Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gifts for Cruise Friends

Along with special old friends sailing with us, I have new friends from the Cruise Critic forum for our particular cruise. Over the past year we’ve shared tips, information, and plans for every little detail about our impending adventure.

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I know the names and cabin numbers of those celebrating special occasions or even embarking on a first-time cruise. One couple is traveling during their deceased son’s birthday to try to put some joy back in their lives—which just breaks my heart. So I thought it would be nice to slip an applicable greeting card under everyone’s cabin door once I board the ship. My cards are ready and organized by deck and cabin number.

Our Cruise Critic group is quite large (76 members). Royal Caribbean has arranged a meeting room for us along with refreshments, snacks, photographer, and door prizes for our Meet & Mingle party. After a year of online friendship, it’s going to be wonderful meeting everyone in person.

Source: Royal Caribbean

This is our cabin on the Adventure of the Seas; we opted for an aft corner balcony which is huge. Following the Meet & Mingle party, a number of us are going on a Cabin Crawl, an event where you get to visit other people’s cabins to get an idea about varying cabin sizes and layouts which helps for future travel planning. I’m one of the hosts.

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Some hosts plan to offer drinks and others snacks. Simple tissue holders packed with tissues will be my offering. I sewed a pile of them for our visitors using nautical blues as my color scheme.

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Here they are packaged and ready for gifting along with little bags of Life Saver mints. The shell tags are actually cardboard coasters on which I’ve written a note on the back and punched a hole for the ribbon. The coasters were on clearance at Target along with the little candy bags.

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It really is an act of trust to open up your private space to virtual strangers, especially when on a well-deserved vacation. Since I have the list of hosts, my husband and I have thank-you notes ready to quietly leave on cabin tables as we exit to let each host know we appreciate their gracious hospitality. The cards are organized in the order in which we’ll tour.

You think I’m done with my cruise preparations? Nope, I’m not, still more to come.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lotions and Potions

Moving along on my travel preparations, I made some lotions and other potions to pack in my toiletry kit.

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Lip balm and shower gel were made using two kits received months ago on my birthday. I made the lip balm in both pot and tube form. Today I’ll glue a piece of pretty paper around the lip balm tube.

The lip balm and shower gel kits were easy, but too much so as there wasn’t any real sense of challenge. Ah well, the end results seem to work nicely and have a lovely fragrance.

My Arizona-dried-out skin desperately needs moisturizing so a bottle of body oil was created from a recipe found here. Then I worked on concocting Mermaid Lotion (I didn’t name it this) using the following recipe on a pretty graphic from The Vintage Workshop to which I added text (click on photo to enlarge for printing).

It’s quite satisfying to pack my toiletry bag with products I’ve made myself.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cruise Planning

Another adventure begins for us this Friday; we’re off for a cruise, a trip that has been in the works for over a year.

Source: Royal Caribbean International

We read everything available about different cruise lines and itineraries at Cruise Critics, a resource we’ve used to plan numerous cruises. After choosing our itinerary and ship, research started for the ports we’ll visit. Notes stored on my computer became our master plan.

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After research and discussions, we finalized our decisions and deleted extraneous material from the master to create a final version of our trip book. Based on past cruises, smaller versions of our book specific to each port were made this time to save hauling a hefty book everywhere. I had Kinko’s cut a ream of paper in half to make 5.5 by 8.5-inch paper on which I printed at home and bound using my binding machine.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved. Table of Contents, page 1

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved. Table of Contents, page 2

Here are the book contents; everything is tracked: cruise, flight, and hotel reservations/confirmations, ship excursions as well as private tours arranged, and so on. Click on the photos to enlarge for reading; page numbers were cropped as that’s not important for you.

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New friends are always made on our travels, so I’ve made a set of cards to hand out that simply states our name, where we live, and our email addresses so we can stay in contact later. My card background is one of my watercolors to which I added text, printed, cut out, and rounded off the edges. I smudged the email addresses on purpose for this post.

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I used a tutorial from Schlosser Designs to sew a little case using starfish fabric to hold the cards.

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Polka dot fabric used for the pockets echoes the little dots in the starfish.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Calendars and Spamalot

Calendars are still in the works at my house. I’m making 14 perpetual birthday books and about as many desktop calendars for Christmas. I’m not doing them all at once, just interspersing each book or calendar project with my other adventures—don’t want to get bored, y’know.

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For this desktop calendar I used alphabet cards, one for each month, and a black-and-cream color scheme.

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Since each page is made using chipboard, these calendars can easily stand, hence the whole desktop concept.

Last night I went with some friends to see Monty Python’s irreverent parody Spamalot at Tucson Music Hall. My husband is out of state for work and couldn’t attend, so Sam and Paula kindly gave me a ride since I can’t see well enough to drive at night. I’m pretty much a very happy person but don’t laugh out loud very often. This zany show made me laugh a lot. and I’ll certainly never look at the Arthurian legend in the same way again.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sleeping with the Stars

If you do a Google search, you can find all sorts of crafty things to do with astronomy as well as astrology. Some creative projects involve quilts, game boards, paintings, and so on. Last night I embroidered the constellations representing our astrological signs on pillowcases.

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Mine is Gemini, the twins. Naturally, you don’t see the lines between stars when looking at the night sky, but it works for projects such as this so your eye and mind can make the connection.

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My husband’s sign is Cancer, the crab.

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Together we make beautiful constellations.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumn Equinox and September’s Craft:Along

It’s Autumn Equinox already; our days and nights are balanced as there is an equal amount of light and dark. This is the time when harvest is winding down. Like the other seasons, there’s a lot of symbolism to be found reflecting this time.

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Apples are an ancient symbol of wisdom. Consider Eve’s apple experience which gave her the knowledge of being part of divinity. Then there’s Hercules’ task to steal the golden apples of immortality from Hera’s Garden of the Hesperides.

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Scarecrows are traditional harvest images, standing guard over farmers’ fields. Did you know that in some cultures, actual people would sit in the fields to frighten away crows and other birds threatening the crops? A scarecrow makes a better substitute.

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Acorns symbolize strength and power. Today I’m writing down my blessings, my own little personal harvest of the many good things in my life. I’ll tuck the little paper strips into my autumn blessing bowl.

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Pomegranates signify fertility. In mythology, they represent Demeter’s daughter Persephone. Demeter was an ancient Greek goddess of grain and the harvest. Hades stole Persephone and carried her off to his underworld realm. Demeter was so sorrowful, crops died and the earth went dormant as she searched for her daughter. By the time she was found, Persephone had eaten six pomegranate seeds which required her to stay in the underworld six months each year beginning at autumn equinox.

September Craft:Along

Today I’m meeting my sister for lunch, shopping, and then dinner to celebrate the equinox. I don’t want to go empty-handed, so I’ve made gifts for her two pups, Sawyer and Chloe.

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I started with one of the optional challenges for Finny and Kelli's September Craft:Along and made two pouches using Amy of The b-line’s Pet Pouch tutorial (featured on Craftzine). Inside each I’ve tucked Doggie Walk bags.

Then I decided Chloe and Sawyer needed new dog collars to go with their little pouches. So I made those using a tutorial created by Keyka Lou (featured on Whipup).

Isn’t it a great day to hang out with your sister?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Technique Mania

Saturday afternoon I took a four-hour class at Pages in Progress with some friends. Our task was to create a collage using a storyboard template provided us in a kit.

Here is the collage I made; each piece involved a different technique using Ranger products: embossing, glittering, crackling, stamping, painting, masking, distressing, and so on.

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I learned a few new things about myself in this class. Conceptual art is not my thing, too abstract for me. I’m not into grunge which I’m not even sure I understand. And while there’s a certain amount of messiness in the creative process, I like to be tidy while working and this project was very messy work.

At one point we were told to tear a hole in one of the pieces of paper so as to attach that gizmo in the picture with the chain that goes over to the key. When I heard the bit about tearing, my mouth popped open and out came: “I don’t think so.” My tiny hole-punch was put in use instead. I almost broke into tears when asked to mix paints on my nice neat craft mat (I substituted wax paper).

Today my windows are getting their fall cleaning inside and out, and then I’m going to work on a sewing project to get my craft mojo balance back. Controlled chaos is something I’m more comfortable doing.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Arrr, Ye Crafty Wenches and Mates

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, don’t ye know. The first thing you need to do is wave your cutlass about and demand your pirate name.

I am Dread Pirate Rackham: Like the famous Dread Pirate Roberts, I have a keen head for how to make a profit. I have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate. Arr!

Ye Pirate Treasure Chest

Google is ye old virtual pirate crafting treasure chest. Drink your grog and swagger on over to a few swashbuckling sites for some crafty piratical fun:
  • The Pirate Queen's Booty Bag free knitting pattern
  • Pirates Ahoy embroidery pattern at Sublime Stitching
  • Pirate Pouch sewing tutorial at Lola Nova blog
  • Papercrafting a Pirate Party Set at Plaid Kids’ Crafts
  • Rhonda White’s Knitted Skull and Crossbones Wash/Dish Cloth free pattern

Friday, September 18, 2009

Blessings Friday: Abundance

This morning I decided to get all my housework and laundry done before logging on to my computer. Friday is my favorite day of the week as it heralds a generally care-free weekend ahead.

Today feels like a good day to consider the abundance of blessings I have in my life. There’s always room for improvement however, so I’ve set aside time to listen to the
Create an Abundant Life CD I’ve loaded on my iPOD. Although I don’t see autumn here in Tucson, I do feel it inside. Autumn is a time for reflection and the need to do so is urging me on today.

May your weekend be blessed with much abundance.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

September Craft:Along: Strawberry Rhubarb Buckle

One of the optional challenges for Finny and Kelli's September Craft:Along is making Strawberry Rhubarb Buckle. Last night I gave it a try.

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The recipe was created by Katie Goodman of goodLife {eats} blog and featured on Craft:.

Please note there’s a small error in the recipe. Batter ingredients call for 1 teaspoon baking soda; however, it should read 1 teaspoon baking powder—at least I hope so. The directions use the word powder and that seemed reasonable to me, so that’s what I used.

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The buckle is baked in individual ramekins, mine are heart-shaped. I’m not convinced I did the topping correctly—it looks like chunks of ground beef. Ah well, the taste is divine and that’s good enough for me.

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Although not part of the Craft:Along challenge, I tried Williams-Sonoma’s Croque Madame recipe last week. My husband liked the bit about a fried egg on top of the sandwich, but I left it off my portion as I think it’s yucky.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mermaid Thoughts

Every now and then I just absolutely have to make something with a mermaid theme. It might be the end of summer where you live, but it’s still going strong here. Summer is always in my heart anyway and mermaids do not hibernate.

Over the span of a few years, I watched as Kim Antieau wrote her book Church Of The Old Mermaids and was thrilled when it became available this year in both print and Kindle versions. While reading one of her blogs (Old Mermaids Journal), I learned about the delightful 13 Suggestions from the Old Mermaids contributed by friends she calls Sister Mermaids.

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Since I’m pretty much a tactile kind of person and need to have something to actually touch, I made a set of the suggestions in sea shell form but am calling them Mermaid Thoughts.

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My husband drilled holes in the ends of two Lion’s Paw shells so I could tie them together.

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A picture of the shell was used to create my pages in Microsoft Word which I printed on cardstock. One side depicts a saying and the back is a shell image (you can see one of the backs on the top left in the picture below). Binding the pages together doesn’t appeal to me as I like the idea of them being free and wild (like mermaids). Open the shell case and out spill Mermaid Thoughts—just as they should.

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I added a thought of my own, making it an aggregate of 14 cards, feeling I shouldn’t just swim along mindlessly behind the other mermaids but put a bit of me into it, too. It’s presumptuous, but I crowned myself an unofficial Sister Mermaid.