Thursday, March 29, 2007

another quick preview

Aren't these digital torn paper guys adorable!? No, I can't take credit for making these, just for putting them together! DeDe Smith (Designs by DeDe)is the artist over at But you can see what I did with them on April 2nd and the ScrapQuick Grand Opening!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sneak Peek!

Here's a little hint at what I've been working on!

Monday, March 26, 2007

New Postal Rates woes!

I hope to continue our Japanese travels this week, but I had to post something new I just found out about. They are discontinuing the small global priority envelope (around $5) and now there will only be the large envie (around $11). I use the small ones to send packages to my friends overseas and I'm so sad they will be going away!

Here's the information online:

You can write them using the contact us button on the left.

Below is the letter I wrote them:

I just heard you are eliminating the small international priority envelope with the new rates in May. I am so sorry to hear this because I love to use them for swapping cards with my overseas friends.

You may not be aware but there is an artistic community all over the world that makes hand-crafted cards and Artist Trading Cards. We support the USPS in these days of email and electronic communications by mailing our cards to each other frequently.

I am involved in monthly swaps to my pals in Canada, UK and Netherlands and it gives us great pleasure to mail groups of cards to each other to spread joy and learn new ideas and techniques. It fosters a great feeling of the world-community between us.

If our mailing option is now that we have to use the large priority to mail our packages, this will double the cost and I'm sure it will curtail our swaps and may people will be limited to US only swaps. We will swap less and spread less joy.

I'm very sad about your new policy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Here's a short interlude before we get to Big Buddha Temple!

If you ever go to Japan, make sure you get a souvenir book called shuensu for Japanese stamping or "stampu". If you go to certain tourist spots, you can use a rubber stamp and pad to stamp an image in your book; much like we collect pressed pennies here. The plain stamp-it-yourself images are free, but if you are in a temple or shrine you can donate 300 yen (about $3) to get a special calligraphy done. They are beautiful and each place is different. I ended up with 13 of the fancy ones and 2 books because we all had so much fun with it.

It is truly an art and it's fascinating to watch them do this. First someone (usually an assistant) will stamp some special images in red ink and then sometimes put the date in Kanji. Then the calligrapher will add special characters using black ink and a brush. I will post some photos below of some of my pages.

This is the first book I bought in Nara. The cover is handmade red paper with a corded binding at the top.

This book I bought in Kyoto at Daisen-In Zen Garden. The cover is brocade fabric and it opens (from right to left, Japanese style) in accordian format.

This is a page from the garden used as blotter paper. Sometimes they would use fancy blotter paper like this one, or some places would be a scrap of something used just to soak up the extra ink. At one place they gave me a newspaper scrap from an OB/Gyn clinic! Some places would use fine sand to blot the ink.

Here is a fancy Calligraphy page from Kofukuji Temple.

This fancy page is from Daisen-In Temple Garden.

This fancy calligraphy looks a little different from the others. The lady at the counter took my yen and then put the stamp and the date. And then she was pointing behind us. I thought she was pointing at the shrines that the stampu was for, but she was trying to tell us to go to the priest over there. So this is a half-done stampu, ha ha!

Here is a free stamp from Himeji, I believe. One is from the train station and one is from the castle. The first free one I did, Matt kept telling me how to stamp it. "Make sure it's well inked" "Make sure you press hard and firm" that sort of thing. So finally in frustration, I said "Matt, I'm a professional stamper, I *know* how to do this!" Well, you can guess what happened next—it was the worst stamped image I ever made!

This final stamp is from Miyajima. There is a beautiful temple multi-complex there where you visit 6 different stations and stamp a piece of the image at each. When you are done it makes a picture. You can see how well this "professional" stamper matched up the images, ha ha!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Nara - Little Buddha

In the park are some sacred deer. Vendors sell wafers to feed them. Man, those deer are feisty! I thought they were going to eat me! They were head-butting me and trying to get the last bite. When all the wafers were gone, they tried to eat my jacket. I had to high-tail it outta there or risk being eaten alive. For the rest of the trip we kept calling them "goats" because they ate anything and were so rude, just like a goat!

Right after the deer, it started snowing. Here's a picture of the famous five-story pagoda. Yes, I know you can't see it for all the snow, but it's famous. Some people were surprised that it snowed there, so here's proof. And to this poor California girl, it was almost more than I could stand!

Here's Matt outside of the Little Buddha Shrine. I really loved the design of the banner. The next photo shows a detail of the deer logo. They are so graceful and pretty in a logo, ha ha!

hmmmm...Which way is the big buddha? Are you guys sure this isn't it? This one looks really big to me--I think your map is wrong. I'll be really mad if we walk all the way over there and I was right. This buddha looks really big! I'm telling you... this is a big buddha!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Day 2 - Nara

I love this photo of the dried fruit vendor. We got some mangoes and they were yummy!
The red banners were on the steps up to the complex of Kofukuji Temple.

Kofukuji Buddhist Temple was founded in 669, but it burned down in 1717 and had to be rebuilt. There is a big bell in front of the temple with a long rope. The architecture and colors of this temple were beautiful!
All scrapbook papers and elements are from Christine Smith from her Fall Festival kit at Font is Donny's Hand.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Japan - Day 2 - Nara

Here's the first plumb blossoms that we saw on our walk to the train station. The bottom quote was on a sign in Nara. It says "Plumb blossoms never complain of the cold in this cold season." It's such a lovely sentiment, but as you will see later, I am no plum blossom, ha ha!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Virtual Vacation - Day One!

Hi! Well, I decided it would be fun and also a great way for me to remember if I posted my last vacation details on my blog. So here is Japan, 2005; Day One! I'll do my best to post regularly so I can finish this some day, LOL! We were in Japan for 14 days, so there's lots to tell.

Day one was spent travelling. I think the flight was 11 hours from San Francisco to Osaka. We landed in the evening at Kansai Airport, arriving exhausted but excited. I remember telling Johnny beforehand that there was no need to meet us; that we could make it to his apartment on our own. Once I realized how overwhelming Japan is, I was so thankful to have him go everywhere with us!

Even though in my car, I had studied some Japanese language tapes for a couple months before the trip, I only knew a few useful phrases such as "where's the bathroom?" and such. And of course, I can't read any Japanese characters. Luckily, Johnny can read some basic Kanji and Hiragana and has no problem reading Katagana or Romanji (of course!).

Johnny met us and then we grabbed a bite at an airport kiosk—chicken katsu with curry. Curry and chicken cutlet are very popular there and it was so tasty after being on the plane for so long. After that we headed back to his apartment. It took at least 3 train changes and well over an hour—running up and down platforms and across the stations to get home, since the airport is outside of town and Johnny lives on the opposite side of town. We lugged my huge suitcase and everything behind us the whole way. [Matt calls it the "steamer trunk" and I really did use everything I packed, so I'm glad I had it!] Everything was an exhausted, jet-lagged blur.
After we got home we showered and tumbled into bed. [Matt said when he saw how tiny Johnny's apartment was he was ready to leave and find a hotel for my sake, but I was game to try it so he stayed.] The next day we were going to see the ancient capital city of Nara.