Friday, December 27, 2013

So Much Catch Up!

I can't believe we're coming down to the end of 2013. I really don't know where fall went, except that it seemed like I was living each day in the present, not really able to plan for more than a week in advance. Certainly it was not a dull last few months...but it would be nice to get off the carousel :-) I got an A- in my Fibre 212 class. I find it harder to get A's in studio classes I just never seem to have what teachers are looking for. But with Laura as a guide, I found myself making all sorts of new and interesting things, stuff I wouldn't try on my own. Our last project was to make a home installation, and then the plan was that we would all go around and view each one. Unfortunately we had a frightful blizzard here at the beginning of the month that slowed everything down. It was taking two hours to get to work and back :S Instead, my classmates and I did our best to take pictures of the installations. Thank goodness for my new camera, because my old one would not have been able to handle the poor lighting so well. I was really looking forward to having my classmates over. I bought a lot of snacks, told hubs, "Hands off!" and made punch even! Needless to say, I now have a lot of good reference photos for still lifes and the project ended up being more than I expected. You can click on the photo below to see the whole set up!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Horse 2013

Christmas Horse 2013 by Calzephyr
Christmas Horse 2013, a photo by Calzephyr on Flickr.
Happy holidays friends!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

So Much Catch Up!

October went by so fast - I changed jobs, volunteered for lots and was elbows deep in making paper. Let me take you back in time to September, for our second Fibre 212 project. Now that we've had a couple of snows, I really appreciate having these photos to look back on.

It was a super long day at ACAD, from the time I got on the bus at 7:30 to the time I got home at 7:30. My fibre class went on a field trip to a farm in Bragg Creek, owned by friends of the teacher, Laura. We had a late start because we waited for everyone to show up, and then one person went to the wrong place where the cars were parked. I rode with Laura in her old Volvo station wagon, because she knew where she was going, naturally!

Bragg Creek is a little strip of a town about 45 minutes north of Calgary. It sustained a lot of flood damage in June, and there were still piles of rubble and former houses just off the main drag. Our hosts for the day were a couple named Lynn and John, both artists. They have this cozy little house and a couple of barns, and chickens, although I didn't see any. They were so happy to see a gaggle of art students! Lynn made cinnamon buns and we all gathered in her kitchen for tea and coffee before going on a tour of the property. There really weren't any "no's" - just don't go onto the neighbouring property and watch out for a severe drop near a creek. It was a perfect day.


This is where I should stop and tell you that the reason we were stomping around in the woods was to create land based sculptures with natural or extra materials. Sometimes these are called earth works - think of Christo or Robert Smithson. The property afforded lots of material, such as rocks, water, grass, hay, trees, and dirt. I came prepared with grubby clothes, garden tools and rubber boots. Some of the young folk had bare legs and really impractical clothing. City people! :D

I really didn't know where to start. It was a picture perfect day and so much potential! Mowed paths meandered all over the place, and I chose two trees on opposite sides of a path to get started with. I tried wrapping string around the trees, then thought about braiding string...ugh! I thought about weaving...frig, the morning was getting away from me.

I was covering for two people at work during this time, so I wasn't feeling very creative at all. Finally, after a couple of false starts, I just decided to just gather as much straw as I could. It was time consuming because it was interspersed with quackgrass, and it was about 11:30 when I committed to the idea of making straw men/teepees something. There are rules to art that go like this - If it's not working out...make it big! Make it red! Make lots! Make it naked!

I opted for making lots and fashioned seven bundles to put on the path. Just as I had finished, the gentle rain that had been pitter pattering picked up, so I packed up and went back to the house. Fortunately I wasn't the first one there. Around 3pm we went around critiquing everyone's work. When we got to mine, all the bundles had fallen over - probably by the rain or maybe a deer barrelling through. They looked neat on the ground, but we stood them up again. Usually one needs to say something substantial for a crit, so I spoke about harvesting, and how barriers are often self made and poorly constructed.


I enjoyed the exercise so much that I want to do more projects like that. It was a really good opportunity to do something different that I might not do on my own - such is the benefit of art college!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Gift Art, Part Two!

Hello dear readers! I hope to start catching up on blogging again. September was a whirl of papermaking, being three people at once at work, and then somehow October turned into a new getting a new job and more. Crazy times!

As I mentioned in my last gift art post, if you get to know me long enough, chances are that you will get a piece of art from me! Here is a piece that I made for Pam of Always Artistic. It's a folded ACEO of her sun conure, Jessie James. I wanted to make Pam a gift for being such a great friend. I just couldn't seem to fit all of Jessie in until I thought "outside the box". It was folded and fastened with a yellow strip of paper. Thanks Pam for all you do for ACEO fans by organizing swaps and resources.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Calgary Mini Maker Faire

We did something extra special on Saturday - attend the Calgary Mini Maker Faire! It seems like a Maker Faire was something I could only dream about and wistfully sigh about when mentioned on Twitter. The Faire had everything going right for it from the admission price ($10 student yay!) to the location at the Alberta College of Art + Design. It was the perfect setting with displays on the main mall and some of the painting classrooms used for fun stuff like a kids activity centre, zombie make up workshop, and Protospace member projects. One room was labelled Blinky Stuff and it did not disappoint.
Not only were there homebrew projects and 3D printers on display, but also old timey crafts and artisans. There were steampunk sculptures and clothing, and a fibre arts booth. I was able to sit down and test out the Cricket loom. It's one thing to see it on the web, and another to get a feel for it in real life. The other
The coolest thing about the Maker Faire was that it was very kid friendly. There were lots of little girls running around and I'm so happy the parents took them there. It's often bemoaned that there aren't enough women in STEM careers, but what a great way to give them an introduction to the world of tinkering and technology. My husband also loved it too. He was really excited talking to makers about their 3D printers or circuit boards. He's the biggest nerd I know, but doesn't get out and network a lot. Somehow I get the feeling that the next Maker Faire won't be so mini! Here are some Instagram snaps I took (in case you're wondering, the photo on the left is a 3D appetizer printer that uses cream cheese!)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Suddenly September

I go back to ACAD on Tuesday...we've spent August trying to cram as much summer as possible into one month. June and July were such downers, but I did a lot, and the proof is in Instagram :-)

We went for a lot of country drives! This graffiti barn is out near Linden, Alberta. It never looks the same. Linden has a great little restaurant called Country Cousins, although it's not quite the same as what it used to be. It used to have a buffet loaded up with Mennonite home cooking, now it's just OK. The farmer's sausage is still wonder as are the homemade pies.

 I volunteered for the Calgary Folk Music Festival again! They really treat their volunteers wonderfully and it is such a good time. It takes 1500 volunteers to make the festival tick, and is a lot of hard work! But there's a free t-shirt, snacks, gelato, two meals a day, program and free music to sweeten the deal :-) The hot band this year seemed to be The Mexican Institute of Sound.

The festival takes place on Prince's Island Park, which was overcome by the flood back in June. 250 volunteers made it possible for the festival to happen. The whole island was underwater, the River Cafe was temporarily closed and it's amazing they were able to get it done in time. Some of the stage areas were closed, and Stage 2 was moved to nearby Eau Claire market. There was a fine sand everywhere due to the silt...but the river ran blue again by this time at the end of July.

We tried to go to the Royal Tyrell Museum on the August long weekend, but had to bail! This was the line up of cars just to make the turn off into the road to the parking lot. We had arrived there around 3pm, and thought that would be a good time to miss the crowds. Apparently not! Ah was still a nice drive. We'll have to go again when all the kids are in school. One of the problems with Calgary is that you have so many people fleeing the city for long weekends - can't be helped, really. We were looking forward to it as the last time we were there was 2007.

Saw these groovy clouds around Red Deer! They were originally grey, but I love how Instagram turned them into waves. I really like Instagram as a creative's like this random result that I can use for drawings and paintings. In the 30 years or so that we have been travelling Highway 2 between Calgary and Edmonton I have never seen clouds like this.

Here's a view from the 10th Street Bridge last week. The water is still high. There's an island near the bridge where geese nested, but it's still underwater. It's hard to imagine just how devastating the flood was. It will be a long time before everything is "normal". The rusty looking structure is called Poppy Plaza and was intentionally made to look that way. It's next to Memorial Drive.

 Lastly, a new farmer's market opened up near us. Most of the farmer's markets in Calgary are far south, so it's always a chore to get to. This one is located at Symon's Valley Ranch, which used to be a restaurant and dance hall. It's been fixed up some with outdoor seating and lots of shops inside and out. It has only been open for a couple of months, so it will be cool to see how it grows as more people and vendors know about it :-) There were live geese and ducks there to see, and lots of seating, so it should be good. It's also literally out in the country too!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Gift Art...One of Two!

If you get to know me long enough, chances are that you will get a piece of art from me! This is a shadow box card that I made the day before my friend's birthday - this time inspiration struck before the occasion! Usually it arrives a little late. You're also seeing it here first!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Stampede 101

I think my fifteen year old self would be horrified to learn that twenty years into the future, I would be getting impatient with my future husband because we were not Stampeding as fast as possible last Friday. I say that because twenty years ago I lived in Edmonton! We were able to hit downtown on the train just as the parade was finishing on Friday. The grounds are a mere four blocks from city hall, but we ended up waiting forty five minutes, then eventually walking, because it was impossible to get on a south bound train.

The recent flooding could not stop the Stampede, and they did an amazing job of throwing resources at the grounds to get it all ship shape. This is a picture I took downtown on June 26th, while dropping off my items for the Western Arts and Crafts Showcase. Most of downtown was closed that week, and it was weirdly still! Calgary is an energetic, busy city, so the new slogan "Be Part of the Energy" is really true. Although I signed up for volunteering, often there were already enough volunteers. Ah well!

Click on any of the pics for a closer look!
Our first objective was to find lunch! There were hardly any crowds or line ups despite it being the first day. I thought there would be more curiosity seekers. I had a big London Broil sandwich and my husband tried a deep fried Philly cheesesteak. The weather did look threatening after a sunny morning!
The Stampede show band was everywhere to entertain! There is so much to do at the Stampede - it's not just the rodeo or chuckwagons. There's the marketplace, Dream Home, Nashville North...we don't do rides any more, but there are lots of thrills.
We moseyed over to the Indian Village to get bannock or fry bread - oh, so, so good! The Indian Village is a great place to see traditional dance and music as well as tipis.
The YYC Food Trucks were also there! I had a Murgh Madness from the Naaco truck. They serve up "Indian tacos" literally - Indian food meets convenience food! Unfortunately I didn't care for the Murgh Madness for $8 - the raisins were icy cold and there wasn't enough chutney, so it was just a big blob of chicken on a mini naan.
Of course, the thing I wanted to see MOST at Stampede was my entries! My card took second place in card making. It's such a thrill! I have been trying for years to place in the top three, and it was definitely my year!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Three by Me for Under the Sea

I was unstoppable this morning and made three new ACEOs for the ACEO Challenge! They are also for sale on Etsy, from $5-10 plus shipping. They can also be made as prints upon request.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Alberta and Calgary Floods

I just wanted to pop in and say that we have not been affected at all by the flooding in Alberta. My husband and I feel so, so fortunate and grateful, and have made a contribution to the Red Cross and are hoping we can volunteer through YYC Helps when we are able. It is so Normal compared to the Not Normal that others are experiencing, and I feel a little guilty about this. On the upside, the roofers did a good job on the new roof back in February and we didn't have any leaks.

The creek near our house is very high though - this is Nose Creek, which meanders through the northwest today. Usually there's a couple feet of clearance on either side:

A couple of days of hard rain turned into major flooding throughout Southern Alberta - the official explanation is that a trapped weather system caused a "firehose of moisture" that didn't quit. It happened very fast - one day it was Banff and Canmore, the next Calgary, High River and the Siksika Nation, and then the day after that, the water was on its way to Medicine Hat. The Bow is a big river and it goes where it wants!

The cloudless, blue skies on the weekend contrasted with the oppressive grey cloud cover that hung over the city all last week. Weather in this area can change quickly, astonishingly quickly, so it was surprising to have days of poor weather beforehand.

But Calgarians tend to be natural optimists and most people have been able to return to their homes and many services are already back on their feet as I write this - the CBC studio, the C-train will run downtown tomorrow, and even the Stampede will go on. We didn't let the weather stop us from going to the Greek Festival either on Saturday. Since downtown was closed, we had to take the most roundabout way possible. There were a lot of empty roads. Calgary is a busy, energetic city, and to see such stillness is unusual! The festival turned into admission by donation and we enjoyed the chance to eat good food and think about something else for a brief time.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sketch Art Supplies - A Calgary Gem!

As the deadline to register for the Stampede arts and crafts show looms (and I have one entry not yet finished) I was really feeling the pressure to get one of the entries framed. I buckled down and finished it up - yup - the tapestry I started on just less than a year ago. When my fibre teacher, Jane Kidd said that it was not uncommon for a person to make a tapestry a year, she was not kidding!

I can't wait to show it off, all framed. For now, though, I'll show you the place where it's being framed. When you spend a whole year on something, you just don't take it to Michaels (well, that and my new year's resolution!!). I washed it up and toted it over to Sketch Art Supplies, owned by my friend Ljubica, who graduated from ACAD in 2006. Ljubica is immensely knowledgeable and really takes the time to build one on one relationships. I trust her and her opinion absolutely!

Choosing the framing, especially when framing can make all the difference in winning, is no easy task. We spent an hour comparing different frames and suede mats, mostly because I couldn't decide between purple and two kinds of brown! There are so many colours in the tapestry that I had to try all the colours she had too. I splurged on museum glass and a suede mat. Not only do I want it to look its best, I want to preserve it well. It wasn't cheap either...but this is something I can put a price on :-)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday, Monday

There's no escaping Mondays. It's just not possible to outsmart that one day of the week. Laid out my work clothes, packed up the lunches, went to bed early, squinted at the calendar and said "Monday, you're not going to make my life miserable!"

And wouldn't you know it...

Ten minutes before I usually leave the house, I can't find my bus pass, which has my pass card along with it. I flail, upturning everything around the doorway while Muffin makes his "Want out!" screams. I dump my purse, my husband tries to helpfully figure out when I last used it...finally I just have to cough up the $3 and mentally kick myself for losing a bus pass at the beginning of the month. And a $20 pass card.

I miss my connecting bus, so I have to take a regular bus. At least I got a seat. That's a positive.

Then work is an avalanche of requests - which I dutifully sort through and before I know it, it's lunchtime! I unwrap the sandwich that I bought at the Sobey's deli...and the bread is moldy. Unnghh...I gamely start eating the unmoldy half and then...ugh...ugh...this chicken salad sandwich still has bones in it! I throw it away and am thankful I packed a bigger lunch than usual. So gross!

The afternoon is suspiciously quiet...I just wait for something to sneak up at me at five minutes to four...but it never does! Have I finally escaped the Mondays?! I even get a seat on the way home.

But Monday was only resting! Digging around in my purse, I can't feel my keys...oh no! I unceremoniously dump my purse on the concrete step. Whew, there they are! For all the trouble Monday has caused me, it has one last surprise in store. We go out for 2 for 1 pizza at this awesome little Italian place. My mushroom, pepper and pepperoni pizza comes with...onions! Truly, a First World Problem! The waitress checks the order and apologizes and kindly gets another the correct order going. Perhaps Mondays are not so bad after all! :-)

Oh, and the bus pass and my pass card? I dumped out my gym bag and there it was! Monday, you just can't trust that day!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Dominic Toretto Style of Managment (Really!)

When my husband took me to see The Fast and the Furious thirteen years ago, I thought it was going to be some dumb action movie with cars and explosions. It turned out to have a lot more than that! I love the film franchise and we saw Fast and Furious 6 on opening weekend. After watching the movie, I realized just how much depth this one has. Spoilers after the picture, so be warned!

Copyright 2013 Universal Pictures

What impresses me most about this movie is what an excellent team leader Dominic Toretto is, even if, uh, he's in the business of heists. A few years ago I read a lot of business and team type books and a lot seemed familiar there on the big screen. Let's see...

Dom doesn't throw his people under a bus. Ah, just had to get that one out of the way first! Owen Shaw, who leads the rival crew, doesn't hesitate to sacrifice his team members to get ahead. He even says that people are expendable and only ever get one mistake. People are just parts to Shaw, to be used and replaced. Instead, Dom unites his team under the idea of family (his mission statement, oft repeated), and family is often complicated as we see in...

One of the plot lines involves the reappearance of his old girlfriend. Letty wasn't killed as everyone thought she was in the fourth movie. It turns out she has amnesia and is working with the baddies. She is eventually welcomed back on Dom's crew after he catches her. Even if Letty did shoot him in the shoulder earlier in the movie, Dom understands the power of forgiveness. Sure, he could hold a huge grudge against her just for that, but soon after he approaches Letty with a positive assumption, even when he totally doesn't know what happened. And he gets the desired results - Letty chooses to stick with Dom, even if she doesn't totally remember their relationship.

As the fifth movie clearly showed, Dom knows there is no I in team. Most action movies feature one central character that can do it all, and it's usually one man against the world. Dom is a pretty strong dude, but he can't pull off heists by himself. He gets the help he needs from experts (regardless of their gender) and gives them all his trust and what they need to do their job. And because of that...

Dom attracts and keeps A-players. If you read any sort of business literature, you may have heard this term before - A-players are the people that close the deals and tend to be outstanding. Everyone wants top talent, and Dom's people are all very good at what they do, from improvising on the fly, hacking computers or racing cars.

So there you have it! Fast and Furious has brains as well as brawn :)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Calgary Festival of Quilts

Have we ever been having a time with the weather here! This morning it is bright and sunny, but yesterday it was pretty cold and rainy. Calgary weather is unpredictable most of the time, so Mom and I bundled up with layers, boots, scarves and gloves. We were determined not to let the weather ruin our weekend! We went down to Heritage Park, a historical village, for the annual Festival of Quilts. 700+ quilts awaited us, placed all over the park. It's such a great idea for a venue, as there are plenty of things to do for the non-quilters in the family, and it's not just shuffling around a convention hall. We even ran into Bubblegum Sass and her mom.

Volunteers stood by the quilts to talk about them or hold them up for people to get a closer look, and in the case of the weather, hurry them indoors. Here are some waving in the wind near the Burnside Ranch House:

The Wainright Hotel was the perfect setting and place to stop and have a break. Upstairs a small session on types of quilting motifs was going on. The sheer variety of quilts was mind boggling! Textiles have endless potential.

Quilts were not out of place at all in and about the Thorpe House. This is one of my favourite houses at Heritage Park, next to the adorable Sandstone House.

When it began to spit, we retreated into the old Gasoline Alley barn. The lighting wasn't the greatest and it was full of people trying to also get out of the rain. This was my most favourite quilt, naturally, but I wish I could have gotten a better shot. There were lots of people happily clicking away!

By around 1:30pm, the rain began to fall in earnest again, and between the bundling and unbundling, we decided to call it a day. I had also bought some fabric in the marketplace tent and didn't want to be tempted any more :-) Looking forward to next year!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Serious Cat is Serious

Serious Cat is Serious by Calzephyr
Serious Cat is Serious, a photo by Calzephyr on Flickr.

It's such a treat to sit down and edit photos again, never mind being able to take some! I bought a new Canon camera and I'm over the moon with the zoom lens that I bought with it. Princess was a good twenty feet or so away :-)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My First 3D Print Ever!

So, just a quick post before I hit the hay (I came down with a cold, boo!), here is how my 3D print project turned out. We weren't expecting to actually have anything 3D printed in the class, because ACAD just has two MakerBots. But the teacher, Cam, worked out a deal with the polytechnic across the street, SAIT, and they printed some pieces for us. Everyone was so thrilled when the TA, Stephanie, brought in the box of pieces.

The best project was a ball bearing sort of bracelet that had free moving parts and something that looked like a Kinder Egg toy with gears. All the pieces were fragile, however. SAIT provided the invoice and my pin cost $1.77 to make. My piece was the flattest and it still had a slightly tiered look. The scaling went awry on one person's project and her bracelet ended up being teeny tiny instead of wearable. The pin back didn't fit on mine - I think there was a slight scaling problem too, so breaking my New Year's Resolution was all for naught! Still quite pleased with it though. Now I can send the file away to a place like Shapeways and have them make it in plastic or metal.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

School's Out!

Ahhhh...I was sitting in my favourite part of house, Muffin fighting his own reflection on his stand, and I could slowly exhale. What is this strange feeling? Tomorrow is Friday, and I have no homework. No homework? Is it really true that school is out?

Last Saturday was my final rapid prototyping class. We had to pick a movie and create a prop for it - a weapon, vehicle or jewellery. I chose to design a set for Kim Basinger character in L.A. Confidential :

It was pretty straightforward - I made a ring, necklace and earrings based on mashing two Elizabeth Taylor designs. They turned out awesome in rendering. Everyone had to make a seven minute presentation and I was ready to puke butterflies all day! I thought we would get out by noon, but it took all day to critique everyone's designs and ask questions. It was great to see how everyone had progressed since January - Cam was able to bring out the talent in us all. Most of the props were jewellery, but one guy made a suit of futuristic armor and another made a spaceship that looked like a bird. I have so much more to tell you about this class - but for now I'm just going to enjoy doing other things for a bit first!

Once I had the heart shape, I could apply it to all the pieces. The ring was the easiest. The heart is upside down because it symbolizes the character of Lynn Bracken as being a damsel in distress.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I Confess!

I have to confess - after just over four months, I broke my new year's resolution. But, dear reader, I did so unwillingly and joylessly. I swear!

My rapid prototyping teacher, Cam, wrangled a deal with the local polytechnic, SAIT, to 3D print objects on their big fancy Fortus machine. I decided to make a pin, as rendered below, in copper finish.

Cam suggested that adding the pin hardware on the back would be a great use of real world application, so I researched double stem pinbacks and designed one. Then the TA, Stephanie, had an easier idea - add some pegs onto the back that would fit a pinback. I could attach the pinback by using a heat gun to melt the pegs. Just one problem...I could not find a pinback around the house. I looked through every inch of stash and had to face the awful truth. There really isn't any other place to buy craft supplies except maybe a dollar store or a Wal-Mart. It's been at least ten years since both Lewiscraft and Crafts Canada closed down; I miss both.

I made peace with the decision and bravely walked through those automtic double doors, inhaling the store's strange and long forgotten perfume (seriously, all the stores smell the same). I made a beeline for jewellery supplies, found the gold pinbacks, breezed through the scrapbooking supplies (just to see what was new) and headed for the checkout with just the pinbacks. I was gripped by anxiety; it seemed like everything was on sale! But I held firm and let out a sigh of relief when I stepped outside.

We should get our pieces back next Saturday - I can't wait!

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Different Kind of March Madness

It seems appropriate that my dad had a minor stroke during Heart and Stroke Month. The crazy thing is that he didn't know he even had one until about a week later. The five signs of stroke, as illustrated below are:
Guess which one my dad had? Dizziness, which proved to be the least useful symptom for someone that often feels dizzy. He even drove himself to the walk in doctor a couple of days after and it went undetected then. A couple of days after that, he went to the emergency room and a CAT scan showed the stroke. Dad was up and chatting and acting very normal except for feeling a little tired. It took just about a whole month, but dad came home last week. It was so exhausting to go from devastated to optimistic in the span of five days, and it was a long trip to see him in the hospital. He needed a couple of weeks of therapy and the excellent staff at the Foothills hospital did a great job of looking after a grumpy old man :-) A side benefit is that dad couldn't smoke in the hospital, so fingers crossed that he can give up smoking for good!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How I Spend My Saturdays

By the time I get around writing about my Saturday class, I will have run out of Saturdays, and I'm looking forward to it. I wasn't expecting my rapid prototyping class to be so intense. It practically takes up all my time and mental space. Invariably I always do something that causes the teacher to say "How did you do that?!" in a generally bad way :D I always seem to come up with the wrong solution. We're using a software package called Rhinoceros.

Here are some of the projects from the beginning. The first thing we learned was how to revolve a line into an object. Basically a line made from the object's profile can be revolved 360 degrees to make a whole object. Vases, glasses, bottles...all very easy to make! All you need to make the martini glass on the left is the profile line on the right. It's true! Stay tuned for more stuff :-)

Shaded glass Curve

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Memories Review and Giveaway

The nice people at My Memories gave me a review copy of their software and a free copy to give away! How cool is that? I have been pecking away at using the software in-between learning Rhino and it's powerful simplicity is refreshing. Contest details are below the image.

One category that has frequently fallen flat is card making and scrapbooking software, so I was delighted to give My Memories Suite a go. I have been there and done that so many times, with a pile of CDs from the past 15 years, which have all disappointed in some way. Either it's too complicated to get something done quickly, or too simple to be creative enough. Or they come with bargain bin clip art and a mix of different features and I end up fixing things in CorelDraw later. MS Publisher and Avery's DesignPro software are pretty much only good for label making :D Why can't there be one program that does it all?

My Memories Suite seems to do that and more. I was able to quickly make some 12x12" pages and get my photos in there fast with the pre-designed templates. Of course, you can create your own designs or go with a "digital kit" that contains all the co-ordinating materials to create a cohesive theme. One thing that really gets me hung up with real scrapbooking is not having colours that co-ordinate or missing some little element. Or I get too hung up on the layout and never get anything done. This way I can quickly change things up without getting precious about using the good materials. I like the digital work area that lets me see everything at a glance, as you can see below (click for a larger image). Trim guides are pretty handy and warnings pop up when it looks like the pages may be trimmed when bound in a book. There are options for multimedia scrapbooks as well, and you can add music and video. Whew! I could really go on all day about all the features they packed into this program. If you can use Microsoft Word, you can definitely use this program right away without reading the manual (although it helps :-))

Give away time!

I like to keep give aways simple, so everyone who leaves a comment will have a chance to win. I'll write everyone's name on a piece of paper and Muffin will randomly pick one :-) Contest will close at 9pm MTN on February 25. One entry per individual person.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Be Mine?

It is so nice to be able to do normal people things today - thanks to the long weekend here in Alberta, I don't have class, which means I have time to catch up on things (it doesn't mean no homework though, woe!)

A couple of weeks ago I had a great idea - send Valentine's to my friends! But like most of my great ideas, the turnaround time was a little short, so I didn't send as many as I would have liked. It was just so nice to be able to make something. I was in a hurry to get them out the door, so I only had time to take cell phone photos. I made two of each of the following from the crafty stash:

A budgiegram, with a little note :-)
Valentine by Christine Bennett

"You're the purr-fect friend!"
Valentine by Christine Bennett

My favourite - "It's so tweet...that you like me!" with a Facebook thumbs up on the inside :-)
Valentine by Christine Bennett

Thursday, January 31, 2013

2013 New Year's Cards

I just have to get this up with a January date stamp on it :-) For the second time, I have sent out New Year's cards instead of Christmas cards...mostly because I fail miserably at doing Christmas cards. I figure it's always nice to get something in the new year anyway. Now that I'm checking the blog archive, I realized I didn't post pictures of the 2012 cards. Gee! That's what I get for putting Muffin in charge of things. Here's what they looked like:

I have a Pazzles craft cutter, and after fiddling around with the text for about an hour, I found a font that I liked. The tricky part was cutting them out of the glitter cardstock. It took a while to find the right pressure - the cardstock was actually heavyweight cardboard and the chipboard setting was too light. But once that was done, it was just a little bit of glue before they were off to friends and family. If you have a Pazzles, I have posted the cutting file for sale on Artfire. Just $2 gets you cutting right away.

The pink one is the only one that was glittered on plain paper. Glittering took a surprising long time, so I quickly abandoned that. Not that the glitter cardstock was much better - glitter still got everywhere :-D

Thursday, January 17, 2013

How I Spend My Tuesday Nights

Certainly not league bowling :). This English class is all about graphic novels and we're looking at a bunch of them - it helps that I own most of them too. I'm just missing Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan:

The first one we're looking at is Alan Moore's Watchmen, which is one of the most influential graphic novels of all time. It's an extremely well planned book and it would be possible to vastly under read it. There are a lot of repeating themes and motifs, and even though I have read it a few times now, there was still a lot of things I missed, including some atrocious puns. It is a violent book, but the themes of nostalgia, comics history and pastiche are very interesting. It's funny to be able to put something usually considered "low culture" into such elevated terms as "post-modern narrative of multiple voices". I better stop before I sound more like an essay instead of a blog post :-) Stay tuned for some notes on my other class!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2013... has that first week of 2013 gone? Still mulling some new years resolutions. Of course, some people don't believe in them, but I found myself thinking "less is more" mostly. Perhaps it was because I finally had a chance to chuck a lot of stuff during Christmas break. But, when you think about it, most resolutions centre around doing more.

I quickly found so many ways to get on this mantra. This is the time of year where everyone is emailing special offers. Unsubscribe from a lot of those puppies! Less email, less temptation, w00t!

It's also a good time to look at other things you may subscribe too, but these things actually cost money. I cancelled a few website subscriptions, because like those gym memberships, you find they're not being used. However, the gym membership is not something I'm giving up on. There's a World Health near ACAD and I plan on hitting the treadmill after class on Saturdays.

This might be a little difficult, but I'm going to try and stay out of Michaels too! I spend a lot there :) My husband is skeptical and so are my guy friends. It's an expensive love affair. But I have so much stash, and I'm with Craftymoose in finding more ways to use it up.

Lastly, there are those small fees that divert nickels and dimes from your savings. The bonus of this time of year is having the peace to sit down and examine a new budget. I was shocked to discover that we were paying way too much in banking fees the other night. Not just a little shock, but a big shock. We were on the wrong plan where every extra transaction over the limit was costing $1. Sometimes when thinking up the big goals, we forget about the little goals. Ah well! Back on track now. Wishing all the best for 2013...