Sunday, March 28, 2010

Splendid, Phase 2

I think I need Lee to hide my cross stitch pattern from me for a while so I can get some other stuff done...all I've wanted to do for the last week is stitch. So here's another progress report. Just for reference, here is what I'm working on:

And here is Phase 1, photo taken on February 6:

And here is Phase 2, photo taken about five minutes ago ;)

K, so the picture quality leaves much to be desired, but you get the general idea. The pattern is 12 pages and I finished the first page last week. Then I couldn't decide if I wanted to work across or down first, so I've kind of been going back and forth and I've started stitching on no fewer than six new pages. I've done 7,752 stitches out of 34,144, so I'm about 22% done. I think I may just keep working on the sky for a while; it goes faster because there are fewer color changes than in the leaves. I kind of want to delay stitching the oranges themselves because I think they'll be the most fun....I may save them till last.

Anyway, I'm making us late for a barbecue so I'd better post this and get moving. TTFN!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Some New Faces

I meant to post some pictures earlier this week and just didn't get around to it. Lee's been working crazy hours and without him here in the evenings, I tend to stay up way too late cross stitching :) A nice, relaxing weekend is just what we need.

Anyway, since I was recently kokeshi doll shopping for Vicki, I just had to get a couple for myself.

I just love this little doll (she's only like three or four inches tall) and for some reason she reminds me of a matryoshka, you know the Russian nesting dolls? Don't know why, but she does.

Couldn't pass this one up since she's wearing orange and purple, hehe! I like her expression too, she looks like she's totally tickled about something, don't you think?

And here's the new face that Lee picked out:

We bought this last weekend, this is Lee's piece of "furniture". He's wanted one of these helmets for a while so when he saw this one, we decided to go for it. We've started buying some of the big ticket Japanocentric items that we've been looking at for the last two years...Mom says we'll need to have a Japanese room in our house when we leave here. I wonder if all the kokeshi dolls would fit in one room, bwahahahaaaa! Wait, I wasn't supposed to say that out loud ;)

And here's the card I made to go with Melissa's baby book for her soon-to-arrive new face (by which I mean her soon-to-arrive baby, not that she's having plastic surgery or anything. Just to make that clear). And ever since I made this, I've been ignoring my craft room completely in favor of cross stitching. So maybe on Sunday night I'll share a new status photo of my current stitching project, but for now I'm going to go head downstairs and put in a movie while I stitch :) Happy weekend, y'all!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

New & Improved Baby Book, Now In Purple!

K, so I've been working really hard lately to finish up a baby book so I can send it back to my mom in Texas since she's going to the baby shower in question. The mommy-to-be is my friend Melissa, whom I've known since middle school, and I hope she doesn't read this blog because if she does then the surprise is going to be ruined :p Anyway, Melissa looooooves purple (one of the reasons we get along so famously, besides her being a Libra since Libras get along great with Aquarius, not that I put stock in that kind of thing but it's fun and I digress) so since she's having a baby girl, I gussied this book up with as much purple as I could manage. Unfortunately it's been really hazy out today so the colors are all wonkalicious in the pictures but I simply could not wait any longer to share them here (I may try to take photos again tomorrow and see if they turn out any better before I upload them on Splitcoast). Without further ado, here it is:

My mom bought an album, so I'll just be sending her the pages and she'll put them in the book for me. The album she bought is a pretty good match for Orchid Opulence she tells me, so I broke out my Cottage Wall designer paper and went to town. I wanted the first and last pages, She's Here, and One Year Old layout to all kind of coordinate.

For some reason I was really tuned in to butterflies when I was making this, so I just went with the butterflies as my theme in addition to the purple. I tried hard to make every layout have a different color base and this one was driving me nuts since I'd already done pink, green, and orchid pages. Finally had a "well duh!" moment and did white, which I think makes for a more delicate-looking newborn baby layout.

More Cottage Wall paper (good thing I bought a couple more packs of it, hehe). I really wanted to include the hydrangea stamp on this one, and I like Mel so good I even used some of my retired In Color paper for this (Cool Caribbean and Wild Wasabi; mixing that with this year's Rich Razzleberry, I made a layout with In Colors from three separate years. Go me.)

The Occasions Mini catalog shows the animals from Fox & Friends with letters by them like they're children's blocks, so that's what I went with on this one. I kind of wish I'd put the F on the other side of the fox though. Many thanks to Amber who lent me the scallop square Nestability dies for this (and Amber, I'll get those back to you soon, I plomise).

Since this book is going to Texas, I went with the cowboy stamp for the July layout. Not entirely pleased with this one; I think I should have stamped the background. For the other two books I'm going to use a stamp set that will come out in the Summer Mini catalog but I couldn't wait that long to do this one.

K, the colors on this photo are *totally* off, it looks much better in real life I swear. I looove how that patterned paper kind of has a seaweedy type vibe, it's totally perfect for this layout.

This one is almost exactly the same as the two books I did last year (because it was pretty much perfect if I do say so myself), except I punched the apples out in circles instead of cutting them out and I remembered to stamp the teeny apple on the journaling block. I also simplified things a bit from the last two books; I tore the patterned paper border on every layout instead of sometimes doing a little cardstock border next to it. Made it go faster and I like that look anyway.

I didn't put any accents on the lower left of this layout because I wanted more of the patterned paper to be visible; should I add something there or no? The original version had three punched-out pumpkins there. The bats are a new addition though since I didn't have that stamp set when I did the last pair of books.

Not entirely pleased with how my stamped accent came out on this one; I did it before I borrowed the Nestabilities from Amber and I think it would have looked better with the larger scalloped squares. Hmph. I bought that patterned paper pack specifically to use on this layout though since it's got the Elegant Eggplant in it.

I wonder if the swirly background is a little too much on this one, but I like the colors a lot. I was inspired by a couple of old color challenges. I really like the Ruby Red base for this.

I had made a layout like this with different colors but decided to take another hack at it and do something with purple in it. I was inspired by my friend Missy to do the snowflakes like this; she's making a baby book for one of her friends and I just really liked how she used this snowflake stamp set.

The purple-fied February layout...I used the newer I {Heart} Hearts stamp set on this instead of the older Happy Hearts that I used on last year's books.

Missy inspired me to put some Night of Navy on my March St. Patrick's Day layout. She tried to stamp clovers in navy ink on her baby book but I wouldn't let her...I told her it is against the law for clovers/shamrocks to be any color but GREEN!

I so love this bunny stamp and lookie there, I managed to sneak in some more butterflies. For last year's baby books, I had some other accents on the pages but I left them off this time so more of the patterned paper would show, which is good since this is such a large pattern.

Amber sold me her Crazy for Cupcakes stamp set and I couldn't resist using it on this layout. I got the Birthday Bliss stamp set for free because of Sale-A-Bration, woohoo! This layout is darker than I really wanted it to be but I couldn't think of a different color to use for the page base.

And here's the last page, stamped to coordinate with the first one. Whoops, I forgot to put a little stamp on the journaling block...if you look back, I stamped something on each one of the other layouts. Each one also has a 3-inch border of patterned paper and the letters are cut out at our local craft store. Let me tell you how much I love this alphabet, I so want these dies for myself. Unfortunately, the alphabet costs $675 (Google Accucut Fairy Tale Alphabet if you don't believe me) and the numbers are another $275. Ignoring the fact that it took me two YEARS to pony up the money for a Big Shot (and that was only $100) I've started saving up money for these dies. I think they might fit in the Big Shot so at least I wouldn't have to buy the machine. So far I've saved five bucks (and I also spent four bucks this week going to Crafty Things to use theirs!). This could take a while.

I've got two more books to finish now, better get crackin'! No rest for the scrappy!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Go Green...and Mystery Toes

I missed Valentine's Day cards this year, but I always have to make St. Patrick's Day cards :)

I don't drink beer, green or otherwise, but I thought the green beer paired with this sentiment was just too funny. I got the layout idea from the Clean and Simple Stamping blog, which is a recent discovery of mine. Love their ideas...since I work full time now I need card ideas that are fast. I forget which number "fall-to layout" this was though.

One more card:

This went to Liz for her birthday which was on Saturday. Happy birfday, Liz! I actually made this for a Bellariffic Friday challenge a couple weeks back to use polka dots (the patterned paper designs are all polka dots) but never uploaded it.

This Saturday, Missy, Amber and I went to Cocok's with the silent K and did mystery toes, meaning that each one of us picked what another one was going to have painted on her toes. We agreed beforehand to be nice to each other and not to pick anything that we knew the other chicky would hate, so no black for me or Missy, and no orange/yellow, animal print, or critters for Amber (she was much pickier, lol!). I picked out Amber's design:

Pretty fun, huh? I may want to try that on my toes one of these days. Amber picked Missy's:

Definite toe envy here, Missy got Strawberry Shortcake toes. With pink and GLITTER!! Missy picked mine:

I admit, I would have liked them much better if they hadn't been so dark. In the book, the design has a purple base, but the purple polish they used on my toes is so dark it's almost black. Missy feels guilty for how they turned out, but even though they're darker than I generally prefer, I still think they're pretty. But next time we do mystery toes I want some really bright colors ;) Our next Cocok's with the silent k trip will be just before we leave for China, so we have to get something Chinese-inspired :D

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sapporo, Part 10: TV Tower and the Trip Back to Okinawa

I'm back again with the last bit of pictures from our trip to Sapporo, unless I decide to go through the hundreds of photos once again and just pick some random ones. Meant to post this a few days ago, but work just gets in the way of my blog time (and stamping time, and scrapping time, and stitching time, and reading time). So anyway, after our trip to the zoo (actually it was kind of fun to leave the polar bears up for a while, they're so cute) we took a cab back to Sapporo Station and ate dinner at McDonald's (good old-fashioned authentic Japanese food right there) and then we went out walking back towards the Odori snow festival. At one end of it is the TV tower, so we paid the fee to go up to the observation deck to (what else?) observe the snow festival from an aerial perspective. Here's the tower:

And here is what we observed from an aerial perspective:

There was also a big souvenir shop inside the tower that sold danpa merchandise. Missy and I wish we had taken a picture of it but for some reason we didn't. Basically a danpa is like a reverse panda, so where a panda is white, a danpa is black, and vice versa. Kind of strange. One more photo from back down on the street level:

Yeah, I forget what this was. Maybe the sports monument sculpture? Moving on, Missy and I couldn't resist getting some frozen chocolate-covered bananas at the festival since it was our last night.

With sprinkles. Because frozen chocolate-covered bananas should always have sprinkles.

So there you have it, that's what all we did in Sapporo. These photos were taken on our last night there, and we left for the airport at nine the following morning. But the fun did not stop there, oh no. We had an Uno tournament on the trip back.

You can just see the cards on Lee's tray table. Here he is pretending to be scared of my lack of shuffling skillz:

Missy then asked a flight attendant to take our picture so you can actually see what we were doing:

We have decided that when we go to China in May, we're going to have a big Uno tournament that will last for the duration of the trip. So whenever we're in airports or on planes we're going to play Uno. We bought our plane tickets earlier this week!! No turning back now, hehe. We'll be gone for 12 days and go to Shanghai, Guilin, Xian, and Beijing and I might be missing a place but those are the ones I remember off the top of my head. Rest assured I will probably have enough pictures from that trip to keep my blog hoppin' for the rest of the year, especially since Lee got a new memory card for the camera that will allow us to take about 1200 pictures. Oh, yeah!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sapporo, Part 9: Lions and Tigers and POLAR Bears, Oh My!

Yes, the animal I most wanted to see at the zoo was the polar bear. This zoo had a momma bear and two "teenage" bears...they're I think a year and a half old now, and just a little bit smaller than the momma bear. They were also at the very back of the zoo so we ran all the way back there first thing to see them. One of the kid bears was a total ham for the cameras.

I just love the little bear feets :)

Yeah I know, that's a raven, not a polar bear...but this raven kept landing in the polar bears' enclosure and one of the kid bears would chase it back out.

See? There they are together.

So who knew that polar bears had purplish tongues?

I think I took at least 150 pictures just of the polar bears, so these were just some of the best ones I got. I also bought several polar bear souvenirs, like a coffee mug at Starbucks (I don't drink coffee, but I do like hot chocolate and hot spiced tea), a magnet, a set of postcards with pictures of the polar bear babies when they were smaller, and a couple of things for my polar bear-loving friend, Sarah. And, of course, I still have my first polar bear, a Coca-Cola bear named Juan who's been with me for about fifteen years now. But I think this is the first time I got to see live polar bears in person, so that was pretty cool!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sapporo, Part 8: Waffles and Maruyama Zoo

Vicki says I have to post every day, so I'm back again already with the next batch of Sapporo pics ;) After our trek up on top of Mount Moiwa all covered in snow, Missy, Lee and I trekked back to Sapporo Station where we tried to find crepes like we had at Kyoto but they were all out, so we went with waffles instead:

Waffles with chocolate and ice cream...definitely a healthy lunch. Mine had some fruit and came with an adorable little pitcher of chocolate to pour on the waffles and ice cream. Yum!

After we ate our waffles, we decided to catch a cab out to the zoo since we knew we wouldn't have a whole lot of time to explore it before the zoo closed. We arrived only about an hour (maybe two?) before closing time, so we tried to hit the highlights as fast as possible. We ran for the animal I wanted to see the most, but we have so many pictures of that particular beastie that it will be its own post tomorrow (or maybe the next day). So you're going to see the *other* highlights from the zoo today.

The first animals we passed were the seals. The one below must have been a pretty old one, it's got cataracts:

It swam pretty fast though, I think it was doing laps in the pool. After the seals we went and looked at the wolves but we didn't get any good pictures of them. Then Missy and I had a fight about who should be Little Red Riding Hood and who should be the pig, and Missy won.

The last place we went in was the building that housed the big cats. I think there were giraffes and zebras and stuff of to the left when we entered the building (at least, that's what it smelled like) but we wanted to see the lions and tigers and snow leopards (oh my!) so we peeled off to the right.

I had never been to a Japanese zoo before, and let me tell you, the big cat enclosures were a lot different than what you'd see in the States. Every American zoo I've been to, you've got the enclosure and then a big healthy gap that's usually at least 20 feet deep and then a fence separating you from the animals. Not so here. At this zoo, the only thing between us and the animals was a not-too-strong-looking piece of Plexiglass.

And Lee wonders why Missy and I both looked nervous in this picture. It's because there's a 600-pound tiger pacing right behind us!! I would have liked to get a really good closeup picture of the tiger because really, when else am I going to be this close to a tiger, but he was pacing back and forth pretty furiously the whole time we were there. This was pretty much the best picture we could get:

It's a blur with stripes :p I did, however, get a very good picture of the male lion that lives next door to the tiger:

When I was little, I had a toy lion that would say things when you squished him (like "Hi, I'm Bravely!" and "It's a jungle out there!"). I carried him everywhere, up till I lost him when we moved from California to Texas when I was seven. So anyway, I like lions. The lioness, on the other hand, didn't particularly like Lee.

Well, maybe she DID like Lee...for DINNER.

Oh yeah, she was clawing at the glass like crazy trying to get at him. Freaked me and Missy out, but Lee just ignored her and kept taking pictures of Bravely. Nerves of steel, that one.

Wanna see a cute baby snow leopard?

Aww, he looks so cute and fluffy, I want to take him home too. But what if he didn't get along with Sadie and Vader and Zippy the flying squirrel?

At this point we pretty much ran out of time, but on our way back to the exit, we did see the snow monkeys:

And here's the sign out front of the zoo, along with the...snow bear? I think it's a snow bear?

Yeah, I'm going with snow bear. So, the next batch of Sapporo pics will be of the animals I really wanted to see at the zoo. Any guesses as to what animal that is? ;) Stay tuned!