Sunday, August 31, 2008

You Like Me, You Really Like Me!

I'm having a Sally Field moment here. I feel so much better knowing that I'm not just talking to myself :)

So on Saturday, Lee and I went to Gyokusendo, Okinawa's very own theme park ("Okinawa World") with Missy and Bennet. Missy had directions to it so we figured we were all set. I mean usually, the signage here is very good when it comes to directing you to the touristy stuff, Lee and I have had minimal problems navigating here, which is amazing because although we lived in North Carolina for three years, we never could go to Raleigh without getting lost at least once. Note to self, I need to buy a Wal-Mart atlas when we get back to the States or we'll be even more lost...

Anyway, back to my story. We set out around 8:30 or so, figuring that we could get to the place kinda early before it got hot and crowded. I am completely useless when it comes to navigation, so I was in charge of the iPod :) We get on Okinawa's one and only expressway just fine, but then the trouble starts when we exited. We got exit 2 ok, but how the heck do you get to exit 2A from there? We ended up going in a huge loop and ended up over by the Naha Airport, which is on the west side of the island and Okinawa World is on the east side of the island. Thirty minutes later we've decided that every road on Okinawa leads to the Naha Airport. At long last we get to going in the right direction, we wave to Shuri Castle as we pass it, and then we finally started seeing signs that said "cave" so we knew for sure we were on the right track. I think it took us almost 2 1/2 hours to find the place, this was almost like trying to find the mall in Raleigh :p So here's the entrance area to Okinawa World:

So you go in through that building, and there's an entrance to the cave on the left. Oh yeah, half of Okinawa World is an extensive cave system that you can go through, hence the "cave" signs on the way here (which didn't appear until you were practically there, they were minimal help to us). Right after they tear your ticket stub, they have a place where they take your picture in front of a cave-alicious backdrop, which you can later purchase for 1000 yen, so we did:

They Japanese ladies are holding these awesome hats, I want a hat like that. So Bennet and Missy are on the left, and then Lee and I are on the right...really, I usually only carry that Maleficent purse when we're out walking a lot and stuff because I don't have to worry about it falling off my shoulder or anything, but that's how it ends up in all the pictures of me from our island adventures :) Maleficent is the coolest Disney villain ever, but that's a story for another time.

So we had our picture taken, and then we walked down a zillion steps towards the caves:

They have walkways and railings built all through the caves; you don't have a guide or anything, you just walk through on your own. In some areas of the caves they have speakers that play music, and the first area they played the overture from Star Wars over and over. It seemed oddly appropriate to the another section they played music from Pirates of the Caribbean. They also have lights (of course, you need lights down there or else no one would be able to see where they were going) but they do different colors on the ceiling sometimes:

Kinda cool-looking, huh? They also did red, green, and purple lights but this picture turned out the best. I think we should have taken a tripod with us, it was really hard to get good pictures due to the low lighting conditions. Lee thought this next bit was pretty cool, it's a small underground waterfall...

I was actually in charge of the camera for the day, so I took probably 90% of the pictures (which might have something to do with why I want to go back when my parents are here and try to get some better shots...) So here's a picture of Lee in the caves:

The stalactites drip water all over, so we all kept getting hit by cold water as we walked through. You could see where they've sawed off the ends of the stalactites so that they don't block off the walkway, and the stalactites are already starting to grow back a little bit.

So those were the best of the cave pictures. Once you exit the caves, you end up in the Ryukyu Village, where they have shops showcasing different Okinawa handicrafts, like binghata fabric, making sanshins, the Ryukyu glass, etc. And they had one cool little place were you could pay 500 yen each to dress up in kimonos and have your picture taken!

Pretty darn cool, huh? Don't you just love the guys' hats?! The two ladies that ran the shop didn't speak very much English at all but they were quite proficient with sign language so we got along just fine. I'm not sure why I ended up being the only one standing in this picture (and I couldn't really ask them either)...maybe it's because I'm tall. :p I told my mom that I've seen shirts that say "I'm huge in Japan!" and she thinks I need to get one. I'm an Amazon!! Ok, so Lee is taller than me...

Again, I just love those hats!! You could pick what color kimono you wanted to dress up in. The two ladies helped tie the sashes and everything, and they took one picture with their camera which you could buy for 1000 yen, but they also take pictures with your own cameras. We decided to just go with the ones that were taken on our camera, so for about $10 we got to play dress-up and get several pictures taken. Whee!!

Missy had the map so I'm not sure why there's a boat on Okinawa World, but here it is. We walked all through Okinawa World, had lunch, and then visited the habu museum (habus are poisonous snakes that live here on Okinawa) that's back up by the entrance to the caves, but by the time we got there we were pretty tired and I didn't take any pictures of the snakes and stuff. Besides, they give me the heebie-jeebies. They also had these ginormous beetles that you could buy and take home as pets--no thank you!!! They were scary-looking! We watched a short exhibition about snakes but didn't understand much as it was all in Japanese, but we were given the opportunity to have our picture taken with an enormous python. I elected to pass on that one, but Lee made me touch a golden python, he wouldn't take no for an answer.

We left around 3:00 and then got lost once again on the way home. By this time we were all a little punchy and laughing hysterically with every wrong turn, so it's all good :) I have a few more pictures to share in the next day or two, so stay tuned!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Holy Shrines & Temples, Batman!

Okay people, if you're actually reading this blog, leave me a comment alright? I feel like I'm talking to four loyal blog readers seem to have dwindled to one (hi Mom!)

So anyway, Lee took Tuesday off of work to accompany me on a tour of shrines, temples and sacred places of Okinawa. It was some pretty interesting stuff I think. Two of the main religions of Japan are Shinto (native to Japan) and Buddhism (imported from China in the 6th century I think), and often times people will visit both temples depending on the occasion. So first up is a Buddhist temple.

Above is the entrance, and here's the inside of it:

Click on the picture to see it larger. That's a lot of gold, huh? The motif on the top is of a phoenix. There's a small drum that's shaped like a fish, which our guide explained was a traditional thing. The fish never sleeps, so Buddhist followers should emulate fish and not fall asleep during the rituals :) Right next door to this temple is a Shinto shrine.

The inside of this one was not as opulent as the Buddhist temple, but they had more in the way of decorative carving and stuff in and around their grounds. For example, Lee and I both liked the lanterns:

And of course they had the obligatory shisa standing guard outside the shrine. I'm going to start collecting pictures of shisa from around the island so I can put them all on a scrapbook layout.

Behind the Shinto shrine is a cave system where some Okinawans hid during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II. There are a *lot* of caves on Okinawa and quite a few of them were hiding places during the war; we'll see more of those when we go on the Battle of Okinawa tour next month when my parents are here. There's a tomb in this cave system for an angel...the guide told us a legend that a woman once had a vision that her father and her sister's husband were going to be caught in a storm on their fishing boat and be lost at sea, so she convinced them not to go. After that she became something of a hermit, dressed all in white, and lived in a Shinto shrine complex, and I'm not real sure how she got to be an angel...we had the same guide this time that we did for the kokeshi doll tour, and she speaks very quickly so sometimes I have a hard time getting the whole story.

Next up is Tama-u-Dun, which is the burial place for the Sho dynasty kings of the Ryukyu Islands. This is close to Shuri Castle in Naha. And hey look, it's a rare sighting of Lee!!!

There are three compartments to the mausoleum; the one on the left is for the kings and queens, on the far right are other members of the royal family, and the center one is a temporary burial site. After a few years, the remains of a Ryukyu royal would be disinterred from the center chamber, the bones washed, and then placed in one of the other chambers. Sounds a little strange to me but hey, whatever. There's a good panoramic shot of this place on Wikipedia here.

There's a pic of one of the shisa guarding the tombs. Lee took most of the pictures on this tour...I think this one is one of my favorites, I just think it's cool looking. And yes, the sky really IS that color here.

Next up we went to another Buddhist temple. This was outside the temple:

People write their prayers on slips of paper and attach them here. The guide read a couple of them to us and one was a from a guy who was praying that his golf game would improve! *snicker* The temples also sell various good luck charms for specific things, like to do well on a test, be a safe driver, fertility charms (I stayed way far away from those), etc. This temple had one special resident, a praying dog!

His name is Conan (although the Japanese seem to not really pronounce that last N). We actually got to meet him, he's something of a minor celebrity on Okinawa. He took a real shine to Lee, he even tried to follow Lee outside when it was time for us to leave! I think Conan kind of looks like a shisa, he's got a ruff around his neck like a lion's mane, so that's what he reminded me of.

Lee took several pictures outside the temple but I've already put a ton of pictures on this post and it looks a lot like the other Buddhist temple so go look at that one again and pretend it's the temple with the praying dog in it :) There was one thing that I found interesting outside this one though, much of the architecture was decorated with swastikas.

You'll notice this one faces left, unlike the one on the Nazi flag that faces right. The swastika has been a good-luck symbol for thousands and thousands of years (back to the Neolithic era even) and is associated with Hinduism, Buddhism, and some Native American religions. Our guide said that in Buddhism it's supposed to represent Buddha's hair, and I read online that swastikas appear on the feet of Buddha statues. Alexandra, the last Tsarina of Russia, scrawled one on a window of their prison before she and Tsar Nicholas II and their family were executed by the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution. The swastika was a popular good-luck symbol in early 20th century America, particularly with aviators, and is still a common symbol in much of the Orient today, although the left-facing version is now used much more than the right-facing one to distinguish from Nazism. So there's your history lesson for today. Personally, I still can't see a swastika without thinking of Hitler. You can look it up online though if you don't believe what I just told you about it being a good luck charm.

Anyway, back to the tour. The last stop was the extreme southern tip of Okinawa, I forget what the name of this place is but it's been a holy site on Okinawa for hundreds of years. I missed exactly why this triangle-shaped opening in the rock is important though...

To get to here, you walk up a 500-year-old rock-paved path that I bet would be deadly when it rains. There's a shrine at one point and used to be no one but the king could go any further than that, but today you're allowed to go to each of the holy sites here. On the other side of the triangle-shaped opening, our guide told us that if you say a prayer there then it will come true. You can also see this island just to the south of Okinawa, I forget the name of it but it's something to do with Eden. (So the tour brochures I got are all downstairs and I just don't want to go get them right now. Bad Christy.)

I tried to take a picture of Lee with that as the background, but it just got all washed out...

Our guide told us that there was a severe drought in 1980, Okinawa had no rain and no typhoons for a year. This is a big problem when most of your fresh water supply is rainwater, so all the mayors of Okinawa came to this place and did a rain dance (no kidding, a rain dance) here and prayed for rain. It rained the next day. I think someone on our tour must have done a rain dance because when I was coming back home from class that night, I got to see a pretty spectacular lightning show and it started raining right after I got home.

Lee and I need to work on getting in more of our pictures here on Okinawa, mostly we've been concentrating on taking pictures of the places and local people here because we know what we look like. But give it a few years and we might have forgotten what we look like...I'm sure we'll be in more pictures when my parents are here in a couple of weeks, though. :D

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wait, Where Are We?

Lee and I went for a drive up Highway 58 yesterday, along the East China Sea coast. When I saw this sign I knew I just had to take a picture of it:

Hmm, did we take a wrong turn into southern California? :) I'm pretty sure this is a sign for the Malibu House restaurant, it's a surf 'n' turf place that is all decorated in movie posters from what I could tell. They had a big ol' Conan the Barbarian poster (with da Governator!) plastered on the side of the building. I just thought it was hilarious! And guess where we are? Malibu Hills! (Although on some of the maps you'll see the beach referred to as Maribu Beach...)

Can you see that the bushes spell out Malibu Hills? Might be kinda tiny on this page, but if you click on the picture you'll see a larger version. Here's a view of the coast just slightly to the north of the restaurant. Lee says the land out in the distance is still part of Okinawa, the island juts out a bit and that's where Nago is.

This gorgeous building was just down the road a few hundred yards from the Hollywood Okinawa sign. I've seen pictures of it on anything and everything that talks about doing weddings on Okinawa. The building itself is tiny, basically just the one room with two smaller "wings" on the sides, so you can look straight through the front door on out to the water. I bet that would be GORGEOUS in wedding pictures, especially since it faces west--great sunset shots!

Lee and I started on a photo scavenger hunt for a scrapbook page I want to do of "First Impressions" of Okinawa, and this pair of shishi dogs was on the list. I took about 15 pictures of them but think I might have to go back and take some more...I'm not really happy with the male shisa pictures but I think the female ones came out okay. And man, I wish we didn't have power lines and a huge transformer right behind them!

Full-body shots of the male shisa (above) and female (below). Shisa and shishi, so far as I can tell, are pretty much interchangeable terms for the lion-dogs and I tend to use both. I've seen it written both ways in shops and such...I kinda want to get a t-shirt I saw that said "Shisa" in big letters and had a stylized shisa picture on it. These are ALL OVER Okinawa, in front of homes and businesses and occasionally perched on rooftops.

Some close-up shots of their faces...the male one is a little "blown out" as Lee says, the clouds are practically fluorescent they're so white.

I like this one the best maybe, but for the scrapbook layout I have planned I need vertical pictures :) I'll probably accumulate pictures of various shisa all over the island and do a scrapbook layout just about those, though. I like the texture in this picture.

Still need a few more pictures for my scrapbook page, like one of my car (but it needs to be washed first). I'll be sure to post the pages when I have them done :) I'm embroiled in a scrapbooking challenge with my buddy Liz, but I think she's ahead of me...after all, I took a two-year hiatus from scrapping, lol! We need to work more on getting ourselves in the pictures too. I'm sure we'll get the chance to be IN the pictures in less than a month when my parents are here!

ETA: The sky really IS that color here, I'm serious!! And the East China Sea is pretty much a match for the Stampin' Up color Pacific Point, maybe with some vellum on top of it. It's incredible the vibrant greens and blues here. I haven't done a thing to change the colors in any of the pictures I've posted on this blog.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Work in Process

My dad insists that it's work in PROCESS, not work in PROGRESS, but I don't see the big difference. Anyway! I've been in the scrappin' Zone this weekend. Check out this layout:

It's so much prettier in real life...those are all my lotus pictures from the botanical gardens. I printed most of them out at 3.25x5", and then cropped them to 3.25" square. I think 15 pics on a single layout might be a personal record :) I started out with Soft Sky as a base, but then switched it for Almost Amethyst, it was amazing the difference that made. Garden Green continues its quest for Total Scrapbook Domination (that's the color of the largest block that all the pictures are adhered to) and I used Brocade Blue as an accent color. The base is stamped with Paint Prints (joining Baroque Motifs on the list of Best Stamp Sets EVER in my opinion) and the title is done with Lovely Letters (my new favorite alphabet stamp set).

And here are my two work in process layouts, I'm posting these here so I can remember exactly what I was planning to do...I'm waiting for some more 12x12 cardstock I ordered to get here to finish these. I ordered an entire pack of Garden Green, and now I need to replenish my 8.5x11 stash of that color as I've been burning through it like crazy.

Just for kicks I decided to leave the messy desk in there too so you can see what my work space looks like :) I have a small desk and a 6' long table in an L shape in the corner of the room, and there's enough space to put a layout on the desk and one on the table although it gets a little squishy space-wise to do that. I was working on these two layouts concurrently. The one above is a layout of my favorite pictures from the gardens; I have a cropped version of the purple flowers picture on the lotus layout, I liked it so much I'm scrapping it twice.

I was standing on a chair to take these pictures, see my toes? (Yes, I was standing on a chair with wheels...Lee was standing behind me and holding me steady. Totally safe, Mom!!) Since they're both layouts from the botanical gardens, I decided to keep the color schemes the same. It's Certainly Celery, Garden Green (of course), Pink Pirouette patterned paper (say that five times fast!), and Riding Hood Red. The letters that are on there now are stamped on scratch paper and just laid on the page to make sure I had enough room for the title the way I planned it. That white paper on the second layout is my sketch of what I'm planning to do, I usually sketch out my ideas before I start cropping pictures and chopping up paper.

Now you know what I've been doing the last several days. Lee and I are planning to drive up to Nago today and work our way down the coast, taking pictures as we go, so I'll be posting some Okinawa pics either tonight or tomorrow or whenever I feel like it :p I just wish my Stampin' Up order would get here already!! It hasn't even shipped yet and I'm almost to the point where I cant do anything else on this book until I get the cardstock I ordered. I hate waiting!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Old Lady Goes Back to School

Looks like I had some new people comment on my last post. Hi Jean, Lori, and Cheryl! -waves- Occasionally I feel like I'm talking to myself on here, so it's nice to know that's not true. I hope I'm at least mildly entertaining! Talk about majorly entertaining though--Michael Phelps winning medal after medal and breaking record after record in the Olympics. And he makes it look so easy!! I wish the women's gymnastics team could have enjoyed that type of success too.

Anyway, earlier today I was listening to my iPod (because I'm always listening to my iPod) and I heard a track off a Baz Luhrmann CD (yeah, the guy who directed Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet). Did you ever hear about the commencement speech someone gave at graduation and the first piece of advice was "wear sunscreen"? Well, there's a rendition of that speech on the CD. One of the lines in it is "Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone." Yeah, I can relate. I've had pain in my right knee for a couple months now, and when I went to the doctor several weeks ago, he said "These things happen as you get older." I pointed out (in a very aggrieved tone, I might add) "I'm not even 30 yet!" and he said "Well, sometimes activity level can affect it too." I'm not exactly an Olympic athlete here, I go to the gym for an hour a day 4 days a week and I take my dogs on walks, that's it. Doogie Howser doctor don't know what he's talkin' 'bout. Grrrr! All he did was give me a prescription for Motrin, so I'll just keep on limping around and try to ignore it.

So, old lady that I am, I started back to school on Tuesday for my master's degree. I'll be getting my masters in international relations from Troy University, they actually have on-site classes here so that's nice (not sure how I'd do with a totally online course). We started out talking about the French Revolution and Napoleon's empire...I think Wikipedia will be my best friend for a crash course in history. I mean, I can point to France on a map and I can spell Napoleon Bonaparte, but the details of the Revolution are a bit fuzzy. Lots of people lost their heads, I remember that much...well, I like history anyway, so this should be interesting. Just wish I had time to buy a whole bunch of books about this stuff from Amazon and really get into it in detail; I always wanted to major in history but I ended up doing marketing and international business instead. I'd still like to take some history classes, I just want to Know and Understand.

If you've made it this far, I applaud you...and yes, I am this talkative in person too ;) Here's a picture for your troubles:

Click on it to see it larger and you should even be able to read the journaling. I'm not as crazy about this layout as the first two I did; I think it's too linear and symmetrical. No embellishments at all, either, and sometimes those bitty letters (Sizzix alphabet dies) are more of a pain than they're worth--it is *tough* to adhere them in a straight line. Lee recommended the Summer Sun cardstock for the base, and then I added Cranberry Crisp (my favorite dark red) and of course Garden Green because the whole island is Garden Green. The picture of the pineapple chocolate fountain in the upper right isn't stuck down; I'm going to crop out that fluorescent light and reprint it, but everything else on here is done. That's three down, and now I'm waiting on some neutral colors of 12x12 cardstock for pages about the glass factory. I am *going* to be caught up with this by the time my parental units arrive next month!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ice Cream, Dolls, and Okinawan Donuts

Today I went on a tour with my friend Missy; we visited the Meiji ice cream factory, got to see how kokeshi dolls are made, and went to a family-owned bakery. Settle in for a bit because I'm feeling chatty, I might even learn you somethin' about Japanese language and culture here so if you don't want any of that educational nonsense you can just look at the pictures :)

Our tour guide told us that "Meiji" means something like "new horizon" in Japanese (It's also the name of a period of Japanese history when the country ended its isolationism and began to rapidly advance and modernize). The Meiji factory is the largest ice cream factory on island. We got to watch a video that they show to visiting school children about how milk goes from dairy farms to the factory and into your refrigerator case (hey, when I was in elementary school we visited the Mrs. Baird's bread factory in Ft. Worth, and while baking bread smells heavenly I think free ice cream samples would beat out bread samples.) They make a ton of different kinds of ice cream, desserts, and different types of milk (skim, vitamin D, extra calcium, etc.), and before we left we got a sample but not ice cream--yogurt milk. Yeah, yogurt milk? What the heck is that? I have no clue but it tasted pretty good to me :) It was pretty sweet, almost like apple juice, or maybe some of those drinks that Yoplait has. I didn't take any pictures at the ice cream factory though because we couldn't actually tour the factory due to sanitation concerns. But it was still interesting nonetheless (although you might disagree since you just had to read a big long paragraph about how much I like ice cream).

After that, we went to Sunshine Village, which is a facility where about 140 disabled people live and they make kokeshi dolls and ceramics. Our tour guide told us that kokeshi were first made in a very poor region of Japan many, many years ago. This was before birth control, and sometimes the extremely poor people would practice infanticide when they could not afford to feed a child. The kokeshi dolls originated as a, what would you call it, a tribute maybe? to the dead children. When written in Japanese characters, "kokeshi" doesn't really have any inherent meaning, but when written in Chinese calligraphy, it's a combination of "ko" for child and "kesh" for erase. (Apparently in Japanese, you can change the meaning of a word depending on the way you write it without changing the pronunciation of it. No wonder the Asian languages are so difficult for non-native speakers to learn.) A very sad story, but it may just be a folk tale--I haven't read that story anywhere on the Internet when looking for information on kokeshi dolls, but that's what our tour guide told us so take it or leave it. Anyway, over the years, the kokeshi gradually became a popular souvenir item. I even sent one to my sister-in-law for her birthday this year :) And those of you who play a lot of video games may notice that they look like Wii characters. Oh wait, I haven't showed you any pictures yet. Well, here ya go!

Our tour guide explaining the process of how they make the dolls, and one of the men who actually produces them. I couldn't get a good view of exactly what he did with the machinery but he produced the basic shape of the kokeshi doll, and then it's polished and painted.

Some half-done kokeshi that don't have their faces painted yet.

The dolls are made wood, sanded smooth, and then hand-painted. They start out pale but gradually darken with age (at least the ones that are made at this place do).

Some finished kokeshi in different costumes. I love the hats on the far left, Missy thinks they look like flower pots. I think that might be a traditional dance costume but I could be making that up. I think these were about 1400 yen each (~$14), I think the taller ones might have cost up to 3000 yen (~$30) but I don't remember exactly.

These two are a slightly different style than the others, shorter and wider. I've seen quite a few kokeshi in different stores, they have all kinds of styles but they're usually this same basic shape. I've seen a pair that are made up to look like an old Asian grandma and grandpa, they're adorable! I found the picture below on this website if you want to look.

The one I gave to Adrienne had pigtails like Mickey Mouse ears and cherries on her outfit. She was in the more whimsical style of this doll (below) that I found on this website. I like this style of kokeshi, I think they're absolutely adorable and I just love the hairdo. I'll probably start my own collection of kokeshi dolls before we leave Japan.

Anyway, back to the pictures of stuff I actually saw in person!

This origami swan was sitting on a windowsill in the kokeshi workshop. Wonder how much time it took to make that?

After we finished in the kokeshi workshop we went out to the ceramics shed. Mostly they make the always-popular shisa; I bought us a pair of blue ones that are about two inches tall for 200 yen, they almost look like salt-and-pepper shakers.

I was just trying to take some interesting shots of the unfinished ceramics. Since I didn't have Lee with me to do all the settings on the camera I was kinda flying by the seat of my pants but it turns out that the auto mode on our fancy schmancy camera works pretty well too :)

And here's some finished shisa; almost everything in the workshop was covered in a pretty thick layer of dust. Remember, the one on the left is the female who has her mouth closed to keep good spirits in, and the male on the right has his mouth open to scare away evil spirits.

Doesn't the fierce shisa look kind of funny with a plant growing out of his head? :)

We went to Jusco for lunch, which is kind of like a big mall with a supermarket in it plus a bunch of restaurants. Missy and I walked all over and looked at all the menus (they have picture menus for those of us who can't read Japanese) and we ended up having sandwiches at Starbucks. Yeah, I know! :p but the sandwich was goooood. I saw a sign for Charlie's Tacos so we were looking for that but couldn't find it, and we figured we'd better hurry up and pick something to eat or we'd run out of time.

The last stop was to a small family-owned bakery where we got to sample everything before we bought :) They had andagi, Okinawan donuts--pretty good, not as sugary as American ones. They also had some apple pies and peanut butter pie things that were really good. They're not like Marie Calendar's pies, they're a hand-held pastry thing with either apple or peanut butter filling. I got several of each kind, I'm not a peanut butter fan but Lee is (I think he lived on nothing but PB&J for several years when he as a kid). There are some pretty good bakeries out in town which is kind of funny to me because most Japanese homes don't even have ovens. Maybe that's why they have the bakeries...

So I suppose that's it for today, what do you think?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I'm a Scrapper!

I keep thinking of the old Dr Pepper commercial..."I'm a scrapper, she's a scrapper, wouldn't you like to be a scrapper too?" I think it works better with "I'm a Pepper" though. But anyway, check this out, I SCRAPPED!! Click on the pictures to see a bigger version.

So these pictures will be familiar to the four of you who regularly read my blog (you know who you are). This "Okinawa Skies" one will be the second layout in my Japan scrapbook; I want to do a "First Impressions" layout but I need to have some pictures printed out for it. I picked out Bashful Blue, Pacific Point, and Garden Green for this layout (I'm convinced that the entire island is Garden Green!) and then thought well pooh, I don't have any 12x12 patterned paper in those colors. Then I had a big DUH! moment and thought I can stamp my own! Genius! So I did. I stamped a large swirl with white ink and then some small flowers in blue, but the flowers don't show up as much as I thought they would. That's ok, I kind of wanted the pattern more elegant and subtle anyway. I stamped the larger flowers with Ruby Red ink and used them to make a visual triangle with Lee's red shirt. Usually I'd put brads in the flower centers, but I'm a flat scrapper (try not to use anything that sticks up from the page) so I punched out some teeny circles of Bashful Blue paper and adhered them in the centers instead. I'm thinking I may add a third flower on the lower right corner but I'm not sure yet.

And here's my second layout that I finished today. It was all done last night except the title; it's stamped with craft ink (kind of like paint, for those of you non-stampy types) so I had to wait for each letter to dry before I did the next one. I stamped the letters on scrap paper, cut them out and then used those as a placement guide for when I stamped them on the patterned paper. I was worried about that part because I only have a few small scraps of this pattern left, so I was paranoid I was going to mess it up but it turned out well. I'll be hand writing a lot of my journaling because our fancy schmancy laser printer throws a big ol' tantrum if I try to print on cardstock. Oh well, they say in all the scrapbook magazines that you should make an effort to include your handwriting (and kids' handwriting if you have any, but my kids are illiterate).

It took me *forever* to pick out colors for this layout and I was really surprised that I ended up with River Rock for the most part...I'm not a big fan of that color but it just seemed to work with this. Then I added a bit of Garden Green, Blue Bayou, and Whisper White. No pictures of Lee or me on this one because I deleted all the ones Lee took of was HOT and HUMID the day we hiked out there, so by the time we got to the waterfall I was in dire need of a shower and not at all disposed to photographically preserve that memory! So only pics of the waterfall and the bug life. Liz, I think I started out looking at the sketches on pg. 95 and pg. 183 in that book, and then it morphed into this...there aren't a lot of sketches that feature 8x10 pictures so I had to get a little more inventive.

I think when I first started I was totally paranoid that I was going to mess up, especially with cutting the pictures. Then I thought hey, it's not like I can't just order another print if I mess one up, it's not like these are one-of-a-kind wedding photos that I can't get extras of (and maybe that's why I haven't scrapped any of my wedding pics either!) And the same goes for 95% of my paper too, I can replace it if I mess up--except for that pretty brocade pattern on the waterfall page at any rate. I bet Lee would be a bit less than thrilled to hear about my "It's okay, I can buy more!" philosophy...hehehe :p

Big huge thank you to Liz for kicking my butt until I finally got started on this project instead of just talking about it :) Love you, chica! And Robin, I challenge you to scrap some Japan pictures, it's FUN! I bet Mom told you that too since she's done an entire book dedicated to Okinawa. I'm anxious to see that.