iScrapbook Templates

Some of the fun stuff I do in all my spare time results in pictures. Haha, of course it does! I use iScrapbook to make beautiful photo books these days. I used to scrapbook with Creative Memories, back when it was all analog, cutting pieces of paper and sticking it to the page. There was something special about putting in all that time and creative energy to produce a beautiful keepsake of memories and times gone by. I still cherish all those albums I made, plus several my sister made for me. Yes, it is easy to make a quick memory book in iPhoto or on Shutterfly, but I was missing the creative aspect of designing pages. I never got the hang of Photoshop Elements for making scrapbooks, and then my husband found iScrapbook. It integrates seamlessly with iPhoto, plus I can use pretty much any clip art of graphics I choose to buy or find free on the web, in addition to beautiful kits sold at their website. I have really been enjoying my digiscrapping and am able to keep up with the photos much better than I did in the past! In fact, with photo sharing (since my whole family is on Macs of some type or another) I have access to family photos almost immediately, no waiting for a CD or prints.

All that being said, there are a few things I learned back in those simpler scrapbook days that have never left me. One consultant taught us how to make quilt blocks from the various papers. I used them for my cover pages or just inside the books. Today, I still love using quilt patterns in my photo books. Although iScrapbook has smart templates that make it easy to just start making pages, after using them for several years – and them not putting out any new ones in several years – I started creating my own smart templates. A smart template features placeholders for papers, photos and elements, resulting in a quick page that looks like you spent hours on it. I started out making really basic ones, 6 portrait photos; 9 square photos, things like that. But the quilts…they kept popping up in my mind.

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Once I got the hang of making templates, I really got into it! Not only did I learn to make the quilt pages back in the day, but also to use shapes to create other images.

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Then, I went back to some more standard types of pages, just with a new thought process. How can I make pages that aren’t boring?

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I especially love using some of the panorama iPhone images in my books. They are really wonderful because they show the whole environment.

The iScrapbook shapes and presets are limited at best. I can’t create some of the really new looks, simply because they haven’t gotten there yet. Hopefully the developer will continue to enhance and build this product, and possibly even add some new templates for those of us who use it a lot! I hope you might have found some inspiration from these templates. I was going online and looking at templates to get some of my ideas and I’m happy to share these with you.


Why I love Jamberry Nails


Getting’ the blues

You may notice that my Instanotes feed shows pictures of my hand quite often, with decorated fingernails. Why is that? you ask. I’ll tell you.

I am addicted to Jamberry Nails. These awesome little things are vinyl shields with heat-activated adhesive that come in over 300 styles, take about 20 minutes to apply at home, last up to 2 weeks (I once went 18 days!), and cost about $7.50 per manicure.

How can you not love that?

Retro stripes

Retro stripes

Even better, they don’t chip five minutes after leaving the salon. You don’t have to wait 30 minutes at least for them to dry. You don’t have to spend $35 every two weeks to have fab looking hands.


Jamberry Juniors

If your little diva princess likes to have her nails done, you can make her look like a million bucks with Jamberry Juniors, specially sized for little hands.

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day

I have always been blessed with attractive hands and nails, and I like them to look good. I’ve tried acrylic nails, gel nails and regular old polish, but it always comes down to the same things. They chip, they are expensive, and they require maintenance in a salon. I don’t like being tied to anything that could potentially be a hassle. Nail salons are a dime a dozen but quality manicures aren’t. Half the time you never get the same person twice, and at some of these large nail salons you don’t even see the same people week after week.

A friend of mine introduced me to Jamberry Nails about a year & a half ago. I instantly fell for the nail art aspect of them. They have florals, solids, graphics, charitable, school pride, even sports. Everything you can imagine you can probably find.


Red swiss dots

And if you are concerned about doing them on yourself, stop worrying! These are almost fool proof. If you can put a sticker on straight, you can do these. The beauty is that they come multisized on one sheet, so skinny pinky up to wide big toe sizes. You determine which one fits your nail the best, warm it up with something like a hair dryer, place it on your nail with some pressure to seal it down, then file off the end with a regular emory board. Voila, done!


Dramatic for a party

The vinyl is also BPA free, formaldehyde free, vegan, and made in the USA. If you worry about your little diva princess biting her fingernails, worry no longer. I have even heard stories of people who chewed their nails for years, only to find Jamberry Nails and like them so much they broke their nail biting habit. Awesome.


Pretty pink plaid

There are a few tricks out there, and it can never hurt to research them. On YouTube there are great tutorials on different application techniques. It all depends on your nails. Some nails are dry, some oily. There are ways to work with them. I personally spritz my nails with hairspray before applying the shield, and then once they are all on I run my hands under the hair dryer.

Also, even though they are easy to change, you don’t want to just rip them off your nails. Just like with a gel nail, you need the adhesive to release, otherwise it can take a bit of your nail with it. The Jamberry Nails website has a gentle removal technique they prefer. I use Melaleuca’s Sol-u-Mel in a little water to release the adhesive and remove any residue. It’s up to you what method you use.

I also use Nailtiques nail moisturizer under the tips of my nails every night. It helps to keep the nails strong. A good hand lotion with vitamin D or a cuticle oil is also suggested by the website.

I don’t sell Jamberry Nails. I just really love them. Frankly, I’m certainly helping my friend Angela send her three kids to college with my addiction haha. If you are a fan of great looking nails without the inconvenience of going to a salon and waiting (and who knows if the nail polish is contaminated with someone else’s toenail fungus, ick), you might give them a try. Plus, they have a buy-three-get-one-free promotion almost all the time. So for $45 you can get a minimum of 8 manicures. Even at a cheap salon, 8 manicures could run you around $120. That’s a $75 savings, and maybe you want to spend that on shoes!

Wait, did someone say shoes??

Let’s get more creative, media scandal namers

I was just reading an article about the on-going investigation of a certain Governor of New Jersey’s staffers creating a big traffic jam in retaliation against a mayor who didn’t endorse said Governor. This scandal has been dubbed Bridgegate.

For those who don’t know, or have been living under a rock for the past 40 years, this -gate suffix stems from the Watergate hotel scandal of the Nixon presidency in 1972. Since that time, there have been uncountable real and imagined scandals given some quirky name ending in -gate, such as:

Camillagate – Prince Charles’ ongoing affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles while he was married to Princess Diana

Monicagate – Monica Lewinsky, need I say more?

Nannygate – the failure of a US Senator to pay taxes for her illegal alien nannies

Troopergate – something with Sarah Palin I dread to read further

Weinergate – former US Representative Anthony Weiner and his inability to control his….you know

Rathergate – Dan Rather fabricating memos about George Bush

And of course, we now have Bridgegate. The list of -gate scandals is getting so ridiculous that the original shock and true scandal of the Watergate break ins and the eventual impeachment of the President of the United States has been lost.

Partgate, Shouldergate, Buttongate, Grannygate, Wormgate, Taxigate….we have gone from outrage to outrageous, so I challenge you, Media Scandal Namers, whoever you may be, this moniker, nomenclature, whatever you want to call it, it’s tired. It has done it’s duty as the Scandal Suffix d’jour, and it would like to be retired. Yes, the use of whatever the scandal is about in a nifty, single word name is helpful at saving time typing, but really, isn’t journalism about critical and creative thinking? Using a tired phrase doesn’t distinguish a reporter or journalist from the pack. In my opinion, it shows that person’s lack of creativity. So, yes, I challenge you. Rise above the Lazygate writing and find a new way to tell us about the misbehavior of our politicians, celebrities and sports stars.

I thank you for your support.

Making an easy blanket for your pet

Even your smallest members of the house need a lovey, right? I have been making these blankets for my cats and dogs for many years. My mother made them for the family dog when I was growing up. They can be placed around the house where your pet likes to sleep, they protect your light colored carpets and linens from dark colored hair deposits and pet “gunk”, and can make it so your pet can sleep on the bed without being right up in your face.

Browser likes to hang out on the stairs

Browser likes to hang out on the stairs

To make your pet a warm bed that is also machine washable, you will need:

1 yard of cotton flannel or regular cotton

1 package of Warm & Natural batting, 34×45″ size (or any low loft batting, I just like the weight of this type)

Cozy to be

Cozy to be

Step One

Lay out the fabric to make sure the edges are even and straight. Trim where necessary.

Trim edges

Trim edges

Step Two

Lay the batting on your table, then lay the fabric on top. Match the edge of the batting to the folded edge of your flannel. The flannel is going to be your guide for cutting. Cut out the batting.

Cut batting to the edge of the fabric

Cut batting to the edge of the fabric

Step Three

You should now have one yard of flannel folded inside out and then layered on top of the batting. Keeping everything configured exactly like that, stitch around the open edges, leaving yourself a 6″ opening where you will turn the fabric. Backstitch to anchor your stitching.

Before turning, trim any edges.

Cut out extra bulk before turning

Cut out extra bulk before turning

Step Four

Turn your project by reaching in through the hole and grasping the other end. Pull everything through the hole. Once it’s right side out, reach back in and pop out the corners. Next, turn in the raw edges at the opening, pin closed, then stitch.

Pin and stitch

Pin and stitch

You can either just stitch it straight down the side, or you can stitch all the way around the entire project to make a more finished look. I stitch this about 1/8″ from the edge. Finally, stitch a straight line from edge to edge in the center of the blanket. This will keep the batting from drifting around and getting lumpy in the washer or when Fido digs around in his bed for the perfect spot to settle. If you are feeling really motivated you can stitch an X from corner to corner or other designs. I find that I am not precise enough to do this and I always wind up taking a tuck in the fabric, and that makes a pucker, and that bugs me. :-)

Step Five

Present to Fluffy and collect the furry gratitude you are owed for your efforts. Start to finish this project should take about 15 minutes.

Heavy sigh....

Heavy sigh….

If your pet is bigger than medium size, you can make a similar blanket using 1 yard of flannel backed with 1 yard of cotton or flannel cut into a square, and the batting sandwiched in the middle. Follow the same steps, just stitching around four sides instead of three. I suppose you could also make a kid blanket this way too.  :-)

That’s it, my work here is done

Last night was interesting. First, on the school district survey form:


Please indicate you how important?

Click to enlarge and find the error. Who is writing this stuff? This is the second grammar or syntax mistake I have found in school issued materials. These people are teaching my child, but did they actually pass the NCLB requirements for reading comprehension? Maybe they need to invest in a proofreader.

After that I figured the night would just continue in a boring fashion, until this happened:


Not a yolk at all!!

William Shatner replied to my tweet. WOW. That totally made my night, and yes, I have posted this to Facebook, lol. It’s the little things in life that make you happy, right?

Heritage House – Riverside, CA

Sunday June 30 we were so pleased to attend the 20th Annual Old Style Independence Day Ice Cream Social at the Heritage House in Riverside, CA. This gorgeous Victorian house has been lovingly restored and is a curated museum of Victorian life in early Riverside. Mr and Mrs James Bettner moved from New York to Riverside for his health in the 1870s. After his death, Mrs Bettner commissioned the house as a grand showcase of Victorian living. The house gives tours from September to June. The summer months are reserved for updating projects and the upstairs rooms are just too hot for guests. This is a vintage home and they did not have central air, lol. There is a gift shop and the House staff is wonderful! My colleague from history events is a docent there and it is clear she has a deep love for the home.

The Ice Cream Social is an annual fundraiser for the House, and all proceeds will be used to pay for school busses to bring 3rd & 4th grade children to visit the house. It is important that young children not only get a lesson in local history but also touch the beauty of Victorian culture. If just one child in a group finds a love of history and goes on to promote learning, then the fundraisers have been a tremendous success! Children learn games and past times that do not involve electronics, how laundry was washed in a manual agitator washing machine, and how the grace of the Victorian era was more than just architecture. Check the gallery for some photos from our visit.

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Working with an antique bed frame

I love my antique bed. It has been in our family for over a hundred years. My grandfather slept in it, my mother slept in it, I slept in it, and now my daughter sleeps in it. I don’t know why a bed, such a mundane item of furniture, should hold my affections so firmly, but for some reason it does. I remember a long long time ago in Sunday School they were asking us littles about what we would be most sad to lose in a fire. I had no thought of the clothing, toys or other childhood treasures. For me, it was the bed. Even at that young age I had been captured in the spell of history, antiques and family treasures.

As a kid, I liked to crawl under the bed and look at the support structure, wondering about all the people who had slept on it. The supports of the bed originally consisted of five 2×4 slats that rest on small footers, a framed spring, and then the mattress. The top of the mattress was lower than the top of the footboard and it had a lovely sleigh bed profile. But, since that support structure was worn out and very old, my parents had a new box spring and mattress built. Of course, it is a non-standard size, so it had to be custom built. With the addition of the box spring, the top of the mattress became higher than the top of the footboard and for a while I was upset. I felt it spoiled the look of my bed. :-) We retained the slats to disperse the weight of the mattresses.

As an adult I learned about bed skirts. Particularly for an antique bed, which usually has a 12″-15″ opening below the bed, these are a great way to hide anything you store under the bed, or just give it a softer look. Since my bed has been modified from it’s original structure over the years, this project does not damage it any further. If your antique bed is in its original condition, think about whether you plan to take it on Antiques Roadshow before making alterations.

Because of the slats under my bed and the large box spring, I can’t simply lay the bed skirt over the box spring and leave it at that, so I had to devise a way to attach the skirt. First I tried a system of rails that lay over the slats, but I still had to remove the mattress (heavy) and box spring (insanely heavy) to install and remove the skirt. The other day I came up with the simplest of all methods: velcro.

Slats, underside of the bed

Slats, underside of the bed

Here you can see the slats and a bit of the underside of the bed. I apologize for how terrible these images are, but have you ever tried to take a picture of the underside of a bed? It’s not easy, haha.


Velcro placement

I used adhesive backed velcro and placed it right on the edge of the inside underside of the bed frame.


Velcro placement on the skirt

Next, I cut the center out of the bedskirt so that I had one long ruffle. I placed the other side of the velcro along the seam of the ruffle. Do not cut on the ruffle side of the skirt – I left about 2″ of the center portion as a buffer, just in case my measurement of the drop was off. I broke the velcro into three sections – side, foot and side – making sure to allow room to go around large corner posts. First, place the velcro on the bed frame. Then place the velcro on the skirt. The measurement should match up exactly. With this particular bed, I used a queen sized skirt because the bed is not a twin and not a full. I took a large pleat in the center of the foot section to make up for the overage. Continue along the other side until the skirt is placed.


Completed bed

The finished bed looks lovely! Since my black cat likes to go under the bed to hide, it will now be much easier to remove and wash the skirt to remove her hair that sticks to the skirt. If I decide to change the skirt for some reason, I will leave the velcro in place on the bed frame, and just reuse the pieces on the skirt. Keep in mind that the adhesive may wear out over time and you may need to baste the velcro onto the skirt.

Good luck with your antique bed, just remember to work with it, not against it!


Grown up coloring

At Christmas my daughter thought her Auntie would like some coloring books, since as a six-year-old Melody likes coloring. Lucky her, Auntie likes coloring and always has. Well, I thought some coloring books for grown ups were in order, and since I liked them so much, I bought myself a set. Of course, since we love Victorian clothing, that’s the theme of the books. I finished a couple recently. My daughter was playing on her iPad and I was the one coloring. Hee hee!

Evening Attire ca. 1891

Evening Attire ca. 1891

Walking Costumes ca. 1884

Walking Costumes ca. 1884

I hope you find yourself some good Dover Coloring books, a 100 color pencil set, and a little time to dream!

Speaking of Victorian clothing, we will be at the Southern California Civil War Association (SCCWA) reenactment at Prado Regional Park April 6-7. Visit my Victorian sister site Past Periods Press for more details.

LG Refrigerator

Sometimes it’s the little things that make you happy. Even though this was an unexpected expense, I am thoroughly delighted with our new LG door-in-door refrigerator!


Front of my shiny new ‘fridge

We ordered the refrigerator from Home Depot after price shopping. Fortunately, we had recently been dreaming about a new fridge and had seen this model in person. The Home Depot online order was simple, click click click, plus we were able to call customer service and speak to someone live at 10:30 p.m. Refrigerators have a way of quitting at the most inconvenient times. Like right before bed.


Door in door feature

Inside the door, there is a small door giving access to whatever you put on those shelves. We chose to put drinks, since it keeps them out of the way, available to all of us since we have three different preferred drinks, and Melody loves being able to open up and get her own drink. No more digging past the yogurt and leftovers for a water.


French door style opening

This apparently is called French door opening, because the doors open out like that. You can see there is ample storage in here for tons of food. We don’t have a lot right now because I didn’t have enough space in my beer fridge in the garage to save everything. I had to throw out a lot of food that would have just spoiled. The time between the order being placed and delivery was five days, ouch!


Three tiers of freezer storage

I have always loved the freezer on the bottom, because I don’t get into the freezer as much as the fridge. I’d rather bend over occasionally instead of stooping all the time. I also despise side by side because there is just skinny deep shelves. I was amazed as I was digging out all sorts of frozen stuff I had forgotten about! Also, the ice maker is inside the door of the refrigerator, which gives you lots of space inside the freezer. The three tiers will be great for organizing popsicles in the summer away from the meats and frozen dinners, things like that.

All in all, I am such a married mom, but completely delighted and overjoyed with this wonderful refrigerator!


Happy Anniversary to us!

Nine years together! We celebrated by going to Las Vegas….by ourselves! Gramma and Papa came over and stayed with Melody and we visited the fabulous shows and sights of Sin City. We finally saw Love, the Beatles tribute show by Cirque du Soliel, which I have been wanting to see since Melody was born. It was truly amazing! The visual and aural spectacle is beyond what I expected and really does celebrate the magic of their music – especially considering they were really only making music for 7 years. That music has endured and finds new fans still today.

Next we saw the Titanic Artifact Exhibit – a collection of items recovered from the wreck site at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean. The exhibit also includes much historical information and even a corridor built to look and sound like the second class section of the ship. Most impressive is a recreation of the grand staircase, which was made famous in the movie, but which was popular in its own right in 1912. The exhibit is moving, sad, and tastefully presented.

Last but not least, we saw Absinthe – a show that we thought was going to be a magic/burlesque type show, but which turned out to be a comedy/acrobatics/burlesque show. Amazing feats of physical strength, arial dancing & acrobatics, and a funny story made for an interesting evening.

One thing I remembered about Vegas….everything smells like cigarette smoke and it takes forever to get there and to come home. But otherwise, we had a wonderful trip!