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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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