17 October 2014

Feline Friday: Smart Tinsel!

Poor Tinsel. With Lily in the house, she doesn't get as much credit as she probably should for ALSO being a very smart kitty. Sure, Lily's the one who rings a bag of bells for food, but Tinsel knows what that sound means. She comes running for a snack every time.

And it was Lily who discovered that I keep Temptations in my nightstand (in retrospect, not my greatest idea of all time), but Tinsel watched and learned. Now she knows where to find the Secret Treats.

And trust me, there is no denying this face!

13 October 2014

Selling Old Stuff: Vintage Halloween

Back on June 1, I opened a case at one of our local antique malls and so far, it has been going pretty well. Mind you, I have very LOW expectations. I'm not looking to make a lot of money with this operation. As long as I sell enough to cover my monthly rent and make a little (and sometimes it's a VERY little!), I'm good. All in all, it's been enjoyable. Given more time and a bigger space, I think I could really get into it!

I took this picture last week when I stopped by to add a few things to the case. It's getting a bit cluttered, so I'm going to do a major overhaul sometime soon. I'll be adding two wooden display cases to hold some of my smaller knick knacks so I can better utilize the space. In addition, I'll be taking out some of the items at least temporarily and replacing them with new. 

 It's anyone's guess what will sell! At the beginning of October, I added some vintage Halloween items from my childhood to the case. (I do not like thinking of myself as vintage...sheesh!) The pumpkin candy holder, the skull, and the old cups sold right away. Don't worry...I kept several very cool old Halloween items, including my original Trick-or-Treating pumpkin and some vintage Halloween decorations. I'll try to share them on the blog sometime soon.

I unearthed several of my old masks and was surprised at how well-preserved they were! The queen mask sold immediately. I have to say she's kind of creepy!

I don't recall ever wearing these two masks. I'm glad they've gone to a good new home!

I think the spy mask and costume are pretty cool. To my surprise, this one hasn't sold yet.

But some lucky soul bought this witch mask. I have pictures of me in it when I was a witch for Halloween one year. I will say it made a pretty good costume back in the day!

Local friends: If you see any of these old masks out on Halloween, be sure to let me know! :)

Stay tuned for more updates about this new venture!

11 October 2014

Fitness: Still at It

I think exercise tests us in so many ways, our skills, our hearts, our ability to bounce back after setbacks. This is the inner beauty of sports and competition, and it can serve us all well as adult athletes.
Peggy Fleming

Back in June, I promised to write more regularly about my adventures at the gym. I have had the best of intentions of doing that but fell short. I've been going to the gym pretty regularly but have had a bit of slippage in my fitness plan. So I've regrouped and am back on track. Silly pun, I know. :)

I first started treadmill running a few months before my dad passed away. When I started, I wanted to challenge myself to do more than I had been doing at the gym, and the idea of running appealed to me. Little did I know how well my running program would serve me as I worked my way through the agonizing months following his passing. I would come home from a brutally hard day sorting through the contents of my childhood home, too exhausted to think, yet I could hop on the treadmill and just run and run. It took my mind to a safer place, where the only thing I had to think about was that day's running goal.

Then over the winter, things began to unravel with my grandma, and I found myself missing time at the gym. I was still in a dark place emotionally, and this time I let it affect my running. Truthfully it affected my entire physical self. Headaches, stomach aches, side aches...you name it. Each "ailment" kept me from running. Somehow I got away from the very thing that had helped me feel better about myself. I re-started the C25K program more than once but each time something got in the way.

After Grandma passed away in August, I finally decided it was time to put myself first for awhile. I opened up my C25K app and started over, this time vowing I would not make excuses. I told myself that I could take longer than 9 weeks to complete it this time. After all, what's the rush? And it would be OK to repeat a day once in awhile if I didn't feel ready to move to the next day's plan.

As of today, I'm ready for Week 5, Day 1. I've cut myself a little (but not too much) slack, and I feel solid in what I've accomplished so far.

My message to you is this: If I can do this, anyone can. I'm the girl who was last to be picked in gym class, the one taunted and teased for her lack of athletic skill. Maybe "it" for you is not running. Maybe it's swimming or yoga. Find something physical you enjoy, and just get started. It may help you in unexpected ways one day. 

The body achieves what the mind believes. 

10 October 2014

Feline Friday: The Sweetest Thing

 I know she's really my daughter's cat, but Lily and I have such a strong bond. Each morning after she eats her breakfast, she likes to sit on my lap. And lately, she's started holding my hand.

She actually grips my finger with her paw, as you can see here.  
 It just melts my heart!

04 October 2014

Photo Organization Project: Part 4

Do you ever start a project with the very best of intentions but find that you have to set it aside for awhile? Or a very long while?
That's what happened with the massive photo organization project I started last fall after my estate sale. In a nutshell, I brought home a ton of completely unorganized photos and slides from my parents' house. I needed to integrate them into my photo boxes so I could begin to determine which ones I might like to scrapbook someday.You can see how this project started HERE.

Shortly after I started this project, my 102-year old grandma (my dad's mom) started having a variety of issues and it fell to my cousins and me to get her moved to a nursing home. That happened in February, after which I was responsible for clearing out her household items and selling her home. Grandma passed away last month, having lived a full and long life. I feel very fortunate to have spent a lot of quality time with her and hope to write more about this later.

Long story short: My life has been essentially on hold again since January of this year, so my photo organization project fell off of my radar screen for awhile. Finally a few weeks ago I was able to get back to where I left off last November. It was a good feeling!

First, I finished my very "rough sort" of photos by decade and then by year. I still have many older photos I can't specifically date, but hopefully I'll be able to get close by looking more closely at furniture, clothing, cars, and other clues in the pictures themselves. I filed undated photos separately.

As I sorted photos, I actually tossed quite a few. (Shocking, I know!) Many of the photos I brought home were from vacations my parents took in later years. I kept photos they were in but tossed all but a few scenery pictures from each trip, keeping enough to provide context. Of course, I kept all the photos of trips I took with them because I have memories of many of those experiences and may scrapbook them some day. (MAY is the operative word here!)

Next I brought out my own photo boxes which are indexed by year and month. I took a year's worth of photos from my parents' house and began to sort them by month, dropping them into my box. Again, there were some photos which I could not specifically date, so I filed them separately. Once I'm done with this part of the process, I will go back through each box and toss duplicate photos. My mom and I usually had two sets of photos printed and then exchanged them, so there are plenty of duplicates in these boxes.

I'm also in the process of sorting through our old slides and having some professionally digitized, so I'll eventually print the most important ones and add to these photo boxes.

It's a big project, but I'm hoping now that things have settled down a little bit for me, I can finally finish it. It will be a great feeling to have all of the printed photos in order so I can decide what to do with them.

Then maybe -- just maybe -- I'll be able to get back on track with my scrapbooking! :)

03 October 2014

Feline Friday: Re-Training Lily

Those of you who have read my blog for awhile may remember that many years ago, I taught Lily to ring a bag of bells for her food. Lily's a very smart kitty and the training process was remarkably quick. She even went a step further -- quite on her own -- and took to ringing a possum. Yep, you read that right. Possum. You can read more about it -- and see a video -- here and here.

Lily's bell-ringing skills even led to her first (and possibly only) 15 minutes of fame, as she was once featured on the website of Bell Outlet. As you might imagine, this was one of the highlights of my life. :)

Well, I'm sorry to report that Lily's incessant bell-ringing led to Spouse occasionally taking away her bell for long periods of time. And for awhile my life was so complicated that I didn't insist on bell-ringing.

Long story short, Lily became complacent. She began to expect food without bells. She sat in front of the fridge, waiting for it to somehow open. And it usually did! As time went on, she barely touched her bag of bells. And eventually she seemed to not remember what to do with it.

In short, it was a sorry state of affairs.

 So this week I decided to refresh her memory. I placed her paw on the bag of bells, then gave her a treat. To my surprise (and relief), Lily remembered her old trick after about 15 minutes of practice. Soon she was back to jiggling her bag of bells. Confidently. Loudly.

 And now incessantly. :)
Good girl. All is right with the world.

30 September 2014

Update and a Banana Tip

 Gentle blog readers:  
You may (or may not) be wondering if I have fallen off the face of the earth again. Although that sounds somewhat appealing (no banana pun intended!), I did not. Shocking as it may seem, we actually took a vacation! It was a much needed break. Of course, when one comes back from vacation, there is always a lot of catching up to do. So I've been busy doing that for the past few days.

I will share pictures from our trip in the coming days, but in the meantime, here's the best tip you'll probably ever read on my blog: 
How to slice a banana without a cutting board! 
  In fact, if you follow my instructions, the banana has its own BUILT-IN cutting board!

"WHAT??? Tell me more!"
Okay, I will! :)

1. Peel back only one "strip" of the peel. (Here's a bonus "Tip within a Tip": Always peel your banana from the BOTTOM end, not from the end with the long stem. It will peel perfectly every time!)

2. Slice the banana with a knife WHILE STILL IN ITS PEEL! 
I know...look how great this is! It is hard to contain my excitement at this step! Do you see how the peel is actually a built-in cutting board?

3. I do not have a picture of this step because I could not execute it AND take a picture at the same time! In Step #3 you'll invert your banana slices into a bowl by pushing on the peel under the slices. They'll pop right out!

 {Imagine there is a picture right here!}

4. Mix the slices into your yogurt or cereal or whatever! And yes, this is a Quaker Microwave Oatmeal Color-Changing Bowl. Don't be jealous. It is so old that it is permanently green. Any type of bowl will do for your lovely banana slices!

Now I don't know FOR SURE if I'm the first person on earth to invent this trick, but I kind of think I MIGHT be! Trust me, I eat a lot of bananas so am sort of an expert in banana peeling!

Try it! You'll get to eat your banana FASTER and have fewer dishes to wash! TA-DA!

26 September 2014

Feline Friday: Miss Buttinski

This may look like an ordinary photo but I assure you it is not. This is another example of how Lily (Miss Buttinski!) infringes on poor Tinsel's territory! Usually her motivation is NOMS but this time she's purely seeking attention, which I'll admit makes this behavior a little bit adorable.

Anyway, every morning when I'm doing my make-up and hair in the bathroom, Tinsel plops down on the floor or sits on the counter. She's been doing this for years now and it virtually assures her of uninterrupted girl time with Mommy -- plus plenty of back scratches! But Lily has discovered where Tinsel goes each morning...and now she's going there, too! When Tinsel plops down on the floor, Lily does likewise. She even positions herself closest to me in an attempt to hog all of the attention!

Miss Buttinski strikes again!

19 September 2014

Feline Friday: Just Waiting

The girls can often be found sitting just outside my craft room, waiting patiently for me to finish whatever I'm working on. They've learned that this position allows them to ambush me and demand food the minute I walk out of the room. 

It's sort of like a MEATLOAF blockade. :)

16 September 2014


Every few months I have the very fun task of helping to put together our store newsletter. Our wonderful store owners provide content and then I put it into a ginormous Word document -- designing, editing, and formatting as we go. It's a little like giving birth. Lots and lots of effort...then finally it is done!

We just finished our latest newsletter, an 8-page holiday season edition with information about everything happening at the store from now through the end of the year.

I especially like my oversized monitor for working on the newsletter. It makes manipulating graphics and photos much easier.
Spouse gives me a hard time about having such a large screen, but it makes it easy to spot those extra spaces and missing commas!

 But when I'm working on big project like this, there's one thing even more important than a large screen: COFFEE. Lots of it! :)

Click HERE to see our latest newsletter!

14 September 2014

Kind of a Fun Thing

A couple of months ago, I got the wild idea (okay, not all that wild) to get a fire pit. After a little looking around, we found a decent sized cauldron-type thing for our patio. I still have visions of cooking in a Dutch oven, but for now I'm settling for s'mores.

  It had been quite awhile since I'd had a s'more. Pretty good!

And just sitting by the fire doing nothing? I kind of like that, too!
What is this thing they call "relaxing"? I might actually enjoy it! :)

12 September 2014

Feline Friday: Lily's Busy Week

  Gee, Lily...What have you accomplished this week?

First there was this....
 ...followed by this...

 ...and don't forget the day you hoarded your puffballs! Check that one off your to-do list!

Then there was a bit more of this...

 Wow, you've had a busy week, Lily! You deserve a nap. :)