Friday, 31 July 2009

But what's it like . . .

. . . going back to work after all these years? And going back to the IT field?

THIS, folks, is how I roll these days. My desk at work (this week, anyway). One keyboard's not enough for me. And don't get me started on mouse selection - I like to have a variety.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Real Estate Fail

Here's an informative ad from the local paper. Well done, real estate agent, your customers will be delighted you spent their money on THAT ad!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

A pretty punched ATC

No idea why I didn't mention this one before. It's been sitting on my desk. I think I was trying to get around to making a better one, but that's just not how the clock works around here.

Quality punches, and quality stamps - sigh! They go so well together. The stamp is from the Spring Song set by Stampin' Up.

I think I was using the scraps of some Bazill cardstock here.

Another day, another cup of pencils...

I had a trip to the local Trash and Treasure market (as usual for a Sunday morning). Some nice men were selling some household stuff, including a wooden box with a sliding lid. Good pencil box! And guess what, FULL of pencils!

So I bought it for an affordable $2.

I got home and started sorting. First I pulled out a full set of basic kids Faber Castell pencils, the kind they use at school. That's nice, we are replacing them all the time.

Then out came a full set of about 36 Derwent Artist pencils, older but all usable. Catriona nabbed them, and a tin to store them in (also a market find).

Then there was a quite big set of Conte Pastel Pencils, made in France. They are not like any pencil I've had before - a richly coloured chalk in pencil form! Wow! So they are on my desk now, stored in one of the second best teacups.

Then there were lots of usable crayons - we took a vote and decided we had plenty of our own, so they are neatly bagged up for an Op Shop.

And it's a nice box too.

Dinosaur stamps - oh yeah!

Oh, wow, there are new stamps from Starving Artiststamps. Dinosaurs! And cave people (I know, I know, no humans around then, not even in the late Cretaceous, but hey, you don't have to use them on the same card).

That's the "Prehistoric" set.

Then there's the "Into the Woods" set, also new, with an awesome tree, and an only slightly creepy squirrel.

Go check out the samples on their blog - makes you want to get out your colouring pencils (or markers, or crayons - well, you know what I mean, your colouring medium of choice!)

Why am I mentioning it right now? Probably the blog candy offer! Which you can read about on THEIR blog, of course.

Why am I so keen? Well, in a moment of weakness, I may have indulged in a little rubber purchasement with them in the past, and I can tell you, they make very nice stuff.

Friday, 24 July 2009

I'm goin to the craft show!

Off to the Craft and Quilt Fair at Jeff's Shed - umm, that's the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. Putting on my Stampin' Up apron once more - Yay!

Ooh, I just remembered, I think I need a name tag. Think I should use this one?

And we're selling handmade cards - AND I made some - AND they're quite cute! See here to have a lookee at them.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Cheese Popovers - or - what to do with those little Tupperware moulds

Looking for savoury snacks during the holidays, I turned (of course) to my McAlpin's Recipe Book from about the 1950s. I had just found a really cute Tupperware Petite Baking Form (a silicon baking tray with teeny tiny holes, not nearly as big as mini muffins). I thought it was really only useful for chocolates (and that's not bad) but it would be a waste not to put them in the oven.

So I tried these : little cheesy nibbles. I swapped onion for celery, and halved the recipe, and haven't metricated it yet, but it's pretty easy.

The Tupperware form worked, and the rest I baked in an old fashioned gem scone iron, also fantastic.

Cheese Popovers

8 oz SR flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp celery salt
pinch cayenne pepper
2 oz butter
½ cup finely chopped celery
2 Tbsp grated cheese
1 egg
¾ cup milk

Rub butter into dry ingredients, add celery and cheese. Add beaten egg and milk and mix to a soft dough. Place in hot, well-greased gem irons and bake in a moderately hot oven 10 to 12 minutes.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Seventeenth Century Snacking

I made caraway seed cake! A favourite of nanas of a few decades ago, who would offer you "a bit of cake" - and it would turn out to be nasty.

With my mature palate now, I decided to try seed cake again. It's not nasty! There's lemon zest in my cake, and together with caraway seeds, it's an unusual and yummy taste. Very nice with coffee.

My old recipe book suggested coriander seeds as an alternative. You'd have to crack them up, surely, they are a big seed. But that would be so unusual, it would sound trendy and modern. Gotta make that next!

Weird Al

Did you know Weird Al Yankovic made a TV show for kids? It's pretty amazing. If you wanted to see it, well, I just don't know where you'd look. Oh, perhaps ebay. Actually, there's a really good DVD copy for sale right now! Here's the link to it.

Yes, of course that's me selling it. Just thought it needed a boost, you know? I'm cleaning out about 20cm of DVDs to get back 20cm of shelf. Really need to clean out a metre or two, but I can't part with my lovely movies.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Only I could do this...

... take a walk at lunch time in an inner suburban light industrial zone, and find a GARAGE SALE!

I bought a Carl punch (a teddy bear one) for 20c, and passed up a Gandalf figurine from Burger King. I collect them (duh) but this one had the end of his staff missing.

Now honestly, what are the chances?

I'm up to about page 88 in the training manual. About 230 pages total. New release next month, and they want me up to speed so I can join in the testing. Gotta wiggle my legs real fast so I can hit the ground running!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Looking for a Rush?

If you're looking for crafty stuff, keep scrolling down. If you're up for an amateur TV review, read on.

The good folks at Vibe Village, which you can look up if you like, seem to think I am so influential that friends will watch things on TV if I recommend them. Well, you might, if I really do recommend it.

So, they sent me the first two episodes of the second season of Rush, coming to Channel Ten in a few days time. I hadn't watched the first season, and I'm not a big cop show fan. So with all of that in mind, here's my comments.

I actually really liked it! I have no problem turning off when TV gets boring (I have tons of other things to do), but I stayed on and watched both episodes in one go. OK, I probably got a Milo in the middle. But I came back!

The show is shot in Melbourne (and that's a real plus for me - I kept recognising places, and I loved that!). It's about the men and women of hut-hut-hut squad, who swoop in when things get hairy, with cameras on their collars, like the Marines had in Aliens. Their cameras are being monitored by Geeky Tech Guy, who gives them instructions in their earpieces, just like they did in Broadcast News. Their boss has recently hired Bright New Officer, while second in charge feels he has no authority. Tempers flare, and a surprisingly subtle scene involving a forklift and a car ensues. Excellent scene with an ex-army dude.

There was tons of action, and plenty of focus on the main story, with private stories along the way just being alluded to. Obviously they will build up, but I've always said, if the show is about people with really intersting jobs, I'd like at least 90% of the show to be about their interesting work, and no more than 10% about what they had for breakfast, and who they're going out with.

That was the first episode. The second one was a whole different adventure, with Geeky Tech Guy playing an unexpected role (don't worry, he didn't get out from behind his computer). A minor character gives a chillingly simple explanation of how she got recruited as a drug mule. The 90/10 rule holds. I think I hugged a pillow in one building-dangling scene - talk about stressful!

Now, about local TV. Local actors need work, OK? Most of the main cast are young, and deserve a good start to their careers. Crew members need work. Ever seen a lady walking down the street dangling a boom microphone in people's faces? No, you haven't, because she's at home looking for a job! Acting students need something to work towards. Writers need work. Regular TV dramas are good for all those people. So there's some good economic reasons to be a fan too.

Thanks for the preview, VV, I hope this counts as spreading the word. Next time I'm in trouble I'll know to call for the hut-hut-hut squad.

Behind the Yart - punch style!

Who wants to go Behind The Yart? I had a project published in "Cardmaking, Stamping and Papercraft" volume 15 no 2 (the one you'll see on the newsstands now, I think). And this particular one, I really love! That's not always the case - sometimes I make a project and sent it off, and get a horrified surprise months later when I see it in print. What? I'm THAT messy? Do I know NOTHING about colours? But not this time - I liked it when I sent it, and I like it still.

My title for the project was "Swirly Punching" - the editors changed that to "Marvellous Metallics" - fair enough too.

I had bought the two punches that inspired this project back in October last year, and I even blogged about them. That was a big day for me, 'cos I was still recovering from heart troubles. I drove in, and had lots of rests during the day (yay for STC swapping, such a great excuse to sit down).

When I got home I started playing with the punches, and stuck some of the scraps into my journal. I had some scraps of metallic paper on my desk, and used that.

So that lead to an ATC similar to this one (but not very well laid out - the bird was in the wrong spot). I showed it to Chris, and she agreed. I used this Canson metallic card as my base, because we had scored a whole ream of it at Reverse Art Truck when we went there together once! So no shortage of that particular colour round here! All the other metallic card was quality offcuts from Pedigree Papers. Yes, I'm stingy with materials, so I'll try to be generous with ideas!

The ATC was a real favourite of mine, not least because I got to use the "postage stamp" punch again; but it didn't look finished. Chris showed me her new scallop edge punch, a Stampin' Up product that was coming in a mini catalogue just a few days away. THAT WAS WHAT I NEEDED! As soon as I could make the order I did, and it arrived just a few days after that. So that's why the project is scallops-a-go-go (I don't regret it one bit!).

So, the ATC got edged and mounted onto card, but there was still something... I plundered the ribbon container, and found some wide vintage lace. Real vintage, probably from an op shop. That was nice. So that was how the "Spry" card was made. You'll see I got in another scrap from the dictionary, and a cut out word.

From there it was all variations of the colour scheme - I tried hard to keep the pieces looking like a family, but all nice and different from each other - also like a family!

Very happy with punches that work equally well as positives or negatives, like the cool McGills bird punch. Yes, I did wiggle it around to get good words showing through the holes. You've got to do the extra like that when it's for a magazine! Once I made an art doll with scraps of dictionary on it; turned out the word "dysentry" was fairly prominent. Luckily it was a RAK for a nurse-stamper with a sense of humour.

Didn't waste the punched out bits either. Those tiny flowers were the perfect accent. I was using ordinary PVA glue in a little bottle that I keep refilling - it has a fine nozzle. Yes, it does get jammed from time to time; I have a couple of them. Yes, I get PVA on my work sometimes; I have to discard the pieces I can't make presentable. Once again, little flowers are very good for hiding little flaws!

And here's a final one - the big square card called "Rose Leaf". That ribbon embellishment at the bottom was fun - again, a scrap of interesting op shop ribbon, but I threaded it through a punched circle-with-a-hole-in-the-middle punch by EK Success (it's a nice one). And it looks really nifty!

So that's it for Behind The Yart. I don't think there's any articles in the works for me right now, so it's high time to make another one... good think I have about 100 ideas!

Back in the work force

It was a big day yesterday - I returned to the work force! That's the actual paid work force, not the hard working volunteer workforce I've been in for years. So it's a nice rest, sitting at a desk and working through the training manual of a complex computer system. It's a five day training course, reckon I can knock it over in four. Or six maybe. I want to do a good job, so no point rushing.

The office is right in the not-very-salubrious part of the inner suburbs, and we get to park in a post-apocalyptic car park!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Gosh but I'm talented

Here's a drawing I whipped up. Thank you, I like it too.

Of course, I can't really draw - it's a total cheat. All is revealed here.

But for the record, I can honestly say, I drew every line and coloured every colour. Might do another one tomorrow!

Then there were the puppets

In Federation Square, there are puppets! There was a huge snail, an elephant, and two big seagulls. Just too cool - kids were running to them and following them around - it became a parade! The elephant was powered by one two legged human per leg, which made the going pretty interesting. Especially when it went downstairs!

You've got to go to the city!

... 'cos there's cool stuff to do!

We went for a visit to Melbourne today, by train of course, and strolled around interesting shops for a bit, seeing many areas we were not familiar with. Then we found this : a skating rink! It's been installed at the QV Centre for the holidays. Kids can have a half hour skate for $5, which was just right for us. The boys had a go - they'd never been on ice skates at all before, but went very well for beginners, and really enjoyed it.

Catriona spent her discretionary $5 on a sketchbook and pencil. Awww. But she won't show you what she sketches until she's happy with it.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Pretty ATCs

I spent part of Sunday making some ATCs. Why not? I had been trying to make some cards with just Stampin' Up stuff (that's good business, that is) but I was frustrated. Then I realised there is NO requirement to do any such thing. Sure, if I'm making a card I intend to use as a sample, or in some way to represent Stampin' Up, it needs to be constructed of all SU products, but when it's just me playing, hey, I can use anything.

Since I stamp mainly for mental health, that's a useful thing to realise.

So I went to an old favourite starter technique - cover some card with pretty paper (in this case, wrapping paper), add a strip of text paper (my good old dictionary), then gesso thinly over the whole thing. That's the background. The gesso pales out the background papers, allowing a foreground image to show through. It also provides useful "tooth" for colouring media attach to. That is, you can draw or paint on it. Or stamp. Don't worry about trimming the ends off until later.

Here's an ATC I made in that session - I stamped and coloured onto the OTHER side of a piece of yellow vellum, tore it out and attached it with eyelets. Then I stamped the same stamp in SU Old Olive onto the card, and sponged the edges. That stamp is from the SU Fifth Avenue Floral set, a real favourite these days.

Same technique, different stamp (but it is from the same set!).

I'm still using that "cut out one word from the dictionary" technique, as you can see. Still not over it!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

The Other Never Ending Card

I learned how to make a Never Ending Card the other day. Here's a link to my serious stamping site where I show that off.

Turns out, it's reasonably easy to do, and of all people, it was young Thomas (11) who wanted to learn to make it. Here's his version.

First face - "HELP ME".

Second face - "Please help!"

Third face - 'HELP!" (I know, you really want to help whatever's trapped in the card by now, don't you!)

Last face : well what do you know, it was a cheeky elephant all the time. "Thanks - could you help my brother?"

We added eyelets because after all that vigorous turning, our adhesive was getting a bit loose. Also because we love to use the Cropadile (that's the eyelet setter to the stars!).

Mrs Laing, how DO you keep your pencils so sharp?

Well, I have a little secret. Only I and the entire office supplies industry know about it.

It's a battery operated pencil sharpener, an X-acto Buzz, and it works really well with Prismacolor pencils - which are the main ones I've been having problems with. Those pencils are so soft, they break if the sharpener is just a tiny bit blunt.

I am sure that I'll have to keep an eye on the blade of this sharpener. When it gets blunt, I sure hope it's replaceable. It'll be worth the effort.

Yes, Prismacolor pencils fit into this sharpener, but I noticed that Derwent Artists pencils (the round barrelled ones) don't fit!

Now, I just can't remember who I bought it from. It was a vendor at Melbourne's most recent Stitches and Craft show.