Monday, October 31, 2011

House of Haunts for Halloween

If you've been with my blog for over a year, you will be shocked (or at least surprised) to find out that I did not dress my dogs up today.

I even had costumes (got them last year at Target on November first for half off!) but I didn't do it.  I was working all day today on my crazy list of things to do, and "dress up the dogs" somehow didn't make the list.  Sadie is grateful...or she would be grateful, if she knew that she had avoided her Halloween costume this year.  She hates to dress up.  Vader, on the other could pretty much do anything to Vader and he'd let you as long as you pet him and tell him he's a good boy, so he's cool with Halloween costumes.

But anyway, as I said on Friday, I do have eight different cards I made a couple years ago with House of Haunts, 'cause I had to post *something* Halloweenie on here.

I love the little creeping ghoulies in the background on this one.  It's a jumbo wheel called Haunting and is now on the SU clearance rack.  House of Haunts is in the current SU catalog.

Here you can see the trick-or-treaters a little bit better, although the wheel didn't come out quite as crisp as I might have wished.  I think I might unmount it and make it one giant flat stamp.

I made all these cards on the same day and just tried to do a bunch of different layouts, but I kept to only a few colors for the most part:  Pacific Point, Lovely Lilac (now retired with most of the other purples, harumph), Old Olive, Summer Sun (also retired) and of course Pumpkin Pie and Basic Black.

This is the one I posted last Friday so that's why it might look familiar.

For some reason I thought the sentiment part needed a little black flower.  The punch I used for the sentiment is now retired unfortunately, I really like that punch.  Oh well, I still have it : )

Haha, this one looked so similar to the one before it that I thought I accidentally posted the same card twice.

I'm running out of commentary for these cards.

Aaaaannnnd....that's it for those.  I only made ONE Halloween card this year, for my friend Jeng whose birthday is today:

Sadly he won't get it on time but that's pretty much standard for this year.  However, today I mailed off birthday presents to my brother and Lee's sister, and if they get to their destinations in the post office's standard one-week time frame, those will BOTH be there ON TIME for their birthdays.  I'm giving myself a high-five right now.

Something else arrived on time too....Sarah, my friend the Halloween nut, had her little girl early this morning so she has a Halloween birthday.  I'm so tickled it worked out that way!  And somehow I even managed to get the baby book out there before Leora made her debut, so I'm giving myself another high-five.

So I talk a lot about how I have a list of things to do, like, *all the time*, so you want to see what it looked like when I got up this morning?

Yes, it's on a dry erase board.  Easier for me to keep track of than a zillion slips of paper.  And it's color-coded with Tiana's baby book layouts on the top.  I usually have to take a picture of it about once a week and then re-write it with what's still left to do because I run out of room with the crossed-off stuff on there and the picture ensures I don't forget anything I still have left to do and I realize that this entire paragraph makes me sound entirely MENTAL but that's who I am so I'm going to post it anyway.  I should have taken another picture of the board now but I'm too lazy; the last eight items have been crossed off because I was busy today.  Lee is raising his eyebrows at the vast quantities of peanut M&Ms that have been consumed by me in recent weeks, but it seems to help me be more productive.  And peanuts are healthy, right?  Unless you're allergic to them, which I'm not.

Well, tomorrow Liz is coming over here to make Christmas cards, so I should get up early to design what I want to do so I can knock 'em all out tomorrow.  Wouldn't that be nice.  Hey, given enough peanut M&Ms, anything is possible, right?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Flashback (sort of): Fall & Halloween Cards

Where has this week gone??  I swear it should only be Wednesday or something, I really don't know where the time has gone.  Judging by this week's to-do list, I've been busy though : )  Lots of crossed-out items...still lots more to do, but the crossed-out items are satisfying to look at.  I didn't really feel like sorting through the last of the pictures from September's road trip, so instead it's back to stampy goodness.  This is gonna be like a fake Flashback Friday 'cause I'm not highlighting one stamp set; instead I picked through my archives for some fall and Halloween cards.  But the first couple are all-new.

And this one is neither fall nor Halloween, but work with me here.  I used this week's Splitcoast color challenge:  Baja Breeze (one of my all-time favorite colors), Rich Razzleberry, and Island Indigo.  I'm trying to get back into doing the weekly color and sketch challenges on SCS since that will be a good way to replenish my card stash.  (Unfortunately I haven't gotten to this week's sketch yet.)

Lookit that, these cards are both all-new *and* fally.  I got the idea for these from this week's Fall-To Layout over on Clean & Simple Sketches, except I made a horizontal card instead of vertical like on the original sketch.  I had to do that to accommodate both leaves on the left (didn't look right with just one cut-out leaf).  I had to do the two different sets of patterned paper because I made 12 and didn't have enough of that yummy green paisley for all 12.  Maybe I should buy another pack of this paper....

And this was last week's Fall-To Layout, but this one just didn't really do anything for me when I made it up.  It feels a little too bare to me.  But let's take a look at some other cards I've made using this stamp set, shall we?

This was my brother's birthday card last year (note to self:  need to make him a birthday card this year, it's coming up fast!).  Apparently I like lining up the leaves.

A lot.  Hmm.  I think every card I've ever made with these leaves has involved lining them up.  (Second note to self:  switch it up next time!)

Also from last year, but this time with the set Day of Gratitude which is in the current Stampin' Up catalog and I lurve it.  I miss that paper too, it was scrumptious; I like this year's Spice Cake autumn paper but it is missing one thing:  RED.  Or orange, I'm not picky.  It's green, blue, aqua and brown, and really pretty, but I love my deep reds and oranges for fall stuff.

Here's a second Day of Gratitude card with other bits of that yummy paper.

Ok, so these next few are OLD, like from when I first became a demonstrator in 2006.  I still love this stamp set though, it's called Fall Whimsy.  This card was done using the white crayon resist technique; you stamp the outline on glossy white cardstock, make some marks with a white crayon for highlights, and then sponge ink colors over it.

Here's another Thanksgiving card with the same stamp set; I found the idea somewhere on Splitcoast to use the leaves and pumpkin to make a turkey.  He's kinda cute, right?  Lots of cutting though.

And one more to highlight that oh-so-cute pumpkin.  I think that Fall Whimsy might get its very own Friday Flashback post sometime.  Ahh, if only I had time to do all the ideas that pop into my head.

This stamp set, Lovely as a Tree, has been in the SU catalog for longer than I've been stamping.  Every summer when the retirement list comes out, demonstrators take bets on what will retire, and this one just never does.  Which is fine, it's an awesome stamp set.  Maybe it should get a FF post too...

Here's another oldy, this cute lil scarecrow is from Happy Fall Y'all.  This is my favorite thing I've made with him, isn't he just the cutest thing ever??  Sometimes I'm in the mood to watercolor and that's when I did this one...took quite a while to paint him up just right.

Here he is again, embossed with gold embossing powder and then watercolored.

Halloween is next Monday so this is probably my last chance to sneak in some Halloweeny goodness.  These jack o' lanterns are from Carved & Candlelit, one of the first few stamp sets I ever bought.  On this one, I stamped the face with black craft ink and embossed with Iridescent Ice embossing powder, so it was all glittery.

This one is also embossed, but emboss resist:  I stamped the birthday sentiment, then did the pumpkin on top with VersaMark and clear embossing powder, and sponged ink around it.  This went to my friend Jeng, who is a Halloween baby.  (Third note to self:  make Jeng a birthday card ASAP!!!)

The main image on this is from a jumbo wheel, and the color is done with a brayer and a spectrum pad.  SU used to have spectrum pads (where it's got four little ink pads of different colors in one container) but they retired them a while back, I kinda miss them.

I only picked one of the like 8 or so I did at one time with this stamp set.   Maybe I'll share the rest on Monday.  This is one of my favoritest Halloween sets ever, House of Haunts (the house is another stamp in the set).

Ack!  I almost forgot about Best Fiends!

You may remember Frankie from Sarah's October layout in the baby book I made for her.

And here's Drac, this was also a past birthday card for Jeng.  Sometimes his Halloween birthday cards go in costume as 4th of July birthday cards or St. Patrick's Day birthday cards : )  Anyway, I love the highlighted bats' eyes on here.  And the googly eyes in Drac's boo-quet.

That does it for me, kidlets.  Lee's gonna be home in a few minutes and then we're cooking dinner 'cause I'm hungry.  Tata!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Warwick Castle

Wow, I've been dragging out these pictures for quite some time, I'm still working through photos from our road trip a month ago!  Well, this time I'm just gonna post all the pictures I want to share from Warwick Castle in a single post so this one will be kind of long.  Warwick is not an English Heritage site; it's a privately run tourist attraction that's kind of trying to be Disneyland with more torture.  Or something.  Their website is pretty slick and calls it "Britain's ultimate castle" although to be honest, it was probably not even in our top 5 castles list.  Actually, their website seems different from the first time I looked at it before we went on this trip...then it was all done up with Flash and noise and it was kind of irritating.  Hmm.  Let's move on to pictures, shall we?

The place is pretty big so this isn't even the biggest part of it, but it's the part of the castle you see on the way in to the barbican (which is that bit on the left that sticks out from the castle walls).  The barbican protected the entrance to the castle with two portcullises, arrow slits for archers, and of course murder holes through which defenders could pour all kinds of not-fun things on invaders.  Ruin your whole day, that could.

Several of the exhibits had to do with Richard Neville, the 16th Earl of Warwick, nicknamed "Kingmaker" after his exploits during the Wars of the Roses.  This exhibit, peopled with wax figures done by Madame Tussaud's wax museum, shows preparations for battle:  making bows and arrows, shoeing horses, etc.

This exhibit is of one dude (Warwick himself, maybe?) making a rousing speech to the troops as they prepare for battle.  They had sound playing in the room, which was okay the first time you heard it or maybe even the second, but we stayed in here for quite a while as Lee really wanted a picture without any other people in it besides the wax dummies.  Then the sound effects got old real fast.

So all these pictures are in the order in which they were taken, but I took out so many that this kind of seems disjointed.  Oh well, I shall soldier on regardless.  After we toured the Kingmaker exhibit, we went back out into the courtyard and saw this bird taking off as part of the falconry show.  Then we found some stairs to climb.

This was taken from "the Mound", which has been the site of a fortress of some type since at least the Norman conquest.  The tower in the center is now called the Princess Tower and has a bunch of fairy tale/princess stuff in it but we were told it was just for kids (well FINE then, I wanted to go but nyeh).  The Great Hall and state rooms are to the left of the tower.

In the middle is the barbican from the inside, and to the left is Guy's Tower, built in the 14th century.

Part of the wall up on the Mound, just 'cause I liked the shapes in the crenellations.

Here's a view away from the castle from the Mound; lots of clouds heading in.

Wasn't sure which one I liked best so I'm posting the horizontal and vertical shots : )

And a silhouettey one with the town church spire in it.

Twice a day they have a display of how the trebuchet works, and we discovered that we could see it just fine from where we were up on the Mound, so we waited around about 20 minutes for that to start.  What is a trebuchet, you ask?

It's that catapult thingy in the lower right hand corner throwing a flaming ball of...something.  The trebuchet is powered by a couple of dudes in giant hamster wheels who crank the arm of the trebuchet down, and then it's released to throw cannonballs or fire or fiery cannonballs or people you don't like at whatever it is you're fighting with, be it army or castle or whatever.  It takes forever for the thing to be primed though, so I think I'd rather stick with a bow and arrow; much shorter reload time.  That's assuming I could actually shoot a bow and arrow, which I cannot do with any accuracy.

You can still see the projectile almost straight above the trebuchet...

And it's so high up it's almost out of the shot in this one.  Kind of fun to see how the thing worked since it was a big part of medieval siege warfare.  After the show was over, we walked down from the Mound along the outside of the castle walls and found...

A peacock.  They actually have a peacock garden on the grounds, so we saw several of them walking around.  Why is it that rich people keep peacocks?  Even Lucius Malfoy had some (and his were white).  When I was little, my great-grandmother would take us out to this park called Mooney's Grove and Adam and I would chase the peacocks around.  They're FAST.  One of the guys who worked at the park saw us one day and gave us a few peacock feathers he'd picked up around the grounds though, so that was cool.  And then I think he told us to quit chasing the peacocks, not that we ever got close enough to make them worry much.

Well, I tried to pull the sword from the stone, but I guess I'm just not the true-born King of England.  Plus, you know, GIRL.  So if the legend was that whoever pulled out the sword was the true ruler (non-gender specific) of England, I might've had a shot.

Lee and I then went to the start of the parapet walk, which had a sign saying that it involved over 500 stairs and once you started, you had to finish it, so of *course* we had to do that.  This is taken from atop Guy's Tower and you can see the much smaller Bear and Clarence Towers.  The original plan was for them to be as tall as Guy's Tower but then Richard III (who was driving that particular project) got busy with other things when he became king, so they stayed small.

Looking out over the courtyard towards the Mound and the state apartments on the left.

There's the town of Warwick, which is a pretty decent size.

And here's Lee standing over thin air on the tower : )  The guide book says that the holes were left there so that defenders could drop things on people or shoot at them from the top of the tower, even if they were hugging close to the castle walls.  They put a lot of thought into how to defend the castle, and from the torture exhibit we saw, even more thought into how to do incredibly cruel things to people who ticked them off.

More of Warwick, this one taken from Caesar's Tower on the other side of the barbican from Guy's Tower.  Doesn't that just look like you'd imagine an English village should look?

Lee trying to squeeze through a teensy passage on top of Caesar's tower.  Kind of makes you wonder why they built things this way with teeny tiny passages between, but it's that way with houses too.  There are several buildings I walk past every day with my dogs that only have maybe 12 to 18 inches between them.

That is the river Avon, upon which Stratford sits (more on that next time).

One last photo from inside the Great Hall.  They had lots of armor and weaponry all over the place.

We also toured the state apartments, which are again done up with wax figures, this time depicting a grand weekend party in 1898 given by Francis Greville, fifth Earl of Warwick, and his wife Daisy.  (Sorry, we didn't take any pictures of this part.)  They were part of the "Marlborough House set" led by Edward, then Prince of Wales and eldest son of Queen Victoria.  From what they said in the exhibit, many members of the Marlborough House set engaged in affairs with one another; Daisy was for some years the mistress of the future king, who was nicknamed Edward the Caresser (I laughed at that, it's an historical joke).  At least two of Daisy's children were fathered by men other than the one she was married to, and she was rather indiscreet about her affairs with the rich and powerful.  Could you imagine being Daisy's husband through all that?

So there you have Warwick Castle.  I'm off to bed; I feel like I might be starting to get sick and I really don't want to.  I've got less than a month left before my parental units get here and lots to do between now and then, so this would be a bad time to get the sniffles.  Nighty-night!