Is everyone ready for Christmas yet? I know I'm not/am, well, a little bit of both, really. The mad rush at work is (mostly) over. There are a few last minute gifts to acquire, and our annual charity event to get in order. I made a point over the weekend and the first half of this week to find some time for a few layouts, but this may be it until the year is done and over.
Websters Pages has a monthly challenge on their Ning board. This month, the challenge was a fairly simple one: create a layout using their Western Romance line and some of their stick pins. I pulled an old picture of my sister and I and one of our first cousins. We're hugging Champ, who was a great dog, and standing in MaMa and PaPa's barnyard. We're so young! I used the fussy cut flowers and stick pins to cover a funny glare on the right hand side of the photo.
I also made 3 more layouts for my Egypt album... The end is in sight! This first one is a layout about the challenges of negotiating the barter system. I have to say, this was one of the most overwhelming things about the trip. At every temple or monument, you must run a veritable gauntlet of shops and touts, all of whom will try to catch your attention and press you to enter their shop or make a purchase. And they name some crazy prices! And if you aren't careful, they try to trick you... switching the nice display item with a poorer, wrapped item, claiming that a price in pounds was in English not Egyptian pounds after several minutes of negotiation, telling you banana leaves are more expensive papyrus, painted concrete is basalt or alabaster, and on and on. To be honest, I'd have probably bought, but sometimes, after a few hot hours in the sun, I just couldn't handle the mental stress of driving a hard bargain with these veterans of hustle and deals.
On one of the evenings that we were in Aswan, we enjoyed dance performances by a whirling dervish and a belly dancer on board our boat. The dervish guy was really cool. Round and round he spun, and when he turned on the lights in his skirt, it looked really cool, especially in the ceiling mirrors of the boat's lounge. The belly dancer was interesting, but she wasn't nearly as skillful as the dervish was.
The afternoon of our to the High Dam, we boarded little, shaded motor boats and headed for Kitchener Island, also known as Cat Island, to visit the botanical gardens. We were actually supposed to take a felucca ride, but this particular event was cancelled due to low winds on the lake that day. We actually saw one or two feluccas being towed by motor boats after they got stranded on the lake.
Once on Kitchener Island, we had some time to wander through the gardens. We saw lots of cats. I was kind of surprised that they were so small. Based on the stories Elizabeth Peters told about her fictional family's cats, I expected huge animals, but none of the cats I saw have anything on the beasts I'm harboring in my apartment! It wasn't too long into our stroll through the gardens that we noticed something odd: there were a lot of men with submachine guns walking around. After one of them kindly pointed out a couple of birds nesting in a tree, we concluded that they were some sort of hybrid docent/security guard. Alton's imitation of a guide pointing out a bit of vegetation by firing his gun at said vegetation still makes me giggle.
Although I have no photos to show, stitching does continue apace. I hope to start and finish an ornament for a co-worker over this weekend (ha! This may be an EXTREMELY ambitious goal). I am also going on the hunt for some fabric to back a large pillow that I'm working on and want to finish by Christmas (again, probably an overly ambitious goal). Til then, I hope everyone is able to take some time to relax and enjoy some quality family time.