Thursday, December 17, 2009


I got a call yesterday from the Paper Source in Palo Alto.  That holiday card contest that I absolutely had to do?  I won!

And there it is.  It features a freshly baked gingerbread couple, but oop, someone's leg has been bitten off!  Following rules, I used only materials one could find at a Paper Source:

 - 5.75" square folded cards in Pool
 - square cards in Eco-White (30% post consumer waste! Better than 0%)
 - glitter paper for envelope liners
 - 6mm satin ribbon in Pool
 - VersaMark ink pad for the background

Gingerbread people:
 - this cute couple
 - VersaMark ink pen for inking
 - white embossing powder
 - silver paper for the baking sheet
 - vellum for the parchment paper
 - little gems

 - Zots (gingerbread people, ribbon detail)
 - Xyron sticker maker (ribbon)
 - glue

A lot of time was spent agonizing over what sort of paper or pattern would work best on the background, and I eventually just tried out pressing the VersaMark pad on the card itself, which turned out much better than I expected, especially after using the heating tool.  For the gingerbread people, the lady was inked using the pad, but her poor little husband (or S.O., or friend; I don't want to assume) was inked with a VersaMark pen--excepting his mouth. Using the same pen, I gave him his rather unhappy mouth, and embossed them like that.

My favourite part of this year's card is definitely the vellum paper that I ripped to resemble parchment paper.  That, and the greeting on the inside, which was inspired by a Kate Spade card I saw on display at a card shop on University.  I had already planned to write, "Wishing you a tasty Christmas," but this was better:

I printed it on vellum using my current favourite font, Alte Haas Grotesk, and it's secured by four Khaki snaps, to match the gingerbread people.

The only thing that's missing from this post is a few pictures of the mess that I created while making this card, and about 20 others which were mailed to friends and family.  There was excess cookie "dough" everywhere, glitter, punched off corner points... and of course, a bunch of little gingerbread man feet everywhere.  Messy.

But it was all worth it!  I wasn't expecting to win, but I'm really excited.  I meant to make a post with my holiday advent calendar, but that's going to be postponed!  That's how excited I am! Now I have to figure out what I will do with a $50 gift card to the Paper Source.  Somehow I don't think that will be difficult at all.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thumpa Thumpa

My little heart goes pitter patter as I read this article:

The 32 Most Commonly Misused Words and Phrases

I will admit I have used "alright" in the past, but not likely for any sort of formal document... although that is a poor excuse.  Occasionally I have to stop and think about "stationary" versus "stationery", but at least I stop to think about it.  "Could of" is one of the things that drives me mad, as does "whose" and "who's", but look, look, look!

19. Literally- If you say “His head literally exploded because he was so mad!” then we should see brains splattered on the ceiling.

Thumpa thumpa. <3 <3 <3 I could, like, literally die because this list is so good.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Frequent posting is aparently not my forte. But fear not, a new block of carefully proofread text has arisen from the depths.  And since I last posted, something great has happened:

I won!  With a total of 50034 words, I completed a barebones novella.  It's going to need a lot of work, still, before I could even consider letting someone else see it, but hey, I finished NaNoWriMo for the first time in four years.

What's more, today I sent off the last of my Christmas cards, which is momentous since I started working on them in October.  After making about twenty cards, I sent them off to friends and family, keeping one for myself, and giving one to the Paper Source for their card contest, which I may have mentioned previously.  The two people who were there when I submitted it were pleased with my card, although I don't think they would have let themselves come across as anything but impressed.  I meant to mention that the vellum paper is supposed to represent parchment paper, but it didn't occur to me until afterwards that it might not be obvious.  In any case, I thought that idea was brilliant.

Since Saturday, I have found myself to be in temporary possession of a sewing machine. My ultimate goal is to create a Christmas advent calendar, which I'm working on for sure, but this is what I spent most of my Sunday doing:

A tea cozy! I followed a pattern I found on the Rusty Bobbin, which worked extremely well.  Materials I used:
 - iredescent flocked taffeta (
 - cotton batting (also from
 - beige broadcloth for lining, which I found in the remnants bin at Jo-Ann (I'm finding lots of useful bits of fabric in there)
 - baby blue piping

I only bought half a yard of the taffeta, and I have bunch left over, so I'll have to make another tea cozy for the next teapot I want to get (a smaller pot for just me).  The one pictured above also fits right over my glass tea kettle, so I might make a third to cover that and keep it clean.

So far in my advent calendar, I've made up to 10 bags.  The idea is to have 25 little cloth baggies that we can fill with goodies, and put up one every day.  This project is on hiatus until I can get new thread, however, since I've just about run out.  That isn't necessarily a bad thing--bags 1 through 10 have been made using blue thread on white cloth.  I don't think anybody is going to complain.  I should be done before Christmas, at least, but we'll see about my speediness in posting about it on here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Upcycled Shims

According to the e-mail my manager received recently, I've been working for exactly one year as of today!  That means it's been just over a year since I moved south, having left my cozy, rainy homeland for near-daily sunshine.  Although it's odd to be wearing only two layers instead of three (plus a water-resistant shell), I don't regret moving because of the weather.

And most certainly, I don't regret moving because of the shopping.  Not only is far superior to, but there are so many stores here I love to visit!  It took me a while, however, to discover the Paper Source.  <3  Their stores are always full of fun things to look at, and of little crafty knick knacks that make me want to drain my bank account.  In short: an effective business model.

The most recent thing I discovered from the Paper Source, however, that I absolutely love, actually cost me no money at all: a Paper Source brochure!


Here it is, disassembled.  As fun as it is to browse through, I'm not going to order personalized cards, and I'm not getting married yet so I'm not interested in ordering invitations.  However, I do love flipping through it.  And when I'm done with it, apart from making mini envelopes (which will have to be another post on its own, some day), the intact pages are the perfect size to use as Cuttlebug shims.

And once again, ta-da!

I shan't deny that I absolutely love my Cuttlebug.  That's probably slightly because of brand loyalty ("My PlayStation can kick your GameCube's butt any day!"), and I have to admit that the only other manual die cutting machine I've tried is the Epic Six.  But my Cuttlebug (and its suction rubber bottom) can kick your Epic Six's butt any day!  But I've had a lot of fun with it, and I fully intend on continuing this trend.  So to find perfectly sized paper shims that look nice was a very exciting discovery for me.  As the picture above shows, they're just the right width.

Any time I'm doing something that doesn't involve the standard embossing folders or dies, which is actually pretty often now, I grab my pile of brochure leaves and slip them in as necessary.  They're thin enough to give a little bit of extra pressure, but can get fairly thick when piled together--I don't think I've used an entire brochure yet!

Monday, November 16, 2009

one more thing

I forgot to add this in my last post, because I forgot it existed.  That is how horrible it is: I can actually succeed at putting it out of my memory.  At least, that's what I'm going to pretend.

peek (v): to glance, to look at briefly. "She took a sneak peek at the new merchandaise."
peak (n): the extreme, maximum, vertex, acme. "She was at the peak of her career."

As you can see, "peek" is a verb, whereas "peak" is a noun.  The latter is not so unique that it can be, um, verbified, like, "Hey, let me Google that." 

So therefore, this is completely unacceptable: "Let's start off this blog post/tutorial/news article by taking a peak at what's actually going on here."

Argh! I see it so often, too.  I am terrified that one day, it will be standard to use "peak" instead of "peek".  I hate it so much, it makes me want to stab my eyes out.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Not Proofreading This Post

Sometimes I wonder if anybody even bothers to proofread any more, online or offline.  Proofreading takes extra time, yes.  Proofreading requires thought, yes.  Proofreading is boring, yes.  But proofreading is good! 

Blogs seem to be especially bad with this, since they already carry a "this just came from my head, seriously" type of essence.  But they don't need to sound like that all of the time.  This especially goes to people who manage public blogs.  Shame!  It's not enough to write a post, run the spellchecker, and then click "Publish."  Their are many things that due knot got fixed unless yew seas them when you've proofreading! 

Spelling errors and grammar mistakes usually make up the bulk of these very easy-to-catch items, but the ones that really irk me are the ones that are obviously side-effects of an edit.  The incorrect tense that went with a different phrasing.  The incomplete word that used to begin or end a sentence.  The phrase that is repeated at least twice, maybe more, but written differently each time. It's obvious to me that you took the time to re-edit the sentence.  But did you read it after you "fixed" it?

I'm not talking about small errors, like easy typos, where one letter is replqced by another, or where the order of charcaters gets a little scrambled.  I'm talking about obvious mistakes that you can catch just by doing one read-through.  When you publish something that is obviously not proofread, it says to the reader, "I didn't read my own article, why should you?"

And if you're going to argue that "replqced" and "charcaters" are obvious, well, you were looking for them, weren't you?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cuttlebug Letterpress

Recently, while shopping online for a Cuttlebug storage binder, I discovered the L Letterpress from Quickutz--it's basically DIY letterpress, at home, with just a die cutter/embosser.  It looks very impressive! (har har, I wonder how many other craft bloggers have made that pun)  The kit itself isn't out yet, though it should be soon, as "late October/early November" is basically now.

My ProvoCraft Cuttlebug, however, is not an Epic Six, so I'm dying to find out if I can get the L and use it without having to buy another die cutting machine.  I really love my Cuttlebug; I've had it for a couple of years now and it's very reliable.  Considering that I can use nearly any brand of die in my Cuttlebug, I'm going to guess that it's compatible--all that really matters is, will it be too wide, or too tall?

Very likely, I will end up getting one of these, although I will probably wait until it's actually released so that I can read reviews by real crafters.  I couldn't help but do some frantic online searching, however, and I did come across the idea of using the Cuttlebug and embossing folders as a makeshift letterpress, however, and I wanted to try it myself.  Combined with the fact that I recently took over Ben's abandoned camera, my endeavours required some bloggin'.

There's a video available on, which involves cutting the embossing folder, but I didn't feel that was necessary--most of my embossing folders are the A2 size, so they're patterned, and it works just to flatten the folder.

For a shim, I used some felt, cut to size.  I started with 2, which provided adequate cushioning for a couple of presses, but I had to add 1 after that, and ended up with four sheets of felt underneath.

You can kind of see my layers:

B - cutting
inked embossing folder
B - cutting
felt (just scraps in that photo above, though, from testing)
A - block

For ink, I just used some stamp ink that I've had around forever.  Not being much of a stamper, I don't have much ink.

Yeah, that's about it.  There's a black pigmented ink pad that I found when I was moving things around, but I didn't get around to trying that one.  I also tried out my Marvy Wet Looks markers, but that didn't turn out too well:

The ColorBox inks weren't bad, especially the little Chalk cat eyes.  The dye ink was okay, but not great--I used it for the present, below:

Overall, I think it worked out fairly well.  I could definitely see myself trying it again, although I think I need to pick up a rubber roller, and some more ink, or some paints.  The ink came off fairly easily with stamp ink remover and a paper towel.  The paints for the L Letterpress are more oil-based, though, so I'm not sure how that would make for cleaning the embossing folders.

Don't be surprised if I end up getting the L, assuming it works with the Cuttlebug, or at least some of their printing plates and inks.  I would be extremely surprised, though, if the L wasn't compatible with the Cuttlebug and the Sizzix, or any other basic die cutter/embosser on the market.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Two years ago, Ben started the "Delicious Club", which was basically a method of marking good restaurants in different areas, done through Google Maps reviews.  There was a whole categorization scheme that he set up based on price and dress for each restaurant, which he outlined in a Google Doc, but right now it seems like Im the only person actively marking restaurants.  I'm trying to mark all of the restaurants I can remember that I love, but that basically means that there are only places down the west coast.  There are a few old ones on the east coast, from one of his friends, but not many.

Doing a search for "delicious_club" will point out delicious restaurants on Google maps:

View Larger Map

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Birthday Card

Last weekend, I picked up a copy of Paper Crafts, a magazine I'm amazed I haven't found until now.  It's a fairly small glossy, but it has some cute ideas, and I've already incorporated one for this year's Christmas card design.  Combined with the workshop I did at Paper Source, there is a lot less design experimentation and a lot more card making this year.  But while I'm really excited about my Christmas cards, I don't want to post them until they're sent out!  Ever since I started making them, they've become like mini-gifts to people I care about, but don't get to see very often. 

But I would like to start posting cards that I've made, or am making, so here is one that was fairly recent.  This birthday card was made for Ben's aunt in Arizona.  Usually the cards I make are for people I know personally, but this would be the first I've made for someone I've never met.  This is significant, since I normally set out to design my card based on its recipient.  Now that I think about it, I write in the same way, too--I can't tell a story unless I know the main characters well.  But even so, I went fairly generic:

From Craft projects

 - 3" x 5" card
 - iridescent paper (likely from Bazzill, but I can't remember)
 - EK Success flat edge punch: swiss cheese
 - Cuttlebug cake die shape
 - foam squares, glue, 2 sided tape

When I bought the punch, I thought they were just bubbles, but that's how I did the edging--think champagne bubbles?  The cake was chocolate with vanilla icing, and the stand matched the card backing.  I'm never a fan of gluing little parts together, as I always seem to get glue everywhere, but I liked the way it turned out, overall.  Inside I stamped "Happy Birthday", fairly simple, and on the back, my usual made-by-me stamp.

Speaking of custom stamps, I am seriously thinking of doing that stamp making workshop so I can turn my robot into a reproduceable image.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I've been meaning to post about the Brushes app ( available for the iPhone and iPod touch.  At $5, it's a bit more expensive than the normal app available on the iTunes store, but it's well worth it.  It's a fairly lightweight application that seems like a simple finger painting application on the surface, but it has many interesting features.

1. Different brushes
There are 3 brushes that are available to "paint" with, and I'm not sure if it's merely a different brush type or if it's supposed to simulate a different paint type, but I can tell that they're different.  I won't pretend to know a lot about art mediums, so I will leave it alone.  You can also change the size of your brush, from 1px in diameter to 64px.  The same goes for the eraser.

2. Colours
That's right, "colours", with a 'u'.  The app uses "Color", but I'll forgive the author since he includes the entire spectrum of RGB colour choices, with varying transparencies to choose from.  A little colour picker lets you find a colour you've already got on the canvas.

3. Layers!
How awesome is that?  Four little layers to choose from, to move around, fill with colour, merge, or delete.  You can also import one of your photos as a layer, even awesomer!

4. Zoom
Just like any other iPhone/iPod Touch application, pinch to zoom in or out.  I discovered this after a few paintings, and it makes a big difference.  This is very obvious.

5. Brush stroke log
You can undo and redo nearly any brush stroke you've painted during the session, and even better, you can download the image as a Brushes filetype, and use the viewer available on their website to turn it into a movie of your painting, from start to finish.  I imagine this could make for some very interesting movie art.

6. "Connect"
In the corner of the Gallery, they give you a little wireless/RSS-type icon, which gives you a URL to try, if you're connected to a wifi network.  This is how you download your paintings either as .png or whatever format the Brushes file is in (I haven't tried it yet).

My paintings, so far, are in my Picasa album, and I hope to add more to my fine portfolio.  Here are a couple of my favourites:

From Brushes

The left is the first painting I did, the right is one I did after I discovered you could zoom in.  It makes a suitable iPhone background image.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I have to do this!

The Paper Source is having a holiday card contest which I have to enter. I have to!

I've already got some supplies for Christmas card making, thanks to that card workshop I took yesterday night.  I came home with a fairly hefty bag of stuff, I'm (not really) sorry to say.  But the card contest rules state that the card must be made with 100% Paper Source materials!  That means I have to go back. I have to!

The card workshop was fun, although it was a little odd for me, going by myself and being surrounded by middle-aged female teachers and/or domestic engineers.  There were so many alpha types there, it was scary. "Me me me, oh yeah I know that, me me I I I gimme gimme."
I wasn't particularly impressed with any of the cards or techniques they showed us, since I'd already had experience in most of them (stamping, embossing, using a sticker maker, glitter and glue, punches), but it was kind of nice to be able to play with their materials hands-on.

The one thing I did find impressive, however, was the envelope liner templates.  They're extremely simple--you cut nice paper to the shape of the template, and glue it into a matching size envelope.  I've never used liners before, but they look awesome, and they only take a minute.  I feel the need to also get the envelope template kit so I can always have matching envelopes. I have to!

Another thing I liked quite a bit, but had used before, was the embosser + plates.  I can emboss papers with my Cuttlebug as it is, but the specialized embossers can be made into custom designs, and they have a more refined look to them.  I have to get this one eventually. I have to!

One of the most amusing things of the evening was the impatient husband I saw as I left at 9:30pm, waiting in a car outside the store.The other really amusing thing was the way one of the instructors showed us how to deal with excess glitter or embossing powder--"You just flick it, like this," she said, and flicked the sparkles onto the ground.  !  I would never be allowed to do that at home, anywhere.

Overall I was happy with the workshop, I came home pretty hyper.  I'm seriously considering doing their make your own stamp workshop, though it's longer and more expensive, and seems more involved (a challenge!).  I think it's about time I turn my classic robot drawing into a stamp... I have to!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Police Blotter

Occasionally I like reading the police blotter notes that the San Jose Mercury News posts online.  I found them by accident in one of my Google Reader feeds, but occasionally they can be somewhat entertaining.  Normally most of them seem fairly tame.  Out of this past weekend's, however, I found this:

3500 block of De La Cruz Boulevard, Sept. 13 A man broke into a church on two occasions. The first time, he took cash and the second time, a Bible. Both thefts were caught on video. The pastor confronted the man and he was arrested.
Who steals a bible?

Another one I remember reading was much earlier in the year--somebody grabbed a couple bags of groceries out of some lady's car while she was unloading it.  That's got to say something about the economy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

PC Stitch Pro

About a month ago, I bought PC Stitch Pro (Amazon link).  The software isn't perfect, and lacks things like keyboard shortcuts, but their pattern printing is pretty good.  I'm not so keen on embroidering a photo, which seems to be their selling point--and it can turn photos into stitching patterns-- but it's fun to do pixel art that will become a cross stitch pattern complete with symbols and matching DMC floss numbers.  This was my first pattern edited with the software:

Robots, naturally!  Robots in love.  It turned out well enough, and I really like the heart, which is outlined in double-flossed backstitches.  Unfortunately it's been so long that I'm out of practice when it comes to other stitches, like the French knot. These little robot buddies are supposed to have red and green status indicator lights, but I can't get my knots to knot.  A lot of practice is required, and I suspect a lot of practice will be forthcoming.  My current project (or I should say, one of my current projects) is stitching out the logo for Ben's team at work, "Faster Google".  They have a shiny red racecar, and I've already got a pattern printed from the image he sent me.

Edit: Ben thought that I had stitched a pair of Whos from the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I have a multitude of Beatles songs stuck in my hea.

Last Wednesday (09/09/09), the entire Beatles collection was re-released, having been digitally remastered.  To coincide with this eventful day, The Beatles Rock Band was also released.  Ben and I got a chance to try one of the earlier games at a friend's place, and found it extremely entertaining.  Living in an 800sqft apartment, however, with only one bedroom and two small closets, however, have made daunting the idea of purchasing a video game that required at least one plastic guitar and a plastic drum set.  We already have one real guitar out (plus another under the bed), and a real piano.  But who could possibly resist the Beatles?

We found ourselves at our local, western-themed Fry's, standing in front of the "special edition" set ($250) and the "value edition" set ($140).  Having a "Beatles" drum set and a plastic replica of Paul McCartney's guitar has always been one of my life goals--alas, we have the simple set and $100 still in our pockets.

Since we picked it up on Thursday, we've played at least once every day.  This includes our trip up to visit Ben's parents in Berkeley, where we got both of them to try it. ("I can play this on a real guitar!")  I've discovered that I pretty much suck at "guitar playing", my singing is passable, and the drum set is fun.  My next experiment is to see how well I can play without drumsticks--bongo style?
Sitting in an English garden, waiting for the sun
If the sun don't come you get a tan from standing in the English rain
(Edit: bongo Rock Band doesn't work so well.)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Affect vs. Effect

Recently I sent out a survey related to a study I began at work, looking at blogging and microblogging behaviours. The study actually started as a secondary topic, the primary being a design/display project for the summer, to display IBM-related tweets. The goal of the study was to find out how microblogging and blogging practices interact, if at all. When I was going over the open-ended answers in the survey, I noticed that I had written this sentence:
If you both blog and microblog, how has your use of either tool affected the other?
At first, I groaned inwardly--what utter mortification! Did 300 people just see a huge grammar error? Is it not an "effect" that I'm asking about, and not an "affect"? Should it not be, "[...] how has your use of either effected the other?" But comparing "effected" and "affected", the former doesn't look right either.

Now completely confused, it's time to turn to Google to do the work for me. A suggestion is given for "define: effected"--"Did you mean: define: affected?" Accepting the new search yields this as one of the answers:
affect - have an effect upon
Ah-ha! Hello, confusing near-homophone! And now I remember a simple rule, which is often broken:
affect = verb ("My blog will affect my microblogging habits.")
effect = noun ("My blog has an effect on my microblogging habits.")
So it seems that my original sentence was correct, and there was no need to second-guess myself. Yet despite the simplicity of separation, the two words are easily confused.

For a longer (and probably better) explanation, check out Grammar Girl's article on this very topic. More confusion can be supplied by Randall Munroe.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I found this panda pattern somewhere, but I can't remember where. Originally, he had a bunch of bamboo around him. I started it to keep myself busy during the flight to Vancouver at the end of July this year, but I decided to finish it before I left, so I could give it to Mitch. She has a thing for pandas. But as neat as bamboo is, I didn't think it added anything interesting to the pattern, so I give you "Fatty Panda Eats a Timmy's Maple Doughnut".