Thursday, December 30, 2010

Handmade Gifts

I made a couple of different Christmas gifts this year.

The first was an ornament book for my mother-in-law. She decorates her tree with ornaments that reference either a person, place, or event in their lives. I took pictures of each ornament while it was hanging on the tree and made a 6x6 album out of it that is expandable to add more in the future. Currently there are 92 ornaments documented.

Supplies used:
6x6 American Crafts 2-ring binder with 6x6 page protectors
Digital Papers: O Christmas Tree Papers by Carina Gardner
Photo Frames: Katie Pertiet Stacked Vintage Photo Frames No. 2
Font: Semilla

The second gift was a refill of the desk calendar that I made last year for my mom and mother-in-law. I purchased the acrylic desk frame from IKEA. Each month shows a photo of the person that has a birthday that month, along with any anniversaries or special dates. A good quick reference to help remember birthdays.

Supplies used:
iKari Create a Calendar 2011 5x7 Bundle
iKari Create a Calendar 2011
Echo Park "Life is Good" Paper Pack #1
3D Glitter Stickers: K & Company flowers

Monday, December 27, 2010

December 16

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's been one of those...


Khamaseen is roaring through. It's supposed to last 3 days. We're in Day 2. It's not the season for Khamaseen, which is more like springtime, but it's blowing up a storm nonetheless.

The weird thing is, it started raining some drops. In a dust storm? This could get ugly. Thankfully it only was enough to wet the sidewalk.

To make an ugly day uglier, I went to purchase this beautiful painting from Mansour to remind us of our Cairo days...

... and discovered I was 600LE short. Funny, I had it all in a wad this morning.

The only explanation is that my housekeeper or her daughter took it. So I had to confront them. I had suspected her daughter of stealing from us before, but could never prove it and didn't want the confrontation, but today I was positive.

So, I had to rifle through her bags and found she had taken my Palm Tungsten T3 (palm pilot), some scrapbook stickers, and some hair accessories. I found exactly 600LE in her wallet, but couldn't prove it was mine (I thought mine were crisper ;) All this after I had given them loads of Maya's clothing and a ton of my jewelry just a few hours earlier.

So, I told my housekeeper I didn't want to ruin her career, and that she could still work for me (for one more day) but that her daughter couldn't come back. I do feel bad for Nadia if she didn't know what her daughter was up to, but who knows? Did I do the right thing? Dave said that I should tell neither of them to come back, but I still owe Nadia for this month's work. I don't want to steal from her either, especially if she didn't know what was going on.

It just makes one sick to their stomach.

A fitting end to our time here, don't you think? My heart aches to leave my wedding ring here, never to be seen again, all I can hope for is that it made the life of someone here a little bit easier, because truly it is a rough life for most.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

December 8

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December 6

Se habla...

The second layout from my Digi in Deep class.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 4

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Smoggy Smog

The pollution in Cairo has been horrific the past few days.

Nastiness so thick you can see the haze only a few feet in front of you, and visibility is about 1/2 mile. I feel like I'm losing days off my life just by breathing it in.

It's disgusting. Maya: "This smoggy smog stinks." Ya, babe it does.

The first day of it, I asked my driver if it was Khamaseen, he tried to tell me it was just morning fog. Nope, it's just good ole-fashioned pollution. It makes you appreciate the EPA.

This picture is the road to her school (that was recently paved, but you can see that it still needs improvements.)

December 3

Thursday, December 2, 2010

December 2

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December 1

Like last year, I am making a mini album of the Days of December as inspired by

The Potters of Fustat

I went with a group of women from church to Fustat , the first Arab capital of Egypt, to the pottery village there. We had some oil lamps made (the 10 virgin type) for Christmas. I wanted to buy a pot, but realized quickly that since we were so many obviously expat women with fat purses, that the prices were too high. I think I'll wait and have Ibrahim take me so we can get a better deal. But they were beautiful. Here is a fun article of one man's trip there.

Here are also two short video clips of the men making pottery. As the article stated, there weren't any tourists there, and we were the only people shopping around, so it was great just to sit and watch these guys work.

Nerdy Me

I am a nerd. I admit it. I've spent the last few hours trying to figure out how to compress my video so it doesn't take so long to download. After reading sites like files4.totalgeeks I have learned how to download a codec into virtualdub to compress my videos, but at first it didn't work because I downloaded 32-bit, when I have a 64-bit version of windows, but alas, the xvid codec for 64-bit was found. I changed the bitrate to 300 and switched the audio compression to mp4, and voila!

Now you can watch videos and wait only mere seconds for the download, instead of 20-30 minutes. No joke.

Thank the nerd.

And scroll down, I've added two videos to old posts. One of Maya singing and one of an Egyptian singing Michael Jackson. Two that you definitely don't want to miss.

Maya's Quote of the Day

Her school sent a blank piece of paper home for the children to write their Christmas lists on.

Maya: "I want lots of things for Christmas. I don't think this paper is big enough."

Here's a fun video of a song she came home singing today. If you listen closely, you can hear a little British Accent.

I personally love the one piggy tail.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A few pages...

I'm finding it super convenient that we have moved at the end of each year. It makes wrapping up my year in pictures and putting them in a book pretty easy.

Here's a look at November.

Our entertainment for the masquerade party was an Egyptian singer. If you've always wanted to hear an Arab singing Michael Jackson, then this is for your viewing pleasure:

Right now I'm taking a brand new class at called Digi in Deep V. 2. It is a class for advanced digital scrapbooking class. This is the first page that I've made from the class, and I will be posting a few more as I learn new skills.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Notes from Grandma

This photo is a year old now, but I wanted to tell this story. This page is featured on the home page of today.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ten things...

...I'm grateful for this Thanksgiving Day.

As an American living in Cairo, I noticed some things today that I'm grateful for that I used to complain about/take for granted in America.

1. Big yellow school buses - it's nice to know which bus is loaded full of kids, and kind of expect when they may dart out in front of you.

2. Carseats - as big a pain as they are, my heart hurts each time I see a kid on the lap of the driver (or the carseat in the front passenger seat) or riding on the gas tank of a motorcycle.

3. Road construction - SO grateful they recently paved part of the road to Maya's school. So grateful for warning signs that precede the construction instead of slamming on your brakes suddenly to avoid a backhoe.

4. Non-smoking public areas - the airplane to Luxor reeked of smoke, though I do think it was the pollution in the air that stunk.

5. Car registration/emissions and the DMV in general - I know, I know how could I be grateful for that? Some things you don't appreciate until you don't have.

6. No litter laws

7. Speed limits - slow and fast. I really appreciate that minimum speed on the freeways. Some trucks here go about 10mph, no kidding. Very dangerous.

8. Garbage disposals - both in my kitchen sink and those awful, smelly trucks that take it away. But if they had those here, there'd be nothing for the feral dogs to eat.

9. Dogs on leashes

10. Crosswalks

I was a bit bitter (okay A LOT) when Dave told me he had to go to Bangkok, Thailand, for a few days, including Thanksgiving. But it's an American holiday, what do these people care? It's bad enough to be away from family for the holiday, but to be alone is heartbreaking. SO THANKFUL today for the ward family. I ended up taking my two kids to the Deputy (Chief of Mission) Ambassador's house for Thanksgiving dinner, and had so many willing hands to help me chase Ethen.

All in all, we kept them out of the swimming pool, though Ethen did throw rocks in there and had quite a few swigs of water out of some mud puddles. Maya loved turkey and I was happy for pumpkin pie.

All in all, I'm grateful for the traditional (yet not so typical) Thanksgiving Day. Oh, and these two wild Indians.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blissful You

I learned the technique of blending the semi-transparent photo into the background from this class at All papers and elements are included in the class kit.

All classes and digi products are on sale for 20% off from November 26th-December 31st, so it's a great time to start!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Friday, November 19, 2010

Maya's Quote of the Day

Maya: "Ethen is a recipe for disaster."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Snow Bear

Yay for me! This layout is featured on the home page of today.

Right now get a Christmas paper pack that includes these papers I used, but has 132 papers for 25% off! WOW! Go here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Give thanks...

I was inspired today as I browsed the web. Here is a little something I made. I just printed it out with my printer and put it in a frame I already had.

If you want it too, just click this image. It's a 5x7 jpg.

Just a little catch up...

I'm bound and determined to be caught up by years end. I'm hoping that a move across the world isn't going to mess it all up.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Messmaker and Bath Bubbles

By now you may know the drill, each Wednesday I'll have a layout or two featuring items that are on sale for $1 at It's called One Buck Wednesday.

Monday, November 8, 2010

October 16-31

Inspiration Everywhere is offering her semi-annual free class. As one who has taken these before, I highly recommend them. She packs so much information and goodies into her classes. And then amazingly she offers them to us, for FREE. Check it out!

Friday, November 5, 2010

It's like it's becoming a tradition... move during Christmas time, I mean. For the 3rd year in a row, my stuff will be packed up and shipped across the ocean, another world away.

This time we are headed to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Pretty soon, mom, we'll be rounding the globe back to you.

But this year, I am determined to have a Christmas tree (at least for a few days). After two years without one, I am ready.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Garbage City and Cave Church

For Dave's birthday this year, I booked a babysitter for the day (it fell on a Saturday) and got us into an organized tour of Mokattam, an area of town that most know as Garbage City. The Zabbaleen are a group of Coptic Christians that have been the city's garbage collectors for years. There are about 20,000 residents in the tiny, narrow, garbage-filled streets. Unlike western recycling centers that recycle about 20-30 percent of their garbage, the Zabbaleen recycle about 80 percent of their trash. I think it's crazy that the Christians are treated so poorly by the government, but many choose to live this lifestyle, because of the payout. I am glad they do, because the garbage in this city is horrific, and I'm glad someone is trying to do something about it. Recently they slaughtered the pigs in the area, which consumed the organic waste, because of the "swine flu" fear, which was a huge loss for these people. I had to take the pictures from our moving van, so they aren't great, and the streets were so narrow it was hard to get any good angle.

It really is an interesting sight, but this really wasn't the main reason I took Dave here, but you have to drive through Garbage City to get to the Cave Church.

There are a series of 8 churches that are literally carved out of the Mokattam hills. They are located on a significant spot of land, which has roots back to the miracle of moving the mountain. Apparently, a Caliph, a Jew, and a Pope were debating religion (I know, it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke). The pope got the upper hand in the debate, and the Caliph quoted the Bible verse, "And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." (Matthew 17:20), and demanded that the Pope prove that his religion is right by moving the Mokattam mountain.

Pope Abraham went to the hanging church (see previous blog post) to pray and had a vision of the Virgin Mary. She told him to go outside and find a one-eyed man, and he would perform the miracle. So he did, and came across Simon, the Tanner, a humble one-eyed man who carried water to widows. He was very pious, as he gouged out his eye because of the verse in Matthew 5:29 which says: "And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell."

Simon told Abraham to go out with his priests and all his people to the mountain with the caliph and all his soldiers. Simon then told Abraham to cry out "O Lord, have mercy" 400 times (a hundred in each direction), and each time to make the sign of the cross over the mountain. The Pope followed the words of Simon the Tanner and the mountain was lifted.

The first and biggest cave church probably holds about 5,000 people. The remains of Simon the Tanner were found near the Hanging Church in 1991 and they have removed them to this spot.

So, because of this history the Coptic Christians now have a community of churches here. They are recent buildings, constructed in the last decade or so. They are carved out of the limestone rock. A polish Christian is responsible for all the carved artwork, which is everywhere on the rock face. They are beautiful. There is a stark contrast when you walk out of Garbage City into this beautiful area, and I am glad they have a place like this to worship.

After we finished touring the churches here, we went back into Garbage City and to a recycling center for paper and fabric. A group of women work here and recycle discarded fabric. I bought a rug and a purse for Maya from their little shop. We also watched the process of recycling the paper.

I thought these two kids were so cute. They are drinking what looks like soda out of plastic bags with a straw.