Monday, March 28, 2011

Out of Africa

A few months ago, a call for pages on the CK blog caught my eye: calling for pages on "life changes."  An internal debate raged, finally the weekend before it was due, I got up the courage to look through a box of photos marked for "throw away" and made a layout.

I don't do a lot of this "type" of scrapbooking.  Primarily, it requires photos that I usually don't have, and I have yet to do a photo-less layout. Also I prefer to journal about present day facts, humorous anecdotes, witty thoughts... but this is documenting a part of my life journey, and the part that hasn't been without tremendous pain...

Twenty years removed from leaving Africa, I have a little more perspective on this topic.  While I was scared to death leaving my parents, I now can see how they were probably scared to death ^ nth degree, but they had to hold it together and not let on that fact. Mountains had to be moved to get me that U.S. visa, and once it was secured, I remember the little things they did to prepare for my leaving: cooking lessons, a gold necklace with a cow pendant ...  They both cried at the airport and my dad could barely hug me.  See this is why we don't write or scrapbook about these things, how does one hold back the emotions and tears ...

Now that I'm a parent, it's not that difficult to imagine my children going off to college, even to a "foreign" country. However things would be vastly different.  Where I talked to my parents on the phone twice in the four years I attended college, I imagine I would get daily if not instantaneous updates from my kids.  Where my parents had no money to travel to visit me, I might anonymously move to the city where my kids would be.  Where my parents wouldn't qualify for a visa to enter the U.S., there is no limit to where I can go as a U.S. citizen. 

To be sure, I was not completely alone or lonely.  No time in my life has God been more present than those four years. In my desperate need, He showed up so mightily, so tenderly and so concretely in the form of my host family.  That's another story and another scrapbook page, if I can hold the emotions in check. ;)

So here is this layout.  And by the way, my story does have a happy "ending," even if it is my parents living in my house six months every year! :)

"At the age of 17, I left my parents in Dakar, Senegal to come to Minnesota, U.S.A. for college.  That was life-changing in so many ways, of which I only realized a fraction at the time.  The future was completely uncertain, and in the end, I wouldn't see my parents for four years. I would only talk to them on the phone twice in those four years. At 17, my English was completely fluent, but my understanding of the American culture was in its infancy.  I would go on studying and working for four years, with all of my strength, mind, and heart.  Motivated by the thoughts of parents who sold all of their furniture and borrowed all they could to give me this opportunity. I would not fail them.  I came to the U.S. at 17 to make a life for myself and to deliver on a whisper of hope. It was the biggest life change in my life so far, nothing else could compare, not even motherhood. "

As seen in the March/April 2011 issue of Creating Keepsakes magazine. Copyright Creative Crafts Group. Posted with prior permission from the publisher.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Drops of Jupiter

Now that I'm back in the atmosphere, with drops of Jupiter in my hair, hey ...

I felt an overwhelming wave of gratitude when I read so many lovely comments about my projects on Crate's blog yesterday.  I have tried and am continuing to try very hard to make good and great projects, for me, and for the people who have put their trust in me. I may not succeed every time, but believe me, I always try every time. My heartfelt thanks to Crate Paper and to Christine for this opportunity.  I have treasured it and I believe it shows.

Really, there is this huge back story to this picture...  After graduate school, I reconnected with several childhood friends from Shanghai and we exchanged emails and photos.  Several of them had wedding photos that were too beautiful to describe.  While visiting Shanghai in 2002, I decided that I too, wanted to have some too beautiful photos.  I booked a session with a studio before DH arrived and he was informed that there will be a full day of photoshooting.  He really is a trooper!

I told the studio and all who worked with us that we had been married for 3.5 years and I had no interest in wearing a wedding dress. I wanted photos of us wearing traditional Chinese clothes and other fun formal stuff, but the studio staffers were not to be denied...  I ended up having to wear two white dresses!

It was an interesting experience to say the least.  I was painted whiter than DH.  My eyelids were taped up with scotch tape to make my eyes look bigger.  2-inch long eyelashes were installed and every time I blinked, I felt as if spiders were on my eyes. I am not exaggerating :)  For each outfit, there was a complete hair re-do with extensions and/or whatever.  We were there for 9 hours and DH spent most of the time watching DVD and I was in the chair having things done to me.  I had my concerns: how could the plastic and fakey look be any good?!  But the Studio people were right, I looked amazing in the photos and nothing like myself!  Really, that was the goal right?  I envied my friends' "too good to be them" photos and now I got my own "too good to be me" photos :) 

So yeah, this may look like our wedding day, so not it... lol...  Crate's Portrait collection is my new favorite from Crate Paper.  I am surprised that I love it more than Emma's Shoppe given the fact I have two little girls...  But the Portrait collection practically scraps itself, all you have to do is cut up some paper and let it drop to the surface, it will arrange itself, I promise! ;)

I have another fun opportunity coming up as the guest designer for 3 Scrappy Boys kit club in April.  Here is a bit of history:)  I was a subscriber to this kit club in 2005!  Here are two tiny sneak peaks into the April trio kit, enticing eh? :)  My friend Cheese Aubree is on the 3 Scrappy Boys design team, and there is an active DT call right now, read about it here.
Saturday is in full swing now off to fight my battles.  Body Pump is in just two hours!   Thank you for stopping by!

Friday, March 25, 2011

I Got a Feeling...

that today's gonna be a Crate Crate day, a feeling... wooh hoo...

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Nest and Shimmering Stuff

Here is my third and last project for the premier Front Porch Kits "A Little Bird Told Me."  The gallery is up and I am so glad that I was able to contribute to its awesomeness :)  I seriously adore the Fancy Pants papers featured in this kit, it's so beautiful and easy to use!
I just love these bits and pieces we get in the kit.  I used the yarn and formed this little nest and added the two diecut birds into it.  I used Helmar's Fabric Stiffener on the blue fabric. Once it was dried, I used a My Favorite Things die to make the flower.  I really like the end result of a fabric flower!!  I have a video of me using the fabric stiffener coming up, it's a bit messy but so worth it!!  Lastly, the feathers, lol, should have made a hat and put it in that :) for a card or something, lol.  They look cute on the birdies too :)  
I am working on lots and lots of projects right now, for the WIP kits' sold out March kit and a video for Shimmerz.  I'm hoping it will turn out as I have imagined.  My idea is to use the latest two lines of products from Shimmerz, the Coloringz and Shimmeringz together.  You can now get all of these products at
That's it from me for now.  My voice is almost completely back but I was told that the cough is here to stay for a few weeks.  Last time, I coughed for over three months, so a few weeks doesn't sound all that bad!  What can I do eh?

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Little Birdie Told Me...

The debut kit of Front Porch Kits by the Little Blue House is now sold out!  Talk about record time since it went live only just a few hours ago! 

This kit featured the most adorable line "It's the Little Things" from Fancy Pants, and a few sheets of Echo Park and Bella Boulevard thrown into the mix.  It has a lot of fun goodies and unique things.  I really enjoyed creating with it.  I have two projects to show right now as the last one still needs to be photographed.

Here my kids are playing "patient."  Other children play "doctor," mine much prefer to be the patient.  I think they might have inherited their feigning abilities from their, ahem, mother :)
I used a deep edge Martha Stewart punch here, and look, these yarns are so much fun to use!  I have absolutely zero yarn stash, so to get a little bit in the kit to try is seriously fun!
Here Second Child does a public reading in the living room to no one in particular.  It was seriously way too adorable.
There were two pieces of tag chipboards in the kit.  I decided to add photos to mine and hook them together using the gloriously beautiful yellow ribbon.  I don't think I can say enough good things about the Fancy Pants' "It's the Little Things" line, way way way too fantabulous!! 
The weekend is here and I am looking forward to some fun times ahead.  The Color Room blog hop was a huge success and I want to thank everyone who stopped by! 

Again, before I go, local folks, don't forget about the October Afternoon's Warehouse sale!

Here are the details:

Date: March 24-27
Time: 10am - 6pm Thurs-Sat & 12pm - 5pm on Sunday
Location: 5708 Upper 147th Street West Unit 101 Apple Valley, MN 55124

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Color Room Blog Hop

Welcome to the first annual Color Room blog hop!  If you just arrived here from Jennifer's blog, you are hopping right along then! Otherwise, you can start at the beginning here.  There is a prize drawing for the blog hoppers who complete the hop and commet on all the designer's blog.

For our 50th palette, we have a whitewashed and very manly palette in the monochromatic blues with grey tones :)  What better palette to scrap my little girl wrapped in a Carnival Cruise Line's beach towel, eh? :)  I used a sheet of paper from BoBunny's Mamarazzi, one sheet from the brand new MME's  and of course, a Jenni Bowlin Studio label die-cut paper.  I cut it up and staggered them to look like the waves :) 

Ah the delicious buttons, how I adore them.  How sad I am that they are no longer in my stash... I was hoping that they would represent the foam bubbles in the ocean, do they look a little like that?

As a part of this blog hop, we are to talk a bit about ourselves.  So hopefully you have seen a similar questionnaire as you hopped along :)
1. I live in Minnesota, U.S.A, and I am currently designing for these teams.
2. On my desk right now you will find an enormous mess of stuff. I don't clean up, I keep going.
3. My favorite color at the moment is Bazzill's Sour Apple.
4. Mostly, I scrap my family, my trips, and my family on trips.
5. For the Color Room layouts, I always begin with the gathering of supplies.  It is the best stash reduction regiment ever! 
6. My favorite food is the ones I did not have to prepare or cook myself.  Even more favorite if it is free!
7. My top 3 favoite tools are: my ruler, my Big Bite, and my paper piercer.
8. I get my inspiration from the hundreds of blogs I subscribe to :)

Well, that's it from me, your next stop is chez Julie B.

Oh before I go, fellow MINNESOTANS!!!  Do you LOVE October Afternoon like I do??!!  Head on over to the first ever OA Warehouse sale!

Here are the details:

Date: March 24-27
Time: 10am - 6pm Thurs-Sat & 12pm - 5pm on Sunday
Location: 5708 Upper 147th Street West Unit 101 Apple Valley, MN 55124

Now here is the order of the Color Room blog hop just in case you need it :)

Shimmerz on

After over a week of battling the virus, I am now on the mend.  Thank you so much for your well wishes!  I will share a funny little story with you.  This past Sunday, a long time family friend called, and the conversation went like this:

JJ: Hello!
Sarah:  Hello?
JJ: Hello!
Sarah: Hello...  This is Sarah Anderson...
JJ: Oh hi Sarah, how are you? blah blah blah (launching into conversation)...
Sarah:  Is Jay or Jing-Jing home?
JJ:  !!!! 

LOL, that was how bad my voice was.  Sarah and I have only known each other for 20 years, LOL.

Enough about my virus and voice or the lack thereof...  I want to let you know that Shimmerz is now available at, click here to stock up from the entire line up of the Shimmerz products. I will say that I am extremely partial to Shimmerz Pearlz, my favorite color right now is Blue By YouLet's not forget the recently added Coloringz product line, No Yoking and Lime in da Coconut. These are seriously amazing colors. You can see Second Child wearing a Shimmerz t-shirt here :)

Okay, that's it from me for now, there'll be a blog hop with the Color Room later this evening, I hope to see you here :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Struck Down

The nasty virus had its way with me. I had no idea how bad it was going to get even though I had lost my voice on Thursday.  I suppose being at work made me feel as if things were really not that bad.  Having the doctor tell me that it wasn't strep was another boost.  Then Friday came, the water park day, and I no longer could swallow without the entire body convulsing with it.  All of a sudden the codeine the doctor prescribed seemed ineffective.  My throat was throbbing and each swallow felt like an extremely dull knife determined to cut through it all.  I didn't end up going to the water park, and it was only because Second Child came down with a fever!  I haven't stepped foot outside the entire weekend, and I haven't had much energy to scrapbook.
My little set back aside, this Thursday, the Color Room celebrates its 50th palette, and we are going to have a design team blog hop!  Instead of the typical release at the Color Room, the design team members will be showing the layouts on their own blogs.  I hear rumors of prizes as well :)  I look forward to sharing my project, it's a good one :)

I knew I was saving this layout for a special occasion, and what can be more special than a virus laden weekend, eh?  LOL.  This is actually one of the first layouts I did in 2011. I just never got around posting it here on my blog.  You may have seen my strawberry layouts in the past and know my affinity for strawberry picking and eating.  If you ever wondered what we do with all the summer berries we collect, here is the answer!  DH is a master smoothie maker and we enjoy this tasty treat throughout the year using the berries we freeze during the summer. 

Now after this weekend, I can tell you that the smoothie also has soothing health benefits for your sore throat. Nothing like the silky smooth cold going down my throat helping it out oh-so-temporarily!

I used some SRM Stickers to decorate the edge of the layout.  That bird is from Cosmo Cricket's Early Bird collection.  Can it be cuter? I don't think so!

That's it from me folks.  Be sure to check back on Thursday for the Color Room blog hop!  It will be oh so fun! 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

You Know That Old Saying...

When a window shuts, the door to the Front Porch opens...
LollyChops and Tracy of the Little Blue House have teamed up to bring you Front Porch Kits.  I am beyond thrilled that they asked me to join their team and I look forward to working some magic with their kits.  The big launch date is March 18 and there will be a kick-off held that night on Ustream live at the Little Blue House in Keller, TX. The full kit contents will be revealed during the show as well as peaks into four complete projects you can make out of this fabulous kit! 

I have seen sneaks, chirp chirp cute :)

I paid a visit to the doctor's office this afternoon because I was getting increasingly worried that it might be strep.  She said strep throat doesn't present in the hoarseness in vocal cords, and that it might be two weeks before I get my voice back completely.  WHAT?!  Already this morning I had to bang on the walls to get the kids' attention!  I asked for a note so I can get out of going to the indoor water park tomorrow, but she gave me codeine instead for my sore throat.  She also told me to rest my vocal cords.  How is that happening when I'm going down the big water slides?!

Before I go, the Color Room's breathtaking palette #49 is up.  I attempted it but I did not finish, grin.
I will leave you with my last Work in Progress Kits layout for March.  The DT members all did something with a floating banner.  Mine was created from the tags included in the kit.  I trimmed them to get the rectangle shape.  Then I used a square corner punch one one end of the rectangle to create this banner shape.  I traced the pieces with a black pen to give them more definition. I could have inked the edges for that matter, but I chose to outline this time. I first adhered the ribbon onto the layer and used Helmar zapdots to layer the banner pieces slightly covering the ribbon piece to hopefully create the banner look. 
That's it folks, wish me luck at the indoor water park, maybe I will just take a couple of codeine and nap there!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Farewell to Rooster

Tomorrow is the official reveal day for the Midnight Rooster March kit. With that, my term on the design team has also come to an end.  I had a lovely time creating with these beautifully coordinated kits with all the fun eclectic pieces over the last year.  I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to Tobi and Janelle for the past wonderful year.  Here's to continued success of Midnight Rooster! Now onto a couple of layouts I created with the March kit. 
Last spring, DH bought these cheap kites for $1 each at Target.  We got a few uses out of them before they fell apart.  It was rather difficult to get decent photos, besides, we were in our tiny tiny backyard :) 

The kite on the layout is cut with the Create a Critter cartridge. I know Deana will want that one, it has clouds in it!
In the second layout, this picture of Second Child was taken in the Sculpture Garden last summer. It was jut a tiny bit out of focus and as a result, she looks so soft and sweet, which is f--a--a-ar from reality, lol. 
I misted the cardstock using Shimmerz Coloringz Mama Sings the Blues and a template from the Crafter's Workshop: Bricks. I also journaled along the little banner. 
This wraps up the project sharing today.  I am officially under the weather, sigh...  To make matters worse, we are headed to an indoor water park on Friday.  So I'll be sick and trying to squeeze into a swimsuit.  Oh yeah, it's gonna be a fun time for sure, lol!  Have a good night friends!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Feelings Are Mutual

Just three months ago, Corrie posted a shipping special at Willows that caught my eye.  It was love at first sight and I'm slowly but surely working on the kits I bought in "one breath" (as the Chinese would say).  You can see the evidence here.  As it turned out, the feelings are mutual!  Corrie had asked me to be a part of the guest design team for the April anniversary celebration.  I am very excited and look forward to the fun month ahead with Sweet Peach Crop Shop.

Talk about other mutual feelings...  Helmar is having a guest designer call!  You can read all about the information here.  I started with Helmar by first entering their design team call and served as a guest designer last September. Then, there was the Flip for Helmar video contest that I went "all out" to win, lol, so embarrassing thinking back :) So yeah, I would encourage you to give this a try. 

Lastly, JBS... sigh... I was a star for a day... I still feel so shiny and bright two days later... :)  I get so emotionally vested in this hobby, it's so not my personality.  Life should be facts and logic, and then along comes scrapbooking, what a roller coaster ride!
I have all the chipboards Jenni Bowlin has ever designed. And yet indeed this is the first time I have ever allowed myself to use them.  I've been a huge fan of Jenni Bowlin products since her days with Lil Davis, so my stash is deep and wide :)  And really, here is the problem, now that I've used these chipboards, I don't "have" them any more, lol!  What a "dilemma," lol. 
Have a great Saturday my dear friends, gosh, I'm feeling all choked up and emotional!  It's not logical, it's not quantifiable, but it is...  now... off to Body Pump :)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

She Sparkles... and I do too a little...

Shout it out from the rooftop, I'm a guest star at Jenni Bowlin Studio Mercantile!!!  I'm not playing this one cool and collected, this is stomping mad insane awesomeness!  I am very proud and pleased with the two layouts I did using JBS's latest Be Our Guest line, the new chipboards, rubons etc. Thank you Jenni and Doris!

This layout used the Color Room palette #48. I thought the soft pink background is entirely too perfect for the palette.  I rarely do layouts without journaling, but in this case, I said all I wanted to say with the title. 
I hand drew the swirls and then handstitched brown floss. I quite adore the end  result.  I used these little pieces of orange felt from Fancy Pants a long time ago.  I added a little more detail by stamping brown ink using a small mist's cap.  I was looking for a stamp that is a tiny circle, but I found the cap to be just as usuful.  And of course, the heart is a JBS chipboard piece covered with JBS paper.  I layered a tag, the title, the button and added a pin.  All layering made possible with Helmar's zapdots. 

Thank you so much for visiting, please check us out at the Color room and try out this beautiful palette :) and thank you JBS again for having me!! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

For the Record, Work in Progress

The March kit of Work in Progress features Echo Park's "For the Record."  I particularly like the deep colors in this gorgeous collection.  I got the kit this past Friday and was able to create a couple of layouts and a card with it. I have one more layout on my scrap table yet :)

At the rate we are going, we will never see green grass or our tulips again, so I settled for a picture from last spring.  I have several 5x7 photos of Second Child holding that number 3 yet: too cute not to print, too many to scrap!  LOL!  All my photos are print in advance, I think I've mentioned this before.  This woman is too cheap to own a home printer for photos! sigh...  I used a large Fancy Pants stamp on the upper left hand corner. Laina gave me that set of stamp along with several other sets!  It's so perfect with this collection.
Here is helpful girl helping Daddy with black dirt :)  Seriously I miss the warmer weather, I can tell by which pile of photos I go to and which pile of photos I avoid :)
I couldn't help but think of Deana when I was using the twine.  I really wanted to save some and send to her, because she might have a shortage by now!
Well, that's about it from me tonight. I'm off to dream of sunshine and green grass :)