12 December 2014

Feline Friday: Deer Santa

 Deer Santa,
Hi, itz Lily!!!
I haz been a gud kittie dis yeer wif one or to xcepshuns.

 I nocked over dis prettie flour. Ooopsie!


Den I tride to get into deez candie caynes.  
So far, I haz not broked anyfing.
I promis to bee gud untill Crismus so maybie i will get noms in my stockeen.

Luv,
Lily

11 December 2014

Christmas Decorating: Old & New

 
 I'm finally back with the second part of my Christmas decorating post. I have a good excuse this time: We've been in Indiana visiting our daughter and attending her last performances before she begins student teaching in January. One of these days I will share some photos from our very fun weekend!

In my first post about my dining room decorating, I mentioned that I changed the color scheme to match a sign I bought at Memory Bound recently. When I bought it, I wasn't sure where I would put it but the china cabinet ended up being the perfect spot for it. I decided to add natural elements to the color scheme, such as pine cones and wood.

Since I shifted to a different color scheme, I decided to put only matching ornaments on the small tree in the dining room. I sorted out all of my gold/silver Shiny Bright ornaments and combined them with other gold ornaments I've used in the past on a smaller tree. This tree has seen better days! As a kitten, Lily knocked it down numerous times. I even tethered it to the windows with fishing line! Thankfully, she is no longer interested in it, so it is safe for my Shiny Bright ornaments!

I mixed old and new ornaments in order to have enough to fill the tree.

In years past, I've put lots of different things on my dining room table. Last year, I put some of my Dickens Village houses down the center. This time I tried something completely different using a combination of old, new, and thrifted items.

I found the wooden trees at a local thrift store for 50 cents! I seriously did not need them but I loved the simple shape. I bought the box/drawer from Memory Bound. Our store owner's daughter re-purposed it and added the pull. I love that it could be used for anything! I initially planned to put greenery in it but couldn't find exactly what I wanted so I decided to fill it with these pine cones instead. I found them in my mom's old Christmas decorations and they work perfectly in the box. I filled the bottom of it with wadded up paper to build it up slightly.

On the left of the photo below is a nut tree I made the Christmas before Bailey was born. It has held up really well and the color is perfect so I brought it out after a multi-year sabbatical! I'm not sure what came over me that year but I made hanging nut balls, too. They sort of look like medieval weapons!

My favorite thing is the little domed piece at the right. I've been seeing so many domes/bell jars this season and love them but they can get pretty pricey. Then I remembered this old cheese plate I had packed away in the basement. The base is made of some weird striped veneer so I opted not to use it. But the dome was the perfect size for the woodland animals I bought in Germany back when I was in college.

At first I put the animals on a plate and covered them with the dome, but it wasn't flat enough, and it looked like they were destined to be someone's dinner! What I really wanted was a piece of wood which I happened to find at Hobby Lobby. This small birch piece fit the dome perfectly and was exactly what I envisioned. Score!

 I bought some small Tim Holtz trees to add to my little scene. I considered dying them but decided to leave them as is because the color seemed perfect. I'm really happy with how this little piece turned out!

Meanwhile, I've been keeping my eye out at thrift stores for another dome of a similar size. I have a tiny wooden village which would be adorable under a dome!

I'm usually not so great with change but I'll admit that it was good to re-think some of my holiday decorations. I was able to use some things which hadn't seen the light of day in many years. Combining those old things with a few new pieces makes everything feel a little bit updated yet still familiar and homey, which is important to me at Christmas.

05 December 2014

Feline Friday: Subway NOMS!


I promised better pictures on my blog, but in this instance, Miss Lily was moving so quickly trying to steal my Subway sandwich that I could barely guard it and take a picture at the same time!

Good grief! From the minute I walked in the door, she was in attack mode! This naughty girl had to be put in the basement so that mama could eat in peace! :)

04 December 2014

Holiday Decor: Old and New

For many years, I've put up several trees for Christmas. I have so many ornaments that this allows me to mix and change themes in lots of different ways.

I usually put up a smaller tree in our dining room and decorate it with the Shiny Bright ornaments I commandeered when my maternal grandma passed away in 2004. My mom and her sister didn't want them, but I think they are beautiful! (Sorry for the blurry picture taken with my old phone.)
My only complaint about my Shiny Bright collection is that there are way too many pink ornaments. I'm not a fan of pink, and it definitely doesn't go with my dining room color scheme!

This year I decided to change my dining room decorations, and the inspiration came from this "Holiday Cheer" sign. I bought the sign at Memory Bound during our Holiday Open House, and the neat thing is that it was painted our store owner's daughter. I loved it the minute I saw it which was surprising to me because I'm not a fan of gold. But I was hooked by the retro design and the clean look of the white paint. 

Lately I've been seeing a lot of gold and white holiday decor, so I decided to go with that and build a decorating scheme in the dining room based on the colors in the sign. So far I've finished the top of the china cabinet, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. Re-thinking my color scheme allowed me to pull out a few things I had not used in years!

I love that so many pieces are meaningful to me: 
  • I made the pine cone tree during the holiday season when I was expecting Bailey. It has held up well! 
  • The candle holder was given to me by my aunt, and I used to love it but then quit loving it because it was gold. Suddenly I love it again! :)
  • The footed compote is a beautiful antique which belonged to my great-great-grandma on my dad's side.
  • The compote is filled with gold, silver, and copper ornaments that belonged to my grandma.
  • The pitcher in back belonged to my great-great-grandma on my mom's side. 
  • I found the gold decanter at a thrift store in Bloomington on a visit to Bailey.

 I sorted out all of the matching Shiny Bright ornaments and put them on the dining room tree, along with my other gold ornaments. It's taking me awhile to pull it together, but I think it's going to be a fun change in the dining room, at least for this year. I'll share more when I finish this room!
jp





02 December 2014

Favorite Things and Other Stuff


Please, please excuse my lack of posts. I know it's sort "excuse of the week" these days! I just don't seem to have my blogging rhythm back and with a lot of holiday season projects, blogging has unfortunately taken a back seat. But I have some ideas I would like to try in the new year, so hopefully I can get a fresh start.

In the last few days I've been pulling together a few goodies for our upcoming staff event called a "My Favorite Things" party. The group tried this idea (which came from Heidi Swapp's blog) last year and loved it, so everyone wanted to do it again. Each person puts together a little gift bag or container with a few of her favorite things -- one for each person in attendance. At the party, each person gives the gifts out and shares why she loves those particular things. It's a great way to get to know people a little better -- and find out about wonderful things you may not have known existed! At last year's party, people gave popcorn, lotion, candles, Sharpie markers, and many other favorites! And the containers were so creative (imagine all the beautiful ways crafters can package things!) that they were just as fun as the gifts!

Last December I was in a serious slump from the events of the year so I sat out, but this time I decided to participate. First I had to decide what my favorite things are! That in itself was very hard, because many of my favorite things (like NPR!) do not fit in a gift bag! I finally settled on a galvanized tin container filled with a few odds and ends, which you can see being assembled in the above photo. I will share a picture of my finished gift and all the other goodies after the event this weekend!

One thing which is destined to become one of my favorite things is my new iPhone 6+. Yep, I got the big, bendable (not in a good way) phone. (I don't put phones in my pocket, so bending was not a concern to me!) So far, I love how easy it is to use compared to my Android. Things that frustrated me with my old phone are non-existent with the iPhone. And the camera is much, much easier to use. Try as I did, I could rarely get blur-free pictures on my Android. So (with the exception of this picture below which I did not take) you should expect to see much better photos on the blog from now on!

I have also started selling some things again on eBay. I dabbled in eBay a few years ago but got frustrated with the whole shipping process and quit. Recently I decided to give it another go. I have been selling a few small dollhouse items which belonged to one of my mom's friends while I figure out the shipping thing. I still have my case at the antique mall but this gives me another avenue to sell items which need a larger market.

So that's a quick update for now. Hope to be back in the next couple of days with some holiday decorating pictures!
Thanks for stopping by!
jp

28 November 2014

Feline Friday: Thanksgiving - Lily Edition

 Happy Thanksgiving (weekend), everyone!

We hosted Thanksgiving dinner here for a very small crowd. Of course, Lily had to help with every aspect of dinner preparation.

First, we had to get out the good dishes. I left the room and returned to find her IN THE CHINA CABINET. No concerns about hygiene here...ha! Yep, all the dishes went straight into the dishwasher BEFORE dinner!

Bailey made apple crisp and Lily was right there to supervise. 

 She was especially interested in the HAM (I didn't make a turkey this year since no one seems to like it anyway). She managed to score several small bites over the course of the day.
 

 And when I got up for a minute during Thanksgiving dinner, I returned to find she had taken my seat at the table. :)

Thanks for your help, Lily! Couldn't have done it (or wouldn't have wanted to!) without you! 


************

Gentle blog readers: I promised more posts this week and I failed! I neglected to consider the fact that Bailey would be home, leaving little time for blogging! Excuses, excuses... :)

21 November 2014

Feline Friday: Inspector Tinsel

I've been making a lot of kits lately and, as you can see, Tinsel is a big help. Any time there is ribbon involved, she is ON THE JOB! It is her specialty!

My apologies, blogging friends, for another week of being missing in action. Lots going on right now in my life and in my head. Next week will be better!
jp

14 November 2014

Feline Friday: Polar Vortex!

 Here in the Midwest, we are in the grip of the POLAR VORTEX! It is FREEZING COLD -- much colder than it should be at this time of year. But the POLAR VORTEX is actually OUTSIDE, not inside the house, as Lily would have you believe!

In spite of the fact that it is a comfy 72 degrees in our house, the kitties seem to know it is 25 degrees outdoors. As soon as the temperature dropped this week, Lily immediately found a blanket and then looked so pitifully cold that I had to cover her with a towel.

 Only then was she warm enough to settle in for her evening nap!

Look at that face! Typical Lily...playing it up for all it's worth!
Of course, she has me very well trained. :)

12 November 2014

Recent Cheap Finds

 I love a good cheap find! It's what leads me to drive around our neighborhood on clean-up day in search of a treasure. It's what compels me to stop at thrift stores "just in case", when I really should be getting rid of stuff. You just never know when you might find something wonderful!

Back in August, Bailey and I hit several thrift stores in Bloomington looking for a few items for her apartment. I was only too happy to accompany her on this trip, and look what I found -- an awesome 70's decanter! I bought it with the intent to use it on our bar cart, but it may end up functioning more like a vase. You can't go wrong for $3!

I recently stopped by a local thrift store looking for small shelves for my case at the antique store. I found the shelves AND these cool 70's salt and pepper shakers! We had a set with silver lids when I was growing up (in fact, I think I sold them at our auction...) but the green lids are much cooler. And at 50 cents, who could pass them up? 
 

 On our recent trip to Bloomington, I coerced Spouse into stopping again at the IU Surplus Store. It's a real treat to go there as they have furniture, fixtures, and a lot of odds and ends from various buildings around campus. I'm on the lookout for library stuff but this time came home with a pile of office treasures -- all for $1.25!

I will spray paint this old copy stand and use it with magnets or clips in my craft room. 

This old wooden tray (check out the cool dovetail corners!) cleaned up perfectly. It even has felt on the bottom.

I cut a piece of paper to fit inside it and covered it with a piece of acrylic. I use trays all the time for corralling supplies when I'm working on a project. It's perfect in my craft room!

I wonder what hidden treasure I'll find next!

07 November 2014

Feline Friday: Clunk!

 I was sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper and glanced over to see Lily sound asleep on her corrugated scratching pads, also known as the cat deck. :) 

Her head ever so slowly slipped down and off the side of the deck...

Down, down, down...until CLUNK! It hit the floor!

And I was laughing so hard that I missed the photo op! 
Poor Lily! That was a rude awakening! :)


06 November 2014

Favorite Charleston Things-Part 1

 My apologies (again) for the lack of posts! We've been out of town for a few days visiting our daughter at Indiana University. Always a great time!

I've been meaning to share some photos from our September trip to Charleston, South Carolina. It's been a really long time since I've been on an actual vacation. June 2010, to be exact. Sure, I've been to Indiana and Michigan to visit Bailey, but I do not consider those trips vacations. So I'm very glad we finally got away for a bit. It was a great mental health break!

When we first blocked out time to go "somewhere", I didn't even care where we went. I was at the point where I just needed to GO. After all the events of the past few years, I just needed a change of scenery to force me to think about different things. When Spouse suggested Charleston, it sounded good to me. Several people had recommended it as a nice, low-key destination. So off we went!

Turns out Charleston is a beautiful city. Other than the rainy weather we encountered, we had a great time walking around, checking out the incredible restaurants, and experiencing a bit of southern hospitality. Here are just a few of my favorite things from this trip:

Window Boxes
Beautiful window boxes are everywhere! Unlike my hair (which looked ghastly during the entire trip), colorful flowers thrive in the humidity. Each window box I encountered seemed to be more beautiful than the last!

Shrimp and Grits
 Along with She-Crab Soup, this is one of Charleston's signature dishes...and now one of my all-time favorites. In much the same way that in the Midwest everyone has his or her own meatloaf recipe, this dish varies from place to place. I tried three or four different versions of it and decided my favorite was this one from Hominy Grill. I can't begin to tell you how good it is. My lowly picture doesn't begin to do it justice. I've got the recipe and, since Spouse can't handle shrimp, I'll be making it the next time he goes out of town!

  Did I mention WINDOW BOXES?
Alligators! In the wild!
We visited a plantation just outside of Charleston. When the driver dropped us off, he told us not to wander too close to the ponds because of the alligators. I had no idea he was serious! See that dark spot along the lake in front of the tree at the upper right? That is an alligator. In the wild. How cool is that?
 
Oh, did I mention WINDOW BOXES? And gas lights!
I loved the combination of colors and textures in these boxes. I also loved the flickering gas lights on the fronts of many of the older buildings. So much prettier than boring old light bulbs!
 

Sheep! In the wild!
I know I'm from Iowa, but there was something very charming about seeing these sheep grazing on the plantation grounds. We don't have this kind of thing in Iowa! 

  Piazzas
Many of the stately old homes in Charleston have double porches, called piazzas. I've always wanted a porch and now I would like a DOUBLE porch, please! We toured this mansion which actually has two piazzas, one on the front and another on the side.


 We had a great time visiting Charleston! If you're looking for a quick get-away with fabulous food and great architecture, check it out!
jp
 

01 November 2014

Just Kitting!

I have spent a good part of the last two weeks making kits for my November and December classes. Mercy! I usually make kits for only one class at a time but this time I needed to work on three simultaneously. I had kit stuff EVERYWHERE!

In boxes in the dining room...

On the kitchen table...


Even on the chairs at Memory Bound...LOL

And in my craft room, where Tinsel discovered the Silhouette Cameo for the first time. She was CAT-tivated by it!

Thankfully, with Tinsel's supervision, I got it all done. 
WHEW! Happy day!