Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. I drove up to my parents' home in Greensboro on Wednesday evening. The whole family (except Cami who was tired from a 10 hour work day) met at the theatre to see the newest Harry Potter film. Loved it! I can't wait for the last film to come out, but at the same time, I'll be sad when the whole thing is over.
We celebrated Thanksgiving with the extended family. There are so many of us, we have dinner potluck style. Here's a small portion of the food everyone brought:

And here's some of the desserts we had:

And here's a few more images from the day, including my grandmother with several of her siblings:

I didn't really get any good pictures of everyone else at the gathering. I was too busy enjoying the food and catching up with the family!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Searching for Pink Nuns (plus a cat story and some layouts)

In the weeks leading up to our trip to Rome, I mentioned to several people that I was looking forward to seeing all the different colored habits that nuns of different orders wear. The conversation would then usually go something like this:

friend: "Really? I didn't know nuns wore different colored habits."
me: "Oh yes, when I was a little girl and I went to Rome, I saw all sorts of colors. I saw blue nuns, and black and white and grey. I even saw pink nuns."
friend: (looks skeptical) "Pink? Are you sure about that?"
me: "Yes, I thought it was so cool to see them all walking around Vatican City."
friend: (with that 'I'm humoring your crazy opinion' look) "Well, good luck with that."
So as soon as we got to Rome, I began to keep a running list in my head of the different colored outfits that I saw the nuns wearing. First there was the always-popular black habit. And over the course of our two days in Rome, I saw white, grey, khaki, light blue, navy blue, and black and white together. I was obsessed with spotting nuns. I managed to get photos of a few of the nuns as they walked by.

And while they were taking their lunch.

But sadly, I did not see any pink nuns. I also didn't see any bright blue nuns, which I also remembered from my childhood visit to Rome. In fact, compared to my memories of city where whole troops of nuns went walking by on a regular basis, the city was practically empty this time around. I don't know if this is due to a trend away from the habit, or whether it was simply an issue of timing; the first time I was there, Pope John Paul II was addressing a huge crowd in the plaza. At any rate, I think Alton thought I had made up the pink and blue nuns.
This weekend, I embarked on a new quest: to find evidence of my pink and blue nuns on the internet. And I found them! So here, for all you skeptics, is some photographic proof of what I saw as a child.
First, we have the Holy Adoration Spirit Sisters:

And the Sisters of Mary Immaculate Queen wear bright blue, while the Redemptoristine Sisters wear bright red. I can't get the images of either order to upload, but you can Google them, if you're really interested. I also found dark brown habits, white and red habits, deep purple habits, and white habits with red veils. I don't know why I find the colors of their habits so interesting, but it was a fun little quest this weekend.
In other news, this is what I found yesterday morning when I walked out of my shower and into the bedroom:

I usually have the covers up over my pillows for just this reason, but I was going to change the bed that day anyway, so I didn't bother. Spike looks like she thinks it's her pillow, doesn't she?
I also found time to finish three more pages for my Rome album. Scrap mojo, on!
This first one is another scraplift from Scrapbook Trends, this time from a layout by Heather Bowser. It is intended to complement the "Vestals" layout I posted a day or two ago.

The next two layouts are all my own. They are intended to stand next to each other. I did a little distressing to match the feel of the ruins. There is hidden journaling inside the envelope on the right hand page describing our experiences walking through the ruins and the colosseum.

I'm off to eat dinner and then scrap or stitch, whichever seems most inspiring at the moment. Happy crafting, everyone!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Vatican Museum is AWESOME!!!

It's been over a month since I came back from my big vacation, and this will only be my second post about the trip. (shaking head) I had such big plans for sharing all my adventures! Anyway, we started the second day of our vacation with a visit to Vatican City. As a little bit of background, I visited the City when I was twelve years old. For years, I thought that I had seen the Sistine Chapel while I was there. I mean, I knew the Chapel was inside the city, and I went inside the big church, so I must have seen it, right? I thought it was one of the decorations waaaay high up on the ceiling of one of the big domes in St Peter's Cathedral. Ha ha ha. It wasn't until we were planning this trip that I realized the Chapel was inside the Vatican Museum. And we didn't go to the museum when I was a kid. So I was very much looking forward to visiting the museum and finally getting a look at that famous ceiling.
We had originally planned to tour the museum on our own. We were there on the UN's Day of Tourism, which meant that entry to the museum was free, and the crowds were even larger than usual. The line to get inside was a couple of hours long, so Alton decided that we were going to pay for a guided tour and skip the long lines. I reluctantly agreed, and when all was said and done, I was very glad that we got the guide. He was quite knowledgeable, and I think he really enriched our musuem experience.
The museum is located inside apartments formerly used by the Pope for living and entertaining his guests. Artwork aside, the building itself is a treat to observe. The museum's wings surround a large courtyard from which you can get an excellent view of the dome of St Peter's Cathedral:

Of course, the courtyard itself was pretty interesting too. I just love peacocks, so I was thrilled with the decor on this side of the building:

On one of other walls, I was amused by the giant head tucked into one of the niches:

I had noticed several women in old-fashioned nurse uniforms throughout the first part of our museum tour, but in the courtyard, there were a huge number of them, all with an older gentleman in military dress in her care. Well, I THINK they are nurses. I tried to find information about them on the internet and failed miserably. Maybe someone else has a clue?

I loved looking at the artwork built into the walls themselves:

and the ceilings:

The statuary was breathtaking:

This next one is a rather famous piece called "Laocoon and his sons". It's over 2000 years old, and, at one point, had been reassembled incorrectly:

There were three parts of the museum that I found particularly breathtaking. The first was the tapestry gallery. Image after image was beautifully woven into fabric. Check out this sweet lion:

Next on my list of awesomeness was the map room. I love maps, and just look at this ceiling stretching out above our heads!

The photo can't really catch how the ceiling really glowed over our heads. I'll bet it looks awesome in candlelight too! And did you notice a certain tall, handsome man in green ahead of me in the picture?
The last place we visited in the museum was the Sistine Chapel. And no, I did not take this picture inside the chapel. Sadly, no photos are allowed, so this is just a quick shot a took of a poster outside in that giant courtyard I was talking about at the begin of this post.

Wow, wow, wow! What a beautiful place to worship. Even with the room stuffed to the gills with tourists, you could sense the majesty of this place. We were warned before we entered the chapel that we could not take photos and we were not supposed to talk inside. Sadly, there were two security officers at the top of the chamber who would shout, "Shhh! Silencio!" every few seconds. Kind of ruined the solemnity of the experience. As we left the chapel, we paused near a black char mark on the floor of the chapel. This mark was left by the brazier used to tell the world how the voting for a new pope was going. Wow. Did I say wow already?
Tomorrow, energy allowing, I'm going to share with you my hunt for the elusive pink nuns. Intrigued? Confused? Think I'm making things up? Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Scrap mojo returns (and some stitchy progress)

Yippee! I finally found the motivation to continue working on my Rome scrapbook! Yeah, it's taken waaaay too long to get back to my scrapping. This first page is the right hand page for the "Colosseum" page I posted a while back.

Of course, being the contrary soul that I am, I find myself ready to scrapbook for the first time in a couple of months at the exact time that I really need to focus on work, even over the weekend. I don't want my scrappy mood to pass, but I can't spend hours and hours playing with a layout, so I decided to do some scraplifting. I'm creating something, but it moves much faster than if I'm coming up with the layout all by myself. I lifted this next layout from a page I found in Scrapbook Trends, by Leslie Ashe. I grabbed some old BG Periphery paper from the top of my paper stash. I love this line of papers!

I've also done a little stitching this week. I finished all the stitching on this Halloween ornament and started stitching up the pillow, but I don't have any stuffing to fill the pillow. So this is as far as I'm gonna get until I go home to visit Mom and have a chance to hit one of the 'big box' stores in Greensboro.

I made another Halloween pillow just like that one for the CrossStitch Pals exchange last month. On the other side of the pillow, I stitched my name, the year, and the location where we did the exchange.
Finally, I picked up this pattern by La D Da a while ago. I've had all the materials to stitch it, and I decided this month is the month to stitch it. I'm about halfway done with it. My camera did some strange things with the linen fabric, but here's a photo of what I've done so far:

Well, back to the grind. Er, if Spike will let me, that is. She's discovered that I have a little ribbon on the pocket of my blouse, and she's sitting on the arm of my chair, trying to eat/catch the ribbon. Sigh! If only she weren't so darned cute!

Monday, November 8, 2010

It's been a double savings year

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope everyone was able to enjoy their 'extra' hour this weekend. This year, I had the pleasure of getting that extra hour of sleep twice! We 'fell back' an hour while we were on vacation in Egypt. That was probably the most-needed extra hour I've ever experienced. We were getting up at 4am to visit the Valley of the Kings early, early in the morning, before the temperatures passed 'miserable' on their way to 'deadly'. It was also nice when we got back to the States, because it meant that there was only a 6 hour time difference between the two countries instead of 7.

In other news, I spent the weekend in Durham visiting Alton. He started a new job today, and we did a little unpacking at his new apartment over the weekend. Since Lucky has to take medicine on a daily basis, I took him with me. By the time we left, I think he had declared himself the boss of Alton's two cats.

I also wanted to respond to a few comments from my last post. Chris: I do put up my own Christmas Tree. I started my Junior of college, and I've had one almost every year since then. I have a huge collection of Christmas ornaments, and I try to collect one from just about everywhere I visit. I did not have a tree last year because I thought my very young kittens would tear it up. Sadly, those same kittens have not become less destructive, nor have they calmed down over the past year. I'm seriously considering waiting another year before putting up a tree again. I hate not to, but Spike is so crazy, I think she might topple the tree, or destroy a precious ornament!
Nan: I hand sewed the chenille. It was very 'feathery' so there were a couple of times when I THOUGHT I had pushed my needle through the main part of the chenille, only to discover that I wasn't anchoring anything at all! I got better at it as I went around, though. Pretty much anything you see that I finish is done by hand. I don't have a sewing machine. They kind of make me nervous.
Charlene: no, it was a fairly thin chenille. I liked the weight of the shells, but I kept spilling them, and I couldn't figure out how to completely stuff the pin pillow to the brim with the shells. It looks fine laying flat, but it would look saggy if I tried to prop it up, which is why I'm not 100% sold on the shells. Maybe if I did a mix of shells and fiberfill? I've got quite a bit of the shells left, so I might play around with them again next time I'm ready to finish another pin pillow.

Thanks for the comments, y'all. I love knowing that someone cares enough to read my crazy ramblings! I'll close with an image of the t-shirt I wore this Halloween. Too bad I didn't know about the zombie walk at the beach ahead of time, I'll bet the x-con folks would have loved it!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Only took me 3 years ...

to finish this ornament!

The design is by Monsterbubbles and it's from the 2007 JCS ornament issue. I stitched it on a Silkweaver linen (I've forgotten the name of the fabric). The ruching is done with some black silk ribbon. I made this piece in honor of my trip to France in 2007. No good excuse for the slow finish...just like stitching more than finishing, I guess.
This next piece is a make-do from Shakespeare's Peddler:

I made it into a pin pillow. I like the way the chenille she provided for the edging looks, but it was a bit of a challenge to attach it to the pillow (for me, anyway). I stuffed the pillow with crushed walnut shells. Not sure I'll be using the shells again, but I am happy with how this one turned out.
I also found some time to work on the Richmond Sampler:

What I did NOT find time to work on is any of my scrapbooking. I'm not really sure why, I mean, I have all these fabulous vacation photos to work with, and I know what I want to do with the first batch, but it just isn't happening. Sigh. Soon, though, I'm sure it will.
It's cold and rainy here today, and I may have to turn the heat on this evening. Right now, I'm sitting in my chair with a warm little Tigger curled up on my toes. Spike is a little jealous, and is giving us her Devil Kitty impression:

Hmmm, maybe I should sleep with one eye open tonight.