ScrapHappy March

Today I’m joining Kate at Tall Tales from Chiconia for her monthly scrap-happy blog post. The idea is to make something pretty using leftover scraps. Several bloggers post once a month showcasing a project using scraps of material leftover from quilting or other projects. I’ve been welcomed to post using paper scraps.

I’ve wanted to create cards using scraps for a while now. I think it’s fun and challenging creating with items you have on hand.

This first card incorporates some of my smallest paper scraps from a line by Graphic 45. Each square is approximately one inch (three centimeters), laid out in a three by four grid. I allowed space between the squares so I could score even lines for a bit of texture. I might try using my sewing machine on future cards as well.

My next card combines a variety of scraps from two paper lines. The colors worked well together. I fashioned it after some of the strip quilting I’ve seen in a variety of blogs. Call me crazy, but assembling these strips had great appeal. I’ll definitely do this again.

You may have seen the following card in my Valentine’s Day card post. I’m including it here, since it also uses scraps.

I used the lining from an envelope I received last year. It was too pretty to throw away, so I kept it knowing I could put it to use.

I made this last card using a sheet of scrapbooking paper left over from a project a year or two ago. I used one of my new dies to punch the word “thanks” out of the blue portion of the paper, then used adhesive dots to make it three-dimensional.

Have you made something entirely out of scraps lately? Please share your link in the comments section, below.

From Kate’s blog:

“ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? You can email Kate at the address on her  Contact Me page. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long-term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.”

Loving New Zealand

Looking down over Queenstown, New Zealand

Every cliché you’ve heard about New Zealand is true.  There really are more sheep than people, the hills really are that green, and the water really is that clear.  New Zealanders are warm and friendly, epitomized by our hosts Pauline, Danella and Jo.

All the stresses of delayed flights and airport checks fell away with Pauline’s first embrace. I’ve been ensconced in a warm cocoon ever since.

Here’s what we’ve been up to since my last post Three Days in Dunedin.

Pauline organized a thrilling ride on a four-seater motor bike known as the trike. There are only seven of them in the world. Our charming guide Andrew met us at the city center known as the Octagon and graciously put up with all our picture-taking.  We maneuvered through town, then along the harbour and into the hills for a breathtaking view.  I should mention that we were also part of the view, as tourists waved and stared at this fascinating trike. I now have an inkling of what it must be like to be famous. Complete strangers smiled and waved and took pictures of us along the way.  What fun!

We were on the road for nearly an hour, wind in our hair, smiles on our faces, laughing much of the way. Experience Dunedin just celebrated their first anniversary. You can see some closeup shots of the trike on their Facebook page.

Back on terra firma, we stopped for lunch. While the others stayed on for drinks, Pauline organized a visit to her chiropractor to help with my gathering pain, the result of too many hours sitting on the long-haul flight. Did I mention the warm cocoon?

We rounded out the day with a walking tour of the University of Otago (Māori: Te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo). Danella has worked at this beautiful university for a decade.

Danella at University of Otago

Danella the trooper, still recovering from a broken leg

I inadvertently set my camera to manual, so many of my photos turned out dark and grainy. Here are a few to give you a flavor of the place.

University of Otago

Clock Tower University of Otago

If you want to see how a real photographer does it, please check out Laurie’s post University of Otago.

The following morning we were off to Wanaka (rhymes with Monica). We caravanned in two cars for the five-hour journey with several stops for lunch and photographs along the way. Steven is a CB radio enthusiast so he rigged the two cars with radios. We were in regular communication between cars, alerting each other for stops and other practical matters. There may also have been some singing in the round, just to keep things interesting.

As if!  It’s all interesting and wonderful. I’m like a mum with a new baby, constantly gushing at the wonder of it all.

I’ll share details of Wanaka and Queenstown in a future post.

Above Queenstown

You can catch up on the start of our journey by reading Three Days in Dunedin, followed by The Drive to Wanaka.

Blogging Babes in New Zealand

Pauline: The Contented Crafter

Laurie: Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things

KPB: Boomdeeadda

The Drive to Wanaka

Laurie captures our drive to Wanaka today. She’s an amazing photographer and a gifted writer. Come have a look. Alys

Life on the Bike and other Fab Things

After organizing 7 people and packing up 2 cars, we were off to Wanaka (sounds like Monica or Hanukkah).  As is typical for New Zealand roads, the route was curvy and the scenery beautiful.

A brief stop along the way allowed Siddy to get a(nother) treat.

By 2pm, we were ready for a late lunch, and Monteith’s Brewery Bar in Alexandra was the perfect stop.  We enjoyed puppy friendly al fresco dining accompanied by Murphy’s Irish Stout (for me) and followed by a yummy flat white.

Soon enough, we were back on the road but another brief stop, this time at the Clyde Dam, offered some nice photo ops. The Clyde Dam, New Zealand’s third largest hydroelectric dam, is built on the Clutha River near the town of Clyde

With 45 minutes to go, we let Siddy enjoy the breeze.

And THEN we arrived at our temporary home.

What an…

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Three Days in Dunedin

I’m having the time of my life!

In some ways this journey began two years ago.  During a Skype session, the Blogging Babes, as we’ve come to call ourselves, dreamed out loud of a trip to see Pauline in New Zealand. In 2015 Pauline joined us on our side of the world for an incredible trip to Virginia and Washington, D.C. Our time together deepened the friendships and expanded our hearts.

Now here we are three years later, meeting up with Pauline and her two lovely daughters in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Mike drove me to the San Francisco airport where I connected with Laurie. Though I dreaded the 13 hour flight across the Pacific, I was in for some lovely surprises.

SFO at Joe & the Juice

Putting our heads together at Joe & the Juice, SFO (This one’s for you, Joe)

We got our sillies on five minutes into our journey, before boarding the most amazing airplane I have ever seen.

lavender lights aboard air new zealand

Air New Zealand flight

Air New Zealand lives up to its reputation in every way.  The crew kept us  well fed, smiling, drinks flowing and relaxed.  We flew economy, or as Mike would say, steerage,  but I can’t complain.  It was amazing.

Air New Zealand flight with Laurie

With Laurie and a charming photo bomber

Pacific Ocean satellite map

This on-board satellite map kept us abreast of our travel

Pauline welcomed us at the airport, then we were off to meet her daughter, Danella and to reconnect with Kelly.

Siddy in Dunedin, New Zealand

Pauline’s Siddy served as co-pilot

Danella opened her home to us, three women she’s never met and while still recovering from a broken leg.  It’s an act of kindness and grace.

Danella and Siddy

Danella and Siddy

She lives in a charming flat, decorated in soft pinks and greens, with a lovely garden out back. She loves garden kitsch, and has since her childhood. I had fun discovering tiny gnomes and frogs among the greenery. They made my fairy-garden-loving heart sing.

After a leisurely morning in our PJ’s and a breakfast of tomatoes on toast (thank you, Kelly) we were off to Pauline’s. Pauline’s fans know she’s an artist and a crafter, and her space reflects her kind and creative soul. Laurie’s written a beautiful post with photos sharing that day. Please visit her post here.

Pauline's courtyard garden

Photo Credit: Laurie Buchwald In Pauline’s courtyard garden

Pauline’s daughter Jo and her partner Steve joined us for lunch gathered around Pauline’s home-cooked meal. The pampering continued with charming welcome bags filled with local gifts of chocolates and soaps, along with handmade cards, and art, deserving of another full post.  (I have so much to say!)

This photo is back at Danella’s. I didn’t take any during our meal.

and evening at Danella's

Steven, Joe, Kelly and Laurie in Danella’s gorgeous flat. Garden by Danella, artwork by Pauline

After dinner we took a walk on St Claire Beach, just moments away from Pauline’s home. We stopped for hot beverages before calling it a day.

St. Claire's Beach, Dunedin, New Zealand

Blogging Babes selfie, St. Claire Beach, Dunedin

St. Claire Beach at sunset, Dunedin, New Zealand

St. Claire Beach at sunset, Dunedin, New Zealand

St. Claire Beach, Dunedin, New Zealand

Laurie getting her feet wet while the rest of us looked on

Day three in Dunedin will be another post, but I’ll leave you with a bit of a photo teaser.

on the trike near Otago Harbour

The Trike: Experience New Zealand

We’re having so much fun.

Blogging Babes in New Zealand

Pauline: The Contented Crafter

Laurie: Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things

KPB: Boomdeeadda

Gun Violence in America: If we don’t give up, and don’t give in, we may just be okay

When they were young

Today I cried. The tears have eluded me all week, pressing on my chest, lingering in my throat, and craving expression and release.

I was boarding a plane for Portland when I saw the early reports of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting last week. In my holiday cocoon I avoided the news, and for a time kept the real world at bay.

Back home the cold, brutal and devastating reality of yet another mass shooting settled in my core. I have nothing new or original to say and no words of wisdom to solve the ridiculous and intractable stale mate of guns in America.

My queen-for-a-day, pie-in-the-sky solution would be to gather every last gun on the planet and melt them to a pulp. We all know that will never happen. Members of our powerful gun lobby make a mint manufacturing instruments of death while hiding behind the second amendment right to bear arms.

With both of my boys away from home this week, I felt their absence keenly. When they were small I worried about them falling out of a tree or dashing in front of a car. My common sense parenting kept those little boys safe. Now they’re young men living in a world where school shootings have become a reality.

My friend Claire’s daughter, Chelsea, survived a school shooting in her small town of Bailey Colorado. I’ll never forgot the phone call, or the many conversations that followed over the years. A lone gunman killed Chelsea’s friend Emily Keyes at Platte Canyon High School in 2006. When Claire came to town, I would ask how they were coping. It was hard to image that kind of trauma.

This week The Denver Post published Chelsea’s guest commentary entitled: Welcome to the gun violence club – you’re not alone.

I’m moved by her words, proud to know her and at the same time deeply saddened by the burden she’ll carry throughout her life. Note: If you click on Chelsea’s editorial (and I hope you will) please refrain from reading the appalling comments that follow.

Chelsea Warren, along with Stoneman Douglas High School student and survivor Emma González, give me reason to hope. These young people are the way forward.

From the Mike and the Mechanics song: “if you don’t give up, and don’t give in, you may just be okay.

So we open up a quarrel
Between the present and the past
We only sacrifice the future
It’s the bitterness that lasts
So don’t yield to the fortunes
You sometimes see as fate
It may have a new perspective
On a different day
And if you don’t give up, and don’t give in
You may just be okay
So say it loud, say it clear (oh say it clear)
You can listen as well as you hear
Because it’s too late, it’s too late (it’s too late) when we die (oh when we die)
To admit we don’t see eye to eye
Mike and the Mechanics, 1990

Have Blog, Will Travel: Meeting the Marvelous Marlene

How do you measure the success of a trip?

Is it the time you spent laughing?

Laughing out loud at Fabric Depot. We don’t have anything like this at home. It’s an acre of fabric and sewing notions

Posing with Marlene in her lovely home with Pauline King’s original art work in the background

Trying to find our good side.

Perhaps it’s the wonderful meals you’ve shared?

Breakfast at Bob’s (see Marlene behind the piano player)

Can you define success by the unexpected moments (for instance going out for breakfast, only to discover you’re at a birthday party for Bob Moore)?

Bob Moore, CEO of Bob’s Red Mill on his 89th birthday

Maybe it’s the “eye candy” spotted along the way?

BBB = Big Beautiful Building for lease. I love the colors and shapes

Plants of Portland

As I write this I’m reminded that some of the best moments aren’t captured on a camera chip, but stored in one’s heart.

I’ve been following Marlene’s blog In Search of it All for nearly six years. We’ve followed each other around the blogosphere, too, gathering like-minded friends along the way.

The stars aligned on Valentine’s day and I got to meet the marvelous Marlene in person. I boarded a plane from San Jose to Portland, and finally delivered on that promised squishy hug.

Portland bound: San Jose Airport, Valentine’s Day, 2018

We recognized each other immediately. Steps after leaving the gate, I wrapped Marlene in a long embrace and I don’t think either one of us wanted to let go.

We spent our time together talking about family history. Marlene has a rich and interesting past, much of which she’s shared on her blog. What you get in person, though, are the rich details that deepen understanding and expand friendships. Who doesn’t love the give and take of a good conversation?

If you follow Marlene’s blog, you know that she has a devoted younger sister and a loving daughter and son. They’re always checking in by phone or text, looking out for one another in an endearing way. Marlene is a mama extraordinaire.

Marlene’s sister drove us to downtown Portland for an afternoon. We spent over an hour at Powell’s City of Books, which is like saying you spent an hour at the Louvre.  Powell’s City of Books occupies an entire city block. It’s the largest independent book store in the world! Powell’s has three floors with color-coded sections to help you find what you’re looking for on the map. Yes folks, if you’re looking for a book on crafting or art or…well, anything, you’ll need the store map. It’s the kind of bookstore that requires lots of time and a pair of comfortable shoes. Be still my heart. I can’t wait to go back.

Powell’s City of Books: a multi-story, new and used bookstore. It’s so big you need a color-coded map.

Marlene’s sister lives in Washington, but drove down for the day. She treated us to lunch at her friend Sheryl’s restaurant, then drove us around to some of the sites. It was cold and damp so we didn’t venture too far, but I’ve been making mental lists for future visits.

Marlene and her sister refer to this as the “mushroom house”.

Mushroom house windows

A spectacular view from the hills of Portland

I met Marlene’s lovely daughter Saturday. Marlene made us breakfast, and then we spent the day hanging out at home and doing a few organizing projects before my all-too-quick visit ended.

Together we moved this bookshelf into Marlene’s craft room. Check out her gorgeous button collection on the top shelf

Marlene also blogged about our time together. You can read her post here. I’m almost embarrassed to share it as to hear her tell it, I walk on water. My ego may never deflate. (Oh wait…I still live with a teenager. I’ll be back on the ground in no time.)

Thank you, Marlene for your generous hospitality including rides to and from the airport, the satisfying, home-cooked (vegetarian) meals and for all those shared cups of tea.

Have you met a blogging friend? Are you planning a gathering in the near future?

Scrappy, Happy Valentines

Making and sending Valentines reminds me of my school days. The adult version of Valentine’s Day is a massive industry promoting over-priced roses, chocolates (though I wouldn’t say no) and other consumer goods. It’s more fun looking back fondly on a certain Valentine’s Day in grade 3.

Millbrae Elementary School, 1968

Millbrae Elementary School, Grade 3, 1968 I’m the only redhead in the class

Our teacher walked us into the cafeteria toward the end of the school day where we sat facing each other. She stood at the head of the row and handed out Valentines down the line from our fellow classmates. She called each name, and one by one passed the cards down the line. What fun! In those days, boys and girls gave everyone a Valentine. It was about sharing and caring, not romantic love. I adored that tradition.

I’ve had such a good time making Valentine’s Day cards this year as I reminiscence about that day in school so many years ago. Isn’t it funny what stays with you?

Valentines

Pretty pink paper from The Island

My card making goes something like this. I head to my favorite local paper store (The Island’s Creative Escape) and start crafting in my head. I plan and discard ideas, until inspiration strikes. Then I make my purchases and head home. Once home I start with the plan in my head, but quickly tire of the idea and move off into different directions.

Now that I have a handy-dandy, low-tech, die-cutting gadget called a Big Shot, I wanted to try some heart-shaped dies.

Sizzix Big Shot

Sizzix Big Shot die cutting machine

Lawn Fawn heart dies

Assorted Lawn Fawn heart dies

I bought two sets of heart dies, straight out of the box. They’re designed by a company called Lawn Fawn. The shipment had just arrived in the store but they let me grab a set before they put them out for display. They’re sold in a packet with three sizes. The ruffled edge is larger and meant to nest with the stitched-styled heart.

DIY Valentine's Day cards

Playing around with techniques including folder embossing, powder embossing, die cuts, and stick-on gems.

I came home with pink paper and the heart-shaped dies and proceeded to make all sorts of mistakes. I used the rubber stamp upside down. I double stamped an image rendering it useless, then I used the rubber stamp upside down (again), which made me utter, as I might have in grade 3: Oh brother! At this rate, no one would get a Valentine.

Eventually I hit my stride and started having fun. After initially using the supplies from The Island, I pulled out my red, pink and white scraps and punched a bunch of hearts. My friend Mary Ann gave me several paper sample booklets years ago, and I continue to put them to use. I tore out the samples in my preferred colors and die cut even more hearts.

I saved this beautiful, floral lining from a Papyrus greeting card last year. It was just the right size for the flip-it card. I’m not sure why I get such pleasure out of using scraps but I do.

envelope lining reused in card

Envelope lining reused in card

Here’s one more. I cut small strips from some of my tiniest scraps, then arranged them like a strip quilt. I’ve since used this technique on a few other cards. I’ll share them in a future post.

In addition to making cards for friends, I put together simple card-making kits for my Little Free Library.

Valentine's Day Card kit

I made the sign using scraps and a vintage playing card

A couple of weeks earlier, my sister Sharon gave me a packet of cellophane envelopes that she no longer wanted. They’re the perfect size for the card kits and they seal. Serendipity!

Card making kits for Valentine's Day

A dozen card kits, offered in our Little Free Library

I used the left-over paper and stickers to make a dozen card kits. It was fun watching them disappear one by one.  Someone else is enjoying card-making, too. A week or so later when I had a bit of spare time I put together another dozen kits. It was a terrific way to use my scraps, and fun to think of someone crafting their own Valentine from one of the kits. I’ll definitely offer them again next year.

Wishing you and your inner child a Happy Valentine’s Day.