Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Vote for Pedro

We had two witches and Napoleon Dynamite at our house today. Todd decided to dress up for the Halloween rounds this year. Kate thought this was a great idea but Julia was appalled by the fact that some of her schoolmates actually recognized him. Todd graciously offered to lend me the costume but that wig just doesn't go with my colouring.

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

Sunday Craft Update -- October 28

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 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

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pretty in Pink

This week's dare from Circle of Scrapping Friends is to create a layout that uses paint or a digital brush. In addition, we were asked to use pink on the layout because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (a great time for me to think of my friend Chantelle, breast cancer survivor and talented jewelery designer). This layout uses a photo taken by Todd when we visited Joe and Jill in Nassau several years ago. We were at the wonderful Ardastra Gardens.

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 ( Brush: "Valentastic Valentine Brushes" by Jason Gaylor (

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tea for Two

I've started Jessica Sprague's new intermediate-level course for digital scrapbookers, "Now We're Rocking with Photoshop", and here is the Assignment 1 layout. The photo is from our visit a few years ago to the Children's Museum in Ottawa. I love that museum! You've got to go if you have young kids!

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

Paulina Knits!

I got a nice surprise in the mail today. It was the Holiday 2007 issue of Vogue Knitting, with the headline "Paulina knits" prominently displayed on the front cover. I've been faithfully buying this magazine for the past 20 years, so it's about time they put my name on the cover! OK, so they're talking about the other famous Paulina, but I still think this cover deserves to be framed and displayed in my craft room.

A Snapshot of the Day

A snapshot of yesterday, to be precise:
  • 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

Sunday Craft Update -- Oct. 21

Here finally is a photo of my new sweater, made with Needful Yarn's Kabir. Never eager to have my photo taken, I asked Kate to model it which she did willingly. Fortunately, she is way too small to wear it, and Julia is way too cool to wear it, so I get to keep it all to myself.

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

No-Faves Dare

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

Another Season of Skating

The girls had started the new skating season in September, but the adult session only started last week. I am again taking semi-private lessons once a week with my usual coach, who is infinitely patient. She teaches all types of skaters but specializes in special-needs students and adults. Is there a connection there? Hmmm ....

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

Sunday Craft Update -- October 14

Jill posted this super photo of Oliver on her blog. So of course I had to create a layout. The design was scraplifted from a designer named Elena, and the layout was done for the Oct. 13 Saturday Scraplift Challenge at Credits: Papers and tag from Lynn Grieveson's 09/23/2007 Ad Freebie kit, and alphabet by Katie Pertiet, all from

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

Reasons to be Thankful

I did this layout for Dare #3 from Circle of Scrapping Friends. Since we'd just celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving, the dare asks that we do a layout on four things for which we're thankful. To read the journaling more easily, just click on the photo to get a larger view. The dare came at a good time, as I've been getting very stressed over work deadlines, mounting laundry and paperwork at home and other such things. It's good to step back and get some perspective.

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 Journaling tags by Jessica Sprague.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rush Knitting Bag

Todd went to a Rush concert last month and brought home a souvenir for me. He figured this would make a good knitting bag. Really. Such a thoughtful guy. Actually, it does make a good knitting bag. I didn't have the nerve to take it with me to Kate's orchestra practice earlier in the week. Somehow, it didn't seem to fit in with the crowd. However, I proudly sat in the arena today during Kate's skating lesson, with the Rush bag perched on the bench next to me.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Remembering Pavarotti

I still feel sad when I think of Luciano Pavarotti's death a month ago. So today I bought a few of his greatest hits for my iPod. (I also had to download a Billy Talent song to offset all that lushness.) I loved Paul Pott's rendition of "Nessun Dorma" from Turandot and am grateful to Mark for introducing me to this in his blog post, but as far as I'm concerned, Pavarotti owns "Nessun Dorma". This is his signature piece. I also love "Torna a Surriento". My Dad used to whistle this all the time as he worked in the restaurant kitchen when I was a kid. I didn't know what it was called until I bought The Three Tenors CD in my twenties. I finally added "La Donna e Mobile" from Rigoletto and "Recondita Armonia" from Tosca to round things out. If there are any Pavarotti fans out there, feel free to suggest other songs I should add to my little iPod collection. Pavarotti had said, "A life in music is a life beautifully spent," and I would wholeheartedly agree.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Digital vs. Traditional Scrapbooking

I was asked in a comment, "Can you please explain to me this digital scrapbooking?" Basically, digital scrapbooking is creating a "scrapbook page" entirely on the computer, typically using graphic software like Photoshop. Of course, using software to create layouts is nothing new. I remember spending a summer work-term as a student doing "Desktop Publishing" with PageMaker in the late eighties.

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.

Sunday Craft Update -- October 7

Not much progress on anything this week, except that I finished the second sleeve on my sweater. So now it's on to the blocking, sewing and final knitting of the neckband ... all the finishing work that I detest. With any luck, I'll have a photo to show by next Sunday.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


Here are Julia and Todd with the Beatles T-shirts they'd picked up at the Beatles Shop in London. Beatlemania is alive and well!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Thoughts on Whitespace

Another dare has been posted on the Circle of Scrapping Friends blog: create a layout with lots of whitespace. So here is my response, created with Photoshop Elements using digital papers by Lynn Grieveson from the Sept. 23 Ad Freebie at Designer Digitals. The photos were taken by Todd on our trip to China.

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

Woody Allen's Manhattan

Todd and I watched Woody Allen's film, Manhattan, on Saturday night. Most people I know either hate Woody Allen or love him. I belong to the latter category. It's true that, if you consider his personal rather than professional life, he's not exactly a role model, but I believe that the art stands on its own merit. At one time in my life, Hemingway was my favourite novelist, and he was known as a rather unpleasant person.

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.