Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Stretching Scraps

I love to use my scraps to make cards.  However, sometimes a scrap is a little bit too small, even for a card.  There is a simple solution.  Cut the scrap into two pieces, glue them down, then create a band of color to cover the gap.  Would you have ever guessed that the turquoise and red cardstock are hiding a gap in the brown patterned paper?  

Monday, May 30, 2011

7 Years

Happy anniversary to the man who works so hard to provide for our family and is 100% supportive of everything I do.

Steve and Cindy, 6th anniversary, 5-30-10

Here we are, 7 years ago today:


Steve, thank you for seven wonderful years of marriage.  I can't wait to spend the next seven years of my life with you.  And the next seven, and the next seven after that.  I love you!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Crafts of My Childhood: Lite Brite

Look what my mom brought when she came to visit!  My old Lite-Brite!


I LOVED Lite-Brite.  I was surprised that there were undone papers in the box.  I thought I had done every single sheet a hundred times.  In fact, I used to study the enclosed order form in hopes that one day I could order refills.


Trevor chose an undone paper in the box and got to work. 


Smurfette!  The copyright date on it is 1983. Aha!  So it was my sister who didn't finish all her Lite-Brite designs.  I knew I'd done all of mine.

There were some blank sheets in the box too.  After much debate, Trevor decided to make an ice cream cone.


I thought back to 1979 and made what would have been the ultimate design for my 7-year old self:


I'm happy to report that Lite-Brite is just as fun as I remember it.  I did an Amazon search to see if they still sell it.  There is a modern version that is square and runs on batteries, but the ratings are fairly poor.  Fortunately, they do sell refill packs for the Classic Lite-Brite!  Trevor picked out his favorites and I put them on his Amazon wish list.  

What a fun blast from the past!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Accidental Scraplifting

I am a big fan of scraplifting and seeking inspiration from others... credited, of course!  But I live in fear of accidentally scraplifting someone and not giving proper credit.  I read a lot of blogs, subscribe to multiple magazines, and frequently look through galleries.  It is definitely possible that I could see an idea somewhere, move on with my life, and have the idea pop back up in my head months later, leaving me to think it's original.  I'm terrified of that.  I wouldn't want someone to do it to me and I don't ever want anyone to think I'd do that to someone else. 

Here is a gift bag and card set I made for an year-end teacher gift:


I finished the gift bag and took a break before completing the card.  During that break, I read through some blogs.... and noticed a card on Jennifer McGuire's blog that was very similar to the gift bag I had just made.  You can see hers here.  Immediately, paranoia set in.  I couldn't have scraplifted it, since I made mine before seeing hers.  But what if people think I did?!  What if hers is merely a repeat of a design she's done before and I had actually seen it?!  Ack!

I know that the design is very simple and has probably been done many ways by many people, but could I have accidentally scraplifted?  Have any of you accidentally scraplifted or been the victim of uncredited scraplifting?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Maze Party

Recently, I blogged about the cakes I've made for Trevor's first four birthdays, including the Maze Cake.  Today I wanted to tell you more about the Maze Party.  

First, you need to know that Trevor LOVES mazes.  When I asked Trevor what he wanted his fourth birthday party to be like, he said he wanted a Maze Party where everyone would do mazes and there would be a Maze Cake.  Hmm... what exactly does a maze party look like, and would Trevor have to face the sad reality that no one else in his world is as interested in mazes as he is?  I had to think hard to plan a party that would suit Trevor and not just be everyone sitting silently completing maze books. 

For his family birthday BBQ, Steve and I turned the backyard into a giant maze.  Guests were greeted with an arrow on the garage showing them where to go.


Arrows, stars, footprints and other shapes led to various activity stations.


Three of the stations included wooden mazes that Steve made.



There was a large banner with mazes for Trevor and his guests to solve.


I planned a huge maze treasure hunt.  Each clue was sealed in an envelope with a maze printed on the outside.  The kids had to solve the maze before opening the envelope to find the next clue.  Each maze was increasingly difficult.
 
 
The clues eventually led them inside the house, where maze-themed prizes with their initials were waiting for them. 


They also got an empty treat bag with their initials.  While they were inside finding the treasure, a few of the adults were hiding candy in the backyard.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any decent pictures of the candy hunt.

The highlight of the Maze Party was, of course, the Maze Cake.  Trevor loved it. 


The Maze Party was a huge success!

Two days later on his actual birthday, we hosted playgroup at our neighborhood park.  We called this event the Park Party.  For the Park Party, we planned an extremely simplified version of the Maze Party.  With 20 kids coming, we opted for Maze Cupcakes instead of a Maze Cake.


Trevor and I made treat bags for all his guests.  He carefully selected who got each color.


The treat bags each held a wooden maze and some pens, plus plenty of room for anything the kids found during the candy hunt.


Both the Maze Party and the Park Party were tons of fun.  Trevor loved them, which is ultimately what matters most to me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Scrapping CHA

I wrote this post as a member of the Design Team at Flamingo Scraps and wanted to share it here.

I took 683 photos during the Craft and Hobby Association (CHA) tradeshow back in January.  It was really difficult to select which ones I would scrap, but I eventually printed my favorite 30.  Those had been pushed to the back of my desk as I worked on other assignments and projects.  But when I saw the latest sketch from the Scrapping Stamper, I thought it would work really well for my CHA photos.


Obviously, there were WAY too few photos on the sketch for my 30 pictures.  I narrowed down my favorite photos even further and fit 18 on the page.  It was somewhat busy, so I removed the matte that is behind the 6x4 focal photo in the sketch.  Keeping the focus on the photos, I decided to make my embellishments monochromatic.  I also reduced the number of embellishments from 9 to 3.

Here's what I made:


I was able to use the Fancy Pants "Beach Bum" paper (blue and striped) that I fell in love with at CHA.  I love the way it looks paired with the Fancy Pants "Summer Soiree" (orange with red accents).

This was a really fun layout to make!  At a glance, it reminds me of all the fun I had at CHA and the fabulous friends I made.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's a girl! And another girl!

Ten years ago, I became an aunt when my nephew Timothy was born.  I was beyond thrilled to become Aunt Cindy.  Seven years ago, I married Steve and instantly gained two more nephews, Ian and Sean.  Nearly five years ago, I became a mom when Trevor was born.  On Sunday, I became a godmother to two girls, Kylinn and Ellia.  It is an honor and a privilege to be mom, aunt or godmother to these six. 

Here I am with my two new goddaughters, their mom Courteney, and my co-godparent Rachel:

Me, Ellia, Courteney, Kylinn and Rachel


Kylinn

Ellia

I wanted to make special cards to mark the baptisms of Kylinn, Ellia and Courteney.  I hadn't done heat embossing in years, but I knew it would be perfect for mimicking the look of stained glass.  The stamp is by Stampin' Up.


I used Prismacolor Premier art markers to color in the stained glass.  I love the way the colors blend.

 

After I colored the windows, I cut them out.  I added embossed vellum to a card blank and adhered the window to it.  Finally, I tied on a piece of white nylon netting.  Here are the finished cards:


And a close-up of one:

I know I will love being a godmother as much as I love being an aunt and a mom.  Thank you to Courteney and Carl for honoring me with such an important role in their daughters' lives.  I feel truly blessed.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Garden Markers

For the past five years, we've planted a vegetable garden in our backyard.  We've expanded each year (three new raised beds this year!), plus we're constantly experimenting with different locations for each vegetable.  To help us remember at a glance what is where, I decided that Trevor and I should make some cute garden markers.

We started with red, blue, yellow and white Crayola Model Magic.  It is great- easy to blend, fun to work with, air dries overnight, and makes no mess.

We mixed colors to get green and orange.

Then we started sculpting.  We put the finished veggies onto ordinary wooden skewers.


Here are some of the finished garden markers: strawberries, yellow pear tomatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, and carrots.  Trevor's are on the left, mine on the right.  

I love the way they turned out!  We let them air dry overnight, then I sprayed them with two coats of Krylon Crystal Clear sealant.  When those were dry, Trevor put the garden markers in place.

 What a fun and cute addition to our garden!  

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Party Like it's 1999!

I wrote this post as a member of the Design Team at Flamingo Scraps and wanted to share it here.

In February I wrote about the classes that I took at CHA, including Pat Davenport's "Elegant Glass Etching."  As I mentioned in that post, it was actually my second time doing glass etching.  The previous time was way back in 1999.

In 1999, I was 27 years old and single.  As a fifth grade teacher, my workday ended by 4:00 PM.  When I wasn't dancing, my evenings were usually spent crafting, inventing recipes, or planning parties.  For New Year's Eve 1999, I put those three hobbies together to throw my most ambitious party ever.

Somehow, I got the idea in my head that I should host the most fabulous dinner party of all time to celebrate the new millennium.  The dress would be formal, and I would serve a different course every hour on the hour from 7:00 PM until the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2000.  I would pair a different wine with each course. (My guests were spending the night.)  I spent weeks planning the menu, testing recipes, creating games, and working out every last detail.  To serve as place cards, I decided that I would use beautiful glass votives, etched with each guest's initials.

I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me that I didn't actually know how to do glass etching.  No matter!  I went to Michaels and bought etching cream and a dozen votives.  I found a lovely font and printed out each person's initials.  I traced the letters onto contact paper and painstakingly cut them out with a craft knife.  Wow, was that ever difficult!  It took forever and I made many mistakes along the way.  When they were finally done, I applied the contact paper to the votives.  That was hard too!  The actual etching was the easy part.  Here's mine, from back when I was Cindy Jones:
 
Please ignore the wax splotches and poor photography.  I've learned that glass is really difficult to photograph!


I spent the better part of three days preparing the food, every bit of it from scratch.  The menu was as follows:

     7 PM: Spanikopita and Sun-Dried Tomato Palmier appetizers (paired with Fume Blanc)
     8 PM: Salad of Romaine, Pear and Gorgonzola with a Walnut-Bacon Dressing (paired with Pinot Blanc)
     9 PM: Cream of Cauliflower Soup and Cloverleaf Rolls (paired with Chardonnay)
     10 PM: Chicken and Beef Fondue with Baked Potato and Glazed Carrots (paired with Pinot Noir)
     11 PM: Lemon Souffle with Candied Tangerine (paired with Orange Muscat)
     Midnight: Champagne and Assorted Cheeses

I am so glad I put all that effort into throwing an over-the-top party to celebrate a one-in-a-lifetime event.  Of course, I scrapped the party.  Take a look at how I was scrapping nearly twelve years ago, before I'd ever seen a scrapbook magazine, visited a scrapbook store, or met anyone else who scrapbooked:




What great memories!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Operation: Street Sign

I wrote this as the Guest Artist at Ideas for Scrapbookers and wanted to share it here.

My friend Adam Diament is the coolest person I know.  Why?  Because he does things like this in his spare time:

Los Angeles County: Adventure 88!

He's done similar videos for Orange County (Adventure 34!) and Ventura County (Adventure 10!).  Perhaps his most impressive was San Diego County (Adventure 18!), in which he visits all 18 cities in San Diego County in a single day.  And hats off to his then-pregnant wife Tiffany, who spent 12.5 hours driving around the county with him taking his picture in every city!

After I saw his videos, I was inspired to do something cool like that and scrap it.  It would not be particularly impressive (or interesting) for me to visit the 7 cities in my county, but I thought it would be really fun to photograph my husband, our son, and myself each standing by a street sign with our name on it.

I did my research on Google Maps.  I typed in "Cindy Street California" and wrote down each city that appeared.  I did the same thing for Steve and Trevor.  I went back and also checked our given names, Cynthia and Steven.  I kept the list of cities by the calendar, waiting for an occasion that would take us to "our" streets.  The chance to go to Cindy Way in Pleasanton came soon.  On a second trip, we visited Steven Circle in Benicia and Trevor Parkway, also in Pleasanton.

This layout was so fun to put together!


I hope this inspires you to have your own adventure!  Whether it's as major as Adam's or on a smaller scale like mine, an adventure like this is a lot of fun and a great topic for a layout or album.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Being Lifted

There is a small group within the Fiskateers who call themselves the Liftateers.  Each week, they select one Fiskateer, choose one of her layouts, and then use it for inspiration on layouts of their own.  They recently chose me.  This is the layout they chose to scraplift: 

 

I was very excited to see what elements of my layout they would lift.  I'd identify the key components of this layout to be: the swirly border; the pops of orange amongst the blue; 7 photos; and the use of vellum for the title, journaling block and fish accents.  Here's what each of the women did:

GroovyDeb used the same basic layout design as my layout, with six large photos on the page.  She has a similar title style, with a short word using all caps.  She has a leaf border in the same place as my wave border.


 
The most obvious inspiration that Donna #6036 found was the use of the border.  Hers is at the top of the layout instead of the bottom.  She has three vertical columns like mine, with the journaling moved to the center.


 
At first glance, I didn't see how my layout inspired Sue in CT's.  She didn't mention what part she lifted, but once I really studied it, I noticed that by flipping and rotating the layout, it is similar to mine.  I'm guessing the use of multiple photos influenced her as well, as none of the other layouts in her gallery have more than 1 or 2 photos on the page.



The last layout is by Vicky #7622.  If you don't immediately see my layout in this one, tip your head to the right.  Now it should look familiar!  The title, journaling and photo placement all match mine.  Where I had a wave border, she has an accent strip with a dictionary definition to help define the theme of her page.

I really enjoyed seeing how four different women interpreted my layout.  The results could not be more different!  How fun to see how individual creativity truly is!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pinwheel Cookies

Every so often, I let Trevor go through a cookbook and pick something he'd like to make.  This time, we looked through Disney's Family Cookbook.  It's a great cookbook with gorgeous illustrations.  Trevor picked Pinwheel Cookies.

They were surprisingly easy to make.  Trevor was able to do much of it himself.


Pinwheel Cookies

                             1 c. butter, softened                  2 3/4 c. flour
                             3/4 c. sugar                              1 tsp. baking soda
                             1 egg                                        1 tsp. cream of tartar
                             1 tsp vanilla extract                   1 oz. unsweetened chocolate

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the egg and beat well, then mix in the vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, one third at a time, until thoroughly combined.

Divide the dough into two equal portions.  Melt unsweetened chocolate and add to one half of the dough.  Flatten each of the doughs into a disk.  Cover each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Roll out chocolate and sugar doughs separately between sheets of plastic wrap into 12 x 8 inch rectangles.  Remove the plastic wrap and place one rectangle on top of the first.  Starting on a 12-inch side, roll up the doughs tightly, like a jelly roll.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour.

Remove the plastic wrap and cut the roll into 1/4 inch thick slices.  Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Makes about 3 dozen. 



They were very good, but the flavors weren't quite intense enough.  Next time we'll make some modifications to boost the flavor.  Perhaps a version with peppermint extract?  I can imagine using food color to make pinwheels to match school colors or a party theme.  We'll definitely be making these again!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Exactly 5 Years Ago

My last day as a 5th grade teacher was five years ago today.  I was nine months pregnant and, due to complications, had been working reduced hours for about a month.  I'd been determined to last long enough at work to get the kids through their state testing so they wouldn't have to test with a sub.  They finished their testing in the morning on May 17, 2006 and I left at lunchtime.

At the time, I didn't think that would be my last day teaching.  My plan was to take a year off, then return to work in a 2-day-per-week job share.  The year came and went, and along with it came a note from HR saying I had to declare my intention to return to work or resign.  It didn't take me more than 2 seconds to decide- I was resigning.  Being home with Trevor was the best thing ever, and there was no way I wanted to miss a single day.

Despite the fact that Steve has been laid off from three jobs in the five years since I quit my job, I have not been tempted even once to return to work as a classroom teacher.  I love being a stay-at-home mom more than anything.  Five years later, I still don't want to miss a single day of Trevor's life. 

It's not that I didn't like teaching.  In fact, I loved my job.  People ask me all the time if I miss teaching.  It's a difficult question to answer.  There are so many things about it I miss, but plenty of things I don't.  Here's some of what I miss the most:

Cooking in the classroom:  

Every Friday, my students and I would tackle a new recipe.  It was so much fun!  And, of course, I packed tons of learning into each activity.  We doubled or tripled recipes with fractional parts and calculated costs per serving.  We learned about the historical or cultural background of the foods we prepared.  We studied nutrition in depth.  The kids kept folders with sketches of every kitchen tool we used, journal entries about our successes (or rare failures), and of course, the recipes for everything we made, carefully copied down by hand.
 

The Annual Scrabble Tournament:

Each year I taught my students how to play Scrabble, which culminated in an annual classroom tournament.  Working in teams of two, the students would play every other team in the room.  They took their games extremely seriously.  It never occurred to them how much they were learning because it was so much fun.  It always cracked me up when someone would ask me if it was against the rules to study the dictionary at home.  Um, no... feel free to develop your vocabulary in your spare time!  Oh yeah, and it's ok to work on anagrams, study word lists, and have practice games too. 


Cool Science Experiments:

I am a huge fan of hands-on science.  (Actually, I'm a huge fan of hands-on anything.)  I loved teaching anything from Lawrence Hall of Science's excellent FOSS and GEMS materials.  I also loved creating supplemental science units, like the one I made about Chemistry.    


Teaching US History:

I loved teaching US History. And once again, I liked making it as hands-on as possible. It is great fun to make history come alive for students. When we studied Colonial America, the students wouldn't just read the chapter in the textbook, answer some questions and memorize dates. We sewed samplers, played games and sports from the era, made Colonial toys, cooked foods from the era, and used quills to learn calligraphy.


Each year, the whole fifth grade would get together to celebrate Colonial Day. The kids dressed in Colonial clothing and spent the day rotating through 6 or 7 stations, where they got to experience Colonial life.

Super Cool Field Trips:

I love field trips. Most years we took three minor field trips and one major trip. One of my favorite minor trips took place each February. As soon as the students mastered percents and dividing with decimals, I would hand them the menu from a local Chinese restaurant. They would work together to gather each student's votes for top 5 entrees, graph the results, select the top vote getters, calculate the total cost with tax and tip, and then divide by the number of students to get a cost per student. They would collect the money and place the order. We walked the 1 mile to the restaurant and enjoyed a delicious lunch. There was always a tense moment when the bill came and the students waited to be sure that their math had been correct and we would have enough money. Of course we always did!

I taught for 11 years. For the first four, our major trip was a camping trip in the Sierra foothills. In 2000, we did something even more special. My coworker Linda and I planned a weeklong trip to Washington DC and New York for our students. The preparation, especially the fundraising, was intense. But it was so worth it. The trip was absolutely amazing.

 
We started planning a second trip to take place in early 2002 that would focus on Boston and New York, but we had to cancel that trip after September 11. Instead, I took my students to an environmental science camp in Mendocino. It was awesome. While not as cool as a trip to the East Coast would have been, at least there was a lot less fundraising!

Perhaps my favorite major field trip of all was the one that was the shortest, the cheapest and the closest. Angel Island offers a Civil War Living History Program. For 24 hours, students live the life of a Civil War soldier. They dress in uniform, hike to camp carrying all their supplies, cook all their meals on authentic wood stoves, use semaphore to send messages, and learn how to clean and fire muskets. They live without electricity, relying on gas lanterns for light and a wood stove for heat. The program is amazing. Teachers have to apply for this program and are chosen by lottery, then must go through a training weekend. I was very fortunate to be selected three times.


What do these all have in common?  Everything I loved about teaching allowed me to use my creativity to share with my students the joy of learning.  (Notice that I do not miss worksheets, standardized testing, or pacing guides.  Oh, and yard duty.  I do NOT miss that.)  I miss the people too- my coworkers and my students.

It's hard to believe five years has passed since my last day teaching, yet it seems like a lifetime ago.  I've kept my credential current to keep my options open, but as of today, I do not plan to return to paid teaching.  Instead, I am working full-time as a teacher to one.  And I'm loving every minute.