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.