Monday, January 30, 2012


November 2010

Dear Diary,

I’m all packed and ready to drive to Ontario to attend my first Scrapbook Expo. I 'm so excited that I can’t sleep. I’ve been watching YouTube Scrapbook Expo Haul Videos for weeks and have an extensive list of "must haves." Top on the list are my two favorite guys, Brad and Tim H. Going to wear my orange shoes – love them plus they are so comfortable. Have both cash and credit card and I’m staying overnight at the nearby hotel so I can take a class. At the end of the weekend I am going to have enough paper, embellishments and bling that I won’t have to buy another thing for years months! Plus, one finished project - a darling mini album.

November 2011

Dear Diary,

Well, it’s that time again – the annual Ontario Scrapbook Expo. And no, not going this year. Gotta admit that although it was fun, I wasted a lot of money. Bottom line is that I bought too many things that I have never used...and of course, that damn mini album that is still unfinished. Will it ever get done? Probably not, should just toss it out.

January 2012

Dear Diary,

Don’t ask me why, but I desperately want to go to the Anaheim Scrapbook Expo. Looking back I have to admit that I made a few lots of mistakes at the first Expo. First of all I have broken up with Brad. Who knew that I would tire of him so quickly? It’s just that he wasn’t my type so he, his brothers, cousins and grandparents have permanently moved into the garage. Buh bye!

Now, let’s talk the dollar shop. Why was I so certain that the world would end if I didn’t buy 25 assorted flourishes? I even had a little push and pull with another lady as we both grabbed for the last green pearl flourish at the same time. I won!!! But they are still sitting in my flourish box. Do I use flourishes? Rarely, but come on folks, they were only a dollar.

Lace and ribbon – why oh why didn’t I buy any? This time, when if I go, that will be my first stop.

Last mistake is that damned mini album that haunts my dreams! It was not in the description (not even the small print) that it would be impossible to finish the album in one hour…promise…Scouts honor. I don’t hate the colors or papers but I don’t love them either, and if I don’t love what I’m doing, I know it’s going to turn out badly. So if I, by mistake of course, toss the album (see random things #16 ) would anyone notice?

Last week I made a vow that I cannot attend the Anaheim show unless I finish my  Loolah  mini album.

GUESS WHO'S GOING TO THE ANAHEIM SCRAPBOOK EXPO???????? Moi! And yes my friends, that is a flourish on the cover!!!

BTW am now on page 267 of the first book in my Unread Book Collection Project. Only 72 pages to go...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Unread Book Collection

There are all kinds of 365 day challenges on the internet. From celebrating 365 of strange holidays (including such notables as Name Your Car Day to National Beheading Day - don't ask!) to showcasing a year’s worth of hamburger art – whatever challenge you can imagine has/had a blog. Some of my personal favorites include: 365 days of living off Groupon, wearing the same little black dress for 365 days, and doing a good deed every single day for a year. None of which I could attempt…or finish.

One blog that did strike a chord with me is a reading challenge. The premise is for the blogger to spend the next 365 days reading every unread book that she owns. Apparently, she owns zillions, and has plenty of time because...she is not a scrapper.

I must be a bit ADHD because doing something other than breathing for 365 days in a row seems too daunting a task for me. But, her challenge did resonate with me.

I have 6 books that I either started or want to start, precariously sitting on my bedside table. Unloved, unwanted and unread they patiently wait…and wait…for me. Granted, it’s not that many, but as I have gained weight so has the pile of books – correlation perhaps? So, perhaps if I cull the books I will miraculously lose the weight? Worth a try don’t you think?

First step is to vow not to buy a new book until I finish. Easy, after spending all my wad on scrapping stuff there is very little cash left at the end of the week. Next, I need to give myself a deadline – one book every two months. Sounds doable. Lastly, I need to give it a title because it makes it seem so much more official – The Unread Book Collection. Like it.

There will be no book reports but I will update my progress from time to time.

The big dilemma I face is that a few of the books are half read and I can’t remember the first half. Do I go back and reread from the beginning? Or is this like a movie where you can play catch up?

I have started with Secret Daughter - a #1 International Bestseller - at least that is what it says on the cover. I purchased it on 6/26/11 and am currently on page 179. 146 pages to go -

BTW the first Saturday in May is National Scrapbook Day and September 6th is Read a Book Day. Better put those dates on your calendar :-)  How many unread books do you have stashed away for a rainy day?

Monday, January 23, 2012

I say potato, you say potahto

One of my favorite Christmas gifts I received this year was a shiny yellow soup pot. It looks picture perfect on my vintage O’Keefe & Merritt - no stainless steel for this lady. I love my 50’s inspired kitchen and have filled it with black and white tiles and lots of colorful Fiestaware.

I have been a vegetarian for 35 years and don’t eat anything with a heart except for artichoke and nothing with eyes except for potatoes. I used to love to cook and even taught a vegetarian cooking class back in the early 80’s. My six week class was a big hit, was actually written up in the paper, and for a very brief moment in time thought about going to culinary school.

When Cassandra was in middle school I worked part-time as a personal assistant for a very busy professional lady. My job description included cooking her dinner three times a week. In the year and a half that I worked for her, only once did she dislike what I made. It was my Popeye Pie, a spinach/potato pseudo-quiche that she tried to eat cold – big mistake. I forgave her because as I stated, she was a very busy lady and this was before microwaves.

Despite my impressive (just being facetious here folks) resume, I don’t LOVE cooking the way that I love crafting. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that after all your hard work slaving in the kitchen, you have nothing to show for it except for a sink load of dirty dishes. Whereas, after altering a Mike’s $1.00 balsa wood box you have something tangible, albeit not something that you can actually use because it is so tiny, but, you can take it out and admire it whenever you like. Can’t do that with food!

Tony likes everything I make…or at least that’s what he tells me. Between work and crafting and now blogging, we eat lots of salads for dinner so there’s little cooking done in our nifty-fifty kitchen. My sunny new pot has inspired my creative juices and I have decided to make up for the Popeye Pie and use the humble potato again, this time it won’t be eaten cold.

Now to the recipie - this is rather loosey goosey and it is hard to make a mistake - even for a novice.

4-5 peeld & chopped russet potatoes
3-4 chopped leeks
3-4 cups of water
1- 1 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
2 Tbs dill weed
1 tsp salt
2-3 Tbs sour cream 

Add the potatoes and leeks to the salted water and cook for 30 to 45 minutes. Add caraway seeds, dill weed and milk and cook for another 20 minutes or until the potatoes begin to fall apart. Add butter, sour cream, heat and serve. Garnish with fresh dill and serve with a simple arugala salad, crusty bread and a glass of wine. Great on a rainy day.

After dinner, let your husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/children do the dishes. YOU'VE been slaving over a hot stove all day and need to rest. Sit down, take out your altered Mike's box and admire with pride! If you don't have one, then look at mine. Please.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Listen, do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell, woh, woh, woh...

We have a love affair with secrets. There is something intriguing, romantic and tantalizing when you hold a secret close to your heart. Gift wrapped, it is kept in your special hiding place, not to be opened by anyone else. Unless, like yours truly, you couldn’t keep a secret to save your life.

You can skip the rest of the post, go directly to GO and collect your $200 dollars IF you can keep a secret. But for all the rest of us, here are a few choice tips to help you keep it under wraps.

1.     Share your secret with a person who you know doesn’t care. For me, that is usually my husband Tony. He cares deeply about me, but in all honesty, I have to admit that he doesn’t give a hoot that a co-worker of mine is pregnant and doesn’t want anyone at the office to know.  And, there is no way he will ever tell. Not even if he is tortured. Trust me. I have tried to get secrets out of him and nothing works!!

2.     DO NOT revert to childhood banter and say in a sing-song taunt, “I have a secret and you don’t!” People won’t understand and will falsely accuse you of acting like a child. Counter by calling them a meanie!

3.     Do not play 20 questions – GUILTY! This I do all the time. But seriously, I feel if I am only answering yes or no, then it’s not like I am actually telling the secret. Right? Please answer only yes or no.

4.     Tell someone who hears secrets all day long. You think I’m joking? No way. Folks like your hairdresser and manicurist have to listen to clients eight hours a day. Think about it, how the heck can they possibly keep all their clients stories straight? 

5.     Last resort, bite your tongue and say to yourself – my lips are sealed, mum’s the word, I will not let the cat out of the bag and I can keep this under my hat. Will any of these tips work – probably not, but they are fun idioms.  (BTW isn’t idiom a great word?)

A few weeks ago I entered a secret swap at the We were each partnered with another gal and were sworn to secrecy NOT to reveal our secret sister.  The project was a Journal made from a composition notebook and today I mailed off mine to my secret sister. Can’t tell you her name, but I can tell you that, I have a secret and you don’t!

My Secret Sister loves flowers. My mind went from floral to romance to Paris in a heartbeat. The paper I used for the front and back cover is Lady Couture by DCWV and the inside covers are lined in black velvet. I added an inside pocket which contains two postcards from Paris. I don't know if she has ever been to Paris or even wants to travel to the city of love, but I hope that as she fills these pages with her thoughts, she will be inspired to dream.

“The arms of love encompass you with your present, your past, your future, the arms of love gather you together.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Rock N’ Roll is here to stay

A few months ago, Tony and I were invited to Sammy’s coming of age, Bar Mitzvah celebration. I was excited to attend, but I had a slight problem that weighed about 7 pounds (but really, who knows? Read 30 random things about me #1) and my favorite little black dress didn’t fit flatter my new curvaceous figure. Not willing to buy a new frock, (I will lose the weight, I will lose the weight, I will lose the weight!) I dragged out my “fat” dress, a BCBG black, gray and coral-pink ensemble that would do, if I could find a spectacular bracelet that would take the dress from ordinary to extraordinary.

I tried, but I couldn’t find anything in the right colors that came even close to making my vision come alive. So, I headed to Michaels, 40% off coupon in hand, determined to make my own statement bracelet. About $50 and a few hours later, my Rock N’ Roll Bracelet was born. Accented with pink skulls, a few crosses and tons of funky beads I loved the bracelet and was even glad that I had gained the weight and had been unable to fit into my black dress. Well, not totally true, but it’s as good a rationalization for gaining weight as I ever heard.

The day after the party I had to work an event, and decided to show off wear my Rock N’ Roll Bracelet. Sweater sleeves rolled up, so that no one could miss it, a gal that I knew stopped by to chat. It was rather amazing that she just happened to notice my bracelet, isn’t it? When I bragged told her that I had made it she asked if she could try it on. I was beyond stoked.

 Admiring it on her wrist, she asked, “Do you sell your bracelets?”

In that moment my mind went into fast drive. OMG, this could be my Ah Ha moment. Forget about scrapping, I’m a bracelet designer. Get ready Anthropology cause here I come…this is where I was rudely interrupted by her question.

“How much?”

 The dreaded question that makes me weak in the knees. I NEVER know how much to charge for my crafts. She looked at me, waiting for a response and I went into panic mode. I could feel sweat on my brow as I tried to figure out how much I should tell her. Too little and I’ll be losing money, but too much, and she won’t buy my bracelet and there goes my dreams of becoming the next great jewelry designer. What to do?

I stumbled along, “Well, the beads were expensive…Those skulls cost me $3.00 each and I have three of them on the bracelet…” I trailed off into oblivion, feeling a bit nauseous.

“I can see that.” She replied, clearly beginning to lose patience with me.

 About to lose the sale I blurted out, “$80.00?” and held my breath.

Her instant reply, “Great, I’ll take two!!”

The rest is, shall we say, history. No, I’m not the next great jewelry designer and I will not be appearing on either HSN or QVS anytime soon, but I have sold more bracelets, even did a custom one. The downside of all my success is that I have added bead hoarding collecting to my resume. Do you make and sell jewelry? How do you determine how much to charge for your wares?

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Last night I made a fatal error and deleted five of my posts/comments. I have tried to recreate the posts - still missing two and unfortuantely, did not have a copy of the text. Won't happen again as I now have a file in Word entitled - Keep a Copy. So, if you are looking for your comment, sorry, it no longer exists anywhere except in my heart, for I dearly treasure the comments you ladies write. Now, I am so depressed I must do a little shopping to take my mind off my boo-boo. Got my Michael's coupon in hand and hopefully, that will ease my loss.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I am Ellen B and I am an ebayolic

Once upon a time I needed a few charms for a dangle.  Reader WARNING: if you are not a scrapper there is no way to explain (even with flow charts) why we must have a few random charms dangling from a mini album, preferably on a Tim Holtz chain. Please, just accept the fact that it completes the entire album. A mini without a charm dangle would be like going to a fancy restaurant without your shoes. Trust me, people notice.

Now, I’m not going to claim to be in the category of Columbus or Lewis & Clark but (she said blushing) I have made a major discovery that I would like to share – it’s my version of charm heaven. It comes from a far away land and it usually arrives in a small yellow padded envelope. The place is Tibet and according to one of the sites, the charms are mainly made by “women with skill”. Tibetan Silver Charms are very detailed, and come in all sizes and shapes. When I say “all” I mean it! Ebay has over 90,000 auctions of Tibetan charms available at this very moment, and I double dare you to not go to Ebay and check them out – even if you aren’t a scrapper.

The art of buying charms is really a philosophical exercise. One must ask themselves, “Do I really need 10 radish charms?” Yes, they are adorable but I don’t often eat radishes, have no plans to make a vegetable mini, but at $.99 and free shipping, how can I not click the commit to buy button? And that motorcycle charm…I once dated a guy who drove a Harley (see 30 random  #6), so for old times sake, I should buy them. Besides, they take up so little space. And then, what about the 30 sun charms that were so tiny I needed a telescope to see the face?  For just $.99, how could I pass them up?

I’ve been saving the best for last - my favorite charm of all time. Hands down it would have to be the Eiffel Tower, which I have in silver, gold and brass. Do I use them? No. Why not, you ask? Because I might need them one day and then, I’d have to reorder and wait 6 weeks for my order to arrive.

So I stash. Definition of a scrapper – a creative person who stashes goodies for safekeeping or future use. Like the 30 gold squirrel charms I have stashed away for the winter. Now, if only I could find some Tibetan acorn charms to feed them in case they get hungry.

Besides charm dangles on mini albums I make bookmarks for folks who don’t have a Kindle, like my husband.  For Tony, I made a bookmark filled with stars, because that is what I see when he kisses me! Are you an ebayolic?

Fall, leaves, fall

I am fascinated with the strange and often unhappy life of Emily Jane Brontë. Emily died a spinster when she was just thirty. She left behind a book of poetry and one novel, a literary classic that immortalizes the life of two tortured souls – Heathcliff and Catherine.  The grand passion of Wuthering Heights shares the story of the lovers – forever sundered and struggling to unite. It also immortalizes Emily Brontë, as having written one of the greatest love stories of all time.

I was a teen when I first read Wuthering Heights and a dream of mine was to someday visit the wild and desolate moors of England. Getting there from London was a nightmare, as there was a fire on the train track and Cassandra and I sat in a closed train for hours, without air conditioning. But, it was all worth it because the village of Haworth did not disappoint. The steep cobblestone street and quaint shops led to a gray, sad-looking parsonage that was the home of Emily until she died in 1848.  

I walked the moors and amid the wild beauty of the landscape, searched for the ghosts of Heathcliff and Catherine.  Whether I saw them or not doesn’t matter, for what I will always remember is that I made the journey and walked in the footsteps of my friend Emily.

As a token of my friendship, I made this Secret Envelope Box.  I like to think that Emily  would have filled it with treasures – perhaps assorted fall leaves and a scrap of paper with a few lines of poetry.

Tied with a scrap of lace, this vintage stack of envelopes looks ordinary.

Untie the lace, lift the top and you'll find a secret compartment.

I found the tutorial to create the Secret Envelope Box on YouTube and it was great fun to make. However, there is a real secret that the videos have left out. Send me an email and I'll be happy to share.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Renaissance Lady or a Martha Stewart Wannabe?

I’d like to think that I am good, not great, at many things. Among the skills that I am proud of is my ability to cook a memorable meal, create a pretty card, and plan a dynamite party. On the other hand, there are a myriad of things I don't do well, like, tell a joke, stay on a diet and take a good photo. Therefore, I am pleased to announce that all the photos in this blog are taken by my dear husband Tony. It was a learning experience, for both of us, but we have a truce going as long as I keep my promise to never nag talk to him while he's taking photos for my blog. 

I have however taken one fabulous photo. I love it so much that I had it framed and it is hanging in Tony’s Baseball /Ellen’s Closet room. Yes, the room is his, but I hijacked the large closet and have it filled from top to bottom with my goodies.
Background on the photo - Tony came home from work one day and told me about a conversation he had with one of his co-workers. His friend told him that he wasn’t a real baseball fan if he had never been to Fenway Park. The rest is shall we say, baseball history. We had been talking about going to Italy for our vacation, but guess where we went? Yep, you got it! That summer we traveled to the shores of Massachusetts instead of the shores of Amalfi and Tony officially became a real baseball fan. This photo is proof!

Last night I told Tony that I was going to publish a post about Fenway Park. He put down the remote and fired machine gun questions at me, "Are you going to write that it rained and the game was delayed for two hours? That you hated the food? That Oakland lost?"

Pregnant pause here. Finally, I replied, "Not exactly, this is more about you." He picked up the remote and I knew what I had to do. So, here goes - It rained and the game was delayed for two hours, I hated the food and Tony's beloved team, the Oakland A's lost.

Ever been to a baseball game...or to Italy?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

You are responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose.

My very first memory of the Tournament of Roses Parade was looking at photos of the floats in a souvenir program. I must have been 6 or 7 at the time and I remember thinking that instead of a pumpkin, Cinderella needed a carriage made up of flowers.

Fast forward to the 1970’s when I moved from New Jersey to Los Angeles and had the opportunity to make room for new dreams. On my list was to attend one of the most famous parades in the world – The Tournament of Roses. It took many years for my dream to come true, but it did, thanks to my dear friend Edwin.

Edwin had a camper and at the time Pasadena College offered a special package deal that included: camping overnight in their parking lot, breakfast, lunch and primo seats to view the parade on Colorado Boulevard. For two hours I felt like a wide-eyed kid as a myriad of bands, equestrians and beautifully decorated floats passed before us.  

Tony and I have our own special New Year’s traditions. Maybe not as exciting as being at the Parade, but just as memorable. We start at 9:00 pm pacific time/midnight eastern time by opening up a bottle of Bollinger champagne as we watch CNN telecast the festivities of Times Square. In the morning Tony picks oranges off our tree and we drink mimosas in bed while watching the Parade on TV. The scent of freshly picked oranges is just as sweet as roses. For what matters most is not where you are, but who you kiss at midnight!