Monday, March 31

Easter Basket Swap

My basket ready to go, look at the little faces peeping out - excited about their trip to Australia!

This is the beautiful basket Linda sent me:

Linda was assigned as my Easter Basket Swap buddy. This was my very first swap and it was so much fun. I got to meet an international e-friend, but more exciting her basket had an Australian flair that I truly enjoyed.

What fun to have a big box arriving and opening it up. Hubby and me immediately ate the huge chocolate bunny she included. I unpacked everything and would later sit down to truly enjoy the experience she sent me.

Me and my new pals Kanga and Roo sat down together (I love them). I simmered the delicious tea (even had a little sugar cube packed with it) and sipped and read the postcards she sent of her town. Kingaroy in Queensland is where she lives. I looked at her beautiful card she made for me and sorted out the eggs of many varieties she sent. A rose bookmark, a little pillow with my initial, and even some footies were among the things she sent. And paper items for crafting. Thank you Linda!

And I must mention what a doll she is. My basket got to her on Monday the day after Easter. This was our first ever international shipment and she did not get it in time. I felt so bad I sent her a 'sussie' - a little extra gift. She was so nice about it all - she is a great e-friend.

Friday, March 28

The Morning After...

The morning after…

The fabulous Bling Your Birdhouse Blog Party.

That was a lot of fun, and I did set out the red birdhouse and this morning spied Mr. Cardinal checking it out. He loves it.

Hubby loved hearing I had ‘putered’ (a kid word for computer) all by myself –no long night of picture taking and loading and editing awaited him.

Maybe I am getting the hang of some of this stuff after all.

Thursday, March 27



What a fantastic spring fling!

This birdhouse was a very old faded withering white – and the effect was not even shabby chic. It was as bleak and drab as this lingering winter.

I thought of the phrase ‘riot of color’ and got this. Since this is an actual birdhouse I am going to leave it in my backyard. Already the birds are chirping more merrily in anticipation.

The wonderful Karla and Beth are hosting a Bling your Birdhouse and this is my result. This is so exciting as I have always wanted a red birdhouse. And here I did it. Thanks Karla and Beth for hosting such a fun event to herald in Spring!


Tuesday, March 18

Rules to Blog by

As one journeys further into Blogland and participates in exciting things found in this land you learn a few things. The hard way. Things that leave such an impression that you make some of those lessons into rules.

These are:

1. Never, ever think you have your e-swap buddy’s address in your email folder. Print it out pronto. Have several hard copies. You sure would not want to be ready to mail the package and look at the saved email and realize with complete dismay that you have saved their blog address! No not even in blogland do packages get mailed to blog addresses.

2. Always write down upcoming dates of blog events. Refer to it often.

3. Keep a list handy of the full names of your e-friends so that you don’t comment on their page/blog and/or have numerous correspondences with someone who you refer to by the wrong name. There is no edit button to undo that.

4. Be ready for things ahead of time. Make the item, buy the item, get the item days before it is needed. Then you are truly prepared in time for whatever blog event you have entered.

5. Have passwords written down especially if you have several different ones for different forums/groups/blogs. This should be so obvious. I have run into difficulties not paying attention to this one. Frantic typing in of passwords that don’t work and then having to retry with that number/letter entry thing over and over without results - that’ll get ya worked up.

6. Always study computer-ology even though it is frustrating trying to become techno-savvy when this just is not your forte. It also starts to dawn on you that as you seem to master one skill several more needed skills pop up to be learned. A purchase of Photoshop just nets you yet another instruction manual to read.

7. Try not to ever give in to the great temptation of having a pictureless art blog.

Sunday, March 16

My Chocolate Blob

Yes, there it was. An icon on my screen. "CHOCOLATE BLOB" I had thought the result of an easily made transposition of the keys b and g hastily typed by Hubby so as to quickly find my blog during an all night blog-a-thon.

Hmmm, was that a mistake after all?
If I had any doubts they were quickly dispelled when I cheerfully and full of vigor to face the combined challenge of exhaustive exercise and starting a new blog told my husband that we were doing a blog to document our hours of exercise. He could not contain his flat out disappointment.

I was stunned – what’s this? These nights of toil have not been a fun fling?

I can’t say I blame dear Hubby and his not so easily concealed mockery of my blog name (or blob name). It has been work. All of it. Just the picture taking alone is daunting. You got to set up the object to be photographed – careful to watch for all sorts of errant objects that seem to show up in the picture just as you click. Then there is the effort to get the best light. The actual shooting entails keeping the ‘set’ clear. (this alone can turn one into a screaming tyrant – ‘ let’s move it people!!!’) Then when the photos are finally taken you get to look at all the annoyingly magnified details the digital camera reveals.

Next more work as taking a tip from a photography forum I would shoot hundreds of shots of one item – just to find the best one. I insisted we look at each photo to scrutinize it. For a few blog pictures this would be hundreds of photos we reviewed…for hours and hours. Not fun after all I guess.

And for all the effort my photos have that signature Polaroid picture in a bad light effect.
Any creativity has just flown out the window, I am just still working on the mechanics of photos and photography. We are shopping for photo editing programs. I would like to eventually get back to making things.

Wednesday, March 12

URL-Friends or Gurl Friends

Get it? G url friends! I have met so many wonderful ladies. And all are truly so nice and friendly and very helpful.

Blogging is really sort of an easily found, convenient scrapbook. You get this digital record of what you have made, done, taken a picture of right there - it does not get easily lost or have to be hauled out of the back of the closet.

But, to be honest I had not realized the amount of work that goes into a blog! I had a chance to visit some of my favs from when I did not have a blog and you get to reread them with a whole new perspective.

I am still working on the Easter Basket Swap and I just got an order of Amazon books in and I got an invite on Flickr which I need to figure out and I will be checking on the gals at that great forum (those are fantastic people there) the Cottage Etsy group.

These blogging skills will come in handy as just in the nick of time Hubby and me joined the MSN Biggest Loser Online Group as a couple. This requires a blog. Now I am in the Biggest Loser Online and the MSN Biggest Loser Couple Challenge (online). Which means I am definitely in Biggest Loser and results in my whole family knowing about it. Last night we had a birthday party for my Nephew and there I wanted the tiniest piece of cake (I mean tinsy) and No! I was not allowed to have any. Hubby snuck me a scant bite or two but I wanted my own itsy piece. No not even that, Sis took it away from me.

She was particularly adamant: "Don't Let Her Eat Cake!"

Hmmm, is that not an echo from days of yore? And she had it wrong, it should have been "let her eat cake"! Yes let all of us eat as much cake as we like. But, alas, that is not going to happen any time soon. Oh those wondrous days I am wistful for - I could eat and eat cake with no thought of the morrow. Which leads me to my current reading: "A Scented Palace" - it is an intoxicating read about Marie Antoinette's perfumer.

Saturday, March 8

Shopping for a Swap

What fun, shopping for stuff to make some stuff...

Picked up some elusive crepe paper. Yippee! It is a bunch of streamers, but I got green, yellow, black and white (which I can custom color).

Gotta get more stuff tomorrow, it is Easter Basket Swap buddy shopping time and all the stuff is 40% off - meaning I get to get 40% more. And got to check the e zine for any things I may not have.

More things on hand to play with = more creativity = more fun.

Friday, March 7

Etsy Cottage Style

I have joined the best forum for my type of interests: Etsy Cottage Style.
Very helpful and friendly group of gals who all have blogs - beautiful blogs.

I am not ready by any means to even begin to Etsy but this is an informative group that is very generous with info.

Joining also bore fruit or rabbits. I posted on 'list your blog' thread and wandered about that thread checking out other blogs. It lead me to a blog that has the cutest, most adorable Easter packs. Even with vintage ephemera. After several trys to order (believe it or not a challenge for me) I got my pack with the Rabbit - he is a cutie!

I got a photo tip on the forum: Someone who has the best detailed well lit pics confirmed she uses a lightbox and a homemade one.

Thursday, March 6

A Marie Antoinette Cake

Lest anyone think I have become a Littlest Winner by dropping out of the Biggest Loser (online) Contest rest assured I have not. But my creativity today wandered into the realm of food as art.

I have done cakes/cake decorating. What a hobby and I love to go the Wilson Cake Decorating Aisle at Micheals – they even have edible glitter and sparklies for cakes and cookies. Done well, cakes/cupcakes/cookies make a wonderful hostess gift (or any kind of gift); it is a profitable gifting hobby.

Cakes, even simple cakes, are art. I love the gloppy, too-heavy-a-hand with the icing type of cake. I also love layers. Actually last summer for a cook-out I made this exact same cake except it was real. Being an ambitious caker I made a 3 layer cake with strawberry filling. My other Sis who actually has made a few professional cakes admonished me that I should have put straws into the layers to hold them. I had not and we had this sliding, leaning albeit tasty cake.

We also had purchased the Marie Antoinette DVD and we were screening it. All eaters commented it looked like the Marie Antoinette cake in the opening. What a beautiful film which also happens to be the best dessert movie ever produced.

Now, during dieting days, I admire it sitting there all ribboned up and luscious awaiting that magical day when I can make one for real and run to it delving in, getting dollops of icing on my chin. But, I need to stop this reverie into careless cake eating…

Hubby will be coming home soon but not to fear, he will know it is a fake. I am not that sort of a person who lets unwary people start to eat my desserts while I wheeze with laughter as they take a startled bite and taste plaster and paper and glue!

I love this and it makes a nice display cake that never spoils and no one ever sneaks a taste of. Yes, a cake just like Marie Antoinette had. It is a truly delicious beauty.

[Obviously I have not made that photo lightbox and when one clicks on the photo it enlarges to an abusrdly large size - little glitches I will work out eventually; I did post all of these by myself - finally]

Wednesday, March 5

A lightbox

Aha, a lightbulb went on when I remembered reading of a doll artist who had made a little forest scene in a cardboard box for photographing her little dolls.

A quick google for lightbox or homemade lightbox brings up lots of helpful info on this topic and you can control the lighting, detail, background.

This is particularly good for small items to photograph.

I have a huge assortment of cardboard boxes to choose from and we will have
to make a depot run, but I think we might get going on this to take some better not so polaroidish photos.

So for those of us wondering about all the lush detailed photos - this is one of the best tools photographers use.

Back to the drawing board or cardboard in this case!

Monday, March 3

Blogging, mechanics of

I have really loved just the flat out blogging part of blogging. It was actually quite easy to start this all by myself that Saturday and join Blogland.

But the thrill was short lived as I realized I just was not doing anything with links, banners, pics, flickr, those thingeys that we display when we are in a swap (the one I am in for the Easter Basket Swap is a wonderful banner).

My Hubby was getting the brunt of trying to figure this stuff out as he is the resident computer expert, but it was turning into for him a sort of old fashioned busman's holiday.

I was also having trouble just commenting on people's blogs with leaving a name and url. I knew it was getting to be ridiculous when I could not even guide my Sis to my blog by phone while she was on her computer. I resorted to printing up my entries for her to read.

I had googled the word 'blog', and even searched for a forum. I was surprised whenever I tried this approach all I found was info on how to MAKE MONEY (always capped) with your Blog.

Huh? People are trying to make moula off of this? Hey, I want to spend money on my blog (those words never crop up on SEO). I knew I would do a blog and actually told Hubby to watch out, we would have a blog budget.

Currently I am wondering about a new camera, one of those that actually look like a digital photo and not a poloroid snapshot taken in a bad light of a puny object. I have read that it is technique that helps with this more than a camera, hmmm, I don't know about that.

I have been scouring the bookstore and have found they have books on blogging.
I am getting one that covers the mechanics of it, not the so called money making potential of it.

On another money and blog note, I am going to save thousands just by having a blog. Discovering the fantastic do it yourself, make it look old and shabique will save a fortune.

We will not have to spend thousands for new furniture - yuch - new - don't want that.

I also will not have to attend (at least not yet) an art class to give me creative outlets, just doing these swaps and challenges is keeping me busy - there's another couple hundred dollars saved. So in a way I am financially doing better with a blog already without even knowing how to technically blog.

Best website discovery:

Swap Dex lists all the current swaps for all sorts of categories. I missed some fun ones, but at least I finally know where they are listed instead of me stumbling upon them. I will link to this when I learn that from my blog book.