29 August 2014

Digging Out, Back Soon

Since my dad passed away last year and I found myself faced with the overwhelming aftermath of his death, I've felt like I've been at the bottom of big dark hole. 

Every time I've tried to dig myself out, some new and ominous challenge has been waiting at the top to push me right back down. So again I start digging my way out, only to slip and find myself back at the bottom of the pit again.

I'm not playing the victim here. Sometimes the "push" comes from circumstances beyond my control but just as often it is self-inflicted, as I try to take on more than I should without giving myself a chance to breathe. I'm often my own worst enemy.

So I'm taking a short break from the blog because I'm busy trying to climb back out of the hole, hopefully this time for GOOD. And believe me, as soon as I see the light of day, I'm making a run for it -- off to sunnier pastures with smoother terrain.

Thanks for hanging with me, blogging friends. Don't worry about me. I hope to be back soon! :)
jp

Feline Friday: Hey, Mom!

 Sumfing's coming out of dis new printeen macheen!

Don't worrie, Mom! I'll grab it!

Okay, thanks for the help, Lily! :)
jp

22 August 2014

Feline Friday: Those Feets!

 At the end of a stressful day, there's nothing better than curling up with a blankie and this little girl, purring contentedly.

And those little white FEETS!
 Could anything be sweeter?

19 August 2014

Blog Hiatus

Just a quick note to say I've had to take a short break from the blog as I tend to some family issues. Hope to be back soon. Thanks for stopping by!

15 August 2014

Feline Friday

 
Whenever I see Lily in this position, I have to laugh. 
It's her own little version of "business in the back, party in the front". :)

Happy Feline Friday!

09 August 2014

Bar Cart-Part 4: Shelf Liner Options


Having finished spray painting the bar cart, I'm now on the hunt for a modern print shelf liner to cover the two shelves. While I'd love to do a wild, colorful print, I don't want it to clash with our kitchen or dining room, the two most likely rooms where the bar cart will live. So I'm opting for a neutral print, with a bit of a retro feel.

Just to save ya'll some time if you're ever looking for something like this, know that there aren't very many modern/retro prints out there. I've concluded that there's a lot of ugly shelf liner being manufactured! I guess in most cases, ugly doesn't matter because shelf paper usually resides inside a drawer or closet. But in this case, the shelf paper will be visible so I want it to look great.

The four prints pictured above are a few I'm considering. I've printed the images off and placed them on the bar cart shelves, so I can get a better feel for how they'd each look with the paint color.

I hope to make a decision and order the shelf paper soon! I'm anxious to finish up this project because I have a second cart (this one for my craft room) ready to be painted!
jp

Update: I took the plunge and ordered the shelf paper! It will arrive next week, then I can finish this project!

08 August 2014

Feline Friday: Cats I Have Loved

 For today's Feline Friday, I'm going to share just a few of the many, many cats I have loved over the years! I recently had a big batch of old slides restored and saved as .jpeg files, including many images of me with my cats. Please look past my very, very poor hairstyle choices!

 My parents had Peanut when I was born, and every year she had two litters of kittens. Today that would not be considered responsible, but we always found good homes for them. Here I am at a particularly awkward age with Peanut and two of her babies. 

In addition to making our own kitties, I sometimes found kittens to take home -- or they found me. Gray Baby found his way to our house and stayed for a few months. One day he went outside and never came back. We looked everywhere but never found him. I was heartbroken.

This is Mittens, who lived to around 22 years old, which is a very, very long time for an indoor-outdoor kitty! We adopted her from a family in our town. Mittens didn't have the most pleasing personality in later years, but I adored her and so did our dog, Tammy. In fact, when Tammy passed away, we found Mittens curled up around her.

As Mittens grew, she could handle a bigger bottle!

    Here's another kitty, Tigger. I'm not sure where we got him, but we didn't have him long. Back in those days, our kitties were outside much of the time. Sadly, I lost many to accidents. I would never let my cats out of the house nowadays.

This is Wrinkles. How adorable he was!

Of course, I dressed my kitties (still do!), this time in a sock which I transformed into a turtleneck. Wrinkles was a strictly indoor kitty, allowed outside only when he was on a leash. Sadly, we lost Wrinkles at a very early age to renal failure.

 As you can see from these photos, I have always loved kitties -- including the two I have right now. I can't imagine living life without them!



07 August 2014

Ups and Downs

It's been one of those weeks. Or months. Good stuff, not so good stuff, a lot of "meh" and "blah" mixed in. On the plus side, we found a nice fire pit for the patio. We'd been looking around a bit and happened on this one. I'd forgotten how relaxing it is to just sit by the fire. I actually spent one entire evening doing just that. I don't often sit and do nothing, and I'll admit it was kind of nice.

In the not-so-great column, I tripped over the cat scratching post and seriously stubbed or possibly broke my little toe. You can see the discoloration just beginning in this photo. Trust me -- it hurt like crazy. I hobbled around for a few days and abandoned this week's gym visits because I cannot wear shoes, let alone think of running right now.
 
On the plus side, I finally bought some English walnuts so I can make the really deluxe version of oatmeal, with Craisins and brown sugar. Don't ask why it's taken me so long to buy a bag of English walnuts. I don't do a great job of taking care of myself. That needs to change!

Now that I'm teaching more classes and making many more kits than I have in the past, I'm going to have to get a lot smarter about things. (Work smarter, not harder, right?) I will say that I love the Silhouette Cameo I recently purchased. (You can see a few moons I cut in the picture below.) I'm integrating various Silhouette cuts into my classes, and I do think it will save me time in the long run. It definitely provides endless design options, which I love!

On the down side, I haven't done a single thing yet with my garden plans. The summer has slipped away from me and I'm afraid it's too late to start anything anyway. I can't move plants at this point in the season, so I think I'll wait until spring to tackle that project. Hopefully by then I'll have some other aspects of my life back under control and can really focus on making the most of those amazingly detailed plans. 

On the plus side, we've had a lot of rain this summer so the flower beds look pretty good for this late in the season. Last night I happened to catch this beautiful butterfly enjoying the liatris!
 

Another positive: I received my order of old slides back from the imaging place, where I had them scanned, cleaned, and color-restored in .jpeg format. Worth every penny. Blog post coming on this topic!

In spite of the ups and downs, on balance it's been a pretty good few days. I'm grateful for many things and looking forward to a productive weekend!

02 August 2014

Bar Cart:Part 3-Spray Painting

The bar cart project is progressing nicely! Other than some minor touch-ups, the spray painting is finished.

 Spouse came up with a great idea of propping the handles up on a yardstick so I could spray all sides at once.

It worked so well that I set up a second yardstick to paint both at the same time.

It took two solid coats of spray paint and some touch ups to finish the handles.

 Next I painted the underside of each of the shelves. Not that anyone (other than cats) will be looking at the undersides but hey, I want to be thorough.

After an hour or so of drying time, I applied a second coat. The undersides are not perfect due to some rough metal areas, but at least they are clean and sealed with new paint.

Next I flipped the shelves over and painted the gold strips around the edges. I didn't have to tape the shelves because they'll be covered with contact paper or shelf liner. You can see that the center area of the shelf is still a little rough. I'll need to get some grittier sand paper to work on those areas before applying contact paper.

Finally, I spray painted the new screw heads so they'll match the handles.
So far, this is a super-easy project! The next step will be to decide on the material to cover the shelves and order it online. I expect lining the shelves will be a little trickier because I'll need to cut curves with my X-Acto knife. I'll probably make a template from newspaper just to be on the safe side.

So far, so good! And other than grass and trees which now feature spots of Oil-Rubbed Bronze, I've had no major disasters!
jp

01 August 2014

Bar Cart: Part 2 - Painting Prep

I'm pleased to report that progress continues on my bar cart project! Luckily we've had some very nice, calm days lately so I decided to start spray painting. Too bad Bailey, my spray painting buddy, is away for the summer. I'm on my own with this one, although Spouse has a bit more interest than usual in this project since the word "bar" is in the title!

 Aside from taking apart the cart, I've been planning what I want to do with it. I decided to paint the cart to match our other metals using Rust-oleum Metallic spray paint in Oil-Rubbed Bronze. We've used this for other projects around the house with great results.
 With that "big" decision out of the way (whew!) my next task is to find some mod/funky/retro type contact paper to cover the two shelves. I've found several fun patterns online but of course nothing local, so it looks like I'll be ordering it. That makes me a little nervous because there's always a possibility that I won't like it when I see it.

While I'm thinking about color and pattern, I decided to go ahead with the painting. As I took apart the cart, I noticed that two of the screws were missing, so I purchased all new hardware to match -- screws, washers, and nuts. The screws are silver so I'll paint the heads to match the handles.

After disassembling the cart, I sanded it down and washed it again. I wasn't happy with the wheels so I scrubbed them with a Goo Be Gone product and washed them again in Dawn. This time the shop grease came off completely.

Next I taped off the wheels with blue tape. I decided to paint the silver part the same color as the rest of the metal, so I covered up everything else with tape. Good thing I got a new roll because it seemed like I used most of it on the first wheel!

By the time I got to the last wheel, I had figured it out!

At first I thought I'd have to tape off the center part of the trays but then I realized that all of that part will be covered up with contact paper or such, so no additional taping was necessary. Good thing! Taping is NO FUN when you're excited to get to the painting!

I consulted with Spouse about the best way to prop up the handles for painting. I didn't want to place them flat on the floor and have to turn them to paint the other side, because I was afraid that would create a paint line between the two sides. Spouse had the smart idea of propping up the handles against old yard sticks so that I could reach all sides at once. 

Here's a sneak peek of this great idea! Wish I'd thought to put newspapers on the grass. I may or may not have painted blades of grass onto the wheel brackets. :)

 Next post: Spray painting!


Feline Friday: JAWS!

The afternoon started innocently enough. I had decided to make an ocean-themed snack for our staff event at Memory Bound, a fun evening to kick off our Shark Week activities at the store.

A quick perusal of Pinterest revealed many cute ocean-themed snack ideas, but in the interest of time I opted for something very simple. Luckily, this idea required very minimal concentration. Little did I know what danger lurked in my own kitchen!
 

 As soon as I opened the cream cheese, I could sense trouble. Something FURRY was making figure-eights around my legs!

Ignoring the force of nature which lurked below the kitchen table, I added a few drops of blue food coloring to the cream cheese and stirred it up. Such a nice, peaceful color. 
Then...
(cue the JAWS theme song)
 
BAM! 
She struck! Reaching and stretching those sharp claws toward the cream cheese! 
CREEM CHEESES! GET IN MY MOUF!
 

It took all of my strength, but I managed to distract JAWS with a few Temptations while I spread cream cheese on the mini rice cakes. 
WHEW! That was a close call!

Next, I cut chives, red pepper, broccoli, and celery, fashioning them into undersea plants. I carefully positioned them into the cream cheese. In front of each plant I added a goldfish cracker or two. La-la-la-la...I stepped back to admire my work, and then...

BAM!
JAWS was back, going after those goldfish with a vengeance normally reserved for deli sliced turkey! It was a close call, but I swooped the snacks off the table and into the safety of the fridge just in time.
WHEW!



31 July 2014

Grandma's Journal

If you've been reading my blog you may recall that since last summer, I've been sorting through boxes of mementos from my childhood home. Included in this pile of artifacts are several boxes from my late grandma's house. When she passed away in 2004, my mom cleaned out her house and took home several boxes of papers. She planned to sort through them but never did. So I'm doing it now. 
 

 I'm sure my mom knew about Grandma's journal, but I did not. Of course, I knew my grandma loved to write and had read many of her stories over the years, but I had no idea she had kept a journal which included many entries about me growing up. These entries are precious to me, especially because the baby book my mom started for me was never completed. Grandma often stayed with me while my parents were gone, so her journal entries provide incredibly detailed glimpses into my early years. 

In addition to journal entries, I found folders containing Grandma's original poems and stories. I decided to corral all of Grandma's writings in a binder to preserve them and make them easier to read. I bought an 8.5x11 ring-bound album and page protectors at Memory Bound and set to work.
 

Rather than "scrapbook" the journal, I decided to just slip the pages into blank page protectors, as many are written on both the front and back. Many of the entries are dated but some are not, so I tried my best to put them into date order. After just a few hours of sorting, I had completed the album.

I decided to divide the album into sections using some plastic dividers by Becky Higgins. (As you can see in the photo below, they are too long for the 8.5x11 binder so I will cut them off after I finish labeling them.) If I ever have time to scrapbook my own childhood, I may move some of the journal entries into a larger album, integrating them with photos taken during those years.

The first section of the binder contains journal entries about my early years. Grandma's writing is lively and imaginative and includes many vivid details about my parents, my house, and our pets. 

  When we traveled on vacations over the years, Grandma often took care of our dog and cats. Imagine my delight when I found journal entries about many of those occasions. Some are written from the perspective of the dog or cat. :) I set up a section in the binder just for these entries. This one is about our dog, Tammy.
 

Here's one about my cat, Wrinkles.
 

Grandma also took care of my turtles when we were away. Of course, she wrote the "Daily Turtle Report". You cannot imagine how wonderful this was to find!
 

The last section in the binder is for Grandma's original stories and poems. There are so many and some are so long that I had to tuck entire stories into a single page protector.

There are short stories, poems, and essays about many topics.

 I even found the prototype "issue" of Dog Town News, a newspaper just for canines -- complete with advertisements and an editorial written by a cat.
Of all the artifacts I've uncovered in sorting through boxes, Grandma's journal entries are among the most precious to me. As I have grappled with losing my parents, I've often felt like I've lost my personal story, too, because there is no one left who shares my memories. Grandma's writings help tell the story of my childhood, which seemed lost to me when I lost my parents. Finding her journal entries feels enormously healing to me -- like a gift created and placed for me to find, exactly when I needed it.
jp