Saturday, November 29, 2014

Echoes of Summer: Relax - You're Here

(Another installment in a continuing series about summer vacations on Lake Winnipesaukee in NH.)

Even now, as the flakes have begun to fly here in the northeast and the time for twinkling holiday lights and the jolly old elf has nearly arrived, the seemingly endless days of summer still call. Although snow is the preferred weather phenomenon in my house, nothing compares to the paradise we call our summer home.

It is truly a paradise found. Heaven on earth. The place where relaxing is required and comes as naturally as breathing, where water, bubbles, sunsets, books, naps, and boats are the only news of note and where giggling and laughing are heard much more than anything except, perhaps, for the sounds of silence.

Even long after our week or two has passed, we can revisit those days simply by opening a scrapbook. We do it often during those dark winter days to relive the light.  

These layouts are some of the title pages of those scrapbooks. Each year seems to take up two volumes and NH always begins the second. Opening a book to see water, mountains and endless sky can always brighten the darkest of the long winter nights.

And those nights are looming ahead even as the lights of the holidays begin to decorate the neighborhood and my own house as well.

Although it takes six hours to drive from New Jersey to New Hampshire, the trip does not really begin until this tree comes into view.  It marks the intersection where our street meets the main road. It had been a tradition in and around the lake to nail a sign to the tree at the end of the street, but that tradition seems to have died out everywhere but here. It provides visitors with an easy landmark and provides those of us lucky enough to have our name on the tree the notice that we had arrived and that we can relax because we are, at last, here.


Layout Notes:

Paradise Found

I did not keep track of the supplies for this list, but I can see that I was using up a bunch of older embellishments when I put this together.  The chipboard pieces all came from the same kit by Deja Views.  The large flower is from Prima, stamped with a swirl acrylic stamp from a forgotten source. The two metal letters are from Making Memories.  The source for everything else is long forgotten.


Once again, there is no record of the source of the supplies in the this layout and I cannot place a single thing here.  The text on the large photograph is courtesy of Photoshop Elements.

At Last

The dragonfly was handmade with wire, a bead, plastic packaging and Ranger Alcohol Inks. The photographs are HDR - High Dynamic Range, edited in Photomatix Essentials.

Supplies: cardstock - Bazzill, Coredinations; tape - Tim Holtz with Ranger Distress Stain for color; stencil - Tim Holtz; modelling paste - mixture of Liquitex Basic Modeling Paste, Golden Gel Medium Glas Bead Gel, Dreamweaver Translucent Embossing Paste and Fold Art Acrylic Paint with US Artquest Mica Delights sprinkled on top; paint - Folk Art; dragonfly - wire (unknown), bead (Fire Mountain Beads and Gems), plastic packaging (on wings), Ranger Alcohol Inks (on wings); chipboard letters - Maya Road; Diamond Glaze; mosaic tiles - unknown; word bands - K and Company; brads - Tim Holtz Mini Brads.


Supplies: cardstock - Bazzill; patterned paper - unknown; border - Cricut; chipboard letters - Basic Grey; paint (on chipboard letters) -  Plaid; paint pen - Viva Paint: metal - Vintaj; metal embossing plates - Vintaj; embossing powder - Ranger Melt Art Ultra Thick Embossing Powder, Hampton Art, A la Mode; metal glaze - Vintaj Glaze Metal Sealer; stamp - Tim Holtz for Stampers Anonymous; ink - Ranger Embossing Ink; marker - Y&C Gel Extreme, sticker letters - Authentique.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Echoes of Summer: Now and Then, Past and Present

The only place where my past and present merge completely is in New Hampshire, at our house on Lake Winnipesaukee.  A few years ago, inspired by a website called Dear Photograph, I merged my past and present by taking pictures of old photographs against the background of the original location.  It was much more difficult than I had anticipated, lining up those photographs of the past with the present.  

It is actually impossible to line up the past and present, but we come close, as close as we can, with our summer trips to NH.

Blowing bubbles on the dock in 1963.  This is my favorite photo from the early days of NH.
I made my first trip to the lake that very first summer, the summer I turned one. My earliest memories are of the water, the sky, the sunsets and the mountains, of the watermelon spitting contests, the bubbles, glass-bottomed boats, and breakfast around an old table with an oilcloth cover, of driving up Mount Washington, riding the cruise ship of the same name, exploring the Polar Caves and shopping in Black's, a store that exists even now. 

We lived without television until my senior year in college and, even then, we could pull in only one grainy station on the old black and white. The old rotary phone, a clunky bakelite antique, still exists in a drawer in one of the bedrooms, but the party line that existed well into my teenage years is long-gone. Only my mother mourned its demise as she fancied spying on the neighbors by listening in on the calls, something she never did. Of course, we often interrupted their calls when we picked up the phone to make our own.

If I were to guess, I would think that these were taken either at Storybook Forest or at Polar Caves in NH around 1966 or 1967.  Dad looks like he is very popular with the four-legged set.
There was a pattern to those days of my childhood that I try to repeat with each visit north. We would wake each morning and discuss the field trip to come. The mornings were spent exploring the area, visiting new attractions and revisiting old friends. Come afternoon, we would sit out on the dock, swim in the water with our feet avoiding the muck on the bottom created by the leaves that fell each autumn or read books that took us around the world. Nancy Drew was a favorite. Around 3pm, my mom would bring down our afternoon snack. If it was, by chance, the beloved watermelon, my brother, dad and I would compete to see who could spit their seeds the furthest.  Dad always won. On rainy days, we played cards on the kitchen table. This is where I learned to play poker, much to my mom's chagrin. We kept pennies in an old metal box which originally stored Band-Aids. That box and those pennies are still in a drawer in the dining room cabinet.

On some days, we would take out a rowboat, a fiberglass miracle that allowed us to see what lurked below. There used to be two of these boats, but only one survives and, for the most part, it stays in the murky basement as no one has sufficient enthusiasm to haul the heavy thing out to the water and then back in. 
After dinner, we might go down "to the bay," the part of our village where everyone went after dinner. We played mini-golf at the Blue Jay or watched the roller skaters and played pinball games at the Pavilion.  The mini-golf was sold and renovated a while ago and the Pavilion is now five condominiums, but the ice cream stand remains, tormenting us even now. At night, my brother and I would lie in bed (we shared a room until I was 12 or so) and "write" letters on the ceiling with a flashlight or just read until we could last no longer.  E.B. White's Trumpet of the Swan was one of the books I distinctly remember reading by flashlight.

In looking at old photos of those days, I can see that not all that much has changed at the camp, though. The rope beds have been replaced with modern, comfortable ones. The old fridge that was a danger to small children everywhere has met the junkyard. The bookshelves in the living room have collapsed and the books have disappeared. Squirrels are no longer able to run through the walls. Some things, like my mother's desk with the built-in blotter, were stolen during the long winters when no one visited. 

But the smell is the same, a mixture of must and pine that I have never found anywhere else. As long as that almost unpleasant aroma exists, it will feel as if nothing has changed. 

These pictures were taken during the summer of 1978, after I was given darkroom equipment for my high school graduation. I not only took these photos, but I processed them as well.
Even when my much younger brother appeared on the scene, the pattern of our days never really changed. We just revisited the attractions of my childhood once again, seeing them through different eyes.  Many are gone, but remnants of those attractions remain in the ones that replaced them.

Recently, we renovated our kitchen cabinets here in NJ and had to pile everything on various surfaces around the house. I put the toaster on the kitchen table. During those few mornings of the renovation, I made toast right there on the table. At the camp, the toaster did not live in the kitchen but on a small table in a corner, next to the dining table. Every morning, my mother would make toast throughout breakfast, popping the slices out, one after another, and we buttered them and added grape jelly, munching on crisp toast along with our eggs. For some reason, that memory has stuck with me as one of the sweetest. I miss the toaster on the table, but relived it for a few days while the dust swirled and the paint splattered in my kitchen.  

Maybe I will put the toaster back on a table in the corner and bring the past into the present on a more permanent basis.

Layout Notes:

Now and Then

Supplies: Patterned Paper - Tim Holtz; punch - Martha Stewart; ribbons - unknown; clock and lake tag - Creek Bank Creations; paint - Ranger Adirondack Paint Dabber, Clearsnap Smooch, Ranger Distress Stain, Ranger Distress Crackle Paint; Martha Stewart Scoring Board; ink - Ranger Distress Ink; buttons - unknown; camera diecut - K and Company; brad - Imaginisce; work stickers - Simple Stories by Memoryworks, Making Memories; chipboard letters - K and Company; lake ticket - Creek Bank Creations; acrylic chip - unknown; marker - Zig.

Bubble Wishes

Supplies: Cardstock - Coredinations/Tim Holtz; patterned paper - Francis Meyers; metal - unknown; embossing plate - Walnut Hollow; clock - Dusty Attic; metal flowers - Imaginisce; acrylic sticker - unknown; dewdrops - Robins Nest; flowers - Tim Holtz Grungeboard; bird diecut - My Minds Eye; ink - Brilliance, Tim Holtz Distress Ink, Versa Mark Dazzle; flowers - Tim Holtz Grungeboard; spray ink - Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist; chipboard letters - Kaiser Craft; paint - Timi Holtz Crackle Paint; button - Memory Makers; word stickers - Authentique; marker - Y&C Gel Extreme; Diamond Glaze; Stickles.

Talk to the Animals

The sun embellishment was made my stamping a foam stamp on to a metal sheet. I then cut out the stamp and dry embossed the image with tools from Hero Arts.  I sprinkled and heated gold and copper embossing powder on the rays and then dotted on dimensional paint.  I did the same on the bear and moose charms and the bear paw and used the same dimensional paint on the border and the tag.  I aged the letters by painting them, covering them with Tim Holtz Crackle paint and rubbing ink into the paint after it dried. The paw was painted with spray ink using a paint brush and then coated with Diamond Glaze.  

Supplies:  cardstock - Basic Grey; patterned paper - Tim Holtz; metal - unknown; foam stamp - unknown; embossing powder; Viva Pearl Pen; die Tim Holtz (tags); metal animals - unknown; chipboard paw - Chip Off the Old Block; markers - Y&C Gel Extreme, Micron; bear charm - Dondero's Rock Shop (N. Conway, NH); embossing tool - Hero Arts; ribbon - unknown; ink- Ranger Distress; gems - Prima; paint - Making Memories; glaze - Distress Crackle Paint, Diamond Glaze

Me and Dad and the Glass-Bottomed Boat

I did not note the supplies used on this layout, but the background paper is from Basic Grey, the markers are my Micron and the acrylic shapes were colored with Ranger Alcohol Inks.


The tree embellishment was made by stamping an image on Stampbord (a stamping surface of hard board with clay), coloring it with ink and then using Stampbord tools to scrape away some of the ink revealing the white clay below.

Supplies: Paper - SEI; paint - Folk Art; markers - Zig. Y&C Gel Extreme; ink - Ranger Distress Ink; tree embellishment - Stampbord, Smooch, Ranger Distress Ink, stamp (Unity Stamp Company), Zig marker; letters - Jillibean Soup.

Family Vacation

Again, I did not keep track of the supplies used on this layout, but the word strip and other patterned paper is from a Tim Holtz paper pack.  The acrylic dots are from Robin's Next.  The metal sun is from Vintaj and was run through a Sizzix machine in a Vintaj embossing folder.  Everything else is a mystery.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Echoes of Summer - At The Camp

Long before I was born, back in a time when life was slower and easier and far less complicated, my grandparents, my dad's parents, acquired a small house on Lake Winnipesaukee that came to be called The Camp. No one seems to know how this name came to be, but when we tell family members we are in New Hampshire, we always say, "We are at the camp."

The camp is a rustic white cabin with forest green trim.  It sits barely fifteen feet from the water's edge. The garage sits only a few inches from the road.  

There are so many things about this cabin that didn't change for years and years. A tree grew through the edge of the roof over the kitchen. It was finally taken down when I was a teenager. The refrigerator sat on the porch - outside. It was the kind that kids could get trapped in as it had a pulldown handle on the front and latched shut. It was not replaced until the mid 1980's. The cellar was terrifying with a sand floor and all kinds of creepy crawly creatures. A real floor went in sometime in the 80's as well. The potable water came from a well.  My brother and I would take a bucket designated for this purpose and walk the twenty feet from the back door out to the well. We would open the door (the well was inside a tiny little shed) and shoo away the spiders and skeet bugs and even the occasional frog, dip the bucket inside and haul it back to the house. It was the most delicious water I have ever tasted and I swear it stayed cold for hours. I do not recall when the well was connected to the house, but I mourn its loss.

There is a bedroom accessed through an exterior door from the kitchen. You go out the door after unlocking it with a skeleton key, go up the stairs and into what we called the annex. It was a terrifying place, but my brother loved it. Now it is plush and comfortable with its own bathroom. It still has no hot water, though. All the beds were wrought iron with rope supporting the mattress instead of a box spring. There was no shower in the downstairs bathroom, just a tub with a hose from the spigot for those who just had to wash their hair. The upstairs bathroom, just a sink and a toilet, had two doors - one into each room. It still does - and it still has the same sink and toilet. 

My mom had six brothers.  Many came up to the lake - to the camp - with their families. Together. Some summers, so I am told, a dozen or more people managed to fit themselves into the four bedrooms. One or two might end up sleeping on the screened-in porch on a bed that did not vanish until sometime in the 1970's. When things got too crowded, my parents bought a very rustic camp well away from the lake at the top of a dirt road for the overflow.  We called this tiny cabin filled with bunkbeds the Eagle's Nest. I cannot even find it anymore although I visited it many times.  
My mom's parents came as well. Until recently, my grandfather's hat still sat on a hook in the downstairs bedroom they used. I do not know when it disappeared, but I wish I had taken a photograph of that hat on that hook. It is just that I figured it would always be there.

I figured many things would never change. I had hoped some, like the well with its bugs and frogs never would though. But, of course, they always do.

Layout and Photo Notes:

Photo Postcard: The technique used to make this postcard was described in the post just preceding this one. Technique courtesy of Chris Peters.

Camp: I created the template or stencil for these tree many years ago, cutting it from a piece of sheet plastic. I have used it many times since. 

Supplies: patterned paper - unknown; cardstock - The Paper Company, Coredinations; ink - Ranger Distress Ink, Versamark; film letters - Heidi Swapp; paint- Plaid; alcohol ink: Tim Holtz/Ranger; rub-ons - Basic Grey; marker - Ek Success, Y&C Gel Extreme; trees - handcut; drangonfly - handcut based upon a stencil from The Stencil Collection; Pearl-Ex: Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Echoes of Summer

Pumpkins have begun to dot the landscape. Leaves have begun to collect on lawns, A jacket is definitely a necessity when I walk the dog in the morning.  Clearly, fall is upon us and summer has come to an end.

Although I much prefer fall and winter to the warmer seasons, my house is filled with little reminders of summer that do not get put away come the cool days of autumn. I use a mug with a moose on it every day. On the shelves of my living room are tchotchkes from summer vacations. There are sweatshirts and t-shirts in our closets advertising one tourist attraction or another. There is a solar windchime on a table in the living room and a glass globe hanging from a wrought-iron hook on another.

They were all purchased in New Hampshire. 

Pictures of New Hampshire serve as the background for my phone and tablet. They are often featured on my Facebook page. One adorns the top of this blog. I check the weather there almost daily.

But, no, I am not obsessed. Well,not too much, anyway.

I have spent part of every summer of my life (with one or two exceptions) on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in the tiny town of Alton Bay on a finger of land known as Echo Point. While I have lived in various places in Massachusetts and New Jersey in my fifty-odd years, this spit of land is the constant. It is the place I call home. When we leave each summer, I always wonder why we do not simply stay there and live. I know why, however. To live there would be to ruin the magic.

So, to hang on to that magic for a little bit longer, I think I will write about those summers in the lake. They began long before I ever came upon this planet and, with luck, my children will be able to enjoy them long after I am gone.  Echo Point isn't going anywhere.

Layout Notes:

Welcome to the Lake

I failed to mark down any of the supplies for this layout. The photo was edited in Photoshop using technique found in an article in the Somerset Studio Gallery Winter 2011 edition, "Vintage Inspired Photo Postcards," written by my good friend and fellow scrapbook artist, Chris Peters. Unfortunately, that edition is sold out. Perhaps I can persuade her to allow me to share it here. Her work can be found at

Echo Point

Supplies: paper - Heidi Swapp; stickers and tags - unknown; acrylic title letters - Heidi Swapp colored with Ranger Alcohol Inks; chipboard title letters - Maya Road covered with patterned paper (unknown source); beads - Blue Moon; mosaic tiles - unknown.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Silence is Deafening

It has been quite a while since I visited this page and wrote a blog post, but it has been a whirlwind of a summer.  My son graduated from high school and then went off to Italy with a friend, staying at the apartment of the friend's aunt and uncle.  I had the good fortune of going off to France with my choral group for a tour celebrating and honoring the sacrifices of those who stormed the beaches at Normandy seventy-years ago.  No sooner had I returned than we all went off on a family vacation to New Hampshire with my husband's siblings and their families.

It was a whirlwind indeed.

And then we returned and the shopping and packing and readying began.  We were readying for our two boys to leave for college and leave me with an empty nest.

And on a cool and cloudy day (thank goodness) in late August, we loaded up the truck (thank goodness for that, too) and our spare junk of a car and headed south on the Garden State Parkway and then the New Jersey Turnpike. It rained a bit (oh, no), but it passed.

When we hit the Delaware Memorial Bridge, I knew this was real, that when I returned to my humble house, it would be empty, empty of boxes and bags, of folding chairs, computers, printers and bins of clothing.  It would be empty of boys.

It was a bit of a confusing afternoon.  My youngest was moving into his freshman dorm, into a room roughly the size of the back of my truck. Managing to find room to stand was no small feat. Managing to fit everything else in was a challenge.  There was barely room for the furniture that came with the room let alone a printer, a small TV and his desk lamp.  This was one seriously small room.

My older son, by comparison, moved into a palace, a gorgeous apartment he was to share with three of his friends.  It has a huge living room/kitchen combination with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. The air conditioning is amazing.  They have a washer/dryer off the kitchen. They each have their own spacious rooms with the biggest closets I have ever seen.  There share two bathrooms.  My house only has two bathrooms. He did, however, have to build his own furniture from Ikea.  So far, it hasn't fallen apart.

My husband and son went off to get the younger one his textbooks while I took the older one to the market for food and to Home Depot to get his brother a desk fan.  The floor fan did not fit in the tiny dorm room.

When the dorm room was finished, it was nearly time for the floor meeting and their first dinner in the dining halls.  We said goodbye and then went off to dinner with my older son.  As a junior, he knew the ropes and didn't need any time to acclimate.

And then there was nothing left to do, but say farewell.  My older son looked at us and asked how parents did it.  He wanted to know how you raise children for eighteen years and then just say goodbye and leave them at college.  I found it an odd question to come from one who was only twenty years old.

But we did it.  We raised them or eighteen years and then we said goodbye and headed north back on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway.

School began this week and I realized that fifteen years of drop-offs, bagged lunches, field trips, permissions slips, books covered in brown paper, parent-teacher conferences, PTA meetings, fundraising events, snow days, summer reading lists, homework, book reports, dioramas, yearbook photos, playdates, field days, soccer games, proms, concerts, report cards and pick-ups are officially over. As Jackson Browne once sang, "They say in the end, it's the wink of an eye."  He would be right.

And the silence in my house is truly deafening.

So long, my lovely boys.  Be well.  Have fun.  Be the best you can be.  This is the time of your life.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Bow Ties and Buttondowns

Today is Father's Day. As with Mother's Day, there are really no words, cards or gifts that can adequately reimburse our parents for what they have given us. Yet, as a parent, I expect no reimbursement. I only want and hope that my kids will become happy, loving adults who carve out lives for themselves filled with years of contentment and occasional moments of pure joy.

My dad just turned 89.  He has had eighty-nine years filled with the excitement and adventure of his youth, the anxiety of his education and working years, the joy (I hope) of fatherhood, and the relaxation of retirement. My brothers and I heard stories of his year of schooling in Switzerland, of learning to fly, of serving in the military during World War II, of becoming a doctor. We remember games of baseball in the back yard, tennis tournaments on local courts, driving to and from the school bus and him bringing us our lunches when we forgot them. We remember best, however, years and years and years of vacations in NH and day trips to parks and beaches and local tourist attractions, amusement parks and museums.

He seemed to do all of these things as if he truly enjoyed them as much as his three children did.

When my dad retired from the practice of medicine exactly 25 years ago, we had a big party with a tent in the backyard and tons of food on a beautiful July day. For his seventieth birthday, my mom threw him another party to which everyone anyone could think of came and celebrated. Little did my mom know that a few weeks later, he went water skiing in New Hampshire on a part of the lake she could not see from their summer house. For his eightieth birthday, we had another party, but on a smaller scale. For his eighty-ninth birthday just three weeks ago, my husband and I visited along with one of my brothers. Our children are scattering, much as we did, and it is getting harder and harder to bring us all together as we once had all those years ago.

People who see pictures of my dad in his button-down shirts and bow ties (I have never seen him in any other kind) tell me he is cute.

And you know what? He is. He still is.


Layout Notes

Me and Dad and the Glass Bottomed Boat

Unfortunately, I did not record the supplies I used for this layout, but it is one of my favorites. The orange shapes are Tim Holtz Fragments colored with Ranger Alcohol inks.

Talk to the Animals

I believe these photos were taken somewhere in NH, but the date and exact location are unknown.

The sun embellishment was made bystamping a foam stamp on to a metal sheet. I then cut out the stamp and dry embossed the image with tools from Hero Arts.  I sprinkled and heated gold and copper embossing powder on the rays and then dotted on dimensional paint.  I did the same on the bear and moose charms and the bear paw and used the same dimensional paint on the border and the tag.  I aged the letters by painting them, covering them with Tim Holtz Crackle paint and rubbing ink into the paint after it dried. The paw was painted with spray ink using a paint brush and then coated with Diamond Glaze.

Supplies:  cardstock - Basic Grey; patterned paper - Tim Holtz; metal - unknown; foam stamp - unknown; embossing powder; Viva Pearl Pen; die Tim Holtz (tags); metal animals - unknown; chipboard paw - Chip Off the Old Block; markers - Y&C Gel Extreme, Micron; bear charm - Dondero's Rock Shop (N. Conway, NH); embossing tool - Hero Arts; ribbon - unknown; ink- Ranger Distress; gems - Prima; paint - Making Memories; glaze - Distress Crackle Paint, Diamond Glaze

Doctor, Grandpa, Father, Friend

I did not record the supplies used in this layout.


Supplies: cardstock - Bazzill, Paper Company; patterned paper - Tim Holtz, Bo Bunny; chipboard letters - Target; chipboard butterfly - Dusty Attic; photo editing software - Photoshop Elements 9; flower medalion - unknown source; paint - Plaid; Stickles; marker - Zig by EK Success.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Wonderment on the Eve of the Wider World

In exactly five days, my son will be a high school graduate, attending the party in the high school gym that the parents put together. This party is a much-anticipated annual event and planning begins in the February of our children's junior year, more than sixteen months in advance. In some towns, it is called Project Graduation. In our town, it is called Grad Ball.

Grad Ball is not a project for the feint of heart. It takes lots of planning, designing, painting, hammering, painting, cutting, painting, pasting, painting and heavy lifting. Did I mention painting? In other words, it takes lots of hard work. Some parents put in hours that add up to days and weeks of effort. I think they go weeks without seeing their children.

It is one of the greatest tangible gifts that the parents in this small town can give to their children.  It is the only gift that all the parents together give to all of the children as a class.

It begins with a meeting at which we twist the arms of two talented couples to become the Grad Ball chairs. Next, more arms are twisted to chair the many committees. Some are tough jobs like running the annual fundraising event, the Beef Steak Dinner, and some are smaller, but just as important and time consuming like gathering each senior's baby picture and framing it for display at the event.

Next comes the most important decision in the life of a senior parent - choosing the theme. One would think choosing a college is more important, but, in truth, it most definitely is not. The choices are narrowed to three and and each chosen parent must build a miniature version of the event. Every skill learned in helping small children create dioramas in a shoebox is put to good use at last. The winning diorama, chosen by popular vote, becomes THE BOX. The box is carefully guarded and secured with a padlock when not being used for reference.

The big fundraising event - with auction items and great food - takes place in November. Work on the decorations begins in January in what is called the Rifle Room. I have no idea where the name came from, but it is jammed with the ghosts of Grad Balls past - signs, posters, boxes, decorations, wall panels, floor boards, cans of paint, and on and on and on. Serious work takes place in the Rifle Room - repainting the wall boards, building the dining tables, creating the decorations. Every night, parents populate the dim low-ceilinged room and have a very good time.

We create collages for ads in a journal that every graduate brings home. It is filled with words of wisdom, wishes and expressions of pride, joy and love. (Some parents wisely choose not to reinvent the wheel from one child to the next!)

Things move into high gear on the Friday before Memorial Day. Construction begins in the gym. The windows are blacked out to prevent senior spies from learning the theme. The floor is covered with tarps and then boards that have seen innumerable Grad Balls and have been trampled on by hundreds of parents and new graduates. The walls are covered with the panels created in the Rifle Room. Suddenly, the gym is not longer a gym, but a giant set.

For the next few weeks, parents labor in the gym to create something magical. One year, Hogwarts rose from the floor. Another year, a TV studio complete with a Cash Cab with a lighted ceiling came to life. Many years ago, the Titanic made its fateful trip once again. This year, well, the theme for this year will just have to wait.

I do not paint or hammer or decorate, but I do photograph.  So, I have many many a trip to the Rifle Room and the gym over the last few weeks to take photos of the progress being made there. With only five days to go, things are moving along quickly as the set takes shape. Not until the lights dim on that last night, however, will the full effect be revealed. Not until that night will the efforts of many parents come to fruition in the most wonderful of ways. 

Sometimes I think that the monies spent on this event could be used for something better, but when I see the friendships that are created from parents working together closely for a common cause, I know it is worth it. When the set rises from the floor of the gym for an event that will keep our children safe and under our watchful eyes, I know it is worth it. When I realize that this will be the very last time that all the kids in this class will be together before going off into the wider world, I know it is worth it. When I see the look of wonderment on the faces of our usually jaded teenagers, I know it is worth it. 

It is worth every single penny that was raised, donated, haggled over and spent. It is the last thing that we parents do together for our children, the event we have been waiting 13 years to help create, an event that we had hoped, somehow, would stay somewhere off in the future and never really arrive. 

Layout Notes


The story of this event in on the card in the pocket just under the title.

Supplies: cardstock - Recollections, Paper Company; chipboard letters - Pressed Petals; paint - Ranger Paint dabers, Viva Paint Pen; ribbons slides - Making Memories; glitter - Ranger Stickles; marker - Micron; other - invitation, journal ad; tape - Queen and Company.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

On the Side of Living

Eiffel Tower
If you look very closely at this photograph, you will see from the cars that it was not taken recently or even anytime in this millenia. In fact, this picture dates back forty years to my childhood when I had the good fortune of being in the right place at the right time.

I had the pleasure of going to France when I was thirteen.  Without my parents, but with my friends and my favorite teacher.

In the sixth grade, I started studying French. My teacher was a French native whose name, Mr. Dupuis, was quite simply the most perfect name for a language teacher that I could imagine. He was the curmudgeonly type, growling at our horrible accents and terrible memories, but he had his moments.  That first year, he collected popsicle sticks from the students at recess (we could buy frozen confectionary treats in a store run by the eighth graders) and took the entire school year to build an Eiffel Tower. The next year, he built a guillotine and even added a little piece of copper for the blade. He used to threaten that he would cut off our tongues if our pronunciation did not improve.  Oddly enough, he did not return the next year.

That was where the eighth and ninth graders in my school got lucky. Mr. Dupuis was replaced by Miss Fitzgerald. She had plans. Big plans. She decided to put together a trip to France during spring vacation. I asked my parents to let me go. They cited the fact that my confirmation was to take place in the middle of the trip as the reason to say no. They argued that I could go always go the following year. I hardly ever asked my parents for anything, but I begged and pleaded and made a general nuisance of myself. They relented. Good thing, too, since there was never another trip. Another teacher took over the French program the following year.

Pont Neuf and Notre Dame Cathedrale - 1974
And so I went. We flew to France in April of 1974 with my French teacher, my wonderful and beloved homeroom teacher and my classmates. We saw all of Paris. We saw the chateaux of the Loire Valley. We saw the beaches and cemeteries of Normandy. We visited what I consider the most beautiful place on earth - Mont St. Michel. Each graduate from that particular school had to create what was called a copper plaque that was hung on the walls of the school. Mine hangs there still.  

This trip created a monster. I became someone who loved to travel. I became a francophile. I continued studying French through high school and into college. After graduating, a friend and I went to England, Ireland and France, visiting all the places I did not see in 1974. I have been back with my husband, three times. I bought a pair of shoes that last time in 1996 without uttering a single word in English. I have them still.

Mont St. Michel - 1974
It has been more than 17 years since I last saw Paris. I miss my favorite place on this planet.

Let me digress. I sing with a regional chorus here in northern New Jersey.  In 1989, we went on a horrible cut-rate tour of Italy that was absolutely awesome. Thereafter, children came along and those wonderful trips were no longer a possibility. In the last twelve years, members of my chorus have gone on tours of Prague, the Czech Republic, Austria, China and Australia - twice. I stayed home, seething with jealousy because I could not visit places I had yet to explore.

This summer - in just six weeks - the chorus venturing off on a tour of my beloved France. My children are now 18 and 20. They really do not need me for much of anything anymore except car keys and cash. So, I have been brushing up on my rusty French, buying black clothes and comfortable sandals, airing out the luggage and making plans. I am going back to France. One woman from that fateful trip to Italy is coming as well. We will celebrate the 25th anniversary of that trip (and of my 29th birthday) in Rouen, France.

Vivre-Live (Art Journal Page)
Many years ago, my mother gave me a fairly plain silver bangle bracelet. Engraved on this bracelet are the words, "Il faut vivre and non pas seulement exister."  We must live and not merely exist. I am definitely in favor of living.

And that bracelet is coming with me to France. I plan on wearing it - every day.

Art Journal Page Notes

I created this page in anticipation of the trip to France coming in July in my Smash/Art Journal.

Supplies: Smash Book - EK Success; paint - Plaid, Ranger Paint Dabbers, Liquitex Acrylic Color; ink - Ranger Archival Ink, Ranger Distress Ink; embossing powder - Ranger, Sparkle and Sprinkle; stencils - Simon Says Stamp, Stampers Anonymous, unknown; modeling paste - Liquitex Basics, Dreamweaver Translucent Emobssing Paste; letter stamps - My Sentiments Exactly; stamps - Stampers Anonymous/Tim Holtz, unknown (Paris postmark, fleur-de-lis); mica pieces - unknown; images - downloaded from the internet (altered in Photoshop). 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Everyday Beautiful

Although I have graced this planet for over fifty years, no one would ever accuse me of being the sharpest knife in the drawer. On the other hand, I am hardly a dim bulb either, but you would never be able to tell that from the fact that there has been a glaring fact of my life that I did not notice until about a year ago.

I grew up on Bay Point Road.  I summer on Echo Point Road.  They both have point in the name. 

Nope. I never noticed that until, as I said, a year ago. See?  Dim.

But let me get to the point.  Those two points are quite possibly the most beautiful places I have ever seen and I have seen a fair amount of places. I do not mean Alps beautiful or Norwegian fjords beautiful or Inside Passage beautiful. I have seen all three and that kind of beautiful takes your breath away and makes you wish you had a better camera and a longer vacation, more money and retirement on the horizon.

No. I mean everyday beautiful. The kind of beautiful you live with and love every day.  The kind of beautiful that you miss when you visit that other world beautiful. The kind of beautiful that means home and peace and contentment.  The kind of beautiful that means family and parents and cousins and friends, games and picnics and barbecues and sleeping under the stars on hot summer nights in the years before air conditioning. The kind of beautiful that makes you remember climbing trees and riding bikes and drinking lemonade on the back steps, watching it snow and sledding on the hills and snowball fights. It is the kind of beautiful that you have to work for by mowing the lawn, washing the floors and replacing lost shingles, by planting the flowers, shovelling the snow, and sweeping the deck. Not extraordinary beautiful. Just everyday beautiful. 

I may not live on a point anymore, but I get to visit.  And both of those points scream home to me. They are the best beautiful of all.

Layout Notes


These photos were taken from the point in the first photograph.  It dates back many years so I did not record the supply information.  However, I recognize the letters as old ones from Making Memories. Mica can be obtained from US Artquest.  It was probably painted with Plaid Paint.  The sand effect in the background was most likely a spray paint called something like "Make It Sand." I have no idea where those gold shell stickers came from.

Echo Point

Supplies: paper - Heidi Swapp; stickers and tags - unknown; acrylic title letters - Heidi Swapp colored with Ranger Alcohol Inks; chipboard title letters - Maya Road covered with patterned paper (unknown source); beads - Blue Moon; mosaic tiles - unknown.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

We Love Rock and Roll

When I was a little girl, it seemed that everyone took music lessons of one kind or another - piano, violin and flute lessons seemed the way to go, but not at my house. As a little girl, I was forced to take organ lessons. You read that right. Organ lessons. In my house. At the organ my parents bought and plopped in the living room. It was eleven years (yes, eleven long years) of abject torture. For, you see, I had absolutely no aptitude for the organ.

Here's the problem. An organ, unlike a piano, has three keyboards at a minimum. There is the top keyboard for the right hand, the bottom keyboard for the left hand and the pedals on the floor - a keyboard for your feet.  Add that to that the volume pedal and all the stop buttons to change the sound of the organ from flute to oboe to whatever and you have a recipe for disaster.

Every Monday evening from September through June, I had a 30-minute lesson with a lovely older gentleman, Mr. Robinson. He drove up in his blue VW Bug and charged $4 for each lesson. It was the 1970's, after all. My brother, younger by four years, went first once his lessons began (he was even worse than I was) and then it was my turn. At twelve, it was even more horrible because it meant that I missed the second half of Little House on the Prairie. In fact, I missed the second half of Little House until I graduated from high school. It was utterly, totally and completely unfair when by brother's lessons stopped upon my graduation as well. Even worse is the fact that my much younger brother was never subjected to this misery. He never took a lesson in his life.

College was, therefore, a heavenly and liberating experience. No more lessons! After a year, however, I decided to try something new, something different. I signed up for piano lessons. So much for new and different. However, having two hands on one keyboard and none on the floor was so much easier. Still, I had no aptitude for the instrument and when the word "recital" was mentioned, that was the end of that.

Years later, my children came along.  My parents waited and waited for the lessons to begin, but I simply could not do that. Then, one day, they asked for lessons. I wanted to cheer. Wait, what kind of lessons was that you just asked for? Guitar lessons. Of course, my children had succumbed to the pressure of rock n' roll. 

That was seven or eight years and three instructors ago. We started accumulating guitars - lots and lots of guitars. This layout does not even begin to touch how many we have now.

We visited the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City instead of going to our old standby, the ESPN Zone which is now long gone.

Both of my kids and even my drum-playing husband took lessons. My husband is an old dog who did not take well to the new tricks although he refuses to give up. My older son is pretty good, but prefers to play only for himself although he did once perform in a talent show. My younger son, however, well, he is a different story altogether.

He has a talent. Even I can tell the kid knows what he is doing. And I am not saying that just because I am his mom. He has demonstrated it time and time again. He attended rock band camp for four summers, performing a variety of songs in a restaurant with his new friends and instructors at the end of each week.

As a sophomore, he played in the school talent show.  Last spring, he and some friends put together a band to pay at our high school's version of Woodstock, called Glen Stock.  At the beginning of the school year, the same group performed in a fundraising event for an education foundation.  Right this very moment, he is practicing for this year's version of Glen Stock set for early June.

But soon, the lessons and performances will come to an end.  There will be silence in my house come September. I will have to go around dusting all the guitars that are going to live, quietly, in the empty rooms of missing boys.

As for all those organ and piano lessons?  Well, they did not go entirely to waste. Those skills come in handy - at rehearsals for my chorus, a chorus I have been singing with for almost 28 years.  But the story of that odyssey is an adventure to be told on another day.


Layout Information


This layout dates back to 2008 before I kept track of all the supplies I used.  What struck me about these photos is that my boys were wearing clothes that were the opposite of the color of their shorts, hence the title.

Guitar Guys

This layout is even older, but I do recall many of the supplies here.  The paper and title are by Basic Grey - their original set of papers and letters.  The guitar is from EK Success.  The staples are by Making Memories.  I have no idea where the acrylic words came from. The Fender sticker came in some guitar order or another. The wires, however, are from actual guitars. When my husband changed his guitar strings one day, I kept a few to use on a layout.

Hard Rock Cafe

Another layout that pre-dates my keeping track of the supplies, but I do recall that those chipboard letters, those very old letters, were by Making Memories.

Rock Star (single page)

I doodled a lot of this layout and make the guitar picks from chipboard scraps.  I traced a guitar pick and then cut them out, inked them and embossed them with embossing powder.  The same was done with the letters.

Supplies: patterned paper - 7 Gypsies; chipboard rectangles - unknown; chipboard picks - handcut from scraps; chipboard letters - Fancy Pants; gesso - Liquidtex; ink - Ranger Distress Stains; embossing ink - Versamark; embossing powder - Judikins; guitar diecut - Cricut; quotation stamp - Tim Holtz; marker - Micron, Y&C Gel Extreme.

Rock Star (second one - double page)

I did not seem to keep track of the supplies for this layout. I must have done it at a crop.  However, the circles are Tim Holtz Grungeboard, inked, heat embossed and dotted with Ranger Dimensional Paints and Viva Paints.  The title and stickers must be from EK Success.  The paper is Bazzill stamped with a stamp I cannot identify.

Glen Stock

This is another layout from a crop. If I recall, the chipboard shapes are from Blue Fern, covered with a thick layer of Stickles. I also coated the title letters (source unknown) with Stickles.  It took forever to dry.  The metal tape is from US Artquest and the fortune is from Anima Designs.  The band ticket is from Creek Bank Creations.  As for the rest, I have no idea. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The End and the Beginning

I love looking back at things my family has done in our scrapbooks. Even if the events are fresh in my mind, looking back always gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

When I get to the end of the year in the annual scrapbook, I used to take all the index prints from Shutterfly, cut them up and paste down up to 100 photos on two pages.  Index prints are the teeny, tiny images of each photo I order on the site, about 20 photos on each 4x6 print. Shutterfly, though, stopped making index prints early last year.  Try as I might, I could not get them to send them to me.  So, I had to create my own.  It was no mean feat, but there is no point in going through a tedious process that involved flash drives, Photoshop, and a printer which refused to print on photo paper.

I spent a fair amount of time looking through a year's worth of photos from 2013.  I remembered most things, but, nonetheless, seeing those pictures again put a smile on my face and reminds me that it was a very good year.  Since I count none but sunny hours, only the good remains as the old year turns into the new. There were more photos of scenery and landscapes than of people since my boys cut and run when I take out the camera, but that is how things were before my boys came along anyway.  What goes around, comes around, right?

At any rate, I ended up with about 90 teeny, tiny photos printed on plain old copy paper and a bunch of tickets from movies, concerts and museums.  Everything ended up on just two pages - a year in review.  Some events were more memorable than others, but I love every page and every photo.

And, now, we move on to 2014. . . .

(Okay, I admit it.  Three of those photos are from 2013, of course, but it matters not since I will probably take ones almost identical to these in the months to come.)


Layout Notes:

2013: Supplies and Sources

cardstock - unknown; snowflake - unknown (holiday decoration); trees - Studio Calico with paint - Plaid, Diamond Glaze; leaf button - Blumenthal; chipboard flower- Dusty Attic with paint - Viva, Ranger Adirondack Dimensional Paint; mountain chipboard - Tim Holtz Grungeboard with Ranger Distress Ink and Diamond Glaze; holly - unknown; metal flower - Making Memories; chipboard numbers - unknown; paint - Plaid, Ranger Paint Dabber; marker - Y and C Gel Extreme; other - tickets.

2014: Supplies and Sources

cardstock - unknown; patterned paper - Bo Bunny; chipboard letters - handcut based upon Magistical Memories font; stamp - Stampers Anonymous; markers - Y and C Gel Extreme; paint - Ranger Paint Dabbers, Plaid.

Please note that this layout was "scraplifted" directly from a layout I found on Pinterest that can be found at this location:  I could not find the original source, but would like to give credit to the creative spark that inspired the cover page of my 2014 album. If I ever find it the original source, I will edit this post.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Moving On Up

In just 48 hours, my years of mothering, technically, come to an end for my younger son will turn, gasp, 18.

Turning 18 doesn't mean what it once did.  When I was 18, it was the legal age for drinking. Still, though, he will be old enough to fight for his country and vote for the politicians that send our men and women to war. It means the end of the halcyon days of high school although I am sure no high school student sees those as their halcyon days and won't for a very long time.

Birthdays have never been a major holiday in our house.  Sure, when the boys were little we had the usual parties although we never got more complicated than an event at Chuckie Cheese or the local gymnastics school. We never hired a clown (God forbid) or tried to out do the party that came before.  No ponies. No bouncy houses. No caterers.  It seems, though, that there was always lots of pizza and cupcakes.

As the boys got older, we had a couple of sleepovers which I absolutely despised and was relieved when those went out of fashion.  Movies and dinner seemed popular and, as parents, we really liked not having a dozen or so teenage boys running around our house.

So, in just two day, my nearly six-foot son will be eighteen and I just have to wonder once again, as I seem to do every day, where did the years go? I could swear he was just eight only yesterday.


Layout Notes - As many of these layouts came before I kept track of supplies, I have but one list - for the day my Andrew turned 16.

Supply List for "16": patterned paper - Paper Company, BoBunny; cardstock - Bazzill; corrugated paper - unknown; jewels - Michael's (blue and silver), unknown (gems); green diecut paper - Bazzill Doilies; chipboard letters - Magistical Memories; tassel - EK Success; stamp - Glitz It Now; paint - Plaid; glitter - Ranger Stickles.