Friday, November 21, 2014

The One with the 2000th Post Giveaway!

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Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the 2000th post on this here blog. My first post was on April 9th 2008, over 6.5 years ago. I've blogged nearly every day since then. I love blogging :)

For this special occasion I'm giving away 10 books that I made, that I affectionately call "PaigeBooks"! Each book is unique and beautiful and handmade from scratch by yours truly. It would mean the world to me if all ya'll (whether I know you or not, I promise I don't bite :) would take a gander, pick your top three favorites, and talk to me in a comment on this post for a chance to win one!

Just a wee bit about these books as a whole: They're all coptic bindings so you can see the thread and how they're sewn together on the spine. It's my favorite style of binding, no glue is involved (unless you need it for the cover material), it looks neat, the books lay flat so you can easily write or make art in them, and the cover possibilities are endless because if you can drill holes through it, it can be used as a cover. Most of the pages are made with printer paper, cardstock, and/or scrapbooking papers. Let's begin the show and tell!

Size: 4 x 4"
Unique features: I bought these coasters from Anthropologie specifically to make a book. That was about four years ago. Finally found a good excuse to use them! The white printer paper pages are wrapped with decorative scrapbooking pages that match the colors of the coasters and it's stitched together with lime green floss. I also rounded all the corners of the pages to match the rounded coaster corners.
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Size: 4.75 x 6"
Unique features: The rounded edge makes this book special! I made a rounded book very similar to this for my 1000th post giveaway and thought I'd give it another go this time. The pages are made from an eclectic mix of media - felt, glitter paper, cardstock, vellum, printer paper, etc. This would make a great wedding sign-in book, baby shower book, baby book, journal, art book, smash book, etc.
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Size: 4 x 6"
Unique features: The covers are made from one of Fox and Jane's old board books that got destroyed but I rescued the nice and thick pages to use for PaigeBooks. I have a bunch of floral fabrics so I chose a couple I liked and wrapped them around the covers. That makes it sound so easy, but really a lot of measuring and glue is involved! I used two colors of baker's twine to sew - pink for the first half and blue for the second half. Note to self: Don't put the binding holes closer than 3/4" apart. It was super hard to sew this binding, I nearly lost my religion haha. Just kidding. But it was definitely the hardest book to make. Good thing it's pretty :) The pages are made entirely of printer paper so the possibilities for book uses are endless.
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Size: 5 x 7"
Unique features: The covers are made from my favorite material: wood. The pages are printer paper wrapped with scrapbook patterned papers from the Soho Garden collection by American Crafts. The sewing a little unique in the design and they're placed closer together than "usual" for my books. For a final bit of funky flair I attached a knob to the front for easy opening! The rainbow colors of this book make me happy.
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Size: 5.5 x 8.5"
Unique features: On Wednesday I drove 20 minutes to an antique shop in Weiden and found piles and piles of books. A few caught my eye for the purpose of reconstructing into books - this one made the cut! I did a little googling for the title and it translates to "Home in the Forest". I love the watercolor images on the covers and how German the scenes are. Reminds me of our home here. The pages are blank printer paper. As a fun touch I strung bits and baubles of this and that into the spine. Definitely one of my favorites!
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Size: 6 x 6"
Unique features: The covers are made of a license plate! From our old car no less. I love skiing, I love Utah, therefore this book is awesome :) I used a friend's pair of metal clippers to trim the plate in half and then an awl and hammer to make the holes. Had to pull out all the industrial tools for this one! The pages are made from grid paper so it'd be good for math and sketches and stuff like that. Be careful when handling - I tried to sand down the edges but they're still a bit sharp!
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Size: 6 x 6"
Unique features: I wrapped boards with houndstooth fabric and the pages are made from black cardstock - fun for white markers and other specialty pens meant for dark paper. Then I went the Victoria's Secret route and opted for hot pink thread for the binding. And some bling, woot woot! Perfect for a tween girl or teenager or bachelorette party.
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Size: 5 x 7"
Unique features: I love these natural holes in the wood covers which I then whitewhashed with paint. The printer paper pages are wrapped with an assortment of Dear Lizzy patterned papers. I used THREE colors of thread to stitch the binding! Never done that before!
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Size: 2.5 x 4"
Unique features: Cassettes? What are cassettes? Haha. What a different world we live in than just 20 years ago. Hey, there are holes already in 'em so they make perfect book covers! I got these cassettes from Desert Industries like a decade ago. I have a whole bin full of miscellaneous items I want to turn into books. For a touch of sparkle and shine I stitched the book together with gold thread. The pages are made from lined paper so you can write straight in it.
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Size: 5 x 6.75"
Unique features: Saved my favorite for last :) This book has covers made from Plexiglas - a fun material because it's see-through! All of the pages are made from Sassafras Lass patterned papers (I wish they were still around - their patterns are so unique!) and another special feature is each page has a decorative edge. I stitched the book together with yarn so it's thicker. I just love the patterns and colors of this book. Not ideal for writing in but perfect for pictures and ephemera and such.
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To enter to win one of these PaigeBooks, leave a comment on this post by Monday December 1st 2014 and tell me two things: 1) Which three books are your top favorite so if you win I can make sure to send you one you love, and 2) Tell me how you know me! That's my favorite thing - to find out where the people who read this blog came from. Easy as pie! I'll post the 10 randomly selected winners on Monday December 1st.

THANK YOU THANK YOU for your readership and helping me reach 2000 blog posts!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The One with the Holiday Memory for Patience Brewster

Hallo! Today I was inspired by Patience Brewster, an artist and illustrator of books, greeting cards, and a designer of Christmas ornaments and gifts, to share my favorite holiday memory. I love a good story and sharing them and scrapbooking them :)

This is a picture from Christmas season 2012. 
Chris, Fox, Jane, and I flew from Los Angeles to be with my family in Seattle. My parents own a little cabin in the woods close to Leavenworth. I've always loved Leavenworth - it's built to look just like a Bavarian village. And-what-do-you-know, we now live IN BAVARIA! I just know that when we leave Germany and we visit Leavenworth, my heart is going to ache to be back in Germany. Anyway, if you know anything about Germany, you'll know their Christmas markets are wunderbar. So in an effort to be as Bavarian as possible, Leavenworth imitates the holiday season and Christmas spirit to the nines. And it is glorious. The twinkling lights. The soft and soothing sounds of holiday music. The fresh and powdery white snow. Oh my! We spent an afternoon in Leavenworth and soaked in the merriment. I will forever remember that Christmas season at home. Complete with watching an episode of X-Files on Christmas Eve :)

PS - This is my 1999th blog post. Do you know what that means? Tomorrow is EPIC GIVEAWAY DAY!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The One with the Mr. UPS Man

Every month my Mr. UPS Man drops off my Studio Calico kit between noon and 1pm (or, 1300 as they say here!) so this month I was prepared with my camera to snap his photo for a fun #mysckitishere instagrammable pic. When he rung the bell Jane answered the door and as he was handing over my kit I asked if I could take his picture with it because I was so excited for my box to be here. I only took one photo because I didn't want to seem weirder than I already was haha - but luckily one photo was all I needed. His face is perfection. I LOVE how he smiled and held the box like a prop and everything! Day made!
Ransom fact: of the 1,057 photos I've posted on Instagram, THIS is the picture that has received the most "likes". More than any layout, any destination, any family photo. Why?? So funny!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The One with Sintra, Portugal

I'm kind of bitter about this whole day - if that's not an enticing introduction, I don't know what is :)

On Monday, since virtually everything is closed in Lisbon, we took Rick Steves' advice and headed out for a day trip to Sintra (SEEN-trah). I was so super duper excited to see the Pena Palace up close and in person (not my photo).
To get there... first we took the metro a couple of stops to Rossio. 
Then we walked to the Rossio train station - the circa-1900 facade of Rossio Station is Neo-Manueline.
A train leaves for Sintra every 20 minutes. The innards remind me of King's Cross in London.
We hopped on the train and found a spot to sit. 
What do you do when there's nothing to do? Take silly selfies of course!

The train ride was 40 minutes and we got a small glimpse of the Moorish Castle ruins up and above the train when we got off.

On the short walk from the train to the bus I saw lots of enticing tilework.

Theeeeen we hopped on a bus for about a half hour that took us nearly to the top.

The drive on the bus was CRAZY scary. Roads that narrow just should not be driven on. AND, by the time we got off, it was pouring rain, super foggy, cold, damp, and pretty much miserable. We couldn't see a thing as far as views or even the castle in all its glory.

But let's back up. Sintra - just 15 miles northwest of Lisbon, was the summer escape of Portugal's kings. Those with money and a desire to be close to royalty built their palaces amid luxuriant gardens in the same neighborhood. Lord Byron called this bundle of royal fancies and aristocratic dreams a "glorious Eden." For centuries Portugal's aristocracy considered Sintra the perfect place to escape from Lisbon, and now tourists do too. It's a mix of natural and man-made beauty: fantasy castles set amid exotic tropical plants, lush green valleys, and craggy hilltops with hazy views of the Atlantic and Lisbon (though, we wouldn't know, we could barely see three feet in front of us because of the fog and rain.... grrrrr). Here are some pictures from the internet of what we were SUPPOSED to see. 
Rather than wait for yet another bus to take us directly up to the castle, we just walked. All-in-all it took about 3 hours from when we left the apartment to when we finally reached our end destination of Pena Palace.
This is what we could see. Yes, pretty cool, I'll admit.
But this is what we were supposed to see. 
And this is what we saw. SCAFFOLDING! AHHHHH! 
This is what we were supposed to see. 
And this is what we saw.
Chris argues that the fog gave it a mysterious look and all that. But I wanted what I had seen on the internet. It's Europe though - I have to accept that the weather is unpredictable and sights are always under construction because they're so flippin' old. 
The magical Pena Palace sits on a hilltop high above Sintra, above Moorish Castle ruins (which we couldn't see. Have I said that yet? :). In the 19th century Portugal had a very romantic prince - German-born Prince Ferdinand. A contemporary and cousin on Bavaria's "Mad" King Ludwig (of Neuschwanstein and Linderhof and Herrencheimsee fame), Ferdinand was also a cousin of England's Prince Albert (Queen Victoria's husband). Flamboyant Ferdinand hired a German architect to built a fantasy castle, mixing elements of German and Portuguese style. He ended up with a crazy Neo-fortified casserole of Gothic towers, Renaissance domes, Moorish minarets, Manueline carving, Disney playfulness, and a tile toilet for his wife.
The palace, built in the mid to late 1800s is so well-preserved that it feels as if it's the day after the royal family fled Portugal in 1910 (during a popular revolt that eventually made way for today's modern republic). This gives the place a charming intimacy rarely seen in palaces.
Even though outside was miserable as all get-out - inside was warm and dry and we got to walk through room after room of fanciness.
Jane saw these bathtubs and said, "I wanna take a bath!"
I loved the textured ceilings.
Built-in church.
Whatdoyouknow - tiled rooms :)
Queen's bedroom. Or maybe the King's. I can't remember. But it's nice!
Wood furniture beyond the valley of cool.
Decorative chandelier.
My favorite room - cuz it's PINK!
Ceiling highlights. 
The kitchen.
We were pretty hungry at this point so we got some snacks from the palace cafe. And no we did not eat outside.
The rain was relentless. There was SO MUCH MORE we could go and do and see but the kids were miserable stuck in the covered up stroller and I was mad A) because it's impossible to hold an umbrella and a camera and a screaming child with only two arms and B) we spent a good chunka change to fly all the way to Portugal and I was upset the day didn't go according to plan. So I gave up and we all made the loooooong trek back to the apartment where we spent the rest of the day holed up. 

If we ever go back... 
I want to walk around the lush Pena Palace Park (not my pic). 
I want to see the Moorish Castle ruins (not my pics).
I want to visit the National Palace (not my pic). 
And I want to see the views from the top of the Pena Palace (not my pic). 
I do hope we get to go back some day because I don't feel like we did Sintra justice at all! Crossing my fingers and toes :)