Friday, May 29, 2009

Mini Accordion Album

There are times when I despair that I seldom come up with my own original projects and I've finally decided that there are so many stinkin' good ideas out there, why not just happily CASE them and make them my own? Why strain my brain to come up with something new when someone else has already created a fabulous project that I like? Perhaps one of these days the creative juices will flow more freely but in the meantime, I will not look gift crafts in the mouth. Here is yet another project I discovered on someone else's blog and tried for myself. I love this album! I enjoy scrapbooking but I don't seem to have time for anything but mini albums and this little album is perfect for a quick and easy project that also makes a fabulous gift.

The insert holds 4-3 1/2 x 5" photos. There isn't much room for embellishments but you don't want anything with too much dimension as it will prevent the album from shutting properly and possibly damage your other photos. I'll be sending this particular album to Joe's aunt, who has been battling cancer and is currently hospitalized. She's a special lady and I hope you'll pray for her! If you'd like to view a fantastic video tutorial on this project, visit Angie Juda's blog. Happy crafting!
Supplies: SU! Good Morning Sunshine DSP, SU! So Saffron and Chocolate Chip Classic Ink and cardstock, SU! Great Friend stamp set, SU! Kiwi Kiss/Very Vanilla double-sided satin ribbon, SU! Very Vanilla Hodgepodge Hardware, SU! Spiral and Designer Label punches, Scor-Tape, adhesive, and sanding blocks

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Father's Day Pull Out Card

A stunning event has occurred in my house: I've actually got my Father's Day cards made a MONTH in advance! Shocking, I know. This nifty card idea was given to me by Beate Schupp, the German SU! demo who helped me host a workshop two months ago. If you haven't visited her blog, it is well worth the time to scroll through and check out her projects.

Isn't this a fun design? With two pull out panels, one side features a photo of my husband as a kid with his dad and the other side will have a note to my father-in-law. I love the fact that you recycle the plastic packaging around the SU! cardstock to make the movable band on the inside. With the economy in its current state, many crafters are learning to make do with what they have to create projects cheaply and this card doubles as an inexpensive "mini album". Click here for a link to a tutorial on how to complete this card from start to finish. Happy crafting!

Supplies: SU! Frohliche Feiertage, Itty Bitty Backgrounds, and Print Pattern (retired) stamp sets, SU! Close to Cocoa, Not Quite Navy, Chocolate Chip, Very Vanilla, and Old Olive cardstock and Classic ink, plastic packaging from cardstock pack, Scor-Pal, SU! library clips, dimensionals, SU! 1 3/8" circle and 1 1/2" square punches, Crop-A-Dile, bronze eyelets, 1/4" Scor-Tape, paper piercing tool and mat, adhesive

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Beautiful Card

Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to a stamping event hosted for Polly Raffetto, a wonderfully talented demonstrator who moved back to the States last year, and who was here on a brief visit. Of course we couldn't get together without creating something! Phyllis Jachowski, another local SU! demo, shared with us a new technique of inking the Big Shot Texturz embossing plates before running our cardstock through the Big Shot to create a beautiful inked and embossed design. I wasn't able to stay and complete the project in its entirety but Phyllis had provided each of us with a piece of stamped mulberry paper and the beautiful embossed floral image which enabled me to finish the project at home. What's funny is that when I went to complete my version of the card at home, I forgot to ink my Texturz plate before I finished the card!
Here's a close-up of the dry embossed accent (the Perfect Plum strip behind the ribbon) as well as the heat embossed image that Phyllis created for each of us. I used sponge daubers and Classic ink to color in the image and trim it before mounting it on the card. I'm not big into watercoloring or having to spend alot of time filling color in with markers so I was glad that Phyllis' project pushed me outside of my comfort zone to do something different. Thanks for checking out my latest card!
Supplies: SU! Sage Shadow and Perfect Plum Classic Ink, SU! Sage Shadow, Perfect Plum, and Shimmer White cardstock, mulberry paper, SU! En Francais and Great Friend stamp sets, SU! Vanilla Hodgepodge Hardware, Big Shot Texturz Plate, vanilla organza ribbon/dark purple satin ribbon (Frank Korbwarenfabrik, Dahn), paper piercer, adhesive

Free Stampin' Up! videos on YouTube!

Stampin' Up! recently announced access to many of their project videos, now available for free on YouTube! There's a terrific interview with Shelli Gardner, the co-founder and CEO of SU!, detailing how the company began 20 years ago. Currently the channel features several product videos so be sure to check those out as well! The link is Happy crafting!

Sunday, May 24, 2009


We spent the first day of Memorial Day weekend at Tripsdrill, an amusement and nature park located near Heilbronn. The park had a booth in the travel buildings at the Maimarkt in Mannheim and after spending a day at the park, I'm so glad I picked up a brochure! The park's central feature is this retired mill, which has been converted with an indoor slide from the top floor and a fun house type ride on the lowest floor and behind the building. I took TONS of photos Saturday so I couldn't possibly post them all here but I'll probably download photos to my Facebook page as well. Here we go!
Above the car ride was a platform where you could see the entire track and the surrounding area. Many of the buildings in the park had roof gardens, which I thought was an interesting way of making the park more environmentally friendly.

A view of the vineyards and fields beyond the park

Alex pretending to drive...she has to get in a little practice since driver's training is in her future!

Jordan's friend, Jonah, was staying with us for a few days while his parents were on a cruise so Alex invited her friend Brianna to accompany us so she would have someone to hang out with. Here's the foursome aka Jergen, Herman, George, and Larry, waiting for the log ride. The girls made up nicknames for new nickname is Bob so all day long the four of them kept calling me Bob!

Here they come!

I love my new camera! It takes great action photos so I can capture fun moments. I love the looks on their faces as they come down the ride!

The boys were a tad soaked after the ride but it was such a nice day out that they quickly dried. Don't worry...we rode another water ride later and ALL of us were drenched. Nothing like walking around an amusement park in water-logged, squishy shoes!

The May Pole ride.....nope, too high up for me so I didn't ride this one!

Alex and Brianna enjoying the May Pole ride.

The kids were finally hungry enough that I managed to coax them out of the park for a picnic lunch at the car. Both boys were mesmerized by the Maserati convertible parked next to us and asked me to take a picture.

The park had these crazy bikes the kids could ride that bounced up and down as you rode them due to the unusual placement of the spokes on the tire rims. The bikes were pretty heavy so I had to help Jordan balance and then push him to get started. I didn't get a chance to ride one but he said it took alot more effort to ride it than a normal bike and was glad to get off when it was time to move on to another part of the park.

Alex loves monkeys! She asked Jordan to babysit her new monkey purse while she went on a rollercoaster.

There was virtually no line for this ride at the end of the afternoon: I think the boys rode it six times before leaving the park for the day!

I was quite impressed with the beauty of the landscaping throughout the park and was quite taken with these vibrant flowers growing alongside the winetub ride.

The last ride of the day, ended with a smile! We had a terrific time, from start to finish, and plan on making another visit when Joe comes home. Thanks for reading along!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Cogsmo Cricket Birthday

My third posting for today: talk about overkill! I haven't posted any projects recently and thought I'd get off my lazy hiney and take some pics. I'm always looking for gift bag/card ideas, especially having a 9 year old who is always being invited to parties. Most of his friends are boys but sometimes boy themed papers are difficult to find. Utilizing the Cogsmo Cricket "Cogsmo" paper from a previous project, I threw together a matching gift bag and birthday card set for a party Jordan is going to this afternoon. I ordered a bajillion of the craft bags from Packaging Source and have been using them for every occasion, just altering them appropriately based on who the gift is for.
How can you not love this paper? The pattern reminds me of the characters in the movie "Robots"! The card took me about 10 minutes to design and throw together, with paper to spare for duplicates. Thanks for checking out my projects!
Supplies: Stampin' Up! Real Red, Bayou Blue cardstock and classic ink, SU! Toybox (retired) , Everyday Flexible Phrases (retired) and It's Your Birthday (retired) stamp sets, Cogsmo Cricket "Cogsmo" Designer 8x8" paper pack, SU! library clips and silver brads, Cricut, paper piercer/tool, white DMZ floss, window punch, foam dimensional tape, adhesive,

Concert Winds Spring Concert 2009

Last evening we enjoyed the Ramstein High School Concert Winds Spring Concert 2009 and as always, the program didn't disappoint (Alex is pictured second from the left). We were tremendously fortunate in landing an assignment at Ramstein Air Base: first, because we're an Army family and being stationed on an Air Force base is not a common occurrence, and secondly because the high school on Ramstein has a phenomenal music program. The concert last evening was proof of just how great the program is, headed up by the dynamic Mr. Jeff Pellaton. Mr. Pellaton brings a passion, energy and enthusiasm to the Music Department that
you don't find in many teachers. He never seems fed up with the students and always has some interesting "Pellatonism" to throw out to the students when things aren't going well that always translates his frustration, etc. without alienating them. No small feat when dealing with teenagers! Here's the Pellatonism printed in last night's program, "Please set your cell phone to stun or electrocute for the duration of the program. Thank you. JP" What a hoot! Alex's confidence in her musical abilities has grown by leaps and bounds since joining the program and while she'll probably never play on a professional level, I appreciate all that Mr. Pellaton has taught her just by being an outstanding teacher.
We've also been fortunate to have the USAFE band located in our area. Jordan just started lessons with a guitarist from the USAFE band this week and Alex began lessons with the wife of the percussionist from the band two months ago. It's been awesome to see the kids develop an interest in music and see them develop a little more self-discipline as they are both required to practice daily, with Alex practicing both school and solo pieces. Our biggest challenge right now is purchasing a new clarinet sometime this year. Two months ago, Alex's clarinet was permanently damaged (the band above the bell and a huge chunk of resin completely snapped off when Alex was twisting the pieces into position. Big oops!) and she's had to resort to playing one of the school's instruments. The clarinet her instructor recommends is around $3,000 (cough! gasp!) but the same company makes other wood clarinets that are a bit less expensive. With her 16th birthday approaching, I'm hoping to find her a quality wood clarinet within my price range (cheap is good) so we may drive to the Buffet factory in France this summer to check out what they've got. In the meantime, I'm thankful for the school loaner! If you want to see last night's performance, check out the website and it should be posted sometime this month.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Since Joe left over a month ago, Skype has become a member of our family. It's interesting to look back on each time Joe has deployed and note the differences in communication. When he deployed in 1996, there were few means available in Bosnia for soldiers to communicate except writing letters and an occasional expensive phone call. I remember receiving an 800 Deutsch Mark phone bill for calling Joe at the embassy in Croatia and almost passing out from the amount! I've kept the stacks of cards and letters from that deployment, filled with the mundane tasks of soldier life as well as a few sweet nothings, all tied up with a ribbon. When he deployed to Iraq, we had two 15 minute phone calls each week, e-mail, video teleconferences at the unit, and a very small stack of cards and love notes. Big difference in communication technology between the first deployment and the second! This time, the communication is both better and worse. Skype: Better! Snail mail: Antiquated! Skype has been a lifesaver for us and I praise the Lord for the person who invented it (I don't think Al Gore can claim this one! Ha!) As soon as Jordan comes home from school each day and sees me at the computer, he'll ask me to check if Joe is on Skype. It's made Joe seem less far away: to hear his laugh, to laugh with him, and talk to him as though he's right here with us has made the transition much smoother. I've not had to comfort Jordan in the middle of the night, crying for his dad, or watch Alex moping around the house because they both have the opportunity to talk with their dad almost everyday as though he never left. Extended separations are common occurrences in the lives of almost every military family. So what is the worth of something like Skype to a family like ours? You only have to look at Jordan's face in the photo to get the answer. Priceless.

Holland: Part Two

Day 2 of our trip to Holland took us to Haarlem and Corrie Ten Boom's house. Located in northern Holland, we accessed Haarlem from Sneek via an 18-mile long highway that spanned the sea. Stunning drive and absolutely beautiful weather! Upon arriving in Haarlem, Alex snapped a photo of De Adriann Windmill, located near the heart of the old city.

Okay, I know it's a door but I became fascinated with the charm of the houses, particularly the doors.

Inside Corrie Ten Boom's home are many plaques and awards given to her for her extraordinary sacrifice during WWII hiding Jewish refugees. Corrie and her family were eventually betrayed and sent to concentration camps, with Corrie the only survivor.

If you've not read her book or seen the movie, The Hiding Place, it is well worth your time to watch. Only be sure to have a box of Kleenex nearby because it's a tear jerker!

The Ten Boom family placed this sign in the window to signal fleeing Jews that their home was a safe house. After the family was arrested, Corrie tried to remove it from the window but was prevented from doing so. The Nazis left the signal in the window as a way of trapping others hoping to hide.

The parlor

A hiding place was built into the wall of Corrie's bedroom, using a clock weight to act as a counterbalance behind the built in shelves in order to swing them open. The night the family was arrested, six Jews were hiding inside this small room, which has been cut open for visitors to view. You can see just how small the space is! Nazi soldiers tore apart the house looking for the refugees, coming so close as the floor directly in front of the hiding place. Eventually the six inside the hiding place were rescued.

Another view of the hiding place

Located near the Corrie Ten Boom museum is the Grote Markt, with the statue of Laurens Janszoon Coster, an early European printer born in Haarlem who died shortly before the invention of Johannes Gutenberg's printing press. It is said that Gutenberg's partner, Johann Fust, stole the type and presses from Laurens Coster before fleeing to Mainz and starting a partership with Gutenberg. Eventually he also cheated Gutenberg out of his invention and made it a financially successful venture. (Sorry...Alex's National History Day project was on Gutenberg's printing press and some of the info rubbed off!)

Sint-Bavokerk cathedral, right off the Grote Markt

A view of the square around the Grote Markt, with the Haarlem City Hall in the background.

Doesn't Jordan look so happy?! His look says, "Please tell me we're on the way to the car: my feet are killing me!"

I love the details of the homes in Holland, especially the brightly colored shutters and intriguing door designs.

Alex showing off her new 5 euro sunglasses. You get what you pay for...they broke four days after we bought them!

Another charming alleyway. You'll notice all the bikes: most folks in Holland get around on bicycles and I have to say from experience that you give bicyclists the same right of way as a car or risk getting run over. (I got a nasty bruise on my hand and wrist from getting nailed with the handlebars of an oncoming bike!)
We've been to The Netherlands several times but this trip was particularly enjoyable: traveling with the group from church, enjoying time with the kids, and the beautiful weather all made it a special time. We are definitely blessed to live overseas and experience the culture and history of Europe. I hope you enjoyed the pictures of our latest trip!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day! Aren't the blossoms on this tree lovely? I photographed it during Jordan's recent class field trip and thought it would be a lovely tribute for Mother's Day. For every mom reading this blog, I wish you a beautiful day with your family and pray that you rejoice in all the joy, heartache, and laughter that comes with having children. I'm so thankful for my own mom and the influence she's had on my life. I hope she knows what a blessing she is to me! Have a wonderful day!

Happy Birthday to Jordan!

My baby turned nine years old yesterday! We hosted Jordan's birthday at the house this year, partly because I threw it together last minute and partly because that's where Jordan wanted to celebrate. Jordan's latest interest is anything having to do with spies: weapons, codes, training, etc. We bought him several spy devices for his birthday, including night vision goggles and binoculars. (These are "kid" versions, not the real thing!) The treat bags were spy kits with squirt guns, secret code books, candy and gum for stakeouts, and a disguise. I placed clues all over the house that the kids had to decipher to find the missing spy kits as they were stolen by an international spy and had to be recovered. The kids had fun and did a great job, especially since I had them running up and down the stairs from the top floor, down to the basement, and back up again. No small feat with 15 kids in attendance!
Since Jordan requested a spy-themed party, we had several SpyKids movies available for viewing at the beginning of the party while we were waiting for everyone to arrive. I guess it was a good thing we did since everyone was engrossed in them, including some of the parents dropping off children! (notice our friend Slim in the background...he's as entranced as the kids)

Posing for a group photo

This photo gave me the giggles! First of all, for Jordan's crazed look but also for the eyeball I accidentally photographed in the lower righthand corner. LOL!

This was my favorite part of the entire party...seeing Jordan read each card aloud. Several things struck me about this. First, this is the first birthday party he's had where everyone insisted he read the cards out loud. At previous parties, partygoers just wanted him to rip into the gifts and chuck the card so this is the first sign of a maturing crowd. It made me realize he's growing up! Second, with Jordan's previous reading problems due to his speech delay, it was music to my ears to hear him read clearly and quickly through each card. What a blessing!

Jordan received a package from Grandpa Bob and Grandma Sue...yay!

Time to open it...ooh, what is it?

Yes! Jordan was enthralled with the book as soon as he saw what it was about. Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa!

Here's Alex's gift to her little brother...a Bionicle! What a sweet big sister to use her own money to buy her brother a gift. Jordan received many nice gifts and we are so thankful to have such generous friends.

Jordan blowing out his candle!

I kept the food simple with fruit, chips, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, Shasta soda (I couldn't believe it when the commissary stocked it. Talk about a blast from my childhood!) and birthday cupcakes. The best part about the food? Alex prepared most of it! Having a Culinary Arts student living with you definitely has some advantages :) One benefit to the Culinary Arts program vs. Home Economics is its focus on all aspects of presentation, serving in a professional setting, and learning the techniques needed to be a professional chef. While this isn't exactly "professional" catering, I thought she did a lovely job with arranging the fruit and decorating the cupcakes. Plus it took a huge burden off of me to try and do everything myself. The hardest part for me was schlepping through the commissary and bringing all the groceries home...not a bad way to go!

I printed out the cupcake toppers from clipart on PrintShop 22 and used a large oval punch to make them the right size to sit on top of the cupcakes. Alex baked/frosted the cupcakes and Jordan helped her put the decorations on top. I tried to keep things as simple as possible, especially since the kids would be more interested in eating them instead of admiring the decoration!

At the end of the day, I had to ask myself, "Am I insane to have so many children over to my house with the hubby gone?" Well, probably but Jordan had such a good time that I can't help but think it was all worth it. Thanks for stopping by and checking out our latest family event! I promise I'll have craft projects posted later this week :)

Number of cows visiting my pasture...


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