31 January 2007
In browsing through the store, I spotted the Junkitz Laguna Guy paper line. Green and teal with a light yellow base, the color and retro-look patterns really appealed to me, and it was a great match for the book. As it happens, the book is made by Junkitz, too.
So I set to work cutting photo cards and covering the front and back of each envelope with patterns from the paper line. I replaced the brown ribbon with an olive green one, added the verses of a poem about friendship to the front of the envelopes, and in no time at all, it was done.
Very easy and very fun. I kind of needed that yesterday.
I am here to proclaim, however, that there is ONE kind of fruitcake that will potentially change your opinion forever: The fruitcakes made by the Trappist monks at Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery in Lafayette, Oregon. When I was growing up, my dear grandma would order them from the Norm Thompson catalog for Christmas every year. I still remember the small, square box with a picture of a monastery on the lid. For years, I skeptically watched as my grandma, my mom and her sister relished the tiny fruitcakes and declared them to be the best in the world.
At some point along the way, I decided to try a bite and immediately realized that this fruitcake was totally different than the others I had sampled and discarded. The Monastery Fruitcake was a dark, rich cake soaked in brandy and studded with walnuts, pecans, and real fruit. It was the kind of delicacy that we hoarded and savored, the tiniest sliver at a time, knowing that it would be another year until we could have it again. We looked forward to the fruitcakes every Christmas until one year when Norm Thompson stopped carrying them. In the days before the Internet, Grandma didn't know where else to find them, so we concluded that the fruitcakes, sadly, were no longer being made.
Grandma passed away a couple of years ago. This past Christmas, my aunt and I started reminiscing about those fruitcakes made by Trappist monks. What if they were actually still being made? We decided to find out. My aunt found a box from one of the fruitcakes tucked away in her basement. She gave me the name of the monastery and within 30 seconds, I had found multiple Internet sources and glowing reviews for the fruitcakes. Within 10 minutes, I had placed an order. Within seven days, four fruitcakes will be here: one for my mom, two for my aunt, and one just for me. I wish I could have ordered one for Grandma.
We are so excited. And I know that she would have been, too.
Click here for an Internet source for Monastery Fruitcake
29 January 2007
On Friday, my friend, Sharon, and I had been talking about organizing dimensional embellishments by color. (I teach an organization class in which we often discuss the merits of such a system. I had just never taken the plunge.) Well, Sharon and I decided to try it over the weekend, and we are both thrilled with the results.
CAUTION: Don't look at these pictures too closely....you'll see some REALLY old (and somewhat scary) stuff that surfaced during the organization process! All stuff I'd forgotten I had!
Moving my embellishments from their old containers to their new home didn't take much time at all, in part because I don't have a huge amount of dimensional embellishments. (People who know me are laughing right now: One package of embellishments lasts a lifetime at my house!) I used three small, three-drawer containers (available at Target or Walgreen's) which I had previously used for adhesive and odds and ends. They ended up being just the right size for this new system. I have the following color drawers: red/pink, orange/yellow, green, blue, violet, brown/white, two for black, and metallic. To keep everything from mixing together, I used plastic and metal lids from various containers to separate items. So far, I have not added my small ribbon cards to the drawers because I haven't found a good way to contain them.
Changing to this system enabled me to re-purpose the four larger containers I'd previously used for storing all of this stuff. Combining it in the smaller drawers saved a surprising amount of space. Plus, I love the way it looks. I keep opening the drawers just to peek inside. (I know, I'm easily amused.)
Since I was scrapbooking this weekend, I had the chance to try out the new system right away. I was amazed at how useful it turned out to be as I was working on pages. I used some things on pages that I'd forgotten I had. Since I'm a person who tends to think of color first when scrapbooking, I just know that this change is going to help me use up my stash.
26 January 2007
This week, I finished up another take-home project for the store where I teach. This one features the Colorboard chipboard stickers by Making Memories. I initially considered making a mini-album or another set of cards with the chipboard stickers, but as I was starting to work on this project, I received an e-newsletter from Splitcoaststampers which led me in a different direction. One of their current projects features a coaster treat box. I decided it would be fun to use that concept to create a box for cards using plain chipboard. My project includes Doodlebug papers with a springtime feel that coordinate really nicely with the Making Memories chipboard stickers, and six matching cards.
I'm anxious to use this concept again with different papers. I think the box would be cute filled with goodies and small gifts. Now that I've brushed up on my lacing skills, I think I'm good to go.
This is what it looks like when I try to use the computer. Tinsel walks directly in front of the screen. She rubs all over it and sits down directly in front of it. It's hard to use the computer when you're looking between cat ears. A moment later, I glance to my left and see Lily peering at me from inside the dollhouse.
These kitties will go to most any length to direct my attention back to them.
And it works every time.
25 January 2007
I actually believe that scones are much more than they seem: Scones have a unique way of making you feel either sophisticated or Bohemian. Enjoy them with tea in the afternoon, and you're almost royalty. Walk through the bustling market with a scone in hand, and suddenly you're living an artist's life.
The best scones I've had to date were at Pike's Place Market in Seattle. We were in the area for a few days a couple of summers ago, and we had the opportunity to frequent a particular bakery on several mornings. Scones were baked fresh early in the morning and wrapped in paper for easy carrying. There, I could pick up a crumbly, not too sweet scone and enjoy it with a caramel latte on those cool Seattle mornings. Paradise, in my book.
Sadly, the scones in our neck of the woods are not on a level with those in Seattle. They tend to be overly dry, sometimes hard as a rock. Knowing my longing for good scones, my aunt bought me several quick scone mixes from King Arthur Flour. Those mixes were so easy to work with, and the scones they produced were surprisingly good. This week, emboldened by my success with the quick mixes, I decided to try making scones from scratch. I'm not particularly adept in the kitchen (some would actually say I am INEPT), so you can imagine my surprise when these scones came out of the oven with a golden color and perfectly crumbly texture.
If you enjoy scones, the quick mixes and many recipes are available at this website: King Arthur Flour Believe me, I'll be trying more of these recipes this winter. I may not get that Bohemian feeling I had in Seattle, but at least it will be fun trying.
A classic flavor combination -- cranberry and orange -- is highlighted in these scones.
1 3/4 cups King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour (I used regular flour)
3 tablespoons sugar (next time, I'll add a bit more sugar)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
6 tablespoons half and half
1 large egg, beaten to blend
2 tablespoons grated orange peel OR 1/2 teaspoon orange oil (I used orange extract)
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients, then add the butter, rubbing it in till the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the cranberries.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the half and half, egg and orange peel or oil. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir till the dough just comes together. Transfer it to a lightly floured work surface, knead it a couple of times, and shape it into a 1/2-inch thick round. Cut the round in half, and each half into 5 wedges.
Separate the wedges, and transfer them to a nonstick or parchment-lined (or lightly greased) baking sheet. Bake the scones in a preheated 400°F oven for about 10 minutes, or until they're golden brown. Yield: 10 scones. (In my oven, the scones took about 13 minutes to turn golden brown.)
©2006 The King Arthur Flour Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
23 January 2007
a) I love it too much to use it, often for sentimental reasons (I think they call this hoarding)
b) I forget that I have it
c) I'm in too much of a hurry to use it
d) I don't need it now but MIGHT need it someday (this is the reason I have boxes of rocks and wiggly eyes in my basement)
In looking through my bathroom closet, I discovered a plethora of travel-sized lotion bottles. Even more bottles recently appeared on my vanity after DD organized her bathroom and decided she no longer likes certain scents. For some reason, people give me lotion with some frequency, and I also stock up on it when Bath & Body Works has the big annual sale. You get the picture: I have more lotion than an entire group of people could use in a year.
But here's the deal: I never use lotion.
Why? I obviously like lotion, but for reasons a), b), and c) above, it accumulates without being used. Another reason I don't use lotion is that I don't particularly care for it on my hands (even though that's where I most need it), especially if I'm doing something crafty, playing the piano, or handling kitties. But I can use lotion anywhere else on my person without issues, so there is really no excuse for this massive build-up.
So, in my quest for order, I'm on a mission to USE IT UP. This not only goes for lotion, but it also applies to scrapbooking supplies and the mounting problem I have with unpleasantly scented shower gels. To tackle the lotion problem, I devised a simple solution: Fill this cute little basket (made years ago by DD at the state fair) with small bottles of lotion and make a concerted effort to use them every day after showering until they are gone. I've been doing this for a couple of weeks now and have gone through several bottles of lotion. I have so many that I just keep filling up the little basket.
I do confess, however, that there are a few little bottles (with matching soaps) that I will never use -- see reason (a) above -- like the ones from the Dolphin and Contemporary hotels at Walt Disney World (they're just too cute) and the ones from our stay at Dave Longaberger's house in Dresden, Ohio (yes, the guy who started the basket company, and yes, he has his own lotion) which have a neat design on the front. But there are many, many other bottles to which I am not sentimentally attached. Those will be used up and the containers dutifully recycled.
So here's an amazing discovery I've made about order: If you actually use things, they don't accumulate. And in this case, you even get to smell (mostly) good in the process.
I'm happy to report that DD's group won their 9th grade division. We did not expect them to win at the first competition of the season, and let me tell you, there was an extreme amount of excitement in the air (along with the aerosol hairspray).
It wouldn't be show choir season without some Hair Drama. As usual, we used foam rollers to put up DD's hair the night before the event. It takes me about an hour to do this. Unfortunately, we were gone until fairly late on Friday evening and didn't get them in soon enough. Saturday morning, the hair was still damp and we had no curls. In fact, we had a terrible mess. It took some quick action with the TURBO setting of the curling iron to recover. Big stress for mom. Lots of hair spray. High drama at our house.
Six of the top varsity groups competed in finals that evening. It really was a tremendous show, with so many incredibly talented singers and dancers. During the course of the day, I couldn't help but think that a part of this whole process is letting go...letting our kids discover their talents and grow into whoever they are meant to become and wherever it may take them in life. Maybe that's why I was so touched by the lyrics to the song (shown below) which one of the groups performed.
All in all, it was an exciting, emotional day for the performers and those who were lucky enough to watch. And to think, this is only the beginning, in so many ways.
When You Come Home
My first day of recess they all laughed at me
When I fell off the swing set and scraped up my knee
The nurse called my Momma to say I'd be late,
And when she gave me the phone I could hear Momma say
"I'm so sorry, son. Oh I think you're so brave."
And she was smilin' when she said:
When you come home, no matter how far,
Run through the door and into my arms
It's where you are loved, it's where you belong
And I will be here when you come home.
I waved good-bye through the window as I boarded the plane,
My first job in Houston was waiting for me.
I found a letter from Momma tucked in my coat
And as I flew down the runway I smiled when she wrote:
I'll miss you, son, you'll be so far away
But I'll be waiting for the day
When you come home no matter how far,
Run through the door and into my arms
It's where you are loved, it's where you belong,
And I will be here when you come home
Well, I don't think she can hear you now,
The doctor told me, your mother is fading,
It's best that you leave
So I whispered, I love you and then turned away.
But I stopped at the door when I heard Momma say,
I love you, son, but they're callin' me away
Promise me before I go
When you come home, no matter how far,
Run through the door and into my arms;
It's where you are loved, it's where you belong,
And I will be here when you come home,
When you come home.
19 January 2007
You can see by the look on her face that Tinsel does not have great affection for her Mini-Me, nor is she pleased with the impromptu photo shoot. In contrast, Lily was intrigued to think we might have a new, noticeably smaller, cat in the house and immediately jumped up to say hello.
18 January 2007
17 January 2007
So yesterday was the day for Tinsel's check-up and vaccinations. After pushing her into her carrier, she rode relatively well to the vet's office, with only a few piteous meeee-owwwws for dramatic effect. After six months of being chased by Lily, she now weighs in at around 10 pounds, almost a full pound lighter than at her last check-up. I was relieved that the strange thickening I recently noticed on her right ear is most likely a congenital defect (no doubt her ONLY defect) or the result of an injury before she came to live with us. Her back toenails have been clipped, and Tinsel is looking mighty fine, according to the vet.
It occurred to us recently that Tinsel's head is really quite large for her body. (No, I did not happen to ask the vet about this.) She's not a large breed of cat, so one wouldn't expect to find such a large head on a 10-pound cat body. Lily is now almost as tall as Tinsel, yet her head is considerably smaller. Of course, Lily is younger, but she is very close to being full grown, so one would think that their heads would be closer in size. In addition, when Tinsel is irritated (as in this photo), her ears swivel back, making her look a bit like an owl.
And? Your point?
There is none. Just some observations.
16 January 2007
At the same time I was pondering the word, a book club meeting was coming up at the store where I teach. Those of us in book club had been provided with a set of really wonderful products back in December, and they sat on my floor unopened until the morning of book club. I am not normally a last-minute person, but I certainly was that day. It occurred to me that I should create some sort of album or journal to document my search for order. (As a side note, I talked to my friend Darci that morning about the project, and I told her I was also thinking about the word "authenticity", which may well be my word for next year. She told me to stick to "order" since it was easier to spell! So "order" it is, thanks to Darci!)
I cut the pages of the Karen Foster chipboard album in staggered fashion, then cover the pages with Scenic Route paper or cardstock. I incorporated a few stamps and tabs and when I finished, I realized the album wouldn't close. DUH! So I pulled out half the pages and bound them with metal rings. Two albums for the price of one, I thought.
Well, that night at book club, Linda and Mollie suggested that I attach the leftover pages to the back cover of the album, with the staggered pages going the opposite direction. I never would have thought of that and could not quite envision how it might look. But with trusty Crop-a-Dile in hand, I punched holes in the back cover and attached the remaining pages with the metal rings. Not only did it work, but it turned out really cool. Now I just sit and open and close the album because I love how it fits together, thanks to them!
I divided the pages into three sections: physical, emotional, and spiritual. I am planning to explore "ORDER" in those three areas, starting with physical. For quite some time, I've been feeling "weighted down" by stuff in my life, and I'm now officially on a mission to create order in my environment. This weekend, I purchased a book about organizing and de-cluttering and am in the process of setting goals (to be recorded in the album) and clearing out small areas of clutter. I hope to post about my progress and document it in the album as I go along. I'm one of those people who never gets rid of anything, so this may be a very, very long process.
As I created the album, I noticed that the words on the SR paper actually correspond to the areas I'm targeting, which I thought was kind of neat:
* physical order = keep it simple (de-clutter and simplify)
* emotional order = find balance (set goals)
* spiritual order = live your passion (focus on important things in life)
So look for more to come on this in the coming weeks and months. I figure if I post my goals publicly, I'm more likely to meet them. I'm counting on this blog to keep me on track in my search for order.
12 January 2007
bigger than ever!
11 January 2007
Over the weekend, she participated in a high school honor band event. Because she has been in various honor bands over the years, she is now starting to know kids from other schools and this year, she really enjoyed the entire day. She reported that the percussion section kids were a lot of fun and they all worked together very well. The band, of course, sounded great. It's always a treat to attend an honor band concert.
A couple of days ago, I attended a show choir performance, the official kick-off to the competition season. This is DD's third year in show choir, and her second in competition. I had never been to a competition until last year, and I must say, I was totally blown away by the whole thing. Show choir competitions are completely different than band or jazz band competitions around here: They are very much like competitive sports. Locker decorations, team breakfasts, screaming fans, intense school rivalries...the whole works. Add to that 4 music/dance numbers, 36 foam curlers (I know because I put them in her hair), costume changes, aerosol hair spray, and silver eye shadow and you have but a glimpse of a show choir event. Here's a case in point: At one event last year, the fire alarm went off, necessitating an evacuation of the entire school. As it turned out, intense fumes from all the aerosol hair spray set off the fire alarms. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the competitive season this year. The group looks and sounds great, and they are definitely fired up about their first event.
So these are just two of many good things in my life this week. As I watch DD participate in these and many other activities, I see glimpses of who she is becoming. Sometimes it's hard to let go, but on the other hand, it's very exciting to watch a life unfolding right before our eyes.
That is, if you can see it through the cloud of hair spray. :-)
08 January 2007
The first part of this post is really along those same lines. If you're patient enough to read it, you may find there is no point. Or, you could make your own point. Or, if you really want a point, you may need to visit someone else's blog today. :-)
ANYWAY, DH and I stopped at Wendy's awhile back and I ordered the new Frescata sandwich, made with "artisan" bread. The bun is square. I guess that makes it more artisanal. Upon further inspection, we noticed that the turkey is extra long and folded in on the top and bottom, in diaper fashion, to precisely fit the bun. But the most interesting thing was the square lettuce. I guess if you're All About Artisan Bread, you wouldn't want your lettuce sloppily hanging off the bun. While I do believe this lettuce was cut to fit, it made me wonder if they are now growing square lettuce, just like they were growing square watermelons in Japan a few years ago. (I'm not making that up. I read about it in the newspaper.) Because I happened to have the camera in tow, I took a picture of the square bun and lettuce.
Imagine DD and DH here: "And? Your point?"
Me: "There is none. It was just an interesting story."
In other restaurant news, (and this story DOES have a point) over the past weekend we stopped at a local sub shop to pick up a turkey sandwich for DD who was at an honor band event. Do you remember the sub shop where we had the Corporate Pickle Policy Incident which I blogged about some time ago? Same place. Read on.
Sub guy: "No."
DH: "Why not?"
Sub guy: "It's against our corporate policy."
DH: "What? You mean you have a policy on mayonnaise?"
Sub guy: "Yep. If I put mayonnaise on this sandwich, it will be the same as our turkey sandwich that already comes with mayonnaise. That's a more expensive sandwich. Here's your mayonnaise packet."
I'm beginning to think they have a "Let's Do as Little as Possible to Please the Customer Policy." DH will be contacting the corporate headquarters to check on that.
06 January 2007
So in an attempt to redeem myself from yesterday's post and convince anyone reading that I really do have my act together (most of the time), today I'm posting about another take-home project I just finished up for the store where I teach, a Valentine's Day coupon book and tin. For this project, I used Reminisce paper and stickers, Bazzill cardstock, and Heidi Swapp ginormous (DD's word) flowers.
I looked at several coupon books on 2Peas to get some ideas for wording on the coupons, then I added my own touches. Coupons include things like dinner and a movie, car cleaning, and breakfast in bed. Here is my favorite: "Good for One (1) Foot Rub" *Both feet included - Feet must be clean. (I don't know about you, but that just seemed like an important disclaimer.)
Anyway, this was a super-simple project and would be great if you struggle with what to give your significant other for Valentine's Day.
05 January 2007
As a result of this feline-induced sleep deprivation, in the past few weeks, I've done several bone-headed things (as described by my loving DH):
1) I lost my watch. It fell off my arm never to be seen again. I'm totally compulsive about my watch (even sleep with it on), so this was a real problem. I called the grocery store daily for about a week, hoping someone had turned it in. I re-traced my steps, even dragging DH to the grocery store parking lot where I made him wait for me while I scoured the pavement with a flashlight. No watch, but I hoped that someone who needed a new watch found it in time for Christmas. (BTW, I just purchased a new one, and it lights up at night with the push of a button. This is unbelievably exciting for me. I go into the closet just to push the button and see the glow.)
2) I lost my coat. My beloved barn coat. Because of where I put our Christmas tree, I had to move all of the coats from the hall closet to the basement. The coat was not in the basement pile of coats so I became convinced that I had left it somewhere. I made a list of ten places I had gone, then I telephoned or visited every single one looking for my coat. Still cold and grieving for my coat several days later, I went back down to the basement and guess what? There it was, top coat in the pile.
3) I backed out of the garage and into the neighbor boy's car one morning. We were both backing down our driveways at precisely the same moment and...BAM! Total mortification. I can't even go out to get the paper in the morning for fear I'll have to face the family.
4) I had a little problem putting gas in my vehicle. Thinking I would be totally efficient, while my tank was filling I ran into the convenience store to buy milk. When I came out, the tank was done filling: 12 gallons, $26. I hadn't pushed the "receipt" button, so I closed up the tank and drove away, feeling rather smug about my multi-tasking. Later that day, I noticed I still had no gas in my car. I had failed to squeeze the nozzle.
5) I broke my glasses. One night when I was comatose on the couch, Lily mounted the Christmas tree and it began swaying side to side. "Get that "wonderful" cat out of the tree!" yelled DH, so I scrambled out of my sleeping position and immediately felt a crunch under my knee. I'd forgotten that my glasses had been perched precariously on the side of the couch. I felt very badly about this. Until Lily, I had never broken a pair of glasses.
6) I had a little problem with my driver's license. Earlier this year, DH let his license expire and had to take the test. Fearful that would happen to me and I'd never drive again, I put 60 days of reminders on our Outlook calendar before and after my birthday. Last week I decided I'd take care of this little task. I fixed my hair so that it would look good in the photo for the next 5 years, put on my least-embarrassing turtleneck and drove across town to the DOT. I waited in line 20 minutes, filled out all of the paperwork, considered organ donation, then went to the counter when my number was called and presented my paperwork to the nice DOT guy.
DOT guy: "Uh, lady, you do realize you've got another year before your license expires."
Me: "Uh, actually, no."
DOT guy smiles politely, his eyes wide, obviously thinking I'm some sort of ding-dong. Or maybe he was just noticing the cat hair on my turtleneck.
Me, trying to salvage the situation: "Well, then, would there be any advantage of my just going ahead and renewing it now, one year early?"
DOT Guy: "Uh, no, unless you're planning to move out of state."
Me, under breath: "Maybe that would be a good idea."
04 January 2007
I really hadn't given much thought to selecting a word for myself until this afternoon, when the word ORDER just popped into my head. Hey, maybe ORDER should be my word, I thought to myself.
If you know me, that word will not come as a surprise. I am a person who needs order (some would call that "control") in my life. I'm sure that people who know me think that my life is perfectly ordered. But the truth is that right now, and for quite awhile, I have felt a lack of order in my life. Lack of order manifests itself in many ways for me: visual clutter, missing goals, unclear processes, and loose ends. Lack of order creates tension in my life.
So, for now at least, the word for 2007 is going to be ORDER. And I have 3 big, empty blue bins from Target just waiting for me to put that word into action.
03 January 2007
02 January 2007
I don't know about you, but I routinely check the Target Dollar Spot for scrapbooking items, or for goodies that could be altered. Last week, I spotted white and red mailboxes with the Valentine's Day merchandise. I immediately picked up a white one, and I probably should have bought more, because I haven't been able to find them since that day. In the same section, I also found some magnets that look like decorated sugar cookies. I thought I'd put those on the fridge, but then I noticed how cute they looked on the mailbox.
So for the past week, the plain white mailbox with the cookie magnets has been sitting on my desk, waiting for a new outfit. This afternoon, I finally pulled out the Ki paper I had hoped to use and quickly noticed that the pink did not match the cookie magnets, so I reached for the old MAMBI Chester paper instead. An hour later, the mailbox was done and ready for mail.
Now if I ever get a real scraproom (*hint, hint*), I would put this little guy on a shelf just outside the door. Not really for mail, but just for effect. Mail or no mail, the Target Dollar Spot Mailbox is a Good Thing.