Archive for the ‘Gallery Post’ Category

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My life has taken a bit of a wild ride since I posted last. There have been  lots of changes,  some good and some bad.   That’s a post for another day, though.

Today, today I’m cracking the lid on this blog to share with y’all some of the amazing things I’ve found, walking in a local park. I’ve been walking a lot more lately, and found that it’s no longer something that I have to do, but something I actually enjoy doing. In fact when I’m stressed now, it’s the first thing that pops into my head, the  desire not to run and hide, but to go out and walk.  This, the the local hang out, the place anyone who is anyone wants to be. Well, anyone with feathers that is. But as LeVar Burton used to say on Reading Rainbow, “You don’t have to take my word for it.”

don't wanna share

These fellows love their home, which is up in the eaves of the gazebo there on the pond. I saw them this morning with my Mom and my nieces, and despite the heat, went home, got my camera and walked back to take pictures because they are just about to fledge.

One more week  and they will be out of the tiny nest and on their own, I’m betting. The nest is all ready way too small for them; the more adventurous of them were clinging to the outside of it  when Mom and Dad were off getting breakfast. Despite looking like grumpy old men, they were rather adorable, and peeping like mad when I got under their nest, though I have to say, I look NOTHING like  Mom or Dad.  Seriously, what is going on with the down on the sides of their heads? It looks like wild old-man hair. Check it out:

angry neighorman

You and your taking pictures in the middle of the day. In my day cameras stole your soul. We had to chisel images into stone if we wanted to remembering the event.

They weren’t the only attractions on my walk; check out these busy bees.

DSCN7492Not exactly sure what this is, but the aroma around the plants was like raspberries.  And the bees were chowing down. If I had a tiny microphone to stick amid the blossoms I’m pretty certain that I would have heard  SLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRP  *burp*  and then “excuse me”  Bees are very courteous diners. You didn’t know that? *HA* Obviously YOU never watched this  episode of  Reading Rainbow.

The last arresting bits in the park ( It was  eighty five degrees outside and it felt like 104 according to the weather man, due to the humidity)  were these cool green pockets  amid all the hot splashes of Sun.

DSCN7511 moss sunlighton a rock

After I found these, it was time to head home, before I completely melted into my shoes.  The cool thing is, a year ago, I’d not have gone out in the heat again and walked the extra  mile to get the pictures, having all ready walked two miles with Mom and the niece-lings.  Two years ago, I would have been in too much pain to even think about walking with Mom and the niece-lings.  Like I said before, there have been a lot of changes in my life since I posted last.  Good and bad. Hopefully a return to posting, will be counted as one of the good.

Until next time Scribes,

Encourage one another!

I had a friend, recently, who celebrated a kinda important birthday, and I decided I wanted to make her some lovely grown-up themed Beauty & the Beast cupcakes. I also happen to have a pair of friends who think that they are good enough to go on Master Chef. What you now witness is the craziness that happened during the cupcake making with these two “helping” along the way.

DSCN5118I had to get up super-early (for me) at  7 A.M. simply because my niecelings were arriving at 9 A.M. These two beat me down to the kitchen and rounded up the supplies as I checked the cake  recipe. I haven’t made one in so long, I’d actually forgotten how things were suppose to go together. However, after I refreshed the ole’ memory I got right to work.  And, so did my helpers.

DSCN5122Here, the Assassin is assuring the Dragon that these are not “Dragon Eggs” and you can see by the look that he’s getting, the Dragon is not convinced. Not one bit, not at all.  I combined the ingredients in the mixer while the two of them hashed out what exactly constituted a non-dragon egg, and then I needed to add the eggs before the batter congealed around the beaters thick as cement.

DSCN5123“Yeah buddy, I checked, I watched her crack each one. They’re all chicken eggs, I promise. I know what dragon eggs look like. And dragon yokes.  Wasn’t any of your kin, I promise.” Said the Assassin. Now, I wanted to know how he became so knowledgeable about dragon eggs. And of course, neither of them are talking to me. You’ll understand why when we get to the end of this adventure.  After the batter was all mixed up I added jimmies to it (this makes a ‘funfetti batter like the kind you get in a box but  I was making it from scratch) or rather, I tried to add jimmies to it.

DSCN5127Apparently, the jimmies might have been marauding Irishmen bent on the destruction of a viking island town, and needed to be thoroughly inspected before I was finally allowed to add them to the batter.

DSCN5129I used a small scoop to get the proportion of batter to cupcake liner correct, and the guys were fascinated by the fact that I sprayed the liners with a small hit of cooking spray. If you don’t do that, the cupcake and the batter become wed to the point that it will take death to separate them from one another.  So, make sure to just hit them lightly with some cooking spray if you ever make cupcakes from scratch.

The recipe made 24 cupcakes,  but I’ve used it before to make two 9 inch layers or one 9×16 sheet cake. And I love the funfetties, they make everyone smile, and they don’t add any bitterness to the batter.

DSCN5133 However, after all the sprinkle inspecting, and otherwise “helping” I told the pair they needed to clean up. The Dragon in particular was skeptical of this assessment, but as you can see right there on his tail, is proof of bath-needed.

DSCN5134This is the moment that I realised I would be sleeping with one eye open for quite some time. To quote Icanhascheezburger “You has betrayed my tiny trust” and this of course with cats means one thing, but it means something like fiery death when dealing with Dragons.

DSCN5136Both of them cleaned up, and then hatched plans for how they were going to have one of the cupcakes for themselves.  Stay tuned for the rest of the story tomorrow, in “Let them Eat Cake”

Until then, Scribes, encourage one another!

rea_tyrza2

Caiti gave this to me for my birthday this past May, and I just about died.  She commissioned one of her artist friends to draw her character Tyrza, and Rea, standing back to back in their “default” expressions. Hers, “I am not buying your bull” and his “Oh really?”

I love it so much, I just can’t get over seeing him like that.  Oh my goodness. So many ideas are being stashed to the side due to other writing constraints but hey, I’m making notes as fast as I can.  It’s amazing how a piece of character art can make you want to write, don’t you think?

Want to check out the amazing, fantastical, phenomenal artist that created this 1,000 word picture? Well, here’s her tumblr

Now, go check out her site, give her lots and lots of love, and remember Scribes when you post artwork 😉 gifts or things you’ve found, link to the artist.

Also let me know who has given YOU some fan art.  C’mon now, you are all talented enough to have fan art. 😀 Give the artists a shout out.

Gathering

With Valentine’s Day being now 10 days away, I thought I’d share a really tasty treat Mom came upon and we tried out this week. While the prep and baking time isn’t short, and there’s a good amount of work involved these are delicious little morsels, they are amazing! They’re only 119 calories a piece too, which mean you can feel decadent without being decadent.

First let me give credit where credit is due,  Mom found this recipe on Taste of Home and I’m so glad she did. The full directions and nutrition count are listed there, as are other people’s comments and ideas about this yummy dessert.

Fear not, all you readers who think this is going to be a boring point-by-point how to bake post. Where would the fun in that be?  Cue dramatic music! (please play whatever music YOU think is most fitting here, its your cue)

Dramatis Personae

1 Cup all-purpose flour

1/3 Cup sugar

1/4 Cup baking cocoa

1/2 Cup cold butter

2 Tablespoons cold water

(this is the crust)

~`~

2 Packages (three ounces each) cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup of sugar

2 Tablespoons of milk

1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Egg, lightly beaten

(this is the filling)

~`~

1 Can of cherry or strawberry pie filling

(this is the topping)

~`~

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The awesomeness which is 1 Cup of flour I scooped into the cup, and then plopped into the bowl.  Tiny want-to-taste hobgoblins danced around the counter (oh I know that most of you would say it was currents from the vents on the floor coming up but I say it was hobgoblins)  making the measurement difficult  enough that I went to get stabilizing scissors. Not really but then how do I explain the scissors there?

Beginning
To the awesome flour, I added the 1/4th baking cocoa of power. You can see here  the two having their molecular battle for dominance straight away. Adding the 1/3 cup of sugar did nothing except make the cocoa more rowdy.   It was getting out of hand, and also, out of the bowl. The pushing the shoving, the calling of names, it all happened right there on the counter then  Mom suddenly added in the 1/2 cup of cold butter. That was just like throwing oil on a bonfire. This is immediately ensued:

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Do you see those lumps in there? Oh my. They were my enemies. Sworn enemies. The butter was refrigerator cold, and the flour and cocoa were dry. Four large squares of unyielding fat had to be battered into tiny pieces by my hand whisk. And by battered into pieces, I mean smashed, snarled at, despised, wept over, and given several Al Capone like threats that they had BETTER COMBINE or life would not be pleasant for their families. The result?

Crust done

Something that looked like I’d pooper-scooped it from the neighbor’s yard. But while I was battling MY cooking goblins,  and the ingredients were battling each other, Mom was tripping through the her part of the recipe which was the filling part. Sadly, you don’t get to witness her finesse with the ingredients, only my hacking and slashing through the ranks of the tiny cheese cake sprites.  I did snap this neat picture of her ingredients working together in sweet harmony in the mixer.

whirr best

Then came the time to combine my rebellions crust concoction (that looked like something that should be left in the yard) with her supremely fluffy and good enough to eat on its own filling.   Go on, take a peek.

Dark and Light

The reason mine doesn’t look so sickening in this shot is because I haven’t added the water to the mix yet. Still, see all those lumps? All those rebellous clots of fat that REFUSED point blank to be smashed into elegant crumbles like the pictures on the site? And because of their refusal, when I went to put them into the tiny cups, it looked even worse. I would advise you to go ahead and scroll quickly down past this one and concentrate instead on the creamy filling shots.

crust in cup
I know what you’re thinking. And you’re right, it’s rather disgusting looking. The crust is both sticky, and dense. Mom and I finally resorted to using the back of a floured mellon-baller to get the shape of the  cheese cake crusts correct. It was important that they come up the entire side of the cup, otherwise the filling might have  run all over and possibly attempted world domination. It needed to be contained.

filled pan

However, it smelled very lightly of cocoa and that made it bearable.  Then, this happened.

filling the pan
Creamy goodness, that dropped lightly off her spoon and into my malformed custard cups with the greatest of ease, made the filling of these crusts the easiest thing either of us did all the morning long. By the time  we had filled them all up, I was ready for a nap. It took much longer than the “twenty five minutes” to get to this stage so if you undertake this for the first time, don’t feel bad if getting to this point takes forty minutes like it did for us.  In the end, Mom and I prevailed, that’s what counts. That and the fact that these were delicious.

Best tray
We put them into  the oven for 15-18 minutes  at 325 degrees, or until they stopped jiggling when the tray was gently shaken.

Best Rack
Then they had to sit on the rack for another 30 minutes to truly “set”
But I didn’t wait that long. After five minutes, I did this.

Cherry Rack

And also, this:

Bitten

Delicious!

Directions:

MY PART
In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, and cocoa; cut in butter until crumbly. Gradually add in water, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball (this was the struggle, right here) Shape into 24 balls. Place in a greased miniature muffin cups; press dough into the bottom and up the sides of each cup

MOMS PART
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in milk and vanilla. Add egg; beat on low until just combined. Spoon about 1 tablespoon full into each cup (true, it takes a lot to fill the cups)

Bake at 325 for 15-18 minutes or until set (no jiggles) Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Carefully remove from pans to cool completely. Top with pie filling. Store in the refrigerator. Yield 2 dozen.

So, there’s my sweet treat show and tell for Valentine’s Day.  What do YOU have planned? Remember, Valentine’s Day is not just for couples. Take a moment to tell everyone in your life, just how much you love them.  And you don’t need to buy them lavish gifts though they might tell you to make them several dozen of these after you allow them to eat one.  But do tell them how much they mean to you, life is short and love never lessens, it only grows when its shared.  So, SHARE. Especially on Valentine’s Day.

ouch

Today began like any other day; one where I’m surrounded by  things I ought to do on one side, and things I want to do on the other.  In the middle of my procrastination (actually I’m still procrastinating by typing this up but I wanted to share and I have most of the review done in my head) I was discussing Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart with Megan, and went to grab my copy. I was all set  to happily thumb through the story I  love while encouraging her to read it. To my horror, pages fell out of the book.

Okay, so I got my copy in an omnibus edition, so it’s over forty years old, so I only paid a dollar for it at a library book sale. It falling apart in my hands is not acceptable!  Thankfully, I know someone who knows about bookbinding.

My Dad worked in a book bindery as a young man.

The first thing he tells me, is that this is a perfect bound book, not a folio binding.  The good news for the book, is that we can fix it. Folio bindings are a little more complicated than perfect, they’re stronger and more expensive too.

Before I go any further in my adventure in book repair, let me say that this is an amateur fix on a book  with the sole goal  being that I can read the tome without it falling to pieces.

All right, onward for the step-by-step how to perform perfect bound spine surgery.

Step 1: Acquire the help of someone who has some experience in bookbinding

This is very important. Without the aid of someone who has some experience in this, you could wind up with a mess.  So as tempting as it is, don’t go this one alone.  If you don’t know anyone who has experience in bookbinding (and it’s becoming somewhat harder to find those with this skill) click here for some advice. He has a great video series on book binding, and this shows how perfect binding is done.  Also, don’t try this with any book you can’t throw away. Remember, I’ve only got $1 invested in my book.

Step 2.: Acquire tools.

It’s important to use the right kind of adhesive with a perfect bound book. It needs to be able to flex and hold at the same time.  Most of the book pages are still holding together with the original glue which make the work simpler for us.  I also dabble in folio hand book binding and have some adhesive in the basement.

glue

To apply the adhesive, we use a foam brush, the kind that most craft stores sell. I use these for mod pod too, and wait until the craft store puts them on sale for $0.10 each  then buy as many as I’m allowed to, usually there’s a 50 brush limit or something like that. A paper cup to put the glue into, a set of adjustable clamps, two pieces of scrap wood, and a vice are also needed to do this.

brushes

Step 3: Prep the book

Dad aligns the sections of the book that are still holding to the glue and cloth of the spine, then clamps the loose pieces to the top of the pile. This gives him a block of paper to work with that is stable.  It’s important to make certain all the pieces are even, because ones the glue sets its going to stay like this.

clamps

The pages here are clamped to the back of book, not to the workbench.  It takes several tries to get everything lined up as it should be and careful adjustments are made until he’s satisfied that the pages are right, not necessarily ramrod straight, but aligned. After all, I’m going to be opening this book and closing it quite a bit.

Step 4.) Apply the adhesive

adhesive

Dad applies the adhesive with the foam brush, carefully coating both the paper edges, and the membrane that has become disconnected from them. Originally, after the paper was treated and glued the cloth was rolled over the naked spine and allowed to dry. We could cut the paper spine away and do the same but then we’d have to re-attach it using the proper tapes and that’s more work that either of us are interested in doing for this book. Carefully, Dad matches up the upper portion of the book with the lower now-glued portion, and I stroke/press the spine through the cover, making several passes to make sure that the cloth and pages have met and any excess glue is squeezed out and wiped away.

Step 5.)  Position the book in the vice and allow the glue to dry for 24 hours

blocksvice
The end piece  that you see dangling here  is not really connected to the pages, it’s a different piece of cloth than what I smooth through the spine. See how our alignment isn’t perfect?  And also note the chunks of text that you can clearly see even now that it’s in the vice. It won’t win any book beauty pageants, but then again, that isn’t the goal.  The goal is to have a repaired, readable tome.  And that, I have.  I’ll update this tomorrow with the last picture and the book open to the repaired section so you can see how it turned out. Until then, if you have any questions, post them below and I’ll pester Dad with them.   Also, if YOU have any tips for repairing books, post them in the comments below.

hobbit31

Dave ( my brother ) took me to see The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey today. We’d worked all of our scheduling out in advance, and after a delicious lunch prepared by Mom and a time for Dave of visiting with Mom and Dad (while I worked on a side project) we were off! Off to see the 2:40PM showing of The Hobbit. We’d called earlier to double-check the time, not thinking to ask what version the 2:40 showing was going to be. Chagrined, we listened to the clerk rattle off that the 2:40 showing was for the IMAX 3D HD faster-frames-per-minute version of the film.

Card 1

That, was unexpected.  I really had no desire to see the faster frames, have never been a fan of 3D or HD, and only have seen the IMAX film documentaries at the Smithsonian.  Plus, the price was rather outrageous. Dave however, took it all in stride and popped the $14.99 a piece price down on the counter, waiving off my attempts to pay for my own ticket.  “I told you, it’s part of your Christmas present.”

He waved the tickets around some  for good measure before handing me mine. I was reminded of my wonderful card, and also “special Christmas bear” he gave me which is *void if ingested* (uh-huh, I’m not the only one in the family with an off beat sense of humor). People were looking at us as if we were nuts. Well we were, but it  was not polite to stare unless they thought we were  wax works and if they thought that they should have paid us. Lewis Carrol said so.

We walked in through the double doors, surrendered our tickets, and claimed our glasses. As we walked up the ramp to the seats Dave sighed.

“You sure you’re going to be all right with this?” he asked and I nodded.

“I know the trick, take the glasses off and shut my eyes if I get dizzy or nauseous” I assured him.

“I know, but I wanted this to be really fantastic.”

“It is going to be fantastic because” I said looking at the nearly empty theater “I’m seeing it with you, and that makes it fantastic. It’s been a long time since we shared something this epic.”  He grinned, and we moved through the vast emptiness to find seats. We were careful not to sit in front of anyone. It’s a pet peeve of mine, people sitting in front of me in a nearly empty theater.  If you have nearly the entire theater to choose from, DO NOT SIT IN FRONT OF SOMEONE ELSE. I don’t care if it’s stadium style seating or not. It’s RUDE.

There were six people in the whole of the theater yet some where sitting right in front of others. I told myself, they had to be family or some such thing. But, over heard bits of conversation made that seem unlikely. As did the fact that one pair moved  so they were not behind another pair of film watchers. We settled ourselves up in the nose bleeds (always a precaution in the 3D movies) and I pulled out  this;
BestJust in case Gandalf had misplaced his copy. I mean, it’s important that Thorin have his key.  Kinda hard for the heir to the “Kingdom Under The Mountain” to access his inheritance without it.  David grinned and shook his head “I think the Wizard will remember to bring his copy.”

The previews started (some in 3D HD and some not) and we spent the next forty minutes ribbing them. Star Trek looked ‘meh’, and the others were so non-memorable that I sighed and said “It’s going to be a long year.”

David chuckled. “Just wait till Disney(TM) starts on Star Wars.” I rolled my eyes behind my oh-so-fashionable 3D glasses


Dove

When I’m crafting, I’m really enjoying the creative process, and thinking about the person who is going to be getting the gift, and sometimes, I’m even watching a movie or a television show I know by heart.  It makes the whole process for me, very peaceful. This year, I had to be quick as well as crafty and thinking back on the first journal I made, I believe you’ll see its influence in the others here. The third journal (one and two are in Making Merry) I made was for my sister-in-law Beth, who is also a writer. I found the C.R. Gibson journals at Tuesday Morning(TM) the week before Christmas and hers is more of a ledger size than the one I made for my friend at work. I like the smaller ones myself, because the band holds them shut and they’re perfect for tossing into a backpack or purse, meaning people get more use out of them.  But beggers can’t  be choosers at Tuesday Morning (TM)  and hers only cost me $5.99 and is made from bonded leather. Not bad, considering the regular price for on that size is $17.99. Because this year has been hard for everyone in my family, including Beth, I thought a whimsical theme with a bright play on words would suite just perfectly.  I decided to use gears and birds to give it a ‘clockwork fantasy’ feel and I think it came out rather well. She certainly was delighted on Christmas day. Take a peek.

Beth Best
The mixed up letter types looked so good on the first, I figured they’d work here too, and they do. Writers are always cobbling together bits and pieces of things to make books, and with them being all different kinds it was all right if the letters were slightly wonky. Adds to the over all feel of whimsy.  Next time one of your crafting projects suffers a misalignment just tell the recipient that you were going for a ‘touch of whimsy’ which hides a multitude of mistakes.

Now this last one, I didn’t  buy, I sort of kidnapped it, and altered it the Saturday before Christmas.  Mom got this journal from Pastors Annette and Robert Stagmer as a Christmas present, and while she loved it, I thought it looked a little plain. It was the same dimensions as the blue one above, only pink. Pink, a blank. The funny thing about it was what I selected to put on the cover, she’d been studying all week. I’d say that’s confirmation that was where she needed to be, wouldn’t you?  It’s a paraphrase from part of  Revelation 12:11.  I was afraid at first that letters being as they were looked a little less formal and a little more ransom-note but Mom really likes it, and that’s all that matters.

Mom Best
Tada. And that’s all the journal altering I did this year for Christmas. But four  was enough, most definitely. Now, time to restock ideas, and my altered gear and see what else I can make and pass along.

What projects do you have planned craft wise for the new year? Any resolutions to try something new or expand on your own skills? Let me know in the comments below!

Coriam Deo Scribes

Christmas 2012 020

I’ve been blessed this Christmas, but I’ve also been blessed throughout the year by some pretty amazing friends. Friends that have encouraged me without saying a word, friends who have inundated me with kindness and laughter,  and friends that are so special I know I could search the world over and not find their like in ten thousand years. They are the kinds of people who are difficult to shop for and so this year I decided to “make merry” instead of buying them something for Christmas.  First up, my friends from work.

There, I’ve a friend who has inspired me to both search harder for the grace-moments even when everything goes wrong (it seems) and to respond quickly with gratitude to Christ and to others when I receive it.

She’s had  many amazing things happen this year, and she’s also weathered some devastating events. She makes me want to be not more like her, but more like Jesus.

I’m reminded of a story I read recently of a homeless man who recently got saved and prayed each day that the Lord would make him more like Mike, the man who worked in the mission and helped the others who had no place to go. Someone asked him ‘Hey, why don’t you pray that the Lord make you more like Jesus’ and the man piped back “Oh, is Jesus like Mike?”

Replace Mike with her name, and you’ve got the idea of how she lives. Is she perfect? Nope, but she makes me hungry to ‘be like Jesus’ with the same kind of transparency and grace she possesses.

I wanted to give her a really special Christmas present. She’s a journal keeper  so I knew right away I wanted to give her a journal. But not just any journal would do. I scoured Tuesday Morning(TM) for a C.R. Gibson(C) blank book (picked it up for just $3.99 shh don’t tell her) and found a black bonded leather one that was just perfect.  Then I started thinking about what I was going to do with it to alter it, just for her. My friend’s life is a mosaic of places and people, nations and neighbors, family and friends and  she  really likes word games like Words With Friends(TM) and Scrabble(TM).  I decided to  incorporate the gypsy/bohemian feel of her life with her love of word games and that pulled the theme together.

I ransacked my altered letter stash and slowly started putting the words I wanted on the cover using superglue. It’s perfect for this kind of project where I’m bonding all kinds of materials to each other and I want them to stay put.

After the words were in place, I  wanted to add some flash and fire to the layout, a look of gems scattered here and there against a dark background because she’s always finding precious things in the middle of a trial.

Oh, to have her sight when I go though my own hard times.

Finally, I wanted to put on a wing  on the journal because she waits on the Lord and mounts up over the hard places with wing of eagles, and also because I have often prayed that she find rest in the shadow of His wings.

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All the planning and cogitating paid off, I gave her the journal for Christmas,  and she loved it.

*Yay*

That was the first journal I altered to give as a Christmas present, and it kinda opened the flood gates.

So for my second friend from work, I went with a Mead College Ruled Composition Book.  She’s a writer, and a gamer, and just all together way cool. We’ve hung out once for coffee and to ‘talk writer talk’ and intend in the new year to do that way more often.  She got me a fantastic Loki necklace since he’s my favorite hero.

Wait, what do you mean he isn’t a hero? Yes he is! He’s a tragic hero! His dad betrays him, his brother doesn’t understand him, he’s manipulated and played and.. .oh fine go ahead and believe the Avengers propaganda.

Anyway, I wanted to give her something just as cool as what she gave me and that meant, making something.  She’s currently playing through the Mass Effect games (she started with Mass Effect, and then Mass Effect 2, and then Mass Effect 3 but had trouble importing her Shepherd so she’s toggling between playing a new Shepherd and working through ME2  as well as Knights of the Old Republic and other games)

Since I had little understanding of the mythos of the game, I was delighted to find there was a Mass Effect Wiki. That helped me pick the color red, and the metal plating as the game relies heavily on heroic sacrifices  and there is a philosophical pondering throughout the universe about what does it mean to be sentient. Can inorganic be sentient? Can a hive-mentality created artificial life possess a soul?  The game is much deeper than a simple ‘run through the universe and destroy enemies’ and it has solidified some thoughts  I’ve had  about story-telling in video game format. That is definitely another post.

For now, back to the journal.

After I laid down the kick-plate silver paper, I ‘ripped’ the red against itself and set that on top using UHU sticks. If anyone wants to cover notebooks like I do, invest in UHU glue sticks. They’re readily available at any craft store in the glue isle and come in two sizes. They come either colored (to help you see where you’re putting the glue and will dry clear) and clear. I used the colored.   They work so much better than mod podge, they are not nearly as wet, and they bond BETTER to cardboard with less paper warping that any mod podge I’ve used. I learned this trick from a lady who makes books for a living, when I took a class on book making. (Yeah I can do that too but it requires WAY more prep time).

After I glued down the papers front and back it was time to put my wood cutting blade to improper use in cutting out  the characters for her book. They’re  from Mass Effect 3 Playing Cards I found at  Think Geek  and worked perfectly because they’re all ready printed and laminated. The only difficulty was their somewhat odd and incomplete poses. But I think they work. I had to pick who to put on the front (there are more on the back too) but I picked the ones that I liked the best, as well as some of the ones that I’d heard her mention at work. The gears are held on with superglue (really the altered book go-to adhesive) as is the game spinner, and the firey swarovski sequin.

The characters are stuck in place by UHU glue and they are bonded to that paper, really bonded. I always test their adhesion by using the element as a handle to open the book. If nothing moves, then I know it’s good for travels and adventures. The words are the only bit I wish I had done differently. I just stuck them down using their own adhesive and am all ready regretting it–several lifted and I had to ‘reglue’ with the  UHU stick. Hopefully, the others will behave. I can repair for her, however, if they come off. The phase ties in both to writing and the game, as anyone who has played Mass Effect 3 will know, the Crucible is a device/ship/element that Shepherd has to decide to use, or not use. It’s also a “ceramic container where metals or other materials may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures”  which makes the play on words that much more fun.

Here’s the front:

Cati 1
And here’s the back (sorry it’s a bit blurry)

Cati 2
It reads “Friends walk beside you into the flames” continuing the thought on the front, and showing off several of the most endearing companions you can have in the game. The little metal disk says “journey”
I gave it to her for Christmas and, she loves it!

*YAY*

I know she’ll fill it up with some amazing words of her own, and hopefully get lots of compliments on it.

Whew, this is turning into a long-winded post, and I’ve two more to show you. I think I’ll stop here, and then post again.

So, watch for the second part and tell me in the comments below, what do you make and give away? Or what “made” gift did you get this year the blew YOU away?

Coriam Deo, Scribes

I had a blast Wednesday meeting a friend for coffee and talking writerly stuff, and then there was a birthday party I attended. All in all, a very nice day. I’ve needed one.  During the party (which was at my house) I started snapping pictures of all the decorations we have up (we’ve kinda gone all out this year) and as promised here are some of the highlights.

Treee

Our Christmas tree has been up since the day after Thanksgiving. That’s a little early for us but with all the news we’ve gotten this year, extra cheer has been nice to come home to.  We use colored lights on the tree, and that’s the only place we use them. All the rest, as you’ll see, are white lights.  The ornaments on the tree are either gifts from friends,  bought at special occasions, or home-made.  Here are a couple of my favorite:

Nativity

This is a tiny little nativity hidden inside a white star. At the bottom, there’s a place for a Christmas Tree light to be tucked up inside and illuminate the scene, but I prefer it just plain white.  A friend from work gave this to me after he heard me admiring it for several weeks. He didn’t have much at the time and I wasn’t expecting a gift from him at all, it was so sweet (the ornament wasn’t much so I didn’t feel bad accepting it) but the memory is such a dear one, I smile every time I hang it on the tree.

Jesus

This one is special because of the whole Isaiah 9 proclamation that I’d been reading for several days during advent and then WHAM there it was on an ornament as if He’d dropped it down straight from the throne room just to encourage me. I’ve always loved this passage:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
(Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV)

I’d never seen one before with Isaiah 9 on it. Oh, there are plenty from the New Testament, and some from the Psalms, but I’d never seen Isaiah 9 referenced so blatantly before. It was definitely a God Wink, from Him to me. Every year I remember that (I’ve been practicing this remembering thing for a while) when I set this on our tree.

Mt Vernon Globe
This is the last ornament I’ll share today. It’s a stylized ornament from Mount Vernon, and is meant to replicate the globe that George Washington had in his study in his grand estate. I had such a lovely time last Christmas with my cousin Sally, her friend, and Mom and Dad seeing Mount Vernon at night. There was a lovely tour of the estate with actors dressed in period costumes, hot cider, cookies, and even a real live camel!  If you ever have a chance to go at Christmas, take that chance, it was definitely an evening full of memories for me.

Aurelius

This, is Aurelius.   He’s a dwarf pine Mom bought me from Wegman’s and he’s only suppose to grow 2” a year. We’ll see about that Aurelius, we’ll see how fast you grow. Mom bought him for me because every year I lament  and look sorrowful over the fact that our Christmas tree is an artificial one, and so now I have my own TINY natural one. Speaking of which, he needs a good watering, I’ll be right back.  There, now he’s had a good drink.  Aurelius means “Golden” and while this tiny tree isn’t golden in color, he is definitely  worth more than gold to me.   Doesn’t he look spiffy?

Mantel

This is the mantle in the family room, and Mom and I are really proud of this one too!  The lights and decorations are just right, and the ribbon adds a sparkling point for the lights.  I also love the cheeky cardinal perched to the wreath. He’s just the right touch.  It always takes us so much longer than we think it’s going to take, decorating, and there are differences of opinion and small catastrophes to overcome but in the end we have this lovely sight and that makes it all worth while.

Mantle close violin
See the lights shining through the ribbon? The look is enchanting with the lights out, but then I can’t take a picture which is kinda the point of this post. Mantle close bells
It really looks as good or better than the decorations we saw when we were in Williamsburg in 2010. Our house has a  Colonial look and Mom, Dad, and I love Williamsburg so we tend to have  Christmas decorations that echo that style. There are  lots of berries, small birds, bells, and natural elements. We’ve even made popcorn strings before and strings of dried cranberries.

Cardnal

This gorgeous piece rested on our dinning room server for a bit, and was stuffed full of amazing little things.  It’s now over our door outside.

Door 2

It’s so lush looking! I love it. And it’s all wired into place so no one will be hurt as they walk beneath. You want to see more outside stuff? Sure! Door 1

That’s running white pine and some other pines draping gracefully down the sides of the front there, and that lovely over stuffed box fills the window nicely.   I wish you could  catch the scent of the running pine when the sun lays on it, it smells like Christmas.
Decorations 2012 Take 2 098

Here’s our door decoration (again greens, birds, bright ribbons and berries) which has weathered nicely.

Light

We have three outdoor lights, all like this one, and each one has a wreath too. Whew! This is becoming a long post even with the pictures. I think I’m going to have to do a ‘part two’ because we aren’t done  with the decoration tour, not by a long shot.

How does your family decorate for Christmas  or Hanukkah? Do you use family heirlooms, or add pieces bit by bit? A combination of both?  What unique part of your festival display is your favorite? Tell me in the comments below!


I like graveyards.  I should say, I like old graveyards.  Any graveyard over 100 years old  is a friendly thing, with the monuments and headstones telling the codas of  a lives long since finished. The thin slabs sit much higher than the newer ones, and are very difficult to mow around and keep up. There’s no room for a standing mower to zoom through and take care of the green grass growing over the plots. You have to take your time maintaining an old cemetery.

You have to slow down.

It’s the same way when you’re walking through the rows. You can’t rush, your body instinctively slows its gate as the uneven ground and leaning stones, like sleepy sentinels,  make progress tricky.  After the lunch (which was after the funeral),  I left the others still in the Little Red School House on the Vermont Technical College Campus and wandered outside with my camera. I’d glimpsed the graveyard from the upper windows of the building and wanted to go and see just how old it was.

All of its thin headstones gave me hope that it would be an older, established garden of the dead.   The sun, slanting through the trees huddled at the edges of the cemetery, drew sharp calligraphy shadows  from the markers as I wandered between the rows. I wasn’t disappointed. The first marker that caught my eye was a Celtic cross, heavily embossed with filigree, and softened with decades of wear.


The camera cut off the ‘j’ there in John, I believe,  but this imposing cross made me smile faintly. Not a lot of information on the person, all the attention is fixed on the cross. It made me wonder if that’s how they had lived too, deflecting attention to Christ and away from themselves. Maybe.


This one was a ‘joint’ tombstone. Carrie and Patrick  were born within a year of one another, made it through tremendous change in our country, and died within three years of one another.  Patrick was the younger of the pair too. I love finding little tidbits like that when I read tombstones. By my reckoning, Carrie made it to her 70’s and Patrick nearly to his 70’s.  I liked that their headstone highlighted their length of life and their belonging to one another.


There were several in the style of  this marker,  and I was a little uncertain about if this Jakob  DIED in 1801 or was BORN in RANDOLF in 1801.  It was interesting to see his home town so recorded and highlighted.  Why was it, I wonder? Was he  one of the original inhabitants of the town? Did he want to distinguish himself  from other transplants and outsiders that had come into the town later? If so, why?

This one made me grin. The lovely cross and scroll work had to cost more, but they made a very appealing ‘cap’ to the stone and set it apart from the others.  Her husband was mentioned, and the date of her death but no birth date. I was charmed both by the 96 years as well as the 10 months.   According to my math Mirriam was  born in 1775.  I stood a while with this one, just thinking about all the changes, heartaches, triumphs, and tragedies she made it through.

This was one of the most confusing grave markers in the cemetery. I couldn’t understand why  it had both of the men who had been her husbands listed on it.  Or why someone would choose to highlight the fact that she’d had two husbands.  It was a little perplexing until in my rambling I came back to her stone and then happened to look to the left, not the right of it and saw:


Lurena L. is buried not beside her second husband, but beside her first.   She lived another 22 years after she buried her husband  John Perrin and at some point, even married again taking  Walker Sandford as a spouse. And yet, she chose to be buried not beside her second husband but beside her first.  It was interesting to note that Lurena L. is also not mentioned on John Perrin’s tombstone.  I lingered here a while too, wondering if I was reading more drama in these interesting facts than there actually was.

I moved down the gentle slope leaving Lurena’s marker, weaving between the thin stone slabs that looked more and more as I walked, like collapsing dominoes. Near the fence, right past the small out building, I found a different kind of memorization all together. As far as I know, it’s the oldest one in the entire cemetery. And it made me catch my breath.

This one read: Memento Mori  In Memory of Thomas Pember,  son of Elijah and Hannah Pember, who was killed by the Indians in Rovalion  October 16th, 1780. Age 23 years  If this is accurate, Thomas Pember was born in 1757.  I don’t know if his body was interred here, or if his loving parents just bought a stone to mark his passing and had it placed here, but it is by far the oldest and saddest story I found in my wandering.

Ever taken a stroll through an older graveyard like this one? Or found stories in stone somewhere else? Let me know in the comments below. Also, anyone having any tidbits to share on the gravestones or markers (as in what style they are, what stone they are, what was the fashion of the time etc) feel free to post that as well in the comments.