Saturday, May 28, 2011

Never Forget Those Who Served

He was part of the Greatest Generation. Born just before the Great Depression, seventy-plus years of hard living show on his face.  His achievements are not as obvious:  served in World War II; helped build the aerospace industy; raised six kids and sent them all to college; married to his wife for almost fifty years.  During the war, his Division liberated a concentration camp. He received a shrapnel injury and Purple Heart fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. He earned a Bronze Star for retrieving and rescuing a fallen comrade.  We were so proud when Orange County honored Latino veterans, and his banner hung from the rafters during the ceremony. My father. One of the Greatest indeed. Original layout from 2002.
Originally posted November, 2009. Reposted today to mark Memorial Day Weekend in the U.S.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Counterfeit Kit Blog Hop: Summertime Birthday Party

The Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog is hosting a blog hop that should provide you with lots of inspiration.  You can check out the CKCB main page at this link.  Each of the posts in today's hop will tell you about a favorite web site/manufacturer and will create a project using inspiration from that website.  I chose Club Scrap because it remains my all time favorite paper arts producer.  Even though my counterfeit kit doesn't feature Club Scrap product this month, their website is full of inspiration.  If you go to the main Club Scrap site and click on the "Inspiration" tab, you'll see galleries based on their collections, a video archive and lots of other fun stuff.  Within each collection, there are sample cards, layouts and projects.  I based my Houston Memory card (see explanation here) on a card I found in the "Lotus Pond" gallery.  Here's the link to the card which inspired me.  It was made by a very talented Club Scrap member named Farley:
I almost forgot . . . the inside of my card reads, "During the summer which Cordelia and I spent in Houston, our aunts and uncles decided to throw us a birthday party since we were never in town for our 'real' birthday.   We were both born in March. I only ever had one summertime birthday, and it's one I will never forget."
I hope you have fun perusing Club Scrap's website for inspiration, as well as the other websites in the blog hop!
{As with most blog hops, it's possible that blogger may have problems or the timing of posts may be a bit off. So, if things don't go smoothly right away, check back in later}
To continue on the hop, click on this link to go see Jennifer.

And, if you get lost along the way, here's a complete list of the participating blogs:

Counterfeit Kit Challenge
Lisa J                         

An Eerie Houston Memory Card and Praise for CKCB

I have really had a great time this month playing along with the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog (CKCB).  It was exactly the inspiration I needed to get moving on my heritage/genealogy scrapbook and to record some special childhood memories of trips to visit relatives in Houston, Texas.  I enjoyed the fun of putting together the counterfeit kit (see my post here) and participating in two of their mini-challenges (see post here and here).  Tomorrow is another special event - a blog hop where participants will share a link to a favorite scrapbooking company and a project inspired by something from that link.  I hope you'll stop by and check it out.
In the meantime, here's my latest Houston Memory card.  It has to do with my Uncle Felix (my mother's brother) and Aunt Helen.  Making these cards has made me realize that I feel a unique bond with each of my various aunts and uncles and their families.  For their family, the bond comes from the fact that several of their children were the same age as me or my brothers and sisters, so we had a lot in common.  They also came to visit us a few times in California, so we were even closer.  Also, their oldest son, "Little Felix" actually moved to California, and he would attend family holiday dinners with us.  I have many fond memories and stories about him, but those will need to shared another day.  
This memory card recalls a summer in Houston, and it reads "There was a cemetery behind my Uncle Felix and Aunt Helen's house.  We would scare ourselves silly daring each other to creep out there at midnight."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Heritage Treasures and Some Questions

Regular readers of my blog know that I've been working on a heritage/genealogy scrapbook. Before my mom passed away, I sat with her and helped her organize the family heritage pictures and identify the people who were in them.  I've kept them safely in storage, trying to get the initiative together to start the project.  I had assumed that I had everything in my box, but this past weekend, my brother (who lives in the house where my parents lived for 40 years) gave me a bunch more stuff!!!  There were some really awesome treasures, like my Uncle Tom's baptismal certificate at the top of the post.  Isn't it gorgeous? I'll make a color copy and then send the original to one of his children. 
I also found these:
A packet of letters written from my grandfather to my father (including some while he was serving in World War II)!  They're in Spanish, so I'll have to get my kids to translate them for me.  I was happy to find a bunch of prayer cards in the box:
I collect prayer cards and use the images on collage sheets and in my art work.  I was thrilled, though, when I discovered that what I thought was just going to be some nice ephemera turned out to be a treasure trove of family history.  The prayer cards were from my grandparents', aunts' and uncles' funerals.  So, I have more dates to add to my genealogy.  I'll color copy some of these and use them in my art work, but I want to add these to my scrapbook.  I'm looking for suggestions as to the best way to do that.  Should I do a page of prayer cards?  Should I put them on the same page as photographs of my various relatives?  What do you think?
The box also included a variety of framed portraits.  As I was unframing several of the photographs, I found that the frame contained another piece of paper which looked like some sort of blessing of the home or of the photograph.  Here's my dad's college graduation portrait and the additional document I found in the frame behind the photograph:
Here's a scan of what's written on the back of the document:
Again, it's in Spanish, so I'll need to get some translation help.  And I'm curious about the pairing of these documents.  Was it traditional to add a blessing to a formal portrait like this?  Or was the frame originally used for the blessing and then the portrait simply added because no one had another frame?  Anyone have any ideas?
Here's my other question - how many photographs should I include in my album? I originally thought I would scrap all the pictures I had of my aunts and uncles and that this would be no more than a page or two for each one, as well as a couple for my grandparents, great grandparents and great grand parents. I also thought they would all be old photos (say pre-1950).  Now, when I look at what I have, I am perplexed by two situations.  First, I have LOTS of pictures of some of my aunts and uncles (like my Aunt Vera and Uncle Nano) and don't want to include ten pages of them (no matter how much I loved them or how colorful they were).  Second, I also have an assortment of pictures that are "newish."  They are of my aunts, uncles and cousins taken during my lifetime.  I like some of these because they are representations of how I remember my aunts and uncles.  But, they don't seem very heritagey to me, if you know what I mean. I was thinking about some sort of arbitrary cut-off, say only including pictures that are more than 50 years old, but I don't know for sure.  I would appreciate your thoughts on these strategy questions!
I'll leave you with one last treasure.  It brought a big smile to my face and I hope it will bring one to yours, too.  But you'll probably have to click on it to make it big enough to read and you'll definitely have to read to the last line to get to the punch line.  Answers to my queries in comments or via email most appreciated.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Niece's Quinceanera

This is my brother with his beautiful daughter.  (Since her mother doesn't use my niece's name on her blog, I won't either.  We'll just call her "The Birthday Girl.")  I went to Southern California last weekend to attend her Quinceanera, which is a traditional Mexican event to celebrate a young girl's 15th birthday.  There is a religious component, where the family thanks God for bringing their child to this day and asks for his continued guidance as she moves into womanhood:
There can be various other parts of the ceremony, such as the exchanging of flat shoes for the girl's first pair of high heels.  My niece skipped that part but did receive her "last doll" from her Godparents:
The birthday girl will often have a court of young men and women:
And it has become quite popular lately for there to be an elaborate set of dances done by the court.  The kids will practice these for weeks to get them right:
My daughter Clara was excited to get a new dress and to spend time with her cousins (here she is with her cousin, the birthday girl's sister):
I was happy to get my family all dressed up and have our picture taken:
A good time was had by all (here's one of my other brothers dancing with his little girl):
My niece has been looking forward to this day for a long time, and she truly looked liked a Princess and comported herself like a beautiful young woman. 
We were all sooo proud of her!  I didn't have a Quinceanera, and Clara won't have one either.  But I'm happy to see this tradition continue in at least part of my family.  I think it's good to have ceremonies which mark the passage into adulthood and give teenagers an opportunity to think consciously and concretely about the type of adult they want to become.  For those of you with children, do you (or did you) have any plans to do something like this with your own children?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Aunt Anna Mary and Uncle Tony (CKC minichallenge #3)

The Counterfeit Kit Club has issued a Mini-Challenge to go with this month's kit.  The challenge (see post here) is to start with an embellishment and plan a card or layout around it.  I started with this pair of chipboard embellishments from my counterfeit kit:
They inspired me to take out my circle cutter and create a round embellishment for the Houston Memory card (see explanation here) at the top of my post.  The design was so elegant that I decided to write about my Aunt Anna Mary and Uncle Tony (Anthony).   My mom adored her oldest brother - my Uncle Tony - and I have a layout planned for him to be completed soon.  Here's a picture of how I remember them:
Inside the card I wrote, "Aunt Anna Mary and Uncle Tony were the oldest of my aunts and uncles.  They were always very sophisticated - he was dapper and she was elegant.  I remember she made beautiful porcelain dolls that she would turn into lamps. She gave us one with a purple dress and black hair."
I had a lot of fun starting with an embellishment and using that as an inspiration.  Do you ever do that? 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My Uncles in Uniform

Today's Houston Memory Card (see this post for details) is about my dad's three brothers . . . my Uncle Jesse, my Uncle Johnny and my Uncle Tom.  It reads "My uncles on my dad's side were all men in uniform - Uncle Jesse and Uncle Tom served in the Houston police force and Uncle Johnny was a special delivery messenger with the U.S. post office."  I'll make a scrapbook layout about them when I get back in town because there's much more to the story.  In fact, my Uncle Jesse was only the second Mexican American police officer for the city of Houston.  He served honorably for 33 years! You can read more of his story in this post at my cousin Irene's blog.  
Well, I just go back into town and wanted to update this post before it goes "live" because while visiting my brother (who lives in my parents' former home), he gave me two more boxes of heritage family photos he recently found! I thought I had them all and had them all organized, but now I've got more work to do.  Oh well, it's worth it because I found some real treasures, like this one which goes with today's post:
That's my Uncle Tom on the left and my Uncle Jesse on the right.
Are there any men in uniform in your family tree?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Grandmother's House

I know I kindof promised myself that I would make a heritage/genealogy layout for each memory card I made (see this post for an explanation), but I have to admit that I love making the cards more than I love doing the layouts.  And they're much faster.  So, I do have layouts planned for this card, as well as a couple others. But I decided to put a couple up anyway because I'm off traveling this weekend and won't get to the layouts until later.  The card up top has memories of my Grandmother's house and is based on the Card Sketch challenge at the Counterfeit Kit blog.  Both of my mother's parents died before I was old enough to know them, as did my dad's father.  But I did get to know my Grandmother a bit. . . about as well as you can get to know an adult that you only see once or twice a year and with whom you don't share a common language (she only spoke Spanish; I only spoke English).  But, I still have fond memories of my Abuelita (as we called her).  Here's what I wrote:
"Grandma's house was full of interesting things. . . a foot powered sewing machinge; a hand cranked clothes washer; a huge bag of animal crackers.  Out back, there was a clothesline and I think I even recall an outhouse with a crescent moon cut in the door.  I remember sleeping on the living room floor during sweltering Houston summers, trying to stay cool under clean crisp sheets, listening to cicadas, worrying about flying cockroaches, and waiting to watch Speed Racer in the morning with my cousins."
My children, at 13 and 16, still have two grandparents around (my husband's parents), but I really wish that they got to know my folks better before they passed away.  Did you get to know your grandparents  Do you have any special memories of them to share?

Friday, May 20, 2011

5 Things I'm Doing Right Now & Questions

1.  Winning!  I was picked as a random winner at Shimelle's blog for Happy Scrapbook Day, and I won two passes to any of her classes.  I'm holding on to them right now and will probably use them for an upcoming class.  So, keep your eye open for a blog give-away whenever the next unmissable Shimelle class comes on line.  Also, the envelope and many of the goodies in the above photo were the result of winning on Jacky's blog.  Thanks so much Jacky - I love everything in the package.
2. Planning!  Today I went to get my passport renewed for our trip this summer.  In July, we'll be in London for two weekends, the Cotswolds for a few days and Cambridge for a few days.  I love my passport.  This is the second passport I have traveled with, and it expired at the end of last year.  I love looking at all the various stamps from the places I've visited.  I can't wait to start filling the pages of my new one! Do you have a passport?  Is it well loved?  Also, for my UK friends, any recommendations for places to stay or visit in the Cotswold area?
3.  Imagining! I signed up for the 2012 Sketchbook Project, and I received my sketchbook in the mail.  I chose the topic "In 10 minutes," so that I could challenge myself to create things quickly.  Has anyone else participated or planning to participate?
4.  Enjoying!  Enjoying the view opened up by the hard work of tree cutters who cut down one of our trees and one of our neighbor's trees:
Watching them made me really happy that I had a job which kept my feet firmly on the ground!
5. Packing! We're going down to Southern California for the weekend to attend my niece's Quincenera (a Latino celebration when a young girl turns 15).  I'll leave some auto posts for you to enjoy while I'm gone.
So, what are you up to?
P.S. For those who asked about my summer reading list, you can see it in this post.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Art Journaling a Wish for Summer

I had a really nice time getting inky and painty and playing in my art journal this morning.  I started with the this week's challenge at the Stampotique Design blog to use something you would normally recycle.  I grabbed some plastic strawberry basketss and used them as a stencil/mask to lay down a latticed layer of ink onto my page.  Then I used them like a stamp to add some gesso texture.  Used my Heidi Swapp ghost butterflies as masks with more spray ink, added my Stampotique image plus some flowers, edged the corners with soft yellow paint, journaled with a gold pen and then flicked some white paint on top for the final layer.  The journaling inspiration came from the current Creative Therapy prompt to describe the way you are right now.  And where am I?  Wishing it were summer, but still facing a lot of work-work (writing an article and grading exams) before I can get into full summer mode.
How would you describe where you are right now?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Grungy Monday Art Journal Page

I have to admit that I wasn't that thrilled when the Grungy Monday technique challenge (posted here at Linda's Studio L3 blog) for this week was distress color blocking. Granted, it did come with a cool Tim Holtz video demonstration, which you can see here.  But, I don't know.  It just seemed so, um, well, plaid to me.  But after looking at a few other contributions, I realized that the technique could be done in a more subtle way.  Since my art journal has been sad and lonely lately, I decided to give it a go.  I started with a Club Scrap mask and spritzed some pesto and terra cotta spray ink around in.  Then, I filled the background in, using the color block technique (weathered wood, pine needles and some kind of orange ink).  I really like how it turned out. The journaling reads, "It's time to start my summer reading." The image is a picture that I took of a statue in the harbor.  Have you tried it yet? Am I only the only one allergic to plaid?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Uncle Nano 2 - The Hunter

Here's the next one in my series of "Houston Memories Card," based on Sian's Captured in a Card idea and using my May counterfeit kit.  For this card, I used the card sketch challenge posted on the Counterfeit Kit blog.  It's a great  sketch!
This card is also about my Uncle Nano.  You can see the first of his cards in this post.  This one reads "My Uncle Nano used to love to hunt in a place called 'The Big Thicket.'  There were lots of deer and antelope heads mounted and displayed throughout his house, but his real trophies were a boar's head and a rug made from a mountain lion hide.  I remember being totally fascinated by their preserved teeth and marble eyes.  We actually drove up there once. The mosquitoes were so thick that Uncle Nano threw my dad a bottle of 'Off!' insect repellent and shouted,'Here Pete, take a bath!'  I don't think we kids ever got out of the car.  Decades later, my sister Cordelia and I worked with a Realtor to sell the property as part of settling Aunt Vera's estate.  I actually think he sold it to someone who intended to use it as a hunting lodge."
And here's the scrapbook page I made to go along with it:
I don't really know anything about this photograph, as I found it in a book about Latino history in Houston, Texas that I found in my Aunt's house.  I guessed it was circa 1925, as my Uncle looks younger than when he married my Aunt in 1933.  I'll ask around to see if anyone knows any more about it, and I left some space to explain whatever I find out. At first, I thought it must be a military picture, but perhaps my Uncle Nano really hunted on horseback? The other thing I don't quite understand is that the photograph has the name of a Houston photography studio on the back (Cantu Studios), which makes me wonder who took the photograph and how.  Did studios in those days shoot on location? Or did my Uncle Nano bring this horse and his outfit to the studio? Speaking of which, I don't ever remember anything about my Uncle owning a horse! Very curious.  Anyone have any guesses about the photograph or knowledge of photography studio conventions in the U.S. in the 1920's?

Monday, May 16, 2011

"Great Minds Think Alike" Card Sketch

I make a lot of photo cards.  You can see some of them by clicking on this link.  Most of them use a full photo with some added embellishments and a sentiment.  This card is a little different.  It uses a 1-2" strip cut from a photo, mounted on a white card (which is why it's hard to see the edges of the card).   It's based on this sketch, which I sort of developed:
I say that I sortof developed it because the sketch is based on two almost identical cards that I received in the mail today from two different people!  This one is from Amy in Australia:

And this one from Deb in Arizona, USA:

Aren't the cards pretty?  And isn't it a little eery to get two such similar cards that to my knowledge were created independently?  Anyway, it's a very fun and easy sketch to use.  Here's one more I made:

 Let me know if you decide to to use the sketch.  And, if you put the photos on white, be sure to photograph or scan them with something in the background! LOL!