Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Enough said! =)

This is such a cute picture. Our kitties pull a similar trick when we want to trim their nails. You would think we were killing them the way they carry on. Gary holds them one at a time, talks to them, loves them and tries to distract them while I clip as fast as my little clippers will let me. =) Once we set them down, they stay right nearby and do a once over grooming to wash off the "sheer terror" of the experience. Poor babies. =)

It's these very things that makes me love cats so much. They are so bright, but don't as a rule like anyone to know that about them. =)

Until next time,


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ready....... Set ......... SCRAP!!

Written by our resident scrapbooking professional, Penny!

Now that you've trimmed all of your photos and have gotten an idea of how you'd like to arrange them on the pages, you're ready to begin scrapping! I'd also like to add that a very good tool to have on hand is a corner rounder. This is a small hand - held device that when using, feels sort of like a hole punch. What it does is it gives your photos nice, round corners. I've found that I like to do both rounded corner and straight edged photo layouts. Again, it's a personal preference.
What is the theme of your first layout? By this time you'll have already chosen your background pages that coordinate with your theme. Next, if you like the way matted photos look, you should choose what type of matting paper will look best with your photos and your theme. Once you've decided on this paper, you'll take your photos one at a time and lay them on the matting paper. Depending on what you like, you can use your cutter to make your matting narrow or wide. Later on after you've completed a layout or two, you can also double or even triple mat your photos. For this one though, let's just try single matting. There is also the option of using no matting at all. Whatever you choose to do is perfectly fine. Once the matting paper is cut, you'll need to put adhesive on the back of your photos to adhere them to the matting paper. For this, a tape dispenser is easy and quick. Once all of your photos are matted, then you can again lay them on the backround page and get a more precise idea of exactly how they will be glued down. When you are sure of how you'd like them arranged, go ahead and proceed with the gluing.

Here are two examples of single - matted photos. One is straight - edged, and one is with rounded corners.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Getting Ready to Scrap by Penny

Now that you have your basic supplies, let's get started. What you'll want to do first is to lay out your background pages in front of you. A typical layout is 2 - 12X12 scrapbook album pages. This is by no means the rule, and you can absolutely do anything you like. Many times I will only have a few items or photos from a certain occasion, and a 1 - page layout is all I really need. Remember! There are no rules!
Once the background pages are laid out, start by placing your photos and/or items on the pages and begin to get an idea of how you'd like to arrange them. I say items because I'm one who loves to save "things" from various occasions. For example, I save and scrap all the receipts from my son Christian's birthday cakes. I think someday it will be fun to look back and see what birthday cakes cost "way back when". After all, it is called scrapbooking, not photobooking. This is one area where I really enjoy getting creative with seeing what fun and different things I can come up with to scrap.

A little snag that I've run into more than once is choosing which pictures to include in the layout. Choosing the ones that best tell the story of your occasion can be challenging, but necessary. There will be times when you will feel that you want to scrap every single photo you've taken. By process of elimination, try and narrow down each occasion to 10 to 12 photos. That's just a guideline I usually follow, but again this is your layout. You get to do whatever you like. Once the pictures are chosen, the next thing to do is to trim them. You want to trim off as much as possible while still leaving the focal point of the photo. This is one helpful thing I did learn at that first scrapbook party I went to, so it wasn't a total waste of my time:o) Think of it this way. When looking at a photo, are you really looking at what is surrounding the subject? No, you're looking primarily at the subject, the whole reason you snapped the photo in the first place. Keep what you need, and get rid of what you don't. This is key when making room for all the photos you've chosen for your layout. Once you give it a try you'll see what I mean.

Here is a before and after look of a trimmed photo.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Scrapbooking: "You can do it too" Part 2. by Penny

I had taken the first step. I had my first scrapbook album, but now what the heck was I to do with it? I decided that I would begin with pre-baby photos.You know, pictures of the nursery that was ready for my baby, maybe a shot or two from my baby shower, my ultrasound picture, that sort of thing. I gathered my items and laid them out before me. First and foremost, I knew that each page of my scrapbook album would have to have a background page. Thankfully, the album that I had purchased came with these pages that matched the album itself. This made choosing the background pages very easy and convenient for me. Next, I remembered seeing a couple of scrapbook albums before where the pictures were matted, meaning that they were "framed" so to speak, with some type of paper, also known as card stock. I knew I liked antique looking, soft fabric- like paper, so I made another trip back to the scrapbook store to find it. Once I found some that I liked, I knew it was time to think about adhesives.What was the best way to adhere my pictures to the album? If I can think of one key thing that has helped me the most in my adventures into scrapbooking, it's to ask questions. The women who typically work at these stores LOVE it when you ask them to share some of their expertise. They've always been more than willing to share some tips with me and suggest certain things. The two main ways I adhere - or glue my things, is either with glue dots or squares of tape that are automatically dispensed from a tape dispenser. Both of these are standard scrapbook supplies and can be found in any scrapbook supply store. Also, when getting started, another essential thing that you will need is a portable paper cutter. In the beginning I didn't use one, and it made scrapbooking much harder and time consuming. I bought mine at my local office supply store. Now I wonder how I ever lived without it!

Alright, so now I had my album, pictures to scrap, adhesives, matting paper, and paper cutter. I was almost ready to begin creating my first layout. A layout is the subject matter that you are scrapping about. In my case, it was awaiting the arrival of my new baby. With each layout it's always a good idea to introduce, or make it apparent to to the person viewing your album, exactly what that particular layout is about. In my first layout I chose letter stickers to show the title " Awaiting your arrival", as if I was actually speaking to my son. After all, these albums I'm creating will ultimately be for him. Lastly, as far as the basic supplies go, you may want to include what are known as "embellishments" in your layouts. These are things that will be used to decorate and really personalize your pages. Being artistically challenged, I rely heavily on embellishments. I love the way they look and how they add so much to my scrapping. In my next post I will walk you through putting together your first scrapbook page.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Scrapbooking: You Can Too!!!

Readers, I would like to introduce you to my friend, Penny. She lives in Southern California and is a scrapbooker. She has agreed to write a few articles on scrapbooking for you and to share some of her work in pictures as well. Here is her first article, and a picture of her very FIRST album. Imagine! This is her first try!

"How I Became a Scrapbooker. You Can Too!"
By Penny

Growing up I never felt that I had any artistic flair, or that I was in any way "crafty". In grade school, and even in later years I would cringe when it was time to do any sort of art project. I always felt my talent in this area came up short, and it made me feel inferior. My problem was that I was constantly comparing myself to others.
Then, many years later I was introduced to scrapbooking. A close friend of mine was having a scrapbook party. Oh yikes, I thought. I loathed parties, whether they be Tupperware, Pampered Chef, Princess House or the like. I was never one of those women who just loved to get together with other women to discuss such things, let alone ooh and aah over all those ridiculous products. I felt that I should attend the party to support my friend who would benefit in the way of free products once her party receipts were tallied. How bad could it be? I went and decided I would try to show some enthusiasm.
Once at the party, wouldn't you know we were all give mini-kits to make our own scrapbook page and show our artistic and creative sides. Here we go.Yikes once again. I was a grown woman, married, and still self-conscious. I forged ahead and attempted to make something halfway decent out of this kit I was given. Looking back, I realize that the pressure I felt to perform actually inhibited my creativity, and what I produced that day was nothing short of dismal. The other women, I felt, were producing gorgeous creations, showing great imagination and ability. I did what I could, pretending to enjoy what I was doing. I finished my page, purchased a couple of products as a favor to my friend, and headed home. What was I thinking? Scrapbooking was way too complicated for me, not to mention much too intimidating.
Fast forward about five or six years. I'd just had my son Christian and it became my heart's desire to create lasting keepsakes for him that he could have for years to come and show his own family one day. What was I to do? I had no choice but to take the plunge once again and give scrapbooking another try. Deep down I felt that when done in the right way, it could be a fun and beautiful way to capture, save,and organize mine and my husband Dino's precious memories with Christian. I knew deep down that even I, the artistically challenged, could do it.
I decided that venturing out into scrapbook territory alone would be the best way to go. If I failed, then who would know? No loss. No big deal. I located a nearby scrapbook store and mustered up my courage. I was going in. In my head I was playing that old Helen Reddy song "I Am Woman" over and over again. I had to, if I was going to do this. I wanted to make it light and humorous, with no pressure. I was just going to give the place a look - see. My first visit to that store can only be described with one word - overwhelming. There was so much stuff in that store, that one barely had room to walk, let alone shop. I quickly cleared my head, took a deep breath, and decided I would start with the basics. On that visit my only goal would be to locate, choose, and purchase a scrapbook album. I knew I wanted it to be big, as I had a about a bazillion baby photos accumulating at home. I knew when I saw it that I had found the one for me. It was for baby, with soft pastel colors, and I thought it was just perfect. I felt absolutely victorious as I left the store. I had taken the first step! I actually had the scrapbook album in my hands, and since it wasn't in any way a cheap purchase, I knew I had no choice but to keep going. I was going to be a scrapbooker no matter what it took. I was determined.

Friday, April 11, 2008


I've been saying I wanted to try scrap booking for such a long time now. Well, friends, the time has come!! I have two occasions that I feel are just calling for me to begin this new hobby. Want to join me?

One of those occasions is my class reunion. I plan to take my digital camera along and take photos of memorable moments. Later I will gather all of those wonderful photos along with the many I have from years past with these same people and begin my first scrap booking experience.

The picture on the left is from a wonderful site I found
It's loaded with amazing ideas, supplies, tips and everything a beginning scrap book maker could want. All that is missing is a friend who knows all about scrap booking and I just happen to have one of those at my disposal too. I've seen some of her pages and they are amazing. I'll see if she has any beginning tips for us to share.

So, do I have you all on board with me? I have heard that this can be a costly hobby, but I think that the challenge and the real fun of doing this would be to use what you have around the house already. Challenge yourself to see just what you can do by utilizing things you already have and to see just how cheaply you can put together some wonderful pages.

I hope you will take some pictures and share your project with us. My reunion isn't until July 19, but meanwhile I'll be gathering up old photos and copying them to preserve the originals. I'll also gather up any other things that I might find useful. Scraps of fabric, paints, whatever I can find around the house. I may even dig through my stash of things I keep here for my grand kids to play with. I bet I'll find some useful treasures there.

Let me hear from you if you're going to join me in beginning this new hobby. Be sure to take pictures as you go along and do email me or leave a comment here. I will post any emails for everyone to enjoy, unless you prefer that I don't.

Check out If you aren't inspired to try this yet, a visit to that site will surely have you chomping at the bit.

Happy hunting for scrap booking supplies.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Quilting Project in the Making

I have always been fascinated with quilting. I have my machine set up at my favorite sewing spot, and am ready to begin a quilting project to share with you all. I want to make a runner for our dining room table so a quilted one would be just perfect in my "Country Style" decor. I posted on this a while back, but am finally getting to it. Life does get busy. Does it not?

In the photo you can see the fabrics that I have to work with for this room. (click on the image to see an enlarged view) I have the largest amount of the smaller print that is shown on the table, but I find it too busy for my liking. So, I will use it along with the bigger print and some of the other fabrics I have in a patchwork arrangement. I don't know if it'll actually be quilted or just patchwork. We shall see. =)

Meanwhile, if you're interested in this, subscribe to my blog and you'll be notified via email when I post more on this. I hope to have something to show you in the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, I'd love to see what you're doing, so please leave me the URL to your site so we can all enjoy one another's craft projects. =)

Until next time,


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The House of Earth Trilogy, by Pearl S Buck

The House of Earth Trilogy is made up of three great books by Pearl S Buck, "The Good Earth", "Sons", and "A House Divided". I would be hard pressed to pick my favorite of the three. I had read "The Good Earth" when I was in my early 20's and it started me off on my love affair with books.

Re-reading The Good Earth at this time in my life was a whole new experience, however. It was like reading an entirely different book to me, with things that stand out now being totally different than what stood out to me at 20. The one thing that got to me then and now, though, is the description of the famine that the characters of her book went through. It was heart wrenching and unbelievable, and I don't doubt that she was speaking of things she saw with her own eyes. She tells of famine so far reaching that there isn't a thing to eat, not even a rodent for they had all been eaten. Wang Lung and his wife feed their children dirt because they feel that there surely is some nourishment in dirt, minerals and so forth.

I don't think I'd be alone in making the statement, "I have never missed a meal because there was nothing to eat". I don't think I'd be alone in saying I have made the statement, "There isn't anything to eat in this house!", when our pantry was full as were our freezer and refrigerator as well. In "The Good Earth" Ms Buck speaks of famine and drought to the very point of death. Where family members lay in bed all day long, too weak to speak. Too weak to speak Can you imagine? The youngest of their children was under a year old and due to lack of food, she became retarded and stayed mentally at that age for the rest of her life.

Their will to live intervenes, however, and gets them out of the drought area to the city where the wife and children beg and Wang Lung pulls a rickshaw even though he is still so very weak. They fought their way back by saving whatever bits of silver that they could save, until they had enough to go back to their home and start over, once the famine in their part of China had passed.

Wang Lung's love of the land takes them all back to their home where Wang Lung begins to not only recover, but to buy more and more property that he can plant, and harvest and save every cent that isn't needed in the sparse lifestyle that they are used to living. Eventually, Wang's meager holdings grow into great wealth. He and his family then leave their earthen house for a city home that was once owned by the riches family in their area. There they stay and raise their three boys and the little retarded one whom they refer to as "the fool". She nor any of his children have names, but are referred to as first son, second son, third son and so on.

The boys grow and by the end of The Good Earth, they have personalities and names that have come from what they do in life. In that country at that time, parents chose what children would become when they grew up, and chose occupations that will benefit the entire family and generations to come. (why didn't I think of that? ) Families lived together under the same roof, but if possible, in sections to themselves.

So, "Sons" is all about these three boys of Wangs. They are called, Wang the Landlord, who is the oldest son and in charge of vast land holdings of the Wang family. Wang the merchant, the second son, is in charge of selling the harvest and all of the other things needed to continue farming. Wang the youngest, the third son, Wang ha determined would take his place in the fields when he himself can no longer work the land. Wang the third didn't see his future the same way his father did, so at age 12 or so, he ran off and isn't seen again until he is a grown man.

Ms Buck develops the personalities of these three sons, though Wang the third, who becomes "Wang the Tiger" I felt was the focal point of this second novel. The other sons play supporting parts, but Wang the Tiger is the one we "live with" most of the time in the second book. He is a war lord and has visions of becoming very great and being lord over vast areas of China. He doesn't do too poorly, and manages to accrue a good deal of wealth for himself and a vast army as well.

The custom of parents choosing the brides and grooms for their offspring is still alive and well in "Sons". Wang chooses wives for his first two sons, but the third son doesn't feel a need for women at all, though when he does, it's his choice as to who she is. He is perhaps in his thirties before he meets a woman who captures his heart and for the first time, "The Tiger" is smitten. Because he is so blindly in love with this woman, who isn't worthy of that devotion, he ignores all warnings given to him by his trusted men. He marries her and trusts her with his every thought. This women, however, is a viper in his bosom. When he discovers this, his heart is broken and he drives his sword into the heart of this beloved creature as she lay sleeping in his bed.

Again, I must praise Pearl Buck's writing abilities here. I can't even begin to describe the complex personality that is "Wang the Tiger". I have tried and can't do it. How she manages to weave into one personality, the variety of complexities that make up Wang the Tiger, leaves me in awe. His ability to love to the depths that he does, and his ability to be evil enough to kill this woman that he adores because she means him harm, leaves me shaking my head.

Wang the Tiger isn't without his pain over the loss of this woman, though, as he does mourn her. When he catches himself doing so, though, he snaps himself out of it and reminds himself what evil she had planned for him and how he needed to do what he did. This gets him through this time.

Eventually, The Tiger's life appears to be lacking much and he yearns for a son. His father has long been gone, so he appeals to his brothers to find him a wife. They both find one so he marries them both. They are two different types of women, so they serve his purposes. He wants more than anything, to have a son. So, he impregnates both women. One of his wives is educated and not "ugly" as it is said. The second wife is strong and capable of bearing many sons, though has only a few black teeth. These women are not needed as mates, but rather as baby factories. When they deliver, the smarter of the two gives him a "slave" as they call girls. Not any worth there!!! The one lacking teeth gives him a boy, however, and The Tiger can hardly contain his joy. He sits for hours just watching this baby nurse and grow. He is afraid to pick him up, though, so he is unable to express all that he is feeling towards this creature.

As is the custom, he chooses this boy's future and of course wants him to carry on the family "war lording" business. When he is about 4 or so, Wang the Tiger takes his son away from his mother and keeps him with him. He hires a tutor to train the boy in ways of war, as well as the usual subjects. The boy misses his mother and sister and gets depressed. The Tiger notices this but doesn't understand what could be going on. One of his trusted men finally clues him in and he lets the boy go to see his mother and sister once in a while. Problem solved. The Tiger never does figure out that it's okay to be a rough and tough war lord and still show tenderness towards his child. The boy grows up as a quiet and very intense person, which doesn't surprise any of us, now does it!! As "Sons" draws to a close, we find The Tiger getting on in age and not really up to being a Tiger, though still plans to wage war on this group and that one, one day.

Times are a changin' in China, however, and a great revolution is taking place. Young people are rebelling against the old ways of their parents, are dating whomever they want and refusing to allow the parents to choose who they should marry and when. (sound vaguely familiar? Thought it would) The grandsons of Wang Lung are all into the new ways and it's no wonder that eventually The Tiger's son ends up in the local jail for something that happened while he was associating with his rowdy cousins. Rather than being put to death, however, his neck is spared and he and his cousin are whisked away by the family and sent to a foreign land to go to college.

"A House Divided" follows these boys to this new land that sounds a lot like the good old USA, though a name for the country is never given. Ms Buck isn't into labels, which adds a dimension to her work that is lacking in many a writer's books. Because she doesn't tell us everything, we're free to build it, shape it, color it and decorate it for ourselves.

In this third and last novel in the trilogy, the people have names. Yuan is the name of Wang The Tiger's son, and Ai-lan his daughter. He never really gets to know this girl, but brother and sister remain very close over the years.

A House Divided follows the years of going to school and growing up of primarily the son and daughter of Wang the Tiger. Yuan is growing up in a foreign country but also in a foreign time as well. Being brought up in the part of China where the old ways were still taught, he finds himself in the midst of conflict about who he should be, how he should be and what he should do with his life. This struggle and the many encounters in the life of this young man make up the story of A House Divided. This young man, though very much an individual, strives to find a way to embrace both the old and the new ways and seems to accomplish this when all is said and done.

After reading House Of Earth I went on to begin a novel by one of my favorite modern authors and found it "thin" and lacking substance in the beginning. The modern auther, Belva Plain, is an excellent writer, but I must say that even a good modern day writer can't hold her ground when put back to back with the likes of Pearl Buck.

I liken the Classics to ribs. The meat on these bones are so wonderfully tasty that they keep you coming back for another rib to get those tiny bits and pieces of that oh so savory meat. Though sparse on the bone, those morsels of meat are well worth the work of picking those bones dry
Thus are my feelings about the classics, Pearl S Buck's books in particular. Do pick up one of her works and taste it for yourselves. You won't be left unsatisfied when you do.

Happy reading,