Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Gift Craft Projects

In my previous post, I showed step 1 on the way to making a gift for my sister. Since she doesn't get online, I feel safe to post and share with you.

Here's the completed, stuffed cat:

Stuffed Animal Cat


Since this was in homage to their cat that just passed away, I thought to try my hand at an altered frame, and put in an old picture of the now-deceased cat. And this is how THAT turned out:

Altered Frame - Blue Damask
(The "j" stands for Jabberwocky -- the cat's name.)

These have now been boxed, wrapped, bowed and tagged. Hah! Except for waiting for dry time on the frame, I think it's actually a pretty easy project (as long as you have the necessary tools, which includes the frame, paint, a light sandpaper, and scrapbook paper and elements).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Day in My Life

For a photo contest (yes, one of those I do occasionally for a digiscrap site I visit) this week, we were asked to take pics of us doing ordinary things in our lives. I thought this was good for two reasons. I have been thinking of doing a 365 next year (where you take a pic a day for the whole year), but also because I didn’t know if my life was that interesting. However, I think this challenge proved that it doesn’t matter if the pic is of something mundane, if it’s something that’s going on in your life. Yes, we remember the momentous moments, but usually forget the everyday ones. So, here are my two entries.



Here I am sewing a Christmas gift for my sister. Or rather, I am pinning pattern pieces to fabric. Hopefully I’ll post the finished product here.

clickapic-dayinlife-sewing



I read Pride and Prejudice at least once a year. It’s my favorite book, and I just finished it (as you can see, in this pic I am almost to the end).

clickapic-dayinlife-reading



As for the 365, what do you think? I am fairly certain I will not be posting every day on this blog, since I don’t know if I would have the time for it. However, I will be uploading to my Flickr account, and then probably doing a weekly roundup here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I’m an Artsy-Craftsy Lemming!

I couldn’t help myself. My (new) friend Kristine (who, btw, does awesome cards and scrapbook stuff) recently posted how she found some lovely paper on sale at Aaron Brothers. And from the pic she showed, I knew I had to go check it out. Do I NEED more paper? No, but at these prices, I couldn’t NOT look, right? But, I knew I couldn’t just look. I had to touch. AND I had to buy. So this is what I got! (And yes, I couldn’t resist some of the same paper. It was too pretty!)



(L to R: Silver Bamboo Leaf; Cranberry Flocked Circle; Gold & Turquoise Paisley)

Because it's cloudy today and the lighting in my apartment is awful, I had to use the flash, but at least it picked up the silver accents in the leaves, the glitter on the flocking and the gold against the turquoise. (Oh, and this is 25"x25" paper -- large!) I also bought a package of assorted flower embellishments. And it all cost about $10. Not bad.



I haven't been to Aaron Brothers in a long time -- they specialize in frames and framing, but apparently they've ventured a lot more into art supplies and the paper crafter. Very neat. (And they had way too many cute frames. But I reframed, er, refrained. ^_^) So, thanks to Kristine for the heads up. I love the paper!




(BTW, I am trying out Live Writer, as it can give some cool photo effects. What do you think? The actual typing tool takes a little bit to figure out how to format correctly. It’s a little clunky. It shouldn’t be hard, you’d think, or maybe it’s just me. No, I don’t think it’s me. ^_^)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Recent Pics of the Cats

One of the digiscrap sites in which I post in the forum has a weekly photo contest. Last week's theme was pets/animals. So, it being awhile since I've taken some good cat photos, I let the cats onto the patio to let them roam in the small enclosed space, while I attempted some photos (since the lighting in our apartment is quite horrible). Here are the results.

First, Yanni:

Studious Yanni

Stretchy Yanni

Upside Down Dirty Yanni


And then, Yuki (Yanni's usually my more photogenic one, but Yuki took some lovely photos this time -- when I could get her to stand/sit still for a moment!):

Moving Yuki

Yuki Close Up w/ color pop

Black and White Yuki

Vintage Yuki


I was only able to enter two of these photos (the first one of the Yanni, and the last one of Yuki). I didn't win the contest, but I got an honorable mention for this last photo of Yuki, mostly because of the post processing I did with it. All photos were edited in Photoshop and enhanced in Lightroom.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Domestic Diva?

Or I have too much time on my hands?

So, over the last month and ... a half I have been baking and working on some projects, and I thought I would share some of them. (Some are secret and cannot be shared yet. ^_^ I also have some cards to put here soon that me and some people made for charity. More on that laterz.)

First off, the baking.

I saw a yummy-looking recipe over at Centsational Girl for a Spiced Pear Cake. I thought I would give it a whirl. It was okay the first time around, but even though I do like a good pear, the taste of the pear was really muted. SO, I decided to try apples (since it was a possible suggestion). This time it came our pretty tasty, and you can definitely taste the apples.

Her pictures are much prettier, but here's my version of the cake (if you're on FB, then you probably saw this already):





Then, my friend Stephanie had been baking lots of bread -- she has a bun in the oven, so it was appropriate. Not long ago, my in-laws gave us their old breadmaker. It was nice to have it, but the bread's crust is kinda hard, and so I decided to try the recipe Steph had posted for white bread. This recipe is seriously easy, and if you have a mixer (like a Kitchenaid) with a dough hook, then most of the work is done for ya!

Turns out soft and yummy, and keeps in the fridge for quite a while, and with a pop into the toaster, mmm ...!





And then, I have also done some sewing! Since my friend Steph has said bun in said oven (^_-) I knew a baby shower would soon be in the works, so once I knew when the shower was, I got down to business, making the baby two little sundresses, with a matching hat. (The hat didn't make it into the original gift, though, as it gave me issues, but thankfully ....) I love the fabric, and used leftover denim fabric from a previous project to make the ruffles and hat.) I think this is the first time I can recall truly following every step in the pattern.

But the results? Gah! Adorable, if I do say so myself. Even though it looks like one piece, it's actually a sundress with little panties to cover the diaper. I just put them together for ease of photography.







(Oh, and you WILL see that foam head in the future. Hehehe ... love it!)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Spiritually Interrupted

As most of you know, in church I work with the children (aka Primary). Most of my time is taken up with tending to secretarial duties during church.

The only time I really have, during church, for spiritual nourishment is during what we call Sacrament Meeting (basically, the congregational meeting where the sacrament, or as some call it, a communion, sorta, is passed and we have speakers talk instead of just one preacher or priest teaching).

I very, very rarely have spiritual moments when I am in Primary. And usually, frankly, it's when we're singing, but I digress.

But today, and last Sunday, I had recognizable spiritual moments that were ... *sigh* ... interrupted. And it irked me! How sad is that?!

Now, granted, that doesn't mean those were the ONLY spiritual moments I had, but to have them interrupted was, well ... frustrating.

Last Sunday, a good friend was up at the pulpit speaking about one of her brothers, who happens to have been in a very similar situation like one of my brothers. I could really start to feel the truth of her words ... when a child behind me had kicked his toy under my seat and asked me if I could get it for him). No, the child didn't do it on purpose, but the child HAD brought the toy ... and ... I missed the rest of what my friend said. *sigh*

Then today, on a rare of rares, during Primary, the President was giving the lesson to the older kids, and part of what she said was really starting to make me feel the Spirit ... when the door next to me opens with a woman from the nursery needing to find the mother of the child she's leading by the hand, because he has to go potty. (His mother is one of our teachers.) And I had to help her find the teacher in one of the classrooms. I know, I know. It's not anyone's fault. I was just in the wrong spot, and I got interrupted.

But for it to happen twice, on consecutive Sundays, and it be so apparent, well ... what can I say?

Am I being a little whiny? Maybe. But ... don't you WANT to feel good when you go to church on Sundays? I guess I felt a little denied. *soft laugh*

What will next Sunday bring? Hopefully the third time IS the charm and I make it through without being spiritually interrupted.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Banner!

New banner header! I have been trying to work on a new one for awhile, but I finally got inspired. I found this pretty pic and it seemed very Autumn-y, so ....

Halloween was pretty fun. Was a Hogwart's Student for our church's Trunk or Treat (on Friday), and for Halloween, I was a vampire. I know, a little cliche, but I have some cool teeth that sit over my lateral incisors, instead of normal ones that sit on the canines. They're individual too, and look really cool!

Also, been very, very busy working on some projects -- but at least I had time to finish a new banner header!

Has anyone noticed I haven't posted any of my fanfic for several months? *LOL* No one's mentioned it. *sniff* I have lots written, I just need to do some research for my next part on here, and I haven't had the time -- it doesn't take a lot, I just need to do it. We'll see if I make it for this Friday!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Kitty Pumpkin says ...

Happy Halloween!




Okay, technically tomorrow is Halloween, but I thought I would get into the spirit a little early, and show off my Kitty Pumpkin! I got this idea from All You magazine. However, I couldn't find the size of pumpkin it suggested, so mine is a tiny version. No, really. The pumpkin itself is only about 2 1/2 inches. Awww, cute!

Tonight is my church's Trunk or Treat event, where I will dress up as a Hogwart's student -- Gryffindor, of course! ^_^ I've had this costume for years, but ... it's well made and has lasted a long time. I still need to get some decent pics of it, though, before I decide that it's time for the costume to be retired. (BTW, if anyone cares, the costume is HP movie 1&2 version, as they changed with the 3rd movie.) They are having a "best pumpkin" prize at the Trunk or Treat, and I will enter mine, though I doubt it will win. If there was a tiny and cute decorated pumpkin category, I would be a total shoo-in! ^_^

Tomorrow I'm going to my friend Stephanie's Halloween party. Since it will be indoors, and my HP costume is quite warm, I'm debating what to wear for the party that won't be too warm. I have two ideas, but one will definitely take longer to get myself ready for than the other, and I'm working on a sewing project that I really need to make some headway on. So, we'll see ....

So, everyone, have a happy and safe Halloween -- and don't eat too much candy!

(What are YOU doing for Halloween? What are you dressing up as, if you are dressing up?)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

DigiScrap: State Fair of Texas (from the archive)

(Having some issues getting my digiscrap stuff back to my 'puter, I decided to post an old layout -- created a little over a year ago.)

State Fair

With it being October, and the slight chill of fall in the air, and Halloween approaching, I thought I would share an LO I did of me at the State Fair of Texas, back in '04 (wow, it's been that long?). The picture of me with the cat makeup is actually a funny story. My company had taken us to the Fair (and we were small, so there were only a few of us), and we came across these French gals that were with some troupe, that were doing makeup ... on kids. There were some cats, lions, tigers, butterflies, and other magically glitterful creations, and ... my coworkers dared me to get my face done. Uh, hello! Cool! So, there I am, standing in line, with kids and their parents. I was not the only adult to have it done, but probably one of the few. And, the gals were kind enough to work around my glasses (which, maybe spoiled the effect a little, but...). I LOVED the way it turned out, and when we met some of my other coworkers later (who hadn't been with us), they certainly had some laughs. But I think secretly the had to be jealous. This was definitely NOT an amateur makeup job. What I especially love about this LO is the tinted pic in the background of the ferris wheel. You know, I have technically never been on that one. Maybe one day (the lines are usually really long, and it's kinda expensive, though).

Friday, September 25, 2009

How the InterWebs Snared My Time, and Led Me to the Funniest Music Video!

Oh, we all know the Internet is a big time waster, overall. I mean, SURE, we can find a recipe--with the click of a mouse--just using the ingredients we have in our pantry, because we don't want to go shopping, or we can find out a celebrity has died as soon as it has happened; oh, and dare we forget the countless blogs one needs to read?

But last night I truly saw how easy it is to really get distracted, and waste time online.

(This would do William Faulkner proud.)

During dinner, Brian and I were discussing the purchase I had made on Amazon.com earlier, and then, how Amazon.com showed me some "recommendations," one of which included the latest book in the Wheel of Time series. I clicked on the link and it showed me that it's coming out at the end of October (yay!), and I wondered if we should pre-order it. Well, he then asked me "Oh, hey, what about the sequel to the Name of the Wind." Oh, yes! I had forgotten about it. I could check on it after dinner. But then, I glanced over to the buffet, to the stack of mail, and noticed there was a bill in there that I needed to pay (yes, thank you, I DO know about online banking, but for some reason, I CANNOT get this account to coincide with billpay, but I digress), so I decided, I would get the bill, take it to my desk to write out a check, and hey, while I'm there, I can just do a quick check on Amazon for that book. So I did, but there's no sequel, although, oddly enough, the title and due date for a third book is already posted. So, I decide to do a little searching via Google, and somehow found a mention of someone saying that on Patrick Rothfuss' site (the author of The Name of the Wind), he mentions what's up with the sequel. So, I go to Rothfuss' site, and start scrolling down, to see what I can find. All I'm getting really is no, there's no update. Until I stop on one of his entries, where he has a youtube video embedded. And it makes me tilt my head. I read over the post a little more ... and then clicked on the video.

OH MY GOSH! Talk about hilarious! I was cackling so much, that Brian finally came over and asked me what I was laughing at, and then I played it again for him. Hehehe ... he found it funny as well. Then he's about to go get us some dessert, when I glance down and realize ... I still have to write out a check for the bill! So, I played another video for him I wanted him to see, while I wrote a check, and all that good stuff.

Then, I did a search for that which was related to this funny video, and realized there's a whole webseries about it! So Brian sat and watched a few episodes of the series called "The Guild." Basically, it's a series about gamers (like those who play WoW), and their online and offline adventures. Anyway, to kick of their new season (3), they had a professional music video done. And that's what I find so hilarious.

And it all began, with a simple conversation about a book, and needing to pay a bill. And that only took away like an hour of my time!!

But because I'm sure you're dyin' to see the video, here it is:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Life is Getting in the Way of Blogging

So it's been awhile since I posted, and it's mostly because LIFE (no, not the game) has gotten in the way. It's been quite a few things over the last few weeks (or more, since it's been sporadic over the last month). So, in no particular order, those things getting in the way of blogging:

* As I mentioned before, I no longer am on the activities committee at church, nor a ward missionary, nor a Primary teacher. NOW, I am just the Primary Secretary. (FYI, the Primary is the children's Sunday School organization at my church.) They hadn't had a secretary for awhile, because the last one moved away, and when I got her old binder, it was ... lacking. I've been busy getting rolls together, rosters, lists of this and that, while trying to organize the binder and get all those things needed to run things smoothly and successfully. (It also hasn't helped that we're down one person in the presidency, which usually has a president, two counselors and a secretary. I'm currently playing the role of second counselor and secretary. There have been Sundays when I really was running around the entire 2 hours, whether arranging chairs, getting copies done, teaching, etc. It's taken up a lot of free time. Hopefully we'll get another person soon.)

* Our USB hard drive decided to stop working several weeks ago. Why is this important? Because ALL of my digital scrapbooking supplies are on there, including all of my recently-completed projects and layouts. Which means that's why you haven't seen anything on here for awhile (for some reason, it stopped right after the last LO I posted -- weird). I freaked out. Really. Especially since only a few months prior I had moved all of those files to it so my 'puter would have more space. Sigh. We looked into different things, but ... thankfully, Brian has a co-worker who works on computers and stuff as a hobby, and he was able to get it working! Yay! (Apparently there was a corrupt index file. *Shrug*) I think from now on I'm going to do an online-backup type thing.

* My fancy, schmancy, wide-format printer is yet again giving me problems. I know why it happens. Because I use off-brand ink. Gee, Epson, I just can't see spending $20 a cartridge when I need 6 of them. *grumbles* So, yes, nozzles and heads get clogged, causing much frustration. I am considering going to a CIS (continuous ink system), but the startup for that can be pricey, and what if my printer still is having issues. *BIG SIGHS* So, I haven't been printing many projects, and the like. I have been thinking of maybe selling this one and then getting a good photo/color printer, and then a black-only printer. Don't know. It's frustrating. BUT, when this printer does its job, it's SO beautiful!!

* I was sick a few weeks ago, with a small relapse last week (though still some snot, and the likes -- hahah, TMI, I know). It just puts me behind!

* Brian and I went out of town for a long weekend this past weekend to visit his dad and stepmom. His dad took a job with a government contractor who's sending him to Afghanistan for a year. He's mostly just going to be on a military base, with no trips out, except for a few weeks of vacation, so it shouldn't really be dangerous. It was nice to have a relaxed visit.

* I've been doing up a few plans to ramp up my proofreading business. I've been trying to do this since the beginning of the year, and it hasn't worked too well so far. I get that most people aren't hiring, but a nice email or phone call to confirm that would be better than being ignored. My new plan, for now, involves trying to get signed up with some online places who have their own pools. Maybe I'll get a little more work that way. However, we're still okay financially, so I'm going to keep trying until we're really at the point that I can't try anymore. (If you know of anyone needing ANYTHING proofed, please send them my way!)


So, there ya go. Those are mostly the big things, and I still have MANY projects I need to get done, but hopefully I can get my Primary stuff taken care of, work on my work stuff, and then find time to finish some other projects. (BTW, I found a little table at CCA (sorta like Goodwill/Salvation Army) to put between my wing chairs. It's not really the style or color I wanted, but for $10 it works for now. I may refinish it one day, or, when I find what I really want, I can maybe give it to my mom, as it's more her style. And then I fount a cute, cute lamp at Garden Ridge.) And then maybe I can get my digi stuffs back and work on that -- as well as get my printer working. Here's hoping!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Desperately Seeking a Side Table

If you remember my mentioning the new-to-me chairs I got (that the cats like to rule from, erm, sit on), well I now have a new problem: I need a small table to go between them (to hold a small lamp and someone's drink if they sit there and have a drink, etc., or in case the cats decide that the chair's not good enough at the moment). Problem is, I have a very specific need ... and a desired want. It can't really be less than 22 inches, or taller than 26, and about 12-15 inches wide. I know. It's a tight space. What I'd love to have ... is a classic pedestal table, like this one:

(This one I found online at Target.com.)

Problem is ... I don't want to pay much for it. I'm frugal ... and poor, but I need a table. (The one at Target is $80.) I've been searching some thrift shops, but not quite found what I want. I tried some antique shops, and while a few things caught my eye, they're still more than I want to spend. It doesn't have to be black, that's easily changed. I just want a cute, wood, side table with some country, classic lines. Is that too much to ask?! (Frankly, I wouldn't want to pay more than $30. Maybe if I don't find something at thrift stores, it might go on clearance at Target some day. And Craigslist has NOT been helpful. Le sigh.)

SO, any of my friends, if you wanted to buy me something, then ....? Hehehe... kidding. But if anyone close to me comes across something similar for cheap, let me know. Seriously!

Monday, August 31, 2009

DigiScrap: 4th of July



*
Detailed Views

4th of July Breakfast (Stars)
4th of July Breakfast (Stripes)

I am no longer part of the Activities Committee at church (and also no longer doing several other things as well). I am now just the Primary (childrens' Sunday School organization) Secretary.

However, as my last activity, I was part of the July 4th Breakfast that we did. I did not take all of these pictures, but I did put the layout together. I put a small and larger picture, as both layouts are meant to come together as one. And, this was my last layout for the committee as well. Hopefully the next person can do something fun as well (although, it's really more for a history than anything else, as I don't think any of these got actually displayed on any bulletin boards).

However, I will be doing some for the Primary. Coming soon for them is the Pioneer Day activity we did.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hybrid and Thrifty Craft: Pear Art Wall Decor

So, remember the 5x7 black, distressed frame I found at Goodwill for a couple of dollars?

Well, I decided to try my hand at some wall decor, using pears -- an idea I got from the Thrifty Decor Chick, who got HER idea from The Happy Homebody. (I also thought I could make the color scheme work with the colors in my kitchen.)

Luckily, I didn't have to distress the frame (not that I needed to, but it lends some charm) and then had to search for some fake pears. Not all fake pears are created equal! Some have this sand core that is impossible to cut through. Yikes! But, my second attempt proved better.

So, after some time promised with showing you my thrifty finds re-worked, we have:

The before...



And, after...
Pear Decor (Hybrid Art)

Cute, huh? Something you could easily find at some little home decor place for like, what $15-20? (Altogether this was less than about $5.)

Now, you're wondering how this craft could possibly be considered hybrid? WELL, the paper I used to put behind the pear was digital scrapbook paper (from Shabby Princess' "Damask and Dots" kit) printed on matte photo paper. Hah!

Hopefully the weather will cool down some soon and I can get to some of my other projects, which involve spray painting.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Random Cat Photos

So it's been awhile since I've posted some cat photos. Mostly it's because the lighting in our apartment isn't great, and you know what happens when cat eyes meet the flash of a camera!

So, here are a few funny pictures of the cats. I put them in black and white because it's more forgiving of slight blurriness and dark photos. Thank you, Photoshop!


Yanni will take you out with the katanas! MROWR!



*

The bed for the cats is usually covered in a fleece blanket, but I thought they might be a little cooler if I put a cotton blanket on it. My mom made this for me, from kitty fabric. Aww, so cute. Unfortunately, I think Yanni prefers the fleece, as he dug himself (I saw him do it!) a little hole to get under the cotton blanket. REALLY adorable!


*

Recently we got some wingback chairs off of Craigslist (as we were desperate for more seating). They're this beautiful burgundy-cranberry red color, with a rosey, swirly pattern. Unfortunately, the cats think we got the chairs for them. I keep extra pillows from the sofa on them, but, one day, a pillow had fallen down, and Yuki promptly decided to lay on it, and Yanni got up next to her (which in and of itself is quite a miracle, since he doesn't like to be too near her).

Who rules the roost?


(I know, there are more pictures of Yanni than Yuki, but he tends to do the more silly things. ^_^)

Monday, August 17, 2009

And THIS is why I coupon!

This past Saturday my local Kroger grocery store was having a mega coupon event. While they normally triple coupons with values up to 39 cents, and double coupons with values up to 50 cents, this past Saturday, they were going to be doubling coupons with values from 40 cents up to 1 dollar! So all dollar off coupons now doubled to 2 dollars off. SWEET!

I scoured sites and forums, made a list and gathered coupons, and went to the store at 7:30 am (the store opened at 6, but I just couldn't go that early -- too early!). Luckily, I didn't have to worry, as they had practically everything on my list.

I took Brian with me, as the sale stipulated that you could only use 1 like coupon per transaction, so we each had a cart and did separate transactions to get the best deals. And boy, did we do well!

Look at all we got!!!


This is $300 worth of groceries (and a few other items, like batteries and eye shadow, etc.). But how much do you think we paid for it???

.

.

.

.

$85! That's a savings of 72%. Not only is this probably the best shopping trip I've had, we just got SO many things to add to our stockpile. I love it!

I don't know if I had mentioned before, but about a month ago I taught a class for the women of my church on how to coupon -- I also had another person teaching with me. One of the ladies in the class was very excited, and she had already started getting coupons together, and has only been couponing seriously for a few weeks now, but I saw her at the store on Saturday, and she and her husband had two LOADED shopping carts. I think she ended up getting close to $650-700 worth of groceries for $150. Then again, she has 5 kids. It just goes to show you, that all you have to do is TRY. You will see the savings sooner than you think. (But then, there's still much to learn, as I saw one lady mentioned she got like $360 worth for $8. Seriously!!)

If you're interested in trying to learn, just check out my little tutorial on couponing.

Yay for saving money! ^_^

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Book Review: New Spring

(Just a quick note, but I have become a member of Goodreads. If you're a member, let me know so I can add you. Also, on the sidebar, I have installed Goodreads widgets so you can see what I've read and what I'm currently reading.)

New Spring by Robert Jordan

I have begun the process of re-reading The Wheel of Time series for the ... goodness, well, I've re-read it several times. While New Spring came out some time after the series had started, it is actually a prequel, detailing how Moiraine became Aes Sedai, the beginnings of her quest to find the Dragon Reborn, and how she met her warder, Lan.

I enjoyed this because you get to see a young, inexperienced Moiraine as she attempts to begin her quest. While Lan is very similar, you can see a little bit of youth in him, although, I get the impression that Moiraine gives him a better sense of purpose.

To see how characters come together before you originally met them, is a nice juxtaposition. It would have been nice for Jordan to write another prequel, perhaps, giving a little more detail on the next 16-18 years before The Eye of the World (first book in the series) picks up.

Jordan is a master storyteller and world builder.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Book Review: The Grand Sophy

I interrupt my regularly scheduled review of The Wheel of Time series, to review ...

The Grand Sophy
by Georgette Heyer

I was at a church friend's house waiting for a meeting to start, and we started discussing books. She and I have similar tastes, and, at the end of the evening, she lent me one of her new books. She said if I liked Austen, I would like Heyer. (I have to say that she must have incredible trust in me -- lending me a new book and all. I admit, I have a VERY hard time lending out my books. But then again, she does have 5 kids under 7, so maybe her expectations regarding the overall conditions of books are low... *laughs*)

Well, I have been wanting to expand my reading repertoire, and I like Austen, and the Regency period, so I gave it a whirl before I started on The Wheel of Time.

I have to admit that the language was a little more than I expected. Not only do her characters, of course, speak in a more formal language, but the book is written that way too! Sure, I can handle it from Austen, but it did take me a little time to get used to it. However, once I did, I found some charming, amusing characters. Also, sometimes things aren't always as they seem, and for a Regency Romance, there wasn't so much romance as more match-making, and the sort. I ended up enjoying the story and wished, once again, to get just a little more resolution, even if it were just a little bit of how the characters ended up overall.

Since this is my first foray into Regency Romance, I have to say I enjoy it, and apparently this is one of Heyer's more-loved novels. So, if you want to try something new, and wouldn't MIND Regency Romance, give it a whirl!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Book Review: Warbreaker

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Warbreaker is Sanderson's latest one-shot fantasy. Interestingly enough, he had a versi0n on his site for people to read for free. I don't think this printed copy is that different, so if you want to check it out for free, I suggest you do. I have to say, that Sanderson tends to get better and better as he writes. I think, as he has mentioned in his blog, that it has to do in part with helping to finish the Wheel of Time series. He has to manage a LOT of characters and storylines there, so I think it's helping him flesh out his own personal thoughts and ideas.

Once again, he has an interesting magic system--based on colors. Once again, he has more of a mystery at times, than a full-fledged standard fantasy, which I really like. And once again, he has sort of an ambiguous sort of setting to compare to something known. This story is mostly set in a seaside city, and I get a very Greco-Roman feel of the society and architecture, but ... that's just me! He also has some very strong femal characters, and ... as always, nothing is quite as it seems.

I love that finding out who the "bad guy" was took me some time, and frankly, took me by surprise. But see, Sanderson is fond of the "bad guy" who thinks he's doing things for the right reasons.

I really liked this book, and it sucked me in and got me reading very quickly (well, more than usual). The ONLY thing I wish is that I had a LITTLE bit more resolution at the end. But that's just a person thing, as I do wish it with a lot of books and movies, for that matter. Just a LITTLE bit more tidying up on little bits of info would be nice, authors and directors!!


Next up, I begin the massive re-reading of the Wheel of Time series in prep for the next installment due out this November (finally)! However, I will begin with the prequel, New Spring by Robert Jordan (instead of the actual Book 1). (I might read something in between, though. Never know!)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Book Review: Chainfire

Chainfire by Terry Goodkind

Chainfire is the ninth book in the Sword of Truth series (and, if anyone happens to care, is also what the Legend of the Seeker TV series is loosely based on). It's been a little while since I read the last book, and I really have forgotten a lot, though there is a lot of reminding in the book.

This book was VERY slow for a long time. I get why it had to be. Basically, a main character has disappeared but no else, it except for one person, remembers. The last third is when it really picks up. But, I have to say, as a writer myself who loves dialogue, WOW, there was a lot of dialogue in this one. And long stretches of one person speaking. It was ... interesting. This book is also part 1 of a trilogy (yeah, figure that out!), so I wasn't sure how things were going to pan out for the rest of the books, but I see now. I will say I think, mostly the story is better than Book 8, and hopefully the next one proves to have more action and story.

Coming up, Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson.

Monday, July 13, 2009

DigiScrap: Baby Shower Card

Baby Shower (Umbrella) Card

I went to a baby shower this past weekend, and the week prior I had such a hard time coming up with a card! I went through two designs before I went looking for inspiration. I found a Papyrus card that was adorable, so I lifted the idea. Here's my version of it. The mother-to-be really liked it. I think my favorite part is the wire with the alpha beads on it. So cute! ^_^

Friday, July 10, 2009

Picture: Asian Flip Flops

Asian Flip Flops

This was done for Peppermint Creative's Click-a-Pic Challenge #2 -- to take a pic of shoes and then do a B&W conversion. The results have already been posted, and I didn't win with this one, but seeing as I won with the vintage swings pic, I guess I can't complain. ^_^ I decided to create a little Asian vignette with my cherry blossom flip flops, a shoji lamp and a Asian tea set (there are actually three more cups, but I thought it was too much to include). They're a lot of fun!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Quick Book Reviews

I've decided that after this I'm just gonna review each book after I read it, because lately, with all my other projects, I've gotten a little behind on reviewing books.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
To me, this is what Edgar Sawtelle should have been. Raw and real. While the writing was somewhat simple, it got the point across. It was also interesting to see a completely different culture. Also interesting to make you think what you migt have done in the situation that the main character was in. The ONLY thing I really didn't care for, was the last tragic event. It almost seemed too much. Like it was forced. But overall, a thoughtful read.

Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
The last book in the Mistborn series. I love that Sanderson gives enough hints, but still has those fun twists at the end. Some people are upset at the ending, but I think it really fits. It's also a nice end to the series. I heard he has planned another possible series set in the Mistborn world, but possibly set years later. Should be interesting. Sanderson is quickly growing into another favorite fantasy author!

The Grand Tour by Wrede and Stevermer
This was another fun book after the Chocolate Pot, and it was really easy to get back into the flow of the writing style (set as letters) and the characters. Would still love to do this some time with someone!

The Mislaid Magician by by Wrede and Stevermer
The last book in the series. While this had some interesting little twists and turns, overall I was a little bored by this last book. I think it was because the authors introduced two new letter writers (the first two being the cousins, and the next being the husbands of the cousins). A lot of times you got double the information, which seemed like a little too much. I know why it was done, because at this point, not all the characters were together, but still. A little too, too much. Overall the series was fun, though.

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
I have a friend that's been wanting me to join a book club that she's part of. I thought it would be nice to branch out and meet new people, but not until this book did I feel like I would be able to join (because the last book I could not get a hold of). However, something more urgent came up on the night of the club meeting, and therefore, I shall have to wait. I have a hard time with 1st person POV. This was a little worse because each chapter was devoted to a different person's POV, from the little girl with cancer, to the sister, to the brother, even the lawyer. I do see how it was effective, though, in showing how each person was affected by the events in this book. The ending left me a little baffled as to "why." Since this is a book club version, it has a little interview with the author at the back and she explains why she did it. I understand what she did, but still don't get why. However, it did make me tear up.

Coming up, review of Chainfire by Terry Goodkind (ninth book in the Sword of Truth series).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

DigiScrap: Sunday in the Park

Sunday in the Park

Done for Peppermint Creative's Mixed-Bag Challenge #2 -- a blind scraplift. Basically, we were given a description of someone else's layout and then asked to make our own layout based on that description. I decided to use my favorite picture from the ones I had help choosing to submit to the photo challenge.

By the way, that photo won that challenge! Yay!

Friday, July 3, 2009

First Friday Fanfic: Dream Giver (Part 5)

Parts 1 & 2 Here, Part 3 Here, and Part 4 Here

(Author's Note: This fanfic takes place sometime during Season 7 of the show -- just in case anyone didn't want any spoilers. Not that they're huge. Well, maybe.... You've been warned. ^_^ As always, constructive criticism is welcome.)

Dream Giver
(a Stargate SG-1 FanFic)

“But the question is,” she continued, as she rose and approached the gate, flickers of candlelight catching the green in her eyes like fireflies, “who are you?”

Part 5


“I…don’t think I am what you believe me to be, Elpis.” Daniel paused. “If I may call you, Elpis?” He paused again. “But then, I don’t know what else I would call you.”

She smiled softly at him through the gate. “You never used my name before, though I always suspected you knew it. It sounds nice when you speak it.” Her smile widened. “Hope.” She looked away briefly, as if recalling a memory, her eyes drifting closed dreamily. “The few times you addressed me, you referred to me as ‘Hope.’ But the weight given was not just the meaning. It felt like it could carry the universe.” Her eyes opened, and the darkened orbs stared at Daniel.

He looked at her, tilting his head slightly. “Haven’t you ever heard of the origin?”

She shook her head slightly, a few stray strands of hair catching a dance on the night wind. “All anyone knows around here is the meaning. There have been rumors of there being a story of origin, but it has been lost these many years.” She opened the gate to him. “Would you tell it to me?”

“Uhm,” he looked back, as if wondering if he should return to his team, but knew they wouldn’t leave without him, and turned back to Elpis, curious to know more of this woman who had dreamt and given his likeness. “Sure.”

She led him to the gazebo, under more light, and they sat on the bench on which she had been earlier.

The story of Pandora’s Box was short and simple to tell, but, he couldn’t help himself in expanding on the usual tale, finding an apt audience in Elpis. He found himself going off on several tangents as Elpis asked about other gods and goddesses mentioned in the tale. She laughed melodically as she caught names that were those belonging to friends or family, interested to know if they knew who they had been named after.

She had drawn up her legs onto the bench, crossing them under each other, with her arms resting on them, as she leaned into him, caught up in the last part of his telling.

“The lid was shut before that which was at the bottom could get out. And while the evils of mankind ran rampant throughout the world, one thing remained,” Daniel’s voice dropped softly, entreating Elpis to the end of his tale.

Her eyes round and lips parted slightly, she breathed out, “Hope.”

He smiled gently and nodded, blue eyes twinkling softly in the candle’s light and from the enjoyment he had in sharing his knowledge of history and mythology with a willing listener. “Also known as ‘Elpis.”

Her mouth widened into a winsome smile and she laughed in joy. “Such a wonderful story, Dream Giver!”

Daniel’s smile faded slightly. “Elpis, you can just call me Daniel.”

She glanced down, smiling at his correction and gently catching her lower lip under a few teeth for a moment. Her eyes slid up to meet his. “And what does your name mean, Daniel?”

“God is my judge.”

She more fully looked at him, her back straightening and her head tilting slightly, brows lightly furrowed. “Which god?”

He shook his head slightly. “It comes from a religious book we have on my planet called the Bible. In that book, there is only one God. Daniel is in one of the stories.”

“And these stories are different than the ones you told me about, with Pandora?”

“Yes, quite! Actually, our planet is rich with stories, histories and mythologies.”

Her eyes lit up. “Oh, Daniel, I would love to hear them all!”

He laughed out loud. “It might take a lifetime.” He then looked around. “Besides, it’s getting late, and I’m sure my friends are probably wanting to go back home.”

Almost as if summoned, one of Elpis’ youngest sisters, whom Daniel had not met before, came running from the home into the garden. “Elpis! The visitors are wishing to leave, but they cannot find—” she stopped, eyes widening, in front of Elpis and Daniel. “The Dream Giver!”

Elpis unfolded herself from the bench and stood, her face calmly collected. “Cyrene, your manners?” she chided with a stern warmth, different from the child-like wonder she had exposed to Daniel earlier.

The girl’s eyes went wider, as she placed her hands over her lips and gave a deep, though unsteady, bow to Daniel.

“Daniel, this is my sister, Cyrene. And,” Elpis glanced at Daniel briefly, pursing her lips, and then looking back to her sister, “Cyrene, he wishes to be called Daniel.”

Daniel smiled warmly and held his hand out to the girl, which she took briefly, the barely-lit area showing her lightly-blushed cheeks. She then squeaked out, “Your friends are looking for you, Daniel.”

“Thank you,” he nodded as he stood. “I figured they would probably be looking for me, seeing as I didn’t let them know where I was going.”

“Cyrene, please let the visitors know that Daniel has been found and will be along shortly.”

The young girl gave a hasty bow and ran out of the garden, disappearing around a corner of the house.

“You seem almost like a mother to her, rather than a sister,” Daniel said cautiously.

Elpis sighed, her face softening. “The burden of being the eldest sister. Especially since our mother died shortly after Cyrene was born.”

“I’m sorry. I had thought perhaps that was the case, but didn’t want to ask.”

She turned to him, lips curved down, and spoke softly. “You thought because you already knew. In my dreams I told you much about this, only letting you share in the knowledge of the obligation I feel in caring for my brothers and sisters.”

“Elpis, I—”

“I know, Daniel. You do not think you are my Dream Giver.” She then smiled gently. “But over some time ago, you became part of my life. And until you stopped visiting, I believed it would always be that way. You, watching over me and the people of this planet. Do you at least acknowledge that I believe you are?”

His eyes narrowed at something she had said.

“Yo, Danny boy!” Jack’s calling out from the gate broke into Daniel’s thoughts. “Time to go home.”

Jack was waving him over, with a patient Sam and stoic Teal’c next to him, along with the Abaris. “Let’s go! I don’t wanna miss The Simpsons.”

“I believe, O’Neill, that it is a re-run tonight.”

Jack shrugged as Daniel and Elpis approached. “Eh. They’re still funny, though.”

Elpis whispered to Daniel. “Who are the Simpsons?”

Daniel laughed lightly and rolled his eyes. “It’s a story of sorts, with moving pictures.”

Her eyes widened in wonder. “Moving pictures?”

But before he could explain more, the Abaris had opened the gate to ease them out, and Jack quipped. “So, kids, what were you doing over there?” He arched an eyebrow, gesturing toward the gazebo.

“Jack, we were discussing some ancient Greek myths. Elpis wanted to know the origin of her name, and so I told her.”

“Ah,” Jack intoned sarcastically, turning to Sam, “a great way to a girl’s heart, discussing dusty, old stories.” Sam chuckled softly.

Daniel sighed in exasperation.

“Will you be returning soon?” Elpis asked softly, addressing the whole group, but her eyes focused on Daniel.

The Abaris turned to O’Neill, in questioning, as well.

“Yeah, I suppose. We still need to get this whole ‘Dream Giver’ thing cleared up.”

Saying casual goodbyes, the group turned to leave, when Elpis caught Daniel by calling out to him.

“Daniel, do you believe I believe?”

He nodded. “I do,” he said softly. And he truly did.

A beatific smile crossed her face, and she then placed her hands familiarly, not over her lips, but over her heart, and bowed.

They left her like that, walking some way toward the Stargate, accompanied by the Abaris, before Teal’c asked, “Abaris, your daughter’s farewell was different than what I have noticed your people to use. Does its use have a meaning?”

The Abaris nodded, but took a few moments to respond. “The normal greeting and farewell is the hands lightly over the lips, with a bow of the head, or even a deeper bow. It means that what your lips speak is truth. Or, that it is to be perceived as truth. You see, we value honesty most highly here.” He then paused, glancing toward Daniel. “But with the hands over the heart…it is only used between intimates and rarely seen in public. It means that the heart speaks truth.”

The last few words the Abaris had spoken stayed with Daniel for a long time, even when the Abaris left them to continue on alone to the Stargate and they had made their way through, back home. Even until he was finally able to drift off to sleep that night, wondering if and how he was connected to the one whose heart spoke truth.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

DigiScrap: Then and Now Graduates

Then and Now Graduates

Done for Peppermint Creative's Mixed-Bag Challenge #1, to scrap around the theme "Then and Now." We had to take an old pic and recreate it and scrap them. I was lucky to have this recent pic of my niece graduating high school and the old one is of me and her at my college graduation. I tried to go really simple to see if I could pull off the elegance. I don't know if I managed it, but I still like it. ^_^

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thanks!

So thanks to all of you who commented on my pictures. I went ahead and submitted 1 & 2. While I did like 3, I see what some of you were saying. ^_^

My personal favorite was the 2nd one. With that vintage action applied to it, it just really spoke to me. It brought different shades and moods, whereas before it was just green and green. I like it!

And, because Christine gave me 5 questions as well, I will answer them here. If YOU want to answer questions, let me know and I'll post some random ones on your blog. ^_^

1. You're very crafty. What is your favorite craft to make?
Aww, thank you!! I think my favorite currently is digital scrapbook layouts. All the coolness, less expense and no mess! I really like how I can stretch my creativity. However, I also like to make costumes and while they can be a pain, I love to make cloaks. They're just so elegant and regal. (And fun!)

2. Have you ever received any negative reactions from people when they learn what your religion is?
The most negative reaction I ever had personally was when some Jehovah's Witness came to the house when I was still in high school, and they were impressed that I knew the answers to their questions and asked me how I knew so much for being so young. I told them what religion I was, and I immediately saw one of them put up a wall. The other one seemed a little more interested, but after I offered to give them some pamphlets in exchange for some they were giving me, they promptly left. I DO think overall that there is a stereotype applied to Mormons that people just take at face value and don't bother finding out more. I wish more people would ask questions, rather than make assumptions, or worse, go looking in the WRONG places on the Internet. Mormon.org is a great place to find out those things we believe in.

3. Do you believe in ghosts?
I believe in spirits, but not ghosts as in my dead grandma is haunting my house. I do believe that some people have been visited by loved ones, perhaps in a brief touching across this life and the afterlife, but hauntings and other things like that I believe come from evil spirits (you can ask me privately what I think an evil spirit is, if you want -- too much to get into here ^_^).

4. What is your fondest childhood memory?
Sitting on the beach at Jaco Beach, Costa Rica, around a bonfire, after a full day of swiming and eating, with my family and friends whom we had invited out, watching the night fall, with shooting stars coming down. Best day, EVER. (Even though I DID get so sunburned I had to wear my older sister's nightgownto bed so I would be more comfortable. ^_^)

5. Where do you see yourself in twenty years?
Honestly, I would love to be back in Costa Rica. House on the beach. Maybe still working, reading books. Or hey, maybe writing about traveling in Costa Rica. But, either way, I will be with my Brian-chan, maybe a couple of almost-grown kids, and hopefully maybe still my cats (who will be old, but may still be around). I just would love to have a relaxed life with the important things like family time being a priority. Who cares about having the latest and greatest when there's fun to be had playing a long game of Monopoly or Scrabble?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pictures: Sunday in the Park with Gabby

Mallon Park (Closing In Shot - Vintage)

Mallon Park (Where Trees and Benches Cross - Vintage)

Mallon Park (Play Area - Vintage)

Okay, okay, so it's really ME taking the pictures, not me IN the pictures. I actually took these at a park near church. These are some of my favorites that I added a little vintage action to. If you want to see more, you can visit the set of pics on my Flickr page.

I need your help! I am trying to take part in a photo challenge at one of my favorite digiscrap places. This week's theme: "The Road Most Traveled." It was to take a photo of something you see every day. Since I don't get out every day, I figured this would come close, as I see this park every week on my way to church. HOWEVER, we can only post two pics, but I love all three above.

So, which one is YOUR favorite out of these? Can you guess which one is my absolute fave? It will help me narrow it down. (Or, if you go to the set and see one you like better, let me know.)

I need to post these within the next few days, so your prompt help is appreciated.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

5 Questions Game

Sami got this game from someone else, so now I'm joining in on the fun! She left me 5 random questions which I shall answer shortly.

IF you want to join in on the fun, leave me a comment letting me know, and then I'll comment on your latest blog post with the 5 Random Questions I have come up with (which you then have to make a post about).

SO, on to the questions:

1. I love your cats names! Where did they come from/why did you choose them?

Would you believe that they came with those names?! I adopted them from a rescue organization (I found them on petfinder) and not only were they exactly what I was looking for (Siamese kittens that were siblings), but their names seemed to be something that I might name them. I didn't have to think twice about keeping their names. I think it was all meant to be, as Yanni (which I've only heard of the singer having that name) means "gift of God" or "the Lord is gracious" (it's a variant of John, apparently). And, Yuki is "snow" in Japanese, though I think it can also have "happiness" or "lucky" attached to it. I love their names too! ^_^

2. If you could live in any state in the US, which one would it be?
Ooo, tough one. I actually sorta have two for this answer. I'll be honest and say I haven't been to too many US States. However, I recently discovered Missouri. It's so green and lush (at least, when I was there). I heard some of the winters can be harsh, but I don't know, it really struck me a chord with me. (I'll be visiting again next month, so we'll see if I still feel the same way. ^_^) If money were no object (and I could get used to the humidity), I'd choose Hawaii. I just LOVE, love the tropics and warm ocean.

3. What do you think is the best way to be frugal?
I don't think my answer will be bold an innovative, but it's actually a combination of things I've learned. First, spend less than you make, and make sure that you're putting money in savings before doing anything else with it (mostly). Second, ask yourself if you really need something, as opposed to want. Doesn't mean we can't spend on wants, but be conscious of them. (If I find something I want, I usually take several days to think on it. If I still want it AND have the money to pay for it, then I can think about getting it. Also, for example, say you need a new car, but do you buy the economical car that will work just fine, or do you buy the fancy car you've been wanting -- is it really worth it?) Lastly, for now, I think we have to think about what we're spending our money on, and make sure we're getting the best deal. Places like Craigslist can be great for finding gently used items that you can use, instead of buying it brand new. (I just got two AWESOME chairs for less than I would have paid for 1 brand new.)

4. What's your favorite light, summer meal?
I don't think I have an actual MEAL, but I do have a recipe for a great little chickpea, cherry tomato and feta salad that requires very few ingredients, but is so good. (And I bet if tossed with some cut up steak or grilled chicken it would go from salad to meal very easily.) I'm actually making this tomorrow. Here's the recipe:

Chickpea, Cherry Tomato and Feta Ssalad (serves 1)

Ingredients
• 1/4 cup canned chickpeas
• 1/2 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
• 1/4 cup crumbled feta
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 2 teaspoons olive oil
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• Ground pepper

Directions
1. Rinse and drain chickpeas.
2. In a bowl, combine chickpeas with tomatoes, feta, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, salt, and a pinch of pepper.

Note: Wait until just before serving to combine ingredients. For some reason, it doesn't seem to keep as well if refrigerated for long periods of time.

5. What is the fanciest event you've ever been to?
Probably the fanciest event I've been to was a Mardi Gras party held at a hotel. It was a fundraiser and my then best friend was able to get us in for free (she worked with the organization). It was formal, so I had to dress up. I honestly don't remember all the details, but that's probably it. It was okay, but there wasn't anyone I knew, so while it was fancy, probably not the most fun. (ONE day, my answer will change, as I will have given a masquerade ball. I hope. ^_^)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

3rd Wedding Anniversary

Happy Anniversary (2009)

Brian and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary yesterday. (I made him the card seen above. I really like the button! ^_^ Well, I guess button no more as I had to cut off the shank.)

The day started off with me cooking him breakfast. Nothing fancy, just the yummiest potato and egg breakfast tacos (with these new tortillas we found which are raw and you just cook them on the skillet yourself). We basically then hung around the place and watched movies. Then we exchanged gifts. We try not to go overboard with spending on anniversary gifts and we usually give each other a limit. Right now it was a little smaller than usual (we're thinking of maybe buying a new TV soon so trying to save elsewhere), and I got him the new Sanderson single-shot fantasy book, and he got me two sets of scrapbooking pens. I know, you're thinking sarcastically "ooo, pens," but, see I had a set of these pens once, and it went missing. Brian used to borrow them to mark his scriptures (because the set has many colors) and he thinks he may have accidentally left them at church. So, he got me a larger set with the many colors, and then a smaller set with black and primary colors (which he will borrow from time to time). To give you context: I now his gift cost more than mine. Hah!

I did want to comment that Brian wrote me the SWEETEST letter, instead of a card. He says that he knows I hate wordy cards (I do), and that his one attempt at making one was cheesy (his words) and so he thought heartfelt words would be better. They were! Melted my heart. *dreamy sigh*

ANYWAY, we then went to one of our FAVORITE restaurants for dinner: Tokyo One. It's an all-you-can-eat sushi (and more) restaurant. It's awesome! And, we ate SO much last night, we were stuffed! Even though it's reasonably priced, it's still a bit more than we spend out, so it was a treat! So yummy! (I especially love their white tuna ... mmmmm .....)

It was such a nice, peaceful day, full of loving. I can't believe that it's been 3 years! Sometimes it feels like it hasn't been that long, and other times it feels like we've been together for many more. My Brian-chan is the sweetest, most adoring husband, but better yet, he's my best friend and he completely gets ME. *hearts*

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sewing Craft: Bib for Dad

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there (though I think there's only one who actually reads my blog).

I just wanted to share the gift I made for my dad, since it's crafty. With my dad being almost completely blind, he tends to get a lot of food on him when he eats, especially eating out. My mom sometimes picks up extra bibs like one can get at a seafood place, like Red Lobster. So, when I came across a pattern for an "adult" bib (no lie), I knew it would be perfect for my dad. I thought about making it out of vinyl or plastic, but I've never sewed that type of material before, so I just decided on a dark denim. The nice thing about this, is that it's reversible and washable. (And the denim is very soft -- and the closure just has Velcro, so easy on and off. I actually made two because, One, it's always my dad's birthday today, and Two, I had enough fabric and hopefully one's always available while one is in the wash.)

So, here we are! (Sorry about the creases, as I needed to iron it again.)


Friday, June 19, 2009

Thrifty Finds

I recently found an awesome person and site -- Sarah, the Thrifty Decor Chick. What I love about her, is that some of her decorating style is similar to mine, but more importantly, she tries to be very thrifty about it (from inexpensive moulding that makes her home look like a million bucks, to thrift store finds that she re-purposes).

She finds a lot of her home decor items at thrift stores and she does amazing things with spray paint (no lie!). Since I'm trying to make home more homey I decided I would try this out. I have ventured to a few stores, but so far my luck has been slim. Either there wasn't anything really worthwhile (although it could just be I don't have a keen eye like her and some of the other bloggers she reads), or the stuff was a little overpriced.

But, I managed to find the following 3 things at Goodwill. I admit, some I prolly overpaid for, but, eh, I totally saw a use for them right away. I'll be posting the "AFTER" pics and posts of what I ended up doing with these items some time soon. But, for now, you get the BEFOREs.

For $1.99 ...


I got this black, distressed frame that fits a 5x7 photo. What I liked was that it was already distressed, and any extra nicks and scrapes from being in a pile of frames just adds to its character. This frame will be going in my kitchen, as another item to complement my valance.

For $2.99 ...

I got this little shelf. All wood and never been painted. We've been looking for a short shelf to put in our bathroom because we lack immediate vanity storage. Everything I found at hobby/craft stores was too long (and MUCH more than this). Some paint, and it'll be good enough for now!

For $3.99 ...

I got these drapery holdbacks, WHICH I'm actually going to use as something different, as soon as a give them a new color. Interestingly enough, I saw these were from Target, and apparently they are still on Target's site for $9.99. So hey, not a bad deal, eh? (Apparently, Target sends a lot of their clearanced-out items to Goodwill -- people have been able to find brand new items from Target for just pennies on the dollar.)


So, that's it for now. Brian has off next week (since our wedding anniversary is coming up and he hasn't taken a decent vacation er, well, ever), so I plan to hit a supposedly really good thrift store which is a little farther off, but we shall see what I find. Honestly I don't really have too many things I would like, although my dream find would be a set of parson's chairs for my dining room table (I found one at one resale shop, but they only had the one, argh!). We shall see.

How about you? Do you like to go thrifting? Any good stores near where you live?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hybrid Craft: Glass Gem Magnets

Glass Gem Magnets (Green, Brown, Turquoise)


I had seen these type of magnets before and thought that once I moved into a house I would make some for my newly decorated kitchen. However, we ended up moving to another apartment, instead. I have been trying more (smaller) things to make this place feel more like home, so I finally decided to make fridge magnets (because ours don't hold up much) that match a cute valance for a window in the kitchen that I bought shortly after moving in. Besides, I knew it would give me practice to work on a new craft. Overall I like them, but definitely see ways to improve how they're made. But hey, they're just for me, right? (Oh, and there are a few missing from the pic because I ran out of magnets. Oops!)

In case you're wondering, I printed digital scrapbook paper, along with some digital elements and digital stamps, so this is a hybrid craft. ^_^ (But easy to do with regular scrapbook papers, or fun pics from magazines or the newspaper.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hybrid Craft: Father's Day Card (2009)

Father's Day Card 2009

CREDITS:
Papers and Elements (except for bubblewrap paint): "Tropical Popsicle" Kit by Miss Mint (Peppermint Creative)
Bubblewrap Paint: "Wild Weekend" Kit by Miss Mint (Peppermint Creative)
Font: Kashmir


TWO posts in one day?! *gasp* Well, I had to do a quick card because I have to mail these Father's Day cards and almost didn't have time to finish! I printed this on some new luster photo paper. While it takes ink nicely, unfortunately it doesn't take to scoring too well. Ah, well. I can use it for plenty of other projects. But I love the fun color -- and the font (which I had some fun with). ^_^

Lovely Blog

My friend Sami tagged me with an award!!


You know, in my 8 years with my previous blog, I don't think I ever received an award. Not that I'm saying I need one, but, just saying. ^_^ Thanks, Sami!

You're supposed to pass the love on, so I award this to:

Charles (If you don't want to post the flowery award, I totally understand. ^_^)
Christine
Claudia
Manda
Reva
Stephanie

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hybrid Craft: Family Sign

Framed (and Final) Version
Rains Family: Established Sign (framed)


Digital Version
Rains Family: Established Sign (digital)


1 Crafty item down, 2 to go (if only Reva would get me her favorite colors!). This was for my friend Christine. Sort of a combo crafty/housewarming gift.

I've seen the "family established" signs all over the place lately. I've seen them on rustic boards, to nice beveled pieces of wood. I've seen a few framed, and thought that I could give it a little bit more character by making it a digital craft. I first found the frame and then made the digital print based on the size, then had it printed at scrapbookpictures.com (which it came out BEAUTIFULLY) and shipped to me. I did have to cut it down to fit the frame (which I knew I would have to do and planned it that way). Then just mounted it on the cute, scrolly easel.

The actual item looks closer to the digital print, as far as colors are concerned. I didn't have a lot of time to take a picture of the item, so I had to have Brian go out and take the pic for me in not-so-great light. But, it still looks nice. Most importantly, Christine likes it. Yay!!! ^_^

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Hybrid Craft: Graduation Card

Graduation Card

CREDITS:
Digital papers (polka dot on card; stripe on envelope liner): "Party Pants" Kit by Miss Mint (Peppermint Creative)
Black card stock: The Paper Company
Grad Caps/Mortar Board Elements: The Paper Studio
Glitter chipboard letters: Paperbilities (Westrim Crafts)

Font (not shown): ITC Esprit Std


This card is for my niece that's graduating from high school on Tuesday (I know, it's a weird day to graduate). I wanted something that was obviously a graduation card, but kinda girly and fun (and it actually matches her gift, which, on the off-chance that she happens to read this, I won't mention what it is). What I like is that the polka-dot paper wraps around a little to the back. I was too lazy to include all the detail shots. My friend Stephanie helped me out with the design, and then I realized it looked a little like my last card made with these digital papers (seen here) -- hah! But that's okay, it's still a cute design. And, I just can't help the glitter! ^_^

Friday, June 5, 2009

First Friday Fanfic: Dream Giver (Part 4)

Parts 1 & 2 Here, Part 3 Here

(Author's Note: This fanfic takes place sometime during Season 7 of the show -- just in case anyone didn't want any spoilers. Not that they're huge. Well, maybe.... You've been warned. ^_^ As always, constructive criticism is welcome.)

Dream Giver
(a Stargate SG-1 FanFic)

Part 4


Shortly before updating Stargate Command on the situation, the team discovered that their radios weren’t working. After some quick diagnostics by Sam, they concluded that something near the village was causing electromagnetic interference. Once in proximity to the Stargate their radios seemed to work fine. Clear that there was no danger, they settled in for a meal in one of the common buildings, along with a few of the town elders, the Abaris, and a few of his eldest children—with a noticeably absent Elpis.

“So is it just me,” Jack murmured to the others at the dinner table as the meal was ending, “or is ‘one of these things not like the other’?” His eyes rolled a little, his last words trailing in a sing-song voice.

The Abaris looked in SG-1’s direction and called out to them, down the long table. “What was that you said, Colonel?”

Jack looked around at his team, but Daniel jumped in before the question could be answered.

“Abaris, one of your daughters mentioned drawings. Could I see them, possibly?” He looked around at the team. “It might help us understand a little bit more about what you believe me to be.”

“Of course, Daniel. They are housed in our simple museum but one building over.”

The Abaris led SG-1 next door, and they made their way through large rooms housing paintings and drawings, with a few stone sculptures and artifacts dug up through the years. Normally Daniel would have been interested in these, but he held close to the Abaris, intent upon seeing these drawings that supposedly depicted him.

“After the first drawings, we had many people attempt to copy the likeness, and so we put the small collection of the best likenesses in this small room.” He stepped into a side room, leading them to a main wall that stood in the middle of the room. Hung cautiously without frames and drawn on rough-hewn, canvas-like pages, were striking likenesses of Daniel.

Daniel stared at the images. Logically, he knew this couldn’t be possible. There was no way that some woman he didn’t even know, light years away from home, could possibly know him, much less what he looked like. But in front of these images his heart told him differently. Soon after they were mentioned as existing, he knew it had to be true. Her warm emerald eyes had held recognition, and he knew that it was his lack that caused her to turn away. She knew him. But how?

“It is indeed puzzling, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c answered.

Daniel did a double-take and looked at Teal’c, finally realizing that he had spoken his question out loud.

Jack tapped on the wall, near the pictures. “Well, the clothes are different,” he said, trying to be helpful in pointing out discrepancies.

In the portraits it was hard to distinguish, but in the few full-bodied images, the Daniel in the pictures was shown wearing clothing similar to the locals of this town.

“And the glasses are missing,” Sam pointed out.

Daniel crinkled his nose and merely nodded.

“Who drew these,” she asked, turning to the Abaris.

“These were the first, and were drawn by Elpis herself.” He smiled. “She is quite talented.”

Almost as if he hadn’t heard the previous few comments, Daniel turned to them, eyes wide and throwing his hands out to the drawings. “Besides the fact that someone had a dream that had someone that looks like me in them, and they put that likeness to paper, why the shrine at the Stargate? Why the copies of the initial likeness? Why a whole wing dedicated to this Dream Giver! What makes him more than a dream?”

Sam, Jack and Teal’c looked at each other, then to the Abaris. With drooping brows, the Abaris looked softly at Daniel.

“While we call you, uh, him,” he said, pointing to the drawings, “the Dream Giver, it is only because he always appeared in dreams. Elpis claims that he spoke with her, almost as if he were with her. He helped her guide our village. He helped explain cures to simple ailments, helped us with ways of going about our daily lives in this village, and taught us how to guard against any who would come to us through the Chapa’ai. It was as if he were our protector.”

Daniel’s shoulders slumped, and he closed his eyes briefly, running both hands through his hair. “I need some air,” he murmured, making his way through the simple maze of halls and rooms.

Stepping outside, he let his eyelids slide to close and took a deep breath of the cool evening air, exposing his face to the sky. Slowly opening his eyes, his peripheral vision caught the last vestiges of light on one side, giving way to the inky night sky, which gently took twinkling stars into its embrace. He blinked. He was used to unfamiliar stars after traveling to so many planets, but he was surprised as he looked at these. These seemed vaguely familiar. He shook his head, took another deep breath, and started walking slowly around the village. Very few people were out—most could be heard in their homes, enjoying their evening meal.

Almost to the edge of the town, he was about to turn around and go back, when he heard singing. It was hard to make out at first, amidst the gentle coo of birds settling down for the night, and the evening sounds of crickets and cicadas floating through the night air. He walked toward one of the larger homes on the outskirts of the village, the song becoming louder, and clearer. He knew that song! Well, perhaps not the words—those eluded him—but the melody was quite familiar. The house sat right before a downhill slope, and at the back a large garden was surrounded by a stone half wall, with an impressive wrought-iron gate. In the middle of the garden, built up on more stone, was a gazebo that looked out to the plain and the mountains beyond. And in the gazebo, upon a marble bench and surrounded by ensconced candles, sat Elpis singing the hauntingly intimate tune.

He watched her from beyond the gate, transfixed upon her gentle song, filled with a heartbreaking hope, sung in a clear soprano. His breath caught as her face turned slightly toward him and he saw tears on her cheeks glistening in the candlelight’s glow. His jaw clenched slightly as he watched her sorrow from the shadows. In the darkness he whispered, “Who are you?”

Her fingers wiped at her tears as her song trailed off.

Daniel paused for a moment and turned silently to go.

“I am Elpis,” her voice chided softly, gently carried to him.

He turned back to the gate, sure that she didn’t mean to speak to him.

“But the question is,” she continued, as she rose and approached the gate, flickers of candlelight catching the green in her eyes like fireflies, “who are you?”

Thursday, May 28, 2009

How I Save Money on Groceries and Household Items

As I've been couponing, I've had a lot of people ask me how I have learned to save money on groceries and household items. I share a little of this info here and there with others, but thought I'd finally do a write-up of what I have learned and the things I do.

(Read more about how I save money on groceries ....)

***

I have disabled comments on this post because I want any questions or comments to be made on that post only.

Monday, May 18, 2009

My "kids" may not be human, but...

they do funny things just like regular kids.

For example:

I have one of those oil plugins with a little fan next to a sliding glass door. My cats like to sit between the curtain and said door, and almost every time that Yanni leaves the curtain he walks by the air freshener and sniffs it! Now, I can understand him having sniffed it the first time, or maybe each time I put in a new one (because the fragrance is probably pretty strong), but he does it almost constantly. "Yanni," I say, "stop sniffing the air freshener!" It's like he's a junkie. But instead of paint or markers it's air freshener. Yes, he's weird.

BUT, even weirder, is Yuki. I saw her do this some time ago, but it only happened once, so I didn't think twice about it, until it happened in a similar circumstance several times over the last few days. Yuki likes to jump on my desk and sit in front of me while I'm on the computer. No, that's normal cat behavior. What ISN'T normal is when she walks away to the other part of my desk, comes across an opened legal-size envelope, sniffs it, and proceeds to lick the glue on the underside of the flap. NO LIE! And she's done this several times! She's a glue-licker! "Stop lickin' the glue!"

Both of my cats are junkies. Who knew? (Yet they don't seem very fazed by cat nip. *shrug*)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Writing Wednesday

The barely clean windows reflected candle-lit memories back to her. She stared past them, into the velvety night, as she sat in a cozy tavern bedroom. She had traveled so many, that they all looked the same, with age-worn wooden headboards polished with beeswax, and well-trodden rugs that had once known exotic colors now covering creaking floors. Before, she would have caroused in the common room, her honest laughter and unapparent wittiness surrounding her with friends and soon-to-be friends. But no longer.

A shadow of anonymity had dampened her spirit.

Those that truly had known her were gone. And so entrenched had she been in that familiarity that she had blocked others out at the time. Now there were none to take their place. Oh, there were new smiles and promises of friendship given, but all without substance--social cordialities passed on as easily as gossip.

Not that she hadn’t tried. Was still trying, she sometimes felt. Had she changed? Or had she been just a nothingness attached to others and thus became special? Or was there something about her that no one could see anymore?

She gently touched her cool forehead, and a gentle whisper of wind alighted against the guttering flames, darkening the room around her. A soft murmur from the bed, with a rustling of sheets, turned her head to the figure sleeping there.

A gentle smile curved on her lips, catching the moon’s light filtering in. She had him, at least. But her gaze watered slightly, as she turned to look back out into the darkness. Was it selfish that she wanted just a little more? That sometimes she needed something--someone--a little different?

A tear sloped down a cheek in loneliness, refusing to answer.

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