Saturday, March 22, 2008

family reunion at last

So happy to have my middle son home safe and sound from his long tour in Baghdad, although his wife will remain there for a few more months till her tour ends. Right now he's helping me update my playlists and taking them wireless with mini Bose speakers tucked around my scrap desk.  How cool is that!  Of course, we're up all hours of the night till he gets his inner clock adjusted. Next he's looking forward to shedding desert sand during several weeks of surfing in Costa Rica. This weekend, however, we'll celebrate by visiting his younger brother at UVA and dining out at Zocalo's, the popular restaurant where our fledgling bartender works when he's not in class or the ER.

Besides teaching my classes, I've been busy building the guest teacher roster and coordinating the new Design Team 2008 (look for their blog soon) for Scrapbooks Plus. So before I head off for the weekend, here's a quick sample of my last-month's Design Team layout, using Daisy Bucket papers, a sticker alphabet, and a few embellishments. Using only the leftovers from assembling the members' kits, I played a bit with the pale blue alphabet stickers to compensate (and added a snip from the red net bag holding avocados to foof up the "love you" circle). As usual, my granddaughters are the main attraction!

Hope you all have a wonderful celebratory weekend, too!

Monday, March 17, 2008

looking for spring

Last night I managed to read half of Rita Mae Brown's charming (but not engrossing) The Tell-Tale Horse before falling asleep. In this book, set in Virginia hunt country, the horses, hounds, and foxes have conversations, too. One peculiar conversation among two female foxes (vixens) still hovered in my memory this morning:

"You know, Georgia, I often wonder if [people] used to know things as we know them and somehow, way back when they started living in cities, they began to lose the ability. Now it's gone. I mean, they can hardly tell what the weather will be from one day to the next. On their own, I mean. It's sad and dangerous."

"Why is it dangerous?" Georgia [a young grey fox] asked.

"An animal that violates or forgets its own nature eventually dies, I think. Trouble is, they'll take a lot of us down with them . . ." said Inky [a jet-black fox].

As a gardener and amateur philosopher (who isn't?!), I'm a serious believer in the importance of the earth's natural rhythms. And, here in the heavily populated DC/NOVA suburbs, I do find it difficult to hear them through all the macadam and concrete and steel and fumes. So this morning I was out early looking for signs of spring in my suburban yard, turning my face to the blue sky in anticipation just like the flower buds.

Early daffodils along the forest edge, a little sleepy-headed just like me.

Forsythia bushes tripping over themselves, some already blooming indoors in the tall forcing vases.

Climbing roses daring to show their tender colors among the thorns.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

carol wingert returns

We had so much fun in Carol Wingert's delightful classes at Scrapbooks Plus last year that we've gladly invited her back! This gracious down-to-earth lady will be teaching THREE outstanding classes the weekend of Saturday, June 7 and Sunday, June 8.

Carol teaches regularly at her local scrapbook store Scrapbooks Etc in Mesa, AZ, is a favorite Creative Escape alumna instructor, teaches her classes across the country, and recently taught an online class all about color on BPS.   She has co-authored two project books, Artful Memories and Lifelines, and her work has been featured in Stampington's creative magazines, among others.  In addition, on her own blog, this prolific designer currently hosts creatologie, her series of monthly kits.

Carol will join us for a weekend of colorful NEW scrapping projects showcasing her well-known classic but inventive style.  One class is so new that she is still waiting for products from CHA as I write. Another class is a clever and challenging take on the 7 Gypsies ATG spinner, and the third uses a clipboard as the book cover with newly-released Teresa Collins and Jenni Bowlin papers for a hand-assembled book! Here are sample photos from two of the classes she'll be teaching; the third photo, featuring cheerful spring colors, will be added soon.

#1 - For Girls Only (Saturday, 10am-1pm)
What can be more feminine than a mini book filled with spring papers, butterflies and flowers? And that’s just the start. Add a little texture (created by you!), some ribbons, lace and buttons, some transparent elements, a little paint and gesso and you will have a beautiful book to keep or to give as a gift. This is the perfect book to celebrate friendships or to honor a special female in your life.

#2 - Spinning Your Story (Saturday, 2pm-6pm)

How would you like to capture a year’s worth of stories and memories all in one place and with just one spin? Imagine a spinner sitting on your desk, counter or coffee table…packed with little cards filled with journaling, photos and fun embellishments. This class will take you from imagination to reality as we fill a 7 gypsies ATC card holder with cards and dividers prepped to hold the stories and memories of your year. Spinner included in class fee.

#3 - Remember the Journey        .(Sunday, 11am-2pm)

This little travel journal just may have it all…it’s portable enough to stick in a tote, yet large enough for photos, journaling and ephemera…it has a clipboard on the cover (imagine that!) and pockets inside…it has ribbons, twill and dangles…and it’s filled with brand new papers from Teresa Collins and coordinating papers from Jenni Bowlin. Best of all, you make the book from scratch…all by yourself! You will definitely not want to leave home without this one!

Are you excited yet?? We are!! Mark your calendars for Carol's three June 7-8 classes, and call or visit the store soon to reserve your spot.  And don't forget Debby Schuh's three classes on April 26.   Update 3/29: Debby's Round and About Travel Book is sold out already, her Lucky Life has 3 openings left, with just a few more for the Anthropologie album. So call the store to reserve your choices.

Friday, March 07, 2008


While I was haphazardly "unplugged" in Florida, my beautifully-organized friend Jeanette suggested there might be 7 random things about disorganized me that I could pull together in one place. Obviously, it takes me a while to get as many as 7 things together.  Of course, even this randomness has its rules:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So, what can I say about life in the erratic lane?

• I love to bake, but since I have no sweet tooth, I always reduce the sugar in the recipe by at least half. It delights me that people then say my pumpkin bread or my goodie cookies or my whatever are the best they've had, when the main difference is that the other tastes shine through without the sugar overload. Besides, science is beginning to prove that sugar is second only to sun exposure in hastening the aging process. (I pay attention to such things, you know, regardless of how little I can do about it now.)

• Stored somewhere in my basement are 54 matching king-sized sheets, box-pleated to hang as curtains. When we lived on the occupied side of Jerusalem, renting a marble-floored villa constructed by a Palestinian oil man whose wife preferred to live at a more socially advantageous height in the Jerusalem hills, we needed that many sheets to cover the three glass-walled verandas. One morning, as I drew back the curtains on the bedroom veranda, I was astonished and chagrined to see that the Arabs camping in the nearby field had sorted through my garbage to find and lay out like patchwork in the sun all the plastic baggies I had discarded.

• In high school, I was the only girl on the trampoline club. Like a human basketball, I was tossed back and forth in flips, up to the top of the pyramid, somersaulting off our team formations as all the hunky guys pounded the trampoline and flexed their well-developed muscles. Sort of an early Cirque du Soleil -- without the cool music and costumes. Still, although no other girl volunteered to join me in the air, lots envied me the proximity to the muscles.

• In college, in spite of not being an English major, I snagged the post of class rep to meet all the visiting British and American poets and writers who came to speak or run workshops. That included poet Anne Sexton, who was still an exotic and sophisticated woman to us then, before her illness seriously affected her career. She was just about to win the Pulitzer when I last saw her.

• Collecting well-crafted boxes is a serious hobby of mine. I love how the old wood and fixtures look and feel, how the hidden compartments are fitted in, and how much attentive crafting can be put into a small utilitarian object. Among my favorites are my mother's old maple treasure box, several brass-fitted writing boxes, the black Russian lacquer boxes from my trip to Moscow and Leningrad, a Shaker box, and olive wood boxes that still smell of the Middle East. Oh, and an inlaid German box from early in our marriage, and a whole stack of woven hemp OP boxes from Gaza. Plus the Finnish carved birch boxes, some of which are painted red, and . . . you get the idea.

• Books are another passion. It's very hard for me to consider using old books as an altered book resource. Any place will do for reading, although I have my favorite window spots. My most favorite reading nook used to be way up in the grand old trees at my family home, where I could look out over meadows and stretch my imagination to follow those absorbing writers.

• My current obsession is reading mysteries. Something about there usually being a neat and concise rounding up of the clues arrayed along the way appeals to me in my normally chaotic life. At the library, I sweep all the books by one author off the shelves to read at once, so I can appreciate that author's style (and better figure out the ending beforehand.)

Who will tag along? Two bloggers I'm newly enjoying are Nancy and Erin, both starting their tenure on the Scrapbooks Design Team. My sweet friend Amy is getting her blogging rhythm back and could certainly entertain us with 7 random things about mothering. Can Korie come out and play? Also on my list to know better are Polly, Pia, and Mari, one of many Scandinavian blogs that celebrate a pale palette, but she adds an English version, too.

Monday, March 03, 2008

decamped from florida


Spending a week in the Florida Keys was an idyllic thought that turned out to be more idle than idyll. I guess it was really meant to be a vacation from modern technology. Flying in to Ft Lauderdale last Monday, we were greeted by a beautiful day and had high hopes for the week.

But on Tuesday, while we were driving south from Key Largo to Key West, southern Florida experienced a freakish near-total electrical blackout. Caused by an experienced inspector doing a dumb thing (we later learned), a small disconnect glitch ricocheted across the system, shutting down two nuclear reactors and another big plant. Thousands remained without electricity. That included us, as gas stations were unable to pump gas, restaurants unable to cook. Our learning curve about the vagaries of peninsula vs mainland included the news that southern Florida can't buy and share electricity from other states to solve shortage problems because it doesn't have electrical systems contiguous with other state borders. Of course, you don't need electricity to enjoy the sun and the waves, so we did.

By Wednesday, however, a cool front breezed in and suddenly dumped low-60-degree temperatures on our otherwise sunny days. Even my attempts to work while warming up in our hotel room were frustrated. Although our balcony overlooked wind-blown palm trees and ocean surf, our choice room faced the wrong way to get internet connection. No satellite waves bouncing off the ocean waves, I guess. So I did my best to rest and recover from the flu by huddling under the down comforter with the balcony doors open, watching braver souls continue to bare themselves to the sun on the beach and around the pool.

Now that I'm back home, I still feel a little disconnected from the routine. During a brief spell of free wireless internet hookup in the Ft Lauderdale airport (a generous concept), I glimpsed the backlog of emails piling up. Didn't realize I talked so much :). Teaching two scrapbooking classes on Sunday jumpstarted things, but the backlog continues. Today the local Virginia temperature of 68 degrees is warmer than Florida's last week, except there are no bikinis in sight and it won't last.

Hope you are enjoying the start of your weekly routine!