictates my every move.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sunday's Class

For those of you in the area, check out Sunday's Stampin' Up class projects. I'm particularly fond of the Skully one and the cherry one, but they're all pretty fun to put together. You can't see some of the details in this pic, but I got out some of my favorite wheels and since "Pirouette Pink" is such a pale ink, I played with a lot of layering stamp designs. I really like that one with the little seed packets on it. That's just darn cute.

For those of you who aren't so close, you can still play along with a kit if you like. For $15 you get all you need to assemble these cards, stamps sold seperately, of course. For $5, I'll include the current catalog in that package--a $9.95 (plus postage!) value.

You know how to reach me: http://veronica.stampinup.net has all you need to send me a message.

Now that the commercials are over, take note that I am feeling less horrid today. I've been in a feisty-craftin' mood all week. I've been actively embellishing everything I come in contact with. I would have photos for you, but I've been busy trying to clean the house for Losar* and that's got me a bit distracted.

*Losar is the Lunar New Year celebration most of us know primarily from reading Chinese restaurant placemats. It's the day when the Zodiac flips over to a new animal (from Rat to Ox this year). Chances are you have seen pictures of people running around in dragon costumes on TV, and I think the post office usually issues a stamp for the holiday, which is very nice of them. What most people don't know is that we Buddhists spend the week before Losar taking their houses apart and cleaning them. We try to make a lot of noise to scare off bad spirits that might be hiding out in all those dusty spots and sweep and clean in all those places we usually forget, because that's where stale Chi builds up.

Being a bit cleaning compromised thanks to my decrepit spine, I do my best, but I've come to the conclusion that I just can't do it all myself anymore. If I try, I end up stuck in bed for a week afterward, feeling like I'm going to break into tiny pieces. So, I'm scrambling to get as much done as I can so I can make the most of my fabulous housekeeper/selfless assistant Kate when she arrives in the a.m. That way I don't have to waste the precious limited time I have her for on basic neatening up.

Therefore, I am off to lug stuff up and down stairs, glad that I'm able to move today. Hopefully on Monday, the house will be sparkly clean and I can devote myself to the celebration--an Asian feast followed by ringing bells (I skip the part about setting off firecrackers indoors for the sake of my poor terrified dog), sprinkling water, and hiking around the outside of the house with flaming juniper in hand to complete the final purification for the new year. I'm sure my neigbors think we're nuts, but they should just be glad I decided not to burn effigies at the crossroads in favor of *not* freaking them out completely.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

52 Weeks...for when 365 Days looks just too tiring.

I have this hope that if I start writing shorter entries here I might actually post more often. Part of my new attitude toward blogging is purely a matter of self-preservation. You see, I recently discovered why my nice, gentle heating pad, set on low to softly warm my disks much like the mother hen ever so carefully incubates her fragile eggs, would randomly turn into a blistering, sweat-producing, skin-gripping red-hot-stove-burner slapped against my already tormented spine.

Apparently due to some kind of bizarre electrical anomaly, if my computer (or cel phone charger, for that matter) is plugged into the same circuit as my heating pad and turned on, I end up with the flames of hell strapped to my back. Therefore, in an effort to avoid completely destroying the lovely Edward Gorey tattoo on my back, I now must work on my computer in (relatively) short bursts throughout the day, relying upon battery power.

This kind of fits with my theme for the year. Theme may not be the right word...maybe mantra? Focus. Or better yet, "One thing at a time." Having a brain doused in OCD, this is one of the hardest things for me to do. I have spent my entire life piggybacking simultaneous thoughts one atop the other in fear that I will let my guard down and somehow cause the Earth to fall out of orbit. I know I get more things done (and done better) when I focus. I know my stress level goes down when I only do one thing at a time, and when my stress level goes down, so does my pain to some extent (and I'll take any reduction I can get.) As a Zen Buddhist, I have spent countless hours (hey, ten minutes-es add up) in practice, training my mind to do this--yet, it rarely lasts because that creeping fear of not having a hook in every pond (forgive me fish, for the un-vegan metaphor ;)). Well, I'm taking this flesh-cooking coinicidence as a sign that I need to try again.
But none of that has anything to do with the title of this post. What I'd like to draw your attention to is a fun little project on one of my fellow Fiskateers' blogs. If you're on pretty much any papercrafting message board, you've probably heard about the crazy blackfridayish lunacy surrounding Becky Higgins' 365 Kit (I must note here, fearing raising my friend Jen K's ire, that this is not Ms. Higgins' idea, just her kit. You can read in the post before this one about my prior attempt at 365ing and it certainly wasn't new then either.) Well, whether you just can't get enough year-round projects, or 365 is just too darn many entries to deal with, take a look at Debby's Blog. Once a week she will be posting a question/page theme so that at the end of the year you have a fun little scrapbook cataloging your thoughts on a variety of subjects. Do other people also do this kind of thing, sure. But Debby's always got fun challenge ideas and she even holds a weekly drawing among the participants for nifty goodies. One more reason to visit her blog on a weekly basis? She also participates in Fiskars Friday, posting a new Fiska-centric project every week if you're into that kind of thing.

So, enough for today. My battery wanes and I need to head over to the rescue account to see who wants to adopt some spiny mice.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Blog Fun Ahoy!

I've been cooped up a lot, surprise surprise, but I'm putting the time to good use by catching up on my favorite blogs.

Holy frijoles, I just found out I won a contest on the Bind-it-All blog! Yeah, I know, you'd think I'd have figured it out before this, but I can be surprisingly ditzy. Sure, I wondered what became of that zombie pic I sent out, but then I figured I'd have heard something in my email box by now if anything exciting came to pass. Apparently it's harder to find my email via this blog than I thought. I'll have to look into some sort of "contact me" dealie for this thing. Don't wait up...I'm still trying to figure out how to add links to my friends' blogs somewhere on the margin of this thing.
Anyway, speaking of links, here I am:
Fully zombified! I just wish I'd been well enough to keep my plans to join the zombie walk invading downtown Raleigh, but I guess that's what next halloween is for.

Tra-la-la...on to the next blog I'm all worked up about. Meet Becky Higgins (if you don't know her already) and Project 365:
Now, a couple of summers ago I got the idea to take a picture every day and scrapbook them. This lasted about one week, producing the following photos:

And then I kind of forgot that I was doing it. So when I saw Becky Higgins' 365 Project it made me go, "Oh yeah! Maybe I'll give it a try again." I'm hoping the kit's unforgiving daily spaces each requiring filling (or they'll sit there like a big toothless grimace at the end of the week) will keep me honest and on task. As silly as it sounds, the pics you see here--boring as they may be to people who aren't, well, me--actually are pretty evident of the time they were taken. Usagi (shown with head inside a stock pot) is wearing a funny little necklace I made for her, Revco, and some of their other canine pals around that time. Those cute little beady eyed furballs were flying squirrels my friend Lisa was rehabilitating at the time. And yes, that's my head in a traction unit which I noticed via other pictures, gives me this really creepy over-facelifted look when it's pulling on the skin around my forehead. How would I have otherwise learned this important information? :) In another, Scott is working out at the gym where we used to go before I got so much worse. And therein lies my one fear in doing this. I'm scared it will make my degeneration even more evident than it already is. And it's been bad lately. On the other hand, maybe I'll find that I'm putting too much focus on the bad times. Or maybe I'm missing something important that can make life better, physically or mentally. Or, I could just end up with a neat photographic project, which is really all I want from it anyway.
And one last blog link. A fellow Fiskateer has asked us to feature a link to her site with pics from the new classes she is teaching:
Yeah, the classes are a leeeeeeeeeeeeeetle far away for those of us in NC to attend, but the card organizer idea struck me as a project that could be cool to mimic using all that left over holiday scrapbooking paper and whatnot in order to make a book to keep all those Xmas cards in. And while you're poking around, check out the store's site. There are more pics on the classes page including the "Love Notes" book (using the Bind-it-All, thus we come full circle) that also offers a neat design that could be repurposed to store those stacks of glittery cards I never have any idea what to do with once we stash our tree away for another year. Maybe if I can ever get caught up on the Raleigh Rodent Rescue emails (I swear people believe that animal rescue workers don't eat, sleep or celebrate holidays. Or at least they believe that we shouldn't), you'll get to see my version here. Maybe. :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

In Good with the In Laws and Rolling Around Disney

Thanksgiving used to be my least favorite holiday by far. In school it just seemed like an unnecessary interruption in my life. Why not just add a few extra days to xmas break? With my parents divorced and not in a real friendly way, it was a supremely awkward holiday. Who celebrates what when? If I stay too long at one place I risk insulting the other, and leaving too early does the same. And don't forget the mandatory mass. Not that I'm against going to other people's religious services, but it's complicated when your mom's a Catholic who desperately wants to believe you are too, yet your Buddhist principles won't let you disrespect the Church by going to Communion (it's a Catholic thing) so things get all complicated. And that was just the beginning.

As you can imagine, Thanksgiving is the high holy day of awkwardness for vegans. Family members used to either go overboard trying to accommodate my eating choices, resulting in embarassment and apologies all around when I can't eat anything they made because they thought dairy products were vegan (and I can't even cheat a little to be nice, even if I wanted to, because I am also wildly allergic to dairy. Eating it would only make things even more awkward as I projectile vomited all over the little ceramic pilgrim centerpiece.) or they'd be annoyed as hell with me, taking my veganism as a personal affront, and spent the entire dinner saying things like, (Quote) "You know this vegetarian thing you're doing in just stupid, right?" While I smile and nod politely wishing I could just sink to the center to the earth. Either way, I end up spending the the whole time wishing everyone would please please just ignore me. I love it when people cook for me, but it's not mandatory, and skipping a meal never killed anyone. Neither has pushing a banana and a scoop of cranberry sauce around your plate trying to make it look like you're feasting, but not eating feels a lot less weird.

Now that I'm significantly more independent and the tables have turned so thereare more vegans in the family than otherwise, Thanksgiving is a whole lot easier and has become something I actually look forward to. The last couple of years, I even dare to call it "relaxing". I had a great time hanging out with mom and Nicky (my brother) in Tallahassee, exploring the joys of Big Lots together, and kicking back with the inlaws in whatever small town they live in near Tampa, was pretty darn pleasant. My mother in law is also a crafty girl, so I even got some work done on my xmas projects. Can I go back now. Please? I sent out a bajillion thanksgiving cards (a set soon to be available on my Etsy site), made a ribbon/paper tree, finished a few presents which I can't show here because, well, my friends read this.

The highlights of the trip, for me, were getting to bring the dogs along (isn't Revco cute in his wee little stripey shirt?) and going to Disney World for a day. It killed me to have to leave with only half of the Magic Kingdom done, but you can see from the pic that I wasn't too upset about it. Surely we can come up with an excuse to go again. Jen, Alex, I'm looking at you.

So, I duno, I think I can honestly say Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays now. Tell that to the girl feeling guilty for secretly pulling full sticks of butter out of the mashed potatoes when her grandmother had turned around, the girl who got pinkeye from the stepmonster's mistreated Great Dane who was used to being punched in the face by a stepbrother that girl was pretty sure would stalk or shoot her one day, the same girl who showed up for a second Thanksgiving dinner only to hear, "You look so disgusting, I can't even look at you, now get in the car or we'll be late for church."
I don't think she'd believe it. Then again, I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds themselves trying to shake some of the holiday's less desirable traditions, memories, and all those things that look so nice in TV commercials. Go ahead, click that comment box and purge your Thanksgiving nightmares and weirdness. I dare you.