September 17, 2017

scrapbooking, SB stuff, and the end of an era

in no particular order, lol.  (click on the photos to make them bigger)

The end of an era:  the 'local' scrapbook store that I shopped and cropped at (a 'crop' is a get-together with hours of crafting, socializing, and snacks) closed right after Labor Day weekend.  

The owners both have kids in high school now, and it seemed like a good time for them to focus on other things and take a break from the long hours retail sales involved.  They did have one last 'blowout' 3-day crop over Labor Day weekend that I attended.  Because they had sold some of their store fixtures, they made room for more crafters than they usually had in attendance-  there were 32 of us crafting all weekend long!  It was bustling with activity, as people shopped the store-closing sale and the owners dismantled the store and fixtures around us as we crafted.  I attended on Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday (I needed one day to recover and relax before going back to work on Tuesday).  

My space is the middle/bottom of the photo below-- my workspace is actually pretty clean in that picture, although you might not believe it, lol.  Most of my supplies (my collapsible wagon full of boxes!) are not in the picture, along the wall behind my work space.

The photo below is the store the following Wednesday, when they were selling their last inventory before closing their doors later that night.  They had sold a good many of the store fixtures, including their worktables, bookcases, tools, slat wall displays, etc. to various individuals and other organizations / stores in the area.  It was really odd to see the space so empty.  I made one last purchase that included some plastic storage drawers, ribbon, and a few of my favorite paper punches from their classroom.  

"Modern-era" scrapbooking has been around for at least 20-25 years, now-  I remember when I first got into it in the early 1990s, when there were multiple magazines being published, and you could find a scrapbooking store practically on every corner, it seemed.  It was the era of the 'sticker wall' with rolls of stickers to purchase that could be used to decorate your pages, tracing letters using templates to make a page title, and hand-made page embellishments that included 'paper dolls' that you could make from patterned paper to match the people in your photos, lol.  (like everything else, scrapbooking has trends that come and go- some are better left gone, haha!)

Scrapbooking has changed over the years, and the popularity of online shopping, blogs, and other websites has changed the brick-and-mortar store part of the hobby.  Not sure if that's a good thing; I like seeing and touching my supplies to buy them, and I do miss the days of getting a scrapbooking magazine every month in the mail.  But websites like Pinterest and YouTube have now become my 21st-century 'scrapbook magazine' fix for ideas and inspiration, I guess. 

Yesterday, I attended the Shopping event at the 20th anniversary of the Scrapbook Expo, a traveling convention that schedules classes, shopping, and a crop as part of a 2-day event.  The picture above is my 'haul' of goodies-  some stickers from a company I really liked that's no longer in business (I love small letter stickers!), a whole SEVEN pieces of paper (which is an unusually small number for me, considering I loooove, loooove, loooove all kinds of patterned paper), and some special page protectors that will allow me to add even more photos to my scrapbook pages.  

The photo above is my current work space-  for the time being, I have commandeered our dining room table!  At the end of the month, I'm going to be attending a 2 1/2 day scrapbook retreat at a hotel, so I'm trying to get organized so I can be productive during the weekend-- some pre-planning of my projects, editing and ordering photos to be printed, things like that.  (basically, I am a messy crafter-  it's just how I work best.)

The photos below are a few layouts that I have in-process right now;  I make scrapbook layouts of our daily life along with layouts that include photos of places we've gone, or things we've done.  Scrapbooking / memory keeping is definitely a good way to 're-live' those experiences later; plus, it's fun to play with all of the pretty papers, ribbons, trims, and embellishments and to use them to enhance the photographs.   

The two layouts above are from a 'gourd show' we attended at the local county fairgrounds back in February.  There were decorative gourd artists from all over the country, and a special exhibit from China, if I remember correctly, exhibiting and selling their artwork, along with  supplies, idea books, and all sorts of tools.  The level of artistry was spectacularly stunning, and my photos do NOT do their work justice.  The pages still need a title and embellishments that 'go with' the Southwestern feel of the pages, and journaling to remember the details later.   (like the detail about the people and their gourd art from China-  I certainly won't remember that later, for sure.)

The two 12x12 pages above are also not quite done yet; the brown space on the right-hand page is waiting for a photo I forgot to have printed, and the pages still need a title, embellishments, and journaling.  The photos are ones I took in a 'wildflower prairie patch' area at the edge of town where my parents live; I took the photos when I visited them in June.  I do love taking photos of places, flowers, and wildlife-  landscape and flower photos are 'easier' than wildlife, or people, lol.  

So even though the hobby of scrapbooking has changed and evolved over the past 25 years, for us 'paper lovers' it will always include pretty paper, photos, and all the cool, fancy, creative, and neat things you can do with them. 

June 04, 2017

playing with my birthday present--

My birthday was Memorial Day weekend-  48! (eek!!!  where DOES the time go?!?)

In addition to spending most of the weekend crafting at the scrapbook store, I spent some time playing with my birthday present from Tom, which was a tripod and remote for my camera.  I had been talking about wanting one off and on; it's tough to hold the camera still, especially when using the macro lens.  Plus, I have a habit of sort of 'jerking' the camera a bit when I click the shutter.   The tripod made things so much easier!  I haven't used the remote yet, but maybe next weekend (early in the morning, when it's not hot as an oven outside).  

Our front yard tenant--  the second batch of babies came and went in a flash!  They're already gone, as of yesterday... :(

He (or she?) did NOT like me acting all 'photographer-y' out there, but would not BUDGE off of those babies- very protective!

If you click on this photo to make it larger, you can see the tiny, tiny feathers right around the rim of the eye.  You can also see the reflection of the trees across the street in its eye!  How cool is that?!?  

An 'almost-blooming' lantana-- they have compound flowers  (I think that's what they're called)-- each individual flower is tiny, and each flower head is made up of a bunch of tiny flowers.

After taking some photos of the dove, I decided to try my hand at the lantanas blooming along our front sidewalk.  Taking a photo of a 3D object with a macro lens is tough, because only one 'plane' of it is in focus at any one time, so I wasn't getting great photos, but I was having some fun with it, nonetheless.  I sat on the sidewalk, made the legs of the tripod as short as they could go, to see what difference the tripod would make. (it made it SO much easier!!)  The flower buds above were about the size of, maybe, a quarter?  If you take a close look at the center area of the photo, you'll see a very small visitor...  

And here he is!!  In real life, he was maybe, 1/8 inch long?  He was quite industrious, looking for who-knows-what... nectar? pollen?  Not sure.  

A red lantana flower head.  I've never really noticed before how odd these flower buds look-  It looks like they almost 'pop' open when they finally bloom. 

The focus here is on the tightest flower buds, so the rest of the photo is kind of fuzzy, but I still think it makes for a neat photo.  

Lantana leaves are sort of fuzzy (and a bit itchy, when I'm pruning them back in the spring).   The photo below sort of shows why. 

Make sure to click on this one to make it larger--  you can actually see the individual little hairs on the leaves!

So, I took about 60 photos in that first session, and I got about 10 that turned out the way I thought they would... that's the way of it, I guess.  Thank goodness they're only taking up digital space now, instead of film!  At least this way, I only have to print out the ones I want, and can leave the rest of them languishing in digital obscurity.  (I should really delete them, but I can't bring myself to do it, lol.)

April 14, 2017

a morning stroll...

well, not exactly just a stroll.  The towns around here oftentimes have a 'letter' on them that you can see from miles away... there's "A" mountain near the ASU campus, there's a large 'Phoenix' with a huge arrow that points west toward the city, there's an "M" on Pima Butte outisde Maricopa, and there's a "CG" right outside Casa Grande, which is the town where we live now.   (not sure how they do it, but I'm guessing they paint the rocks in the shape of the letters.)

Actually, this link is to a local news story about how the M got onto M Mountain... kind of cool!

Anyway, the CG is on a mountain just south of town and it's a large city park (1000 acres) with miles of trails.  Last Sunday we got up early and decided to go for a spur-of-the-moment hike.  The main trail we saw goes up to some radio antenna towers, and there were quite a few other people out there already; it was a beautiful morning for a hike!

the view back down the trail, from about 1/3 of the way up.  Our car is down there somewhere!

The radio towers... 
a good part of this trail is paved, but that didn't really make it any easier- 
it's a pretty steep grade, and hurt my thighs to walk at an angle like that.

it was even too steep here for a straight trail the whole way up, so they had to add a couple switchbacks- there are some people down there on the trail, if you click to make it larger. 

it was a beautiful morning!  Once we got up to the radio towers, we thought we were done.  But we ran into a couple ladies who said 'oh, no...  the flag is about 3/4 of a mile that way-- it's a really pretty trail; much nicer than the trail you came up on.'  So we went on...

and we found this!  the trail goes through a grove (?) forest (?) ...not sure what you call it, if it's cactus-- of cholla cactus.  These are the famous 'jumping' cacti, so-called because the segments are really 'loosely connected' and the spines are so thick that all you have to do is brush up against them and they. are. stuck. (notice all the small loose pieces littering the ground around the main cacti plants.  It felt a bit like we had the whole place to ourselves for a while, here... there were a few other people now and then, but not too many.)

there are other plants and cacti, as well-- blooming ocotillos, saguaro, fishhook barrel cacti (the round cactus on the right with the pink hooked spines), creosote bushes, and other small cacti.  (click this photo to make it larger; the fishhook barrel cactus really is neat looking.)  It really was beautiful! (although we did have to watch where we were going; the trail isn't wide, and it goes RIGHT THROUGH all of those cacti.) 

once we saw the flag, it didn't seem to be getting any closer for quite a while, lol!  But we finally made it there.  According to the city parks website, the flag peak is the high point in the Casa Grande mountains, and is 2,350 feet above sea level.  It made for quite a view!

Tom, at the flag.  We finally made it!  

The trails did continue on from there, but we turned around to head back the way we came- it was getting warm, and we really weren't outfitted for an entire day out in the mountains. 

a photo of one of the 'jumping cholla' babies... you can see that the individual segment roots itself into the dirt, and eventually starts to grow another entire plant!  

back down the trail near the parking lot, there was a forest of a different species of cactus, the chain-fruit cholla.  It's called that for obvious reasons, lol.  The fruit hangs down from the branches like bunches of grapes.  This was a really impressive-looking specimen!  

me, standing next to another one of them, just for a size comparison.  They're not small cacti, at all!  Chollas are sometimes used as living quarters for doves or cactus wrens--  a predator would have to be pretty desperate to go in one of these after eggs or baby birds!  This one seemed to be vacant.  (Or if anyone WAS at home, they weren't making any noise at all.)

and, one last picture that proves the whole 'jumping' thing isn't just a myth... 

All I was doing was standing next to it! I got just a bit too close, and one of the loose segments was stuck to my shoe-  not just 'to' my shoe, but actually IN my shoe!  Those spines are long, and they are SHARP!  Tom had to use a couple rocks to very carefully take hold of it and pry it away from my shoe.  

(I was contemplating bringing one of them home to plant in our yard, but not quite like that, lol!  And after seeing just how dangerous they are, I think I'll leave them right where they are.)

Tom did some research after we got home, to figure out just where all we had gone on the trails.  According to the info he found, we hiked about 6 miles round trip.  (I don't remember what he said about how many hundreds of feet up in elevation... I just know that my ears popped a couple times on the way back down the trail.)

It was a really fun experience, although I did have to do some obligatory whining about how much my legs hurt... and I did have a tough time getting up for the next couple days, lol!  We did see a couple other trails we'd like to explore, too;  problem is, it's getting warmer pretty quick, so there's not really much time to do it in.  We'll see how ambitious we are this weekend! I think the odds are about 50/50, honestly... we'll see.  

If we DO go, I'll be sure to take some pictures!  (I'll also be sure to stay away from the jumping cholla cacti!!)

March 23, 2017

tap, tap, tap... is this thing on?? lol!!

so... life in the AZ desert has been on a bit of a hiatus!  Not really-  life's gone on, I just 'got out of the habit' of posting.  But I hope to change that.  Right now, I'm watching some DVR'ed television, and waiting for a giraffe to have a baby!!  (no, really... there's a giraffe in New York state that's pregnant (her name is April), and they have a live cam in her pen, waiting to stream the birth when it happens.  I've been checking in on her a few times a day for the last few weeks, now, I think??  Apparently giraffes are pregnant for a VERY long time, and I guess they don't know exactly what her due date is.  

but, while I wait for that, here's a few photos from last weekend!!  Tom gave me a trail ride for my birthday last May, and we finally got it scheduled last weekend while the weather is beautiful (and cool!)...  it was at an equestrian center on the Indian Reservation about 20 miles away from where we live.

Tom and me, in front of a herd of wild horses that live on the Reservation...
we actually got to walk right up to, and through, that group of horses.
it was so cool!!  

our guide, BRASS (I had his name wrong).  he was really interesting!  The Indians keep
an eye on the horses, and sometimes do capture some
of them to break for riding.

Tom, posing in front of Pima Overlook... a smallish hill made of lava rock.
(I guess this area was volcanic?  I never knew that!)
It was a bit disconcerting, being over all that way up in the air,
with the horses picking their way through loose rocks.
The view from there- even just partway up- was gorgeous, though! 

Our horses were pretty well-behaved, but that's the first
time I'd been on a horse since high school.  While it
was pretty neat, I'm not sure about horseback riding as a pastime...
it definitely used a lot of muscles I never used before!
(and some of them still hurt!!)