Tuesday, November 22, 2011

To-Do List = DONE! Booyah!

Remember a while back I said that my dad, the doubting Thomas, told me he didn't think I could get everything done on my list of things to do before my parents got here?  Well, I DID.  Christmas cards?  Done.  Sarah's baby book?  Done.  Two mysterious Christmas presents?  Done.  Tiana's baby book?  DONE, baby!  *And* I even got some sleep the night before my parental units arrived.  Bwahahahaaaa!

So guess what we did as soon as we picked up Mom and Dad at the airport?

It's a tradition:  we take them to McDonald's first thing when they arrive in whatever country we're living in.  Their plane was like over an hour and a half late *and* we'd overestimated the time needed to get to the airport, so Lee and I were sitting at Heathrow for three hours or so, and it was like two o'clock by the time we arrived at the Golden Arches.  So yep, they're here, Mom's all excited that she got to see Stonehenge, and today we're kinda chillaxin' at the casa and I plan to make a couple pies to prepare for Thanksgiving.  But I just couldn't wait to share Tiana's completed book so here it is!  

The first and last pages...unfortunately I forgot, I had intended to put "Made in the USA" on the last page because Tiana's firstborn has "Made in Japan" on the last page.  T, if you want me to do that, wouldn't take me long to fix it so let me know : )

Tiana requested a layout to put some of her ultrasound pictures on, so she measured how big they were so I could do the mats.  The little tabs are for her to write in the date of the ultrasound or else how many weeks along she is for each one, and then the top right is space for one picture of her pregnant (I insisted; T rolled her eyes).  The little pregnant lady stamp was from Michael's a few years ago.  Tiana wanted me to spell out Abigail, which I did for the first birthday and title page, but it just wouldn't fit on here so I had to shorten to Abby.

Tiana's husband Scott's favorite color is orange, so I try to work that in where I can on the baby books.  I love the Sweet Always patterned paper--it's pink, orange, and green so it works great for this : )

You just saw this one earlier this month.

Tiana's January is very much like Sarah's but different colors.  The title is done in Perfect Plum (purple), I know the picture makes it look much darker than it really is.  Hey, the weather here has finally figured out that this is England, so it's all overcast and my pictures turn out darker.

New and improved February with the truck full of love.

I still love that little St. Paddy's bear.

Tiana's favorite baby animal stamps; we've used these on the baby announcements for both her girls now (Tiana made her baby announcements already, so now we're just waiting for Abigail to arrive).

I made the May layout orange since I know they like that color so much.

I'm really happy with how this one came out.  Tiana said she really liked how Emma's September layout had apples on it (T's a teacher) but I'd already done Abigail's September with a tree and fall leaves, so I managed to fit in the apples on here instead.  True, there's also strawberries and cherries, but I think that makes it less fall-ish and more summery.  The title isn't black, it's Early Espresso; I was going to try Lucky Limeade (and had even cut out the letters in that) but it didn't pop enough against the wisteria background.

The patriotic July layout...

This is one of my favoritest ever baby book layouts : )

T got this for September because Sarah had requested the tree for her September instead of November, and I did both their layouts at the same time (I think they were the first ones I did like back in July).

More orange for October.

And this one was featured on here just recently too.

There's the last layout!  Tiana requested Melon Mambo for it, and I really liked that Pumpkin Pie patterned paper with the numbers all over it so this one was pretty easy to put together.  Just took me a while to figure out what to put as the accents by the page title.

That's all she wrote today, folks.  We're off to do some shopping and then back here to bake pies and cookies.  Cheers!

ETA:  Baby Abigail has made her appearance, so now I need to get this book off in the mail PDQ : )  Congratulations to Scott and Tiana!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Getting Organized

I know I've been quiet of late, but we're getting ready for having everyone out here for Thanksgiving and I don't figure anyone wants to hear about me cleaning up the kitchen and doing laundry.  Heh.  Yesterday I spent most of the day getting my stamps organized...I finished getting them all unmounted and onto cling foam (except the alphabets, will have to do those later) and I finally got enough stamp cases to get them all put up.  Took me a lot longer than expected to get them organized how I wanted them.

I know, I know:  that's a lotta stamps.  But it's just half of 'em.

Hey Vader!  I had planned to squish in stamp sets to share cases as much as possible, but after I got started I figured that was just going to make it more difficult for me to find particular sets when I wanted them, so I only put stamp sets in together if it made sense to me, like two sets that I always use together.  I plan to make them all labels to go in the front that show what all the images look like, but that will be an ongoing project, so I just put a slip of paper in the spine of each that has the stamp set name(s) on it, and then put them in alphabetical order.  The retired stamps are in the back, and the current ones are in front of those; there's enough room for me to slide the current ones left or right when I want to get to the older ones behind them.  And the mini catalog sets are the ones that are stacked on top of the other ones in the photo above.  The only ones still wood-mounted are my backgrounds (which will stay that way) and the alphabets, which will eventually get switched over.

I'm so glad we have a house that has closets.  I need to get this one cleaned up a bit though...and as much stuff as I have, Amber has mooooooooooooooorrre!!

So, since I've peeled so many of my stamps off the blocks, wonder what I've done with the wood?

Yeah, I have two of these giant bins full of wood blocks.  Not sure what to do with them yet; they won't take them in the recycle bin and I hate to just toss 'em, you know?  Might see if I can find a place to deposit yard waste and put them in there, because they're just wood blocks.  I could even peel off the stickers if that would make them more recyclable.

The stamp cases are recyclable as they are now though, just haven't put them in the bins yet.  I think I'll hang onto them for a bit, maybe not all but a few that are in good condition, in case I think of a brilliant use for them.  After all, we've got a mostly-empty garage (and Lee is gonna roll his eyes when he reads that but hey!).  So that's what I've been up to; still have a little work ahead of me on Tiana's baby book and my Christmas cards, so I'd best hop to it.  Just don't be surprised if my blog posts are a little thin on the ground for a bit, k?  So if I don't stop in again before next Thursday, I wish all you American peeps a happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Flashback: Priceless PLUS a Baby Book Update for Tiana!

I got Sarah's Halloween baby announcements done and in the mail earlier this week. Behold the awesomeness:

Well okay, *I* think they're pretty awesome, and this is my blog so I can pat myself on the back whilst tooting my own horn.  It's the same layout I used for the baby announcements when she had her son, but I used Halloween-ish colors that still work for babies.  I'm going to miss Peach Parfait when it retires next summer...may have to start hoarding : )  I'm gonna take a minute right here and tell you how much I love SU's grid paper; I always stamp on that stuff.  It was perfect for placing the horizontal strips on here in the same place on each card...not that I'm OCD or anything.  (Okay, maybe a little bit!)

The pumpkin is from a cute little retired SU set, Fall Whimsy, and the background is from Priceless, which is also sadly retired.  So today I'm going to open the vault and share my other Priceless cards.

This was a prototype I did for Sarah's announcement, I tried out a jack o' lantern and this witch's hat from Spooky Bingo Bits but I think the Fall Whimsy pumpkin turned out much cuter and more baby-like.  A lot more work since I had to paint each one with Watercolor Wonder Crayons, but worth it in the end I think.  So let's look at some more Priceless cards, shall we?

I do a lot of the color and sketch challenges posted over on Splitcoast Stampers, so a few of these layouts and stuff aren't as much "me", ya know?  But I like the challenges for pushing my creativity a bit. Without them, I'd have like four layouts I'd use over and over, although I like to think I do pretty well with branching out on the color choices.

Here's a little girl birthday card done in purples.  The color isn't so good in this picture...sometimes it's hard to tell since I keep all my stamping project pics on the laptop and it matters a lot what angle you look at the screen as to how the colors look.

This one I think went to my former boss for her birthday one year; it was another color/sketch challenge card.  For a while I had done all of the challenges on Splitcoast, but I've gotten behind by a lot (like 80) so I'm working through the older challenges here and there.  This wasn't one of my favorite sketches because it kind of feels like big square eyes to me.

And here's another kind of funky sketch.  You can tell I totally love those swirls for backgrounds : )

This might be my favorite card I've made with this set, it's the glitter window technique.  I punched out a piece of the pink cardstock (the Key Tag punch is now retired, but you could use squares or something else) and after I stamped the front of it, I put a piece of clear packing tape on the back of the pink cardstock so the sticky side faced up, and then covered it with glitter.  The glitter sticks to the packing tape and keeps it from sticking to anything else, and you can still read the sentiment stamped on the white cardstock underneath.  The sentiment is from Happy Everything, also now retired--it's still one of my favorite sentiment sets.

This time I have some scrapbook pages to share too!

My mom is saying, "No Kik, that's Bolo Point!"  But all the signs say Cape Zampa and Bolo Point is the dive spot off the coast : p  The hot pink flowers are from Priceless and I put a touch of glitter glue in the flower centers for a bit of interest.  And the pink flowers make a visual triangle on my layout because it's a good design principle.

This one is more clean & simple (CAS)...I really, really wanted to put a yellow butterfly in the upper right corner because when we were at this castle ruin, Lee spent 15 minutes chasing a yellow butterfly for me trying to get a picture of it.  We didn't get any good ones but I will forever remember him chasing that thing : )

So that's it for Priceless, how about a few recent projects?

I made a bunch of these a while back and somehow took pictures of the other cards I made the same day, but forgot this one.  I'm totally in love with Cajun Craze (the dark orangey rust color) for fall cards.

And Cajun Craze was in this week's color challenge so I got to use it again, yay!  This stamp set with the teacups is called Morning Cup and I got it by accident--it was put in a Stampin' Up! order when I didn't order it, so I called them and said I got an extra item and they told me to keep it, wasn't that awesome?

Since I've finished Sarah's baby announcements and I'm now waiting for some ribbon to work on my Christmas cards, I've reattacked Tiana's baby book and have three completed layouts to show for it.

I'd done a February layout for her before but I hated how the truck turned out and I didn't like the patterned paper so I redid it because I'm a perfectionist and that's how I roll.  I think this one turned out better.

Since we're now preparing for Thanksgiving, I had turkey on the brain : )  And I know I said on this blog sometime recently that I needed to shake it up a bit and not stamp the Falling Leaves all in a row and look what I did, they're all in a row.  Well, why mess with a good thing?

Us crafty types are already working on stuff for Christmas too so I went forward with that layout as well.  This is the first time I've played with the Stitched Stockings stamp set and the matching punch, what do you think?  Makes things quick and easy!  I'm going to use them to make gift tags for Christmas presents too, that should take me like 10 minutes to make those.  I've also done about 85% of the first birthday layout, but I'm waiting to finish it till I get something in the mail.  That means I only have 10 more pages to do, and I'm planning to get them all DONE before my parents arrive next Sunday.  Hey, I've been rockin' out the pages for a couple days here, I think I can do it!  My list of things to do is finally getting shorter, WOOT!!!

Think I'll go make those gift tags, and then I can mark that off my list.  And then maybe I'll start another layout before we make dinner...we're having muffins and scrambled eggs because I didn't go to the store yet and it's the best option with what we've got in the kitchen : ) Plus we love breakfast for dinner.  Catch you later peeps, and remember, hug a veteran today!  I did.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Last Stop on September's Road Trip: Shakespeare's Home Town

As promised, I'm finally posting the last of the pictures from the road trip Lee and I took in September.  I sure took my sweet time with these but hey, I have been posting other stuff so it's not like I forgot that I have a blog.  Anyway, Stratford-upon-Avon is fairly close to Warwick so we decided to swing through there before we hit the road to go home.  It's a really cute little English town and I would not at all mind going back a second time since we were only there for a few hours.

One of the first things we saw was a set of statues; in the center is Shakespeare and he's surrounded by statues of four of his famous characters.  I think this is Falstaff; I've only read a few of Shakespeare's plays so I'm not quite as literate as I could be in this regard.

This one I think is Prince Hal crowning himself king as Henry V.

This one I know for sure is Lady Macbeth, trying to wash the blood off her hands.  "Out, out, damned spot!  Out I say!"  I confess, I've quoted that line to my dad's spotted dog Ginger when she goes in the kitchen, only usually I say "darned".

And here's Hamlet, having his philosophical heart-to-skull with Yorick.  Oddly, I don't seem to have taken a picture of Shakespeare's statue in the middle.

Here is the birthplace of William Shakespeare; we got to town early enough in the morning that there weren't a ton of people out and about when I got this picture.  An hour later there's no way I could have gotten this without a dozen people in it.  You can tour the house, but we didn't because it was like over 10 pounds a person and we thought that was kinda steep for a small building.

This is the jester Touchstone from the play As You Like It, and no I wouldn't have known that without my trusty friend Google.  I would actually love to read Shakespeare's entire catalog and I'm interested to see the film Anonymous, which is based on the premise that all these enduring works were not actually written my Shakespeare and that he took credit for someone else's work.  I'm intrigued.

Just 'cause I thought it was fun to see the architecture around the town.  Down the street from Shakespeare's birthplace, Lee and I had lunch at this place that was really good, I'm sad I don't remember the name of it but I'm sure I'd know it if we went back.  We had sandwiches and scones and cream tea and how do I love scones and cream tea.  Yummmm.

This is the bank that's around the corner from Shakespeare's birthplace.  Other sites in town include Anne Hathaway's cottage (no, not Princess Diaries Anne Hathaway, I mean Shakespeare's wife Anne Hathaway) but we didn't have time to go see that.

Here's the river Avon, which also flows past Warwick Castle.  There are some riverboat tours, but again, we hadn't the time to check them out.

Hey look, it leans to the left!  I think this was a combination restaurant/hotel that I just thought looked neat.  It was across the street from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Which is here.  We did go inside, although we didn't go into the theatre itself if that makes any sense...we stayed out in the atrium area.  Lee and I were thinking it would be cool to go and see a play here sometime, so we'll have to check their schedule and see what they're doing.  Anyone have any suggestions as to what play, Shakespearean or otherwise, we should try to see?  I'm kind of interested in The Tempest but that might be because one of my stitching projects is Miranda.

Anyway, we walked along the river for a ways and then went into the Holy Trinity Church, which is Shakespeare's burial place.  We did the suggested donation of two pounds each to go inside and the nice older gentleman who took our money encouraged us to take pictures when he saw the camera.

This is up on the wall to the left of the graves of Shakespeare, his wife Anne, and their elder daughter Susanna.

The stained glass above the graves.  With the low light it was really hard to get a good picture, this one isn't all that good and it's far and away the best I got.

And here is the final resting place of William Shakespeare and his wife Anne Hathaway.  Wonder why we still call her Anne Hathaway rather than Anne Shakespeare...

This was hanging up in the other end of the church and I just liked the looks of it.

And this kind of gives you an idea of what the whole church looks like.  As I said before, I'd like to go back to Stratford again and maybe go ahead and pay the exorbitant entry fee to see Shakespeare's birthplace and go see some of the other sites too.  They have a number of souvenir shops up and down the street where his birthplace is; I got myself a couple of magnets with Shakespeare quotes on them just because I liked them.  One says, "Better a witty fool than a foolish wit" (Twelfth Night) and the other says "This above all--to thine own self be true" (Hamlet).  They had copies of the Oxford edition of the complete works of Shakespeare, and while it would be cool to own that and say "Why yes, I bought that in Stratford-upon-Avon", I'd rather have one with footnotes.  I think I need the footnotes.

When I was in high school, we of course read Romeo & Juliet (I still remember my freshman English teacher going over several of the scenes..."but soft!  What light from yon window breaks?  It is the east, and Juliet is the sun"), Twelfth Night, Macbeth, and Hamlet.  We also watched the Elizabeth Taylor version of Taming of the Shrew along with the Moonlighting episode where Cybil Shepard and Bruce Willis did that play (kinda wish I could get just that one episode on DVD...); Much Ado about Nothing (Michael Keaton is *hilarious*!), and I think the Mel Gibson Hamlet (this was before he went crazy).  My brother and his best friend Devlin did a thing for their Speech & Debate class where they performed The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) and there was a lightsaber fight involved.  Talk about hilarity...