Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wonderful day at the stamp show!

This gorgeous card front is a sample of the many things I learned today at the Stamp Scrap Art Tour show. We spent all day there and had a fabulous time!

This image comes from a spritzer techniques demonstration at Seaside Stampin's booth. They had about a dozen different techniques for using misters, re-inkers, and glossy paper. I bought a mister set, some re-inkers and a gorgeous stamp set- all DaVinci images including the one shown here.The folks who run Seaside Stampin' are really nice and we had a lot of laughs and fun there.

This pretty and fun stamp set came from Sparkle N Sprinkle, another booth where we spent a lot of time. This was another booth where the people were really friendly and shared tons of information along with the demos. We learned a lot of different ways to use glitter and also quite a bit about using Dove Blender pens, so they are now a new addition to my equipment. I also got some sticky paper (one side holds onto glitter!), several jars of glitter, an extra Dove pen for trying with gamsol and a bunch of other little stuff.

We spent time (and money!) at The Stampsmith where I got lots of good advice from Estelle and some more plates of stamps. Her photo style stamps are gorgeous and can be used in so many interesting ways.

From Rubber Cottage I got a couple more scenery stamps for coloring- these are among my favorites. HERE is a link to one of the ones I got today that will be terrific fun to try out in watercolors and chalks.

At Morning Star Stamps I found a huge tea cup that will take sentiments either in the cup or in the top rim. At various booths the rest of the day I was grabbing "tea" related sentiments.

Most of what I bought was supplies that are not readily available around here. It was so much better to see so many different techniques being demonstrated rather than just reading about how to do it.

There were lots more booths and we patronized virtually every one between us today. I bought stamp pads, paper piercing templates and tools, brass stencils, chalking tools and toys, EZmount, new Nestabilities, glossy paper and I cannot remember all the rest. We certainly did our part to stimulate the economy!

This is not a real big show- there were 22 vendors- but it was more than enough to keep us interested, busy and buying all day. If you are in the Philadelphia area and see this in time, it would be worth your time to make a trip to the new Expo Center out in Oaks on 422 west of King of Prussia.

While my budget couldn't take it, I would love to go back tomorrow!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

ANOTHER long week!

I sort of cannot believe it's been more than a week since I posted- but then again last week seems like a century ago. Lots of stress and aggravation at work so we'll say no more about that.

This INCREDIBLE card is from my dear friend, teacher, mentor and enabler (lol!) Etha. If you've been to her blog, or The Cottage Studio (the beautiful and fun blog for Clear Artistic Stamps), then you've already seen it. It arrived on St. Patrick's Day and as the week was already dreadful by then, it was a GREAT cheer-me-up surprise. Etha's creative skills have been amazing me for almost 15 years now and yet she still manages, regularly, to amaze me again. This card is so gorgeous IRL it is astonishing.

BTW- have you been to Clear Artistic Stamps lately? They had a release of six new stamp sets last week and the stamps are FABULOUS! How busy I've been should be indicated by the fact that I haven't even ordered the ones I want yet- and I usually order *on release day* from Belinda.

The happy news is that the one thing I did find time for was to set up our trip in June to Disney World! As the little blinkie on my sidebar indicates, I am definitely a Disney freak! Everything about Disney is first class and I can (and now, thanks to my wonderful DH) and DO go back every year. It was a dream of mine for so many years and DH has made it happen. So now, whenever things get too depressing, I just remember that it's only 94 days to WDW! I bought a new Disney planner this year (abandoning Birnbaum feels really weird but we'll see if I like this new one) and since it came in on Thursday I've taken to carrying it around with me in my school bag as kind of a talisman.

March is two-thirds gone and I am still totally OFF the Flylady wagon, but I still intend to get back on. I won't be home for a lot of the summer, but the part when I am is going to be dedicated to this house- it NEEDS it. Meanwhile, though the house looks dreadful, the Flylady routines I do follow are keeping my sanity and making life easier. If you haven't tried Flylady, you really should- she is terrific!

I'm making progress ( a little!) on the Beatrix Potter Stitch-a-long and will have an updated picture at the sdiebar link sometime next week.
Oh, and for the stampers in the southeastern Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware areas, don't forget that the Stamp Scrap Art Tour will be at the new convention center in Oaks next weekend. Oaks is out Chester County way but if you live near the Schuylkill Expressway, the PA Turnpike, 202, 422 or the Blue Route, it's an easy commute. We went to this last year when it was in Pennsauken and had so much fun on Saturday, we went back on Sunday!

The timer tells me that my enchiladas should be done. (I LOVE homemade enchiladas!!!) So time for dinner and then back to work on grades. I hope everyone is having a good weekend!

Friday, March 13, 2009

It was a LONG week!

I got this really special award from my blogging/online/Flybaby/SCS friend Suzanne. She and I have a lot in common and this means a lot coming from her.

The rules for passing this award on: you must post the award on your blog, name the person who awarded you, then pass the award to 6 other bloggers and leave a message on their blog that they've received the award.

So, here are six blogs that I think Spread the Love about various things:

It was a horrible, long week. I am looking forward to resting some this weekend, going to auntie's for dinner, and working on sorting and filing a bunch of paperwork (not really looking forward to this!).

My "What I'm Reading" picture is out of date. I have finished the pictured book and the one that follows it in the series as well. Elswyth Thane's Williamsburg novels are so special to me; I love re-reading them time and again.

This is a series of seven (7) books tracing two families from the Revolution to the early days of World War II. They are historical romances and succeed really well in both areas. Thane is particularly brilliant at making you feel with the characters; as romances they are charming and emotional. As histories they are very well researched and do a great job of taking you into living a past time. They are not exactly "politically correct" for the 21st century, but I love them anyway. If you want to "meet" Francis Marion (The Swamp Fox) and Lafayette, Stonewall Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt and many other names you will recognize, check out these books. If you like historicals, you will be glad you did.

I'm off to see if I can put a few stitches into Beatrix Potter before my eyes completely shut down from exhaustion. Hope everyone has a great weekend full of crafting, reading, stitching and whatever else suits your fancy!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Only Tuesday

My wonderful friend Marianne sent me this for my birthday. She noted inside that it made her think of the jaunts DH and I take a couple times a year to Florida.

Please be clear- DH and I do NOT look like this- at least not yet, lol. But he does spend time with the newspaper, I spend time keeping my feet up and daydreaming, and I do like wearing purple. So, maybe it's not so far off.

I'm beyond exhausted. Had a bad day at work (my fault) and feeling pretty down about it. I think I'm going to cocoon for a few days- do what I have to do but try to stay by myself as much as possible and not talk much to anyone. I think I need the quiet time.

If I get a little energy I might even put a few more stitches into Beatrix Potter- yes I did get a little work done on that a few nights ago.

Sorry to be a downer- maybe I just need some extra sleep. Back soon.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday morning

My TAC (the Angel Company) Angel Bridgett sends the most wonderful cards everytime she mails me something. This one arrived last week with the new Serendipity magalogue. Bridgett does beautiful work that does not look nearly as good on a scan as it does IRL.

If you want to check out TAC, or just read/see a beautiful blog, make sure you go see Bridgett's blog.

I've spent some time this morning catching up on the blogs on my sidebar. I love "knowing" all these different people and seeing the creations that their talents allow them to make. I also really like just keeping up with them and their activities, their families, their lives. There are so many wonderful people in the world. When I get really depressed or stressed by work, they provide rejuvenation for me. It may seem odd, but I am really grateful for the Internet.

There's a great new thing going on at Rubber Stamp Tapestry's blog- they are giving away stamp sets. If you are unfamiliar with RST, you really should check it out. The stamps are gorgeous and the blog contains lots of tutorials for how to use them. Make sure you check out the store- you will be amazed at all the beautiful stamp sets.

My poking around yesterday made a little progress on the house- it would not be noticable to an outsider, but I can see a change. More toodling around this afternoon, some laundry, grocery shopping, then it's off to my aunt's for dinner. Hope everyone has a good day!

PS- did you remember to set your clocks forward?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My birthday present

With her permission, of course, I have snagged the picture that Etha took of my birthday present before she sent it to me.

Is that not just a WOW???? How fabulous is this????

It is SOOO much more beautiful IRL you could not believe. It is VERY three dimensional with many layers and so many different textures- a real work of art. I have not yet hung it up because it must go into a special and permanent location- I am thinking near the beautiful whitework embroidery she gave me years ago.

Today I will be slowly working around the house. There is an immense amount of work that needs doing- after the last several weeks (actually ALL of 2009 so far) things around here have fallen into total chaos. I will be taking it easy while I do this though- my fibromyalgia is raging out of control, mostly due to incredible stress at work. I also want to get in a little time outdoors today- it is WARM and that always make me feel better.

Later today or tonight I want to do some stitching work on the Beatrix Potter Quaker Sampler- I didn't put a single stitch into it in February so I am way behind in the stitch-a-long for that. Hopefully I'll have a good update by the end of March.

So, I'm off to toodle around the house doing odds and ends- back later!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Musings about the Cross Stitch Community

I think I've posted this picture here before, but it was easy to find on my computer and is of one of the few stitched works I've ever done that I still actually own, so here it is. For those of you who stitch, you won't recognize it, as it is my own design, done about 10 years ago for a competition. I just felt like this post needed a stitched picture to go with it.

One of my stamping friends is thinking about going full time into the stamping business and she's been asking me a lot of questions, using the rise and apparent decline of the needlework industry over the last 15 years as a basis for comparison. (She's a former stitcher.) That's had me thinking a lot about how the public face of stitching has changed and trying to evaluate why. So, I'm just going to ramble on here, and hope some who know more than me will chime in with more insight.

I found cross-stitch in 1984. During a visit to Washington DC I found a little book of XS motifs at the Smithsonian store and bought it. I made my husband a tiny little piece- which still sits on his dresser (maybe I should get a picture of that one of these days) and I was hooked!

1994 brought me onto the Internet and a whole huge world of stitching opened up- people, designers, supplies, techniques, shows! The best part was finding other stitchers- hello, Etha and Bev!!!- and learning so much from and about them. Lifelong friendships developed around stitching. There were internet chat groups and boards. It was AMAZING!!!

Today I still stitch- when my time, my arthritic hands, and my older-every-day eyes allow. In the meantime, I've found tatting and lace making and scrapbooking and cardmaking and stamping. And, I cannot help comparing the way the Internet has been used/dealt with by the various arts and crafts.

There is no doubt that the popularity of crafts is cyclical. Remember macrame? So, some ebb and flow is inevitable. With the release of those fun new fibers a few years ago, everyone wanted to knit and crochet- don't we all have some of those fuzzy scarves in our closets? Some of us, me included, have been doing yarn work all our lives and for us it is not a fad. Others try the latest thing, enjoy it, then move on to the next "big" thing. So, every crafting industry needs to be prepared for boom and bust times.

But, with the spread of the Internet into the majority of homes, the means of sharing information about our hobbies has changed drastically. And, this, I think, may be where the needlework industry fell short. I don't think the industry used the Internet to its best advantage and I feel strongly that its current situation could be different if it had, or even if it still did, late though it may be.

Where are the designers' blogs? I said to my stamp-contemplating friend yesterday: "The fact that I cannot find stitching sites on the Internet doesn't mean they are not there- but if I can't find them, is it likely anyone else, especially someone with less experience, can?"

Where are the sites that will stir the interest? It is obvious that there are new stamp companies out there that were MADE by SplitCoast Stampers. Why have there not been similar sites for stitchers- and sites of long-standing that were established during the stitching boom?

Why are most of the websites connected with needlework design companies static, boring and rarely changed? Why is there so little option for interaction with their customers? AND, most importantly, is this lack of creative use of the Internet one of the reasons why needlework is not the thriving industry it was 10 years ago?

I really enjoy papercrafting- it's fun. But stitching feeds my soul. I don't know why one thing would mean more to me than another, but it does. I am frustrated by the decline in the industry, the lack of brilliant new designers like we saw in the 90s, the sensation from others that needlework is passe.

Stitching is certainly NOT passe. The number of blogs out there by stitchers will attest to that. But stitchers find one another by accident or effort and not because the industry makes it easy or even possible. The industry is not thriving or growing partly because others have used the new technology to entice stitchers away or to capture new participants first.

For all of these ideas and observations, I have no conclusion. I cannot control or influence the actions and efforts of designers or companies. I can only hope that the craft industry I love above all others will one day decide to reassert itself and seize the opportunities available to it. I am looking forward to that time.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday night- but not the usual

I had a really good time yesterday at my CTMH rep's Open House. There were only 4 of us there, but we got some work done, did lots of chatting, practiced some new techniques and just relaxed- something I was badly in need of.

This card was the class project part of the day.

Snow is apparently on the way, with a vengeance. My DH teaches at a boarding school, so he already knows he is off tomorrow- they didn't want to have all the kids come back tonight from the weekend and then not have any teachers- the dorm staff would have been horribly overworked. I will have to wait to check around 5:30 AM tomorrow to be sure but if this storm is even half what they are predicting, school will be closed.

I have already started in "comfort food" mode- rice pudding, using my grandmother's recipe from about (literally) 100 years ago, is in the oven. When DH was going to the store this afternoon and I asked what he and DS would want for dinner tomorrow, DS promptly announced "beef stew". Funny how even our stomachs react to snow!

I got this wonderful blog award from my TAC Angel several weeks ago but just didn't get it posted until now. THANKS, Bridgett!!!

The bloggers I choose to receive this from me are:

A Day in My Life I don't even remember how I found this blog but I really enjoy reading it- I feel like I'm listening to a friend on the phone.

In the Cottage Studio This is the blog for Clear Artistic Stamps by Belinda Landtroop. The blog, like Belinda's art work, is soft and sweet and delicate looking- truly "lovely".

Joan's Gardens Joan Fricker's blog is part personal, part crafty and part business- and it is all good. It has a visual quality that is so pretty- I love to go there and read and shop, but while there I find her blog design so nice.

Artistic License Teresa Wentzler's blog looks exactly how you would expect it to look. She is one of my favorite needlework designers. I've met her several times over the years and she is as beautiful and elegant as her designs. The only problem is that she doesn't post nearly as often as her fans would wish.

I've been trying to check in on all the blogs on my sidebar this weekend, but so far I've still got many to go- the snow will make for a nice day for doing that tomorrow. If I've been ignoring your blog, you can be sure I'll get there soon.

Finally, here's another birthday card picture. This one came from Cindy (my friend and CTMH rep), so it is all CTMH papers and such with lots of nestabilities use as well. SO pretty- thanks, Cindy!

Well, I started recently cataloging all our books- or rather, putting those I intend to keep permanently in the database- and making a dent in sorting them back into some kind of order. Time to get through another shelf before I settle in with rice pudding and some TV. For everyone along the I-95 corridor, stay warm and stay safe!