Christmas 2014

Here's another layout I finished on National Scrapbook Day:

It wasn't for a specific challenge. It was just time to get it done and into the album. I had the papers picked out and the photos cropped, matted and arranged, so it was just a matter of gluing everything down, then adding a title, journaling and embellishments. I'm glad to have it done so I can get around to Christmas 2015!



The first time Steve and I spent time together, just the two of us, was in May of 2002. We got sandwiches and walked the length of the Arboretum at UC Davis. We had a fabulous time. We went out a few more times over the summer, but weren't really sure if we were officially dating or not until August. We took exactly zero photos of any of the places we went together, even after we were officially together. Steve had a digital camera and I had a film camera, but apparently neither of us took cameras along on any of our dates, including the epic Alcatraz at Night tour we did. Of course, this was well before smartphones, but still. Remember how much I regret not taking more photos of my time as a teacher? That pales to how much I regret not taking pictures of the beginning of my relationship with Steve.

In September 2002, Steve and I went together to a formal gala in San Francisco to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. This is the first photo he ever took of me: 

And that's it. No photo of our table, or the ballroom, or anything. And no photo of the two of us together. I have no idea why. This was a really big deal. I was a scrapbooker! Why did I not take photos? 

Steve and I started spending every weekend together, plus a rare weeknight whenever we could. (We lived 50 miles apart and I commuted the opposite direction from him.) We went to all sorts of cool museums, concerts, parks, etc. Any photos? Nope. The first photo of the two of us together is this one, from a wedding in October 2002.

Funny story about that wedding. One of my ballroom dance partners (Alan), who I'd been close with for years, was marrying another dancer (Kelly). I knew her, of course, but we weren't close and I probably wouldn't have been on her guest list. My invitation was a plus-one; Steve and I were already getting serious. Seems like a no-brainer that I'd bring him, right? Well, the bride was Steve's ex-girlfriend. They'd broken up before I met her, but she was the reason Steve had ended up doing lighting design for our group in the first place, and thus how he and I met. She didn't know we were dating. I asked her permission to bring Steve and she was gracious enough to welcome him as my wedding date. 

Two years from that first sandwich date, Steve and I got married. Here are some of the 'first' photos from our wedding, 12 years ago today, starting with the first photo of us together on our wedding day:

First photo after we were declared husband and wife:

First photo of our first dance:

First photo of cutting our cake:

You'd think we'd learned our lesson about photos and would take a ton together on our honeymoon, right? Nope. This it the first and ONLY honeymoon photo of the the two of us together.

I've been through so many firsts with Steve over the years. Photos of us together on our first vacation? Nope. Photos of the first day of us in our house? Nope. I'm so sad not to have these. Since I obviously can't do anything about it, I'm focusing on the photos I do have.

This is the first photo of us together on our first anniversary.

This is the first photo of us together when I was pregnant.

And here's the first photo taken of our family of three.

Happy 12th anniversary to the guy who has made the last fourteen years of my life more wonderful than I could ever have hoped. I love you, Steve. I'm looking forward to many more firsts with you as we spend the rest of our lives together. Let's just do a better job of photographing it all, ok? 


NSD Color Challenge: That’s What You Do in a Herd

One of the hardest National Scrapbook Day challenges for me was the color challenge, partly because of the required color scheme and partly because the layouts had to honor the amazing women in your life. 

Don't get me wrong: I love purple, pink, blue and green together, and I'm blessed with many amazing women in my life. But I didn't have photos of female family members or friends on hand that would work with those colors AT ALL. In fact, nothing I had was going to work with those colors. Time to consider going black and white.

I think this was the very first time I've scrapped a black and white photo. I'm not usually a fan of black and white, but it was the only way I could feature the required colors without it clashing horribly. Besides, I'm always glad to stretch myself creatively on NSD.

Anyway, I'm the bride in the photo. The four women next to me are my lifelong friends Nancy, Nikki, Kathy and Colleen. Somewhere around 8th or 9th grade, we started calling ourselves the Nerd Herd. We've been out of high school for 26 years and we still call ourselves that. Over the years, there were (and are) many other members of the Herd, but the five of us are the core. I'm so glad I remembered the line from Ice Age where Manfred tells Diego, "That's what you do in a herd. You look out for each other." It makes the perfect title for my page and is exactly what our friendship is all about.


Exploring California Through Little Passports

Trevor received his final Little Passports USA Edition kit a few months ago and we were both sad to see it end. But then we realized... why does the fun need to end? There's so much packed into each state that we didn't do every single activity the first time around. We decided to go back and complete the things we didn't do the first time and repeat our favorites!

Trevor and I started with our home state of California. He was in 3rd grade when that packet originally arrived; now that he's in 4th grade, he's been studying California state history and was eager to see how the Little Passports activities matched up with what he'd been studying in school. We went through the Journal together and redid the puzzles and activities. He was delighted to see that he knew the answers to questions he'd had to decode or work out last year.

Then we dug out the pop-out cable car model he'd made last year. It was even more cool to him now that he's actually ridden on one of San Francisco's famed cable cars.

Trevor had a great time cooking buñuelos when studying the California Missions, so he was eager to make the recipe in the Little Passports California Journal: tortillas. We chose a day when Trevor's grandparents and Aunt Teri (the one who gave him the Little Passports subscription) would be over. Teri and Trevor worked together to make the dough and shape it.  
Here's Trevor with a plate of tortillas ready to be cooked. 

He's getting more and more comfortable with the stove. He's still nervous, but his confidence is growing. He did a good job getting a perfect golden brown on the tortillas.

Trevor opted to sample a tortilla before dinner to make sure they'd be tasty enough for the family to enjoy. They passed the test!

The final activity in the California Journal was a science experiment. Trevor loves science and this one was so easy. We took a dish, needle, and magnet into the backyard. Trevor put water in the dish, picked a leaf, followed the directions to magnetize the needle, and then set the needle on the leaf. We watched as it turned to point north. Cool!

This is the experiment he demonstrated to the Cub Scouts during our Geology unit. It was a hit.

Our final activity was to make handprint art inspired by the Chinese Theater. I used a foam brush to paint Trevor's hands. He pressed them on grey cardstock, washed up, then used a paintbrush to add his name and the date. 

Expect more Little Passports adventures from Trevor and me in the near future!


National Scrapbook Day: Let's Get Inky (Mixed Media) Challenge

For me, a big part of National Scrapbook Day is working way outside my comfort zone, which is why I attempted the mixed media challenge at Scrapbook.com. There are a lot of reasons I don't work in mixed media when scrapbooking: I prefer a clean look when photos are involved; I don't like dealing with drying time; and I don't like dimensional items on my scrapbook layouts. That said, I do think it is really fun! For the challenge, I tried to create a layout that matched my style but still used mixed media products and techniques. A hybrid, of sorts:

In choosing a paper, I looked for something that I could keep mostly clean but still add mixed media techniques. The ampersand paper was perfect. Well, almost. While I liked the design, I didn't like the original color combination of peach and aqua. The first step was using a brown pen to color in the aqua. It created an interesting deep dark blue.

Then I chose the two largest chipboard letters I could find and painted them - pink for Allison (my niece) and blue for Trevor. When the paint was dry, I used embossing paste and stencils to add patterns on the letters. When the paste was dry, I added ink. The drying time was ridiculous- I finished three whole layouts just waiting for paint and paste to dry. Worse, I'm not crazy about how the letters came out, reinforcing why I don't do mixed media when scrapbooking! Still, I'm glad it's done and that I tried it. And I'm very happy to have the cute photos of the happy cousins in the album. 


National Scrapbook Day: The Paws Have It (Pet-Themed) Challenge

Back to my National Scrapbook Day projects! I made this simple page for Scrapbook.com's pet-themed challenge.

It literally took less than 10 minutes, making it the fastest page I've ever made by far. I think it helps that my subject is so photogenic. 


Inspirational Canvas Baptism Gifts

Remember the canvas I painted during my experimentation with expressive flower art? I made two more using different color combinations. Here are all three together: 


I turned them into inspirational canvases as gifts for my goddaughters, Kylinn and Ellia, and their mom, Courteney. Yesterday marked 5 years since their baptisms

This one is for my goddaughter, Kylinn. I think this verse suits her perfectly. 

This one is for Ellia. She's beautiful inside and out, and the love of God shines through her. 

This one is for Courteney. Again, strength. Her path hasn't always been easy, but she remains positive and is always a pleasure to be around. 

I finished these canvases the day before our church was blindsided by some terrible news. I'm glad these were finished and that I had a few days with them before giving them away. I'm going to make one for myself once I figure out what verse to use.

Want to make your own? Obviously, you're not limited to choosing Bible verses. Consider inspirational quotes, uplifting messages, or even something silly that makes you smile.  


Inspirational Canvas 

Materials: blank canvas (mine is 5" x 7"), white gesso, acrylic paints (around 5 colors, including black), paintbrush, palette (or Frisbee), paper trimmer, colored cardstock that coordinates with one color of paint, black cardstock, pen, craft glue

  1. Prime your canvas with gesso and let it dry. 
  2. Put a small amount of each paint onto your palette. Create shades of each by blending the colors with each other. Cover the entire canvas with swaths of color. Rinse your brush. Let the background dry.
  3. Add large flowers and small flowers to the canvas, covering about 60% of the background. Do not clean the brush. You'll get interesting colors when dipping into a new color with a hint of the previous color on the brush. Continue to add layers of paint to the canvas. Some flowers will get covered, which is fine. Vary the sizes and shapes for an expressive look. 
  4. Add centers to the flowers using just a dab of light-colored paints. Set the canvas aside and clean the brush.
  5. When the canvas is dry, use your finger to run black paint along the edges to clean it up and give a more finished look.
  6. Select an inspirational verse or quote and write it on strips of cardstock. Mat the cardstock strips with black cardstock.
  7. When the canvas is completely dry, glue the cardstock strips to the canvas.

If you make one, please let me know! I'd love to see a photo.


Cub Scouts: Earth Rocks!

Trevor's Webelos den (aka, the 4th grade Cub Scout group) is flying through their requirements before they graduate from Cub Scouts and into Boy Scouts next March. I've been in charge of teaching the "Earth Rocks!" (geology) unit this month. You might recall that I did a Geology Belt Loop Night for the same group of boys last year (before belt loops went away). The challenge with "Earth Rocks!" was to come up with completely different activities for the boys to cover much of the same material, but at a deeper level.

We started with a field trip to a nearby rock store. Calling it a 'rock store' is a bit misleading though. It is absolutely huge, a former fruit packing factory. There are different rooms, many themed areas, and literally thousands of different kinds of rocks on display. My favorite is the amethyst room. It is stunning. If you're at all local, go.

At our next meeting, we decorated an egg carton to house a den rock collection. (I painted it with white gesso ahead of time and let it dry so that the boys could decorate it with crayons and color pencils during the meeting.

We consulted maps to identify geologic features...

.... and took a hike into the hills near our house to make observations.

We stopped on a hilltop with an amazing view and talked about different forces that could shape the landscape as we see it. Wind, fire, rain and earthquakes all occur here; each (along with human and/or animal influence) can impact the land. 

When we finished our hike, we collected different rocks along a trail and from neighbors' yards (with permission, of course). The boys found 12 different rocks and created a label for each with the sample number, description (color, size, etc), and the date and location of collection.

For our third meeting, I turned our backyard into a geology laboratory. Working in teams of two, the boys selected a rock from the collection and ran it through a series of tests, gathering and recording the data.

They used magnifying glasses to check the structure of the crystals, checked the luster, streak and cleavage on the patio, dripped vinegar to check for the presence of calcite, used Mohs tests for hardness, and finally used a rock ID book to make a tentative identification. Each pair tested six of the rocks from our den's rock collection.

For our final "Earth Rocks!" meeting, we started with a demonstration by Trevor about making a compass from a needle, magnet and leaf. Each time I've led a Cub Scout adventure, I've tried to include Trevor in the leadership. He's an excellent teacher and a big help.

We opened the geodes that Grandma had put in Trevor's Easter eggs (GREAT idea for a non-candy Easter egg idea, by the way). He'd wanted to save them all this time to open them during our Geology unit.

We played a geology version of Four Corners Trivia and the winner got to keep our den's rock collection. The lucky winner was SO happy! Next, we did an edible geology activity that was a lot of fun. 

Trevor led the final activity: a geology wordsearch that led to a hidden treasure: polished rocks for the Scouts to keep. They were in the treasure chest I made about 5 years ago. That thing has gotten a LOT of use over the years!

Another super fun month with the Cub Scouts!


Pickle Jar Vase

We save pickle jars. Most of the other glass jars in our house get recycled immediately, but pickle jars get washed and go under the sink, awaiting their next purpose. Among the many uses for pickle jars? They are perfect for transforming into vases. Last time, I wrapped a pickle jar to make a gift card bouquet. This time, Trevor and I made a vase to hold flowers.


Pickle Jar Vase

Materials: clean pickle jar, patterned paper or construction paper, paper trimmer, heart punch, Glue Dots, craft glue, rubber band and washi tape

1. Trim the scrapbook paper to fit around the jar with a slight overlap. Use Glue Dots to anchor just the ends of the paper to the jar.

2. Punch a heart from a contrasting color of paper. Add craft glue evenly all over the back and stick it to the patterned paper, opposite the side of the jar that has the paper seam. Wrap the rubber band over the heart and set the jar aside. This allows the punched shape to adhere completely to the curved surface. Remove the rubber band when the glue is completely dry.

3. Use strips of washi tape to seal the top and bottom of the patterned paper to the jar. Try to line it up so that half the width is on the paper and the other half is on the jar. Use another strip of washi tape to cover the seam in the patterned paper.  

It only takes a few minutes to decorate a pickle jar to make a pretty vase. It's very easy to change out the paper if it gets splashed with water or otherwise damaged as you use it. If you want the vase to be longer-lasting, apply a sealant over the paper to protect it before adding water and flowers to the vase.


Decorate With Letters - Rose Monogram

I've been having great fun for the past few months creating projects inspired by craft books by Leisure Arts! (Leisure Arts provided me with the books to review and there are affiliate links in this post, meaning I get a small commission for any purchases you make.) In February, I showed how to make faux stained glass from a coloring page using the the gorgeous Art of Coloring Animals. In March, Trevor and I played with Crafting with Felt. He made a felt rabbit electronics case and a rabbit finger puppet. April was Easy Foam Crafts and the Very Hungry Caterpillar Pencil. In May, we're playing with monograms.

I made this rose-covered wooden C:

I followed the directions step-by-step from this book:

Decorate with Letters

Decorate with Letters is unusual in that it is really two books in one. Jennifer and Kitty O'Neil designed the projects in the first half of the book, which focus on decorating monograms with a wide variety of craft materials (such as yarn, fabric, stickers, shells and more). The second half of the book is all painting projects designed by Patti Wallenfang. Between the two halves, there's a lot of inspiration.

I've never painted roses before, but it seemed like the perfect way to cover my C since our last name means "of the rose." The directions were clear and easy to follow with plenty of helpful step-out photos. I also really appreciated the guide to painting techniques and types of paintbrushes at the beginning of the painting section. I don't have any training in painting (besides a 4-session watercolor class that I took as a teenager) so this was very useful. While there is definitely room for improvement, overall I'm very happy with how my C turned out.

This book, along with a plain monogram, would make a really cool gift for a child or adult who enjoys crafts. I'm already thinking about who will be receiving copies for upcoming birthdays!


Ten Years Out of the Classroom

Ten years ago today was my last day as a classroom teacher. After eleven years teaching 4th and 5th graders at Glen Cove Elementary in Vallejo, California, I administered the final set of state tests to my 5th grade class, wished them all the best, and walked waddled (I was 9 months pregnant) out of the classroom.

I thought I would be back. I was going to take a year off to be with my baby, then return to a job share. I didn't. I couldn't stand the thought of not being the one to spend all day with my child. It's a decision I've never regretted, not once. I loved teaching and am so glad for the chance I had to make a difference in my students' lives. There isn't a single one of them who didn't help shape the teacher, the mother, and the person I am. 

The same can be said about my coworkers and administrators. They helped me grow and supported me every step of the way. There are no words for how much they've meant to me. I will be seeing many of them this weekend as we celebrate the retirement of Greg Allison, my principal for all 11 years I taught. 

I've been going through my files of school stuff. I didn't save much, which I deeply regret. In 11 years, I took almost no photos of my students or classroom. The few that I have are not dated or labeled. I only have a portion of the stories, drawings, and other special items students gave me. If only I'd known how much they would have meant to me just 10 years later. We're so blessed now to have digital cameras, scanners, and so many ways to record memories; how differently I would have behaved if those had been available to me when I was teaching.

While I didn't save a lot, much of what I did save are real treasures. I can't/won't share some publicly for privacy reasons, but here are a few things that made me smile:

  • This is the letter my principal sent to the parents of my first class. I started in October. The class had started the year at the beginning of August (year-round school) with an experienced teacher who took an open position on a different schedule. While the kids were out for their September break, I was hired. It was my first teaching job and I was 23. I'd heard much later that parents were frustrated that the other teacher had left and that she was being replaced by a young, totally-inexperienced teacher. Greg did an amazing job protecting me from that and making me feel 100% welcomed by all. His support and that of my coworkers was crucial in surviving that very difficult first year.

  • And speaking of that first year, here's my job offer with a starting salary of $25,412. While teachers are still grossly underpaid for all they're expected to do and the level of education and continued professional development required of them, I'm glad that there has been so much progress in this area.

  • On the second-to-last day of school, I would ask my students to clean out their desks, then write a letter of advice to the person who would be sitting in that desk as part of my next class. I had to read the letters, of course, in case someone had written something inappropriate (no one ever did, thankfully). Most of the letters were predictable: do your homework, listen, don't mess around, etc. and you'll have a good year. But every once in a while, I found a real gem. I photocopied this one. It's only one I ever copied. I love it.

  • From October 1995 to May 2004, I taught as Miss Jones. Steve and I got married on Sunday, May 30, 2004. I returned to school that Thursday as Mrs. deRosier. Since there were only about 2 weeks of school left and I hadn't legally changed my name yet, I finished out the year as Miss Jones. When the 2004-2005 school year started, I was legally Mrs. deRosier and that's what the students would be calling me. Yet...

(Bonus points if you noticed deRosier 
misspelled twice in two different ways.)

  • Teaching (done correctly) is hard, hard work. It's exhausting and draining and consuming. It can be wonderful and awful, all in the same day. Greg had a policy that when we entered a classroom for an observation or other reason, we would leave a "love note" for the teacher. About half of the things I've saved from my teaching time were love notes from other staff members. This one is from our office manager. She was mentoring a particularly challenging student of mine and would pop in occasionally to check on him.

So many wonderful memories. I just wish I'd put them in a scrapbook.