Thursday, February 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday: "Snow" More!

2004 - Clearly, another snowy winter. . . .

I just posted an old photo on Facebook as an infrequent participant in the grassroots movement known as "Throwback Thursday." So, I decided to start my own blog version by posting old layouts on Thursdays. We'll see how long this lasts, but it is worth a shot.
I am sitting here at my crafting table, in front of my decrepit laptop, enjoying the sunshine just outside the window and wondering when, or if, I will ever see the grass in my backyard again. There are tiny pockets of brown vegetation here and there - brown leaves, brown branches, brown grass - but nothing green, nothing that says spring is coming.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am among a small - very small - minority of people who think this has been the best winter in a very long time. Frequent storms. Snow measured in feet and inches. Good stuff. The anticipation of snow makes me giddy. My friends have been cursing me for weeks now, blaming me as the reason for this particular winter season.

Now, it really could just keep on snowing but for one tiny little thing.  I sing in a chorus. It is a regional chorus here in northern New Jersey. Our membership runs to about 80 singers. We lose a few in the winter - to Florida, to warm homes without dangerous sidewalks, to Italy even - but we soldier on, we few who are left.  

And we have a concert in one week. Mother Nature has already played havoc with our schedule. we cancelled once due to extreme cold. Then we cancelled due to extreme snow. And, now, another kaboom of snow may interfere with concert week.  Seriously?  

So, in the hope of either moving that storm up a day or so or forcing it to go away altogether, I an posting two old layouts of winters without snow. With the first, from 2008, I hoped to remind Mother Nature that snow was in order. (And, yes, I sewed all those sequins and beads on to the paper.  What was I thinking?).

This layout from 2006 was another desperate attempt to enjoy a winter that wasn't.  This tree is in a neighbor's yard.  One very foggy morning when I went out for the paper, I snapped the photo on the left and then spent a good deal of time playing with the various filters in Photoshop, having a darned good time.

There are other old layouts with winters without snow and other with more snow that could be imagined - even ones better than this - but they predate the purchase of our scanner and I adhere to the principal of never going back.  I remember one in particular. It was April and I took photos of our deck furniture, the tulips and daffodils, the kids toys on the deck - all covered in snow.  I titled it, "10 Reasons Why It Cannot Snow in April."  The tenth reason?  I had run out of winter scrapbook embellishments. 

Enough said.


Layout Notes:  Both these layout predate my listing the supplies in the file notes in Photoshop so I cannot tell the source of any of the supplies.  It matters not since none of them are available anymore anyway!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunshine in a Snowy Winter

I had the pleasure and the privilege of growing up on the water. Even though I am landlocked now here in northern New Jersey, I only need to grab a scrapbook to find myself back on the waves. 

As a little girl, I spent my summers at the town beach, first paddling through the waves and making sandcastles, then taking swimming lessons, all with a lovely view of the electric company across the way. At the time, we did not live on the water, but it was always close by, always nearly visible. We summered in New Hampshire on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee (still do) on a spit of land called Echo Point. When I was twelve, my family moved down the street and around the corner to a house right on the water with a view of Mount Hope Bay. The beach was so rocky that we always wore sneakers when we swam. The water was always hot because of that electrical generating plant that spewed its boiling run-off into the bay. Mercifully, those days are over, but we still occasionally find the globs of tar that used to wash up on the beach. It was yet another reason for us to wear those old Keds.

Now, as I said, I am landlocked.  We only visit the Jersey Shore when the crowds have left. We have not been there since last winter when, I confess, we went to see the destruction Sandy had wrought.

We do not often get to visit my parents with our jobs, our old house, our innumerable activities, and our teenage boys and their active lives. Nevermind the crazy dog. Coming back to this view when we do visit, however, makes time stand still.  It is as if the last 35 years never happened. This view has not changed in all that time.  Both my husband and I stop, grab our cameras and run outside on clear, sharp evenings as the sun begins to descend below the horizon to take photograph after photograph of a view we have seen dozens if not hundreds of times, of a view we hope to see many more times in the future. 

These pictures were taken in November, after the clocks had been changed to shorten the days and the trees had shed their leaves. For some reason, the sunsets here in the summer are not nearly as startlingly beautiful as they are in the winter.  It must be the crisp air or the cold water.  Either way, long after we are all gone, this sunset will remain just as it was on this Thanksgiving evening.


Layout Information

Supplies: patterned paper - Fancy Pants (blue), unknown (blue/orange); cardstock - Tim Holtz/Coredinations; acrylic circles - Fire Mountain Bead and Gem; paint - Ranger Dimensional Paint, Viva Paint Pens, Plaid, Ranger Distress Stain; wooden shape - Michael's; marker - Micron, Y and C Gel Extreme; sticker letters - Simple Stories.

I painted the bottom of the translucent circles to maintain their color integrity. After gluing items like this onto the paper, the color usually changes because of the color of the paper underneath. Painting them white or the same color as the chip prevents that.  The dots were made with a Viva Paint Pen.  Flicking the bottom of the paper after adding the paint, flattens out the dots and makes them more uniform.  It also eliminates the points that tend to form on paint dots. The white frames around the photos was made by sanding the edges with a cardboard nail file.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

More From The Mad House

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the crazy puppy who has taken over our house.  Her name is Rooney.  She is nine months old. Her cuteness is about the only thing that keeps me from showing her the door and thrusting her out into the snow that is everywhere here in the northeast.

About a month ago, Rooney returned from a two-week training program that we joked was more akin to boot camp, juvenile detention or a military academy.  For a while, she was a changed beast - she came when called, she did not pull on her leash, and she did not jump on teenage boys.

One thing, however, did not change - her fondness for paper.  She will eat any kind of paper - bills (well, that's not so bad, actually), college acceptance letters (only one), paper towels from the trash (usually covered with paint or ink or glue), magazines left on a bed (my college alumnae magazine in which I had an essay), receipts (supermarket, Michael's, Sports Authority), etc., etc., etc.  Her all time favorite, however, is the paper in this photo - toilet paper.

This evil but agile creature can sneak into the bathroom, jump up on the sink, snatch the toilet paper from the recessed little hold above the faucet and flee into the spare bedroom where she will shred the toilet paper into about a million little pieces that are just a wee bit too big for the vacuum, but too small to pick up with your hands. She does all this in less than 30 seconds. Seriously, thirty seconds.

Oddly enough, however, she only takes the toilet paper from one of our three bathrooms.  She ignores the paper in the master bath and the powder room.  In both of those rooms, we can keep the toilet paper on the holder on the wall. No, she steals it only from the boys' bathroom, the boys' lavender bathroom.  I am wondering if, perhaps, she has an aversion to lavender tile or is perhaps offended by the fact that boys are using a bathroom that was probably intended for girls back when it was constructed in 1933. This is, of course, a mystery that will never be solved.

But is it any wonder that we buy toilet paper in bulk every time the weather report includes snow?  While others stock up on milk and bread and comfort food, we stock up on toilet paper.  Go figure.

Layout Information

Supplies: cardstock - unknown (black), Bazzill (green); chipboard - handcut (some arrows), Blue Fern; chipboard letters - Maya Road (small), Cloud 9 Designs (large); paint - Folk Art, Ranger Paint Dabbers; marker - Y and  Gel Extreme; Pearl-Ex; Stickles; sticker letters (in heart bubble) - unknown.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Beginnings and Endings, Firsts and Lasts

First Day of Kindergarten - Last Day of High School

I remember a few years back when my youngest was really still a baby, I got to thinking about beginnings and endings and firsts and lasts.

You always know the first time you do something - climb a tree, get a job, kiss a boy, get your driver's license. It is often something you will never forget, an historic moment indelibly etched in your memory. However, you hardly ever know when you will be doing something for the last time - see a loved one, go on a trip, visit your favorite place. This thought popped into my head when I realized, many years ago, that my younger son had stopped drinking from a baby bottle. It was not something we did consciously. We started giving him sippy cups with meals. Then, one night, he went to bed without a bottle. We just forgot. He did not complain. A few days passed before I realized that I had not washed a bottle in a few days.  We had reached that milestone - no more bottles. It was an event to celebrate with the disposal of all those plastic monstrosities, things I would never need to use again. Of course, other lasts followed, but there were so many more memorable firsts - first steps, first day of pre-school, first day of kindergarten, first summer camp, first airplane ride, first trip to Disney World, first Broadway Show, first cruise (Alaska - highly recommended), first college visit, first girlfriend. . . .

That little boy is not-so-little anymore at almost 18, a high school senior, but a string of lasts loom before us - his last prom, his last exams, his last day of school, his last summer as a kid. I have probably already driven him to school for the last time. He even drove himself on this morning after a large, but messy snowfall. But there may still be a few firsts to come including that first big fat envelope, the one that indicates (thank God) that he will indeed be moving out at the end of August.

This envelope arrived in the middle of November, sooner than anticipated.  Our mail arrives around noon.  I sent a text to my son, urging him to come home during his lunch period because there was a BIG FAT ENVELOPE for him.  His response? "U can open it." Seriously?  I mean, sure, we all knew what it was. We had seen the same envelope before with his older brother so there was hardly any mystery here, but I was kind of hoping he would be excited to know that HE WAS IN!  HE WAS GOING TO COLLEGE! But, no, since we all knew what it was, I could open it. Besides, this was his safety school - last on his list of six.

My response?  "I will not. Photo op."  Parents need every photo opportunity that comes their way when children, well, boys, hit the terrible teenage years and cameras become the enemy.

And there we have another last - the last time your children will cooperate when the camera comes out. You won't know when that day will come, but it will and taking photos ever thereafter will become a chore, one they may come to appreciate in thirty years or so.

Since that day in November, three other envelopes have arrived.  Some were fat and some were thin, but all said congratulations on the letter. One had that precious word right there on the bright yellow envelope in electric blue letters. You couldn't miss it.  The whole neighborhood could see it. That was probably the only big fat envelope that would really count in the end.

There are parents all over town, indeed, all over the country, lamenting these lasts that are to come in the next few months. But it is the one that comes August or September that will really be the most difficult - that day you drop off your child at his first dorm before his orientation and his first day of college or first day of whatever comes next.  For him or her, this will be an exciting first, but for many parents, like my husband and I, it will be a last - the last day before the nest empties.

My nest is only half-empty right now in this snowy February in the middle of this long and cold winter. It was bad enough sending my older son off to the University of Delaware in August 2012, but when his brother (probably, maybe, please?) joins him come this August, well, that is a first and a last I am not quite ready to think about yet.


Layout Notes:

First Day/Last Day. I photoshopped a picture of my son from his first day of Kindergarten into a photo of him as we left for his graduation.  Supplies: photoediting software - Adobe Photoshop Elements; patterned paper - Pink Paislee; chipboard gear - Leaky Shed; clock charms - K and Company; numbers - Tim Holtz Grungeblocks; paint - Plaid; watchparts - unknown source (broken up junk watches); Diamond Glaze; ink - Ranger Distress Ink, Tsukinecko, Color Box; masks - Tim Holtz; spray ink - Tattered Angles Glimmer Mist; paper tape - Tim Holtz; journaling spot - EK Success; number brads - EK Success; sticker letters - Studio K; marker - Micron; metal tape - US Artquest.  

The First Big Fat Envelope.  Supplies: cardstock - unknown; light bulb - Anima Designs; wordband - Tim Holtz; pen ibs - Tim Holtz; clock ring - 7 Gypsies; paint - Deco Art, Ranger Adirondack; Ranger Distress; tape - 7 Gypsies; ticket - Tim Holtz; ink - Ranger Distress, Ranger Archival; stamp letters - Stuido G/Hero Arts; marker - Y and C Gel Extreme, Micron; brads - Doodlebug, Tim Holtz, unknown; metal letters - Making Memories; chipboard letters - Kaiser Craft, Heidi Swapp. Border supplies: sheet metal - Ranger; embossing folder - Tim Holtz; typewriter die - Tim Holtz; glaze - Diamond Glaze, Ranger/Vintaj Glaze; ink - Ranger Alcohol Inks; chipboard lock - Tim Holtz Grungeboard; chipboard quotation marks - unknown; chipboard clock - Dusty Attic; chipboard arrow - Blue Fern; key - unknown; gearsandother keys - Prima, Bead Landing, Michael's, 7 Gypsies, unknown.

Go.  Supplies: background paper - peeled from corrugated cardboard sheet of Creative Memories packaging; cardstock - unknown; patterned paper - SEI; stamps - Stapers Anonymous, Glitz-It Now; wooden typewriteres - Prima; chipbaord doors - Maya Road; paint - Ranger; diecut paper - Basic Grey; font - Microsoft Word; ink - Ranger Distress Ink; marker - Micron; chipboard parenthesis - Creative Imaginations; wooden letters - Pink Paislee; sticker letters - Authentique.