Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Some recent Christmasy layouts

The layouts below were made with two new kits by Sweetmade, Christmas Story and Christmas Story 2. These kits are a mix of warm, whimisical, and elegant.

This LO was made with Christmas Story and has a photo of Londyn, the baby I was watching.

Also made with Christmas Story is this LO featuring photos of 3 of my nieces when they were younger. If you like the clustered frame I made here, you can get it for free at Sweetmade Inc.

Link to kit:

I scrapped some cute vintage winter postcards with Christmas Story 2:

and some vintage Christmas postcards too:

Link to kit:

Friday, November 13, 2009

News About Digital Designers Den

AS you know, we had a crash a couple weeks ago due to an issue with out host. We are back on-line but still rebuilding. Each designer is having to re-load their product zips so it's taking some time especially as some designers are in areas where their internet connections are very slow.

We're going to put up another message on our home page because we've decided to postpone our Grand Opening and Belated Birthday to December 1st. This will give us all a chance to get all our zips back in place, finish up the Novemeber/December collaboration kit, Vintage Winter Holiday, and add in the free gifts for you to pick up during the celebration.

The Vintage Winter Holiday is shaping up so nicely! I've seen several designers' contributions and they are lovely. In addition to offering the kit for sale as we usually do, we will be giving it away to anyone who makes a purchase of $10.00 or more during the celebration. More about this soon.

New Moon

I've been reading a lot lately so sharing more reviews with you. I know I'm going to get blasted for my opinion of New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, but I just have to be honest.

When I first heard of Stephanie Meyers' Twilightt series, I wasn't much interested. Teen vampire love story. Uh huh. But everyone talked about it so much that when a copy of Twilight turned up on a shelf at my local thrift store, I thought, "Why not?" What was I losing for $0.45? Interview With A Vampire by Anne Rice spoiled me. What a rich re-visioning of the vampire myth! So well told, beautifully written. And Louis! Ah who can forget Louis? Even Rice's later vampire novels could not compete with the place Interview has in my affections, although I found LeStat entertaining enough. How would Twilight compare?

Teen girl, something of misfit, falls in love with mysterious boy who just happens to be a vampire. As I read, I kept wondering why so many people were raving about the character, Bella. I didn't find her at all appealing. In part that could be due to her low self-confidence and habit of always putting herself down. But for me, the bigger issue was that she didn't seem to be about anything. I couldn't have told you what her values were or what she wanted out of life except for her obvious desire to be liked by the mysterious Edward whose handsome appearance is always foremost in her mind and her descriptions of him. The characters had the potential to be interesting but just weren't developed well enough for me to care about them. And Twilight was less a vampire story than a twist on Romeo and Juliet. As far as action and plot development, let's just say it was like watching a film in slow motion.

Now why, since I obviously wasn't impressed with Twilight, would I pick up the second installment, New Moon? I had no plans of buying it. Then I had a doctor's appointment scheduled and went searching for something to take along to read. Turned out I'd actually managed to get to the bottom of all the various waiting-to-be-read stacks around the house. I found one book I hadn't read but it was non-fiction of the sort requiring concentration; definitely not brain candy and I find brain candy is best for waiting rooms. Since I had to stop at the pharmacy on my way to the doctor, I checked the books on the their shelves. Nothing appealed to me and I was going to walk out but the thought of sitting in that waiting room for what might be a long while caused me to take a last look. I saw New Moon and snatched it up with a sigh. At least it wasn't heavy reading.

I don't know whether I was simply used to Bella or whether she was actually less annoying the second time around but I disliked her less. Except - and this is a big one for me - the girl was beyond hopelessly in love with Edward. Bella had lost all sense of herself as a person without Edward's presence. I hate that the young girls for whom this series is a favorite are reading this love story and perhaps learning how to obliterate themselves, how to vanish into the shadow of some male they choose as all important. Over and over again Bella and, yes, Edward, too was ready to give up everything if s/he couldn't be with the other. Is this really what we want our daughters to be learning? I think of friends who entered relationships that faltered and fell apart. What happens afterward? Those with a healthy sense of self pull their lives back together and go on, often to better things. Those who negated much of their self to mollify their partner usually fall apart when the one they thought of as "everything" no longer has use for them. The one left behind often is in a position of having, in essence, to establish a new self image.

Aside from the unhealthy lesson I see there, what else can I say about New Moon? Although the characters don't develop much more I did feel there was some improvement. There was more of a sense of the Cullens being a family with believable family loyalties based on interest in and concern for one another rather than just a connection as vampires. I liked the way Meyers wove in the legend of the werewolves. However, I found myslef laughing out loud as I envisioned the "exploding" that took place as the Indians lads transformed to werewolves. This made me picture the old Incredible Hulk cartoons. The Volturi were an interesting touch - the veneer of civility over the horror one expects in a vampire story; now there was a vampire story to be told there. And there was, relatively speaking, more action than in Twilight.

All in all, perhaps satisfying brain candy for the pre-teen, teen set. However, my nieces won't be receiving copies from me.

Don't forget

This lovely kit by 13 designers is available at Digital Designers Den. It's a huge kit put together to benefit Margie aka Joyful Moments designs who is suffering from cerebral veneous thrombosis. This disease carries a very high risk of stroke. Margie was unable to receive the care she needed in her home country so was sent to an area where more advanced medical treatment was possible. While her insurance is paying for the treatments, she needs help paying for her travel expenses. All proceeds from the kit will go to Margie to help with these expenses. Please take a look and see if you can help Margie by purchasing this lovely kit to scrap your photos.
Thank you!

Cross about Cross Country

I waited impatiently for Cross Country to go paperback or for a hardcover edition to turn up at my local thrift store. No offence intended, Mr. Patterson, it's just that I'm retired on disability and have a limited income. Finally I saw the paperback at Costco and snagged it as a treat to myself.

Patterson's Alex Cross mysteries are among my favorite popular novels and if things were different I'd have a complete hardcover collection of them to read again and again. I've found an Alex Cross novel to be the ultimate brain candy, a guaranteed good read.

Like all Patterson novels, the Cross series novels are action packed page turners. But it's really the character Patterson has created in Alex Cross that causes me to wait impatiently for the next novel. Cross is a man I'd like to meet and be friends with . Trained as a clinical psychologist, Cross is intelligent, analytical, and gifted in terms of understanding the abnormal behavior of criminals. But more than that, he is warm, a loyal friend, a devoted family man of solid values, but no saint. I enjoy the interaction of Cross with his friends and family, especially Nana Mama who reminds me of my paternal grandmother.

So I was disappointed to discover several elements of Cross Country that made it a poor read. First, Cross has always done his best to guard his family against the dangerous types he comes across in his work. In Cross Country, Alex Cross has an agenda that bumps "family first" off the top of his priorities list. A murder occurs in D.C. and Cross decides to track the killers) back to Africa. A most improbable scenario to begin with. He ignores his family's pleas and disregards their safety as he takes off in pursuit of the killer. Soon the reader is adrift in the nightmare Cross walks into when he arrives in Africa.

Not only have we lost the Alex Cross we thought we knew, but we're plunged into the atrocities Cross finds everywhere he turns. The novel becomes seriously depressing and gruesome as Patterson recreates brutal crimes that have become a part of daily life in numerous areas in Africa. While I'd be the first to agree that novels can inform and educate, can help us understand and develop empathy for others, I've got to say that if that was Patterson's goal here, I think he failed to achieve it. Most readers who pick up Cross Country are looking for a typical Cross novel in the sense of the protagonist being the Cross we've come to know and love. I doubt anyone picked it up for a political lesson. I've heard from a number of Cross fans they they just couldn't finish the book; they found it too disappointing in terms of their expectations and too gruesome. I read through to the end, determined to get my $7.00 worth. While I was sick reading about the horrific crimes in Africa, this novel did not educate me further and did little to gain my empathy for the victims. Rather the bloodbath was just "action" around Cross. If Patterson is interested in gaining sympathy for the victims of such crimes and support for changes then he'd be better off interviewing some victims and telling their story, first making the readers care about the victims as people.

Cross in Cross Country wasn't as intelligent, as analytical, as clever, as caring as the character I longed to read about. I missed the easy banter with the wise and opinionated Nana Mama. And I thought Alex Cross and his girlfriend Bree lost a little of their appeal as they acted more like teenagers on a hormone high. How about giving Alex Cross a good whack up side the head and a good talking to with his therapist to help him get himself back together?

There's a new Alex Cross novel out on he shelves and it's calling my name but now I'm hesitant to heed it's call. I might just wait for that one to turn up in the thrift store rather than waste my money on another disappointment.