24 April 2015

Feline Friday: Where's Tinsel?

Earlier this week, I came upon this back-end display: Tinsel's attempt at hiding in the lap robe my grandma made (which she now calls her own).

Oh, look! There's Tinsel! What a surprise! :)
 

Okay, Tinsel...your secret hiding place is safe with me!
 



22 April 2015

Recipe: Nifty Thrifty Cookies

I reorganized my recipes awhile back and because of this, I'm still discovering recipes I'd forgotten. A case in point is this recipe for Nifty Thrifty Cookies, given to me by my beloved first grade teacher at my bridal shower many moons ago. Everyone who came to the shower brought a recipe and, of course, I still have them all. I remember that Mrs. Teter also gave me two cereal-sized bowls which she said were only to be used for vegetables. I use them often. For cereal. :)

Mrs. Teter was one of those teachers who was always old. She was old when I had her for a first grade teacher, yet she still taught for several years after that. She was an old-fashioned teacher with lots of rules, but she was warm and caring and remains one of my all-time favorites.

Anyway, I was recently looking for a cookie recipe and took a minute to actually read this one. I guess I'd never made it past the title! Turns out that this is a recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, one of my very favorites! I can't quite figure out why they're called Nifty Thrifty Cookies. The ingredients don't seem especially thrifty to me, but I'm probably a poor judge of such things as I have one of the world's most poorly equipped pantries!

So back to the recipe. I love seeing Mrs. Teter's handwriting, (although I'm a bit concerned that she wrote "cooky" sheet. LOL) Her perfect penmanship takes me back to those days when our classroom was encircled by cursive writing borders. I tried my best to make my letters look just like the samples!

For the record, here is my first grade class, with Mrs. Teter in the top row at the left. I'm in the second row, second from the left. I've recently re-connected with several of the kids from my Kindergarten class, and we've had a great time reminiscing. Of course, I had to share this cookie recipe with them.


The cookies are nice and chewy, perfect with a cup of coffee. Or for breakfast. Or for a late night snack. And I can only imagine how good they would be with walnuts or pecans. Oh, my!
Mrs. Teter has been gone for several years now, but making her cookie recipe (albeit a few years late) was a nice journey down memory lane!
jp





17 April 2015

Feline Friday

That belly! That soft, floofy belly!
There are no more words needed for this extreme cuteness! :)

16 April 2015

Challenge: Print Your Pictures!

 
Whoa! Where has the week gone? I realize I posted almost every day last week then disappeared into a black hole. Sorry about that! Sometimes life gets in the way of blogging.

For today's post, I'm going to direct you to a post I wrote for Memory Bound, the store where I teach. This post is all about the importance of printing your photos, something I've done a particularly poor job of doing for the past few years.

I've written lots about organizing photos that are already printed but this post covers that very important FIRST step in the process: PRINTING.

Take a look at the post here. I'm hoping you'll join me in this photo-printing CHALLENGE!
jp



10 April 2015

Feline Friday: Basket Obsession

I've posted before about Lily's ongoing obsession with our napkin basket. At least once a week she furiously digs out all the napkins so she can sit in it. It has become one of her quests in life.

It will be just like the old days!

When she was a little smaller. 

Make that much, MUCH smaller!



 Yeah...it will be just like the old days! 
Keep thinking those positive thoughts, Lily! We all have a few things that used to fit a little better! :)

08 April 2015

Fitness: The Slowest 5K Ever

It's been a long time since I've posted anything about my trips to the Dreaded Fitness Place. Yep, I'm still going. And yep, I'm still working on the eight-week Couch to 5K program. But it is taking me ever so long to make it through those eight weeks. 

I've done the whole C25K thing before but, for a variety of reasons, did not maintain that level of running. This time I decided to spend several days on each DAY of the program so that I truly build up my fitness level before moving on. After all, there is no rush. I'm not preparing for an actual race. My only competition is myself...and trust me, that's a good thing!

So this month I'm finally back up to Week 7, which is jogging 2.5 miles in 25 minutes without stopping. I can do this level pretty comfortably now and only have to stop if I've had too much water before arriving at the gym! LOL I only need to add 5 more minutes of running to be at the 3 mile (5K level). I'll be there in a couple of weeks!

Remember, I'm not at all athletic, so here are a few things that have kept me going:

* Invest in good running shoes. You can't run with just any old tennis shoes. I tried it. Good shoes completely eliminated my ankle and knee pain.

* Have a positive mindset. I've found that my emotional state affects my ability to run more than almost anything else. If I tell myself that today is the day I'm going to meet that goal, then I almost always get it done.

* Drink 3-4 full bottles of water over the hours before going to the gym. This is the ONLY thing that keeps me from getting a side cramp while running. I have no idea why drinking water prevents cramps but it does. I've tried everything else and this is the only way to go for me. 

* Watch crafting videos while running. :) Jennifer McGuire doesn't know it, but she is now my personal trainer!

When I finally make it to the 5K level, I hope to be able to sustain it and move on to longer programs. We'll see how that goes!
jp






03 April 2015

Feline Friday: Breaking Mews!

BREAKING MEWS! 
Lily was on TV this week!





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Did we get you? :) 
April Fools, a few days late!


02 April 2015

Organization: 8x8 Paper Pads

 As I've been going through my craft space trying to clear out and re-organize a few things, I've been pondering what to do with my 8x8 paper pads. I use plastic magazine-type holders for my 12x12 and 6x6 papers, but it seems that manufacturers no longer make the holders to fit 8x8 papers. That's a real puzzle to me, given the popularity of 8x8 papers these days (and other sizes, for that matter).

So I concluded I would have to figure something out on my own. As it turns out, I already had something in my craft room that worked perfectly. This Target basket measures 8x12, and the bottom inside of the basket (between the little side ledges) is just a tiny bit wider than the 8x8 paper pads, so it keeps them from sliding side to side. Awesome!

This was a super quick and easy project, once I found the container! First, I gathered up my pads and pulled the papers apart so they'll be easier to grab when I need them. I decided to keep the papers in order by line because they are designed to coordinate with each other. 

Next, I cut 8x8.5 "dividers" from kraft cardstock and made a label for the top of each one. Because this basket will be visible in my craft space, I fancied up the front divider with some coordinating paper.

This is a little thing, but it makes me happy that I can finally find my 8x8 paper when I need it. The pads are no longer buried in piles of STUFF!
 

 Of course, I had to add a cute label to the bin. I know it wasn't necessary, but I couldn't help myself. :)

The only problem is that I don't have enough paper pads to fill the basket. So I had to prop up my papers inside the basket with a small box in the back. 

(Yes, this is a problem that could easily be remedied by a little shopping! hehehe) 
jp




31 March 2015

Craft Room: Tweaking Storage Systems

Back in August, 2012, I put the finishing touches on my craft space. I absolutely love having a dedicated space and use it a LOT!

After living with this space for a couple of years, I've come to a few conclusions:

  • I should have bought a larger table. One can never have too much work space. On the other hand, I'm not willing to give up more floor space for a bigger table, so I'm going to keep it. I plan to have a piece of glass cut to fit the top of it which will make it easier to remove adhesive.
  • Even though I wish it were larger, I LOVE the tall table!  A desk would not work for me.
  • I love the Target storage cubes (even though they're not super sturdy) but I've struggled with how to efficiently use the canvas bins that fill some of the cubes. I'm still figuring that out.
  • I can't stand visual clutter, and piles of stuff sort of make me crazy. There have been way too many piles in my craft room lately!
  • Some of the organization "systems" I put in place two years ago are working, and some are not. It's time for some tweaking!
 If you're a crafter, you know that having your supplies organized and accessible is a big deal. I recently re-vamped my stamp storage and love it, so I was inspired to make a few more (much simpler!) changes. I hope these little improvements will help me 1) use what I have and 2) be more apt to put stuff away!

Here are some of my little tweaks:

12x12 Paper Scraps 
First of all, I love, love, love the closet. If I had to get rid of the rest of the room and keep only the closet, that would be fine with me. I could find a way to work in there! My 12x12 paper/cardstock vertical storage system works for me, with one exception -- the 12" paper scraps. Since they don't fit in my 8.5x11 scrap drawers, I shove them into the vertical storage bins and they flop all over the place, getting bent and lost in the process.

In addition, the labels don't stick forever to this plastic. I decided to keep them but replaced some that were dogeared and added more adhesive behind others.

To solve the problem with the long scraps, I grouped them together and clipped them at the top. Now they can stay in the vertical holders and not flop around.

 Christmas Supplies
I had Christmas stuff stashed in my paper holders and various tins around the room, making it hard to find when I needed it. So after paring down my stash considerably for the upcoming garage sale, I moved everything to one stackable box (shown in the top photo), with small items in bags. I don't store my supplies by theme so doing this was a bit of a departure for me, but since I have so many Christmas supplies, I think this makes much more sense. This will make it super easy when it's time to make Christmas cards this fall.

Small Die Cut Pieces
I'm a huge fan of October Afternoon but have been frustrated with storing all the little die cuts and doodads that come with some of their lines (there's a small package shown in the photo above). Previously I had them all in a big tin which was annoying the heck out of me. I couldn't find what I needed (and as a result, I didn't use them at all), and they looked messy, too.

I finally decided that what I needed was a muffin tin. I brought several old tins home from my grandma's house last spring for just this reason, so I commandeered one to see how it would work. After removing all the Christmas die cuts, everything else fit nicely in the muffin tin, with larger pieces in a separate container. The jury is still out on this new system, but I'm hoping that it will help keep these little pieces corralled and more accessible. When things are more accessible, I'm more likely to use them...and clean up when I'm done!

Here's hoping that these little changes will make a big difference!
jp

30 March 2015

Serious Garage Sale Prep

At least once a year, the store where I teach holds a scrapbooking garage sale. This is a fabulous opportunity to clear out your stash. Customers and employees sign up to be sellers, and payment is given in store credit (less a small percentage for the store). The end result is that you get rid of stuff you no longer need...and in return get store credit to buy new stuff! :) It doesn't get much better than that!
Over the years I've participated in varying degrees. Last year I was busy with many other things and didn't get a chance to sell as much as I should have. So I vowed that this year I would dig much deeper. Our sale is coming up in late April, and so far I have two large boxes packed and priced!

I've been going through all of my stuff and re-assessing what I realisitically need to keep. For example, I looked in this big canvas bin (which I hadn't really looked in for a very long time) and found a number of projects I started but never completed. So I had an honest talk with myself about what I actually WILL complete and kept only those projects. I broke down everything else into components for the sale. 


As I went through this clearing out process, I learned (or re-learned) a few things about myself:

  • I often bite off more than I can chew. No surprise there!
  • I get frustrated by unfinished projects. I found way too many of them in my craft room.
  • I don't seem to care for "week/month/year in the life" type projects. I have started several but have yet to complete one. Honestly, I'd rather document the "big picture" than a single week/month/year. I know a lot of people love these types of projects, but they're just not my thing.
  • My tastes in craft supplies have evolved over the years. But not much. :)
  • I like versatile, simple products -- no themes.
  • I don't want to make things unless they have a definite purpose. I don't want stuff just sitting around gathering dust.
  • I have WAY more blue patterned paper than anything else. But WHY? I'm not opposed to blue, but it's definitely not my favorite color. I clearly need to use it more often.
  • I love to make cards but don't spend nearly as much time as I'd like doing it. I have enough card-making supplies to set up my own shop!
  • I have just a few favorite manufacturers. Realistically, I could probably get rid of everything else. That seems a little drastic right now, but I'm going to give it some thought.
  • I especially love to work on my albums but don't devote nearly enough time to it.
  • I've got a serious backlog of photos to edit and print.
  • I don't have nearly as much stuff as my crafting friends, but I still I have way more than I need, especially when it comes to paper and embellishments.

 Now I'm off to clear out another bin or two! The hardest part is resisting the urge to BUY stuff at the garage sale. The bargains are amazing, and I do love a good deal! I have to keep reminding myself that I'm trying to end up with LESS stuff...not more!
jp


29 March 2015

In the Cupboards

From time to time, someone visiting will notice that the insides of our kitchen cabinets are decorated with Bailey's art from pre-school and early elementary school. We've had artwork hanging inside our cabinets for as long as I can remember. This is definitely not an original idea, but I can't recall where I first read about it. It's a fun way to keep kids' artwork visible!

 Looking for a soup bowl? You'll find them by the bumblebee and star. I love how Bailey wrote answers to the teacher's prompts:
I don't like to: get my hair washed. 
 I like to eat: corn. 

She still likes corn. And I think she's ok with having her hair washed now. :)

 Looking for the "fancy" plates? You'll find them next to the butterfly, always a day brightener!
 

And there's my favorite picture, right next to the coffee filters where we see it every day!

I'm so glad I started doing this many years ago. I hope you will try it, too! :)
jp

28 March 2015

Succulents: 3 Weeks and Counting!

I planted my succulents about three weeks ago, and I'm pleased to report that they are all STILL ALIVE!

I put a reminder in my phone to water them every three weeks, and today was the day. I will say that they definitely seemed to need water, as some leaves felt very squishy and almost limp. Three weeks gave the soil plenty of time to dry out, but I'll have to watch them to be sure it's not too long.

Because water runs rapidly through the lightweight succulent soil, I put them in the sink to drain.

 I can see new growth on the succulents, including this jade plant. I am very happy to finally be using this super cool planter I bought a few years back. I love the shape and color!

This little guy is doing great! Unfortunately, I didn't have a saucer to fit his clay pot.

 But I found something even better: A glazed clay saucer that Bailey made in elementary school! It works perfectly for this little plant.

 The artist even signed it on the bottom! :)

Keep your fingers crossed that I can keep these guys alive! So far, so good!
jp