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!

31 October 2014

Feline Friday: Monorail Cat Fail

We recently got a new couch with a thinner back, so naturally Lily decided to try monorailing on the back of it. Here's what a perfect Monorail Cat is supposed to look like:

And here's her first try at monorailing:
Not quite, Lily! Next time, tuck your paws under your ample body!

29 October 2014

Week 5, Day 3


I have vivid memories of my elementary school gym class. I'm standing with my back pressed against the red padded mats hanging from the cement wall, waiting for a captain to pick me for a team.

I stare at my feet while name after name is called. Lines of wiggly classmates form behind each captain until finally, I'm the only one left. I'm still looking at my feet, my back pressed against the pads, my face flushed as I try to hold back the tears. The teacher shouts, his voice echoing across the gym, "C'mon, guys! Somebody's gotta take her!"

Such was my early exposure to sports. I wasn't confident to begin with, and being the last to be picked only reinforced the notion that I could never be successful. I muddled along the best I could and even managed to win a race once, on a day when the fastest girl was home sick. But any confidence that might have developed was quickly squelched when the gym teacher bellowed at me, "You're physically unfit!" His words cut me to the core and from that point on, I mentally checked out of gym class.

Fast forward 40+ years. Yesterday I completed Week 5, Day 3 of the C25K program. It's a challenging day for a beginner because the running interval ramps up from eight-minute segments to one long run of 20 minutes.

It has taken me a very long time to undo the hurtful words of my gym teacher and believe that in fact, I CAN be successful. Yesterday as I finished Week 5, Day 3, I had only one thought:

Take THAT, you ***! :)


27 October 2014

Trusting My Instincts

 My parents dabbled in antiques. Dad had a particular interest in old farm implements and Mom enjoyed antique dishes and toys. Since they acquired much of their collection by going to sales, most of their pieces didn't really speak to me, so I kept a few that were the most meaningful and sold the rest at our auction. Over the years, my parents taught me a little bit about antiques, but last summer I realized I hadn't paid nearly enough attention.
 

As I tried to figure out what to keep and what to sell, I quickly learned that I needed to know the value. If a particular piece had significant value, I could set a "reserve" (minimum) value for the auction so that it didn't sell for far under what it was worth. So as I prepared for my estate sale last summer, I spent a lot of time talking to the auction staff about the value of particular items, as well as doing my own research on eBay. 

Through that process, I gained some knowledge about what's collectible these days, and I've built on it a bit as I've priced items for my case at our local antique store. I've only learned a fraction of what I need to know, but I do know that with practice, my instincts are getting a little bit better!

I'm very glad I trusted my instincts on this wire mesh waste basket! I found it last summer in the top of my dad's garage, filled with old Christmas lights. I have no idea where it came from, but given the age and style I think it may have belonged to my maternal grandmother. I brought it home (as well as the lights) mostly because I loved it, but I also suspected it might be collectible. The fact that it was up in the top of the garage was also a clue that Dad knew its value and tucked it up there for safe-keeping.

Yesterday I finally cleaned it up and turned it over to see if there was any identifying information on the bottom. (In looking at any old item, the first step is to turn it over! If you can identify a maker and/or a year, you can easily research the value online.)
 
 The bottom is slightly rusty but the manufacturer information is still visible.

A quick check of "sold" listings on eBay confirmed that my instincts were right on this one, as I found several that have sold recently for between $65 and $99! (You must always check the "sold" rather than active listings to see what items are actually worth. Just because a seller sets a particular price for an item doesn't mean it will bring that much when it actually sells.)  
 
So I gave the inside bottom of the waste basket a very light sanding to remove loose rust, but I won't be spray painting it as that could affect the value. It'll make a fun addition to my craft room...until I'm ready to sell it. 

I think Mom and Dad would be pleased that I'm finally learning a little about antiques. :)
jp

26 October 2014

Photo Organization Project: Part 5

I am up to my ears in photos. And slides. And now negatives. Very, very old negatives from maternal grandmother.

What a treat! I've actually had these negatives since my mom passed away, but I haven't been inclined to do anything with them. Now that I'm working on my photo organization project, I figured that this is the right time to dig into the box.

It's only a cigar box, but it is packed full to overflowing. There are hundreds of negatives in this box.


 It's remarkable that the negatives are still in good condition, considering how they were stored. We found the box in my grandma's attic when she passed away in 2004, buried under a pile of insulation. The attic was freezing in the winter and sweltering hot in the summer. It wasn't watertight. Perhaps the negatives survived because they were protected by the insulation.

By holding them up to light or placing them on white paper, I can make out many of the images, and I cannot wait to have them developed into digital photos.

While many of the negatives are loose in the box, others are still in envelopes...with writing to indicate the time and event! As you can see, they are very old negatives -- these two envelopes are dated 1919 and 1920!

This envelope is especially interesting to me, as it includes photos from the Iowa State Fair taken in 1919! The fair is very special to me, and I cannot wait to look at these images.

 I took the box to the same small company which recently helped me convert some slides to digital files. Here's what I learned: It's very expensive to process old negatives due to the varied sizes and condition -- perhaps $3 each. So based on my conversation with the owner, here are my next steps: 

* Buy some white gloves for handling the negatives.
* Identify the most important negatives to scan by holding them up to light.
* Try scanning a few on my flat-bed scanner. Since I don't know how to do this and it's not obvious how to go about it, we'll see how it goes. I found several how-to videos online so it looks like it can be done.
* Depending on the results, take a few of the most important negatives to the developer for professional processing.

So it looks like this is going to be a labor-intensive process! We'll see how it goes. Stay tuned!
jp

25 October 2014

Reconstructing My Childhood


If you've been following my blog, you know that last summer I brought home boxes of stuff from my childhood home. Much of it belonged to my parents, but a good portion of it is my own stuff which had been stored at my parents' house all these years. School papers, toys, Halloween costumes, my stamp collection...the list goes on and on. As I've sorted through my own boxes, it's been a real trip down memory lane.

I've always been very attached to my childhood belongings. That's why I still have a lot of them. For as long as I can remember, I've been sentimental and reluctant to part with things, and now I understand why. Each item represents a link to my childhood and (now) to my parents -- obviously a time and place that will never be again.

The other thing you might know about me is that I crave order. This trait tends to shift into high gear when I'm faced with circumstances that are outside of my control, like those of the past few years. In those situations, my first inclination is to organize. Order makes me feel calmer and in control, like everything is as it should be.

Now I'm faced with boxes of jumbled artifacts from my childhood. I'm sure some people would see them as meaningless objects from long ago. Others would dump it all. But not me. I need to put it all together. I need order.

 I've been sifting through mixed up containers of dolls, tiny shoes, marbles, and game pieces. I've been on a quest to reunite dolls with their clothing, tiny shoes with their mates. 

And as I fit together pieces of this puzzle, it's almost as if I'm reconstructing my childhood. Without my parents here to share stories about my childhood, I feel compelled to uncover them myself.

I need to remember my story, and this is one step in that process.

 So I scoured the Internet looking for pictures of my old Upsy Downsy doll set. As soon as I saw it, I knew that I still had all the pieces but over the years, they had become separated. Pulling it all back together triggered vivid memories of how much I loved playing with it. Do you see the orange bridge at the top of the photo? I found it in the box of mementos from childhood pets. Finding it there reminded me that my two turtles, Sadie and Sydney, had used that bridge. Without the bridge, I never would have remembered that little detail about these beloved childhood pets.

What will I do with my Upsy Downsy set? At some point I'll sell it, but first I'll take some pictures and write down my memories. It's the first step in letting it go. In fact, I'm sure I've got the letter I wrote to Santa requesting an Upsy Downsy doll for Christmas one year. It's a tiny part of my story.

I reunited my Little Kiddles fireman with his hat and his coat, then to my great surprise I found his fire truck and his tiny white ladders. In his little corner of the world, everything is finally as it should be. My parents gave me this fireman because my dad served on the volunteer fire department for many years. This little guy (blue as he may be!) is another tiny part of my story.

I know it won't change reality but I believe that by putting some order to these mixed up boxes, I'll be able to reconstruct my childhood and tell my story. And I hope that somewhere in those boxes, I find some healing.
jp