Monday, March 28, 2011

My Scrapping Process & Other Schtuff

Helloooooo blogland! I have had a very productive day, let me tell you. I did a P90X workout (I started the program last week, I think my biggest problem is going to be eating right...), uploaded a bunch of pictures to Winkflash so I can order some more for my scrapbooks, finished up a layout, did five loads of laundry and a load of dishes, *and* I'm currently cooking dinner--homemade lasagna. Oh yeah, I'm rockin' today!

We had a very low-key weekend, just stayed around the house. But we did get another room painted last week; our dining room is now a pale sagey green color. Here's what it looks like right now:

K, so as soon as we finished painting the dining room, Lee took all the stuff out of the study and we're going to paint that next. So the dining room is a total wreck at the moment.

But the walls are green! It's a little paler than I thought it would be, but I still like the color. Had I known it was going to be this pale, I might have gone for the darker shade, but I think this looks fine as-is so it's going to stay that way.

We also got a second car, can I get a HALLELUJAH?! We picked him up on Friday afternoon.

That's Ron the Rover. It's pretty much impossible for me to get a picture of him where he's parked right now, but he's your basic 4-door sedan...he looks black in the picture but he's dark blue. Our black Honda Accord is named Harry. I wanted to name this car Luna, but Lee informed me that he was a boy. Then I suggested Dumbledore, but Lee said that would be cruel (not sure why, but okay). Lee is going to drive Ron and I get Harry.

On Saturday, I also finished up another layout with more Cape Hedo pics:

I had so many pictures that I just loved from that day, I couldn't help doing a second layout. It's funny, the more *I* like a layout, the fewer comments it seems to get in my Splitcoast gallery. As long as it makes me and Lee happy, that's what counts, right? 'Cause we're the ones who will be looking at it twenty years from now. Anyway, I started another layout yesterday and finished it today, but I thought it might be interesting to show you a bit what my process is.

Usually I pull out the set of pictures I want to work with and some cardstock (which may or may not be the color I end up using for my page base), and then I look through my sketch binder for a layout idea that works with my photos.

So while I was working on this yesterday, I tried out a couple of different layouts and took pictures of them so I could remember what they looked like when I went back to choose the one I liked the best. I don't know why I didn't think of doing this a long time ago, it's not like I'm wasting film ;)

I looked at my blog posts from the 2009 cherry blossom festival and discovered that one of the photos (lower right corner in the above picture) was a vertical shot, not horizontal. Oops. So I looked for a sketch that accommodated two vertical shots.

Most of the time I choose a layout and then figure out how I want to do my title, but this time I knew exactly how I wanted the title so I did it first and then looked for sketches that would fit it.

I don't necessarily follow the sketches slavishly; basically I'm looking for something I can springboard off of and sometimes my finished layout is quite different from the sketch I started with. Anyway, this last one is the one I more or less went with...I did change a couple of things before I was done with it though.

I just thought that my grid paper was kinda cool-looking when I finished my title letters :) You can see the marks of several other projects on there too, heh. Looks like I've been doing a lot of pink and red lately.

And here's the finished layout, you likey? I do!! The title letters show up better IRL than they do in the photo; I traced a lettering template onto white cardstock, cut the letters out, and then sponged them with four different shades of pink (Pink Pirouette, Pretty in Pink, Regal Rose, and Rose Red, if you're interested). It's funny, I had originally picked out Lavender Lace for my page base and then when I was shopping for layout ideas I put them all on Pretty in Pink instead. But then I decided that was TOO pink, so I went back to my first idea with the lavender instead and I liked it much better. Oh yeah, "sakura" is the Japanese word for cherry blossom, hence the title.

I ordered some photos which I should get sometime this week; until that happens, I've only got pictures for one more layout in this album. I do, however, have a zillion other pictures I could work with...I have lots from my parents' visit to Okinawa, I still haven't started our honeymoon scrapbook, and I've got tons of pictures of Sadie and Vader all printed out. The one really nice thing about being so far behind with scrapping is that I can just go with whatever inspires me on a particular day, and there's no chance that I won't have *something* to do. Ha!

For now though, I think I'll eat dinner and work some on my stitching project while I watch some TV. I kind of have a problem switching back and forth between stitching, scrapping and reading--I tend to do a whole lot of one and ignore the other two depending on my mood, but I'm trying to make progress with all three right now. Wish me luck. TTFN!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Mom's New Favorite Picture

So, since I was a very bad blogger last fall while I was back in Texas, I never posted any pictures from stuff like Thanksgiving, and for some reason today seems like the day to post one. Behold, my mom's new favorite picture:

That's me and my brother, Adam. I took this picture of us on Thanksgiving Day in between running back and forth cooking and things (the black around my neck is apron strings). You know what? We both have the same goofy smile. I don't think that we've ever been told we look alike though--we managed to get on opposite sides of the gene pool. Anyway, I printed out some pictures to make Christmas presents for my friends Misty and Chris, so I printed this photo out for my mom at the same time; I don't think she even knew it existed till I did that. And now it lives on her desk at work.

For the Christmas presents, I got some frames with three spots for 4x6 photos, and then printed out the following three pictures:

Taken at Chris's wedding.

Now you know what my wedding dress looked like.

And Misty's wedding...we used the same venue for our wedding receptions.

Anyway, Misty, Chris and I have been great friends since high school. The three of us really started hanging out together when we all had our senior English class together, and ever since then we always get together anytime we're all back "home" at the same time. Chris lives in California now and of course I move everywhere, but Misty still lives within an hour of where we all grew up. And every time we get together, we always take photos, so several years ago I started some little 6x6 scrapbooks for the three of us and I mail them new pages when we take more photos together. Which reminds me, I need to do the ones from last year and send those. But anyway, of course we all went to each other's weddings, so I thought this would be a really neat thing for each of us to have.

This concludes today's random post :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Signs of Spring

We had a totally gorgeous, sunny Saturday in England today. Didn't go anywhere or do anything really, but I did finally take some pictures of the daffodils growing around the village, starting with the ones in my backyard:

Which have been fighting with gravity and are apparently losing. Either that, or they're acknowledging me as their queen.

Anyway, I think I waited just a little bit too late to take pictures today as the light was fading too fast for me to do the circuit that I usually walk with the dogs (I took them out around 12:30 today and had two different people tell me "good morning". So I'm not the only one who says that regardless of what time it is) so I just walked down to the church.

This is the *other* church in our village, St. Mary's. I posted pictures in February of the smaller church, St. Nicholas's; St. Mary's is a larger church but a smaller graveyard and Lee still thinks I'm a little weird for wanting to wander around graveyards and he might be right about that, but I think they're interesting.

Couldn't decide which picture of the church I liked better, so you get both. St. Mary's has several patches of daffodils (most of them not in the graveyard) so I headed for those.

I liked this one since it's yellow with an orange center, but I didn't get the focus really sharp on this. And since daffodils kind of point downwards and I didn't have a partner to prop them up for me to photograph, I had to do a weird crouchy thing to get pictures and it's harder than it sounds.

See, this picture I like quite a bit. It was taken through the ironwork on a gate; the blurry diagonal line and the dark bit up at the top of the flower are parts of the gate but I don't think they detract from the flower in this picture.

Here's a shot from a little further back; I liked the heart shape on the gate. And yes, that is a gravestone in the background, but I stayed on the pathway the entire time rather than wandering through the gravestones. I can see several of them from outside the church grounds when I walk by with Sadie and Vader, so I already know that a lot of the gravestones are weathered to the point that they're not really legible, so I focused instead on the flowers.

Believe it or not, this one was right next to a trash can; good thing I took this one so close up so you can't tell that from the picture :)

There's a little separate section on the corner of the church lot that's fenced off by itself and has a small monument to the local men who died in both World Wars, so that's where I took these last two pictures.

And at this point the "golden light" of late afternoon was pretty much gone, so I walked back home. Both of the village churches are only a 2-3 minute walk from my house, just in opposite directions. There are daffodils growing all over the village; I used to see crocuses here and there but they've already gone. I'll have to remember next year that they only last a hot minute so I can get some pictures of them too.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Have No Witty or Interesting Title for This Post

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone :) Hope you're all wearing green...I've got on my Baylor University 100th anniversary Homecoming shirt and some shamrock socks with pink Eskimo Joe's pajama pants. Being an alumna of a university whose colors are green and gold comes in handy at St. Patrick's Day, I have several shirts to choose from.

Anyway, I thought I'd post a few more paper crafting projects today. I'd like to take pictures around the village as spring is definitely on its way now, but it's been really overcast and kind of icky for the last several days and I'm hoping for a sunny day. Since I haven't gotten one yet, how about a sunny card instead?

This card is dedicated to Liz, who gave up coffee for Lent ;) I made it for this week's sketch challenge on Splitcoast.

I've also done some scrappin' in the last week or so.

Here's a bunch of goofy pictures of us bowling. I kind of worry that I made this page too busy, but I was trying to get it to be a high-energy and fun layout since the pictures are so goofy. And then I made something completely different:

I love how this one turned out. It took me *forever* to narrow down my pictures since I printed out FIFTEEN pictures from this road trip...and I'm still thinking about doing another layout with the rest of the pictures. They were all so gorgeous!! Liz saw these pages when she came over here yesterday and couldn't believe how blue the water was. Since it took me so long to narrow down the pictures, I decided to use one of my favorite scrapbook sketches to put the layout together. I've used this sketch twice before but I think all three layouts look different, what do you think?

This was the first one I used the sketch for; the pictures are from when Missy and I went on a tour to a place where they hand-make kokeshi dolls and ceramic shisa.

These photos were some of the first we took when we moved to Okinawa; it was another gray day when we went on the Ferris wheel but I think the red background paper really makes this layout pop.

Lee's been working some really crazy hours this week; he went in really early this morning, came home at lunchtime and then went back in this evening and probably won't be back until tomorrow morning. So I'm in the computer room, blogging on the laptop while I upload pictures to Winkflash on the Mac ;) I'm hoping to order some England photos in the very near future so I can scrap those while the memories are still fresh in my mind, and since I haven't printed out photos since the spring of 2009 I've got quite a few Japan photos to catch up on as well. The last couple of days I've spent *hours* on the computer trying to sort through our photos, deleting duplicates and ones we don't need. I did the England ones first since we don't have a zillion of those yet, and now I'm working back through Japan. Big project but it'll pay off in the end when we can find any photo when we want it.

My alarm clock radio is set to a classical music station, so I was listening to that this morning while Lee was getting ready to go in to work and heard a beautiful Haydn symphony. I'm not 100% sure I wrote down correctly which one it was (and bless the man on the radio for saying what it was right afterwards) but I think I got it close, so I've got a Haydn CD in my Amazon shopping cart. I'm a bit of a classical music nerd after being in band for seven years :) Tchaikovsky is one of my favorites, and I have all 9 of Beethoven's symphonies which I really like too. Oddly, Mozart doesn't really do anything for me, and I think this is the first time I've really listened to much by Haydn but I loved what they played on the radio this morning. I am also partial to movie scores; I'm mildly obsessed with the Star Trek one and the Princess Bride score has long been a favorite as well as The Last Unicorn. I also enjoyed the score for the Percy Jackson movie, although the books are better than the move by a factor of a gazillion. Anyway, told you I was a music nerd.

Right now I'm listening to my Beatles playlist, which always puts me in a good mood. My all-time favorite Beatles song is Strawberry Fields Forever...my favorite band has always been the Bangles. I told Lee I was so proud when we were in London a couple weeks ago and he started singing "I'm going down to Liverpool to do nothing" which is a lyric from a Bangles song...and he gets extra points since that one wasn't one of their singles :) I have a goofy picture of me walking like an Egyptian at our wedding...well, it's at my parents' house or else I'd post it here for your viewing pleasure.

Anyway, I think that's enough rambling about music; I'm going to tackle some more pictures. Hope you all have a wonderful St. Paddy's.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Henry II's Magnificent Keep

That's what the sign called it, anyway. So here it is, Orford Castle:

Lee took that photo, but I took the next one!

And then I couldn't decide which one I liked better, so here's yet another view:

Anyway, the castle was built between 1165 and 1173, so more than 300 years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. It looked kind of tiny from the outside, so I was surprised how many rooms there were on the inside--especially since the walls are 10 feet thick. Ever seen the movie The Lion in Winter? King Henry in that movie is the same one that had this castle built, and he was married to Eleanor of Aquitaine (who I will always imagine looked like Katharine Hepburn thanks to that movie). If you read about her on Wikipedia, Eleanor was one of those people seemed to be involved in *everything*. Fascinating woman.

Ok, back to the castle. This one is unusual in its design: an circular main section with three towers appended. There are I think three levels of the main chamber, and on each floor it's a pretty big open room with smaller chambers on the sides built in the walls. I'm getting a little ahead of myself though, still got some more pictures from the outside.

The whole area around the castle was really hilly; that's the remains of the earthworks and such that surrounded the castle. It used to have a wall around it (called a curtain wall) and some other structures, but those are long gone, quarried for building material when the town and castle's fortunes went downhill.

K, there's Lee looking up at the castle to give you an idea of its size. I don't know, when I think "castle", I think huge and imposing, don't you? I'm sure it was more imposing when the outer walls and stuff were still intact, and hey, this was built in the 12th century so WOW that it's still standing 850+ years later.

And here's Lee, checking to see if it's loaded :) I thought it was funny that the cannon pointed right at the parking lot; there's a car right behind Lee. I thought it was funny to see an ancient cannon pointed at a modern car, but I didn't take a picture of it.

One more picture of the outside just because I couldn't pick out just one. Usually when we go places like this, I get a postcard or two since they always have beautiful pictures, but this time I thought my pictures were just as good as what was on the postcards. Except for one that must have been taken from a helicopter or something, that one was pretty cool looking.

But we didn't just walk around the castle, we also went in it!

Here's Lee checking out the fireplace in the main hall, the first room we entered.

And this is the doorway to a small kitchen off the main hall. I tell you what, I am so glad this isn't MY kitchen! It's tiny and dark and I'm really attached to the idea of modern indoor plumbing. There is a well in the basement of the castle, but due to its proximity to the coast the well water was salty and brackish, so collected rainwater was used for drinking. Still, that well would be handy in case of a siege.

Yeah, that's the kitchen. That's it. My kitchen is bigger than this, not to mention the part where it has a lot more cabinet space ;) I think that's a sink on the right wall?

Lee is listening to the audio tour, which told us that most English castles have staircases that curve to the right because defenders would be rushing down the stairs, bashing about with swords, and they were all right-handed because a.) statistically, more people are right-handed than left; and b.) witches were left-handed. Ok, so I'm not 100% sure of the accuracy of that second statement, but it sounds like it could be true, right? Anyway, supposedly it was easier on the defenders to have a staircase that curved in that direction. If it were me, though, I'd have done it the opposite direction so that defenders could hang onto the rope or hand rail along the outside of the staircase and hack and bash with the other hand (on the inside of the spiral, the stairs are so narrow that you wouldn't be able to keep your footing there). Lee, on the other hand, doesn't think they had handrails when the place was built.

This is the chapel, which was the nicest room in the entire castle because, as the audio tour informed us, "Nothing is too good for God". This was the only room in the entire castle that had real glass windows. See the three cubbyholes in the walls in the left corner? The bottom right one is actually a sink to wash the vessels used for communion. The cubby on the left is where they kept the communion cup, and the smallest one above the sink is where the plate for the bread went. Back in the day the entire castle would have been festooned with tapestries, so I imagine it would look a lot different than all this bare stone.

After that, we went up to the roof of the castle, which is where the bakery was to minimize risk of fire. Because apparently a stone castle *could* burn to the ground.

We got one of our imaginary friends to take our picture; you can see the town of Orford behind us.

Lee took a couple of pictures through the bars, so here's a better view of the town. You can see the tower of the church in the far left, it's the tallest building in the photo.

Off the other side of the roof...which is weird, I don't remember seeing that ruined wall when we were walking around, but whatever.

So there you have it, our first visit to an English castle. Lee and I also joined English Heritage, which administers a lot of the castles, churches, and other historical sites in England. It cost us 77 pounds for the two of us for a year's membership, but with that you get free admission to their sites, they send you a magazine, and we got these handy guidebooks that list all their properties so we can plan out LOTS more trips to see more castles and abbeys and churches and all manner of historical schtuff. It would have cost us ten pounds to get into Orford Castle, so if we go see six or seven more castles in the next year the membership will have paid for itself. Don't think that will be a problem ;)

If you want to see some more information on Orford, I found sites here and here that were pretty interesting. I'm linking them up here so I can refer back to them when I get these photos to scrapbook, ha!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Another Church & Graveyard

We had totally gorgeous weather here on Saturday (still a little cold for my taste, probably in the mid-50s to low 60s) but instead of going for a walk around our village, Lee and I hopped in the car and drove an hour and a half to the small, picturesque town of Orford, which is on the coast. We met a big group of people there to go see a castle, but once again I have no pictures of these other people so you'll have to take my word for it that they were there (or else start worrying that our coterie of imaginary friends is growing ever larger). Anyway, we managed to get to the town a good 45 minutes before anyone else, so we walked around a bit on our own. The first thing we saw was this:

These two birds were out in the middle of the road, having a big squawking argument. They didn't even move when a car came up; the driver had to go around. They'd peck at each other and make all these really funny noises and trust me when I tell you, it was hilarious to watch but only because it wasn't a knock-down, drag-out, let's-try-to-kill-each-other kind of fight. So after that, we walked on up the way to the church.

And since Lee said that I wrote last time that he's a terrible camera hog, I was the primary picture-taker this weekend, so all the photos except the one of the birds on today's post were taken by yours truly :) Isn't that a gorgeous blue sky? Told you the weather was fabulous, and now we have photographic proof that it's not always gray skies and rain in England. Well, ok, so it was gray skies and rain today ;)

This is the side of the church; we turned right from where we were when we took the first photo and walked down a bit before I took this one.

Look, a sign of spring! Unless I am much mistaken, the purple flowers are crocuses and the yellow ones are narcissus. We've got these coming up in our village too, and quite a profusion of daffodils growing in our backyard. Lucky for me they don't seem to require any kind of care on my part, or they'd probably be dead already...I've got a pair of black thumbs, but man, I do love flowers. Thinking about getting some seeds and see how I do, but I digress--back to the church.

Lee thought this tombstone looked cool because of the skull on top. From looking at the full-size image (I shrink down pictures before I put them on the blog so they load quicker), the first name on this is Samuel but I can't make out the last name, maybe Ogden, and it looks like the year says something like 1752.

We didn't go walking through the cemetery because Lee thinks that's a little bit creepy and not respectful enough, but we saw this one from the path so I had to take a picture of it. Just think, this headstone is older than the United States.

This is the back side of the church, and I got pretty excited when I saw the half-ruined archway, which is from an old Norman choir (I'm thinking that the "choir" is the name of a particular part of a church, not in this case referring to the singers themselves). I found a little bit of extra information on this site. Anyway, I have a feeling I'm going to be photographing a lot of ruins, churches, and castles for the next couple of years, which makes me happy :)

I probably could have stayed here and taken another couple dozen photos, but instead we walked over to the castle and took some photos around the outside of it before we met up with the rest of the group. Guess you know what I'm going to blog about next time, huh? ;) K, so I like to drag things out a little bit, but hey, it's my blog so I can do that. And next time we'll actually be *in* some of the photos! TTFN.