Sunday, December 30, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
My family was very generous to me and this photo was taken with my brand new Canon PowerShot. Finally, I have a camera that I can fit into my purse, so I won't have any more of those "Darn, I wish I had my camera!" moments.
I hope all of you, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, are enjoying your family time together, as we are here at home today.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Saturday was the local skating club's annual competition. This competition is meant to be inclusive and all club members are invited to participate, even if they're, like our kids, not normally in a competitive stream.
This was Kate's first club competition. Because she started the StarSkate program so recently, we hadn't expected her to participate, but her coach taught her a short solo and encouraged her to register. This resulted in a frantic, last-minute sewing session which my regular blog readers heard me whine about in a previous post. Kate didn't place in the top three in her group of seven, but we were very proud that she managed to perform her first solo with no major mistakes. She also looked pretty cute in her new dress, even if I do say so myself!
Julia, also in a brand new dress, skated a bit later in the afternoon. She did a terrific job, and we were thrilled that she made it onto the podium! She came in third in her group of seven, and the photo above shows her at the medal ceremony afterwards. Coincidentally, one of her good friends was at an adjacent rink, watching her brother's hockey game, and so Julia had extra applause and cheers when she got her medal.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
There's a challenge on the Circle of Scrapping Friends blog to post your favourite Christmas carol and/or do a layout based on one. Well, I wouldn't say "Winter Wonderland" is my favourite Christmas song (maybe Pavarotti's rendition of "O Holy Night" would be high on my list), but I do hear it a lot around the house, especially from Kate. Coincidentally, www.designerdigitals.com had these great freebies and I had a bunch of photos from last weekend's snowstorm.
Layout credits: Tree brush from "Holiday Trees No. 7 Brushes-n-Stamps", text from "Worth Repeating Holiday Brushes-n-Stamps", paper from "Winter Wonderland Paper Pack", all by Katie Pertiet, www.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
The book is, on the surface, about competitive Scrabble, but really it's an examination of a subculture and obsessive people. Many years ago, I was more deeply involved in this subculture. Then, "real life" (kids, jobs, etc.) got in the way and I drifted out of it. It scares me a little to know that people described in Fatsis's book as "borderline pathological" seemed normal ... well, not terribly abnormal at any rate ... when I ran across them at Scrabble tournaments.
Reading this book has made me realize how much I miss playing Scrabble with real people sitting across from me and spending entire tournament days playing one exhausting and thrilling game after another. It's got me thinking that I need to dig out my old word lists, learn the new OSPD 4 (Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, Fourth Edition, for my non-playing blog readers), and practice tracking tiles again. But then those real-life things start demanding my attention, and the index cards covered with 3-letter words get put aside for a while longer.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
First, the design Kate chose required a zipper. I've not yet mastered the art of applying zippers to lycra. If anyone has advice on how to make this easier, other than baste, baste and baste some more, please let me know. The pattern instructions suggested using adhesive tape to stabilize the fabric. Bad idea, at least with the type of tape I used.
Second, those of you who have met Kate know how particular she is about things. Skating dresses are no exception. She fussed about the style, the colour, the embellishments ("It's just too plain, Mommy!"), and everything else except, ironically, the zipper. When I suggested, as calmly as I could, that she wear her old skating dress instead of putting us both through this frustration, her reply was, "My skating coach says it's illegal to participate in the competition with an old dress." I'm sure her coach didn't put it quite that way, but she does have a new dress now and won't risk being arrested as she steps on the ice.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Layout credits: Template from "Paper Reveals Layered Templates", blue paper from "Mail Room No. 1 Paper Pack", frame from "Decoupaged Photo Frames No. 4", and alphabet from "Messy Stamped Alpha No. 2 Brushes", all by Katie Pertiet. Corner paper from "The Grunge Factor, Just the Solids Ma'am" by Dana Zarling. All materials from www.designerdigitals.com.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Layout credits: Papers from "The Grunge Factor Just the Solids Ma'am" by Dana Zarling. Frames from "Snap Frames Brushes-n-Stamps" and title from "Snap Frame Alpha", both by Katie Pertiet. Labels from Dec. 2, 2007 Ad Freebie by Lynn Grieveson. All materials from www.designerdigitals.com.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
In other concert news, we attended Kate's big orchestra concert today, in the company of her Opa and Nana who came to town especially to see the performance. Her group, the junior division, played well, and we were all very proud to see her up on the big stage! The rest of the concert was terrific and included performances from the intermediate and senior-level orchestras. Sara played too, as she is part of the intermediate strings group. Now, Kate gets a nice long break from rehearsals and concerts until they start up again in January.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Kate was ready for a new violin and we'd planned to go shopping after all the concerts were over. That way, she'd get the Christmas break to get used to the larger violin. However, she was so eager to get her new instrument that we decided to purchase it early but keep the smaller one another couple of weeks.
On Saturday, after her strings school's Christmas concert, we went to the violin shop with her teacher Martha. It took us an hour to find the right violin. Kate had definite ideas about which ones sounded good and which didn't, and fortunately, her teacher approved of her choice. A good chunk of time was spent on choosing the bow. Todd likened it to the Harry Potter idea of the wand choosing the master. Kate wasn't satisfied until she found one that gave the perfect sound and felt good in her hands.
Kate was able to play all her songs on her new one-quarter-sized violin right away. So we decided not to keep the old one any longer. Kate gave the little one-tenth-sized violin a kiss and said goodbye to it. It had a beautiful sound and served her well for her first two years of violin playing, but it is wonderful to have the louder and stronger sound from the new one.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Layout credits: Papers from "Mail Room No. 1 Paper Pack" and "Notebook Paper Pack". Frame from "Doodled-n-Curled Photo Frames". Alphabet from "Messy Stamped Alpha No. 2 Brushes". All items by Katie Pertiet, www.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Papers from "Carnival Collaboration Kit" (www.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Layout credits: Papers and snowflakes from "Winter Wonderland Paper Pack". Frame from "Frostbitten Frames Brushes-n-Stamps". All items, including grungy alphabet, by Katie Pertiet, www.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
So we headed to Toronto on Saturday for our shopping weekend. However, the idea of going anywhere for the sole purpose of shopping is so offensive to me that I insisted the trip include a cultural component. Thus, we paid a visit to the ROM and saw, among other things, a very impressive glass paperweight exhibit and a collection of antique typewriters . Of course, walking down Queen Street is in itself a cultural experience.
Julia doesn't like the big city much. She's an outdoors girl (didn't get my urban genes obviously) . However, she loved the Eaton Centre and took us to all her favourite stores. Against my better judgement, I even bought a couple of items, on her recommendation, from a store I'd normally never enter. I fell for the "You're not too old to wear this, Mom" line, knowing full well that Julia was really looking to expand her borrowing options. On the other hand, she also convinced Todd to get some trendy items, and there's no chance she'll be able to borrow any of those. Above is a photo of Julia modelling some of her new purchases. Kate loved shopping also (scary thought, that ...) and we found her several nice new items too.
We had a terrific sushi dinner, a passable dim sum (we're spoiled by the Furama in Montreal), and enjoyable long walks through the downtown. It made me realize how much I miss the variety of people, buildings, sights and sounds in a big city, though I'm happy at this time in my life not to live there.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
For this layout, I used papers from June 24, 2007 Web Challenge Freebie by Kellie Mize. For the "tags", I used date tabs from the "Tuckables No. 02" Kit by Kellie Mize. I also added a grunge overlay by Katie Pertiet. All materials are from www.designerdigitals.com.
Friday, November 23, 2007
- Lady Writer
- Your Latest Trick
- Tunnel of Love
- Why Worry
- Romeo and Juliet
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
We all went out for dinner afterwards to celebrate, though the real reward, as far as Kate's concerned, is not having to practice that piece anymore.
This photo was actually taken a couple of months ago by Todd at the school's opening play-in, where all the students played selections from the Suzuki repertoire together.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
In other news, my INTJ layout got a mention in the November 9 Weekly Digest on the Creating Keepsakes blog. Most of you probably have no clue what this is, but for scrapbookers (those who bother to upload to on-line galleries anyhow), this is a reasonably nice honour.
I also took the girls to a friend's annual card-making party for our little scrapbooking circle. We had a great time, ate good food, participated in a card exchange and came home with a lovely assortment of holiday cards.
Friday, November 16, 2007
This week's dare at Circle of Scrapping Friends, from guest designer Renee McCloskey, is to do a layout on someone you remember. This photo is one of the few I have of my parents and grandparents together.
Layout credits: Paper from "Monoblendz Paperie Origins" kit by Anna Aspnes. Flowers (recoloured) from "Silk Road" kit by Lynn Grieveson. Journaling lines from "Ledger Grids" kit and brush around photo from "On the Edge Flourishes No. 2" kit, both by Katie Pertiet. Brush from "A la Mode" kit by MaryAnn Wise. All products from www.designerdigitals.com.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Here are the layout credits. Background paper is from the "MonoBlendz Paperie" kit by Anna Aspnes and the patterned papers are from the 2007/10/13 Ad Challenge freebie by Andrea Victoria, both from www.designerdigitals.com. Word list (which doesn't include the new OSPD4 words) is from http://homepage.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
This test tells me I am an INTJ (Introvert- iNtuitive-Thinking-Judging), and a number of other Web sites tell me what personality traits I ought to have as a consequence. All this self-knowledge led to a new scrapbook layout, done in response to a challenge given in Jessica Sprague's Photoshop course. The layout uses papers from the "Carnival Collaboration Kit" from www.sweetshoppedesigns.com, a circle template from Jessica Sprague and notepaper from Katie Pertiet.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
If you would like to leave birthday greetings, you can do it here.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
It was a bit tricky finding a photo with "whitespace" in the right areas but I found this one from our summer vacation in England. I used a "grungy" overlay and the "Snap Frame Alphabet", both from Katie Pertiet at www.designerdigitals.com. The brush is a freebie I got from Jessica Sprague's Up and Running with Photoshop course.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Our street was packed this year, thanks to the good weather and the neighbours down the street who, every year, set up an amazingly elaborate and spooky haunted house for all the kids to enjoy. Not having prepared adequately, I had to shamefacedly close our doors at 7:30pm, as we'd run out of candy after receiving over 150 trick-or-treaters. I really enjoyed seeing all the children's costumes. Kudos to the kid who dressed as a very realistic box of popcorn!
Sunday, October 28, 2007
If you've been following my posts, you'll know that I spent most of the week learning new digital scrapbooking techniques. Here are two more layouts I'd created. I also went to a Creative Memories event and finished 4 more layouts for the "Oliver's First Year" scrapbook I hope to give to Joe and Jill before Oliver goes off to university. I did continue with my knitting projects this week as well, but there's no progress on any one project significant enough to mention.
The first layout, featuring Julia and my brother Joe at the Ardastra Gardens in Nassau, uses the "Carnival Collaboration Kit" from www.sweetshoppedesigns.com. The second layout was done for a 30-minute challenge given by Jessica Sprague: take a photo and create a layout on the theme "Today". Materials are from Kelly Mize's "One Eighty" kit from www.designerdigitals.com.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
In this layout, I used the recolouring technique I learned in Jessica Sprague's Now We're Rocking with Photoshop course. So I managed to "paint", use a digital brush (for the hearts embellishment), and use pink for both the papers and the title! Here are the credits. Paper: "Beautiful You" kit by Jessica Sprague. Journaling tag: "Echoes of Asia" kit by Jessica Sprague. Title: "Snap Frame Alphabet" by Katie Pertiet (www.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
In Assignment 1, we learned how to use an adjustment layer to create a sepia-toned image over the original one and to use the eraser tool to remove parts of the overlay, thus "recolouring" the image. The layout design is by Jessica Sprague and uses lots of elements, including a distressed-edge overlay. I just can't do "grungy" without copying someone else's layout. Fortunately, Jessica does grungy so well.
Here are the other credits. Background and journalling papers and grungy-edged frame: Trish Jones. Torn paper template: Katie Pertiet. Alphabet: Meredith Fenwick. Heart embellishment: Jessica Sprague. Valentine brushes: Jason Gaylor.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
- What I worked on: code and documentation (ick)
- What I listened to on my iPod: Vivaldi, Maroon 5
- What I listened to in my car: High School Musical 2 soundtrack (not by choice)
- What I ate: leftovers from the terrific dinner that Todd, Kate and Julia made on Sunday
- What I saw while surfing the Web: a Globe and Mail article on how business execs meditate
- What I did, very reluctantly: laundry and dishes
- What I read: a chapter from Stefan Fatsis's Word Freaks
- What I played with: Photoshop, for Jessica Sprague's new digi-scrapping course
Sunday, October 21, 2007
In other news, I put a few stitches into my Christmas exchange ornament for Jill and continued working on socks for Kate.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
There were actually two dares posted at the Circle of Scrapping Friends blog this week, one for paper scrappers and one for digi-scrappers. Never shying from a challenge (not from a scrapbooking one, anyhow), I decided to do both and here is the result. Most years, we try to make it to the Festival International de Jazz in Montreal. Todd took these photos at the stupendous kids' show we attended in 2003. Yes, the pianist really did play "Take Five" with his hands crossed behind his head.
The challenge from Kim was, "I dare you not to use your faves": don't use your favourite paper product, embellishment or tool. My digital take on this was to forbid the following: any Designer Digitals product, any brushes (equivalent to stamps for paper scrappers), and the eyedropper tool (used for picking out colours from existing elements) in Photoshop. This was a good challenge as it made me search out some new digital supplies. The paper and embellishments for this layout came from the "Sun Porch" kit by Amy Teets, available at Shabby Princess.
Now Kelly also proposed a dare, which was to try a new digital technique. I used one that I learned from the October/November 2007 issue of Digital Scrapbooking magazine. The technique is how to make a title out of patterned paper, and I made the word "Jazz" from a paper in the "Sun Porch" kit. There's more detail given in the magazine (which I highly recommend) but here's my quick summary:
- Open your paper in a layer, and then create a title in black in another layer.
- Select your title layer while pressing on the control key.
- With the title outline still selected, click on your paper layer. Then go to Select->Inverse and then Edit->Cut to cut away the paper around the title.
- Finally, delete the original title in black and you'll be left with the one in the patterned paper.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Julia is well beyond me. She is working on her fourth dance pattern and will likely attempt the test before the year's out. However, it was a bit of a shock to realize that even little Kate can do some things better than I can. I can do a not-so-pretty (half-revolution) waltz jump and I can almost make a full revolution on a clumsily-executed toe loop, but frankly, jumps are hard. Not technically hard, just psychologically hard. Kate still has much to learn in terms of technique, but hopping around the ice on one foot seems to be no big deal to her.
So I have a few modest goals for this season: don't get any major injuries, don't be an embarrassment to my kids on the ice, and oh yeah ... do a one-fit spin with at least three revolutions. I should be able to accomplish two of the three.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
My big achievement with respect to this layout was learning how to create "torn paper" digitally. I used the instructions in this tutorial. Do you think it looks realistic enough?
In other craft news, I finished knitting my sweater but haven't had a chance to take a photo yet. That will be in next week's update.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Here are the credits. Software: Photoshop Elements 5.0. Paper from 06/24/07 Web Challenge by Kellie Mize, brush from "Circle of Life" set by Mary Ann Wise, title tag from 08/26/07 Ad Challenge by Dana Zarling, all from www.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Monday, October 8, 2007
Sunday, October 7, 2007
What makes digital scrapbooking different is that it is done mainly by regular people, not professional photographers or graphic designers. The digital scrapbooker's goals are the same as those of traditional scrapbookers: to preserve memories and do it in a fun and creative way. Digital scrapbookers use the same language too, so we have digital "papers", "ribbons", "stamps", "brads", and so on, even though they're really just JPG and PNG files. (One can similarly make the argument that the "real" scrapbooking materials are just a bunch of molecules moving around together.)
It will be interesting to see how the digital and traditional scrapbooking industries develop. The traditional scrapbooking industry has really boomed over the past decade. There are now three scrapbooking stores within a 15-minute drive of my house, compared to one lonely specialty yarn store (which I greatly prize). However, digital scrapbooking is growing rapidly, to the extent that there seems to be a bit of a backlash. Clearly, its rise is hurting the traditional industry. I doubt paper scrapbooking will ever die out, but many people are "hybrid" scrapbookers these days, using a combination of paper and digital elements. I confess I'm quite drawn to digital scrapbooking ... but I really don't need another reason to spend more hours on my computer.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Using lots of whitespace has never been a problem for me. Indeed, I tend to leave too much, which makes some of my layouts look half finished. When I was in high-school, I went to a workshop on how to create yearbook layouts. Three rules were repeated over and over: line up photos and text blocks, keep internal margins consistent and leave plenty of whitespace around the edges.
This training in my formative years has made it impossible for me to do anything else. I greatly admire those scrappers who can use tons of colours, add all sorts of wacky embellishments, put photos down in random positions, doodle, paint, and somehow make it all work. I really wish I could create like that, but I can't. I wouldn't even know how to start. So there it is ... but I guess it's these differences in style that make the hobby so interesting!
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Manhattan stars Diane Keaton and Mariel Hemingway (there's that Hemingway connection again) as Allen's character's love interests. I don't understand why Allen's films aren't more popular with men. In them, the whiny, neurotic, scrawny middle-aged man always gets involved with the most beautiful women. Interestingly, the film deals with the complexities of the relationship between 42-year-old Isaac (Allen) and 17-year-old Tracy (Hemingway), foreshadowing Allen's own relationship with Soon-Yi Previn some years later.Apart from Allen's insightful and hilarious view into relationships, I loved this movie because it was just plain gorgeous. Shot in black-and-white and set to Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, it showed the beauty of a vibrant city full of diversity. Of course, it didn't match much my own recollections of Manhattan, which I saw as a child while visiting my aunt. This tells me it's high time for another trip to New York City so that I can discover Woody Allen's Manhattan.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
- Todd and Mark have almost finished their amp. They've been doing the final tasks in our basement, including covering it with a cool material called tolex. I'll be the first to admit I'm not really into amps, but this creation truly is a thing of beauty.
- Laura has started blogging! She wrote about an excursion with shopping expert Chantelle.
- Kirsten has ventured into digital scrapbooking. Her first few layouts are on her blog and they are gorgeous!
- Jill continues to write interesting things about Singapore, and we're all awaiting another update from Joe.
- There's a new blog called Circle of Scrapping Friends devoted to combined digital and traditional scrapbooking. This one was started by several local scrappers and I'm looking forward to trying some of their challenges.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Jill and Joe introduced us to the game years ago when they lived in Toronto and we'd play when they came to visit us on weekends. Jill comes from a serious board-game-playing family. According to her, they play quickly and they really pay attention. I thought it was the greatest compliment when she finally said, "You'd be able to keep up with my family."
These days, we have the occasional game with Mark and Sharon. It's very popular with a number of people at work, and a few years ago, we even had a co-op student who was the reigning Settlers of Catan champion of Canada!
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Apart from a couple of digital layouts, I also continued working on Chatelaine's Japanese Garden and Mirabilia's Adia this week. I'm also making progress with my new sweater ... only one sleeve left to knit!
Friday, September 21, 2007
Joe and Jill are also celebrating their anniversary today.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
"Why?" takes longer to answer. Tracking hours accomplishes several things:
- It helps me predict how long it will take to complete a project.
- It helps identify certain projects that are being neglected and are deserving of attention.
- It provides a sense of accomplishment when I see a certain number of hours completed.
- It is one way of setting goals (e.g. "complete 10 hours" as opposed to "finish the front piece of the sweater").
- It is a good way to impress people. I usually get a stunned look when I tell someone I'd spent 200 hours on a cross-stitch project. This could be interpreted as, "I am impressed by your dedication!" or "You need to get a life!"
For these reasons, there are a great number of on-line forums for cross-stitching, more I think than for most other hobbies of this sort. One really needs support groups for this activity. Where else would one get loads of praise and encouragement for an uploaded photo of a project that's only 5% completed?
My favourite forum is Rotation Stitchers. This is a long-running forum totally devoted to management of multiple stitching projects. Topics covered include time-tracking methods, styles of rotations, stitch-along (SAL) groups and even meta-discussion about whether rotation stitching or one-at-a-time stitching is best. If there's anything I like more than stitching itself, it's examining and analyzing the process.
For the record, I have about 10 cross-stitch projects on the go, with 5 of them "active" and the other 5 at some risk of becoming UFOs (Unfinished Objects). I have been pretty good the past two years about not starting new projects and consequently am not yet at the SABLE (Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy) point.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
I've been busy catching up at work, coping with the start-of-school rush and playing with Photoshop in my spare time. So there is not much to report for the week. I did a few hours of knitting on my various projects. The one bit of exciting news is that I decided to pull out Chatelaine's Japanese Garden again. I'd put in over 100 hours and completed about half of the project, but I stalled at the end of last year. The photo shows where I'd left off. Laura is also stitching this piece, on a different piece of hand-dyed fabric from Sugar Maple Fabrics.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
I'll bet some of you are tired of hearing about the digital scrapbooking course and wishing I'd get back to writing about "normal" things. So here's a final digital layout ... for now. I'm hoping to take Jessica Sprague's advanced digital scrapbooking course in October.
These photos were taken by Todd when we visited the Roman Baths museum in England. He took a great photo of a Gorgon head carving and I used this for the title, cutting it into a circle and adding a bit of a drop shadow. I also used the colour editing tools in Photoshop to enhance the photos, like toning down the distracting red shirts a few of the tourists were wearing. The background paper is from Jessica Sprague.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Since returning from vacation, I've been working on my digital scrapbooking course, and above, I've added another layout. The design is by Jessica Sprague, and I'm using papers from her Echoes of Asia kit and a "sanded overlay" by Katie Pertiet. This overlay gives the weathered look at the edges of the background paper. The photos were taken by Todd when we were in Beijing.
I also made a trip to the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair yesterday. This is a huge event, with many vendors and visitors, some of whom are bused in from other cities in large groups. In past years, I've bought freely but I had to show some restraint this year, as my current yarn stash will keep me busy enough for the next two years. I did pick up more Addi Turbo circular needles, though. These are expensive, but well worth the cost.
Friday, September 7, 2007
Here's the very first layout featuring my newest nephew, Martin. He's such a cutie, isn't he?? I did this layout for one of the assignments in the digital scrapbooking course, but this time, I didn't use a template so the design is my own. The white paper is from Amy Teet's Whities Tighties kit, the blue paper is from Jessica Sprague's Echoes of Asia kit, and the stamp is from Katie Pertiet's Stamped Moments brush set.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
The three layouts shown in this post are ones I created for the first few assignments. The first two basically involved using prepared page layouts and adding photos, text and embellishments, but I learned how to do a number of operations more efficiently in PSE (the sort of thing I would have learned had I had the patience to read the documentation). The last layout required using the elliptical marquee tool and a "digital brush", similar to the stamps used in traditional scrapbooking.
Todd took some great photos of my three beautiful nieces when we were in England, so I used them as the subjects of my layouts. The designs were created by Jessica Sprague and are not my own, but hopefully by the end of the course, I'll be more prepared to create my own designs.