30 September 2006

5 Favorites

Edited: I re-took the photos of this project and posted them on October 4. Now you can see the project more clearly!

So last night, when I was "supposed" to be doing a few other things, I decided to do this instead. In Ali Edwards' e-zine this week, she challenged everyone to make a mini album or book using 5 wallet-sized photos of your favorite things right now.

Ok, I can do that, I thought. But instead of making a book, I decided to make a library card set using my new library pocket template and acrylic stamp. Pulled out my favorite Arctic Frog and within 2 hours, I had this little project done. Can't believe how easy this was and how much fun I had making it. And these 5 favorites really do reflect who I am. So thanks to Ali for another great bit of inspiration!

29 September 2006

...and cardstock

Yes, that IS the other part of my blog. I'm not just about cats, even though one might get that impression. I've actually been up to my ears in cardstock all this week. And quite often, I've had cats in the middle of the cardstock.

This week, I've been working on several projects for the store where I teach. We call them "Projects of the Month." Each month, I design and create a project or two, along with instructions. Customers can take home the instructions and purchase the materials which are displayed with the project samples. I've been having a lot of fun with these projects and enjoying the creative freedom!

In addition to making up a few layout samples for the store, this week I've made a Christmas layout and set of matching cards, and three additional card sets with six cards each. All of those will be take-home projects for customers over the coming weeks. This picture shows 3 of the cards I finished today using some multi-colored Prima flowers and the new Imaginisce double-sided paper. Just saw that new line at the store yesterday and it spoke to me! Love the texture and weight of it.

This weekend, I'm hoping to finish up a few cardstock-related projects which have been waiting for me for too long. My scrapbooking area is organized and I have everything I need, including a Diet Coke. So here's to a productive and fun weekend, full of cats AND cardstock!

Feline Friday: The Story of Tinsel

It's Feline Friday, and seeing that a number of my recent posts have been Lily-related, I thought it would be good to feature Tinsel, our brown tabby (yes, that is a toy mouse on her head). This morning on our desk, I found a copy of a story that DD has been writing for school about how Tinsel came to live at our house. Good blog material, I thought. I hope she won't be mad at me for posting it, because I don't think it is totally finished yet! I'm really glad to see her write about this so descriptively. I love hearing her perspective and watching her find her writing voice. And I can already picture the scrapbook page!

As I tickled my cat Tinsel with a long brown feather, I thought about the way she had come to be a part of our family. It all started back in the fourth grade...

I was eight years old, and my pet fish had just recently died. I had decided that I wanted a new pet, but this time I wanted something soft and furry.
Christmas was nearing, and I was getting ready to write my annual wish list for Santa. I didn’t really know what I wanted for Christmas, but I sat down to type my letter to the jolly old fellow.

Then it hit me. I didn’t want books, toys, games, or any other sort of usual Christmas gift. No, I wanted a special companion. So throwing caution to the winds, I told Santa that I wanted a “real live kitty” for Christmas. (Clearly I had wanted to be certain I got a real cat, not a stuffed animal.) I clicked the button to send my letter, and my letter was gone. Gone to the North Pole, where Santa and his elves were in complete control of the situation. Now all I had to do was wait for Christmas.

As the days passed, I went back to my normal routine, never giving much thought to my letter. Finally Christmas Eve arrived. I went to bed, feeling nervous, but all the same, very excited.

I awoke early on Christmas Day. As soon as I remembered it was Christmas, I leapt out of bed and dashed into the hall. Immediately I peered over the balcony into our foyer. Amidst the massive green branches I saw a large gray box. After sprinting into my room again to get my glasses, I craned my neck over the railing once more. Could that gift be what I thought it was?

I raced down the stairs and over to the tree. Underneath it sat the unidentifiable box, complete with a red bow. The box gave a slight “Meow!”, and I looked into what was really an animal carrier. Inside, staring back at me was my own kitty! My wish had come true after all!

Then my mom spoke, “Why don’t you take her out and meet your new friend?” I turned to see my parents standing with the video camera, filming my reaction to Santa’s gift.

I opened the squealing door to the carrier and pulled out my own kitty. She was brown with black stripes, small, and ever so sweet. Cuddling her, I said, “She’s perfect.” I decided right then and there to name her Tinsel, because she was a “Christmas kitty”.

I now think of that Christmas as my best one yet, because I received my first furry friend. Now, as I watch her play, I am reminded of that wonderful morning.

27 September 2006

Too Many Late Nights?

Here's a sign that we've perhaps had one too many late nights in the scrapbooking room.

Note that Lily, appropriately perched on the XXL, is oblivious to the fact that the front and back halves of her body are actually facing different directions.

C'mon, Lily. Let's put our toys away and get some sleep.

26 September 2006


Last week I left the pantry door slightly ajar and came downstairs to this. Lily had located the box of emergency Tender Vittles, selected a pouch and was proceeding to chew it open. You can tell by the look on her face that she knows she's wearing her naughty shoes! She's even glancing over her shoulder to make sure the coast is clear!

Then last night I left her bag of Eukanuba kitten food on the kitchen table. This morning when I came downstairs, the bag was tipped over at the edge of the table and slightly open at the top. Morsels of food were dropping out of the bag onto the floor. Tap, tap, tap, they dropped one or two at a time. Waiting on the floor directly below the bag was Lily, cleaning up every single piece as soon as it fell.

Self-serve. Gotta love it. Posted by Picasa

22 September 2006

My 1875 Watt Ionic Ceramic Cord-Keeper

I have a problem with cords. Actually, hoses, tubes, and anything that needs to be wound up for storage. I just plain won't take the time to do it. This goes for the garden hose, the central vacuum hose, and all cords on my hair appliances. I'm in trouble a LOT because of this issue.

At first, DH thought he could train me. But over the years, he's come to realize that I'm a total lost cause. I don't even try anymore. So earlier this week, after months of abusing my blow dryer cord, what he predicted would happen actually did: Sparks flew from the cord and the dryer sizzled and died in my hand. (Fortunately, no hairs were harmed during the incident.)

So yesterday I set out to find a new, ready-to-be-abused blow dryer with extra-long cord. Instead, I found what was surely made for me: a blow dryer with a retractable cord! Aside from the fact that it weighs 50 pounds (I suspect that's due to the "ceramic" innards), with a mere push of a button, the cord disappears.

And that's not all! This new blow dryer came with a diffuser. This is a large, dish-like contraption that fits onto the end of the dryer and disperses the air over one's head rather than in one particular locale. Basically it makes it feel like the dryer is not working. But the most exciting part of the whole deal is that the blow dryer is equipped with...


Before yesterday, I didn't know I needed an ion generator in order to dry my hair. But according to the accompanying Styling Guide, "the built-in ion generator creates clouds of negatively charged ions that will help reduce static electricity, control frizzy flyaways, and contribute to your hair's shine."

Now, I remember very little of my high school chemistry (or would that be physics?) class, but I do know that ions have something to do with atoms and electrons. I don't believe they are radioactive. I know that they are very tiny and travel at top speeds. But until yesterday, I didn't know that they could help me with my hair.

So today I opened the box of my new blow dryer, tried out the retractable cord (note to self: unplug cord before pushing the "retract" button), attached the diffuser, and let loose the ions. Around and around my head they flew, at speeds so fast it boggled the mind. I could only imagine the clouds of negatively charged ions tending to every inch of my hair with the skill of a QVC hair stylist.

And when I was done, sure enough, I had no static electricity on my person, and my hair was shiny, smooth, and basically stuck down pretty well.

So here's to retractable cords, diffusers, and ion generators. Better relationships, better hair. I can work with that.

Feline Friday: Big Little Kitty

Lily is still a kitten. Kittens are, by definition, small. BUT...when it comes to dollhouses, the domain of a much tinier family, even the smallest kitten is TOO LARGE!

A dollhouse under construction sits in my craft area. Over the past few weeks, I've had to extract Lily from the kitchen, living room, and dining area on more occasions than I can count. She enters through the front door or window and proceeds down the main hallway (precisely as wide as her body, mind you) and enters the room of choice. (Sometimes she leaves the back half of her body in another room, which makes extraction quite difficult.) Once in the kitchen or living room, she plays havoc with whatever she finds. Canned vegetables fly, kitchen furniture tumbles, and the carefully decorated Christmas tree rolls out onto the floor.

As a small kitten, Lily spends her days in a world where almost everything is bigger than her. But in the dollhouse, SHE can feel big. She doesn't have to jump up on the kitchen table. Why, with the flick of her paw, she can send it rolling! And that refrigerator? She can open the door anytime she pleases. In the dollhouse, Lily rules.

So last night, I let her stay for a few extra seconds while I grabbed the camera. In spite of the destruction, this was too cute to miss.
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21 September 2006

Please Don't Eat the Foxglove

I tore out an old perennial garden this summer and put in a new one. Still a work in progress, the garden has actually done very well. Everything has survived, and most of the plants have thrived. In addition to dividing and moving some plants from other areas, I decided to put in a few plants that I'd never tried before, including foxglove. I planted a white one and a pink one, next to each other in a shady, well-drained area. Right now, the pink one looks like this. The bell-shaped cups of the foxglove are spotted on the inside. Very elegant, very stately. It is just beautiful.

And poisonous.

Oops. Forgot that one little detail. There is a reason I haven't had foxglove in my garden. It's coming back to me now. Foxglove is actually used to create digitalis, a heart medicine. But evidently, right off the stem, it's quite poisonous.

I won't be testing that. And hopefully, none of our neighbors will be, either.
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17 September 2006

A Close Call, Parts I and II

I posted this photo and journaling (written by Lily) awhile back. Over the weekend, I finally put together the layout.

While I was working on it yesterday, Lily was busy in the same room, climbing the mutton bars on the window. She made it all the way to the top before I realized it. Just as I spotted her, the mutton bars gave way and toppled over backward, Lily still attached, just like tree falling. Narrowly missing my scrapbook table, Lily and the mutton bars hit the floor, mutton bars breaking and Lily running at break-neck speed from the room.
Thus ends Part I of the story.

Now begins Part II. I turned to the task of replacing the mutton bars and patching them
together in sly fashion (so as to not attract the attention of DH -- who does not often read this blog, BTW). From down the hall, I heard the sound of Lily playing with the spindles on our stairway, which she often does. Then all of a sudden, there was a WHOOSH!! followed by a THUD!! Strange sound, I thought.

Sure that she had knocked over a table in our bedroom (again), I ran to inspect. All tables were intact. Continuing on, I glanced over the railing of our balcony to the tile floor below.

There was Lily, half-sitting, half-lying down on the rug by the front door, shaking her head with a dazed look. Our "elevator" basket, which hangs from the balcony railing by a purple ribbon, was swinging wilding from side to side. In a sickening instant, it became quite clear to me that Lily had either jumped or fallen from the 2nd to the 1st floor. It remains to be seen whether she was attempting to jump into the elevator basket or just slipped while trying to reach it. Either way, I felt sick with fear.

I ran down to where Lily sat. She stood up, walked a few steps, then stopped. She walked a few more steps then stopped again, each time with a strange look on her face. Then she jumped onto a dining room chair and crouched awkwardly. I tried to assess if she was injured and after close inspection, she appeared to be shaken but unharmed. I carefully lifted her and put her on a bench where she lay and rested for a bit and soon began to purr. She played with a feather I wiggled in front of her. I was filled with an enormous sense of relief.

For the rest of the day, she was quite subdued (as was I). Today she is back to her previous energy level (in fact, I had to take a break from writing this to extract her from the dollhouse; she had entered via the front door and exited out the kitchen, walking carefully around the tiny kitchen table).

We have been very careful to watch Lily around the railing and train her not to hang out over the edge. In fact, we've had it covered with poster board up until about a month ago, fearful of this very thing happening. When she started jumping up to see over the poster board, we had to remove it. So, while I feel terrible that this incident happened, I can't say that I'm exactly surprised.

We all hope she learned her lesson and won't venture so close to the balcony again. I know that cats (for the most part) always land on their feet, but I sure don't. I think I might have lost one of my nine lives.

Meanwhile, her Grandma would like to sew her a kitten-sized cape, made just for flying. I think pink would be nice, don't you?

15 September 2006

Feline Friday

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In honor of Feline Friday, I've written a poem celebrating the two "opposites" who live at our house. Can you guess which is which?

Our Two Tabbies

One is gray and one is brown
One is up and one is down
One is fast and one is slow
Our two tabbies

One is short and one is tall
One is big and one is small
One is bold and one is mild
Our two tabbies

One is grumpy, one is sweet
One is messy, one is neat
One is flabby, one is trim
Our two tabbies

One is quiet, one is loud
One is shy and one is proud
But both are loved beyond compare
Our two tabbies

12 September 2006

In Case You Were Wondering...

...about current styles in sheep-wear, take a cue from these ladies. They are all about style. At this year's state fair, I made some notes about fashion trends:

* Color is key. Try to select a color to complement your wool.
* Bold, geometric, and retro patterns are still in. These have been popular for the past several fair seasons.
* Support the troops: choose an American flag pattern or camouflage.
* A comic strip print will draw (and keep) the eye.
* The tighter the better, if you're a sheep.
* It's ok to wear the same outfit as last year, or to borrow an outfit from someone who, um, isn't around to wear it this season.
My overall opinion of this year's sheep spandex styles?
Not baa-aaa-d.
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11 September 2006

Signs of Autumn Tag Book

I love the fall. It's my very favorite season of the year. Over the weekend, I noticed that some of the our trees are starting to change colors. The days and evenings have been cooler. It feels like sweater-weather. I make a pot of coffee in the evening and light a good-smelling candle. If I'm lucky, I'll have a cat on my lap.

Last week, I spotted the new Daisy D's Gypsy Harvest line, just in time for the season. So with fall on the mind, today I made a little tag book for store display today and as a "take-home" type project for store customers.

I pulled a few photos and wrote a little verse for the season.

Signs of Autumn
Pumpkin patches, brimming with smooth orange gourds
Golden prairies, flowers bursting with seeds
ready to be gathered
Changing leaves, painting a rich and textured color palette
Black cats, a little tame, a little mysterious
Glowing jack-o-lanterns, transformed and magical,
greeting neighborhood ghosts and goblins.
Signs of autumn, each year reminding me of the
never-ending cycle of life.

08 September 2006

Feline Friday

Given that the name of my blog refers to cats AND cardstock, I'm devoting today's post to the former. Maybe I'll start a new feature, called Feline Friday, to make sure the kitties get equal billing to the cardstock. I honor of this, here are a couple of feline questions to ponder today:
  • If your cat had a human voice, what would it sound like? Whiny, twangy, British accent, perhaps? I imagine that Tinsel would have a quiet librarian-like voice and would say "Shhh!" all the time. Lily's voice would be loud (more appropriate for recess than indoors) and would have a southern accent, since she came from a farm south of here.
  • If your cat wore human clothing, what would it be? I imagine that Tinsel would wear a ball gown, something frilly and quite difficult to move around in. Lily would wear denim short-alls.
I selected a few recent photos of Lily and Tinsel to include for today's Friday Felines. Don't be fooled by the photos that show them in close proximity to each other...they definitely do NOT have a close, trusting relationship. If they would practice "body basics" and keep their paws to themselves, everything would be fine, but they just can't resist taking a swipe. Lily actually ambushes Tinsel by standing on her back legs, front paws waving in the air (think: grizzly bear), then jumping on her back. This never goes well.

Lily also enjoys riding on our backs. For as long as you can walk around bent over, she'll ride along, comfortably observing from a new height. And about 12:30 a.m., she turns into a kitty possessed: she lays her ears flat, gets a gleam in her eye, and starts running at breakneck speed, jumping up the walls, banking off furniture, climbing doorframes and hanging from screens. For now, she's even small enough to go under the lid of the grand piano and crawl all the way to the back. This is her special hiding place. Around 12:35 a.m., she goes to time-out.

Tinsel continues to watch all of Lily's antics with complete and utter disdain. She actually relishes the times when I confine her to a room by herself so she can get some rest and eat her weight-control meals in peace.

I'm enjoying the fact that now, when Tinsel is on my lap, Lily seems to want to be there, too. If Lily is on my lap, then Tinsel is hovering nearby. The fact is, I'll take either of them anytime they'll let me. Everything stops when one of them is reclining there. I found this quote on a layout by Erin Lincoln in the August issue of Creating Keepsakes. If you're a cat person, isn't this true?

If you are lucky enough to have a cat on your lap, you are excused from everything and the other spouse must do your bidding.

05 September 2006

Only at the Fair!

The ticket design for our state fair changed this year. Probably wasn't a big deal to most people, but from the minute I saw the new, larger, rectangular shape, I could think only one thing: TAG BOOK!

Given the number of days we spend at the fair, I had no trouble collecting enough ticket stubs to make a book for my parents and another one for me. I purchased 2 sheets of matching cardstock, selected and printed a few small photos, cut the cardstock and photos to fit, then joined them with a metal ring, and faster than you can say "Deep Fried Oreo on a Stick", I had a tag book in my hands.

This one is a thank you for my parents who let us camp with them again this year. Eleven days of shuttle rides, lemonade, giant slides, blue ribbons, red ribbons (and no ribbons)...It's all Only at the Fair!
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02 September 2006

Ali-Inspired Quote Book

For as long as I can remember, I've collected quotes. Beginning in high school, I would type them, cut them out, and hang them on my bulletin board in my room. I took several of these along to college and collected more while there. When I worked in corporate America, the walls around my cubicle were adorned with quotes, some I'd hauled around for years. These days, I print out quotes and put them on our refrigerator. Still more are on the bulletin board above my scrapbook table. Others are scrawled in my planner or on little pieces of paper scattered here and there.

So when I saw Ali Edwards' quote book project in the September issue of Creating Keepsakes, I knew this was THE project for me. Finally, a place to collect all of those quotes! And better yet, I'd picked up a really cute Colorbok album set at Target over the summer on clearance for less than $5, not knowing what I'd use it for. It was intended to be a school album, but I knew didn't want to use it for that. When I saw the quote book idea, I knew it would be the perfect fit.

So I went to my LSS and purchased enough cardstock for oodles of quotes and set to work. I gathered up a few of my favorites, typed them up in Word, two to a page (landscape) and printed them out. I grabbed a couple of my favorite stamps and ink pads and just stamped here and there (Ali-style) on the quote pages. I punched the holes, inserted the quotes, and in practically no time at all, my quote book was ready! I can't tell you how excited I am about this little project. It's going to be super easy to add quotes as I find them. Just looking at it makes me happy.

Now to find those really old quotes from when I was a kid. And see if they still move me. I'm pretty sure they will.

And that in itself is cool.

01 September 2006


I’ve been thinking about circles lately, noticing circles around me in architecture, in design. I tend to see circles more than other shapes because I’ve never really liked them much. I’m a linear person. I like the order and predictability of lines and angles. I much prefer straight lines to curves.

It’s funny how life sometimes takes this linear person in a circle, back to the point from which I started. The notion occurs to me this afternoon as I sit on a wooden bench, looking out the slanted window of the second floor of the music building at Drake University. A light rain has been falling, and it blurs my view of the sidewalk below. It is summer now and the building is nearly empty. All is quiet, except for the sound of a lone clarinet from down the hall.

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Sitting here today, my mind wanders back to another summer twenty-some years ago when I first climbed the steps of this very building. I was a high school student at the time, and I was apprehensive about studying piano at a university. Yet my instructor was kind and funny and full of stories. I found him entertaining, and in the process I actually learned a few things.

I practiced my lessons on this very same floor on the days I was dropped off early or hadn’t worked hard enough at home. In this same building, I prepared for recitals in the auditorium with my instructor. He always sat in the top row. And no matter how I performed, he always clapped. It was here in this building that I gained confidence in my abilities and made decisions about my future, whatever I thought that meant. You know, in summer, the future always seems full of possibilities.

I remember after that particular summer, my life began to change. I continued my piano lessons and eventually left for college. Following that came a move to Chicago. Marriage. A series of high-pressure jobs. Graduate school. Apartments, houses. A move back to Iowa. A baby. What had started as a clean, linear path began to curve, although I didn’t think about it at the time.

Today as I sit on this wooden bench, I can hear the familiar flip, flop of sandals walking toward me from down the hall. I peek around the corner and from a distance, I can see a teen-aged girl toss her long hair confidently over one shoulder. She swings her black music bag back and forth. I move so she can’t see me.

Twenty-some years ago, this girl with the long, auburn hair could have been me. It’s me I see in her walk, in the way she carries herself. Yet this young woman walking down the hall is not me. It’s my daughter, nearly the same age I was when I walked this very path. She, too, is here to study music. To take lessons from an instructor whose studio just happens to be next door to that of my old teacher. It’s summer, and her future is full of possibilities.

Funny how life sometimes brings you back to where you started. And when you get there, you realize you’ve actually traveled in a circle when you thought you were headed in a straight line.

I’m starting to believe now that circles might be ok after all. A circular path in life brings you back to a place that is comfortably familiar and allows you to see it for what it was, and what it is now, with a new perspective. It enables you to see how different your life is than you’d expected it to be, how much you’ve changed, and how much you really haven’t. It begs you to compare your current reality to the future that was so full of possibilities. And somehow, contemplating all of this lifts you up and readies you for the path ahead, whatever shape it may take.

“Ready to go, Mom?” she asks.

I smile. Yeah, I’m ready.