Friday, December 28, 2012

Sewing Pattern Box of Goodies for Shirley

So I live next to the world's best neighbor Shirley. She brought me a fresh brewed cup of coffee and a stack of gifts WEEKS ago.

Sticking out of a nice little bunch of wrapped goodies were these awesome amazing red blooms. I told Shirley that I was in love with them. She said:  ME TOO. You almost didn't get them!

So, decided to make her box and share two of them back!

This box started life as a Harry and David Box and was not that amazing. I don't have a before photo, basically just started modging and podging and didn't look back

The sides and top are layers of an old sewing pattern. I picked one up at a garage ages ago and have made numerous things out of it! It went on nice and wrinkled and then I inked up the wrinkles to give it some depth. 

Also glued on feet. All boxes need feet, no? Added a little glitter on the top of them to look like snow. 

The top was a lot of fun AND I learned something. More on that shortly!

I used the actual pattern part that was on heavier paper with the image for the top. I thought the little kids with coats & skis was fitting for someone who used to teach kids! 

The blooms themselves did not come with the metal pieces on them. Those also came in my package from Shirley and I cut them in half and tweaked them a bit to give the flower depth. Also, added a bit of hot glue & glitter to look like snow in the centers. Also glittered up the smaller roses. 

The cool thing I learned was how to attach a knob when it's made for a cabinet and the screw part is way too long. THE MAN said, if it's too long, thread a nut on and cut right above the nut with your pliers. Then, thread off the nut and it will recreate the threads you ruined while snipping off the part that was too long. 

Then, your knob fits nicely all snugly. 

And one more shot of Shirley's new box. It will be heading over to her shortly and is filled with all kinds of nice things scrappy related!

Merry Belated Christmas, Shirley!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas from Fabulous Las Vegas

In a move that most people would find crazy, we opted to hang out for Christmas in Las Vegas. Of course, direct flights from a city near us also helped. ;-)

Both kids have birthdays near December and THE MAN and I were coming up short on great ideas for gifts. Plus, having spent nearly two months reorganizing their rooms for larger desks and making multiple trips to drop items off at Best Friends in Potsdam for them to resell, I was a little down on buying stuff!

So boycotted presents and bought plane tickets. And off we went in search of Christmas lights on palm trees and a delicious Christmas dinner in a Casino.

We stayed at the Hard Rock Casino, although not being my first choice in lodging, the kids did think we were pretty cool.

I do have to thank Julie for the great idea. Last year they went and she posted some cool photos from the Bellagio. So, here is a polar bear for you, Julie!

Of course, it was a bummer pulling into the driveway last night. It was SNOWING.

Woke up to huge snow!!!! Here is a photo of my son taken through our sliding glass door that had snow drifted up to almost the middle!

Hope you had a merry one yourselves!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Merry Little Christmas by Bruce Mero

A Merry Little Christmas
by Bruce H. Mero

          Carefully, I led the little donkey up the six or eight steps to the portico. Jim nodded that he was ready. I swung open the two doors. Everyone in the little church turned to see what was happening. I tugged on the donkey's lead and he started over the last step, but caught his front foot on the threshold, tripped and fell to its knees at the top step. On its back, Father Christmas lurched forward and pitched over the donkey's neck and head, sprawling onto the tile floor. The bag of gifts he had slung over his shoulder catapulted into the air between the pews and crashed on the floor midway to the altar. The contents of the sack spilled out. Presents spewed up the aisle, apples, oranges and pomegranates rolled under the seats. The kids screeched and scrambled to pick up the presents in a frenzy. I'd managed to dodge the falling donkey, the flying Father Christmas and the airborne sack of goodies and went to Jim's side to help him to his feet. He was groaning and laughing. He'd skinned his knees, ripping the Santa pants in the process. His laughing quickly turned to a deep "Ho, Ho, Ho" as he popped up, pretending that his entrance flop had been planned all along. He merged into the scramble of kids, picking up gifts and fruit off the floor and placing them into outstretched hands. I retreated to the entry stairs and led the poor little donkey back down the steps, handed the rope to its owner Mahmood and paid him the agreed-upon five tomans for renting his animal. I shook his hand and wished him "Aide shoma mobarack"...equivalent to happy holidays, in Farsi.

          Pastor Kahlil's church service was ended, there was no way that he could restore order and continue any further.  His ad hoc congregation headed to the exit, the excitement in the kids was palpable. Outside, snowflakes were drifting out of the night sky as if on a Christmas Eve cue.  One of the older Iranian gentlemen leaving the church said that he'd never been in Kerman when it snowed, this was the first time in his fifty years!

          Our group of Peace Corps volunteers headed through the falling snow to Jim and Cindy Ranii's house on Zariff Street, about a kilometer's walk from the church. There we ate and drank Russian Vodka until midnight.

          A third of the group spent the night at Len and Marsha's house, a third slept at our place in the bazaar and the rest stayed at Jim and Cindy's. We awoke Christmas morning to six inches of snow on the ground. It was purely magical, though to the residents of Kerman it was a nuisance. Automobile traffic ground to an absolute halt.  Anyone foolish enough to try to drive on the streets quickly learned of the folly they'd undertaken. No one native to Kerman had ever driven on snow there before and the few taxi drivers who dared, spun tires and skidded around and bumped into things. The sidewalks were icy and walking was difficult. The streets were mostly empty as we led our group back to Zariff Street and to the Ranii's for Christmas breakfast.

          The bazaar hummed with activity as though it summer. On the way to the Ranii house, we stopped at the bakery near the end of the bazaar and picked up a dozen flat breads, nonie sangak, hot out of the oven. At the shop across the alley, we purchased several pails of fresh yogurt, a kilo of goat cheese and a couple of football-shaped melons. We met up with the group who'd spent the night at Len and Marsha's place at Maidone Moshtack as they were turning onto Zariff Street. They'd also picked up flat bread and yogurt, as well as a couple of kilos of pomegranates and grapefruits and a huge sack of jumbo shrimp and lobsters brought up that morning from the Persian Gulf by lorry that had, somehow, negotiated the snow covered and icy roads. 

          We never once saw a car on Zariff Street, the roads on this end of town were so bad no one was attempting to drive on them. Getting to the Ranii house by foot on the slippery sidewalks was a challenge since no one had winter boots, of course. Most of us were also freezing. Nobody had brought winter coats or hats or scarves or mittens to Iran. The group milled around outside another bakery as Gretchen and Marsha went inside to purchase a couple of kilos of colompay cookies, a Kerman specialty, pocket pastries filled with fig jam. The bakery was warm inside and before long a number of folks in our group had jammed into the little store to buy more cookies...and to defrost.

          Jim and Cindy's house was just up the block. It was toasty inside and smelled marvelous. Cindy had baked a half-dozen loaves of bread, American style, while the rest of us were drinking vodka the night before and was now cooking a huge batch of French toast. Gretchen pulled a quart of New York State maple syrup out of the bag she was carrying, a gift from a friend at  home that had arrived in the mail a few weeks prior. She and Cindy had planned the menu for this communal breakfast all along.

          We feasted. Breakfast was followed by rounds of celebratory vodka shots and other inebriants, then followed by several kilos of freshly boiled shrimp and lobster, then more vodka. I lifted my glass and offered a toast to our hosts, Jim and Cindy and to Jim's brilliant idea to get as many Peace Corps volunteers as possible to Kerman for Christmas and then to Pastor Kahlil for last night's church service. The Father Christmas thing had been Kahlil's idea. Jim had discussed his plot to get a bunch of volunteers into town and asked if Kahlil would have a Christmas Eve service in his little Anglican church. Kahlil's wife, Janet, instantly agreed that he'd do the service. She was a little lonely as the only Australian in town, and welcomed the opportunity to have company and conversations in English with real Westerners for a change. Kahlil came up with a the ancient, faded, red Father Christmas costume that Jim wore into the church on Christmas Eve. Jim was a tall, skinny guy and the suit was meant for a much fatter man, so it hung huge on him. He tied a rope around his waist to keep the pants from falling down and had to roll the pants legs up several times to keep from tripping on them. Jim's scruffy black beard and mustache had to serve for the fake Santa beard Kahlil had in his costume box. That one was old, gray and moldy and Jim refused to put it on.

          The donkey was my idea and I'd arranged to "rent" him from Ahmad's brother, Mahmood. Ahmad was the tea man at the State of Kerman Engineering Office where Jim, Gretchen and I worked. I paid five times the asking price for Jim's ride up the stairs of the church. The simple gifts and fruits in Father Christmas' sack were accumulated as a group effort.

          Over forty Peace Corps volunteers had come into Kerman by bus from all over Iran. There were no telephones to do the inviting, so we mentioned the gathering to a few volunteers we'd seen recently and word-of-mouth did the rest. Fortunately, we'd spoken of the intended gathering to our friend, Siad Nejhad who'd informed the secret police of our plans prior to Christmas Eve. None of our guests were detained or hassled by the police, as would have been the case for foreigners arriving in town unannounced, had Siad not been out front on our behalf.   

          Pastor Kahlil had invited as many people as he knew to the service. The pews were filled in that little Anglican church for the first time since Kahlil had assumed the pastor's position and moved his family into town.

          Janet reveled in the company of so many English speaking visitors. She and Kahlil and their kids spent as much time at Jim and Cindy's house as they could and had many of our volunteer friends to their house for tea the morning after Christmas, before anyone had returned home. Half of our company left on buses as soon as the snow on the roads had melted and bus service in and out of Kerman had resumed. The remaining folks left over the next week, no one seemed to be in a real hurry to get back home, absorbing the camaraderie of the group and making it last as long as possible. Janet soaked in as much English as she could while our guests were in town.  

          It was a perfect Christmas. Friends gathered and celebrated. It snowed for the first time in over half a century. The church was filled. The children who were attending that night received presents from Father Christmas who flew through the doors of the church and tossed his gifts to everyone who was there. It couldn't have been any better.

          Our house guests left just in time, the cold snap which brought the snow to Kerman on Christmas Eve lasted for a couple of weeks. It got so cold that the underground water pipes coming into our house in the bazaar froze and burst. Streams of water spurted into the air from the broken pipes. Eventually we found the shut-off valve and made the repairs to the pipes. We took it all in stride, the mellow we were on from that perfect Christmas celebration was within us weeks later. It returned to me as I recounted this story, all of these years later.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Monday, December 24, 2012

ScrapFriends Sketch Challenge: One Photo Layout

Every year I hand make Christmas cards and I always like to have a photo of the kids to include. We don't do a lot of presents anymore with a lot of folks, so I do like to make sure those friends & family we hold dear at least get something small that is handmade and has a recent photo.

The card making was the easy part this year, although I make quite a few so it gets slightly monotonous. Finding something for my daughter to wear was the challenge since there are not many local places to shop.

I ended up with a funny t-shirt that said "I'm Santa's Favorite" but the photo I ended up using didn't even show that!

It looks warm here, but really was not. They were freezing and it was just bright enough that the photos I snapped had Luke squinting.

Here is a close up of my ornaments and journaling. Love the idea and got it from the latest ScrapFriend's Sketch.

Isn't this a terrific sketch? Plus, you get to rip paper! :-)

The challenge is also open for quite a while longer, so maybe during the holidays, you can give it a whirl yourself!

And my flower cluster! Used my LAST flower up from Irini & Get Creative and also two soft beautiful roses from Lizzy Hill.

Heading off on an adventure so will be back in a few days to tell you all about it!

Check out my Christmas post for a cool story from my Dad written just for you guys on Christmas Day. It's funny!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Red Neck UTE

So the other day I got the brilliant idea to try melting some Ultra Thick Embossing Power or UTE on my stove in a tiny little pot I had. Unfortunately, I could not get the heat low enough and burned the batch resulting in the house stinking to high heaven.

Talked to THE MAN (who of course wanted to know why the house smelled like burnt plastic) about my reluctance of spending $30 on a Tim Holtz UTE burner. 

He said, I get that. You probably will only ever use it once a year. 

He said, lets set up the camping stove in the garage where we can get ventilation easy enough by opening the doors and try that. 

Our camping stove isn't all that pretty. But you can see how nicely it melted up. I just put it on the edges of my Christmas cards.

Let me show you what a nice Coleman Camping stove looks like. Substitute perfect pancakes and bacon for UTE in a small metal tray. Use the absolute lowest setting ever. Voila, cheap solution.

Anyhow, they turned out nice! None left to show you since I mailed them out asap since I am a wee bit late with cards this year. 

I have plans to melt more and turn domino pieces into gold ATC perhaps or something else exciting along those lines. 

Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Recycled Jar & Christmas Hutch Display

A while ago, a friend of mine mentioned she was jealous of my scrabble letter find at the Second Hand store. I have had my eye balls pealed since for another such find. This time, it came with the game board! I did save the game board and the box, because they seem like they might make a nice altered item.
The wood tiles I placed into a little sauce jar all cleaned up with a green spray painted top & brown metal embossed center. Of course, I had to add some vintage buttons I found at the same time. 

She also got ONE of my LAST Irini Button Flowers (also known as Get Creative Embellishments). Irini has a coolio Etsy store that I might direct your attention to in case you want to buy your own. I myself have restocked so I will be all set for a bit. ;-)

And, in case you are dying of curiosity as to where I took these dark flash ridden photos, on top of my hutch of course! Since packages this time of year take a bit longer, I decided I had to get it all packed up and ready and not wait for daylight. 

Here it is on a nice sunny day!

I change it up every couple of months. Finally put the last item up there yesterday. Yup, it takes me a while. 

I made the sparkly glitter tree out of styrofoam I also had found at the second hard store. I'm not sure it's done as of yet, but since craft stores are not close by, I decided to get it up there, off my scrappin' table and at least semi-on display while I think about it. Plus, I used like a huge amount of glitter and every time I move it, things get covered in sparkles, not like that is a bad thing if you are me.  

Happy Sparkle-day, I mean Thursday!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A 'Lil Snow and Herb Ox Altered Tin Top Photos

It snowed here last night. Not sunny today in the least, but it is looking a bit like Christmas!

I promised to get my 12 Tags of Christmas Tin Tops for the challenge over at the Funkie Junkie posted with new photos when we got sun...but since it's still snowing, I might be out of luck for a few days!

So, snuck out in my slippers and got a photo or two for you!

The two new tin tops are on the bottom.

The green star one was inspired by Tag 9 over at the Funkie Junkie Blog. Love the wood looking base, the star, and the pop of red.

The second top was inspired by this very cool chimney tag that Linda made. Of course, the silver bottle cap was originally rust colored and actually CAME from Linda's store as did the alcohol ink to dye it silver.

And, on to the rest of the tin tops...

The little reindeer tin top is also new and was inspired by Tag 7. I found this to be one of the hardest tin tops as the little deer image I found was only about 2 inches high! Lucky for me it was on some Christmas paper! Fussy cutting was um, challenging for me. ;-)

Here is a close up of the last two. I found some really cool small holly stickers for the one on the left and added some red stickles for the berries. I also managed to use the SAME button that Linda used on her tag! Betcha she got it from her store

And here is Linda's Tag 11.

 The last tin top was one of the hardest. I loved the red and the gold, so used the colors. And the little image of the boy and the girl just needed to be used with a pink bloom!

AND, I did say snow, didn't I, Miss Lisa from Kansas. Based on the hot card you have uploaded on your blog today, you might need some coolin' off.

Far be it from me to deny you folks living in warmer places a snow photo! ;-)

And at the risk of making a pun at Lisa's expense, Happy Hump Day. ;-)

Monday, December 17, 2012

12 Tags of Christmas Finished!

Just got caught standing on a kitchen chair, taking a photo of these on top of my hutch. THE MAN asked nicely WHAT I was doing and I said taking a photo of my 12 Tags of Christmas Tin Tops for the challenge over at the Funkie Junkie. He shook his head and fled, likely because they are still a bit stinky and wet due the the fact I just finished them. I may have also been shedding glitter. ;-)

WELL, they are due in less than three hours to make the deadline. And I really want to be in the running for the gift cert at the Funkie Junkie where I can spend money like it's going out of style! Super cool store, you will have to check it out!

Which means of course we have to suffer with this terrible flash ridden photo. 

And also means I'll be taking new ones tomorrow should we have sun. 

Any how, back tomorrow with better photos when I am not typing with glitter on my fingers...

becoming LOST: Layout for AFSC

There is another challenge up over at Another Freaking Scrappy that you might enjoy. It's a sketch, so you can run with it any which way you might like. I chose to rotate it and run the banners in a portrait format. Love all the flowers that Anne has on this sketch. Very lovely.

The subject of my page is rather introspective. 

Have you ever gotten going with something and realized a while later that you had actually gotten off course with what you really wanted to accomplish?

When I started blogging about scrapbooking, I was mainly trying to connect & have fun. We had just moved and left a little group of creative girls who liked the same things I liked. Interestingly enough, that is still my main goal. I am not looking to become a famous blogger or scrapper or anything like that. ;-)

I have a day job that is, well a job! Plus that other job which is being a Mum as they call it in Australia. 

Right before leaving to go off to Peru, I felt like I had gotten wound up into too many obligations on the scrapping side of things, plus work had gotten really crazy due to a huge project that we got roped into doing. I felt like I was dropping the ball right and left with everything.

Thankfully my family understood. THE MAN has had his fair share of work craziness and just helped pick up the slack. I work for a small company and not getting the work done is not an option as they will ask some other sub contracting firm to do the work leaving a slew of people with jobs but no work which eventually means no jobs. Not a good option. 

My parents told me I was going to Peru with them and leaving the phone and computers AT HOME. I think they saw the writing on the wall as I was nearly heading into self destruct mode. 

In the airport getting ready to take off on our international flight to Peru I got an e-mail from a scrappy boss that kicked almost her entire team to the curb for not helping her out when she was having trouble herself. I felt horrible for letting someone I didn't even know personally down.

As we lifted off the runway, I wrote myself a note in a journal I had brought with me.

It said simply:  

Priorities 1)  Home
                2) Work 

and nothing about blogging or scrapping 'cause that is the frosting on my cupcake of life and should never ever make me feel badly. 

Was it bad form of the scrappy boss to send that e-mail on the very day I was leaving? I'd like to think it wasn't deliberate, but regardless, it was a good life lesson for me for me on over committing. 

I can tell that the last six months has changed me a lot. My scrappy style seems to have gotten cleaner and less complicated. And if I don't have time to get something done, it just won't get done. 

One of my favorite things on this page is from a fellow scrapper Lizzy Hill from Australia who sent me this Manner House bloom to ink up. She is a rock star scrapper and someone I'm glad I connected with. 

The dyed gauze and gold glitter on the little metal frame I made for the word "LOST" came from Helen. She gave me the idea for the gauze ages and ages ago and I've used it for many pages. The the gold glitter spray came in a package from her! It looks quite pretty on the frame, better than in a photo. I am glad I met her too, as I have gotten tons of ideas from her scrappin!

And last but not least, my little quote by Billy Joel that I used on a scenic photo from Peru:  I am no longer afraid of becoming lost, because the journey back always reveals something new, and that is ultimately good for the artist.

And Anne the Scrappy Boss of AFSC? Thanks for having me on your challenge blog and for being super cool. 



Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Ice Man

Today I was going to post my latest page for Another Freaky Scrappy but I can't just yet. Still wiping the tears from my eyes and my heart.  

Right around noon yesterday I alternated between crying and being angry when I heard the news about the elementary school shooting in Connecticut. 

THE MAN and I talked to the kids last night. We told them not to be scared, but that this terrible event had happened. They asked a few questions and were sad. We also told them to pay attention to their surroundings. Watch out for people who look odd or that are behaving in a strange manner. And to make sure they tell someone. We also told them if they were ever angry at one of us or both of us, that the lines of communication are always open. 

They seemed to understand.

Today, it's a soft cold sunny day in the North Country and a perfect day to take a photo of a project that came home last night.

It was a great project, they were studying the Ötzi Ice Man. Yes, I know it looks like a Mulan barbie with a beard, but maybe squint a bit? 

I told Lexi it was genus and I'd post her Iceman today to which I got a huge sunny smile.

Love those kids of mine.

Hugs from NY


Friday, December 14, 2012

Miracles Momma Designs Sketch: SEEDS

I posted about my new garden the other day and decided to make a page about it. I found when we moved, all the little things I had done at the old house suddenly became memorable and special.

Although this garden is in the rough stages right now, I'm really enjoying the feeder I can see out the window! Hence the title of "SEEDS" as the garden is really only being started and the birds are crazy fiends when it comes to those sunflower seeds!

Used a really great Heather Landry Sketch. I thought it was a super cool one for showcasing some paper.

In this case, I actually used images from one of my favorite digital shops and printed out my own.

Ignacio at Nicecrane has an ability for finding some really cool vintage images to use!


The colors on these images are subtle, yet have some really bright colors that I wanted to match with my flower spray.

There is a Lizzy Hill bloom on there and also two from Eye Candy Magic. The cute little cake on top of the Washi tape was recycled off a birthday card sent to me from my friend Kristy. Since my birthday is rolling around AGAIN, I figured it was safe to use.

Anyhow, Happy Friday! And feel free to use this sketch! Heather will be famous someday soon and you can say you always knew she was a trend setter! ;-)


Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Love Bird Frame

Pretty much yearly our school has a fund raiser they do that involves placing your child's artwork on stickers, trivets, t-shirts, posters, etc. I never buy them, but always get the sheet of stickers for free. ;-) I have many sheets going back several years as I only rarely remember to put them on a card once in a great while....

My Aunt Connie got a card recently with one of Luke's Love Bird Sticker on the back.

She wanted the original which I was unable to turn up. Sometimes things come home in the book bag folders a bit sideways. Not sure if I even had it to begin with!

So, decided to make her MY version of something using his art work!

This started out as a 6 by 6 canvas, flipped over on it's back so staple side up. The little green box was sent to me full of goodies from Helen and purely by accident I figured out it fit perfectly in the opening.

I then filled around the edges with plaster so I could cover over it smoothly with metal tape.

I have gotten a lot of use out of metal tape lately. And this project is no different. I embossed it and then carefully cut it to make a frame. 

Then, I covered over the whole thing with gesso and added some paint splatters and clear gloss spray to match Luke's Love Birds.

The sticker was scanned in and printed on photo paper, so I couldn't go much bigger than this anyhow or I would have lost quality. I am pretty happy with how this turned out. I think it's really original now!

Right now it's on it's way to her. Hopefully the UPS guys will get it there safe and sound!

Happy Thursday 'cause tomorrow is FGIF!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Building a Garden in December

I will do just about anything to avoid putting up the Christmas tree.

Which is why I have spent a couple of weekends schlepping rocks around with the Kubota Tractor.

Mr. Corn (the dude that owns the field across the street from the house) has huge rock piles on the side of his field.  Since the soy beans have been cut for quite sometime, I can raid rocks without disturbing the crops.

 I also have 25 acres of my own to pick from.

I decided at one point while scooping the top soil with the bucket on the tractor that I was destined for great things.

Got off and asked nicely where the nearest bulldozer training class was. I really could see myself sitting in a dozer all day playing in the dirt. I just need a good audio book...

As you can see, I am starting an active campaign to steal neighbor Shirley's birds. I assure you that prior to the photo the were at least fifteen hanging out at my new just kidding. Actually I had to refill it. The chick-a-dees are greedy little fiends and there was almost nothing left.

The post was from a Hemlock tree that had fallen over across the creek during a recent storm. So we crossed the creek, chain sawed off the branches and almost instantly, I had a nice post to use for free!

The weird folded rock was mined from the rock piles across the street. THE MAN isn't fond of my design. I tried to tell him I was being an Inca, but for some reason he wasn't buying it.

Anyhow, come spring, the dirt will be all settled in, I can put wood chips on it and plant it all up. I can't wait. It looks a little rough now, but I know it will be nearly ready when I am wanting to plant gardens and not build them!

As far as a future career as a bulldozer driver? That is always still an option...