Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Scrapbook Layout: Star Party

This year we stopped on the way home from our Christmas trip to visit McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains for one of their Star Parties.  It was really wonderful and a perfect night for it, if cold.   I learned a lot, so I am hoping the kids did too.  And it was fun!  I would absolutely recommend it if you can get there.  It's not particularly expensive ($12 adults/$8 kids), but you do need to get a hotel room nearby because it ends late and is way out in the middle of the desert. James planned it near the new moon, and that was a good idea too.  Even just the tiny sliver of moon was blinding to our dark-adjusted eyes until it set, early in the evening.  The demonstrators did a presentation, telling a little about the observatory and showing us the constellations. They had laser pointers that made a super-long visible beam so that they could really point to each star!  That made a big difference - knowing to what exactly they were pointing.  And looking through the telescopes was very cool.  We saw the clouds on the surface of Jupiter!

When I started writing down what I'd like to tell about the visit, I surprised myself by writing two pages.  It wasn't that is was so momentous, but just that I was interested in telling the little information like how we saw the Orion Nebula and how we bundled the kids up by putting their jammies under their clothes and how one of the demonstrators took a special interest in Sammy and explained everything again just to him.  I decided to just make it a double page spread and instead of narrowing down what I wanted to say, and to write very tiny!

My pictures were not awesome - one is a mostly dark shot of us inside one of the telescope domes.  You can't really see anything but I used it because it evokes a memory for me.  My other photo is a blurry shot of the boys drinking their hot chocolate but I love the Star Date Cafe sign in the background.  The two photos of the Indian Lodge, the hotel within the state park where we stayed, are not bad, and I included them to show a little of the beauty of the mountain desert (and that I was there too, even though I'm not in any of the other photos!)

I started the layout with plain, navy blue cardstock and flicked some Mr. Huey Opaque White mist on it.  I worked the main page around a piece of paper with a splattered pattern I had made some time ago and never used. It started with a piece of very glossy cardstock, then I dripped ink (from re-inkers) on it and blew the ink around with my heat tool while drying/heat-setting it. Pretty, but also odd, so it was sitting around unused. It had a fantastical-space-nebula feel to it so I wanted to use it for this page.  I also wanted to use one of the stickers we each wore that were the "ticket" to the star party.  I covered it with Glossy Accents. Although it didn't turn out quite as smooth as I would have liked, it's still thick and glossy and I like it.  The only hitch with it was that the color was a neon yellow-orange and very hard to match!  I found a couple of items that were close and called that good, including a little paper sack from a museum gift store.  It was from another science museum but it has a similar memory-feel to me.  I layered it with the nebula paper and a piece of packaging - a pretty, geometric-patterned background card from the new gloves I received for Christmas and wore to the Star Party.

I spent forEVER rearranging that stack of layers with my photos and a part of the observatory brochure.  It was very difficult to get it balanced with the layers showing, the nebula showing and not give the feeling of trapped white space (meaning a blank unconnected space in between elements).  It still has a little of that feeling but I like it anyway :).  I mitigated it a little by using a strip of navy washi tape and a punch paper circle at the top of the photos to connect it to the title, which is made of silver foil Thickers.

The embellishment clusters were the most fun part of the layout!  I used a very old set of die cut frame/squares and inked them a little darker with Stampin' Up! Midnight Muse.  I used some yellow-orange paper to punch out gears (and the circles out of the middle of the gears), with the SU! gears punch (love that punch!!).  I finished each area with silver dots, little silver glitter stars, and some dots of Stickles. OH, and the stars!  Those are Heidi Swapp sequin stars.  I've had them a while, but aren't they a perfect color match?

I do want to ask some people about white spray mist.  I love the way that stuff looks, but I don't find that it dries properly.  Advice, anyone?  Even if i try heat setting it, it smears in the page protector later.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Scrapbook Layout: On the Wrong Feet


One of the most heard statements in Sammy's life used to be, "Your shoes are on the wrong feet."  Because they were ALWAYS on the wrong feet.  He seemed to prefer them that way - not only did he put them on wrong every time, but he appeared to be perfectly comfortable wearing them wrong.  It happened so much it became a part of his personality.  

I had these pictures printed and set aside with a little kit of papers I intended to use.  However, when I was enjoying making use of old supplies on my last layout, I also came across this sheet of paper.  I realized I was given the sheet when I was pregnant with Sammy - it is super cute but not so easy to use!  I was tired of putting it off, so I decided to try a different approach - pick the paper first and then find something to do with it.  I went through my photos and found this set to be a good fit.  I also pulled out some supplies that had been around a while.  The three little cards with the animals were not from the same manufacturer or kit as the paper, but don't they go together nicely?  My favorite item is the strip of red elastic, the kind that is in children's adjustable waist pants (it came on a clothing tag), which I cut and used in two places.  

The resulting layout is busier than my usual taste. I think that because I was focusing on the background paper, I didn't want to cover it all up with other papers.  I might like it better with a little more visual space!  Time will tell.  The animals are certainly cute enough to make them fun to look at, and I like the memory represented here!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Scrapbook Layout: Tee Ball


Sammy was so excited to be playing Tee Ball this past spring instead of just tagging along with big brother!  From his first game he was asking me too scrapbook his Tee Ball season.  I wanted to wait until the season was at least completed!  Of course, then when summer arrived I forgot all about it for a while, but here it is!

A lot of these pieces are from a little kit I had before Sammy was even born - the letter stickers, the mini cards at the top right of the photos, the green chipboard, the white flowered pieces.  Of course the washi tape is new, as is the ledger paper.  I have been thinking about throwing out/donating a bunch of my older supplies so maybe that's why these called to me - they wanted to be used on a layout instead? The life dreams of old supplies aside, it is pretty satisfying to find a use that I like for something that's been hanging around unused for too long.  It inspired me for my next layout too!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Upcycled Starbucks Bag


For a while now I've been saving the packaging from my Starbucks coffee beans.  I buy coffee at Costco in 40 oz bags, so after I open up all the seams and wash the empty bags, I have a pretty large piece of material.  If you haven't felt of these bags, the material is a tough, plasticized foil, printed all the way around with the Starbucks bag design.  It would normally just be trash, so I think I started saving them because they seemed just tough and useful without having a specific idea of what to do with them.

The idea for the bag came about when I was wishing for a large, tough, not-easily-stained bag to take my stuff to the ballpark.  Both my boys play baseball so we are at the ballpark a lot.  I take a poster, a large scorepad and pencil, and various snacks to  every game.  I got tired of lugging things individually and none of my bags were right - mostly they were either too small for the 12x18" poster or not stiff enough.

When I recently got my new sewing machine (which I should post about!  We'll see if I get around to it though), I finally worked up the motivation to make my envisioned tote bag.  I started with five coffee bags, plus an extra, small bag from another brand of coffee that I sewed in as a pocket. I used two bags of the newer packaging design for the outer material, two bags of the older bag design for the inner liner, and another older design bag for the handles and a little anchoring strip inside the bag.  I also used some sew-in interfacing purchased from Hobby Lobby to give it a little more stiffness and something in between the layers of foil.

 To make it, I took four of the bags and trimmed off the previously crimped edges and made them all the same size.   I should have sewn the pocket and anchoring strip in at this point, but I forgot and had to struggle with it later.  But it would have been the right time to do it!  I sewed the inner pieces, right sides together, on the sides and bottom.  I did the same with the outer pieces, but also with the lining on the wrong side of the "fabric" (it was a stack of four pieces - lining, fabric, fabric, lining).  Then on each bottom corner of each bag (inner and outer), I sewed across the bottom corner and cut off the resulting triangle so that it would make a box-bottom. 

I made the handles with four strips of the extra fabric.  I sewed two strips together (attaching the short ends) so that they would be long enough to carry my poster in my finished bag.  A person would normally sew a tube, turn it right-side out, then use it as-is or after top stitching it, but this material is way too stiff and difficult for that.  Instead I just finger pressed the edges under and sewed it right sides out.  

My plan had been to nest the two bags, right sides together, sew the top seam except for a few inches, turn it right-side-out through the hole and then top stitch it closed.  However, turning just one bag, before sewing them together, was so difficult that I realized I would never be able to turn it through a hole.  SO, I folded in the top toward the wrong side on each of the bags and finger pressed it.  Then I put the bags inside each other, wrong-sides-together, placed the handles where I wanted them, and sewed around the entire top.  I had to fudge a little since the inner bag was not smaller than the outer bag and there is no stretch to the material.  What this meant in practice was sewing them together with the seams of the inner bag not quite all the way open.  It seems to have worked great!  I did reinforce the area over the handles with some extra stitches.

This material is not easy to work with.  The lack of stretch and the fact that every pin hole is permanent meant that I didn't want to pin much, and yet I needed to sew the pieces together without some helpful stitching that would be there if I were working with traditional fabric.  I am not planning to run out and make five more of these (yes, I do have coffee bags left!), but I love the result!

Monday, May 06, 2013

Lexington Liveaboard


We spent out weekend on something we've wanted to do for a few years: the overnight program called the Lexington Liveaboard.  This is an overnighter that the USS Lexington, a WWII-era aircraft carrier docked in Corpus Christi bay and converted to a museum, conducts with scouts and JROTC programs where the kids (and parents for our kids' ages) stay overnight on the ship with a full schedule of educational (and fun) programs with the staff there.  When we visited the USS Lexington a few years ago (the kids were so little!), we were really jealous of the families doing this, and were determined to take advantage of the opportunity if we got a chance.  Our cub scout pack goes every two years, so we signed the whole family up.  

The quarters were cramped!  I should have taken a picture of our accommodations  metal bunks stacked three high.  The women were on one end of the ship and the men were on the other, making me wonder why I bothered to come... but we had a good time.  The boys loved running around and exploring, we all got plenty of stair/ladder workout, and Zack was promoted from wolf rank to bear rank.  We didn't get much sleep but we did have fun!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Scrapbook Layout: Yes, Sammy Gets to Play too!

This is the third of three baseball layouts I made about the boys' Fall Little League season.  This one is about Sammy tagging along with Zack's team.  Sammy is just as crazy about baseball as Zack is, so it was really sweet that he was able to play along with the big kids. 
As far as the design and the outcome, this one might be my favorite.  I got to use my three new washi tapes plus some pieces of packaging I thought were cute.  I recently bought some small letter stickers because when I tried to put together titles, all my letters were too big.  These teeny orange tile letter stickers from Basic Grey are the perfect size. 
It will rest next to the "bonus team" layout in our album, so I chose some items just to tie the two together in a pleasing way.  The paper on which the two smaller pictures is matted is used on both layouts, as is that bright orange color.  I also used black ink on the edges and droplets of Mr. Huey opaque white ink spray on both.
Oh, and I put a stamp of a tape measure showing four-and-a-half on the paper embellishment at the bottom of the page, thinking of Sammy's age.  James completely surprised me by noticing both the stamped image AND realizing the age connection.  He gets a gold star in the category of Scrapbook Appreciation for that one!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Scrapbook Layout: bonus team

This was the second of three stories about our Little League experience this past fall (see the first layout here).  Because I had fewer pictures and much of the story was recorded in my typewritten journaling (which will be behind the layout), I was able to do a single page layout for this one. 
This team had a much different feel that our main team, so while that layout was old-fashioned and vintage-y, this one was more intense with the bright orange and the bits of black.  It still has some distressed elements, though, with inked edges and some white ink droplets, so there is a little continuity there too.  I included a selvage off of an orange print fabric because I liked the progression of numbers - it reminded me of the players numbers and the lineup.  I also included the sticker from the fancy hat for the team.  It is black and reflective-yellow, so I added some yellow to the other embellishment groupings.  I am really pleased with how it turned out!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Scrapbook Layout: Little League Fall 2012

I am thrilled to have finally finished this layout about Zack's first season on Little League this past fall.  I started it over Christmas and got stuck.  I did a couple of other things in between, but I really wanted this done and had a hard time with it.  The main problem was that there were really three main stories about this season that I wanted to tell, but there was no way to capture all of it on one layout.  I knew that when I started, so I was planning to do more than one page, but when I went to try to do this part, I couldn't separate the stories enough to know exactly what I was trying to do here.  Zack had his main team, which was full of delightful people that we became really attached to.  We loved watching all of them improve so much.  But at the same time, Zack substituted a couple of times on a more skilled and aggressive team.   That was a lesser part of our season, but because there was some drama involved, there was a lot of story there.  And finally, Sammy got to tag along too and I wanted to capture the story of his participation. 
I wasn't able to get un-stuck until I typed out the long, drawn-out story of our whole season, with all the interacting parts and people.  It was great to capture it all for the sake of our family memories.  I plan to print it on cardstock and tuck in between this layout and the next one.  After I did all that writing (and it took a long time!), I was able to come back to this page and be much more content to limit the journaling to this one part of the story.  I wrote about what a good experience we all had with this team, even though we lost every game and added some photo captions.
A couple of notes on the layout itself - the background paper is plain cardstock but I used a number stencil and a sponge and ink to add a very subtle pattern, concentrated in the corners.  The title is die cut with the QuicKutz Chocolate alphabet die (which I bought specifically so I would have some medium-sized numbers on one of my dies. 
Stay tuned in the next few days to see the other two pages that tell the other two stories! 
p.s. I'm not sure why I'm having such a hard time getting a good photo of the full layout but I tried again.  Hopefully it's a little crisper!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Scrapbook Layout: Cracking Crablegs

You know how occasionally you have a just lovely family time?  When you try to do something special for and with the kids and they are as delighted and grateful as you had hoped they would be and everyone has a beautiful moment together?  I think those are too few and far between to take for granted!  It happens too often that someone is bored, or someone is cranky, or whiny or flippant or impatient or... you get the idea.  But this was one of those special evenings when I really needed a boost and so we decided to do something a little special.  We went out for crablegs and taught the boys how to crack and eat them.  They loved it!  How often does it happen that we try something late-ish in the evening and both boys are cheerful and patient and appreciative?  I have a very warm memory of the evening so I wanted to make a page about it.  Every time I look at it, I can enjoy now how much we all enjoyed then. 

I'm feeling too lazy to list out many supplies, but I know the coral letters are Basic Grey, the flashy arrow is Heidi Swapp, and that black brad is Lost and Found.  The punched butterfly is from Stampin' Up, as is the heart die for that coral heart, which is Stampin' Up cardstock (always a lovely weight).  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Card

Here is the easy little card I made for each boy!  To make this, I used the Stampin' Up! Heart Framelits to cut the window and the heart, then glued punched circles to the shape, trimming it with scissors to finish the shape. 

Happy Valentine's Day to you!

Friday, February 01, 2013

Scrapbook Layout: family favorites, feb 2012

This is a layout I made last February to document how our family was at that time.  I wanted to play on the Valentine theme and use some fun supplies without making a Valentine layout.  It's a really fun thing to just ask everyone what their favorites are, and it's even more fun to look back on!

The background paper, the sizzlit doily die and the heart shapes are all Stampin' Up! if you are interested in finding them.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Handmade Cards: Peace on Earth

Here is a set of cards with embossed and glittered snowflakes to start off your holiday season!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Harvest Time! (and cooking some of the harvest!)

We planted a fall garden in between the heat of the summer and our usual winter plantings (lettuce!!).  The veggies that are recommended for that time in our zone were pretty limited so we only planted cucumbers and green beans.  That was ok, though, since it gave us the room for several plants of each.  

We wanted multiple cucumber plants so there would be plenty of chances for the flowers to be pollinated. James showed the boys how to pollinate by hand but after a while there were so many flowers that there were plenty of bees and butterflies and we were able to just let them go along.  We have already picked nine big, delicious cucumbers!

We put bush beans in other half of our space.  Those we planted from seed and James added some bamboo poles that he got free on a visit Boggy Creek Farms & Farmers Market.  Something about the bamboo tied up with twine looks really appealing!  The beans are producing like crazy too.  This (below) is about a third of what we've harvested so far.  The boys didn't like them at first because the surface is a little fuzzy/sticky.  It feels a little velcro-ish straight off the vine.  We thought that would just boil away but it didn't - instead you need to kind of scrub them and then they turn smooth, more like what you buy.

I tried cooking the green beans two ways.  James wanted his boiled and I wanted mine roasted (this is about par for the course around here!).  For the boiled, we just cut them into short lengths and cooked until tender.  The did have a delicate flavor that was more green-bean-y than the store-bought.  Mine were even better (so I say, anyway!).  I blanched them and then put them under the broiler with olive oil, salt and Adams Reserve Kicked Up Chicken seasoning (bottle looks like this).  Roasty and soooo delicious!

(And in case you are wondering how to please the kids, Zack liked the boiled and Sammy liked the roasted!)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Scrapbook Layout: City Museum

Here is the layout I made about our visit to the City Museum in St. Louis.  We had SUCH a great time there.  I wanted to do a layout about the fun but also try to capture the kind of weird, fun, dark aesthetic they have.  I started by putting a black vignette on all the photos, then used a dark background and added inking, stamping and splattering.

There is quite a bit of stamping on the background but it's really subtle - you may not be able to see it here.  For example, there is some text stamped on the purple background paper that is barely visible in the bottom photo.  Even the chipboard flourishes are inked and stamped.  In the future I may try to make that more pronounced but I don't know.  Sometimes you don't really see an element but it still adding something.  The splatters are a combination of white misting spray and diamond Stickles.  There is also one small star punched out of glitter paper using the mini star punch from the Stampin' Up holiday mini-punch pack.

One funny thing is that green polka-dot paper.  It is out of one of the first scrapbook paper packs I bought when I started scrapbooking and I was pretty sure I would never use it again.  For some reason it called me back to combine it with that great, current Basic Grey paper that is used for the background.  

I'm not sure if I really captured the weird/dark, but that's ok!  I may go back and add something, but I'm still not sure what (ideas??).