Friday, July 31, 2009

Five Faves Friday (CHA Faves Edition)

Since it's CHA time, that also means it's time for lots of new products and lines to be released, and of course, that also means it's time for me to become a little (maybe a lot) poorer, and time for my daughter to figure out how to graduate from college in three years rather than four.

This week's Five Faves are devoted to my five scrappy "must-haves" from the crop of new releases:

1. Collage Press. The first peek at "The Starlet" collection was just posted on the CP blog:
I know it's just a little peek, but I love its boldness.

2. BasicGrey. Among the four new lines being released by BG, I'm most looking forward to "Nook and Pantry." I've been wanting to create an album that collects my favorite recipes in a single book, and this line just may be what I need to get me there. Once I saw "Cupcake", I knew it was all over for me.

I'm also a huge fan of the glazed brads that come with (almost) every line, but the new stitched brads are definitely going to be competing for favorite brad status, I'm sure.

3. Cosmo Cricket. Cosmo Cricket always delivers when it comes to bright, colorful, and whimsical products. The new lines just may be their best to date. My favorite is The Boyfriend. I just ordered a bunch of stuff about a week ago, so hopefully it'll be here soon. It looks like so much fun to play with!

4. Sassafras. Every Sassafras release is a visual feast for the eyes, full of bold patterns and brilliant details. I admit, usually the first time I lay eyes on a new Sassafras release, I'm somewhat intimidated and a little overwhelmed, unsure of how I can use such busy paper. This time around, I don't have to think twice -- these new lines are definite must-haves.
5. Crate Paper. The colors in these new lines are incredible. I can't decide which collection I like the most. Maybe I'll just get bits and pieces from each one. Here's what's been catching my eye:

So there you have it -- the five favorites that will contribute to the growth of the economy but also bring about my own personal economic downfall.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Binders and Blossoms

As I head into my last week of summer vacation, I'm beginning to make the transition from a summer state of mind to a back-to-school state of mind. It's not so easy. I'll need to stop waking up at 10:00 a.m., for starters. I'll have to stop getting used to the feel of sitting, since I won't be doing that too often any more. I'll also have to start planning for the school year ahead, and with that in mind, my scrap supplies are helping me to transition more smoothly:

Reading seemingly endless lists of standards and benchmarks is almost enjoyable when I'm holding this in my hands. I made it yesterday using some BasicGrey paper, American Crafts letters, Making Memories paint, KI apple lace, and red Maya Mist. Whatever motivates me to get back to work, right?

If you read my last post, you know that I've had flowers on the brain lately. Today I discovered even more that I must have, from Sweet Vintage. Check out these handmade lovelies:

I have a feeling that once I plant these in my stash, my supply will grow wildly.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Five Faves Friday

1. Winning. As much as I appear to be egalitarian in spirit, the truth is that I am fiercely competitive -- but usually silently so. You'll never see me stab my finger at someone, declaring, "Boo-yah! In your FACE!" That's just bad form. You may notice that while I appear to embrace a victory with poise and dignity, my body betrays me. My feet start doing a happy-tapping dance. The corners of my mouth begin to reach for my earlobes, while my sensibilities keep herding them back. I love the rush that comes with winning, but I also understand what it means to be humble -- that is, unless I just OWNED my dear husband.

Everyone knows that the games at the fair aren't fun. They're primitive and ritualistic. So much pressure hangs on every gesture. Males throw sharp or rounded objects at targets, in the hopes of walking away with some trophy to use as sexual collateral. Said trophies, presented to admiring females, have much the same effect as pheromones, indicating high levels of testosterone and reproductive potential (i.e. the ability to hit one's mark and be celebrated for it).

So what does it mean, then, when the male's darts seek out the peg board rather than the balloons? What does it mean when the female stops admiring and steps forward, darts in hand, and walks away with not one, but two prizes?

It means I WON! I WON! I WON! That's what it means. Boo-yah! In your FACE!

2. Gossip Girl. For some time now, I rolled my eyes at the concept of a show about Manhattan prep school kids on the CW channel. I mean, just look at them:

However, a few friends have been telling me how much they love Gossip Girl, so rather than form a judgment without seeing the show for myself, I decided to add the first season to my Netflix queue. So what did I think of the show?

Let's see. Today I spent eight hours watching back-to-back episodes. The only other show that I can do that with is Sex and the City (although I can watch SATC episodes over and over, while I can't really see myself revisiting the GG episodes anytime soon). I'm just finishing the first season -- one more disk to go -- and I'm actually liking the show. It's actually pretty entertaining, with interesting characters (and characters I love to hate). Although initially I thought I'd be laughing at the show, I find myself actually laughing with the show at times.

I know I shouldn't like this show, but I do. So that's that. When it comes to guilty pleasures, it's way too hard not to give in to the pleasure. The guilt just makes the pleasure even more delicious.

Once upon a time my dream job was being a writer on a soap -- lots of creative liberty there, with the ability to kill or resurrect characters and not ever have to consider the plausibility of either action. Gossip Girl has a lot in common with soaps, especially in its real-unreality, so I'm thinking I'll settle for a job on that show. If you hear of any openings... :)

3. Water. I'm adding this to my favorites this week purely as a psychological strategy.
Water is better than root beer.
Water is better than root beer.
Water is better than root beer.
It's my favorite. Oh, yes it is.
Water is better than root beer.
Now that I've added it here, it must true, right?

One thing I genuinely do like about water is that I know that I'm not imbibing any empty calories when I drink it. So there. Water is better than root beer. Mostly.

4. Zoo Days. A trip to the zoo is always fun, whether it's planned in advance or totally spontaneous. A few days ago, Z and I joined my friend Peggy and her kids for a day at the Honolulu Zoo, and we had a blast. I haven't seen Peggy in years, and it was great to catch up while periodically pausing to call to the monkeys, to gawk at the tarantula, or to marvel at the giraffes. Peggy actually knows many of the animals by name, because she takes the kids to the zoo so often. This, for instance, is Violet the orangutan:

When we got to the sun bear exhibit, the bear was too far away to see. All of a sudden, Peggy belted out, "Jun! Jun!" The bear immediately perked up and came running toward us eagerly, and dare I say, happily? I was amazed. Peggy shrugged it off: "We come here a lot." No kidding, woman! Wow.

5. Prima Gallery Roses. I know that there's a new release from Prima coming soon, but I'd like to dwell a little longer on the current loveliness known as Prima Gallery Roses. I just got a bunch in the mail a few days ago. Even though I don't usually use flowers on layouts as a matter of habit, I have a feeling that these roses will change that.
They're so pretty, aren't they? I love the ones with tinges of blue, too:
Have a great weekend, all! I'll leave you with some happy scrappiness:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Five Faves Friday

Is it already mid-July? Whaa?

Although summer vacation for my daughter and me started in early June when school let out, most of June and part of this month were sucked up by summer school, book orders, annual reports, and the flu virus. In a way, our vacation officially began this week. I'm actually starting to feel a teeny bit purposeless, which is actually kind of a nice feeling, once embraced. It's only temporary, after all. In a few weeks, I'll be drowning in paper again (not the patterned kind, sadly) and composing relentless "to do" lists. In the meantime, I'm just going to fall into summer, before summer becomes fall.

Onto this week's five faves:

1. Facebook. For the longest time, I didn't "get" Facebook. I wasn't interested in creating an account. It just seemed like one more thing to maintain, one more site to visit, one more item on my "must check daily" list. Now I recall that mindset and just laugh. What did I know?

Facebook has totally sucked me in, and I surrender. It is one more thing to maintain -- but it's so fun to maintain. It is one more site to visit -- and it's usually the first and last site I visit each day (and a whole bunch of times in between). It is on my "must check" list -- but only because it is actually worth checking. I love that I can feel connected to friends and family regularly. I can chat with them, or email them, or just read status updates and feel as if I'm keeping in touch. I even get updates about my favorite shows (like True Blood, woo hoo!), writers, and singers.

2. Mr. A-Z. Speaking of these updates, one of my favorite blog posts of the week is from Jason Mraz. He's all about the wordplay, I know, but it's those words that reveal just how hilarious, intelligent, soulful, contemplative, and most of the time, right he is. These lines from yesterday's blog post are smiling down at me from one of the stickies on my desktop:
"Words and pictures make the best souvenirs for any adventure. Just press a flower into a notebook and call it a day."
3. Good Eats. I don't really get to cook as much as I'd like to during the school year. At the end of a typical day, I am physically and mentally exhausted, and while a home-cooked meal sounds terrific, it just takes too much effort. We tend to eat take out pretty often, but after a while, it all just tastes the same. Over the summer, however, I tend to cook more often. I don't just love the food; I love the process. There's nothing quite like the smell of freshly minced garlic on one's fingers, or the sweet spiciness of tomato soup, or the aroma of a roasting chicken, or the wonder of watching gravy thicken.

Last night I prepared two trays of lasagna, the ultimate comfort food. I use an ancient recipe from my mom's 1968 copy of Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (which apparently needs a "new" title). I've had lasagna prepared in a multitude of ways, but this is my favorite, hands-down (mouths open). I'm so not a secret-keeper when it comes to recipes, so here you go:

You can adapt the recipe pretty easily. I do make a few changes. I use extra-lean ground beef instead of Italian sausage. I also use one 28 oz can of plum tomatoes instead of a 16 oz. can. I use cottage cheese instead of Ricotta, and (grated) parmesan instead of Romano. The lasagna also makes great leftovers, which is always a plus.

Their album The Rhumb Line has been on replay all week long. My absolute favorite is the cover of Kate Bush's "Suspended in Gaffa." Or maybe it's "Can You Tell." Or maybe it's "Dying Is Fine." Or...

5. Blooming Color. I don't know if it's just a summertime thing, but I feel as if I'm surrounded by a universe of bright and bold colors lately. I've been wandering in the garden outside just to be near the flowers. My favorites are these daisies:
We have them in pink, white, and yellow, too. Have I ever mentioned that I'm a little mental when it comes to taking photos of flowers? You'll find me on my belly, on the grass, for an hour, snapping away like a foolio.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Collage Press July Layouts

Today the July gallery is up at the Collage Press blog, and if you haven't checked it out yet, now's the time to do so. If you leave a comment there, you'll be entered to win a Knave of Hearts collection and some of the new die-cut shaped cardstock that's been making paper addicts like me do the happy dance lately.

This month, Collage Press teamed up with Maya Road. I had so much fun adding a little Maya magic to the already-magical Knave of Hearts and Sweet Shoppe collections. Here are my layouts:

I've been noticing a lot of Collage Press products in kit clubs and in online galleries lately. It's so great to see!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Five Faves Friday

1. Photoshop Actions. I can't get enough of these. My favorite actions right now are the Pioneer Woman Action Set 1 and 2. With a single click, "so-so" becomes "w-wow!" The puffer fish I saw at yesterday's Sea Life Park field trip agrees:

What's more, these actions are FREE. You can find them here.

2. My Summertime Soundtrack. It follows me everywhere; it's on my desktop, on my iPod, in my head. I'm loving the new Regina Spektor album, so there are a ton of songs from there on my list. It also contains:

"Did You Disappoint Your God?" (Neva Dinova)
"Her Morning Elegance" (Oren Lavie)
"Last Words" (The Real Tuesday Weld)
"Off I Go" (Greg Laswell)
"Come Out of the Shade" (The Perishers)
"Thank You" (MoZella)
"I Will" (Alison Krauss)
"Love Letter to Japan" (The Bird and the Bee)
"Fresh Blood" (Eels)
"Doorway" (Io Echo)
"Life Is Beautiful" (Vega 4)
"Heart on My Sleeve" (Michael Johns)
"Easier to Lie" (Aqualung)
"Smokey Joe's Cafe" (Paolo Nutini)
"Going Fishing" (The Phoenix Foundation)
"Dying Is Fine" (and practically everything else from Ra Ra Riot)

I love the way that a song enters you and somehow both paralyzes you and takes you places. Something about summertime makes some songs resonate even more. I'm not just listening, I'm learning, too -- one of the books on my summer reading list is This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, by Daniel J. Levitin.

3. Captcha. As in:
I know it's a little strange to add something that irritates most people to my list of faves this week, but after watching an episode of Nova ScienceNOW featuring my latest nerd crush, Luis von Ahn, I respond to letter and number combinations like this with a little rush of amusement. If you want to know why, you need to watch the video here.

4. Top Chef Masters. I'm a huge Top Chef junkie, and this new twist on the usual series totally makes my summer. It's not just entertaining, it's also nice to know that the chefs are playing for good causes. I do so miss Padma and Tom, though, even though I know we'll see them next season on Top Chef.

5. Little Big Planet. I don't actually play the game, but I love watching Rob and Z play it. It's hilarious, adorable, brilliant, colorful, and whimsical. The songs are so catchy, and a few have even made it onto my playlist, including "Volver a Comenzar" from Cafe Tacuba and "My Patch" by Jim Noir, because I can't get them out of my head. By far, however, my favorite aspect of the game is watching Rob and Z change costumes. A few days ago I decided to start documenting their many transformations. Here are few highlights:

(I call this one "El Scorcho" because it's totally channeling the Weezer song by the same name.)

Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Five Faves Friday, FAST

I have to fly through this week's Five Faves Friday listing -- I'm on the run!

(1)  Lie to Me.  I just saw this show for the first time today.  It's seriously amazing, and after just one episode, I was hooked.  Usually the pilot of a show tends to be okay -- promising, but nothing special.  Not in this case.  You can watch the pilot on Hulu, if you're interested. 

(2) Olfactory-induced Swooning.  All evening the neighbor has had the grill going, and the aroma of teri BBQ has been wafting through the air.  I love Fourth of July weekend.  

(3) Hope.  You know, the thing with feathers?  Sometimes, working with middle school students, I get a little discouraged when I witness moments of apathy.  However, much of this apathy comes from ignorance, and thus, I know that rather than see a problem, I can focus on a solution.  Teaching compassion is so difficult, but literature has the power to do just that.  Today in class, my summer school students read Paul Zindel's Let Me Hear You Whisper (sorry, the link does not contain the full text). Sometimes in making hearts hurt, we also help them to love even more strongly.  

(4) Meatloaf.  Rob sometimes chants, "Meatloaf, meatloaf, I hate meatloaf" just to mess with me.  The truth is that he loves my turkey meatloaf.  Tonight's dinner, as you may guess, was meatloaf.  Turkey meatloaf -- GOOD STUFF!  I also tried scalloped potatoes for the first time.  As I pulled it from the oven, I announced, "This looks evil."  As in, delicious.  Dangerous.  Delectable.  Evil.  

(5) Macrophages.  I just need to give a shout out to the movers and shakers of my immune system.  Thanks for helping me to get through last week's flu.  Yucka. Now, if you could just help Z kick her ear infection...

Have a great Fourth of July weekend, all!