26 August 2016

Feline Friday: Anything for a Treat!

 I've created a monster. 

Actually two monsters. 

I've started giving the girls treats at bedtime. They know that I keep a small stash in my nightstand drawer, and now they wait at my bedside each night!  If you ask me, it's very sweet. Just don't ask Spouse for his opinion on the matter! :)

In order for Tinsel to have her treats in peace, I have to fling Lily's treats across the (still-messy-because-we're-not-finished-with-the-space) bedroom. While Tinsel daintily nibbles her treat, Lily runs, jumps, and dives for hers, wherever they may land. It's more movement than you see from Lily on most days!

  I watched while a treat rolled under the cedar chest, and Lily managed to flatten her ample body enough to fetch it. Her back legs were in full SPLOOT position! :)
Anything for a treat!
jp

25 August 2016

Yoga: A Very Good Idea

The last time I blogged about yoga was back in January. All the credit goes to my daughter for suggesting I try it (hadn't done it since elementary school so yeah, it had been awhile...). She bought me a mat for Christmas and set me up with a couple of free online classes.

I've been doing yoga ever since and can absolutely attest to the difference it has made for me. I feel more flexible and stronger, and I now have a host of stretches and relaxation techniques available to me at any time or place. Just the other day when I was freaking out (as usual) at the doctor's office, I used my yoga breathing to relax.

For the first month, I did yoga twice every day, along with going to the gym every two days. That turned out to a (very) bad idea, as I pushed myself too much and hurt muscles I didn't even know I had. After that, I scaled back to once a day and completed a couple of additional 30-day challenges.

Since then, unfortunately, I've struggled to keep up with it on a daily basis, as is often suggested. I do yoga several times a week but I have yet to figure out the best time of day for me for me to do it (morning or late night), so it's easy for me to miss a day. I think the best way to keep up with a regular practice is to make it part of your daily routine.

Doing yoga at home with an online instructor seems like the perfect set-up to me. I would be completely intimidated to do yoga in front of anyone but the cats! We have several yoga studios near us and I'm sure there is much more to be gained by going to a class but I just don't see that happening. I'm happy with what my yoga "home practice" is doing for me, so I will continue on with it!

Bailey suggested two different online instructors who offer free classes. My favorite instructor is Adrienne of Yoga with Adrienne. 

There are many free yoga videos in her library, plus some free 30-day yoga challenges. I like the 30-day challenges because of the repetition and consistency. Adrienne has a calming style and makes it easy for a novice like me to jump in and get started. If a particular position is too hard, you just skip it or try an easier variation of it. Adrienne is great about suggesting modifications for people working at different levels.

If there is anyone out there who wants to give yoga a try, all you need are comfortable clothes, an elastic band to pull back your hair, and a yoga mat. Click on Day 1 and get started!
 
 Cat is optional. :)

24 August 2016

Treadmill Running: 5K Done!

-- The blessing is outside of your comfort zone. --

 author unknown


Awhile back, I shared that I was starting (or re-starting) my C25K program for the umpteenth time, with a goal of actually mastering it this time. I am super happy to report that, after considerable time getting there, I've now done the 5K treadmill run eight times!

At each level along the way, I've repeated days until the run length has become more comfortable for me. Then I move on to the next level. This always pushes me just outside my comfort zone, but I just repeat the run until it becomes easy. So now I've been repeating the 5K run each time I go to the gym. That 5K timer always seems a bit daunting when I start but sure enough, it gets easier each time.
Being able to run 30 minutes (the length of time it takes to reach 5K) is one of those "personal victory" things for me.  My elementary school gym teacher drilled it into my head that I was "physically unfit" (yes, he actually told me that) and made me believe I would never be able to do anything remotely athletic. Only in the past few years of going to the gym have I started to think otherwise.

I'm going to keep going with this 5K thing because I like the way it feels. Sure, it's good for my body but I believe that it's even better for my mind. And yep, I noticed that there is also a 10K app. I might just look into that, too.

So take that, Mr. Gym Teacher! It only took me 45+ years to remove the negative label you saddled me with and prove you wrong. :)

21 August 2016

Fall Banner

I've just passed the two-year mark with my case at the antique mall. Overall, it's been up and down, but things have been looking up since I started spending more time on "merchandising" my space. When I first opened my case, I was still in post estate sale shell-shocked mode, just trying to sell stuff without any thought of making my case look more inviting. 

After asking for some constructive criticism from the mall manager, I realized (light bulb moment...DUH!) that as a "dealer" in a mall, I'm competing with every other dealer for attention, and anything I can do to make my space look good will cause shoppers to at least stop and take a look. 

So I've been spending much more time staging items by color and adding seasonal elements to show how various treasures can fit into your home decor.
I've also learned that you need to "re-set" your case seasonally, but in advance -- when people are shopping for that next season! You'd think this would have dawned on me since I teach so many seasonal classes at Memory Bound but when I first opened my case, my mind was a muddled mess and I wasn't connecting A to B!

Now that I have a little more clarity of thought (LITTLE being the operative word!) I've got dates marked in my planner for seasonal case re-sets. Soon I'll re-set the case for fall with a simple banner and some dollar store flowers. It's amazing how much better the case looks these days, and it's resulting in improved sales. 

Here's hoping that positive trend continues! :)
jp

19 August 2016

Feline Friday: Expensive Cat Basket

 Lily has recently taken to hanging out a LOT in her Expensive Cat Basket. I bought this basket out of Extreme Guilt at the last (ever) cat show Lily attended when it became abundantly clear that she wasn't happy to be there. Kinda like a parent who buys their child a treat to keep her happy while they're out doing something the child doesn't want to do. So when you count the entrance fees and all the other paraphernalia that went along with that cat show experience -- plus the cost of the basket -- it was indeed expensive!

 But it suits her so well! Tinsel occasionally gets to nap in it, but only if she's sneaky about it.

It's Lily's basket. She worked hard (ahem) for her cat basket and deserves to lounge in it.
 If you're not familiar with the story, you really should read about it HERE. :) You may find it hard to believe that the sweet little thing working her angles in these photos is indeed the same feline who participated in that dreaded cat show! Now, many years later, I'm glad we have the Expensive Cat Basket to show for it!
 jp


09 August 2016

Whisker Fatigue: Who Knew?

  If you've been following my blog, you probably remember my posts about Tinsel's food issues. As she has aged, her appetite has fallen off fairly dramatically. I give her an appetite stimulant (which works well) but I still have to try all kinds of different foods, elevate her food on boxes, sit with her, and sometimes stand on my head (okay, not really but almost!) to get her to eat. It's an ongoing struggle!
The one thing I hadn't done was change the dish she uses, a shallow dish with two sections for food. Then one day -- instead of just washing it and putting it back out for use -- I put her dry food on a small plate. BINGO! Tinsel ate like a CHAMP! I haven't used the old dish since and although she still has her big appetite fluctuations, she is eating much better overall. I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me that she might be objecting to the dish -- duh!

 Last night I was chatting on Facebook with some other cat moms who have kitties with appetite issues. We were all sharing tips for getting the kitties to eat, and I happened to mention that I had recently switched to a plate. Someone commented that Tinsel might have been experiencing WHISKER FATIGUE, something I hadn't heard of! Here's more about it:

Because whiskers are highly sensitive, if they are over-stimulated the cat can experience whisker fatigue. Contrary to what the name might imply, whisker fatigue doesn’t mean the whiskers become tired. A better way to describe it might be whisker stress.

The most common cause of whisker fatigue is from something a cat does every day – eating. That charming little bowl you serve their food in could be allowing the whiskers to touch the sides of the bowl. A high-sided water bowl can contribute to whisker stress as well. At best, it can annoy your cat to have his whiskers repeatedly come into contact with the dish as he chows down his food or takes a drink. For some cats, it can be quite painful.

 Some common signs of whisker fatigue are:
• the cat leaves food in the bowl, but is still hungry -- YEP!
• the cat pulls food out of their bowl with their mouth or paw, then places it on the floor and eats it off the floor (this can get messy) -- YEP!
• food aggression toward other animals in the house -- NO!
• standing by the bowl before eating for a period of time, pacing around the bowl, or being hesitant to eat, though hungry -- YEP, all the time!

So of the four signs listed, Tinsel has three! I wish I'd known about this long ago. I don't think whisker fatigue accounts for all of her appetite issues, but if changing food dishes helps her eat even a tiny bit better, I'm happy!

I hope this little bit of information helps some of my fellow cat-loving friends!
jp

05 August 2016

Feline Friday with Rory

Why yes, this is a cat in a dress on an ironing board.


Hope Miss Rory brings a smile to your face! :)
Happy Feline Friday!

29 July 2016

Feline Friday: No Boys Allowed

  Tinsel is my bathroom buddy -- fierce protector of the hairbrush, mirror, and sinks.
 Every day, she hops up on the counter and patrols back and forth, purring and rubbing all over me while I try to get ready for the day. It's not easy to keep her away from the hot dryer and curling iron, nor is it efficient to stop what I'm doing to give her attention, but I always welcome Tinsel's company. For some strange reason (even after the remodel), the bathroom is pretty much the only area in the house where she is friendly and social!

 Because the bathroom is clearly HERS, Tinsel was recently rather alarmed by the contractor working on a lift outside the bathroom window. She kept a close eye on him while he was fixing our siding. I wonder if he noticed the little face peering out the window and giving him the evil eye!

After all, everyone knows that the bathroom belongs to us girls! No boys allowed...even outside! :)

jp

28 July 2016

Bedroom Update: New Bedding

We are still plugging along on the very slow bedroom update. Spouse recently finished the painting, and while our daughter was home, she helped pick out new bedding. 

I have been on the lookout for a matelasse (embroidered) coverlet in a neutral ivory/cream color so that I can use my heirloom quilts with it. Here are two inspiration photos from Pinterest so you can see what I mean!
 As shown in these photos, my plan is to add small accent pillows to match whatever quilt I may be using. That way I can add pops of color without committing long-term to any particular color scheme. I've made soooo many decorating mistakes in the past, and most of them were related to making large-scale color/pattern choices on items that were hard to change (flowered wallpaper, plaid couch, etc.). So I vow to keep things pretty neutral going forward!

 As a reminder, this is what the bedding looked like before (yikes!). When we moved to this house 22 years ago, the pink floral wallpaper border and curtains were there. Although I disliked all of it, we didn't want to spend any money updating the room so we just threw a green comforter on the bed and ignored it. After 22 years, it was obviously due for an update!

This is how it looks now. Although the room is a work in progress, it's a big improvement.



  Because the headboard is tall, we found that the bed needed two sets of shams. The ones in the back are square Euroshams. The shams in front are normal pillow-size.

Obviously, I haven't done any other decorating in the room, nor do I have any quilts or accent pillows on the bed yet. My quilts have been in storage for a very long time and need to be laundered or cleaned before using them. One thing at a time! :)

Now that we've painted and purchased new bedding, we'll be replacing the window trim and carpet this fall. Although this project is taking some time, each little step we've taken makes the room feel so much better. Progress -- even slow progress -- makes me happy!
jp

26 July 2016

Florida Album: Progress

Back in March, I posted that I'd picked up an old unfinished scrapbooking project with hopes of finishing it sooner than later. Well, it's still not done, but now I can say it is HALF done! It turns out that I took more photos on this trip to Florida than would possibly fit into a single album, so this project is now a two-album "set"! 

The first album (now finished...YAY!) encompasses the time we spent at Universal Studios. The second album (soon to be started...YAY!) will include photos of our trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter -- ON OPENING DAY!

I followed a similar format throughout the album with a few repeating designs. The colors vary from page to page, but limiting the designs and products helps tie the album together -- and it makes scrapbooking go much faster!

I made ample use of pocket pages, one of the best products to ever hit the scrapbooking world. This was also a great opportunity to incorporate some of my slightly hoarded stash of chipboard travel embellishments.

 This chipboard guy was perfect for the Blues Brothers photos on this page, but I would never have remembered him had I not pulled all of my travel products and stored them with this project in a plastic project box. This was a great way to keep all of the materials organized, something I'll definitely do again for the next album I start!
 

Back when I started the project, I purchased a few die cut titles for my pages. Having them all stored with the product ensured that I could find them when I needed them!

 I'm quite excited to get started on the Harry Potter portion of this trip! I have a good stash of Harry Potter papers at the ready. Now to carve out a few days to finish this project completely!
jp

23 July 2016

Finishing Grandma's Quilts

Last summer about this time, I organized all of the quilts I kept from my parents' house. You can read more about that project and see lots of quilt pictures HERE.

I kept a few quilts that my maternal grandma pieced but never quilted, and I've been hoping to have them finished so I can put them to use. In fact, one of my goals as we re-decorated our bedroom was to keep the decor neutral so that I could bring out my various quilts as accent pieces.
 I recently contacted our local quilt store who put me in touch with a woman who has experience finishing old quilts using long arm quilting. I'm going to meet with her next week so she can get started!

I decided to start with the simplest one, this quilt top which I believe is a 9-square design. Unlike the other unfinished quilt tops, I don't recognize any of this fabric from Grandma's dresses or aprons, but I know she made it because my aunt (her daughter) verified it. The quilt expert I consulted confirmed that the fabrics are from the 30's and 40's, when my grandma would have been a young wife and mother.

This is how the quilt top looks unfolded. It's in very good shape, according to the lady at the quilt shop!

I purchased muslin for the back of the quilt and batting for the inside, based on what the quilter recommended. Thank goodness the woman at the quilt shop led me by the nose, because I was like a fish out of water there!

From what I can tell in looking at Grandma's quilts, she usually machine-stitched the tops then quilted them by hand. I can only imagine what a labor-intensive process it must be to do hand-quilting! I'm sure that's why she left a few quilt tops unfinished.

So next week I'll meet with the quilter, select a quilting design, and let her get to work. I'm so excited to see how it turns out! And more importantly, I'm very much looking forward to displaying and using all of my quilts, as they were meant to be.
It's so great when you actually DO something you've thought about for a very long time, and that's how I feel about this project. Stay tuned!
jp