Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Growing Up

Somewhere in their early teens, my boys decided they wanted to grow their hair a little longer, then a little longer and then a little more. When they were still in their early teens, it was cute. I liked it. They have such great hair that it seemed a shame to cut it off. Besides, short hair was for grown-ups and kids who played sports, for serious people. My boys were not yet serious people.

For a while there, it was getting really long. A little too long for my liking. But I had unusual children. They never got into trouble at school. They (usually) did as they were told. They called me and told me where they were and where they were going. They came home on time. They dressed fairly neatly although their rooms were generally a disaster area. One, until very recently, was very nearly a toxic waste site requiring hazmat suits for entrance.

So, I picked my battles and decided their hair was not going to be one of those battles. I figured they would eventually decide that long hair was too much trouble, that it was for younger kids, that they looked silly even though they had magnificent hair.

My older son's hair is red, an extraordinary shade of red, dark and shiny.  Up close, it is white, red, black, blond and even, here and there, grey. The effect is one that you cannot get from a bottle.

My younger son's hair was once red, but turned brown as he got older. Yes, it is mousy brown, but it is so thick that I do not believe his scalp has seen the light of day since his bald birth.

As the years of long hair went by, they would go for haircuts, but they were few and far between. I would urge them to go short, but they were having none of it. My older son graduated from high school and went off to college with his hair still below his ears. His classmates had moved on to shorter cuts, but he did not seem to notice or he just did not care.

My younger son, well, there I had more luck, but it was none of my doing. His hair was beginning to annoy him because he played soccer. It got in his face. It drove him nuts. He cut it during the summer between his junior and senior years. Varsity soccer players do not have long hair.

Then, the unheard of happened.  A player on his team was felled by an unknown heart ailment - in the middle of the game.  He was revived on the field after many anxious, endless moments. A couple of days later, all the boys had his number carved into their hair. It was touching and sweet and the boy, recovering, loved it. I hated it. It was, unbelievably, too short for my taste. My younger son liked it and never went back.

And still, my older son held on to his longer hair.

Until. Yes, until he came home for Thanksgiving. He knew he needed a haircut.  He asked me to make an appointment at the salon all the boys go to (never the barber shop). I did. Then, he dropped the bombshell I had been waiting for.  He had decided it was time. He was almost twenty. It was time for him to join the ranks of grown-ups and cut off his hair. He let me take a before photo.  He let me take an after photo. Oddly, he had the same expression on his face for both photographs. He was transformed from teen to adult in the space of thirty minutes.

I was thrilled. I was overjoyed. I was shocked and saddened and horrified.

My days of being a mom to kids and then to teens were very nearly over.  My children were not little boys anymore.

And I did not like it, not one little bit.

Layout Notes

First, let me emphasize that I scraplifted the basic idea for this layout from an image in a magazine, specifically, the idea and location for the chevrons which are popular elements that I never really liked, but worked in this context.  I have no idea which magazine it came from or the identity of the scrapbook artist. I cut the photos out of the magazines and keep them in a folder.  Whoever you are, thank you. The rest, however, is entirely of my own design.

The metal sheets for the arrows/chevrons and the corner embellishment were run through a Sizzix machine in a Vintaj embossing folder.  I sprinkled on embossing powder, avoiding the raised areas, and heated them from below. When they cooled, I inked them with embossing ink, sprinkled on a generous amount of clear embossing enamel and heated them. I colored the spinner for the clock in a similar manner.

The letters are chipboard that I painted silver. Then I embossed them with the same blue embossing powder.  The paint bubbled a bit revealing the silver color.  Worked for me.

Supplies: cardstock - Bazzill; patterned paper - unknown (green, polkadots), Making Memories (tag paper); clock - Michael's; spinner - Tim Holtz; fabric tags - Prima (house), unknown (blue); sheet metal - unknown; embossing folder - Vintaj; embossing powder - Judikins; chipboard letters - Kaiser Craft; ticket - Tim Holtz; ink - Ranger Distress Ink; paint - Ranger Distress Stain; brad - unknown; marker - Micron.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday: The Camp

It was warm like spring just two days ago. Now, it is cold and incredibly windy, making it even colder. Only thoughts of summer and vacations in New Hampshire seem to warm me up on this blustery day that has no business being in the middle of March.

I have lived in many place - southeastern Massachusetts, western Massachusetts (college), Boston (grad school) and northern NJ.  I have called all these places home, but only one place has remained constant, only one place is really home and it is the one place at which I have spent the least amount of time.  Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.

Since before I can remember, my family in its various incarnations has spent a week or two in Alton, NH, in a house we affectionately call "the camp" for a reason I can either no longer remember or for no reason at all.

When I was a tiny one, my parents, my mom's parents and her brothers and their families would trek from Massachusetts to the lake, to the house that my father's father bought back in the 1920's.  The drive that takes two hours now, took over four back in the 1960's.  We would be jammed into every nook and cranny in the three bedrooms and the "annex," a little room perched over the garage that was up a flight of outdoor stairs accessed by a door in the kitchen. There got to be so many of us that my parents bought a little cabin in the woods and filled it with bunk beds so that everyone could come. 

I have only the vaguest recollection of those days, but even now, my grandfather's hat sits on a hook in the bedroom he and my grandmother used although they have been gone for over 40 years. The beds did not have boxsprings, but ropes to hold the mattress. There was no TV. The refrigerator was on the porch, not in the kitchen. We could hear chipmunks running in the walls.  And we loved every minute of it.

By the time I hit my teens, only my immediate family went to the lake.  We would spend the mornings on field trips to local attractions and the afternoons swimming or paddling the rowboat or just lying on the dock.  Around 3pm, my mom would bring down watermelon and would we compete to see who could spit the seeds the furthest.

When I went off to grad school and my brother went off to college, we stopped going to the lake. We were too cool to spend our time in a house that didn't have a shower and didn't have water you could drink.  I was too cool to sleep in a bed without a boxspring.

Years passed. My parents sold the cabin in the woods. The camp began to have seen better days.

I got married. I was suddenly old enough to appreciate what I thought as a teen was lame and boring. In 1987, my husband and I decided to go to the lake to see the foliage, but we found we could not stay at the camp. Work was needed. And so work was done. No more hauling drinkable water.  A shower was put in the bathroom. Walls and ceilings were replaced.  A new kitchen was put in - one with a refrigerator inside the house.

But the essential feeling of the camp remained. 

And then a new generation came to the lake.  It was my husband's family - his siblings and their children - who made the trek from NJ to the NH with my husband and my two boys. My parents bought a second house - one that is accessible for older adults - and so we crammed ourselves into every nook and cranny once again. Those were the golden years when we would go north the day after school ended for a week and then again for a couple of weeks in August with everyone in tow.  And we all had an amazing time. 

But now, things are changing again.  That next generation is in college or grad school.  They do not want to go to the lake for, you see, they are too cool to hang out on a dock or swim or drive around in the boat (a motorboat came into the picture back in 1993) or visit the local attractions. There are no game systems at the camp although there is cable TV and even wifi now.  

We are not sure what this summer will bring. As our lives are beginning to simplify, the lives of our children are becoming more complicated.

But I have my photos and my memories of a simpler time - when we had to go out to the well, shoo away the water bugs and the frogs, and dip the enamel bucket into the water.  It was, without question, the best water in the world.


Layout Notes:

The tree embellishment is a stamp on Stampbord, a piece of pressed wood with a layer of white clay on the surface. After inking and stamping, you can scrape away some of the ink to reveal the clay underneath. It is a great substance for shading and highlighting. 

Supplies: Paper - SEI; paint - Folk Art; markers - Zig. Y&C Gel Extreme; ink - Ranger Distress Ink; letters - Jillibean Soup.

Tree embellishment - Stampbord, Smooch, Ranger Distress Ink, stamp (Unity Stamp Company), Zig marker.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Those Were The Days

When I was a little girl, I was privileged to live in a house with an enormous yard with only one enormous tree - a flowering peach.  My friends and I spent many hours under that tree until my parents put a shed at the back of the yard - a shed that was not for storage, but for a playhouse. They bought me a toy kitchen complete with sink, refrigerator, stove and kitchen table with four little chairs.  When we got too old for that sort of thing, it became a clubhouse where my friends and I kept our collections of rocks, glass and sea shells. We wrote a clubhouse song about wanting to live an outdoor life.

Those were the days of miracles and wonder. (Thank you, Paul Simon).

When we moved when I was twelve, somehow we forgot it all. As far as I know, all those rocks and shells and pieces of glass are still there. I know the shed is as we pass that old house when we visit my parents.

I have not even one photograph of the playhouse. Not one.

And yet my parents took a multitude of photographs of me in my cute little dresses and hats (it was the 1960's after all) parked in front of the flowers that populated my parents' yard. Most of the flowers were in the front, but there was a patch of roses in the back near a particularly prickly neighbor's yard. (That would be the photo in the top right corner). 

This layout has just three of those many photos.  So many were the same that there seemed no point in putting them all in an album. So, those reside in the same box from whence they came, still curled and crinkled and getting curlier and crinklier. I will probably never look at them and yet - and yet - I cannot quite bring myself to just toss them away.  

After all, they are, as far as I am concerned, priceless antiques, part of those days of miracles and wonder.

Layout Information

This is not a particularly artful layout, but the grid system works perfectly for those old 3x3 photos with the white borders.

Supplies: all papers - SEI; ribbon - unknown source; brads - Oriental Trading Company; marker - Zig by EK Success; wooden flourish - Kaiser Craft; butterfly sticker - K and Company; dew drops - Robin's nest; love sticker - unknown; metal flower - Imaginisce; chipboard letters - Maya Road; paint - Plaid.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Birds are Back

Feed the birds.
Tuppence a bag.
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag.

From where I sit, I can almost see the birdfeeder on our deck. I have heard, now and then, the birds chirping in the morning when I take the dog out for her morning constitutional. Could it be that spring is really about to make a comeback? I love winter, but the thought of spring, of green, of flowers and of birds cannot help but make me smile. Since snow is in the forecast, it is a little hard to believe, but, perhaps, the birds know a little more about the weather to come than the computer models and the Old Farmers Almanac. We can hope.

I remember that my mother had a parakeet in a cage in the family room of our home when I was a very small girl. I had originally thought I imagined it - this little yellow bird in its little yellow cage on a pole in front of the huge picture window. My mom has confirmed, however, that this bird and this cage really did exist. I have no idea what happened to that little bird, but somewhere between my toddler years and elementary school, she disappeared.

I was never really been a bird person and never really gave birds much thought.  When my younger son was in Kindergarten, though, there was a feeder on a pole outside his classroom window. The kids would fill the feeder and watch the birds. I assumed there was some lesson about birds at some point, but I did not dwell on it. The kids enjoyed it and, in fact, so did the parents.

At the end of that year, the class parents decided it was time to replace the tired feeder with a new one. So, a shiny new feeder on a long pole became her class gift. That was twelve years ago. That teacher is now the school librarian, but that feeder is still there, outside that classroom and probably over 250 children have enjoyed it in the years since.

I decided I liked this idea, too, and, so, my husband and I got a feeder on a pole as well. We planted it where a tree had recently died and been removed. It nicely filled the space. We watched the birds from our deck as they handily scratched at the seed, picking what they wanted and discarding the rest. Most of it ended up on the ground - where it sprouted and grew nicely into an abundance of ugly weeds. We bought more desirable food after that.

One summer, however, the screw holding the feeder to the pole had rusted so much that we couldn't get the feeder down to fill it without using a ladder. Its time had passed. A Japanese maple had started to grow nearby anyway so we removed the feeder and let the little tree grow.  It is nearly fifteen feet tall now and fills the space nicely as had the feeder before it.

Now, we have a smaller feeder on our deck. We fill it before snowstorms so the little things will have something to eat. I even sprinkle a little food around for the squirrels who have yet to figure out how to steal food from the birds. Unfortunately, we cannot get to the feeder right now as our deck is completely covered with snow, barricading the door from the house to the deck. It is melting, though, so, soon, very soon, we can once again, feed the birds.

When I was a little girl, I did not give birds very much thought, but my favorite movie was (and might still be) Mary Poppins. And my favorite song from Mary Poppins might just be Feed the Birds.

And, so, we do.


Layout Notes

Snow Birds

The large bird is a piece of chipboard from Clear Scraps.  I painted it white and then glued diecut snow paper on top.  Then I painted the whole thing red.  I sanded the raised areas to reveal some of the snowflakes. I did the same with some paper which is the cover of a small book with many more birds photos.  The tree branch is hand cut.  The snow is by Mud Puddles.

Supplies: patterned paper - Basic Grey; cardstock - Coredinations/Tim Holtz, Bazzill; chipboard bird - Clear Scraps; paint - Plaid; lace paper - KI Memories; snowflakes - recycled from homemade holiday card; chipboard letters - Target; spray ink - Tattered Angels; brads - unknown source; snow - Mud Puddles, marker - Micron; magnet (on accordian book) - Bazzill.

Feed the Birds

Branches were cut with a Tim Holtz die in a Sizzix machine.  I folded the piece of paper in half before putting it through the machine to make the branch on the right side twice as long. The fold was placed so it would not cut out two pieces, but one long piece.  I then trimmed the branches to make it less symmetrical.  The snow is paint.  I stamped dots of snow with a Tim Holtz stamp from Stampers Anonymous.  I used the same stamp on a few places in the photos as well.

The birds are wood, from Maya Road.  I painted them black and then drybrushed white paint on the chest areas to resemble the bird in the photo.  The eyes are a dot of Viva Paint. I stamped them with a little bit of snow as well.

The charms, both metal and wood, were gilded with Ranger Alcohol inks so they would all be gold. This works better if you smear the ink on with a piece of felt rather than dabbing it on in the usual fashion.

Supplies: cardstock - Paper Company, Bazzill; patterned paper - Authentique; birds - Maya Road; paint - Folk Art, Viva; tree branch - cut with Tim Holtz die; stamp - Stampers Anonymous; chipboard letters - Basic Grey; sticker letters - Making Memories; markers - Y and C Gel Extreme; charms/wooden shapes - unknown (wooden birdhouses, bird's nest charm, bird charm), Blue Moon - large bird charm, Magenta (pewter charm); chain - unknown; ink - Ranger Alcohol Ink, Tsukineko; glaze - Vintaj.