30 December 2006

Project: The ABC's of Friendship

Each month, I make a variety of take-home projects for customers of the store where I teach. I just finished up this project using Basic Grey's Phresh & Phunky line. It is a friendship tin with a 4x6 card and phrase for each letter of the alphabet. My intent is for a 4x6 photo or journaling block to cover the back of each letter card. The poem, found on 2Peas, reads as follows:

The ABC's of Friendship
Accepts you as you are.
Believes in you.
Calls you just to say hi!
Doesn't give up on you.
Envisions the whole of you, even the unfinished parts.
Forgives your mistakes.
Gives unconditionally.
Helps you.
Invites you over
Just to be with you.
Keeps you close at heart.
Loves you for who you are.
Makes a difference in your life.
Never judges.
Offers support.
Picks you up.
Quiets your fears.
Raises your spirits.
Says nice things about you.
Tells you the truth when you need to hear it.
Understands you.
Values you.
Walks beside you.
X-plains things you don't understand.
Yells when you don't listen.
And Zaps you back to reality.

I've always loved this Basic Grey line and challenged myself to find a way to use the entire set of monogram letters in this project. I also wanted to figure out how to use a front-opening tin in a different way. I designed the project so that the tin will always be situated on its side like a suitcase. I created a "tent" from BG paper, so that the cards and dividers can stand up when the tin is opened. I didn't want to cover the entire tin in paper, so I wrapped a wide ribbon around the base and tied it to each side of the handle. I'm not really a frilly person, so I like how the ribbon adds just a bit of a feminine touch.
This project was very fun to design and it helped me find my missing mojo! I'm hoping that customers will enjoy putting this together over the winter.

29 December 2006

Feline Friday: Portion Control

Ahhhh...there is nothing like the sweet harmony of two tabby cats at their feeding stations, striped tails crossed. This photo was taken a few days ago, when Portion Control was still in effect.

Portion Control flew out the window this morning. As usual, Lily woke me up at 3:30 a.m. and demanded food. I gave her a few tiny morsels and, in a stupor, left her kitten food bag out on the table (Mistake #1). Before stumbling back to bed, I shut Lily in the bathroom with her litter box, water, and comfy rug, thinking all would be well until I got up (Mistake #2). Well, I momentarily forgot that Lily has learned how to open the pocket door of the bathroom. After I left the kitchen, she quietly let herself out, then evidently went to work chewing a large hole in the side of her food bag (it appears that she also ate the plastic bag). When DD came downstairs this morning, food was freely flowing from the bag and scattered all around. Lily had eaten so much that she "lost her cookies", so to speak. (If you're asking where the photos are, let me assure you that the scene was far too ugly to photograph.)

So now, I'm all about Portion Control. Steps will be taken to be sure this episode never happens again. The food bag has been repaired with packing tape. Lily has been on a "water only" regime most of the day.

If only she could could reach the pedals on the exercise bike.

28 December 2006

Gift Card Holder

Edited 1/25/07 to add: These tins are available at craft stores. They are the size of band-aid tins but are white in color. Most come with handles, I believe.

Ugh. Is it Monday? Even after good coffee with Creme Brulee this morning, I'm still having a hard time getting into the swing of things. Post-holiday blahs, maybe? And the fact that Blogger isn't allowing me to split my text into paragraphs is not helping my outlook this morning.

To ease back into the blogging thing, I'm posting a photo (albeit blurry) of a gift card holder I made for DD for Christmas. When we gave it to her, it contained a couple of gift cards for her favorite stores, but she has added several more that she received from other people. It has proven to be a handy place to store the cards until she is ready to use them.
These band-aid tins take very little time to create. For this one, I used Ki Memories paper and stickers, QK flowers, buttons, rub-ons by Gin-X, a ball chain (from Hobby Lobby) and a bit of ribbon. I'm anxious to use ball chains on other projects. It's a fun and easy way to add a few tags and doo-dads.
So here's to post-Christmas blogging and getting my mojo back. Soon, please.

23 December 2006

Photo Calendar Project

Yesterday I finished a 6x6 photo calendar which will be a gift for my parents. This was a fun project and didn't take too terribly long to put together.
The calendar is by Boxer and the papers are Karen Foster.
Since the calendar is 6x6, I printed out 12 4x6 photos to match the months, then attached a 2x6 strip of the monthly paper to the photo page and a narrower strip to the bottom of each calendar page. To each page, I added a strip of ribbon to cover the seam between the photo and patterned paper, QK diecuts or punches, and a few buttons. For the cover, I cut a rectangle from each of the monthly papers and inked the edges. I cut the title with QK Studio and added the buttons.
After I completed the pages, I realized I'd covered up the holes in each page (duh!) so I used my Crop-a-Dile to punch them again. (What an awesome tool!) The last step in the project was the most tedious: adhering the tiny little day and date stickers to the calendar. The Boxer calendars are blank when purchased, and they sell clear stickers to match the calendar. It took a couple of hours to attach all of those stickers and get them relatively straight.
All in all, it was a fun project, simple to complete, and one that I think the grandparents will like.

22 December 2006

Feline Friday: Aqua Kitty

I've posted about cats in sinks. I've had cats who have enjoyed drinking running water from faucets. I've even seen Lily and Tinsel padding around in the damp shower stall, licking the water from their paws.

But until now, I've never had a cat who actually enjoys getting wet -- really wet. Instead of perching on the edge of the sink to drink from the faucet, Lily now plunks herself into the sink and lets the water run all over her while she drinks. Most of the time, she just plays, her little white toes stretching out under the running stream. She slaps at the water, splashing it all around the sink. When we've decided she is wet enough, we extract her from the sink and wrap her in a towel. Then she slips out the towel, shakes herself like a wet dog, and goes on her merry way.

DD says that tigers are the only members of the feline family who enjoy water. She theorizes that Lily is part tiger. For this and a host of other reasons, I'm beginning to think she's right.

18 December 2006

Challenge: Make 20 Cards From Scraps

If you've been reading my blog, you know that I am shopping-impaired, especially when it comes to Christmas shopping. But you should also know that I am card-impaired. This is really ironic, since I actually teach card-making classes. I make and send all sorts of cards throughout the year, but when it comes to Christmas cards, I just don't do it. We always laugh about this at the store where I teach.

There are a couple of reasons why I don't make Christmas cards. 1) We often send New Year's cards and letters instead of Christmas cards, just to take a little pressure off the Christmas season. 2) I would never want to make 60 of a single design. I enjoy the design process too much to create cards in volume.

Yet this year, under the heading of "What Else Could I Possibly Do Instead of Christmas Shopping?", I got the wild idea to make a few Christmas cards. I issued a challenge to myself: No additional supplies are to be purchased to make these cards. Designs can be repeated, and only leftover materials, regardless of age, are to be used. I decided that I would try to make 20 cards, covering about 1/3 of the people on my list.

This little challenge actually ended up being fun, and it was a good way to get rid of some odds and ends that I'll never otherwise use. Each card is different, and that alleviated my concern about making a lot of cards with the same design. So as of this evening, all the cards are done, the envelopes are addressed and they will be mailed tomorrow.

Tomorrow. The day that I finish the Christmas shopping. Unless, of course, the line at the post office is really, really long.

15 December 2006

Feline Friday: Stuff on My Cat, Continued

Not to be outdone by the photos of stuff we placed on Lily last week, Tinsel (shown here in full "meatloaf" position) sports her own assortment of stuff, including a pair of socks, a pheasant feather, a furry mouse, and a package of night light bulbs.

We are still working on the 8-inch miniature Christmas tree: The small base keeps slipping off her back.

Ahh, the fine art of procrastination. It's a good thing.

14 December 2006

Altered Caribou Hoof Mint Tin

The name of my blog suggests that I would occasionally post about cardstock. Because I've been negligent about that (and I'm starting to feel like I appear to be one of those crazy "cat ladies"), I'm posting a project I created a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps I can regain a bit of balance by blogging about my altered Caribou Hoof Mints tin.

I made this little tin for the monthly meeting of our book club at the store where I teach. This quarter we've been using the idea book, Can-Do Techniques, as a very loose basis for projects. Each month we receive a set of materials and can choose to incorporate a technique or concept from the book.

I've had this tin on my scrapbooking table for a few weeks, now that DH finally remembered to save one for me. I wrapped the side of the tin with a ribbon and tied it in place. I covered the top, bottom, and insides of the tin with patterned paper and cardstock. For the inside, I cut small cards to use as journaling prompts for special Christmas memories. I used rub-on stitches and words on the front of each card. Photos could also be added to the cards.
The idea is that DH and DD will write about some of their favorite things this holiday season. (Side note: What are the odds of that actually happening? Very slim, I'd say.)

Oh, a word about the Hoof Mints: They are quite powerful. Put only one in your mouth at once. DO NOT toss five or six into your cake hole at the same time in a wild rush to empty the tin. Trust me on that.

12 December 2006

Christmas Destruction

Somehow that doesn't sound quite right, but it is our reality this year. Each day, the trees look more bedraggled: The beaded garland and the lights dangle forlornly. I have given up putting them back in place, because in an instant, they're back on the floor. There are no tree ornaments in sight, other than the four paper cones I made in desperation a couple of weeks ago. Until this year, I'd never associated the word "destruction" with Christmas.
Sunday, I caught the culprit in action. Peeking around the corner, I observed her technique. Starting at the inside of the tree, she stood against the metal "trunk" and began pulling off the rings of garland that cover it, flinging them across the room with a jerk of her head. Then, the little darling began what could only be called "branch diving": jumping up and flopping onto some of the larger branches, my once-lovely Martha Stewart beaded garland strung across her open mouth like a bridle. Her head popped out at random between the branches.
For a moment, I watched in horror, then quickly regained my wits, not to get the cat out of the tree, mind you, but to get the camera.
Destruction? Who cares? This, my friends, was a scrapbook page in the making.

10 December 2006

Nutcracker Season

'Tis the season for Nutcracker, not just here, but across the nation. The Nutcracker Ballet has taken the country by storm. In our area alone, there are three professional productions of the ballet. All give young dancers the opportunity to perform in front of an audience, to be exposed to professional dancers from ballet companies across the country, and to make priceless memories.

Our daughter just performed in the Nutcracker for the third year in a row. As a busy 9th grader, there are days when any sane person would question why she would want to add numerous rehearsals to her already-packed weekends. Not only does it take her time, but it takes our time and a fair amount of money, too.

But do I regret having her participate? Not one bit. She gains poise and confidence. She meets new friends from other parts of town. She gets to be a small part of something much bigger than herself. To have the opportunity to dance in a 2,700-seat auditorium is something she'll remember all of her life. It's huge for her, and it's huge for every one of the dancers in Nutcracker productions across the country, on stages large and small.

So this holiday season, I encourage you to seek out a Nutcracker performance in your town. If you've never seen it, you will be delighted by the music, the costumes, and the choreography. If you've seen it many, many times (as I have), go again and see it with fresh eyes. Let it become part of your family's Christmas traditions.

Remember that there are dreams up on that stage. Go and be part of them.

08 December 2006

Cute Tin for Mini-Albums OR Things to Buy Instead of Christmas Presents

I REALLY don't like Christmas shopping. Actually, I don't like any kind of shopping. Christmas shopping is the hardest, though. I never know what to buy, and I know not everyone wants the stuff I make. So I procrastinate every year. It's amazing the things I can find to do INSTEAD of shop for or make gifts.

Like this: I found this little tin in the floral container aisle at Michaels this week. I bought two of them to corral my completed mini-albums. I never know where to put all of those, and this keeps them contained. The tin is approximately 9" long and 4.25" high. It is made from galvanized metal and has a clear plastic liner. Not that mini-albums need a liner, but hey, one never knows.

I think the tin would be really cute tied with ribbon. If I actually had decor in my scrapbooking area, I might do that. For now, it's just going to be plain metal, since that matches my wire shelves.

So there. Another day of Christmas shopping avoided. Nicely done, I say!

Feline Friday: Cats in Sinks

At the risk of this blog becoming a "cat blog", I'm bolding moving ahead with today's post. Since it's Feline Friday here, I cannot deviate and post about cardstock today. (Truthfully, this is also due to the fact that I have nothing made from cardstock to show for myself. Perhaps that will change as we move through the day.)

Yesterday I blogged about the stuff people put on their cats. Today, I'm all about cats who hang out in sinks.

What's the deal with that?

I've had several cats over the years who have enjoyed relaxing in sinks. Like "Stuff on My Cat" this, too, seems to be a worldwide phenomenon. If you don't believe me, check out "Cats in Sinks" (http://www.catsinsinks.com). You will see cats from presumably all over the world just hanging out in sinks. I find it kind of curious that cats everywhere, independent from one another, locate the sink in their house and curl up in it. I can certainly think of much softer, dryer places to rest than a sink. Why the sink?

After spending way too much time on this website, I also observed that interestingly, the cats actually appear to be good matches for the sinks in which they are pictured. You know how some dogs and owners actually begin to look alike? Well, it's sort of the same thing here: the cats look like they BELONG in those particular sinks. The fancy-looking cats tend to be pictured in fancy-looking sinks; the more casual-looking cats are shown in more casual-looking sinks. Why do you suppose that is? Does taste in home decor reflect one's preference in cat breeds?

Indeed, these are additional deep questions to ponder for today.

07 December 2006

Cat + Blog = Procrastination

Here are three observations for today:

1) I have tons to do but am blogging instead.
2) It is REALLY cold here: 10 degrees, I think.
3) Cats all over the world allow random things to be piled on them.

The subject of today's post is #3. We have long been able to pile all kinds of things on Tinsel's back: bows, cat toys, and notably the TV and DVD remote control (which we call "trollers" around here). But until yesterday, we did not know that Lily also would allow stuff to be piled on her. Here, piled on Lily, is a random collection of things that were lying around: two trollers, a Dreamsicle wrapper, a Christmas card from my cousin's family, a hair tie, and one pink sock. Given Lily's personality, we didn't expect her to stay still for this, but she didn't mind at all. In fact, next time we will pile even more stuff on her, just to see how far we can go with this. (I tell you, we are easily amused around here.)

While back, a customer in one of my classes told me about the website "Stuff on My Cat" http://www.stuffonmycat.com. Here, you will see all kinds of amazing (and strange) things that people place on their cats. Be sure to click on the categories (of stuff) at the right side of the main page.

Now, I find it rather fascinating that:
1) cats all over the world, regardless of breed, size, age, or nationality, seem to willingly allow all kinds of stuff to be placed on them, and
2) people all over the world independently pile stuff on their cats, without any sort of global directive to do it.

Now these are deep questions to ponder today, when I really should be working.

06 December 2006

Things That Make Me Crazy: Part 3

Today's post is the third installment of my running list of things that make me crazy. (If you haven't seen the previous posts by the same name, just keep in mind that I mean this all in fun. I'm not whining. REALLY. Because that also makes me crazy.) I try to keep track of these things as they occur to me, then I continually lose my list. (That, too, makes me crazy. But I'm not putting it on the list.) So here we go:

1) Signs and printed materials with spelling or grammatical errors. I'm not talking about scrapbook pages and such, but professionally printed materials that somehow get through the process without the mistake being detected. For example: We see this sign nailed to a tree by the turkey grill every year at the state fair: "Turkey Leg's". And here's another one: My daughter is in the Nutcracker production this year. The printed brochure, beautifully produced, reads "Nutracker". It was even on Jay Leno's "Headlines" segment. Believe me, I make my share of mistakes, but if I were creating a sign or a professional brochure, you'd better believe I'd proof it a zillion times. People! This makes me crazy!

2) Smudges on my glasses. Have I listed this before? Even if I have, it's worthy of mention again. Can't stand spots on my glasses even a little bit. Especially smears. Good thing that DH is an optometrist. We have an ample supply of lens cloths around the house. (Of course, I can never find one when I need it. That, too, makes me crazy.)

3) Complaints of boredom. This one really gets me. Having a teenager in the house, I hear this with some frequency and I must say that I have no tolerance for it. With all the things one can do with one's time (read, create, write...the list goes on), I just have a hard time understanding the whole idea of boredom. For me, the opposite problem exists: There is never enough time in the day to do all the things I'd like to do. Complaints of boredom really make me crazy.

4) Incomplete projects. I have many projects in various stages of completion. I plan to finish most of them but lack the time, for the most part. Recently I went into a Fit of Project Completion and actually finished up two or three. Seriously, this is a real issue for me. I have one project that's been pending completion since COLLEGE. (Yes, there's a story there.) Every once in awhile (but apparently not frequently enough) these incomplete projects make me crazy.

5) Pencil erasers that get hard. Do you know what I mean? You make a mistake and find that the eraser has hardened and does nothing except smudge the paper. Some pencil brands seem to be more prone to this than others. I'm sure there is some kind of chemical reason this happens to rubber over time. Whatever the reason, if my job were making pencils, you'd better believe they'd have good erasers (refer to #1 on this list). Hard erasers kind of make me crazy, especially if I'm in a hurry.

So that's it for today. Now I can start on the list for Part 4. In fact, I just said to myself last night, "Self, there's ANOTHER thing that needs to go on The List."

Now, if only I could remember what it was. Forgetting stuff makes me crazy.

04 December 2006

Santa's New Elf

Santa’s been busy this holiday season;
He’s worried he’ll miss Christmas Eve.
“I need a new elf,” he told Mrs. Claus.
“Someone with fur, I believe.

I need this new elf to check all the trees.
They need to be sturdy and tall.
Test all the ornaments, be sure they’re hanging,
And see if they roll when they fall.

Inspect all the bows to see that they’re taut
Pull on their tails to be sure.
Sample the frosting on each sugar cookie;
Make sure the vanilla is pure.

Test all the wrapping; confirm that it's tight;
Open one corner to see.
Pull on the ribbons; remove all the bows
Then quickly report back to me.”

“Where will you find such a furry young elf?
There’s no one like that around here.”
Mrs. Claus had her doubts a new elf could be found
Especially late in the year.

“I’ve already found her!” exclaimed Santa Claus
“She’s gray and white striped with some tan.
She’s limber and nimble and fearless, I say,
And purr-fectly fits with my plan.

I shipped her the elf suit; it fits her just fine!
She’s already training herself,
Climbing the trees and checking the bows.
She will be a very fine elf.”

So if, at your house this holiday season,
Your tree falls and ornaments break,
If bows appear chewed and your wrapping is torn
And nibbles surround your fruitcake...

Don’t think you are crazy or losing your mind.
Don’t think that your worries are silly.
You’ve been paid a visit by Santa’s new elf:
A curious kitten named Lily.
Dedicated to Lily, December, 2006

03 December 2006

One Tree Down

We came home from church this morning to find that Lily had upset the 5-foot Christmas tree in the dining room.

This is the tree that normally holds the vintage mercury-glass ornaments that used to belong to my grandma. Something told me that this year, those precious ornaments needed to stay packed away. Glad I listened to that little voice. All I had to do in this case was put the tree upright and fix the lights, bead garland, and tree skirt. Nothing was broken. It could have been much, much worse.

In other holiday decor news, the big tree is still standing, but Lily is working on the large velvet bows that are attached to the garland on our banister. She's figuring out how to completely dismantle them; she has pulled one totally apart and has others in process. I may remove them to prevent complete destruction.

So I'm in a dilemma as to how much decorating to do. I still have four more trees to put up, but those are smaller and would be even easier for Miss Lily to conquer. The porcelain nativity scene may stay in the box this year. I can imagine Lily pushing the baby Jesus across the floor. I can also imagine her wrestling with my stuffed snowmen and toy soldiers. Those also look pretty good packed away right now. So far, she hasn't made the leap to my Dickens Village, and I certainly hope she doesn't get the desire to do that.

Monday morning update: Lily has been extracted from the same tree three times. One time she was actually IN the tree, reclining on the lower limbs.

How many days 'til Christmas?

01 December 2006

Feline Friday: My 100th Post!

I've been blogging for a few months now and today marks my 100th post! Now that's something to get excited about!
Please forgive the run-on text. Blogger will not let me split text into paragraphs. This has been happening a lot lately.

Today's 2Peas blog challenge is this: List 5 things you enjoyed today. Since it's Feline Friday around here, I'll first name 5 feline-related things, some of which I actually enjoyed yesterday:

1) Wrapping both kitties in blankets. It's really cold here today! (This is what Lily looks like when we really wrap her up tightly. She looks happy, don't you think?)
2) Seeing Lily sleeping first under the small Christmas tree, then later under the large Christmas tree. Very sweet and peaceful, but quite deceptive, really. (See previous post.)
3) Watching Tinsel imitate some of Lily's behaviors, like standing on her back legs meowing at the fridge. Tinsel has never done this kind of thing before.
4) Seeing Lily's tongue sticking out as she was sleeping today...just the tiniest tip of pink.
5) Noticing Lily, reclined on her back in front of the TV, watching the news.
Here are 5 other things (not cat-related) that I enjoyed (or plan to enjoy) today:
1) The new roof that we're getting today. Right now, in fact. In spite of the noise, it's going to be a very good thing.
2) Remembering to get the coffee pot ready last night so this morning, all I had to do was push the button.
3) Working at the elementary school library. Always plenty to keep me busy there. Lots of crawling around on the floor shelving books, checking books in and checking books out. (See my previous post, Library Day, for more about that.)
4) Making labels for the CD holders that hold my acrylic stamps. Love the way they're all organized in alphabetical order now.
5) Mini bagels, hot from the toaster, with butter. Yum.
These are good lists: more reminders that I have a lot of good stuff in my life. So no whining allowed.

30 November 2006


Just look at this sweet, innocent little face: What could be more precious than a soft and furry kitten sleeping peacefully under the Christmas tree, tiny white feet tucked beneath her?

Now imagine that just minutes before this photo was taken, this Christmas tree and another large one (both completely void of anything but lights and a bit of garland), were swaying wilding back and forth. Tree skirts were askew, having served as landing pads for this very kitten as she ran wildly through the house. Lower branches hung down, large bits of fake evergreen having been ingested, and the carefully placed garland dangled forlornly to the floor.

Picture this scenario and you'll know why there are no decorations on our trees this year. Only lights are to be found on the trees, and those may be removed any day now as the chewing continues. Given all of this pandemonium, you'll surely understand my desire to create some kitten-proof decorations.

In a fit of desperation, I made these candy cones from a circular sheet of scalloped Bazzill cardstock. I cut the sheet into 4ths then rolled each piece into a cone and secured it with a strip of Tacky Tape. I punched holes along the top and added a ribbon hanger. (Can you tell that I have a stash of red buttons that I'm trying to use?) I will fill them with candy, most likely red/white Starlight mints.
The candy cones were easy to make and will not break if the entire tree topples, which I'm fully expecting. I believe these cones to be kitten-proof. Only time will tell.

28 November 2006

Dabbling in Digital

If you're a digital scrapbooker, please don't laugh. This is my first attempt at making a digital scrapbook page. Yes, some would say I ventured over to the "dark side" of scrapbooking.

I assure you, I do not know what I am doing. Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0 seems like a relatively complex program, at least for the novice. Some aspects of the process ("open file") were intuitive for me, but most ("unlock layers") were not. There were lots of new icons and lots of new words on the screen, most of which I ignored. I could not for the life of me figure out how to add the "drop shadows" that make a digital page look more realistic. I could not even figure out how to digitally "cut" the ribbon and the paper I used on the layout, so I just "squeezed" them until they fit. This distorted the pattern on the paper, but after looking everywhere in Adobe PSE for something that looked or functioned like scissors, I just wanted to get the darn thing done.

Why did I do this? Primarily because a lot of people ask me about digital scrapbooking and I have felt like I don't know enough about it to answer them. Digital scrapbooking is really catching on, and I thought I'd get my feet wet just to see what all the buzz is about. So I read a couple of articles, figured out how to download free digital kits, and signed up for the trial version of Adobe PSE 5.0. In the end, making this page worked out OK, but let me tell you, there were a few ugly moments along the way. Some observations from my limited experience:

* Adobe PSE 5.0 takes a huge amount of space and a very, very long time to download. It runs incredibly slowly on my computer, which I found pretty frustrating.

* It would work best if you actually know something about Adobe PSE before you jump in. (You know the saying: if all else fails, read the instructions.)

* I will admit that I love the creative options in digital kits. It's amazing how many beautiful kits are available for free on the internet. In fact, I used a free kit from 2Peas to create this layout. It came with "virtual" paper, ribbon, and a journaling block (that I couldn't figure out how to use) -- basically all the same kinds of things that I have in my real scrapbooking stash.

* Making this page reminded me how much I really love my cardstock and ribbon. I mean, the real stuff. While the digital thing may be kind of cool (I'm still reserving judgement on that), it still falls a bit flat to me (truly, no pun intended). Unless you print out the layout, there is nothing to touch or feel. And I would miss that. Definitely.
* I don't see myself ever becoming a digital scrapbooker. I spend enough time at my computer without doing all my scrapbooking there, too. I love my scrapbooking materials and tools too much to ever give those up. What I could see myself doing, however, is looking for ways to bring digital elements into paper scrapbooking. Digital photo overlays, for instance, can be applied to digital photos before printing and adding those photos to a traditional layout. That seems to be an area worth exploring.

So I'm not going to spend much time on this digital thing. I just wanted to have a basic understanding of what it's all about, how difficult it might be, and how it would feel to create a digital layout instead of a paper one. I've got 28 days left on my trial period to find answers to these questions. It's always good to learn something new, even if you choose not to use it. If nothing else, it's good for the brain cells.

Busy Week and a Card

The last few days have been busy. I've been finishing up the newsletter for the store where I teach. It's all done now and I'm pleased with how it looks this time! I'm also excited about the classes we have coming up for next quarter. Lots to keep me busy, that's for sure. Today I made kits for a class I'm teaching this weekend. With that done, I'm in pretty good shape, project-wise, at least for the time being!

This is a card I made the other day. I picked up a package of patterned cards at JoAnn's awhile back and have used those for a lot of my everyday cards. The patterned cards are nice to use as a base instead of cardstock once in awhile. Lately I've been cutting the cards down to a 4.25 x 4.25" square and rounding the corners. I really like working with a smaller size. They fit just fine in a regular A2 envelope. This is a super-simple card, but I liked how it turned out, so I made several of the same design in one sitting. I left the insides blank so they can be customized when needed.

So far, it's been a good, productive week. I'll take that anytime I can get it.

24 November 2006

Christmas Traditions

One of the recent blog challenges posted on 2Peas was to share a bit about your Christmas traditions. I spent most of the afternoon today working with one: my Dickens Village.

My parents started this collection for me over 10 years ago, and now I have 28 buildings, including cottages and businesses, plus an abundance of trees, people, coaches, and other accessories.

I'm fortunate that we have a really nice place to display the village in this house: two large eye-level spaces on either side of the fireplace. Both shelves have holes in the back for electrical cords. It's as if they were made for my collection!

It takes a lot of space to store all of these pieces. It also takes a tremendous amount of time to set them up, but I always enjoy it. Within the collection, I have some buildings that are specific to A Christmas Carol. I always put those together. I also have businesses that are more like you'd find in a downtown, upscale area, and others that are more from "the other side of the tracks". I cluster similar buildings together so that the display seems like a real English village.

Because I have so many pieces, I have to create a couple of levels within my display, with multiple buildings on each level. I use the storage boxes to create the levels, then run electrical cords to a power strip hidden behind the boxes. I cover all of this mess with "snow" (quilt batting) then begin setting the buildings in place according to my always-evolving city plan. Once the buildings are set, I put the trees in place and finally arrange the people in appropriate places.

I usually put up the village around Thanksgiving time and leave it up until the weather starts to get warm again in March. By then, I'm ready to put it away for awhile. (Putting it away is never as much fun as setting it up, by the way.) Setting up the village marks the start of the holiday season for me. It wouldn't be Christmas around our house without it.

Feline Friday: Meet Sam

Sam is my aunt's very large, very beautiful cat. He weighs nearly 30 pounds. Yes, he is overweight. But he carries his weight on an absolutely huge frame. When you hold Sam (no easy task) he literally covers the entire front of your body. He's more like a bear than a cat. Sam's legs are so long that Lily could easily walk underneath him. She would look like a snack to Sam.
Sam likes to go outside in the early morning hours and hunt shrews in the backyard. (Shrews are small animals that live in the ground, much like moles.) He also likes to eat daisies.

For a Feline Friday, things around here are quiet today. Lily is spending the night with her grandparents. Tinsel had a peaceful day yesterday and a good night's rest. Without Lily here to harass her, Tinsel has been friendlier today than she's been in a long time. Meanwhile, Lily is creating chaos at my parents' house. Running through the house at breakneck speed, she caught her naughty little foot in a cord and knocked over a table lamp onto my dad. For Lily, it's just another typical Feline Friday.

22 November 2006

Lily at 7 Months

Here are 10 new observations about Miss Lily, now 7 months old:

1) In attempting to wash her belly in a sitting position, she turns the the front half of her body in a different direction than the back half. Then she forgets the position she's in and just stays like that for while. Twisted.

2) She sits over the furnace vents and allows warm air to blow on her belly and face.

3) She carries large puff balls in her teeth almost constantly.

4) She will not use her litter pan until it is completely clean. This is a bit of an inconvenience.

5) She sucks on DD's fingers if she is really tired and will fall asleep with them in her mouth.

6) She craves attention from Tinsel, who largely ignores her. She'll even throw herself across Tinsel's back like a saddle and ride along on her for a few steps. Tinsel does not like this one bit.

7) She makes the most adorable little "purrr-rrrt" sound right before she does something REALLY naughty. You must listen for that particular sound and be on the lookout for T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

8) She tips over wastebaskets and spreads the contents over the floor. She is looking for straws to chew or Kleenexes to eat.
9) She enjoys being scratched between her toes, in that little space between her toe and the "palm" of her paws. This causes her to spread her little toesies all the way out.
10) She's still the best $40 I've ever spent.

20 November 2006

Sharon's Great Idea!

Remember awhile back when I posted the photo of the cardstock I had cut into pieces for layout planning? My good friend and fellow scrapbooker, Sharon, suggested I cut the pieces out of quilter's templates instead of cardstock.

Quilter's what?

Being sewing impaired, I had no clue what language Sharon must be speaking. She told me where to find them and how to recognize them: clear sheets of plastic that can be cut. No sewing involved, but I must visit a fabric store.

Well, over the weekend I ventured into JoAnn's. I'm totally fine in the craft section, but I never go to The Other Side of The Store where the fabric is. It's dangerously unfamiliar territory and takes me back to my junior high days with The Evil Home Economics Teacher. Anyway, I actually found the quilter's templates without having to ask anyone for help and, to my delight, some were even printed with 1-inch grids! I snapped up a couple of them, and, feeling rather domestic, headed to the check-out lane. (I'll bet the sales clerk thinks I'm a quilter! I thought smugly.)

At home, I quickly cut the 12x18" templates to replace my cardstock pieces. Look how cool they are!
I used the Crop-A-Dile to make a hole and joined them with a metal ring. Now I'm all set for layout planning and sketch creation!

If not for my clever friend, Sharon, I never would have known about quilter's templates or ventured to The Other Side of The Store. This is a real improvement to my original idea, since you can place them right over your photos and see through them. They are durable and will no doubt last longer than I will!

So thank you, Sharon, for the awesome suggestion! Just don't get any crazy ideas about fleece.

17 November 2006

Feline Friday: All Wrapped Up

Both Tinsel and Lily like to be swaddled in towels and blankets at nap time. Tinsel prefers to be totally covered with lots of layers. She'll stay under wraps for hours at a time. Lily prefers to be just partially covered. We have an assortment of old towels, comforters, and DD's old baby blankets that are used exclusively for cat swaddling. Both DD and I spend an embarrassing amount of time wrapping cats in blankets for their nap time. It's cute to see how they tuck in their little noses and tails. The colder it is outside, the more layers they prefer and the longer they sleep.

While the cats were napping yesterday, we were out of town at an honor choir concert. DD has participated in honor bands for the past four years, but this was the first time she had been selected for an honor choir. Out of 3200 audition tapes submitted state-wide, 700 students grades 5-9 were selected. She was thrilled to be part of the 9th grade mixed choir. All the choirs were amazing. It truly was an awesome experience, wrapping up weeks of extra rehearsals and individual practice at home.

Sadly, this is one of only two pictures I have. The batteries went dead on the camera as the kids took the stage. Our batteries last so long in the digital camera that it never even occurred to me to take along an extra set. Not good. I'm hoping I can beg a couple of additional photos from other parents who were at the event. They took some great photos of the kids backstage after the concert.

We drove back into town as quickly as we could so that DD could get to pointe class, which she felt she could not miss. This month and next, she has a string of concerts and performances -- concert band, jazz band, concert choir, show choir, honor band auditions, piano recital, Nutcracker performances...it goes on and on.

So all of us, human and feline, are all wrapped up around here, one way or another. And we're all enjoying every minute of it. Pictures or not.

16 November 2006

Right Now: Kitten Stuff

Who among us hasn't envied a cat's ability to ignore the cares of daily life and to relax completely?
Karen Brademeyer

15 November 2006

Of Kits and Kitten

This post is about BOTH cats and cardstock. Well, one cat. And a lot of cardstock.

This week I've been busy preparing for a 12-page mini-album class coming up this weekend. I finished making the kits yesterday and delivered them to the store today. That was a good feeling! I just love the Tribeca line from Paper Salon. When I first saw it in the store, it spoke to me: "Make something with me!" This is going to be a super-fun class.

I was in the midst of picking up my extreme mess from the kit-making session last night when I heard Lily in the hallway pushing something plastic on the floor. She came around the corner with a Colorbox Cat's Eye Fluid Chalk container gripped in her teeth. If you've seen these containers, you know that they are shaped like a cat's eye (or some would say a football). With the container pressed up against her face, she looked like a kid with an orange peel wedged in her teeth. It was the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. So I grabbed the camera and waited for her to pick it up again. Of course I couldn't catch her straight on, but you get the idea.
Do you suppose this is why they are called "Cat's Eye" Fluid Chalks?

13 November 2006

Corporate Pickle Policy?

Over the weekend, we ran out to a local sub place for a quick dinner. On the drive there, I was telling my husband about a pickle incident that had occurred the last time I had been there with my daughter. I had ordered a tuna sub and asked if I could have pickles.

"You can't have pickles, but you can have A pickle," responded the girl behind the register.

So one of those huge deli pickles came with my sandwich. Now, I love deli pickles, but they're kind of hard to fit onto a sub sandwich. I wanted pickle slices. No big deal, but I thought the way she phrased it was kind of odd.

Now, DH and I are always on the lookout for really good customer service, something that seems harder and harder to find these days. We decided I should try it again, just to see what might happen. So I ordered the same tuna sub and asked if I could get pickles.

"We don't have pickle slices. We only have whole pickles," says the guy behind the counter.

"OK, would you be able to cut it into slices for me?"

"No, ma'am. We can only cut spears."

"You can't cut slices?"


Husband chimes in, somewhat incredulous: "Your knife can't cut slices?"


"Why not?"

"Corporate policy."

"You mean you have a corporate policy on pickles?"


I smile pleasantly. "Then could I have a plastic knife, please, so I can cut up the pickle?"

"We don't have plastic knives."

Alrighty then.

Now I will admit that I learned that deli pickle spears actually do fit on tuna sub sandwiches. You just have to open your mouth really wide.

But a corporate pickle policy? That's much harder for me to swallow.

11 November 2006

'Tis the Season

It's a cold Saturday morning here. A bit of snow fell yesterday. I've got my coffee with Creme Brulee, my fuzzy pink socks, and two cats in the middle of it all. Things are looking good.

This morning I'm finishing up a couple of Christmas take-home projects for the store where I teach: a layout and set of matching cards. (Sorry about the crooked photos...It's hard to take a photo with one hand and keep Lily at bay with the other.)

For these projects, I used Bazzill Chip Toppers and a page topper from Carolee's Creations, which I discovered just happened to match perfectly. I really like the addition of light blue to Christmas products this year. I would not have expected to say that, but I do think it freshens up the traditional color scheme a bit.

Lots on the to-do list today. Need to move a bit faster. I think I can do that, especially since I had a great night's sleep on the new mattress. But a bit more coffee with Creme Brulee is definitely in order...

10 November 2006

Feline Friday: And Now, A Word from Our Sponsors

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Please check with your personal veterinarian before beginning any type of feline acne treatment.

09 November 2006

2 Peas Challenge

Today's blogging challenge: What is your absolute favorite beverage of choice?

Answer: At Starbucks, it's a triple grande caramel latte, with whip and drizzle, heated to 170 degrees. At Caribou Coffee, it's a Caramel Highrise, heated to 170 degrees. Same thing. Just takes less time to say it at Caribou. Don't even want to know about calorie count. Don't even care.

At Starbucks, I have get an oatmeal raisin cookie to go with my triple-caramel-latte-with-whip-and-drizzle-heated-to-170-degrees. At Caribou, it's an orange-cranberry scone. I prefer the scones because they remind me of Pike's Place Market in Seattle. In fact, when we were in Seattle, we actually visited the original Starbucks, pictured here. That was pretty cool. Of course, I ordered my usual.

Regardless of where it comes from or how ridiculously long it takes me to say, I have found that a good caramel latte will take care of most of my troubles. There's just something about one that makes me feel good. Warm and cozy.

07 November 2006


It was just a few mandarin oranges. I swear.

Good Things

Today I'm taking a cue from Martha Stewart's Good Things. I have lots of Good Things in my life. A few that come to mind this Tuesday morning:

1) New mattress: It is SO comfy. It feels like a real bed! Woke up with just the tiniest of backaches, which is such an improvement. A Very Good Thing!

2) Vertical storage: OK, I'm late converting to this. Over the weekend, I threw in the towel on my previous cardstock and paper storage system and decided to convert to vertical. I actually don't have a huge amount to store so was concerned it would get bent, but I think it's going to work out fine. Also a Good Thing!

3) Wide-format printer: Love my Canon i9900! I've had it for almost a year now and wish I would have bought it long ago. It prints beautifully on all kinds of cardstock. Photos look as good as the ones I get from the developer. A Very Good Thing!

4) Inspiration Index: In the past, I've used post-it notes or dog-eared pages of my magazines to mark layout ideas I'd like to try. (I can't bring myself to cut out the ideas I like.) But do I ever remember to go back to those dog-eared pages? NO! This month I started making a list (like an index) of things I like (design ideas, color combinations, techniques) as I go through magazines. Simple format: Magazine title, date, page, and description. When I'm ready to work, I pull out my index. I find that I'm getting more use from my magazines and idea books this way. I realize that lots of people are probably already doing something similar, so maybe this one should be called a "DUH!" Thing!

06 November 2006

Oh, Happy Day!

I can sleep tonight! Our new mattress is here, all the way from Tennessee!

Back in August, our soft-side waterbed sprung a leak. For the 10 years we had it, I could never sleep for more than about 5 hours without waking up with a backache. So I can't say that I was sorry to see it go.

Since August, DH and I have had nowhere to sleep. Our guest room bed feels like a slab of cement, so for the past 3 months, I've slept on the couch, on the recliner, and on a piece of foam that we pressed into the cavity left by the waterbed bladder. Over time, that foam has compressed into 2 troughs with a steep ridge in the middle. DH likens this to sleeping in a silverware divider. Get too close to the ridge and you roll down into a deep abyss. So for 3 months, I have not been able to get a full night's sleep in any one place. Just a couple of hours here, a couple of hours there. Factor in all the nocturnal cat antics around here and you'll surely feel my pain. I feel like I've been in a serious state of sleep deprivation.

DH and I shopped for mattresses but found that process very frustrating. I cannot just lie down on a mattress in a public place and determine if it is going to work for me. I had a fear of committing because nearly all mattresses hurt my back after a few hours of sleep.

The exception is the Marriott mattress, which I slept on at CKU-KC last year. DH had the opportunity last month to sleep on one, too, and after he confirmed that he liked it, we set out to find one. Marriott sells them, but at a steep price, so DH got the specs and we ordered one directly from the manufacturer.

Next task: Get it out of the entryway and upstairs. Right now, it actually looks pretty good right where it is.

03 November 2006

Feline Friday: Lily's New Thing

We've spent quite a bit of time this past month mopping up drinks from cups that have mysteriously tipped over. We've confiscated red, green, and transparent straws from various places around the house. Who is to blame for these curious goings-on?

You guessed it! In addition to tipping over wastebaskets, Lily's new thing is tipping over cups, especially DH's cups with lids and straws. Once tipped over, she can pull out the straw in no time and run with it to some secret place where she can chew it until it is no longer recognizable. DD and I are actually to blame for the fascination with straws. Once, during a long car ride, we amused Lily with a green Starbucks straw. Since then, she's been totally obsessed with stealing them.

We're actually concerned about this from a safety standpoint: little pieces of plastic could easily break off a chewed straw, and knowing Lily, she'd eat them without thinking twice. Aside from the safety factor, I'm secretly getting a kick out of this mischievous behavior. To understand why, you have to know that DH is not a cat person. One cat was almost more than he could tolerate. The addition of a Lily (with her full menu of antics) has almost put him over the edge.

This is the typical scenario: DH puts a cup of water on the floor next to his recliner. When he's engrossed in reading or his computer, Lily silently circles the recliner and approaches from behind. In an instant, she pulls on the rim of the cup, grabs the straw and runs. DH jumps out of the recliner, yelling something similar to "that darn cat" and steps in a puddle of ice water. After a week of this, last night DH devised a plan to outsmart her. He removed the straw and positioned the cup on the floor next to the recliner, wedging it firmly next to the fireplace hearth. He went to bed, forgetting the cup. Where was it this morning? Tipped over, a puddle of water all over the carpet.

"Naughty kitty!" I say aloud. "Go, Lily!" I whisper in her ear.

02 November 2006

Right Now: Studio Stuff

My family very facetiously calls my scrapbooking space a studio. It's actually a corner of our home office. Well, maybe two corners. It's most definitely NOT the awesome space I'd like to have one day. While it's organized, it's not terribly functional, and most of the stuff I have is mismatched. I don't have much table space. As a result of that, and just because I find it comfortable, I tend to work on the floor. Nonetheless, I manage to get stuff done here, and just calling it my "studio" somehow gives it a bit more elegance.

Right now, in my "studio", there are several things happening:
* Working on class projects for first quarter, 2007
* Organizing and planning several additional projects for the store
* Finishing up some freelance stuff
* Writing an article for a retail trade magazine
* Playing with my little tin of chips: I love the round and oval Bazzill Chips and the scalloped Technique Tuesday chips. They're great for all kinds of projects.
* Loving my Bazzill Swatch Box. This helps me with product numbers when writing instructions and preparing lists of products to order for classes.
*Also totally happy with my Crop-A-Dile, which is the most incredible tool for making holes. Love it for mini books.

Oh, and dinner is actually in the crock pot. To some, this may not seem like a big deal, but for me (who is domestically challenged), it's a sure sign of a pretty productive day.

01 November 2006


My spouse and I had lunch last Friday in a lovely restaurant I had never visited before, one of those places where the menu changes weekly based on what's in season. Where each dish is a creation of a chef with a passion for thoughtfully and artistically prepared food. Given that I usually have
Ramen noodles for lunch, this was a real treat. Even better, the restaurant is actually in our neighborhood, within walking distance of our house. It was a beautiful fall day. We looked forward to the weekend. As I sat there, I thought about how lucky I am on so many levels.

Maybe it's the time of year, or maybe it's a result of circumstances in the world or in my own life. It doesn't really matter why, but I've been feeling particularly grateful lately. Grateful for the basic things that not everyone in the world can enjoy. Grateful for the opportunity to write and create. Grateful for people who are in my life.

Yet in spite of all of the blessings in my life, I often forget to be grateful. Sometimes I get discouraged and overlook or discount the good things that surround me everyday. So after I came home from lunch on Friday, I sat down and wrote. Out of those words, I created a little book as a reminder to be grateful for the big things and the little things that make my life good. Just a little something to pick up and read on days when I'm not feeling so good. A reminder to be grateful.

words to write
things to create
coffee to sip
books to read
flowers to grow
food to eat
kitties to hold
places to travel
music to play
everything to learn
family to love
daughter to raise
dreams to chase
life to live
God to thank

31 October 2006

Happy Halloween

Three pumpkins were carved at our house yesterday:

* An owl, painstakingly made by DD (Hedwig, to be precise)
* A cat, which actually looks more like a bear, painstakingly carved by me
* A window pumpkin, featured in the October issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine, also carved by me. Just download and print an image, cut a hole in the pumpkin, and pin the image behind the hole. Instructions are here: http://www.marthastewart.com/page.jhtml?type=content&id=channel4810081

In all the pumpkins I've carved over the years, I've never seen one with as thick a rind as the window pumpkin I carved yesterday. The rind filled almost the entire pumpkin, leaving only a small, fist-sized cavity with a few seeds in the center. You can see this in some of the photos.

Trick or treat was last evening in our area. The wind was fierce and cold, and it forced many kids to end the evening early. I was on door duty passing out treats. Best joke of the evening, perfect for scrapbookers:

What did Cinderella say when her photos didn't come back from the developer?
"Someday, my prints will come."
Happy Halloween!

30 October 2006

Right Now: Video Catnip

Here's what's going on right now at our house: a little Video Catnip action. This is actually Tinsel's DVD of birds and squirrels, and this morning Lily is watching it with Tinsel for the first time. Lily is enthralled. Tinsel is only feigning interest.

On another note, I converted to the new version of Blogger last evening, and it's working much better. Much faster loading of photos, much easier edits (without having to get into the HTML code), and new options for format. Each post can be categorized, which makes it possible to sort posts by subject just by clicking on the category. And I didn't lose any formatting or content in the conversion, which is a real plus.

I'm happy with Blogger Beta; the kitties are happy with Video Catnip. It's a good day.

27 October 2006

Sunday Morning

It's Sunday morning and I wish I were in Seattle taking in the sights and sounds and smells of the public market. Wish I had a blueberry scone in a paper bag and a caramel latte from Seattle's Best in the other. A little chill in the air. The day stretching out before me. A perfect morning.

One of my favorite memories: Pike Place Market, Seattle, outside Seattle's Best coffee shop, July 2005.

Happy Feline Friday!

Today's post is in celebration of Tinsel, our brown and black tabby cat, shown here in the LitterMaid automatic pooper-scooper she received from her grandparents last Christmas. Although she doesn't get as much air time on my blog as Lily, Tinsel is every bit as special in her own way:

* Tinsel answers to many names, such as Morsel, Stencil, Gristle, and Pencil.
* Tinsel stands on your foot if she is hungry.
* If I sit on the couch with our state fair throw over me for even 3 seconds, Tinsel immediately jumps on my lap. But if the state fair throw is upside down with the pictures not showing, she looks at me suspiciously and walks on by.
* Tinsel will not eat any kind of cheese except the expensive smoked, aged cheese we special order from a farm in Vermont.
* Tinsel is scared of the doorbell.
* Tinsel will allow you to pet her only if you approach her from the back.
* When we first got her, Tinsel threw up at least 7 times a day. This was a big problem. After numerous, very expensive medical tests, she quit. We never figured out what the problem was.
* Tinsel will eat as many garlic chives as you'll let her, when she's out on her leash near our garden. It's best not to let her have her fill (see above).
* While visiting my parents a few years ago, Tinsel got her head caught in the handle of a plastic grocery bag and ran through the house with the bag flying out behind her, Superman-style. When we finally caught her to remove the bag, she was terrified. Since that day, she won't go near my mom.
* Tinsel's best feature is definitely her coat. She would never win a prize for her sometimes grouchy personality or her somewhat bulging physique, but her fur is beautifully ticked, glossy, and especially plush during the winter.

Today I'm celebrating all things Tinsel! I love having her here with us.