Thursday, December 29, 2011

Winding down

At the end of each year - in order to bring in the new year all fresh and clean - the average Japanese household does "Osoji" or Big Cleaning. These are the cleaning jobs that typically only get done once a year such as screen doors, deep into the storage closets, behind the refrigerator, etc. You get the picture.

This year because of the bazaar we had in late November, I got most of my kitchen deep cleaning done very early. And now that my kids are older and they often want spending money, I have a lot of help getting the other big cleaning projects done.

Yesterday I cleaned my "pantry" space and my little office cubby and bookshelf in the bedroom. Today I spent the entire morning putting away Christmas decorations and cleaning and organizing the Japanese tatami room storage closet. I also cleaned off our front porch and put out our traditional Japanese new year decoration to welcome in the new year.

I'm not done with cleaning by any means, but a lot of the rest of the projects are going to depend on when and how much cooperation I can get from the other three members living in our home. Kids' rooms, husband's papers and books, etc.

I can't believe that I didn't upload this before now. Consider it my Christmas and New Years greetings to you. I thank you for reading of my blog this year and I hope you will keep me on your blogroll in 2012.

Happy Holidays.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Spirit of Christmas

For years now - probably for as many years as I have spent Christmas in Japan - I just don't feel Christmasy. Not that there aren't any decorations. Oh, the Japanese start to decorate for Christmas almost immediately after Halloween. Its just that.... that's all it is here. Decorations, fluff, loud jingly Christmas music advertising the winter sales. Santa and bells. I suppose its like that in many places around the world. But here there just is no Christ in Christmas. That is what I miss.

And all the other things that come with a more "spiritual" Christmas. I miss my family most at Christmas time. I miss being in my parents' home after my mother has spent days decorating. I miss going to Christmas Eve church services together. I miss waking up on Christmas morning with the feeling of anticipation of a wonderful and exciting day to come. Its been years since I've spent Christmas at home - only once since my children were born.

I go through the motions of most of those same things here - decorations, shopping, gifts under the tree, Christmas Eve service (sometimes). Its the best I can do. But its not the same.

I wish I could be home with my American family each year. I wish I could share that Christmas magic, that Christmas spirit, that Christmas love.

I made this page for my One Word One Photo challenge I am hosting at The Digichick this Friday. In the spirit of the season I wanted to keep the challenge pure and simple. What is the one thing that says how you feel at this time of year. Stressed? Overshopped? Joyous? Festive?

In my case, I chose a word that I WANT to feel during this season. The feeling that I think is missing in a Christmas spent here. Holy. I want to feel His presence. Presence over presents. The Holy spirit of Christmas. 

most papers and elements from Sugar Sand Boardwalk Christmas by Etc. by Danyale
gold glitter border from Noel by Mari Koegelenberg
blue flower from Midsummer Night's Dream by ViVa Artistry
page template from Solos Part 5 by Busy Bee Designs

Christmas. Hanukkah. Kwanza. Whatever it is that you are celebrating now. I wish you all, where ever in the world you may be, a most blessed holiday season.

I will leave you with a few more Christmassy pages. One of my little girl, years ago. One of my little boy, yesterday.

all papers and elements from Silver Bells by ViVa Artistry in Scrap N Art December issue
alpha is Holiday Spirit uppercase by Lisa Whitney Designs
page template from Fall Flavors Pumpkin Pie by Busy Bee Designs
font is Porcelain
most papers and elements from Sound the Trumpets, Winter Solstice and Silver Bells all by ViVa Artistry
worn page overlay from Worn Page Edges No 2 by Lynn Grieveson
Glitter action is from Punkboi Glitters by Joyful Heart Designs
page template from Tag You're It 2 by Fiddle-Dee-Dee Designs
font is Jellyka Saint-Andrews Queen

Thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the web. Please come again soon!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sweets for You

Ah the holiday season, with all its hustle and bustle. Running here, running there. Doing this, making that. Its been hard to find the time to scrap. In fact I don't think I've scrapped a page in a few weeks. I sure hope my Creative Team bosses don't fire me.

But I haven't been slacking. I had a Christmas Party yesterday with a few of my friends. I wanted to give them something unique, something they've never gotten before. Scrounging over the web - namely Pinterest - I came across the idea of giving the gift of cookie mix in a jar. Now here was just what I was looking for.

First I had to decide upon a recipe. I chose this Cowboy Cookie recipe from I only hit two minor snags - the outrageous price of chocolate chips and pecans here in Japan. So I slightly altered the recipe. I only put in 3/4 cup of chocolate chips (which by the way is plenty!!) and I substituted walnuts for the pecans (still expensive but much more readily available). I also decreased the amounts of sugar ever so slightly for the Japanese taste. Of course I had to make a batch to sample for myself and let me tell you... these are GOOD cookies. I'm lucky that half of them even got baked because I am such a cookie-dough-aholic. Now I remember why I stopped baking years and years ago.

Then I went to our local 100 yen shop (the equivalent to the dollar stores) and found some 1 liter size glass jars.

Then the best part - other than eating cookie dough that is - was going over to the shop and deciding on which kit to use to decorate my jars. I'd had my eye on Cheer by Wendy Page for the past few weeks so decided to use it to make a jar label and a baking instructions card. The friends who I had the Christmas party with yesterday are all somewhat skilled in English, at least enough to be able to read the baking instructions as I was too lazy to even attempt to translate them in Japanese.

I love how the jars turned out. In discussions with some other scrappers on both Facebook and in the TDC forums, I learned that there are SO many different kinds of mixes you can give as gifts in a jar. Cookies, brownies, hot cocoa, soups. I will definitely be trying this again. It was fun to make and it really was accepted with huge smiles by my friends.

In the spirit of Christmas, if any of my dear blog friends would like to try this idea as well, I would like to offer a jar label and baking instructions card freebie download to you! The incrediby talented designer of the kit I used, Wendy Page, was more than happy to let me share this with you. If you love the kit as much as I do and think you can use it for other projects as well, please be sure to head over to her store.

This freebie is made on an A4 sized paper which is just slightly longer and more narrow than an 8 1/2 x 11 sized page. So it should print out nicely on either size of paper. I don't have a lot of experience with uploading files to 4Shared for sharing as freebies. If for some reason you aren't able to access or download this file, please let me know in the comments section below and I'll try to find out the problem.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to you.

Thank you so very much for stopping by my little corner of the web. Please come again soon!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sweets for the Sweet

Well, I almost had my hopes up for a white Christmas. Unbelievably, a few snowflakes fell over western Tokyo this morning. Of course it didn't last long, and by afternoon we had one of the brightest blue skies I have seen in a long time. Makes me miss Christmas in Colorado even more. If its going to be cold, well then.... it might as well snow!

As much as I'd like to say that my scrapbooking is getting caught up, I think in reality I will never be caught up. I have so many pictures over the years that I love but for some reason have not yet been inspired to scrap. Other pictures I end up scrapping more than once. I do not scrap chronologically. At times I choose a kit to match my pictures. At times I choose my pictures to match a kit. And sometimes a kit comes along that is destined for a certain photo.

Even though ViVa Artistry's newest kit, Tea Garden, is all about tea and cupcakes, as soon as I saw it I knew the pictures I wanted to scrap. Old pictures, from many years ago. From when my darling daughter was still a little toddler. Not cupcakes, but oranges. Sweets are sweets. I would love to go back in time to this day and give that precious, sweet little girl and big hug.

Such a sweet and precious little girl. You steal my heart, you make me smile, you make me laugh. Everything right now is "do it by self." You want to do everything by yourself and I'm more than happy to let you try. Climbing up to the counter, peeling your own orange. Eating, playing, dressing. You are precious and I love you so.
Papers and elements from Tea Garden by ViVa Artistry
page template from No Boys Allowed by Cluster Queen Creations
pink glitter from En Pointe Glitters by ViVa Artistry
brush from LCO Decorative Accents
alpha stamp used for title is Suzy Q by CD Muckosky
font is Aquarelle

I hope your holiday season is going well and you are enjoying each day. Thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the web. Please come again soon.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Ha Ha

I've been waiting for months to be able to share this page. It was published in the November 2011 Artisan Notebook. The assignment was to make a page about a conversation between two people that is especially funny. I have tons of them between my children and I, but there are two conversations that I have carried in my heart for more than 30 years between my mother and I. Not sure if she remembers them or not, but I will never forget them. Love you mom!

Growing up, I never thought my mother was particularly funny or humorous. But on a few occasions she would say something so wacky that it would catch me off guard. I'm not sure if she was intentionally making a joke or if she was being serious at the time. But after hearing her own words, she too would crack up and we would both be laughing. (I hope the wording of the conversations are not offensive. I want to journal the conversations as they actually occurred.)

The title of my page, "ha ha," is a joke in itself. Not only is it the sound of laughter, but it also means "mother" in Japanese.

- My mother is a peanut & chocoholic -
Me: "Mom, did you see the article in the paper the other day about peanuts and chocolate?"
Mom: "What did it say?"
Me: "That studies have shown eating too many peanuts or too much chocolate can lead to hearing loss. Maybe you should think about cutting back."
Mom: a definite twinge of shock flashing across her face, "I'd rather go deaf!"

- My mother and her play on words -
Situation: We were leaving in the car. Mom was already in and waiting for me. As I got in, I noticed that tail of her coat's belt was sticking outside of the car.

Me: "Mom, your belt is sticking out of the door."
Mom: opening the door and pulling it back in, "Thank you, that was a close one."
Me: "Yeah, you could have gotten sucked out the door!"
Mom: "Ha ha ha. FAT chance!"

all papers and most elements are from Fleury by Wendy Page Designs
page template from Gimme Layers with Words Vol 2 by Cluster Queen Creations
stitches (recolored) are by Ronna Penner
alpha is from Autumn Bliss by Joyce Paul

Today's post is short and sweet. Just wanted to share this! Thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the web. I hope that your December is starting off with joy!