Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May Reading Round-Up

I only got through one more book this month than I did last month but at least it's not one less!  

"Pledged" by Alexandra Robbins
I went to a small liberal arts school and although we had sororities and fraternities they did not play a huge role on campus.  However, I must confess that as a GDI I was curious to get a peek inside Greek life which is why I bought this book.  While the author apparently got a lot of grief for writing it I thought it gave a pretty balanced view of the pros and cons of Greek life and it satisfied my independent curiosity!

"The Alienist" by Caleb Carr
This was a best seller in the mid-90s and I bought it in 1999 at the Lincoln Square Barnes & Noble in NYC (yes, I can probably tell you where and when I bought most of my books.  I am a freak like that.)  And yes, it's taken me 12 years to get around to reading it!  That also means it's travelled from NYC to Chicago to Bermuda.  Not bad for a little paperback!  Anyway it's a historical, detective novel.  Set in NYC in 1896 it follows a team investigating a series of gruesome murders of child prostitutes and coming to grips with new ideas (the existence of serial killers and psychopaths) and methods (fingerprinting).  Lots of historical detail (although it occasionally feels a bit excessive) and interesting psychological ideas as well as a good old fashioned murder mystery.

"Last Night at Chateau Marmont" by Lauren Weisberger
I needed some fluff.  I enjoyed Weisberger's first book ("The Devil Wears Prada").  Her second book not so much and I skipped her third all together.  However, this one ended up in my hands and I needed something light after "The Alienist".  Not as good as "Devil" but better than the other one.  A story about finding fame and hanging on to your relationship in the process.  

"One Day" by David Nicholls - Recommended
Definitely liked this a lot better than his first novel, "Starter for Ten".  It's a fantastic, quirky, When Harry Met Sally-esque love story.  The end of chapter eighteen actually made me exclaim out loud in shock and brought Luis running into the room thinking I needed rescuing from some giant insect.  :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Splash of Green

I have been going completely nuts trying to take a decent picture of today's card for The Play Date Cafe.  I have a really hard time getting a picture of black card stock so that it actually looks black and not brown or grey.  Even my new light box that I made this weekend (thanks to Therese's instructions) isn't cutting it (although I think it's partly because my light bulbs are too warm.  I'm having trouble finding cool, white bulbs.)  Anyway before I got too frustrated and tossed my camera off the dock I settled for this picture.  I used a Unity stamp and embossed the image on black card stock.
**Tip Of The Day**  
Turn off the ceiling fan before you start playing with embossing powder!

Supplies:  CS: Bazzill Basics; Stamps: Unity, DeNami; Inks: VersaMark & VersaMagic; Punch: Martha Stewart; Embossing Powder: Ranger; Pen: Sakura Gelly Roll Metallic
So after I cleaned up the embossing powder I coloured in parts of the image with a green Sakura metallic pen.  Gives it a nice little sheen but, of course, you can't see it that well in the pic.  I stamped the sentiment in white and went over it with the Sakura pen as none of my green inks were impressing me on the black paper.  Then I punched the bottom, stitched the top (Note to self:  Must get sewing machine!!) and voila - a colour splash card completed!  :)

Hope those of you with a holiday today are enjoying it and those at work... well, hang in there - the day will be over soon enough!  ;)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Congrats - You Did It!

Another lovely but very dry weekend.  Luis finally broke down and mowed the lawn although there wasn't much to cut except weeds.  What's left of the lawn is yellow or brown and very crunchy when you walk on it!  I had friends visiting from the US a few years ago and they commented on how the yard was just crabgrass - they had battled all the crabgrass out of their yard and had nice, lush, fancy grass.  I would love to do the same but since we aren't able to water the lawn it seems a bit of a waste.  So crab grass it is for now!  :)  The ants are also going completely mental at them moment.  They too are desperate for water and keep heading into the house in long trails to find it.  Yesterday I finally went out and sprayed around the entire exterior of the house and they seem to have backed off - for now.  They'll be back before long - they're stubborn little creatures.  Hmmm... I was just thinking that with my stories of spiders and ants I'm not painting a great picture for visitors!  And I haven't even shown you the giant centipedes and flying cockroaches yet!  LOL!  

OK, enough with the bugs.  Onto my entry for CAS-ual Fridays.  The theme this week is graduation.  
Supplies:  CS: Bazzill Basics & PTI; Stamps: Lawn Fawn & PTI; Inks: VersaFine & VersaMark; Gems: Doodlebug; Die: PTI

This was another one of those rare occasions where I had the idea pretty much set before I started.  It's got 2 of my favourite things on it - stars and polka dots - so it makes me happy.  :)  Hope you've all had a happy weekend!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Let's Kiss and Make Up

Just a quick post today.  Looooong day yesterday and I have a million things to do this morning before I head back to work this afternoon.  This card isn't for a particular challenge but I've had this "sushi grass" sitting on my desk for ages.  I collected it from a girl's night out a month or so ago and thought I could recycle it - or up-cycle it.  (What's the difference between those 2 phrases anyway?)  I thought it looked like sea grass so I paired it with these bright-eyed WPlus9 fish.
Supplies:  CS: The Stampin' Place; Stamps: WPlus9, HA, Inks: VersaMark, Memento; Rub-ons: Doodlebug
Gotta jet.  Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

CAS-ual Fridays Take 2

***3rd post of the day!!  Yes, I am an eager beaver!!***

After a few attempts I managed to complete this card which was my original idea for the CAS-ual Fridays bling challenge.  I already put in another entry but this card looked so sad sitting all on it's own that I had to give it it's moment to shine.  :)
Supplies:  CS: Bazzill Basics; Stamps:  PTI; Inks: SU; Bling:  Doodlebug

Rainbows and Denim

***2nd post of the day!  Scroll down for CAS-ual Fridays and Lawnscaping***

So clearly I'm playing catch up after two weeks away as I have another card today for 2 more challenges - the JUGS rainbow challenge and the Create denim challenge.
And what better way to combine them than to have a rainbow of stars shooting across a denim sky!    
I cut the denim patch from a skirt that, as cute as it is, will never fit over my hips again.  So instead of pitching it I thought I'd let it have a second life on this card.  The stars are from my trusty fun foam collection which I haven't dipped into in a while but I always have fun with it when I do.  Off to play some ball with the hounds!  Later, gators!

Dotty For You

Another glorious day here but, alas, due to lots of gorgeous days and no rain we've just had 4 loads of water delivered.  Ouch on the wallet!  We're in major water conservation mode at the moment and looks like we will continue to be for quite some time.  Seems funny to say that while seeing other places getting flooded.  Be nice if the weather could be evened out a bit...
Today I'm playing along with the CAS-ual Fridays and Lawnscaping challenges - one using bling and one using polka dots.  Fun!
Supplies: CS:  The Stampin Place; PP: Kaisercraft; Stamps: Lawn Fawn; Ink: VersaFine: Bling: Doodlebug
I used Bannerific and Harold's ABCs and some Kaisercraft dotty paper for this one.  I thought the bling were like a few extra polka dots.  :)  My original attempt at an entry for CAS-ual Fridays went all wrong so I'm entering this instead as it's CAS and blingy.  I may give the first card another try but I don't know if I'll get to it before the deadline.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Smile

After a 2 minute rain shower this morning the sky cleared and it's been beautiful ever since.  Good for the Bermuda Day Parade and the dinghy races - not so good for the water tanks.  

Luis decided to do work in the yard so I hightailed it to the Craft Cave and made a few cards.  This one is for this week's Colour Dare challenge.  A clean and simple design with a cheery sentiment!
Supplies:  CS: Bazzill & SU;  Stamps: PTI & Fiskars; Inks: SU; Die: Nesties Labels 4; IPs: PTI
After carding and yarding we took the hounds for a swim.  Luis joined them but I only went as far as my ankles.  I'm not quite ready to take the plunge yet...  Another month and water that's about 10 degrees warmer and I'll consider it!  

Monday, May 23, 2011

You and RAK

It feels like I've been gone for ages although I haven't actually been anywhere.  Due to extra shifts at work, getting sucked into a good book and just generally being out of sorts for the last few weeks I haven't done any crafting.  However, with all the goodies that have trickled into my mailbox recently (Hero Arts, Unity, Paper Smooches, PTI & WPlus9) I finally got my head back on straight and headed into the Craft Cave.
I figured I'd start with this week's colour challenge from The Play Date Cafe and I decided to break out my new Paper Smooches stamps.  I love the Chubby Chums set!  These guys are so darn cute!  I have so many more ideas for their pudgy little selves...
Supplies:  CS: Bazzill, SU; Stamps:  Paper Smooches;  Ink: VersaFine;  Die & IP:  PTI
Last week I received my very first RAK!  I won some Twinery baker's twine from Emily during her blogoversary celebrations in April - an awesome prize for me as I've never had any of this twine before.  My prize (of course) came with a card:
How cute is that little green dude??  The sentiment refers to the fact that I'll be in Toronto in July and am planning to meet up with Emily which I am so excited about!  If you've never seen Emily's blog then you must check it out.  Not only is she super talented but she has major competition from her hubby and son!  LOL!     

Hopefully I'll be back in the Cave tomorrow as it's a public holiday - Bermuda Day!  We'll see if I'm brave enough to be a true Bermudian and take my first swim of the year.  Don't hold your breath...  ;)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Party Time!

It's Party Time at this week's Lawnscaping challenge!  
We were asked to create any kind of party themed project and for some reason the phrase "Let's cut a rug!" popped into my head.  And then I imagined these scissors dancing around having a jolly good time!  Sometimes I worry about the things that my imagination churns out...  Here's what I ended up with for my card:  
The stamps are from 3 different Lawn Fawn sets - Hat's Off To You, Harold's ABCs and Just My Type - and I coloured the hats with Copics and the scissors with Sharpies.  Clean, simple and a bit silly - my favourite combo!  :)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Have you heard the latest?

I've been eagerly anticipating the first CAS-ual Friday challenge.  They have put together a fantastic design team with quite a few designers whose blogs I visit regularly.  (Somehow it makes it more fun when I feel like I know some of them).  The first challenge is to use text in your design.  
I pulled out my trusty Hero Arts phone stamp, used Lawn Fawn alphabet stamps to create a texty background as well as my sentiment and voila!  A fun card for a girlfriend.  :)   
 If you haven't already then definitely check out the CAS-ual Friday site.  Between the DT designs and the 83 entries there a whole lot of fantastic cards to look at!  

Friday, May 6, 2011


In the fall semester of my sophomore year of university I developed a huge crush on a guy named Luis (but everyone called him Lou).  We shared one class - French Speaking World. I noticed him the first day and thought he was kind of cute.  Over the course of the semester we slowly got to chatting and he helped me out now and then with classwork.  The more I got to know him, the more I realised what a wonderful guy he was.  He was sweet, gentle and kind - always willing to help people out with anything they might need.  He was a senior education major and would be starting student teaching in the spring.  He was an active member of his church and regularly volunteered at a soup kitchen.  He loved ice hockey and Led Zeppelin.  

On the last day of the semester he stopped by my dorm to see me.  I was suffering with a nasty cold and was quite pathetic but he sat and we chatted for a bit.  We exchanged Christmas cards and promised we'd send each other a postcard over the holiday.  Before he left he gave me a huge hug and my heart melted.  This was one heck of a crush.  Maybe after Christmas break I'd have the courage to let him know how I felt.

On January 5th, 1995 I received a postcard from him and was like a giddy school girl.  When I got back to my dorm later that month the first thing I did was call him.  A guy answered the phone.
"Hi, can I speak to Lou?"
Long pause and then a reply.  "Who is this?"
"This is Jen, his friend from school.  I just got back from break."
"Didn't anyone tell you?"
"Tell me what?"
"Lou was killed in  car crash on January 5th."

Lou was driving with his parents when their car was struck by a 16 year old who lost control of his car.  Lou was killed instantly.  His dad was in hospital for a long time and his mom suffered minor injuries.  The guy on the phone was Lou's brother.

I was destroyed and struggled with the loss for a long time.  For years after, whenever there was a wish to be made (birthday candles, shooting stars), I wished that Lou was still around and in my life.  

Fast forward to 2007.  I was finally coming out of a wretched 2 years.  I was a mess after my marriage ended and found myself in a number of very unhealthy relationships (with guys and with alcohol).  In January 2007 I broke up with the latest guy and quit drinking. I spent the next few months focusing on me.  I finally overcame the desperate fear that no one else would ever love me.  I reconnected with girlfriends but also spent a lot of time with my dogs just rediscovering the world around me and my own company.  I even started to enjoy the freedom of being single.  

In May 2007 we were having renovations done on our building at work.  Most of the crew were Portuguese guys from the Azores (there's a big Azorean Portuguese community here in Bermuda).  One carpenter in particular caught my eye.  He was tall and a bit skinny but he had the biggest, cheekiest grin I'd ever seen.  After a few weeks of winks and shy smiles we finally had our first conversation - sort of.  He barely spoke English and my Portuguese was limited to a few words.  At the end of our "chat" I asked his named.  "Luis," he said before writing his number on my hand and walking away.  

I didn't know if I should call him.  I mean, what did I think we would talk about?  However, armed with my Portuguese/English dictionary we began to meet up and ever so slowly get to know each other.  He, like my other Luis, turned out to be a kind and gentle soul.  He is one of the most selfless people I've ever met and would do anything for those he cares about.  His family is hugely important to him and his mother and 3 sisters trained him well - he can cook and clean with the best of them and, thankfully, is as tidy as I am!  He is also an animal lover and, unlike with my previous boyfriends, my dogs adored him from day one.   

Everyone (including me) thought I was nuts and that clearly I was still going through post-divorce lunacy.  But the weeks and months rolled on and we spent more and more time together.  When he invited me to the Azores to meet his family I knew he was serious about me and in November 2009 we got engaged.

Today is our 1 year wedding anniversary.  Luis is still as sweet and loving as when we first got together.  We still make each other laugh every day and speak our own little language of "Portuglish".  I am so very blessed to have found him.  I feel like maybe Lou had a hand in helping me make it through those rough times and in leading me to Luis once he knew I'd be ready to accept him.  For that, I'll be forever grateful.



Thursday, May 5, 2011

Birthday Chicks

I am knackered after a 12 hour shift at work but I wanted to get this posted before I forget and miss the challenge all together (as we know I tend to do...).  I love the super fun, bright colours from this week's ColourQ challenge.  (In fact, I love their colour combos most weeks!)  I'm also going to post this at Unity's Tweet Tweet challenge since it's a card full of birdies which is this month's theme. 
I used a few different stamps for the card.  The chicks are from Unity's April Kit of the Month which arrived in my mailbox on Tuesday - everything always arrives a little late here in Bermuda.  :)  The party hat is from Lawn Fawn and the flags are from Hero Arts. All the paper is Stampin' Up.  
Hope you all have a lovely day tomorrow!  Nighty night!  :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Live in the Moment

Lots of pink going on in this week's Picture Perfect Creations challenge.  Not generally my favourite colour although I've been digging Melon Mambo lately for some reason. Guess there might be a girl inside me trying to claw her way out after all!  :)  
This week I incorporated the colours solely with ink and kept it simple.  I love this Hero Arts sentiment.  The swirliness of it makes me think butterflies so I pulled out these PTI lovelies to go with it.  
Supplies: Stamps: HA, PTI; Inks: SU Wild Wasabi, Melon Mambo, Pink Pirouette
Off to exercise the hounds.  Jem is giving me his soulful "I am so neglected" eyes right now. If I don't respond quickly enough he may take a pillow hostage!  Later, gators!  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Flowers and Spiders

I'm determined to get my Just Add Ink entry in on time this week!  The challenge is Just Add a Flower.  I've combined it with this week's Wee Memories challenge which is paper piecing.
Hero Arts has so many big layered flower images that are great for paper piecing.  I used some My Mind's Eye paper that came free with a magazine (whoo hoo for freebies!).  I thought it was a bright and colourful mom-esque card so I added mom sentiment.  I had fun with the bling too.  :)  
Supplies: PP: My Mind's Eye; Stamps: HA, Elzybells, Inks: VersaFine Onyx Black, Palette Jardin Moss; Bling: Doodlebug
Remember that big ole' wolf spider I mentioned in this post?  Well, his much smaller brother came to visit and this time I got a picture. 
This dude was about half the size of the last one and a lot faster.  He got away from me before I could relocate him outside.  Guess that means I'll be seeing him again at some point...

My Top 5 Tuesday - Comic Strips

Top 5 Comic Strips
1.  Garfield
2.  Get Fuzzy
3.  Calvin & Hobbes
4.  The Far Side
5.  Archie

Monday, May 2, 2011

If You Obey All The Rules...

Last week I busted out my shorts and everyone was talking about how summer is here. Today, however, I had to retrieve my jeans and sweatshirt from the back of the closet as the temperature went back down into the high 60s and there was a strong north wind.  Brrr! Better warm up again by May 24th or I won't be putting so much as a toe in the water. (May 24th is a public holiday and traditionally the first day of the year that Bermudians go for a swim.  I usually don't make it in until sometime in July when the water is at least 80 degrees!).  

I haven't played along with The Play Date Cafe in awhile but I liked their colours this week.  
I love this tree from Unity - it's what drew me to this particular set in the first place.  I also like the fun Hero Arts sentiment.  The four trees remind me of that segment from Sesame Street - "One of these kids is doing his own thing."  Do they still do that on SS these days?
Supplies: CS: Bazzill; Stamps: Unity, HA: Inks: VersaFine Onyx Black, SU Basic Grey; Copics: YG23, R27; Bling: Basic Grey; 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

April Reading Round-Up

This has been a dismal month in terms of getting through books.  However, I continue to blame my progress on the abundance of fantastic blogs that eat into my reading time!  I also read the following weekly magazines and newspapers: People, US Weekly (yes, I do read some trash!), the New York Times Sunday edition; and the following monthly magazines: Company, Real Simple, Bark.  There is always something being read - even if it's not the books that I'm supposed to be plowing through!     

"Maybe a Miracle" by Brian Strause
        Despite 16-year-old Monroe Anderson's efforts to save his sister, Annika, from drowning, she slips into a coma.  Strange, "miraculous" events begin to occur.  Narrated by Monroe, "Miracle" tells the story of the following few years and how very differently each of his family members react to Annika's coma and the mysterious events occurring around her.

"Scent of the Missing" by Susannah Charleson - Recommended
        A memoir of the the author's experiences training Puzzle, her first search and rescue dog.  Not only is it interesting in terms of learning something about SAR dogs but it is a beautiful story of the love, trust and friendship that develops between Susannah and Puzzle.

"Abide With Me" by Elizabeth Strout
        This was a bit of a struggle.  I loved Strout's first book ("Amy and Isabelle") but this one took me a lot longer to get into.  Once I had a decent chunk of time to devote to it I enjoyed it but it's not the kind of book that should be read in little snatches here and there.  Strout's writing is beautiful and her books always have a strong sense of place - the town's they're set in often seem like characters in their own right.