Monday, December 21, 2015

The Trouble with Tribbles - Folded Book Edition

It's December and you know what that's time for the annual supper club progressive dinner.

There is nothing better than a hayride through the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights punctuated by some out-of-this-world food. Highlights this year were the marinated cheese at Vicki's house and the Churro Chex Mix at Babette's (seriously) ...and the decorations at Barb's house, of course.

Check out the white and silver sparkly buffet in her dining room! It was was her French Market Bean Soup.

And speaking of is Barb's tree out standing in her living room. It's about 12 foot of spectacular! Covered in ornaments from top to bottom...

...including some made by yours truly. Remember this one from 2012?

For the Christmas 2016 supper club ornament, I headed out to Office Depot to get some books cut down like this...

..and turned them into these.

I have been making them for the past several months while sitting on conference calls, and watching TV, and waiting for water to boil, and sitting at stoplights. They are addictive

I started out just making a few different shapes.

And then I made some bigger ones. 

And then some big and little ones

And pretty soon...ACK! I started to feel like Capt Kirk in a pile of tribbles!

I blame my friend, Jan Agnello, for being my enabler on this one. Jan has this very cool antique business, Storyology Decor, deep in the heart of Georgia where she's been featuring Reading With Scissors books for several years. 

This year she asked me if I could make her some ornaments. After a little experimenting, I figured out how to make them. If you check out the Storyology Decor Facebook page, you can see how cool they look on Jan's fuzzy Christmas tree. She decorated her ornaments with vintage chandelier crystals and paper flowers.

My supper clubbers got beads and tassels. 

And as old school as beads and tassels are, they still add a very merry pop to a mid-century mod aluminum tree.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

On the 24th Day of Christmas My Phanie Gave to Me

It's the middle of December. Where did the time go? 

I've been buying, and wrapping, and baking, and cutting, and folding and...


Thank goodness that I finished some things before the season got into full swing.

Case in point. This advent calendar I made for QuarterPounder.

And yes, I made more flat boxes! I am a pro at them now. These just don't have roofs on them.

But they do have sparkly snowflakes and and fuzzy presents--and book pages, of course.

Oh, and the numbers are covered in GLITTER! 

QuarterPounder wasn't really sure what he thought of the whole thing.

But he seemed to think the finger puppets inside were pretty grand.

And the bib and the Rudolph book were a hit, too!

Side note: Here is my goal for next year.
Learn how to take a picture of a rectangle that isn't skewed. This one kinda makes me dizzy when I look at it for very long.

Speaking of dizzy. I gotta go. The pecan pie in the oven is dinging and Amazon just left another package at the door.


But if you've got extra time on your hands, check out all the cool ways to decorate a Silhouette Advent Calendar on this Pinterest page!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Little boxes made of ticky tacky--and GLITTER!

Captain America is always teasing me about having too much book sense and not enough common sense. This mainly happens when we are comparing old report cards. He has no other defense. But it's true that back in the day I got good grades, which I mostly attribute to being a good test taker. I managed to pass the tests that my teachers gave me. I scored really well on the ACT and did just fine, thank you, on the SAT.

But over the years there were three tests I notably did not do well on, and by "did not do well" I mean they ate my lunch.

The first was an eye test when I was in third grade. OK, I know an eye test is not the same thing as a math test, but tell that to an overachieving 9-year-old. They came to my class, made me peer into a dark box with a light on the far side, and asked me how many trees I saw. Trees? What trees? There are trees? Soon after I got my first pair of glasses.

Then there was the driver's test that I flunked. That is a story for another day, but let me just say that there is nothing more embarrassing than coming back to school after flunking the driver's test. If hell is reliving your most embarrassing moment, that may be it. Hills? There are hills? No one ever taught me how to park on a hill and what the heck does it matter when there are no hills to park on anyway??

And then there was that Army test they gave us in high school. I can't remember the name of it, but I remember the lasting hit it did to my ego. I was a senior and feeling overly confident about my test taking ability, until I started reading those questions about gears (If Gear A is turning in a clockwise direction, which direction is Gear D turning?) and questions about flat boxes. You know, questions like this one? For the life of me I couldn't put those boxes together in my head. It bothered me that I could not figure those out. Bothered me so much that I'm still talking about it  some 30 years...wait, I mean 15 years later, of course.

Side note: This is why I love Captain America - because he can do gears and flat boxes in his head. And he takes out the trash. And kills bugs. When he is not on the other side of the world.

Anyway, all my life I've said I do not do flat boxes....until I saw this post about Putz houses last year on my favorite blog, All Things Paper. I don't know what it was about all those little white houses that caught my eye, but I knew this Christmas I was going to conquer my fear and make a whole bunch of them.

And last week I finally did it.  Look!

Aren't they the cutest things?!?

The patterns are part of the tea light village set from the website. They worked perfectly with my fancy-dancy Silhouette machine.

I love the variety of all the buildings.

And the extras included in the kit are grand, too. Check out that fence and all the trees--it's all part of the kit. Such a deal!

So I finally figured out how to get over my fear of putting flat boxes together. The keys are:
A. Buy a kit with great instructions and lots of pictures.
B. Reward yourself with

I just happened to have an empty Graze box sitting on my countertop and it soon became my glitter station. (I have a glitter station!!)

Check out all that sparkly goodness!

This is as close to snow as we'll probably see in Houston this year, so this is my white Christmas.

The whole scene is as pretty as a picture sitting on my shelf.

And look what happens when you turn on the tea lights at night (and turn your Disklavier piano radio to the Holiday station).

I mean seriously, why didn't someone tell me how fun flat boxes could be a long time ago? More importantly, why didn't someone tell me I could have my own glitter station??

Let the holidays begin!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Double Your Fun

Just because I haven't been posting much, doesn't mean I haven't been folding. Didn't these pink beauties turn out so sweet?

When life brings you twins, don't fret. I can make you a duet of books!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Trouble With Men

So it's been a while since I've been on here. I blame men. Two of them specifically.

Exhibit A: this guy

Captain America changed the kind of plane he flies recently. That means he's a lot higher up in seniority and has a much better schedule. He's home now more than ever. (Is that even possible?? And that is not a rhetorical question.)

It's great having him around the house more, but the flip-side is I haven't had as much time to write as I used to.

Exhibit B: this guy

Meet little QuarterPounder. Isn't he the sweetest thing ever? Hard to believe that the last time I wrote on here, we were just finding out if he was a boy or a girl. He showed up at the end of August, and now he weighs about 11 1/2 pounds, eleven of which I'm pretty sure are in his cheeks.


Sorry, I had to stare at that picture for a little longer. <Sigh.>

Anyway, I've been working for several weeks on something special for his room and I finally sent Captain America on enough trips that I got it finished. Taaaaa-daaaa!

His mom and dad decided that they didn't want any particular theme in his room but they wanted it to be filled with lots of books and they wanted the colors to be navy and gray.

Do you know how hard it is to think up something for a baby boy that doesn't involve sports or animals? But as I was looking through a catalog one day I saw a picture of an alarm clock and thought "That's it! I'll make something with a clock and incorporate books somehow, too." 

The first thing I had to do was come up with a saying. Something that incorporated clocks and books. My mom was always one of those who would let you stay up just a little longer if you were reading a book, so I just went with that idea.

Then I started with the paint. TRUE CONFESSION: I'm not a painter! Geez Louise, it was the most nerve-wracking thing ever!

I sketched something on the canvas and then experimented with mixing colors to show shadows and highlights. By the time it was over I felt like a real artiste. TRUE CONFESSION: That was a joke. It was nerve-wracking until the end, but at least it looked sort of like an alarm clock.

For the clock face, I decided to go with a book page mosaic, just like I did with the hearts and the guitar. Remember?

Then I painted the numerals and the hands and finished by Mod Podging on the text. (Is Mod Podging really a verb?) 

I signed it with my new grandma name, Granny Phanie. 

But the best part? After his mom and dad hung it on the nursery wall, I got to go to read to QuarterPounder and see if he liked it.

Sorry, I had to stare at that picture a little longer. <Sigh.> I mean seriously, those cheeks!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Twinkle, Twinkle

The other day we had a few people over to the house for brunch. And by a few, I mean 50. If you're gonna make breakfast, you might as well make enough for a crowd, right?

There was a very popular Bloody Mary bar...

And yogurt and bacon and cookies...


...And did I mention Bloody Marys?

And then we had a baby shower and a gender reveal! That's right! My baby's having a baby! And it's going to be a...

Happy dance! Happy dance!

My fabulous daughter-in-law, Ashley, has wonderful friends and sisters who served as hostesses. They came in a couple of hours before the shower began to cook and decorate.

The theme was Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, and it started with these cute invites.

So we decorated with stars everywhere.

But wait what's that on top of the book shelf? Right next to the baby pictures of the new mom and dad and the sonogram?

Yes, that thing!

Why it's a folded book by Reading With Scissors, of course! What shower would be complete with one? (Duh!)

But, Stephanie, you ask, what's with the 28?

Well, dear reader, Ashley is also a reader, and when it came to taking those cute baby bump pictures that everyone's doing these days, she didn't want to do the standard "Baby is the size of a cauliflower" pictures. She wanted to do something with books. (I told you she was fabulous.)

So a few weeks ago, I decoupaged this cool Chapter sign and we've been using RDCBs to mark the weeks. We started at 20 weeks and she's been taking a picture every month since. Here's the first one we did:

...and the next

And now we are at week 28!

Wait...Week 28? That means the baby will be here before we know it! Happy dance! Happy dance!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Book Review: A Spy Among Friends

Title: A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal
Author: Ben Macintyre
Format: Paperback
Reading Dates: 08 Apr 2015 - 15 May 2015
Rating: *****

Before I read this book, if you had asked me to play a word association game and given me "Kim Philby," my immediate response would have been "spy." And that would have covered everything I knew about the man. I didn't even know which side he was on or where he was from. (Don't judge.)

That's what made A Spy Among Friends a real-live page-turner for me. I had to keep reading to find out how Kim Philby conned everyone, even his closest friends. Ben Macintyre has created a riveting read that follows Philby from his beginnings as a Soviet agent until his ultimate fate. (Are you like me and don't know the story? I won't spoil the surprise!)

I think what I found most interesting was how the spying seemed less like a James Bond action-adventure kind of job, and more like a Nick Charles witty repartee kind of job. Macintyre's description of Istanbul after WWI, where all the spies from all the sides seemed to know each other and dined and drank in the same restaurants, was especially vivid. Everybody was seemingly watching everyone else and writing home about it in encrypted letters.

This book really held my attention from beginning to end, which, by the way, includes a fascinating postscript from John LeCarre who worked in British intelligence at the same time as Philby. A fascinating book made all the more tantalizing by the fact that it's all true.

Highly recommended!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Book Review: The Signature of All Things

Title: The Signature of All Things
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Format: Kindle
Reading Dates: 17 Feb 2015 - 18 Mar 2015
Rating: **1/2

Hmmm...This is one of those books with beautiful prose that draws you in, but with a storyline that makes you go "what the heck was that all about?"

It is about a woman with a fine scientific mind who can tell you everything about every kind of moss, but who is never able to attract the romantic attention of a man--that is until she reaches middle age. So that's the first third of the book.

And then she does attract the attentions of a man, but that is just a painfully awkward story that results in a painfully awkward situation. So that's the second third of the book.

And then she takes off on a ship for the other side of the world where she discovers. Well, I'm not sure exactly what she figured out there. And that was the last third of the book.

And then it was over and I said "what the heck was that all about?"

Monday, May 11, 2015

Go Big!

Last week we celebrated the lovely Miss Holly's birthday with some southwestern fare in downtown Dallas and...

...iris folding!

Holly had requested an iris folded U.S. map several months ago with a special ask--she wanted it big! This took a little thinking on my part. I needed to find a frame the right size and then I needed to figure out how I was going to cut out a map that big.

How big, you ask? Well, if this is the size of the original iris fold map I did...

...THIS is the size of Holly's map.

I eventually ended up using my Silhouette Cameo to make the map out of two 12" x 12" pieces of cardstock and pieced them together.

Then came the fun part.

I used paper from two different atlases. 

This one...

...and this one.
And two different dictionaries, too. 

A mat and a frame later, and Holly got her big map.

Interested in a giant iris fold for your house? Give me a shout. I have lots of atlases waiting to be swirled.