Saturday, July 24, 2010

Scrapbooking Sundays: June Pages

I finished up the Dimensional Details class in June, so most of my lay outs are actually assignments for that class. I held off on making Luka's 1st Birthday lay out simply because I had no good photos of the event and the cake turned out badly. It was hard to justify making an entire lay out devoted to Luka's birthday, but I finally decided to do an all-digital lay out for it. I may or may not get it printed. Who knows?

(I wish there was a simple way to make people pose better for the camera, especially family members.)

Luka: First Moments and Blessed overlays from Kate Pertiet, digital frame from House of 3, other unknown papers and embellies.

In preparation for Luka's 1st birthday, I took photos of him and his newest developments all that week. The challenge in the Dimensional Details class was to make an all-boy page.

Our Papa: Donna Downey huge stamp, mushrooms and butterflies from Louise Williams, postcard frame from LivE Designs 

Our Girl: design by Nic Howard, journal spot by Kate Pertiet, ink from the Tim Holz distress ink collection, unknown papers and embellies.

I have a funny story about the two lay outs above. I prepared all materials for both and brought them to the June Craft n Chat. While I was there, I only had time to work on the 1st lay out, with the yellow frame. I wasn't paying much attention and inadvertently put the 5x7 of Ailin wearing sunglasses in the yellow frame, and after I had done that, I made a title "Our Girl" and a little journaling card all about how sassy she is.

Something didn't look quite right. The yellow and the pink didn't quite go together. The masculine colors and embellishments didn't look right with her sassy sunglasses pose. At the same time, some of the CnC participants were criticizing my hobby of scrapbooking (see my post called Crafticism). Then, one of the ladies point-blank said, "What are you doing? I just don't get it." I am still not sure if she was referring to scrapbooking itself or if she was talking about the obvious and hideous clashing page I was just putting the final touches on!

After arriving home, I thought about it and finally realized that I had used the wrong photo and it would need to be redone. The masculine-looking page was meant to be an ode to Father's Day! I fixed it rather quickly by adherring the correct photos over top the original 5x7, carefully removing the title and journal spot and putting a new one down. Done! Oh, and the coolest thing happened on the way back from the CnC. A small bottle of water leaked inside my bag and soaked a few of my papers that I had printed on the ink jet printer. This caused the ink to run and form these absolutely gorgeous colors. I cut out a portion and used it for my new journaling spot.

The second one needs no explanation really, but I want to say that I collected some paper doilies from the dessert plates at a restaurant we ate at recently and used one on this lay out. 

Digital template from Colie's Corner.

Finally, Luka's birthday lay out - I did change some of the colors to match the main photo.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Working Mom Wednesdays: English in the Media

This is posted a bit late, but Chris (one of my co-workers) and I have finally decided our plan for this year's summer class, and 8-day course focusing on English in the Media. This is the 3rd year we have taught this class, and each year we update according to current trends in media and students' interests. (I have to say though that I have no idea how last year's class went since I was on maternity leave.)

Day One: Video Sharing and Viral Videos (You Tube)

Day Two: Social Networking Sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)

Day Three: Interactive Web Sites and Games (Discovery, Scholastic, etc.) - we will be sticking with the G-rated types!

Day Four: TV Shows & British Humor (not sure yet what Chris will decide to show them!)

Day Five: TV Shows & American Humor (comparing and contrasting with Brit Humor and Japanese Humor styles. For American-style humor, I am planning to focus on satire and parody. Any suggestions would be welcome in the comments!!)

Day Six: Podcasts (both audio and video podcasts)

Day Seven: Blogs

Day Eight: TV Shows: Sitcoms (I am thinking about showing Modern Family, definitely something that shows a "family" situation. I used to show Full House because Japanese people LOVE that show, but we decided to show something really current instead.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Scrapbooking Sundays: Finding Time

Hey, the 9 most influential scrapbookers were named over at Ella Publishing, and I happen to follow several of them through their blogs, websites, online classes, etc. I was really excited for them. What an honor it is to be named on this list.

Along with this list, Ella Pub has put out a new ebook featuring all nine of these scrapbookers and the theme is "finding time to do it." I touched on this recently in my blog, but wanted to add a few of my own tips here.

1. Take good photographs - learning how to take good photos is great way to shave off cropping and editing time.

2. Schedule in some time to do it - say, every Sunday morning from 6:00 to 8:00 am, or every Friday night from 10 to midnight. Whatever floats your boat. Create a monthly event for you and your friends to do some crafting. Having the monthly Craft n Chat really pushes me to get some stuff done.

3. Do a little something every day. Every page of every album is a project that is made up of many small steps. Choose a few photos and put them in a folder. Edit those photos. Plan your lay out scheme. Choose your papers. Choose your embellishments. Print out your photos. Cut everything down to size. Assemble your lay out. Glue on. Add the final touches. It may take you several days to do this, but you will get it done!

Friday, July 9, 2010

TGIF: Caked Out

The month of July is always rough in our family. We start out with July 6 being my mother-in-law's birthday, and then mine on the next day. Poor Yusuke, having to deal with both of our desires and needs at the same time. Anyway, what really puts us over the top is all the damn cake! Let's not forget that Yusuke's birthday is later this same month, but by that time, he usually declares that he does not want any cake for his birthday party.

Last weekend, his family met us for a lovely dinner at a hotel restaurant in Makuhari, and they had arranged for the waiters to bring out a small cake for us. Since the restaurant also had a dessert buffet, they offered to wrap up the cake for us to take home so we could partake in the buffet. So, the next morning, I had that piece of cake.

On MIL's birthday, I took the kids to 31 Flavors and bought her a pack of six ice cream sandwiches, and we took them over to her house as part of her birthday present.

On my birthday, she did what she does every year - she came over at about 6pm with a cake and a small bouquet of flowers. She has done this every year since I moved to Japan, so I have caught on to the fact that I should never encourage Yusuke to buy cake for me as well. Despite that, he DOES forget about MIL's tradition and he does go out and buy some sort of cake for me. This year, it was an apple pie from some bakery in Ginza. As always, when he got home and saw the cake from his mom in the fridge, he said we would eat his cake the next morning for breakfast.

The wouldn't have been so bad, but my plans for the next day included taking the day off and enjoying an afternoon tea with my friend Louise. If you don't know about afternoon teas, they include an array of scones and cakes. See photos below.

I think I will stay away from cake for a while.

Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes via email, Facebook, this blog, and of course to my face. It was lovely that many people remembered. 34 will be a good year.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Working Mom Wednesdays: Who would have thought that working on your birthday would be a good thing?

I am taking the day off tomorrow and will be spending the day in Tokyo. My friend Louise and I will be doing our " 4 Times a Year Afternoon Tea Tradition" at an expensive tea lounge in Ginza. She probably doesn't realize that this is also kind of birthday gift to myself - a day off, with tea and a friend, in Ginza.

I kind of dreaded having to work today because it is my birthday and in Japan, school is still in session. In fact, today is our deadline for turning in 1st semester grades, so all the teachers are rushing about, correcting a gazillion projects and papers, calculating the grades on our excel spreadsheets, and then inputting the final grades into our intra-net computers. I thought it would be a stressful day especially since yesterday was so bad. I lost my grade book at 2pm and then spent about 4 hours searching everywhere for it. Without my grade book, I was unable to continue my grading, obviously. Luckily, it was found and returned to me so I didn't have to go through yet another sleepless night.

Speaking of sleepless nights, I have had many of those lately. Why, just the other night, I couldn't sleep because I was so nervous about having to yell at one of my classes for doing so poorly on their exam! I even got out of bed and went to the living room and wrote down everything I wanted to say to them. I thought it would allow me to relax and go to sleep, but it didn't help that much. I was still really upset about it.

Back to birthdays and having to work on them. I was so annoyed because Yusuke didn't mention my birthday today and because he didn't say anything, Ailin didn't either. Then, it began pouring (more than the usual cats and dogs) rain just as we were about to leave for work, so I got soaked trying to get the kids out to the car and loaded up.

When I arrived at school, several people immediately wished me a happy birthday. Then, I went to one of my classes to return their exams and the entire class sang happy birthday to me. Thanks to Facebook, I have already received several birthday messages. Adie, my co-worker, gave me a card with a message about going to Starbucks to drink coffee together soon. I immediately invited her to have a quick lunch and coffee with me today, and we took along one of our students' computer projects to grade while there. It took us about 20 minutes to grade all of them. (Funny that Shannon also gives me birthday cards with cups of coffee on them! Some people know how much I love the coffee culture.) Finally, and most surprising of all, the entire English department had a meeting at 4pm to discuss all the grades, and at the end of the meeting, they sang happy birthday and then pulled out firecrackers right at the end of the song. I was really touched.

Now, if only Yusuke will come home early tonight and share with me that $30 bottle of German wine that I insisted we buy for my birthday. Wouldn't want to drink that alone.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Scrapbooking Sundays: Inspiration

Some people wonder how to get inspired, especially if you get stuck in a rut or just have no creative mojo going on.

Here are some things you can do:
Get a hold of some scrapbooking magazines and page through them. Look at some of the elements that attract you most - is the journaling, the new techniques, the embellishments, pattern papers, etc. If something tends to stick out for you, start your next page with that. If the journaling is what attracts you most right now, sit down at your computer or with your notebook and do some writing. If the pattern papers attract you, get thee to the nearest craft store and find some of the newest, trendiest papers.

Sign up for a class, online or in your local store. Having assignments to do will give you a new reason to scrapbook.

Take your camera and experiment with your photography skills. Go outside just before sunset. Take photos during your daily walk around the neighborhood. Plan a family outing where you'll be able to take lots of good photos.

Go blog window shopping. There are tons of bloggers who scrapbook (like me!) as a hobby and professionally, so go look at what they are doing lately.

Make a promise to yourself. Decide that you are going to learn some new things regarding scrapbooking each month. July could be the your month to learn about using eyelets on your pages. August could be your month to learn about layering embellishments. Start small if you have to.

Go Art-hunting. Visit an art museum, a quilt show, an antique shop, or even a neighborhood filled with awesome architecture. Chances are you will find something to inspire you in any of these places.

Look through your photos and find new connections. The snacks your daughter likes to eat now & the snacks you loved to eat when you were a kid. What your kids are doing during their summer holidays & what you used to do. Your friendships and how they have grown and changed over the years. Your favorite things then and now. What you do with your free time now & what you used to do with your free time BEFORE kids. Place these photos in a new folder called "Connections" and go back to it every time you need a little inspiration kick.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Traveling Tuesdays: Back in time to Jacob Wetterling

If Jacob Wetterling is/were alive today, he would be 32, just 2 years younger than me.

When I was in elementary and junior high school, I had a pen pal from Minnesota (yes, I know, the next state over!), and her name was Shanna. When Jacob was abducted, Shanna included information about Jacob and the circumstances, along with a small poster of him with one of her letters.

Both of us were truly affected by his disappearance. For one thing, he was so close to our age. And, even more astounding was that he was abducted very nearby his home, in the presence of his brother and his friend. It could have happened to any of us.

Shanna and I lost touch at some point during high school, but I sometimes google Jacob to see if there are any updates on his case. Today, on my iGoogle page, where it shows the current most searched items, I noticed that Jacob Wetterling was at the top of the list this morning.

Turns out that breaking news revealed that over 17 unmarked police cars were parked outside the farm very near where Jacob had been abducted. More info to come. Read this article for more information about the current situation...though it doesn't give much yet.

I hope we finally get some answers, Jacob.