Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Free stuff from Stampin' UP!

I just found out that Stampin' Up is doing a survey for non-demonstrators that includes a chance to be on a SU! panel. Why is this important to you? Because if you get selected to be on the panel and participate Stampin' Up! will send you "goodie boxes" with free stuff in them!

How cool is that???

Just go to www.stampinup.com/survey for the chance to be picked as well as all the details!

Remember, if you are a demonstrator you are not eligible! Everyone else, check it out and good luck! Let me know if you get picked, because I would love to see first hand what kind of fun stuff you get.

Until next time...Happy Stamping!


Trick or Treat...

...has got to be one of the favorite things Little Miss says all year. She, much like me, has quite the little sweet tooth and loves Halloween! So, in order to make her treat giving a little more fun this year, we are making Halloween treat bags with
little toppers.
These quick little watercolored cuties are made with one of my very favorite Halloween sets that is no longer with us, "Booglie Eyes". I mean, who can resist a little green faced vampire when he has those great big, fun-loving eyes on him? I tell you, not since George Hamilton played in Love at First Bite has a vampire seemed so, well, approachable.

These are 4 of the 5 toppers that we will be doing in my Halloween treats class this week, along with 2 cards to go with the theme (although I think we will be using some new sets for those cards!).

Now, a quick update on the DH: we went back to the doctor today and he definitely still has pneumonia. He has been referred to a pulmonologist for further consultation, so we are just waiting to hear from that doc and get the appointment set up.

My dear friend and blogger extraordinaire, Lydia over at Understand Blue decided to tag me, so I have to share 7 facts about myself to the general reading public. Being a person of many hats but very few secrets, I have been pondering what you might not know about me, and here are my 7:

1. I was not born in the United States. My father was stationed in Sukiran, Okinawa and my mom was able to come overseas with him, so I was born on the US military base there. When we returned to the states I spoke as much Japanese as English, but now my Japanese is limited to "Good morning, how are you", and "Thank you".

2. I had my little brother absolutely convinced for the better part of a year that the shark from "Jaws" lived in my room and would eat him if he dared to come in there. I cemented this in his little 4-year old mind when I was 12 by hiding under my own bed, waiting for him to come into my room, and singing the ominous, "DAAA-Dump....DAAA-Dump-Bump" tune from the movie (which I forced him to watch when my mom wasn't looking). Oh. Hi mom! I never did that...err...hey! At least he doesn't swim in the ocean and scare you like I do!

3. Ironically, I am now terrified of sharks. This is only all the more cemented by the fact that Discovery Channel airs "Shark Week" every year right before we go to the beach for a week. I still go in the water, but you better believe I am on the constant lookout for anything that looks remotely like a shark. Also, and this is important if you are ever in the ocean with me, remember that I know I don't have to outswim the shark. I only have to outswim you.

4. I worked my way through college as the midnight shift police dispatcher for our university police. Oh yeah! Telling cops where to go and what to do all night long for $5.00/hour. That was fun. Although I have to admit you find out alot about the seedier side of college life when you get to help process the folks that come in between the hours of 11 p.m and 7 a.m.

5. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education, with a minor in Science, and I finished my degree when I was 20. I know I am dorky now, but I was the super dork back then. I even started work on my Master's Degree in Education before I decided that a better career choice would be to ride around like a monkey with my tail on fire in the back of ambulances playing "Johnny and Roy" for a living. "Rampart, this is Squad 51." If you don't know what I am talking about, please click here to find out about what the subconscious mind of a young child watching TV can do to a girl.

6. I met my DH on a blind date, and married him exactly 6 months later. We were set up by a police officer we both knew at the time. About 2 months into us dating the I completely stood the hubby up on a date, which caused him to say, "OK, I'm not going to see her anymore," until he found out that I had broken my neck playing softball that afternoon and was a little too, um, how can I put this?? Oh yes! A little too nekkid in the trauma room of the local hospital to let him know I wouldn't be able to see him that night. This weird series of events is what led me to knowing that I did really love him because once I got home from the hospital he would come by and just leave me books, videos and CDs on my porch in the morning after he got off from work so I would have something to look forward to each day. Kind of proved himself to be more than I ever imagined, and I do not wish that injury away because of it.

7. After college I spent the summer marching with Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps. Since my instrument is flute (just like Sarah P.) I knew I would not be able to audition for a "musical" spot. Instead, I learned how to spin a flag. I did not make the cut the first year I auditioned (1990), but got the last open spot for the 1991 season. It was the hardest and at the same time the best thing I have ever done, and if any of you ever have the chance to get down to San Antonio to see the big DCI show there, you will not regret it. If you know any kid that wants to march drum corps, you need to really encourage it. I promise, they teach a level of discipline there you won't find anywhere short of the Marine Corps.

OK, that is all for now! Just a few little tidbits about me, hope you enjoyed them! I hope everyone has a great night, and until next time....Happy Stamping!


Friday, September 26, 2008

Pretty blue flowers...

...all over my card. I have been wanting to play with this set ever since I got it, and finally found some time a couple of days ago. I love any images that lend themselves to watercoloring, and this one fits the bill.

I started by diving into the vaults of my retired paper and getting out the Cool Caribbean. I loved that blue. I miss that blue. I have my own private stash of that blue but I will deny it if you ask me. So, if anyone asks you, dear readers, just tell them that I found one lone sheet of the coveted blue and used it for this card.

I paired it up with Pacific Point Blue (you better bet your britches I'll be stockpiling...err...stocking up...on this color before the end of the catalog year as well), Kiwi Kiss, and Chocolate Chip. I stamped the flower images and then colored them in using Cool Caribbean, Pacific Point, and Summer Sun ink and a blender pen. Usually, I like to do these kind of images with an aquapainter, but the first one I tried got too washed out and the Pacific Point ink did not stay as saturated as I wanted it to. After the card was finished and the pictures were shot, I spent some time

looking at the centers of the flowers and decided to add some Diamond Dust Stickles to them to sparkle them up. The greeting was stamped using a Spectrum pad (if you look closely you will see the variation of the ink from left to right.)

The delicious velvet ribbon was a find...I wish I could just weave it into a blankie and wrap myself in it when I stamp. Anyone have a loom? No? Well, I guess I will have to parcel it out one card at a time then.

I want to encourage anyone who doesn't think they are any good at watercoloring to keep on trying, and start with an image like this one, where there are areas of darkness to act as your coloring "guide". Just remember, start with your lighter color, then add in your darker shade over the dark stamped areas and blend back in. It may be just finding the right tools for you. I prefer inks with an aquapainter, with watercolor pencils and aquapainter coming in a very close second. You can use crayons or pastels if you prefer. Or combine more than one color medium to get a great look.

The best thing about watercolors? Think Monet. His flowers were just beautiful strokes of color...not incredibly detailed petals. Watercoloring is very forgiving, and perfection is not a prerequisite.

I hope this inspires you to stamp some images and start coloring them in. I hope everyone has a great weekend, and until next time...Happy Stamping!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What if Martha had a contest...

...and I won? That would be pretty awesome!

Martha Stewart is having a blog contest right now. Just click on her name to take you to her page and look it over. If you have a blog and want a chance to win, just follow the directions and enter. I have to say, I am in love with the new Martha Stewart circle cutter that I got the other day. So in love that you will be seeing a card here very soon featuring some of those circles!

I have to take a brief moment to tell you my story of woe from yesterday. I was running around late yesterday afternoon, trying to get a week's worth of errands completed so that I would be free to stay home and take care of the DH this week. One of the errands was to fill the car with gas, so I headed up to the Randall's station at Manchaca and Ben White because I had earned some discounts there. As I am filling the vehicle, I realized that my credit card was in the pocket of my jeans and thought, "You know self, you need to put that back in your wallet." I figured I would do that when I got back into the car to leave.

Well, as fickle fate would have it, the credit card fell out of my pocket as I got into the car. Did I notice this? Of course not! I drove away and didn't realize this until I was literally 7 miles away from the gas station.

Ponder this little question for a moment: with gasoline at almost $4/gallon, where is the last place on earth you want to lose a credit card? At the GAS PUMP!! I called the station, and a wonderful attendant (thank you Maribel) went right out to look for it. Of course, Mr. Murphy being who he is and loving his little "law" so much, it was not there. Gone. I still went back to look around myself, hoping beyond hope that I might spy it somewhere and the damage would be minimal. No such luck. I turned my car again towards home and made it here as fast as I could.

Now, you want to know something really funny? When you call the 800 number to report your credit card stolen they ask you (or the little automated voice-mail girl asks you) to please enter your credit card number! Ho, Ho...HAHAHA...AARRGGHHH!!!! If I had my credit card number that would mean I would be looking at the card that I am calling to report lost! I finally managed to get through to a real live person just as I was logging into my online account.

Then, my faith in the goodness of humanity was instantly restored. As I finished logging in I saw, "This account has been closed. The card was reported lost/stolen." Do you know what this means? There was someone, some wonderful individual who found my card at a gas pump and had the decency to pick it up, call the number on the back, and report it lost to my credit card company. They didn't fill their tank. They didn't go on a shopping spree. They were honest and empathetic about someone that they didn't know.

I doubt that this wonderful person will ever see this blog, but if by some chance they do, I just want to tell them thank you very much! You saved me a lot of worry and frustration and I truly, truly appreciate that! You could have used that card to fill your car and probably never been caught, but you were a good person, and even if I never know who you are you are one of my heroes!

I hope everyone has a nice day and has a chance to do something nice for someone that they don't know. Until next time, Happy Stamping!


Back to life...

...and back to some stamping! Finally, I am getting back to my table and getting some cards made. I wanted to give just a little peek at what you will be making at my table during the World Card Making Day event that is happening on October 4th. I say at "my table" because this is a joint venture with me, Lydia, and Neelam. Everyone who attends is going to be making 9 great cards, 3 each of 3 designs, for free! How can you say no?

So, without further ado, here is the sneak peek:

Now, onto a little early Christmas card that I have been wanting to do. I am a big fan of several different techniques, and emboss resist is one of them. I just really like how the finished product comes out, and it kind of has that Mr. Miagi, "wax on, wax off" serenity to it. Very zen-like.

This card uses a new stamp set that is in the Holiday Mini Catalog, "Scandinavian Season", as well as the new designer series paper, "Ski Slope". I used the colors that were in the patterned paper, Real Red, Old Olive, and Baja Breeze, and paired all of this up with the Alpine felt ribbon. Little Miss declared it a complete success, so who am I to argue with her obviously impeccable taste?

Today I am going to be working on my Halloween treat bag toppers and cards, as well as tending to the sick hubby who was officially diagnosed with what our doctor called "a serious case" of pneumonia and told to stay home and for the most part in bed the rest of this week.

I hope everyone has a great day, and until next time, Happy Stamping!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Today on Cooking with Kim...

...meatloaf! The ultimate in comfort food, nothing satisfies quite like a wonderful meatloaf with a pile of mashed potatoes and gravy next to it. I have a lot of friends who are looking for easy recipes, and even more friends who claim to not be able to cook. I wanted to show all of these folks that you can reach a state of culinary nirvana with just 6 simple ingredients and a little bit of time.

Now, let me preface this by saying that this recipe is the result of years of failed meatloafs. My husband hated meatloaf until I finally started using this recipe, and now when he comes home and smells this in the oven a smile the likes of which one normally does not witness from a husband unless 50-yard line seats to a ball game are involved erupts across his face.

I asked him one day why he hated meatloaf so much. He lovingly explained that his mom used meatloaf as a sort of evil conduit to hold all manner of vegetables that he has never, nor will ever like in the slightest. She used to pack her meatloaf with "chunks" (this is important later on) of tomato and green bell peppers to the point that he would literally gag when trying to eat it. Now, I have to have full disclosure here: the DH can be a bit of a picky eater, but when it comes to the entire meat family he is pretty laid back. A typical conversation at our house:
Me: "What would you like for dinner, honey?"
Him: "Meat, no bones. No nuts, no coconut."
Me: "OK."
Pretty much gives a girl a bit of leeway, don't you think?

So, here is the cast of characters for this production. First of all, ground chuck. Now, now, don't get all, "But Kim, that has 20% fat content! It is evil in a tube!" Normally, I would agree, but trust me, we will deal with the fat and you need a "non-lean" meat to make this all come together properly. Also, I do not normally use 5 pounds, I use about 2 1/2, but today I was making 3 big meatloafs to put in the FIL's freezer, so you are seeing a 5 pound portion of meat.

Next up, the mix-ins. There is no need to get fancy with this dish. Simple really is best here and will yield the best flavor and consistency. I use (per meatloaf) 2 eggs, a pack and a half of the onion soup, and a healthy dose of Worcestershire sauce and Italian Seasoned bread crumbs. YUMMY!!!

So, put your meat, eggs, soup mix, worcestershire sauce, and bread crumbs into a very large bowl. You want to have room to work, so don't put it into a "just big enough" bowl. Trust me, your pets will love you as bits of meat go flying, but you'll be crying in your chopped cow.

Now, here is the part that is important. Do not use a spoon, dough hook, food processor, or any other implement of destruction to mix these elements together. Use your hands. Both of them. Relive your childhood and all the times you played with Play-Doh, clay, mud, or whatever floated your boat and get in there. This does two things for your meatloaf. First, you are able to really get things incorporated in a nice, homogenous manner. This means no bite will have a big honkin' taste of onion soup or bread crumbs or anything else in it. Each bite will be as delectable as the one before it. Secondly, the heat from your hands is going to start melting the fat in the meat which is going to lead to a more cohesive loaf.

If only I could squish and squeeze all those crazy world leaders together...

OK, back to cooking, I'll have to work on world peace tomorrow sometime.

After about 8-10 minutes of squishing meat between your fingers you will see it all really starting to stick together. Now, I do not measure ingredients when I cook something like this. I do that when I bake, because you have to. Cooking like this is more about sight and feel, so all I can tell you is when you are mixing this together if it feels too mushy and looks too juicy you need to add another couple of sprinkles of bread crumbs to help even it out. If it gets too dry or stiff, you can add a little evaporated milk, not to be confused with sweetened condensed milk, lest your relatives start looking up the names of places like "Restful Manor" or "The Retirement Center" for you to live in.

Trust me, at the slightest sign that you are off your cooking kilter they will.

Now, take your big ball of meat in your skillful hands and start forming it into a loaf. Pack it tightly as you work with it, and remember that because this meat has 20% fat content there will be shrinkage.

Ha-Ha....snort...oh, "shrinkage". Can anyone name that Seinfeld episode?

Now, important thing number 528 to remember: your meat loaf should never, ever, under any circumstances and penalty of being whipped with wet noodles, ever see a "loaf" pan. We aren't baking bread, we are cooking meat. And if you put this into a loaf pan it is not going to get the heat it needs and it is going to sit in its own rendered fat. Not tasty at all. Get thee a rack and placeth it on a baking sheet, one with at least a little side to it.

Unless you are particularly fond of firemen, do not place this on a cookie sheet. You need a pan with a slight side (like a jelly roll pan) to keep the grease away from the bottom of your stove where the heating elements live. Trust me on this one, the fire department will come and save your burning oven, but they will laugh at you later on. Not that I've ever had that happen to me. I just read a lot of stories like that.

See how my loaf is perched nicely on a rack? That is a happy hunk o' meat.

At this point, if you want to go for the full on, tastes like my mom made it only better effect, start squirting on the ketchup. Cover that entire top, do not be shy about that. I usually spread mine out a bit with a spoon so that I have a good coverage. Now, pop that bad boy into a 350 degree oven, set a timer for an hour and walk away. Let the irresistable aroma of baking bovine goodness fill your house and soul.


I check my creation after about an hour to see if I think it needs more time. This one took about an hour and twenty minutes to cook all the way through. You should be able to push on the side with your finger and have it spring right back. Also, any juices that are coming out of it should be completely clear.

After you remove it from the oven, cover it loosely with aluminum foil and let it sit for at least 20 minutes. I know, it smells good! I know, you want some right now, but trust me, if you cut into it all those great juices are going to run out of it and be gone, and your tasty leftover meatloaf sandwich tomorrow will be a dried out mess. Leave it alone! Let it take a little nap so all those juices will settle down.

The best part? You can't really tell from the picture above, but there is a lot of fat in the bottom of that pan. This is why you want it on a rack, to give that fat somewhere to go. Now, if you have dogs with stomachs of steel, like Baxter, then the kindly thing to do after your remove the loaf from this pan and cut it would be to take a few pieces of bread, let them soak up the greasiness in the pan, and give those to the dog.

If you have a pup that throws up when she looks at table food, like Buffy, don't do that. I know that they are looking at you all pitiful with those big brown eyes, but the aftermath of that indulgence is too ugly to write about here.

I hope you enjoyed this, my final post from West Virginia. I am really looking forward to getting home and seeing you all, and getting this blog back to cards and card making. I wish everyone a happy weekend, and until next time, Happy Stamping!


Something old, something new....

...something molten that someone blew.

I have not gone crazy and decided to rewrite the old poem about what a young lady needs for her wedding, although I think any young woman getting married would love to get some gifts from where I was today.

I am not much of a collector, except for stamps (don't judge me. I know y'all have stamps stowed away at your collective residences!), but I have always loved pretty glass. Having lived in West Virginia myself for the better part of 9 years, I learned about and loved Fenton glass. I have a few small pieces myself that I treasure. I had, however not heard of Blenko glass until this past year.

Blenko Glass Company is located in Milton, WV. You have to go a little off the beaten path to find the place, but it is worth it. When you get there, you see the visitor center settled right next to a pristine pond that is surrounded by beautiful maple and oak trees. The company was founded in 1893 by a young glassmaker who immigrated to the United States from London, where he began learning the art of glassblowing at the age of 13.

He tried starting his company in Point Marion, PA, which is incidentally the city that my DH and I lived in until we moved to Austin, and it failed. He finally settled in Milton, WV and the company became a success. They create not only amazing blown pieces, but also the most intricate stained glass windows you will ever see. When you first arrive, this is the view of the visitor's center, also known as the place where Kim spent some stamping money today.

As you walk up to the front of the store you cannot help but notice the flower beds. They are outlined in glass bricks, and feature some of the glass art that is produced inside, half buried in the dirt! I could not believe that they would put them outside like this, but I guess I can understand. The glass bricks were amazing, in every color imaginable. If I thought I could lug them through the airport I would have brought home a ton of them.

Then, you walk inside and are greeted by the sight you see above. Hundreds of pieces of handblown, original glass everywhere. I think my heart skipped a couple of beats when I got hit with the color cornucopia that is the Blenko Glass Store. I don't think I need to tell y'all that before the door was ever opened I gave Little Miss a set of instructions that puts the flight attendant pre-flight check list to shame.
"Welcome to Blenko glass. My name is Mommy and I will be watching you like a hungry hawk eyes up a mouse for the duration of your visit today. There are emergency exits here, here, and here, and if I have to take you outside it will not end well for you. In the event of any overwhelming desire to touch anything, two hands will appear out of nowhere, even if I am 10 feet away, and remove you from the situation immediately. Let me remind you, Mommy has eyes in the back of her head and the penalty for not following my instructions involves you never seeing another Littlest Pet Shop until you are old enough to buy them for your own children. Now, welcome to this lovely store and have a wonderful visit."
Every other sentence ended in the phrase, "and everything is a NO TOUCH". She is very good about keeping her hands in and by her side in situations like this, but she is also 4, so I figured a little extra insurance was worth it.
After pausing for a few minutes we decided we would do the tour first before I started my favorite sport, competitive shopping. If they would only have that one at the Olympics I would be right up there with Michael Phelps for number of gold medals. I have a special gland just for shopping hormone. It is a curse, but it is one that I have learned to live with. Sort of.

We go upstairs and follow a little walkway to part of the production plant. Now, let me tell you something about glass production. It is HOT!!! I mean, these guys are working in a room that had no fewer than 10 kilns burning like the sun on steroids in it. We find this guy, who I am going to call "Bob the Brave", working a fresh piece of glass. See how pretty and red it is? That isn't the color of the glass. That is the color of fire. The glass is so hot that when he starts working with it it is actually glowing. Now, take a moment to look at the proximity of said molten piece of lava-hot glass to Bob's leg. You think that the material between him and the glass would be Nomex or asbestos or something, but I don't think it was. So Bob starts doing what any normal, rational human would do when handed a stick with a piece of 2000 degree melted sand on it.

He puts his MOUTH ON THE OTHER END OF THE METAL TUBE AND BLOWS INTO IT. "Hi! I'll take 'Jobs I'll never do' for $1000, Alex!" I mean, what if you forget your chapstick? What if you are sick to your tummy? What if, God forbid, right at the very moment you lock lips with this tube you get the hiccups? Oh, the humanity!

However, Bob is very brave and continues to blow and shape this piece of glass until it forms a perfect little sphere. Then he rolls it back and forth and sprinkles some nice, cool water on that little "waistline" in the glass. At this point, another guy that I wasn't able to get a picture of comes over with another big

stick that has a tiny little piece of blazing hot glass on it, pushes it onto the end of Bob's piece of glass, and Bob taps his pipe and the glass snaps off onto the other stick. At this point they put it back into the kiln and fire it again, then it moves onto another guy who is equally as brave as Bob and he does more work to it. This glass actually ends up looking blue when they are done.

So, after watching these guys work for about 45 minutes, I went back into the store section and did some shopping. I don't have pictures of all the pieces I bought, but I did find this picture on Blenko's website. This is exactly like a bowl that the DH got for me from their "Strata" collection. I was amazed at how gorgeous it was, and cannot wait to get it home and find it the perfect place to live within my abode.

I have to give some serious kudos to the lady working the front of the store. She wrapped my pieces in so much bubble wrap I think I could throw them to the ground and they would still survive, although I am not risking them under the plane. I don't know how I am going to carry all of it on, but rest assured when my plane lifts from Columbus on Saturday until it lands in Austin, this and my other treasures will be safely within arms reach at all times. I can already feel about 10 different card designs coming out of this one...so I am ready to get it home.

One last picture before I go, a gratuitous shot of my baby, my hubby, and his daddy. What a great crew these 3 are! I hope everyone has a great night, and until next time, Happy Stamping!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pictures from Kanawha...

...and my father-in-law's place! Yes, that is correct, I finally outsmarted my digital camera and the laptop all at the same time and am able to now take photos and post them for everyone! So, here are just a few shots of where I am and who I am with.

First of all, this is JP. He is a doll of a FIL, let me tell you! He always makes me feel like I was his very own daughter, and I feel extremely blessed to have him in my family tree. A little bit about him: he is 88 years old (closing rapidly in on 89) and is a veteran of World War II. Yep, you heard me right. I asked him one time about what he did, and in his typical humble manner he told me about being in the US Army Air Corps (which was the predecessor of the Air Force). He had never been out of West Virginia before he served, and the next thing you know he gets put on board an aircraft carrier and sent to Guam.

He goes on to talk about going through Pearl Harbor to get over to Guam (luckily he wasn't there during the attack, although the USS West Virginia was sunk there). And what did he do while in Guam? Well, remember Fat Man and Little Boy? Someone had to help move those puppies onto the planes and get them ready to deploy. Dad was one of those guys. When he does sit with me and talk about those days, he mostly talks about his friends there, the friends from home who didn't make it back, and the fact that all anyone wanted in the United States was for that terrible war to stop. I don't have a scanner here, but I can tell you, he was so handsome in his uniform! And he still is, even at 88!

After the war was over he came back home to West Virginia and with the exception of taking my DH and the rest of his family to Florida every summer, he has always been here. He worked for 40 years at DuPont before retiring. Now he mostly just feeds the fish in the river, pets the new cat, and watches football on TV. (Oh, and let me not forget that he spoils Little Miss with all of his attention, as evidenced in the next picture.)

This is JP with his grand-baby down at the river bank that his house sits on. She has to be at his side all day long. Of course, it doesn't hurt that all the fish in the river know when they see him that half a loaf of bread is about to fall from the heavens, and she loves to feed the fish. She doesn't let Paw-Paw get out of her sight!

Next up is my DH with the Little Miss. Forgive his appearance, he has been truly sick for about 10 days now. So sick, in fact, that when I said, "You know baby, we should take you to the walk-in clinic down the road" he actually agreed. All of you wives know how severe that situation is. The doctor at the clinic is pretty sure that David has what amounts to "walking" pneumonia and put him on some heavy duty antibiotics and super-duper cough syrup. He is snoring in the bed as I type, but at least he isn't coughing right now. I think I will be bunking with the child tonight.

Next up, the view from Dad's back yard. This is also the view (or part of it) from the big windows in the kitchen, hence the reason I do not mind being in there all day long cooking! It is so incredibly beautiful, my only regret is that we didn't wait until late October to come visit. Why late October you ask? Well, all that green turns red, orange, and gold and is stunning for a couple of weeks before the trees give up their beauty to sleep through the long winter. I promise I will keep my camera at the ready tomorrow so hopefully I will get some pictures of the coal barges as they go up and down the river. It is amazing to see these huge loads of coal getting pushed by this seemingly small vessel.

Finally, no trip to Kanawha County, WV would be complete without a picture or two of the Capitol. As you can see, this one, like ours in Austin, is modeled after the Capitol building in Washington, DC. Unlike either, however, the dome of the State Capitol in WV is completely covered in gold. You heard me correctly, real gold leaf covers the dome and spire in its entirity. There was quite a bit of controversy a few years ago when the dome needed recovered. You see, unemployment in this state is epic, people here are poorer than just about any state in the Union (although I think Mississippi and Arkansas try their best to take that title every year), and the state passed the motion to spend an incredibly large amount of money to cover a dome in gold. You will find that while this decision was not the most popular at the time, just about every citizen of the state is darn proud of their building, and they should be.

A little side note about security at this building: unlike our Capitol in Austin, there are no barriers between the West Virginia Capitol and the roadway. In fact, we are pulled over into a parking spot directly in front of the building as I was snapping this shot.

So there is my little photo tour of the first few days of our visit here. Now that my electronics know who the real boss is around this joint (please, oh please don't crash computer!!) I will be putting more candid shots up the next few days. I hope everyone is doing well, and thanks for sticking with me during this non-card time.

I will admit that I went to the big craft store today and bought some new paper because I am having a card making fit right now, so stay tuned, you never know what I might try here with limited supplies! Have a great night everyone, and until next time, Happy Stamping!


What I did on my WV vacation...

...aka, A Very Short Essay by Me.

First of all, Hi to everyone back home in Texas and everywhere else in the world.

Just a quick update about what is going on up here in the Appalachian mountains. I am well on my way to world domination through marathon cookery, otherwise known as filling up JP's freezer with more precooked meals than Jenny Craig. The best part is he loves (or at least does a good job of faking love) everything I make for him. And I cannot forget the fact that his kitchen has a great view of the big river that goes through his town, so I get to watch the ducks and coal barges move up and down all day long. Always a plus!

Now, let me tell you about my anniversary yesterday. You know how some girls get to go to fancy restaurants or fun shows for their anniversary? Well, that is now how I spent my day. Not that I wouldn't have liked that, I really, really would. (Are you reading this, DH?) This year, however, I spent my 14th anniversary scrubbing shower walls and making a homemade Red Velvet Cake with real buttercream icing. I know what some of you are thinking, "What kind of pod took over Kim and left Betty Crocker in her place?!?", but I can assure you that this cake is worth the trouble.

I would share the recipe, but I think I signed a contract sometime when I married my hubby that stated I could not ever share the recipe outside of the realms of the Williams' family lest I suffer dire consequences. My mother-in-law refused to give me the recipe until after my first anniversary. I guess she wanted to make sure I didn't just marry her boy to get my mitts on her secret recipe stash and a year with him was proof enough. But, I will tell you one thing: this recipe rests somewhere between culinary genius and chemistry experiment. You can't make it if it is too hot. You can't make it if it is too cold. You must (and I am quoting straight off of her old cards here, folks) NEVER, EVER try to make this if it is humid. That kind of limits your options here in WV, and requires serious air conditioner usage in Central Texas.

I will also share this little tidbit. The icing. Oh, goodness, the humanity of it!! I try to convince myself that the amount of butter in it isn't really 3/4 of a pound. I fail miserably every single time, though. I can tell you one thing. If angels made icing it would taste like what is on this cake. I think that the next time I have any type of stamping event I am going to make red velvet cupcakes and put this icing on it to see what that does for my attendance levels. (I bet Lydia will come if I do...rofl!)

So, after a day of cooking and cleaning and feeding sunfish at the river and petting the cat, I go to bed just to listen to my DH's hacking cough all night long.

Happy Anniversay, sunshine!

But in all seriousness, it was a great day and we are having a wonderful time. Plus my DH got my two cute cards (I'll write more on that one another time). Right now we are going out to take my hubby to a clinic so that they can diagnose whatever creepy crud he has brewing in his lungs and to get my FIL a new rocker recliner for his living room.

I hope everyone is having a great day, and I can't wait to see y'all again soon!

Until next time, Happy Stamping!


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Country Roads...

...take me home. We are currently in Wild, Wonderful, West Virginia visiting with my father-in-law, JP. He is about the most wonderful guy you would ever want to meet and the best Paw-Paw Little Miss could ever ask for.

I wanted to thank everyone who was saying prayers that my family and I would have a safe flight here. Our flight was amazing! We flew over the top of the hurricane and got an incredible view. I would love to have some pictures to submit here of the sights I saw, but Little Miss has taken the window seat from me and refuses to relinquish it, so getting good shots was pretty much impossible. Add to that the fact that I am the MOST NERVOUS FLIER IN THE WORLD and you can see how it wouldn't work out so well.

Anyway, after leaving our house at around 5:30 yesterday morning (did y'all know that 5:30 comes twice a day? I did not.) we left Bergstrom around 8 a.m., flew into Nashville for a 2 hour layover, then on up to Columbus, OH, at which point we picked up our rental car and started our 3 hour drive into Charleston. I will vent just a tad about our rental car. It was absolutely filthy inside and out, and I intend to let the company know how bad it was as soon as I get home. Yuck!

Little Miss made sure last night to spend plenty of time explaining to her Paw-Paw the intricacies of Littlest Pet Shop versus Puppy in My Pocket and how you can make them play together. If only the world would figure out a system like hers, there would be no more war...lol! She then showed him everything in her backpack, talked my husband into letting her have a lollipop before dinner, and demonstrated her ability to eat 2 big slices of pizza. I am sure that Paw-Paw was impressed.

Today we are going to go grocery shopping then I will begin a 6 day cook-a-rama to fill up JP's freezer with homemade meals for when we return home. If I can figure out how to get pictures from my other digital camera onto the laptop I will show y'all some of the beautiful sights from here. I'll be home on the 20th, and can't wait to get back to my stamping table! (Keli is keeping it warm for me though....hi Keli!)

I hope everyone has a great week...and I'll see y'all soon! Until next time, Happy Stamping!


Monday, September 8, 2008

Yes, Lydia...there is an OJ....

...and apparently he is working for UPS now. Case in point: the Bruno Magli bloodstained footprint that was on my last Stampin' Up box.

For those who need further proof, I encourage you to check out a box that Lydia got here. I guess he must have stepped on my box in an effort to prove he is faster than my normal Mr. Brown. Come to think of it, I haven't seen my normal Mr. Brown lately. Let's just hope he is ok as he is supposed to come here Wednesday and I do love ambushing him at the front door.

So, even though the box looked like someone needed to encircle it with crime scene tape, almost everything made it ok. My only casualty was my new Filigree brads, which had opened and mostly escaped out of the gaping hole in the bottom of the box. Thank goodness demo support was there to console me and ship me some new ones out.

Now that I have some new stuff (and Keli is back home to serve as my muse....hey Keli!) I actually sat down to make some new things. This is a birthday card for my brother, who just turned 31 (punk!). I love him to pieces, and he loves to fish, so I figured this little Riley would be perfect. It is always so hard for me to do more masculine cards, but I think I managed to pull this one off ok with the blue/brown combo and simple striped paper. I even managed to get a few "flowers" on there using the Pocket Silhouettes set on the bottom. And since his birthday was Saturday, and I mailed it today, I am insuring that he gets to continue his celebration for a good week after the actual day. You don't have to thank me for thinking of you, brother! I'm just a giver like that....lol!

This one is for my mom (hi mom, it's on the way to you right now!). Sometimes she reads my blog, sometimes she doesn't. Sometimes she is so embarrassed by my unabashed, shameless stalking of my UPS man that she denies that I belong to her and refuses to let her friends/family in on the fact that they can subscribe to my blog and keep up with my daily musings.

Anyway, I still love you mom! LOL!!

This card was made with the Upsy Daisy set. I can see me getting a log of mileage out of this one as the days go on. It is so pretty, and lends itself perfectly to the "thumping" technique. For this card I inked up the image using Kiwi Kiss, then "thumped" some of the edges with my Not Quite Navy marker. After stamping, I sponged a little Baja Breeze ink on the top edge of the cardstock, then mounted it on navy and kiwi mats. I finished it off with some of the great new double-stitched Kiwi Kiss ribbon. Just goes to show that a "simple" design can really work sometimes.

Finally, I wanted to take the time to welcome my new baby to the family. Meet Saab-rina. She is the car I have been longing for, and I am still in shock that she is actually sitting in my garage right this very moment.
My dear, sweet, loving husband has known for quite some time that Jessica Jeep has not been doing well. She spits up, her rear end basically fell off, and she refused to let her rear turn signals come on. It was so bad, the poor thing jumped off the rack at the garage one time in an attempt to put herself out of her misery. I'm not kidding...the whole Jeep fell off of one of those lifting racks at the garage. Luckily, no one was under her at the time.
So, in an attempt to keep momma happy, and because of the incredible deal we were able to get at Roger Beasley (Seriously...two thumbs up to that dealership.
This is my second car from them and both times we have been treated like gold.) he got this car for us (read: ME!!!). I figured he deserved a little pat on the back for this one...so if you see him anywhere, tell him he is a great guy, because, well, he is!

I hope everyone has a wonderful night. I'll be posting more pictures soon, and I am thinking they will be Halloweeny in nature! Until next time, everyone, Happy Stamping!


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

On your mark...Get Set...


These might as well have been the words on Saturday morning as I participated in the contact sport that apparently is the Cabelas 4-hour sale.

You see, my intent was very clear. Cabelas had a spotting scope for sale that my Darling Hubby wanted very much. Very, very much. The only problem was he was working at 9 a.m. when the store opened so he would not be able to get down there to get one. I figured, being the dutiful wife that I am (hey...I see you snickering! You stop that! I could be dutiful for all you know!) I told him to not worry about it, that I would take Little Miss and we would retrieve the beloved scope for him ourselves.

And being the consummate shopper that I am I told him that I would get to the store about 30 minutes before the doors opened to make sure that I would be the very first in line for the much coveted spotting scope. Problem solved. I am sooo brilliant.

So, last Saturday morning I got up early (a sacrifice on my behalf as all of you who know me can attest to), got the child up early (an even larger sacrifice for any of you who understand that she is not a morning person either), and then she and I made our way down the road to Cabelas with my full assurance that we would find a deserted parking lot and probably run over to Sonic for a quick drink before we had to return to Cabelas.

I could not have been more wrong.

I should have known that there was an "issue" when I arrived and saw the Hays County Deputy Sheriff car sitting way up close to the store. The fact that the line o' humanity started at the doors and made it to the front of the Remington statue in the front of the store was a personal shocker. Of course, being me, I rationalized, "There are a lot of good items for sale here today. What are the chances that all 150 people in front of me want the exact same thing that I want?" Satisfied that I had silenced my inner worry-wart, I took Little Miss by the hand and told her that we just had to wait a little bit, like at Disney.

Now, being a constant student of the human condition and trying to maintain a cat-like awareness of my surroundings at all times (thanks EMS for helping to develop those senses!) I began to watch the folks in front of me as they purused the sales papers they clutched in their hands and listen into their conversations. It seems like whenever a $100 spotting scope goes on sale for $40, everyone wants one. I could see that this was not going to shape up to be the morning that I thought it would.

Again, rational Kim stepped up to the plate. "Now Kim," said my rational inner voice, "you know that Cabelas is prepared for this sale. The place is huge. They have to have just thousands of these scopes available...quit your worrying." So I did. For about 30 seconds. Then the doors to Cabelas began opening and Little Miss and I were caught in what can best be described as a tidal wave of Texans gaining momentum through the door. I told the little one to hold my hand and do not let go. I think I might have even said the word, "RUN" to her as we made our way through the doors.

What ensued once we were inside is difficult to describe, but I will try. Have you ever seen, or, heavens forbid, participated in one of those $99 wedding dress sales? You know what I'm talking about...throngs of women basically grabbing every dress that they see in their size, fighting each other for the chance to be the most refined bride they can be on their special day? Well, replace the brides with Texans. Everything is bigger in Texas, especially when there is hunting equipment involved.

Little Miss and I passed up the buggies (no way I was wasting time grabbing one of those) and ran back to where the guns/ammo/scopes are. I saw a mass of people surrounding one tiny endcap display. Some of these men were grabbing armfuls of scopes at a time. Don't get me wrong...it wasn't just the boys going after them. There were a couple of scrappy Texas gals in there that I wouldn't pick a fight with as well. I thought about sending Little Miss up into the crowd...figuring that with her short stature she could sneak in to the bottom whilst everyone big was fightin' it out at the top, but then I thought better of it. I could just see me calling my mom and saying, "Hi Mom! You know the granddaughter you have here in Texas? Well, she's been arrested for biting some rancher's ankles trying to retrieve a spotting scope for me."

At this point I see the very last scope get taken off of the shelf by one of the aforementioned scrappy gals, and let me tell you, the look on her face said it all. She wasn't giving up her prize. Just at this moment, divine providence smiled on me. To my direct right was a Cabelas' employee. I whispered the Little Miss, "Look sad. No, really sad, like someone hurt our dog." (OK, so I didn't tell her that anyone hurt our dog, but I did have her turn on the full pout lip and the big doe eyes.) All is fair in love and hunting equipment.

I turned to the employee and said, "Please sir, do you have any more?" No wait, that was Oliver. Oh, ok. I asked him if there were any more scopes anywhere in the store. I told him that my anniversary was coming up (it is) and that I really wanted to get one for my husband (I did) and that it was the only thing in the world that he wanted (ok, little white lie there, but I figured I had better sell it).
He almost whispered, "Follow me" and you can believe that I did.

Now, I believe in keeping a very low profile in these situations, but I also believe in trying to hedge my bet, so I did a couple of things. First of all, the Deputy Sheriff that I saw earlier wasn't there for crowd control...he was part of the crowd. Part of the crowd that didn't get his scope. So I gently tapped him on the shoulder (don't want the guy with the unconcealed weapon getting all jumpy up in there) and quietly whispered, "Come with me...there might be more scopes back here". He nonchalantly fell in line behind me. I figured if there was going to be any mob scene happen back there, he could at least fend off the crowd while I got my scope.

Then, there was an older Texan in the crowd that I tapped as well. I figured that if none of these younger punks were going to show some respect and give up one of their 10 scopes to this fella then I would at least do the right thing. Our little line followed Mr. Cabelas all the way back to the employee doors and tried to look like we were examining duck blinds so as not to draw attention towards us.

In a couple of minutes the employee comes out with a big basket that is full of scopes...probably about 25 in all. I get one, the rancher gets one, and the Deputy gets two (hey, the man had 2 boys...so I figure that was fair enough), and me and the Little Miss thank Mr. Cabelas profusely and then go to retrieve a buggy to finish looking for some other items. I gave my dear daughter the instructions that her job was to sit in the basket with the scope box behind her and scream bloody murder if anyone even dared to try to touch it. I bought her allegience with a stick of Orbit "Sangria Fresca" gum. Hey, don't judge me. It wasn't real sangria....and you would have done the same.

About the time we start heading back towards the firearm section to get a couple boxes of ammo that David wanted the poor Cabelas' guy got spotted with his basket o' scopes and was mobbed almost as badly as I attack the UPS guy on Stampin' Up day. It was not pretty. Had I not been well trained as a medic (first question...Is the scene safe? I think not this time.) I would have jumped in to help him. Thankfully I had the safety of my kiddo to think about....the Cabelas' guy was on his own.

Luckily the rest of our shopping was uneventful, but I have to say this: Do Not believe what you see when Cabelas sends out a "4 hour sale" flyer to your house. It is more like a "40 second sale". And if you happen to see me walking very quickly and quietly in any direction...you might want to follow. Chances are I am about to get what you are looking for...LOL!

Thanks for sticking with me through this fun story. I hope everyone has a great night. I'm off to set some new stamps!


Tick-tock, Tick-tock....

....goes my internal UPS Clock.

It is that time again, ladies. As I sit here and type these words, I know he is out there. Waiting. Watching, hopeful that I am out running errands or at the back of the house where I won't hear him. Little does he know that I am perched at the very edge of my computer chair, less that 2 feet from the door that he will leave my big ol' box of Stampin' goodness at any minute now. Poor, poor, Mr. Brown.

But, good for me because very soon I will have even more goodies to play with, and that means that I will have even more new stuff to show you. Until then, let me give you a peek at what I did do this week in between running back and forth from preschool, doing laundry, and having my kitchen table commandeered by my hubby so that he could put 792 new pictures in our photo albums.
The first two cards are for my upcoming "Christmas in September class" and feature two of my favorite stamps sets from last year, "Wondrous Gift" and "Punch Pals". I have used both of these sets numerous times and still enjoy them. I do have to give credit where credit is due in regard to the cute little snowman card you see here. It was designed by one of my favorite bloggers, Lynn Weiss. Just click on her name to check out her blog, you won't regret it. (BTW...thanks to Lynn who gave me permission to recreate her card and use it in my class...I truly appreciate it!)
Just to note...when you see this card in my class there will be some of the new Holiday designer paper over that Baja Breeze strip...if my UPS man ever gets here today. You can't hide from me, Mr. Brown, ok? Might as well come on and take you medicine like a big boy now and get it over with.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
This card is a 3-D pop up card that will fold flat for mailing. When you see how easy this is, you just won't believe it. I can see me making a lot more of these in the future for friends and family!
OK, that is all I have for today, but I am planning on a stamp-love-fest coming up this week, so stay tuned. Also, there will be a story about Cabelas that will hopefully serve as a public service announcement/warning to you all...lol! I am so glad to be home from vacation, and I am really looking forward to getting back to regular posts here...both stamping and non-stamping related. Remember...it isn't too late to sign up to be a part of the STAMPeders walking/running (SNORT!! Bwaahaaa....running!! Oh, I think I pulled something laughing at that one!) team for the Susan Komen Race for the Cure. We would love to have you with us!
Until next time, everyone, Happy Stamping!