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?