Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy Moo Year Nengajo

New Year's is a very special time in Japan—a time for people to return to their ancestral homes, spend time with their families and get in touch with their roots. Perhaps the most honored and celebrated of the Japanese holidays, New Year’s (Oshogatsu) is a three-day event beginning with New Year's Eve and lasting through the first three days of the year. Preparations begin long in advance as people clean their homes from top to bottom, prepare traditional New Year's foods, and write nengajo, or New Year's greetings.
Nengajo are pretty postcards, either preprinted, or handmade that are sent to friends and family, in a similar fashion as a Christmas card, to wish them happiness in the New Year.
What is amazing to me is that the post office guarantees to deliver the greeting postcards by the first of January!
Prepaid New Year's postcards with lottery numbers are commonly used by Japanese people. The lottery's winning numbers are picked in mid-January. The prizes aren't money but are various household goods, such as electronics, stamps, and so on. Those prepaid postcards are basically plain, so people print photos or images, draw pictures, and write messages on their own.
Most of the postcards have the Chinese zodiac sign of the New Year as their design. Japanese people have a cycle of 12 years. Each year is represented by an animal. The animals are, in order:
Mouse, Cow, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Bird, Dog, Boar
The order cannot be moved. For example, 2009 is Cow (sometimes referred to as Ox) and 2010 will be Tiger. Those animals are traditionally incorporated into the New Year's Card design.
Though one can buy a card premade, the stationery stores are chock-full of cow stamps and stickers, colorful glitter pens and stamp pads, and pretty paper accents so that one can make their own nengajo. I can spend hours in any stationery store as I love office supplies ... notebooks, pens, sticky papers … but still, it’s the Japanese stuff that really make my heart sing. They’re practical, but they’re also cute and whimsical. I could not resist buying these delightful stamps to make my nengajo.
As a card-carrying gaijin (foreigner), I am theoretically exempt from the rules of sending nengajo. But I’ve decided to surprise my friends with my astounding nengajo knowledge and skill. The same gracious people that praise my ability to use chopsticks and poor attempts at speaking Japanese will be thrilled – I hope - with the consideration and effort of my handmade nengajo.
I wish all who receive one and all who read this blog a glorious New Year that rewards all your future endeavors with success. Happy Moo Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Elf Yourself

Office Max has this fun program on where you can upload your loved one's faces onto the bodies of elves. Once you have the elves you want, you can make them dance a variety of dances.

While the dance videos themselves are really cute, I wanted to take a screen shot so that I can scrap the picture. The way to do this is to click the little button on the top right of your keyboard that says 'print screen.' Here is the photo of my son's beautiful family. I really can't wait to get it scrapped!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Photo Mobile

These plain acrylic frames were for sale at Ikea in Yokohama and I thought they would make a great scrapbooked mobile. My son had been sending me tons of photos of their Great Dane and my two grandsons. Astro is a beautiful dog and he is so obviously a wonderful family pet. One look at any of the photos proves that fact. So, Astro and the boys were my inspiration for this project.

In Ikea, the frames were shown simply with two photos back-to-back so that a photo could be seen on each side of the acrylic frame. But the frame's square shape lent itself perfectly to mini scrapbook pages. I matted the pictures on either side of 6x6-inch squares of cardstock then sandwhiched them in the acrylic frames. The rest of the embellishments - including the journaling blocks - were placed on top of the acrylic. I used plenty of bling embellies so that when the mobile is hung, it will catch the light.

I really liked the idea of the pages being from Astro's perspective, so the project is entitled "Things I Taught My Masters". Each page showcases a different lesson, such as "When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close and nuzzle them gently"; or "When it is in your best interest, practice obedience".

My daughter-in-law takes some awesome pictures, which made this project enjoyable and ultimately attractive to display. Let's face it, scrapbooking is fun, but it's all about the pictures!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jenny in Naha

Well, I know it is Christmas and you want to see some Christmas projects, but I don't want to give away any surprises. I'm going to show you a LO I did for Jenny from last Christmas that turned out to be one of my favorites. And it's sooo easy for you to recreate!

I used a big bloom stamp from Stampin' UP and stamped on Bazzill cardstock to make the border. I love the textural effect that the Bazzill gave that stamp. Added a few punched blooms and a bit of doodling with a sparkly bronze pen to complete the look.
I drew some wavy lines for the journaling and made each letter touch the top and bottom line. I am quite happy with the effect. What do you think?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Morning Calisthenics

In Japan, whether you work in a department store or on a construction site, the day opens with five minutes of mandatory calisthenics supervised by section chiefs. There must be something to it as I've heard the Japanese are the longest living people on the planet. I was in a hotel in downtown Tokyo on the 7th floor overlooking this construction site when I caught this group doing their morning thing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Using Washi paper on your scrapbook LOs

When I first arrived in Japan, I fell down playing softball, broke my wrist and was not able to get any scrapbooking accomplished. However, I was able to go shopping so ideas began to swim around in my head about what I could make with all the beautiful washi (rice) papers I found. Once I got my cast off, this page became my first project.
First, I tore the washi around the edges, which was quite easy to do. It comes in really huge sheets, but I cut mine into 12x12 before tearing. Then the edges were inked and the entire thing was adhered to my background paper.
The photo was then double-matted on SEI papers from the Chocolat collection. I love the colors and feel of these beautiful papers. Before I glued the photo down, though, I took a Mizuhiki crane off of a greeting card and wrapped it around my photo. (more on Mizuhiki later). The title stickers are from the same SEI collection. A bit of bling, some ribbons and blooms and the page is almost done.
The journaling was added by running a piece of the SEI paper through my computer. The right end - though it does not show up well here - is folded over and underneath lies a tiny scrap of my cast. Someday, cast material may differ from the current material, so I wanted to keep a small bit for nostalgic reasons.
For the final touch, I used Daisy D's rub-on stitch tape around the border of the entire page. I didn't put my page in a protector right away, and some of the border tape rubbed off. All in all, I think the Japanese touches are quite pretty!
What is Mizuhiki? Mizuhiki is a ribbon-like paper cord made from washi and cut into long thin strips, twisted into strings then covered with a seaweed glue mixture to stiffen it. After the cord is formed it is polished or wrapped colored metallic paper for hundreds of beautiful color combinations. The finished cord is used to tie gifts for congratulations, condolences, and weddings. Most traditional Japanese money envelopes are tied with fanciful mizuhiki decorative knots such as the crane used in my LO. You can find many resources on the web if you wish to use Mizuhiki in your LOs.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bios on the Hill

It has taken me some time to do something with the pictures of my time with my grandsons. They are the most charming little boys and we had such fun with them this summer - too short a time really. Such is the life of military families.
I started by crimping some white cardstock, spraying it with Glimmer Mist and building the rest around that. I took the patterned Bohemia papers and tore the edges, inked them with Color Box pigment ink and rolled them a bit for some dimension. I had the twine in my stash and decided to do a bit of lacing with it. I used the dotted mesh as a mat for the photo strip and I think it turned out pretty well. The journaling pulls out from behind that strip.
Not a bad LO for a double-page spread - those are always challenging!

Hope this page gives you some inspiration the next time you take some photos.

Love you boys and miss you!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pumpkin altered book

Sometimes, things just don't turn out the way I had planned. I don't usually do altered anything as I am completely into preserving my photo memories through scrapbooking. But I saw this altered book on and just had to give this a try. She gives a nice tutorial on how to do this but I made a few alterations to her plan.

1. Cheeky simply says to trim the book, but does not mention a size. I trimmed my book to 3/4" thick, thinking it would fan well. It does not.

2. After removing the cover, I trimmed it to the shape I desired and used it as my template. This part worked rather well.

3. Cheeky used an ink/water mixture to color her pumpkin and I used an ink pad directly to paper. I wish I had taken the time to give more coverage.

4. I used a stick about the same size as Cheeky shows, but sure had trouble getting in to sit in the spine of my book.

5. I added some wire I had sitting around but it is a bit thin and does not give the effect I wanted.

My husband was feeling a bit nostalgic as he watched me work. He remembers his mom making angels from old Reader's Digests when he was a kid. I sure hope her projects turned out better than this one did for me. I think I'll stick to scrapbooking!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bon Odori

Sometimes, I just don't have the right photo for the feeling I am trying to convey on my LO. For Bon Odori, none of my photos showed us as we danced around the big tower with the drums pounding. In order for me to bring that feeling of Obon to the page, I had to alter my focus photo. First, in Photoshop, I stretched the bottom of one of the photos I had of the tower. Then I cut out images of me and my friends dancing and pasted them on the photo. Next, to fill in some space, I added a haiku that I wrote. Finally, I printed another photo of the tower, trimmed it out and pop-dotted it over the other photo. I'm happy with the final result!
Props to jmoody59 of for giving me this design inspiration.

Monday, October 6, 2008

How-to videos you must see!

Well, it sure has taken me a long time to get posting, hasn't it? I became so busy with moving, unpacking, visiting old friends and sight-seeing, that I have had a bit of scrapbooking withdrawals. Thanks to the Internet, I have also kept myself entertained with these videos that I just have to share with you. One is quite short and one a bit long, but they are both must sees. I know you will relate. Let me know if you don't laugh!

Short one first:

This next one is a bit longer, but you are sure to pick up some great tips.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sunshine Memories

My life is in motion once again.

The glitter of the Florida sun is soon to be replaced by the pink snow of blossoms drifting from the beautiful cherry trees in Camp Zama, Japan. I have missed my friends there, so will embrace my return. Sometimes I wish my life were more settled, but as Confucius said, "Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart."

I've got one more month left to enjoy the music of the breeze in the palms, so let's make the most of these last few days in the brilliant Sunshine State.