Tuesday, September 15, 2009

anna griffin darcey checkerboard layout


Here's a quick preview of my upcoming class for the Anna Griffin Darcey collection. For the paper techniques on this double-page layout, we'll weave a checkerboard background on one page and pleat a frame on the other. We'll make our own layered flowers with punched paper buttons. And we'll provide plenty of room for those special occasion photos.

After-class edit: If you would like more photo details on making my two-page layout, see below.

Woven strips of contrasting papers as background

Black arabesques cut from AG paper, white felt Sizzix die-cut flowers, Martha Stewart punched buttons layered and sewn together

Saturday, September 12, 2009

putting my back to it

Returning from a recent trip, I tried unsuccessfully to hoist a filled-to-capacity suitcase with my soon-to-be-65-year-old back muscles. Years of military-wife practice at packing, including boxing up the entire house some 26 or 27 times, have made me a pro at getting all 50 pounds into that suitcase with no wasted space, no sweat. Ask Carol, my hotel roomie on another trip not too long ago. (By the way, Carol is having a super giveaway on her blog right now. Go see.) It should have been the usual quickly-done chore, fulfilled easily on so many other trips.

Instead, something went crotchety. You know, went stubbornly in the wrong direction, regardless of clear intent, a perfectly good plan and practiced execution. After several days of lower back pain, accompanied by sitting bolt upright on the slimmest edge of chairs, or pacing endlessly while thinking deep philosophical thoughts because walking was infinitely more comfortable than propping myself here and there like a grouchy orangutan, I gave in to my husband's plea. We went to the local chiropractor.

In case you detect some hesitancy on my part, you should know that my grandfather, who lived with us back while I was in school, called all doctors "quacks" and would go only to the chiropractor -- for any and all ailments. Now I have two sons studying to be doctors. One goes to the chiropractor. So off I went.

Among the things I learned from the chiropractor (after 3 visits in 3 days):

1) The average life expectancy of white women in the US is now 96 years, so I better get used to preventing as many creaks as possible with 30+ years to continue my trips.

2) Artistic types like me may be good at sublimating or working their pain into their art (any kind, read any famous artist's biography). But the fix for my back problem would have been quicker and easier if I hadn't waited so long. (Yes, he said ALL that. He also called me a "tough old bird", by which he did not mean all sinew and no fat.)

3) The reason my butt has felt like a ton of bricks that takes an agonizing forever to slide in or out of bed is thanks to the inflammation around the pivotal compressed discs in my lower back. It's interfering with muscle control, bladder control, and general self control. Coughing is not the least painful among the excruciating responses to that loss of muscle control. Did you know so many brain messages went through that part of the lower back? Inflammation around a compressed disc interferes with it all.

The good news: My husband has to do the vacuuming for the near future. And I'm much improved after 3 visits.

The surprise: I should seriously consider getting back into my tennis duds as soon as I'm recovered. It's important to keep the synovial lubricant moving fluidly over all your joints. Walking is good, but not really enough.

So I'm wishing you an actively-enjoyed weekend!

Friday, September 04, 2009

i think i'll labor in the garden this weekend


Have you been making plans for your extended Labor Day weekend? Will you attend a traditional parade, or maybe gather family and friends for a fine-weather barbecue before the end of summer?

With all the talk in the news right now about our high unemployment rate, I've been thinking about why we celebrate Labor Day in the first place. Did you know this observance started in Canada following labor disputes there, then was transported to New York City by American labor leaders in 1882, and was proposed as a national holiday by President Cleveland following the widespread railroad Pullman Strike (started in Pullman, Illinois) in 1894? During high school, I spent a school holiday laboring intensely over a term paper on labor unions, labor strikes, and labor union leader Eugene Debs, first a Democrat and then a Socialist who, after being imprisoned for his part in the Pullman Strike, was ultimately nominated 5 times for President by his sympathizers.

Our labor laws have come a long way since. It's interesting, too, to see how we've adjusted our social attitudes about labor in this country as our population and the size of our federal government have grown. Regardless of our uncertain economy today, many now seem to take it for granted that everyone should have access to a paying job -- or to federal subsidies like unemployment and welfare paid for by those who do work. Even in the best of times, job guarantees obviously can't be the case.  And who is to provide all those jobs?  In a week-long series of articles back in the booming mid-1990s, The Washington Post quoted a Pennsylvania trucker, saying "I've never met a poor man yet who could offer me a job." While working for someone else is nothing new or even always desirable, when did it morph into an American right? Happily, this country does seek to allow us to work how and where we please, including for ourselves. Surely that's what our holiday parades should celebrate.

If you have any spare time this long weekend, perhaps you'll enjoy visiting Brin's blog, My Messy, Thrilling Life. Please read it from the beginning, back when she started in 2005. It's a well-written story that will capture your emotions as you follow her labors to build her dream at Freeman House. Be prepared. As she quotes, life is not always tied up with a bow, but it is a gift nonetheless.

Wishing you a leisurely weekend!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

jenni bowlin at town square


Although I'm in no hurry to see summer go, the cool weather this week has been whetting my taste for autumn. With night temperatures dropping low already, maybe we'll have a beautiful range of foliage colors this fall to make up for all the leaf-raking that inevitably follows. So this seems a good time to welcome the cozy days of autumn with Jenni Bowlin’s new “Town Square” line of papers. A little bit outdoor country fair, a little bit indoor cozy pattern, this double-page layout makes the season’s transition by adding pleats, bows, flowers and vintage-style stickers, plus a little distress inking, if you choose. Come join me in class at the end of September at Scrapbooks Plus.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

creative escape in the desert


Last week while I was visiting in Phoenix for Creative Escape 2009, its desert temperatures hovered around 113 degrees. Phew, it was hot! While the beautiful deep blue skies closely hugged the flat desert city, the bright sun refused to allow much shadow to angle its way around anything without a roof. So we did our best to simply stay inside with the air conditioning. Today I'm happy to be back home in northern Virginia where the forecast predicts more welcome 70s all this first week of September.

However, in spite of the desert heat, Carol, Debby and I were determined to venture out treasure-hunting before CE started.  New to me was Rust and Roses, a corner store in the Melrose district of Phoenix that houses a large assortment of vintage iron pieces out back and lots of shabby chic furniture, chandeliers, jewelry and more vintage stuff inside.  If only I'd had a magic suitcase with bottomless compartments!

Then a couple blocks down at Melrose Vintage, I finally found the missing letter for my studio wall motto. Over time, I've been collecting large marquee letters, mostly in red or black enamel, which so far had spelled only "REATE DAILY".  That critical first letter C was still missing.

But there it was, sitting outside Melrose Vintage, a vintage aluminum C in shabby pink. And it fit in my suitcase. Although it's a bit larger than my other letters, I hope it will add its gentle presence as that important first letter in my creative prompt: CREATE DAILY.

In this left photo, my new pink C is leaning in my front hall against a French chair I still have to re-upholster, and grouped together are some of my other Phoenix purchases: two doll heads from Rust and Roses, and yards of button lace from Melrose Vintage. The "Journey" mini book is from Tim Holtz's class at CE.  (As always, you can enlarge any photo for a better look at these shops.)

My shopping partners Carol and Debby (left of me) both taught at CE this year. Diane (right of me) and her daughter Wendy own the magical Melrose Vintage.