15 March 2019

Feline Friday - Now with More Rory!

 This has been a busy week catching up on projects after being in Texas, so I'm re-surfacing only today for a Feline Friday post. Can't miss the most important day of the week!

While I was in Texas, Cat Dad (using that term loosely!!) took care of Lily. Because he barely even interacts with Lily, he had to endure some detailed training before I left. In addition to following her daily schedule, he vowed that he would be putting Lily on a diet so while I was in Texas, he texted me that she was having to work for her breakfast. I'm not sure how effective this technique was for weight loss, but it did serve to keep her from gobbling! :)

 Meanwhile in Texas, I enjoyed a lot of lap time with Rory. I really need to get some better pictures of her paws, but this may give you an idea of how large they are. My thumb is provided for scale. They are absolutely HUGE!

 While I was in Texas, I re-introduced Rory to bird and squirrel videos on YouTube (search "Paul Dinning cat videos"). She loved them! Hopefully her mama will let her watch occasionally.

She also loved the cat games, especially those with scampering mice!

 After screen time, it was time for Rory to help make dinner. She never waits in the kitchen for a taste of people food. Her mama said she was showing off for me!

I loved spending time with BOTH of my girls in Texas! Can't wait to visit again soon!

Happy Feline Friday, y'all!

08 March 2019

Feline Friday with Rory!

 I've had a good excuse for the lack of posts this last week: I was in Texas visiting my girls, Bailey and her sweet kitty, Rory!

 I was a bit under the weather with a sinus infection on this trip, but it didn't stop me from enjoying every minute! Of course, I loved hanging out with our daughter who I don't get to see nearly often enough. 

And Rory is just about the sweetest kitty EVER. I took so many pictures of her on this trip that it will take me more than one blog post to share them. So brace yourselves for a LOT of Cousin Rory!

She loves the kicker I sent to her! It's a good thing that it's extremely well-made because this girl delivers some SERIOUS bunny kicks!

Bailey was working during my visit, and on the first day I got up after she left to find sweet Rory a bit puzzled to see me. But it didn't take long for her to remember that she had a visitor.

 As soon as I had my coffee in hand, she nestled right in on my lap!

And let me tell you, this cat is HUGE! I don't mean that in a disparaging way (although her mama does have her on a diet). She weighs 12 pounds but carries it well on her ginormous frame. When you pick her up, it feels like you're lifting a Thanksgiving turkey. Cousin Rory is solid muscle!

Rory, who is 4 years old now, didn't start out a lap cat. It took some time for her to jump on laps, and then she'd only stay for a few minutes. Now she'll stay a very long time, so long that you need someone to bring you a refill on your coffee because you don't want to move! And her paws...well, we'll get into that in another post!

The first day of my visit, I stayed home with hopes of feeling (FELINE) better, enjoying a quiet day with my book and my new best friend. SEE HOW BIG SHE IS?
It was such a treat to spend time with my girls! I'm so glad Rory is a full-fledged lap cat now!

Happy Feline Friday, y'all!

01 March 2019

Feline Friday

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time! 
Lily recommends shortbread -- or most any flavor, actually!

Enjoy your Feline Friday!

22 February 2019

Feline Friday: Thankful

A few weeks ago, we brought the ladder into the house so Spouse could do some work. Lily loves to play on the it but she's not the handiest cat in the world. On more than one occasion, I caught her chasing her tail whilst hanging out on the paint can platform near the top of the ladder...dangerous!

One day shortly after that, I noticed that she was suddenly walking with a small "hitch" in her gait. She wasn't limping, but she was definitely walking stiffly. After watching her closely for a couple of days, we concluded that she must have fallen off the ladder onto the tile floor below. Circumstantial evidence, as they say!

Taking no chances, I called the vet and took her in for an exam. The vet sedated her so he was able to examine her thoroughly. (Remember, Lily's chart is marked FEISTY!) He didn't see any evidence of a break but did see detect some signs of arthritis in her back legs, so he sent us home with a 3-day course of anti-inflammatory medicine.

That seemed to help. Her gait improved right away, but as soon as we were done with the medicine, she stiffened up again. In fact, on Monday of this week I noticed that she was quite a bit worse. Instead of trotting to the fridge with me to supervise her food preparation, she waited across the room for me to bring it to her. She wouldn't to jump up or down from the bed. While she wasn't hiding like kitties do when they're in pain, I could tell that she was definitely avoiding movement.

 So I called the vet again and picked up Predisone for her to take until they could work her in for X-rays. Although it has side effects and I don't want her to take it long-term, it proved to be a miracle drug! She resumed walking and trotting about in her usual manner.

Yesterday she went in for her X-rays and, as you'd expect, I was very nervous. While I didn't suspect a break, I was worried that something sinister might show up. After the very sad situation I went through with Tinsel, I am gun shy.
Thankfully, the only abnormality on the X-ray was a bit of arthritis -- actually a possible bone spur -- on one of her back knees. A fall could have irritated that knee, causing her to have a stiff gait. The vet recommended that she continue on the Predisone for a while and start on a joint supplement.

I'm so relieved that Lily is OK and will just take some time to heal from whatever mishap occurred. In the meantime, I'm grateful that we have some options to help her feel better. She's almost 13 years old, so I guess these things are to be expected.

And just to be on the safe side, the ladder is back in the garage for now. 😉 

Happy Feline Friday!
jp & Lily

21 February 2019

Catching Up on Scrapbooking: Seattle...2005!

Boy, I'm really doing some time travel these days! Now we're venturing back to the year 2005 when we took a wonderful vacation to Seattle and the Vancouver area. I loved it so much that I never wanted to come home, so obviously these pictures need to be scrapbooked so that I can enjoy them!

But when I took a look at the photos from this trip, I noticed a few problems. First, they were already printed -- but as 3.5x5. For pocket scrapbooking, it's much better to use 4x6 photos since that's the size of most pockets. But it's not worth the cost of reprinting them all in the larger size so I'll just have to deal with that. (Long story short: They'll have to be matted on 4x6 cardstock before slipping into the pockets. This increases the bulk of the album and takes quite a bit more time!)

But the worst problem was that the 261 photos in the box were not in any order whatsoever. It was like they'd been dumped out and put back in random order!

 I had a list of the places we visited each day, but much of the scenery is so similar that it was hard to be sure which pictures were from which day. I enlisted Spouse's help but between the two of us, we had tons of photos we just couldn't place.

Then I remembered that most of the photos were from one of our first digital cameras and I still have them on the computer. So I sorted them in date order, and from there everything made sense! I just had to put the printed photos into the same order as the digital files, which was a bit of a tedious task but still very doable!

 When I sorted through my memorabilia, I was thrilled to find that Bailey had made a list of all the things we did each day. You can tell that this child is the daughter of a memory keeper! 😁 From a very young age, she made these lists for all of our trips. If not for her notes, this project would have been in very bad shape!

And get this: I found a picture of Bailey making the actual list that I still have...sort of a scrapbooker's dream!💕 So Bailey, if you're reading this...thank you!

Once the photos were sorted, I put them in labeled piles in the same order as The List. With the photos in the right order, I can visualize how the album will flow -- which should be in the same order as our trip!

 Next, I sorted through and grouped the memorabilia in the same order. There's not a ton but it will be good to add a few pieces here and there. Memorabilia helps jog my memory, which is helpful after -- quickly does math -- almost 14 years!

Next I put the piles of photos in a small basket with labeled tabs. I set up an album with assorted sleeves and pocket pages. I put a piece of 12x12 kraft cardstock in the full sleeves to represent pages where I'll make a traditional page. I positioned myself comfortably on the bed one evening for this part of the operation!

 I brought along my trusty helper but as you can see, she didn't last long!

 If you use pocket pages, you know that it can be tricky to figure out which configuration to use and how to fit all of your photos in them. There's really no easy answer...I usually start with a single "section" of an album and group the photos by horizontal/vertical orientation to see how many of each I have. If I have mostly horizontal photos, like in the image below, I'll use a horizontal pocket page. Then I'll put the remaining photos on a traditional page.

I continued like this through several sections and will keep on going until all the photos have a temporary "home". Of course, I'll end up moving things around some but this process helps me figure out how many pages the album will need and how it will be organized.

It was at this point that I realized I have only purchased two sheets (TWO!) of paper for this album. That will probably not be sufficient! But with the photos loosely in the album, I can now easily check my stash to see what I have on hand that will match. If I don't have enough, I'll take the album to Memory Bound and can easily find matching papers and cardstock. I think I can find an assortment of nature colors that will work for the whole album to hopefully give it a more cohesive feel.

I'm pretty excited to work on this album! Truly, the scenery in this neck of the woods is some of the prettiest anywhere and the photos we took on this trip remain some of my favorites.

Hurricane Ridge, Washington (based on my hair, you can see that it's appropriately named!)

Beautiful Butchart Gardens, Victoria, Vancouver


Pike Place Market, Seattle -- probably my favorite sign ever!

I'll report back on my progress with this project!  Again, if you're behind in your scrapbooking, know that you're not alone and it IS very possible to catch up! You just need to set aside time to get started and figure out a plan. Once you get going, you'll want to KEEP going!

Thanks for following along!

16 February 2019

A Mini Craft Room Re-Org

Sometimes a little re-organization project can give you an unexpected psychological boost. I recently tackled a mini "re-org" in my craft room and was surprised at how much better it made me feel! 

This little project started with "just" moving a shelving unit out of necessity. Since I've been trying to catch up on my scrapbooking, I've filled up the bottom three shelves on this heavy-duty shelving unit. As a result, I've had albums on the floor collecting dust bunnies -- not where they should be!

Having stuff on the floor made the space feel messy to me. I've learned that I function best in an orderly space so it was time to re-gain control and get everything up off the floor, at least as much as possible.

 So recently I got the idea to move the shelving unit to the other side of the room so that I could fit albums onto the top shelf, too. As you can see in the first photo, the slant of the ceiling didn't provide enough height to accommodate a 12" album. The ceiling on the other side of the room is much higher.
Of course, the shelving unit had to be unloaded to move across the room. This was not a bad thing because it allowed me to give everything a good cleaning and finally get the albums into the right order!

 With the shelving unit on this side of the room, I can fit albums onto the top shelf.

All of the albums -- even the albums I'm working on right now -- fit perfectly onto the shelving unit...but unfortunately with no room to grow. And I have several more albums to make so I'll definitely need another unit at some point. But for now, it feels GREAT to have everything up off the floor!

 Seeing all the albums in place was a really good feeling! It can be easy to get discouraged when you are so many years behind in your scrapbooking. This is a good visual reminder that I AM making progress. YAY!

  Next, I moved the small table to the wall where the shelving unit previously sat. Now that it's there, I can see that would have made more sense to put it there years ago!

Naturally a "little" project like this tends to have a domino effect. Since I filled the top shelf with albums, I had to find space for the photo boxes and baskets that previously sat up there. I was able to make room in my cubbies for most everything. The boxes on the floor are for projects I'm currently working on.

That top shelf used to hold a lot of photo boxes which are now -- happily! -- partly empty, so I consolidated and re-labeled several of them. This task was also long overdue and gave me a good feeling for how many more photos still need to be scrapbooked.

Answer: A LOT! 😅

I shifted them into the closet where they fit on this small shelf pretty well. Theoretically, as I finish up my scrapbooking for the past years, I should be able to eliminate more photo boxes. But I must keep in mind that I have several years of photos not yet printed which would likely fill those boxes...so, it's complicated, as they say! :)
Since everything has been moved around and tidied up, I feel so much better in the space. This simple move was an opportunity to assess my progress and get my arms around the tasks that still need to be done. It's funny how such a simple little re-organization project left me feeling re-energized.

A little tidying up goes a LONG way -- physically and mentally!


15 February 2019

Feline Friday: Under Cover

Our late kitty Tinsel was always my bed-making partner, so I was delighted when Lily took an interest in helping me make the bed last week.

 Tinsel especially loved it when the top sheet floated softly down on her. But since bed-making is new to her, Lily was a little perplexed about weight of the sheet pushing her ears forward.😉

 "Oh, noes...am I TRAPT?"

But in short order, Lily came around and had some fun hiding under the sheet!
Next time I make the bed, I hope she'll be my helper!

Happy Feline Friday!

08 February 2019

Feline Friday: Melting!

 There's some melting going on around here, but it's not the snow! We are in the deep freeze with no relief in sight.
Photo source: Weather Kitty**

Our snow isn't going away anytime soon, but there IS some serious melting happening right now in Texas! 

Don't believe me? No problem! Cousin Rory in Texas will demonstrate for you!

Yes, Rory, you are super-cute...and you know it! 
Love this girl!

Happy Feline Friday, y'all!

** Weather Kitty is a free iPhone app featuring kitty pictures which change with the weather. Highly recommend!

05 February 2019

Scrapbooking the Hard Stuff

Hello again, friends. If you're out there, know that I really do appreciate you!

Before we get started, let me just say this: 
In recent days/months/years, I've let my blog go largely dormant save for the occasional cat-related post. There are myriad reasons for that which I've written about and may or may not share. Suffice it to say I'm going to try to post more frequently...but more importantly, write more deeply. I love writing, but I've avoided it fairly successfully in recent days/months/years. I just feel a need to acknowledge this right now.

Okay, that aside, I've been continuing along with my 2007 scrapbooking. Before tackling this year, I assumed that I'd have a lot of events to finish up but thankfully, that has not been the case. Catching up on 2007 scrapbooking has been pretty easy.

Until I came to the 2007 state fair. UGH.

2007 was the year my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was an All-Around Terrible Year, topped only by the following year when she died from a sudden heart attack. So 2007 turned out the be the last year we had with her at the fair...the last year all of us were together at the one place that is near and dear to all of our hearts.

So suffice it to say that I really don't like to think about 2007 OR 2008. When peeking into the 2007 photo box, I noticed that I hadn't even bothered to print those photos. That's avoidance for you. I've actually gotten quite good at that.

Honestly, I wasn't sure I could even deal with these photos. But I have vowed to plow through this scrapbooking so last week, in advance of the Polar Vortex which settled over the Midwest for a couple of days, I uploaded and printed a whole slew of fair pictures. I stocked up on adhesive and set to work. 

Once I started, it wasn't QUITE as bad as I thought. I spent a few evenings just putting photos in place then set aside some time to write the journaling.

When I was a child, we camped at the fair for the entire duration. We continued that tradition through my middle school years. Once Bailey arrived many years later, my parents started camping again. While she was growing up, Bailey stayed with them and explored the fairgrounds in more detail than most people will ever experience. After losing my mom in 2008, we continued to camp with Dad, but the fair was never the same. In fact, it became almost unbearable for me and now that Dad is also gone, the fair remains a very sensitive place for me to this day. 

Naturally, I cherish the photos from the 2007 fair, especially those with my parents. That summer, we were fervently trying to believe that my mom was going to be OK, but she never bought into that...and she turned out to be right. Looking at these photos today, I can see that sadness in her eyes.

Deep breath. Keep going, I told myself. This is a story that must be told.

In order to keep the fair photos from completely filling my album, I used a few collages here and there. This was a good way to include a lot of smaller pictures without taking much space. I also used a number of pocket pages, like the one shown at right.

This particular year, Bailey entered several competitions in the food department...

 ...and also Fabrics and Threads. You might enjoy reading the story of Teddy, her first stuffed bear, who went to the fair on a Grand Adventure but came home empty-pawed.

But wait, as if zucchini bread and stuffed bears weren't enough, there's more! 2007 was also the year that, in moment of insanity, we entered Lily in the Household Pet Cat competition which was held in the sheep barn. You read that right. The sheep barn. WHO THINKS THAT HOLDING A CAT COMPETITION IN A SHEEP BARN IS A GOOD IDEA?

If you missed these posts, you might enjoy reading about how we cleaned Lily up for the big show.

And you might also enjoy the story of how all the judges came to learn Lily's name, in a not-so-desirable way.

 Being the Memorabilia Hoarder that I am, I had kept Lily's cage sign so I used it on a page. In a surprising turn of events, Lily actually won best decorated cage that year -- and we didn't even know there was a competition for that. It (sort of) made up for her Very Bad Behavior.

 As I worked on these pages, I smiled more than I expected. The truth is, these are some of the very best memories I have with my family. I want to remember them. I want our daughter to remember them. Even though it is hard to do it, these stories absolutely must be recorded. 

Onward I went.

 I used a few of the 6x12 pockets. I've found them to be very handy for situations in which you have a few extra photos but no obvious place to put them.

 They're also just right for making pockets, this one to include a couple of daily fair schedules which can be pulled out and unfolded. My dad always kept one in his shirt pocket.

Unexpectedly, I found a 2007 page sample I'd made for Memory Bound so incorporated it into that section of the album. I make a lot of page samples for the store without photos so I typically don't keep them. I was glad to have this one and still like it enough to include it in the scrapbook.

I often tell new scrapbookers that the process of putting an album together can be therapeutic. I really believe that's true. 

So friends, here's the lesson (and I'm speaking from first-hand experience): 

Handling photos from a painful time compels you to acknowledge that pain, however successfully you've avoided it. If you take it further and write about those photos, you might find yourself expressing emotions you have sealed away. And then -- if you'll let it -- scrapbooking the hard stuff can even ever-so-gently nudge you toward a place of healing. 💟