30 June 2007

Found in Creating Keepsakes

Although you'd never know it from the current state of our household, I love order and organization. That's why I made a special note to blog about this index I found in the latest issue of Creating Keepsakes magazine.

I had the opportunity to read a lot during this past week. In addition to a book (which I'll blog about another time), I read both the June and July issues of
Creating Keepsakes magazines much more closely than usual. At the beginning of the magazine, there are several left-hand pages which list company credits. On the bottom of page 18 (June) and page 20 (July), you'll find this handy-dandy little guide to photos and layouts featured. It's organized in the same way as Becky Higgins' books (by number of photos) which is how many people approach scrapbooking.

It looks like this index has been in CK for the past several issues, but I had never noticed it, and I thought perhaps other scrapbookers hadn't seen it, either. I love indices, and I've actually made several of my own for magazines, so I really appreciate this feature. In fact, if you'd like to make your own indices for other magazines or idea books, this would be a great format to follow.

Next time I sit down to make a page, I'll look at the number of photos I have and match them to this index. It'll give me a jump start and make me feel good about actually using my magazines.

29 June 2007

Feline Friday: 2Peas Challege - A Favorite Quote

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity...It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melodie Beattie

26 June 2007

On the Road in St. Charles

Day 3: Before leaving Springfield, we stopped at Shea's Gas Station Museum. For a variety of reasons, we did not actually go into the place. But from this picture, you can certainly see what a quirky and extensive collection of gas station memorabilia looks like.

From Springfield, we drove to St. Charles. We used to live in Oak Park, so we know the Chicago suburbs pretty well. As we cruised through Naperville, we stopped quickly at a scrapbook store -- Cherish
What a beautiful store! All the latest and greatest products in a lovely, colorful setting. Too bad I only had about five minutes!

Once in St. Charles, we walked through the historic downtown shopping area, checked out the Fox River, and looked in the lobby of the Hotel Baker, a 1927 structure which is on the National Historic Register. We walked through some areas just north of the main street and found a lovely, historic shopping area. This bookstore is typical of the architecture of the area. Very quaint!

This evening, we're headed out for deep-dish Chicago pizza. That's one thing I really miss from our years living in this area. Hope to post again tomorrow.

25 June 2007

On the Road in Springfield: Lincoln and Cozy Dog

Day 2: Well, we've completed another day of our mini-vacation and are still speaking to each other, for the most part anyway. Here are a few highlights of the day:

* Visited Lincoln's law office (above), where he practiced for 23 years, specializing in contract law. Very interesting.
* Walked through the Lincoln Library, a beautiful new facility which is actually a research library and does not house any Lincoln memorabilia. All of the Lincoln artifacts are now on display at the Lincoln Presidential museum, which was our next stop of the day. The museum is a "must see" if you happen to go to Springfield. The exhibits were thoughtfully designed with many creative presentations. In my opinion, this museum is actually better than parts of the Smithsonian.
* Enjoyed a late lunch at the Cozy Dog (below), an authentic Route 66 diner (although the current building is not the original, DH reminded me). A "cozy dog" is a hot dog on a stick, not unlike the corn dogs you can buy at the state fair. (Actually, it's exactly the same thing, but "cozy dog" just sounds cuter.)

Tomorrow we'll hit Shea's Gas Station Museum and then head out of town to historic St. Charles for a day. Then Wednesday evening, we'll be in Chicago to see "Wicked". I'm sure that will be the highlight of this little trip.

24 June 2007

On the Road in Springfield: Two Houses

We are in Springfield, Illinois, for a few days, on sort of a condensed family vacation. In recent years, we have taken coastal vacations, so this summer we decided we'd stay in the Midwest and check out some historical sites in the Springfield area. Before we came here, I also found out that old Route 66 runs right through Springfield, and the idea of this excites me immensely. Probably much more than it really should.

Today, we visited two houses which could not have been more different: the Dana-Thomas house and Lincoln's home.

Below is the Dana-Thomas house, a fabulous example of the early work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Once upon a time, DH and I lived in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago which boasts a very high number of Wright's buildings. Living there, we had the opportunity to learn about his work and tour his studio. This home is larger and more elaborate than other structures we have visited. It also boasts more original furniture than any of his other buildings.

Wright's work is characterized by straight, horizontal lines, geometric shapes, and stylized designs from nature. These are all design elements that I prefer, so it's not a wonder that I'm such a fan of his work. It amazes me how fresh his designs look today. The only question is: When can I move in?

We also visited the home where Lincoln lived for 17 years with his wife and children. It was in this home that he received word he had been chosen as the Republican party's nominee for president.

In terms of design and decor, this home is the complete opposite of the Wright structure: ornately carved woodwork, patterned wallpaper and floor coverings, and heavily draped windows. I felt just a little bit better seeing wallpaper that was actually even less attractive than the wallpaper in our bathroom.

Tomorrow, we plan to see a couple of sites related to Route 66, notably Shea's Gas Station Museum (drove past this today and it actually looks like a junkyard--It's going to be SO FUN!!) and the Cozy Dog, home of the hot dog on a stick. The Lincoln Presidential Library is also on our plan for the day.

Stay tuned!

On the Road


We're on the road for a few days. My hope is to post a couple of interesting or fun things as we go. This is going to be more complicated than it really should be, and here is why:

* I'm going to have to compete with DD and DH for time on the laptop
* The laptop does not have a regular mouse...it just has one of those mysterious little areas that you rub and hope the cursor moves. I almost cannot cope with this.
* I don't have access to Picasa, my favorite photo editing program.
* I will have limited time for blogging, since we're actually supposed to be on vacation.

Meanwhile, Lily and Tinsel have gone to the Kitty Spa (aka my parents' house). I understand that they are enjoying their time immensely. There are lots of squirrels and birds outside the windows and plenty of soft places to sleep. Lily is up to her usual tricks: Every time Tinsel hops up on her favorite napping chair, Lily smacks her on the head and takes the chair for herself, if only to sit in it for a few seconds.

So sit back, lower your expectations, and maybe you'll be able to join us vicariously on this little trip. Believe me, you'll enjoy it more from afar.

22 June 2007

Feline Friday: I could see this one coming...


...and I just let it happen.

Lily with her head stuck in an empty Kleenex box, June 2007

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19 June 2007

A Few of My Favorite Words

I was thinking last night about words that I have a particular fondness for, or words that I tend to use frequently. This topic crossed my mind for no apparent reason, as things often do. Intrigued by my growing list, I asked my spouse to contribute by suggesting words (or even phrases) that I use frequently. For a second or two, he feigned interest. But in the time it took me to fetch a pencil, he fell asleep in the recliner without making even a single contribution.

So here, in no particular order, is a partial list of My Favorite Words, to be expanded whenever he wakes up.

Morsel -- A tiny piece of something, most often food. Our cat, Tinsel, also answers to this word (as well as stencil, gristle, pencil, utensil, and a host of other "-il/-el" words).

Tidbit -- Can be used interchangeably with "morsel", except that it does not always connote food and Tinsel does not respond to it. A downright cute word.

Frock -- Any type of clothing item. Call it a frock and it suddenly improves. Well, at least I think it does.

Troller -- A shortened version of "TV remote control -ler", presumably coined at our house. Obviously, not a real word, but one that I've accidentally uttered in civilized conversation.

Paucity -- An extreme lack of something; scarcity. "There is a paucity of food in the fridge." I just love the sound of this word. It makes even scarcity sound elegant.

Bucolic -- Conjures up images of peaceful, rolling hills. Pastoral, shepherdy, even. A fun word to throw into a conversation.

Plethora -- A lot of something; as in "veritable plethora". Opposite of "paucity".

If you are so inclined (as opposed to RE-clined, like my spouse), my challenge to you is to list your own favorite words. Thinking about this topic may make you more aware of the vocabulary you use.

Or, it may cure you of insomnia.

18 June 2007

Listen carefully

About this time last summer, I was out in the yard early one evening. I remember that it was an unusually quiet time...no dogs barking, no birds chirping, no cars rolling past our house.

Suddenly I heard the faintest "pop...pop...pop" sound. I walked closer to our pine trees and listened again.

"pop...pop pop...pop"


After some minutes of listening, it occurred to me that the sound was coming from within the trees.

What I heard that evening was the sound of pine cones bursting open.
Of course, I know that pine cones start out green and closed then eventually turn brown and open, but who would have thought that you could actually hear them opening?

What an amazing sound. I will be listening carefully this summer. This is a sound I want to hear again.

17 June 2007

Holy Guacamole

I made a layout today.

AND...I used tiny tags from my stash plus my new flourish stamps from CTMH.


This layout is to remind us of the countless hours I have spent working on "show choir hair". Journaling reads:


36 foam rollers | 10 hours of set time | clouds of aerosol hairspray | all to get that show choir look


It's a good day, indeed.

Use it up

Remember those old American Crafts cards? I loved them and bought lots of them, but I always forget that I have them.

While rummaging around for something in my card-making stash, I happened upon a few and decided that I'd use one for DH's Father's Day card. Could not have been simpler to make...ribbon, Chatterbox letters, a star punch, and a corner rounder.

I really like using stuff from my stash. I need to do a lot more of that.

16 June 2007

A Few Things That Make Me Smile

Today's 2Peas Blogging Challenge is to write about something that makes you smile. Because there are days when I really need a reminder of such things, I'm going to list a few:

* Old Mr. Bean shows.
We have the entire boxed set of old Mr. Bean episodes. There are some that I could watch over and over...especially the one where he is looking for his watch and gets his head stuck inside a turkey. And the calculus test...To this day, I cannot say "trigonometry" without bursting out laughing. I know we're going to have some fun with that word next year when DD is taking the class.

* Old PeeWee's Playhouse shows.
I know he's a bit odd, but I think that some of those old shows were hilarious. "Today's secret word is (fill in the blank). Whenever you hear it, scream real loud!" I even have a Giant Saran-Wrap Ball stashed in our snack drawer. This creation was directly inspired by PeeWee's Giant Foil Ball. And then there's "GIANT UNDERWEAR!" Just the other day, when I was in the lingerie department at Kohl's, I wanted to hold up a pair and scream this. Don't worry: I didn't.

* A completed scrapbooking project. A page, a mini-album, a vacation album...anything I've actually finished (and that I'm happy with) makes me smile.

* Ah, yes...my new kitchen counters.
I'm happy about them. I'll be even happier after Mr. Plumber comes on Monday. (Yep, I had to resort to calling the plumber when DH told me it would be two weeks before he could re-install the faucet. Remember how the Lowes guy recommended I have a cold drink waiting for DH? Well, after my conversation with DH, I was the one who needed it.)

* Might I mention acrylic stamps? I must be completely addicted to them. I do not need to purchase any more, yet I continue to do so. They make me sort of giddy.

* Really good scones, like the ones in Seattle. I told my friend Sharon that we are becoming "scone snobs". You can hardly find a decent scone around here...the texture is never quite right. I should break down and make them from scratch more often.

* David Sedaris.
Oh, my. Some would disagree, but I think a lot of what he writes is absolutely hilarious. We had the good fortune of attending one of his readings last summer. I spent the evening wiping tears from my eyes. He was that funny. Well, I thought so, as did everyone else in the audience, with the notable exception of DH, who did not get his humor at all. And wondered (aloud, to my utter dismay) why he had paid money to listen to some guy read.

That's a pretty decent list, I think. I'm going to refer back to this list when I need a quick fix.

15 June 2007

Feline Friday: AM Routine

What's your morning routine? We all have certain tasks we do every morning to get ready for our day. If you're a cat at our house, your routine is very specific and may vary seasonally as the sunny spots change, but in general it goes something like this:

Crack of Dawn -- Rise and shine!
Lily wakes up and begins picking at doors, clawing at walls, and meowing piteously..."Feed me!" Tinsel sleeps until someone is ready to get up.

6:00 AM -- Breakfast
Lily woofs down all of her food and Tinsel's too. Cats are shifted and put into confined areas so that Tinsel can eat. Lily escapes and fighting ensues.

6:15 AM -- Treat
Cats wait by the fridge (see top left photo) for a morsel of deli ham or turkey, a real highlight of their day. Lily gets a series of tiny morsels in order to occupy her while Tinsel enjoys her larger piece.

7:00 AM -- Personal hygiene
Lily spreads her front legs and washes her belly sitting up, redneck fashion (see top right photo). Tinsel bathes daintily. Both kitties use one of our three litter boxes. Lily plays in the litter and scatters it all around the floor.

8:30 AM until noon -- Nap time
Lily walks along aimlessly, then flops down to nap in any random, sunny spot she happens to find. Tinsel always naps behind the large plant in a jungle-like setting (see lower photos). Kitties shift positions as the sun moves overhead.

This is the morning routine. Unless something unexpected happens, it's the same every day. You can almost set your watch to it. According to Stephen Covey, "Our character is basically a composite of our habits." This is certainly true of Tinsel and Lily. How about you?

14 June 2007

Before and After: Countertops

Today is an exciting day at our house. The new kitchen countertop was just installed and, lo and behold, I actually like what I picked out! That is a complete shock. I usually don't like what I've selected. I'm happy!

I'm sure you can tell from the photo collage that the top two pictures are "before" and the bottom two are "after". (You must ignore the fruit-covered wallpaper, which will be replaced (sooner than later, I hope) with a sagey/olivey green paint.) The old white laminate countertop had a strange surface which sort of looked like snowdrifts. It was very hard to keep clean and when you wrote while pressing on it, texture would come through. The edges were also beveled, which drove me crazy and had to go.

The new countertop is a solid surface blackish gray with a tan fleck. It is smooth! And the edges are totally squared off...no round, beveled or diagonal cuts! We also got a new inset sink (not pictured here), which is very exciting for me. We recently replaced the knobs on all of the cabinets and drawers with the ones you see here. They coordinate well with the new countertop.

So right now, all of the contents of our kitchen cupboards are spread around the dining room and living room. Everything in the kitchen is covered with a fine layer of dust. I have started cleaning the area and replacing drawers. I am going to weed through the contents of the lower cupboards before putting things back, because it is quite apparent that we don't need a fraction of the stuff we have stored there. To see it all, you'd think I was a whiz in the kitchen, but the truth is, I don't even recognize some of it.

The other minor problem is that, in order to save money, I cancelled the line item on the installation contract that read "re-install plumbing". Spouse can do that, thought I. But gosh darn it, I forgot to mention that little detail to him until today. He is not happy about that. The guy at Lowes told me to have a cold drink waiting for him.

Probably a good idea.
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Nature, Close Up (Actually REALLY Close Up): Part II

There is no doubt that I have just a touch of hypochondria. Over the years, I've been fearful of having all kinds of ailments. In fact, before I realized I was nearly three months pregnant with our daughter, I had convinced myself that the strange, stretching sensation I felt in my abdomen was some type of growth. Ha!

Yesterday morning, I went outside to water plants. I pulled several dead sprigs from the hanging basket that houses Mama Bird and her eggs. I yanked a few stray garlic chives from the perennial beds.

Sometime later that morning, I developed a very strange, prickly sensation in my right...shall we say...bosom (no, I cannot say that other word). As the day went on, the sensation did not dissipate. In fact, it became more intense. Sharp, stabbing pains were followed by a most unusual itchiness in that area.
Don't scratch! I told myself. Whatever it is, scratching will surely exacerbate it.

Oh, my gosh...What could it be? I began to think of all kinds of diseases and conditions that might cause a sudden onset of these strange symptoms. I assure you, none of them were good. I tried to put the sensations out of my mind but the itchy / prickly / sharp poking feelings continued throughout the day. The more I thought about it, the sweatier my palms became. By the afternoon, my knees were weak with fear.


After dinner, I was so uncomfortable that I decided I needed to investigate. No matter how dire the situation, I was just going to have to deal with it, I said to myself bravely.

Into the bathroom I went. I loosened my shirt and bra, and to my utter shock, several dark bits of "something" fell into the sink.
Oh, no! Whatever it was, this dread disease was causing some type of flaking! I clutched the sink and opened one eye.

Wait! Was that a leaf?
I reached inside my bra. Out came a stem from our hanging basket. In fact, the entire right side of my bra was filled with little brown, crumbly leaves.

At that moment, it all came back to me. I had pulled a few dead stems from the hanging basket that morning. They must have dropped right down into my definitely-too-big bra.

I heaved a great sigh of relief. And with a quick shake-shake of my undergarment, I was cured of all symptoms of the Hanging Basket Syndrome.

13 June 2007

Nature, Close-Up

This basket hangs between our garage doors. My scrapbooking area / office is in the room directly above the garage.

For the past few weeks, I've been watching a mama bird (a house wren, I think) take sticks and leaves to the basket to build her nest. Several times I have hauled the ladder to the basket to check the nest. Until this week, it was empty.

Now, the nest holds seven tiny, spotted eggs. By peering out my window, I can see the mama bird sitting on her nest. I can see her fly to and from the big evergreen tree. But in order to see the eggs this closely, I had to get the ladder. When I water the flowers, I am careful not to water the eggs or the nest, although I know they are waterproof. I am also careful not to touch the nest.

We've had birds build nests in hanging baskets in the past, and it never fails to fascinate me. I believe that
it's a privilege to be able to watch this process unfold.

12 June 2007

Family Photos Tin

I posted a picture of the outside of this tin a few days ago. Now that it is totally done, I am posting pictures of the inside. I created this as a take-home project for customers at the store where I teach.

At the time I posted the first picture, I wasn't absolutely sure what I would do with the inside of the tin. The cardstock stickers and tags suggested a "family" theme, but I didn't know if I would make a mini-album to fit inside or create divider cards. In the end, I decided to make dividers in order to better utilize the labeled tabs that were included with the cardstock sticker borders.

I created 12 divider cards, one with each word tab. I found a related quotation for each of the cards, then I created a photo mat to go behind each. Additional photos (matted or not) could be added.


The paper, cardstock stickers, and frame/tag set are by Making Memories. The round journaling stamps are by 7 Gypsies.

11 June 2007

And a good morning to you!

Every once in awhile, I think about posting a certain something on my blog and decide not to do it. I really do believe that there are some stories that are just too strange or embarrassing to share in this type of forum. Like the incident in Paris when I was locked out of my dorm and really needed to use the restroom. And I mean REALLY. Or the horror and shame I've endured while trying to find a bra small enough to fit me. Or the time when pigs...no, let's just stop there.

So before posting this picture, I want you to know that I really did think long and hard about it (well, for at least two full minutes). This is a photo of Lily under my nightgown. Now, I am perfectly aware that you might perceive this as kind of an odd thing for Lily to do, and perhaps an even odder thing for me to allow, and an especially odd thing for me to photograph. But I'm all for documenting the everyday (and quite often odd) happenings of my life, so I'm willing to take that risk.

You see, every morning, whether it's a flannel or cotton kind of day, Lily tunnels under my nightgown to sit. Sometimes she decides to lie down on the hem, thus pinning me for an extended period of time to the floor and seriously hampering my productivity. Yesterday I happened to be pinned near my desk. My camera was within reach, so I slid it across the carpet, positioned it in front of me and pushed the button, not knowing if I'd even captured her in the viewfinder. To my delight, what you see in this photo is Miss Lily as she is most every morning, sweetly emerging from under my nightgown, eyes heavy with sleep. (You also see that I need to vacuum, but we'll ignore that.)

Anyway, my husband thinks that having a cat under my nightgown is totally weird. I personally don't see anything odd whatsoever about it.

But no, you do not get to hear the pig story, so don't even ask.

10 June 2007

Back in the Saddle Again

It's been a very long time since I've actually made a layout for myself. Shamefully long. Longer than I care to admit. Remember that list of excuses I posted earlier in the week? They have all been used...multiple times.

It's not that I don't scrapbook, because I do. But most of my energy and time goes toward completing store projects, which I thoroughly love. My challenge is to get better at balancing the personal and professional aspects of my life. That has always been a hard thing for me to do. Work always comes first for me.

But today, I set the work aside. It will be there when I'm ready. Today, I made a layout for me.

And it felt pretty good.

09 June 2007

Summer's here: What valuable skills will you teach your children?

Just now, I walked downstairs to the kitchen to get a refill on my coffee and overheard my husband asking our 14-year old daughter to stay off of the computer today.

"It's much too nice a day to be indoors. In fact, I think it's high time you learned to mow the lawn!" he announced with fervor.

Insert 14-year old groans here.

"Or, would you rather learn to bone a chicken?" he asked, throwing a glance my way.

At our house, we all know this story. In fact, I have a coffee mug depicting the "Boneless Chicken Ranch", a place where spineless chickens, unable to stand, flop limply on the ground. I promptly pulled the mug out of the cupboard.


This exchange between my spouse and daughter reminded me that indeed, summer is here, and now is the time when my own mother, many years ago, began the annual ritual of trying to teach me important domestic skills that she knew I would need in the future. Suffice it to say that it never went well, and by Day 2 of summer vacation, she generally gave up.

The Dreaded Summer Ritual always started the same way: On the last day of school, she would greet me at the kitchen door, knife in hand, and announce that this was the day I was going to learn to bone a chicken. It was indeed a skill that all girls needed: Without it, nary a meal could be prepared. She staunchly believed that I needed to acquire many additional domestic skills, too, such as cleaning, ironing, and sewing, but for today, we would start by learning to bone a chicken.

Now, I grew up in the 60's and 70's and was highly influenced by the "women's liberation" movement of the time. My aspiration was to become a high-powered career woman. I had no interest in becoming a wife or mother, or even as a single person performing any domestic tasks whatsoever. Actually, "had no interest" is probably too mild a phrase: I absolutely resisted and refused to learn any of it. Nevertheless, my mother tried every year to teach me to cut apart a chicken and carefully remove the bones. If you've ever done this, you'll understand that it is the most tedious of tasks and one that I perceived as having absolutely no value.

After many summers of enduring the "How to Bone a Chicken" lesson, I finally went off to college, still quite happy that I had acquired no domestic skills. I couldn't cook or clean, and I definitely couldn't sew, but I could speak French and analyze American literature and play concertos on the piano. And sure enough, it wasn't long after I left home that boneless chicken began to appear in grocery stores. At that moment, I felt vindicated.

So now we sit at the beginning of this long, unstructured period of time called Summer Vacation. I have to give my mom some credit for her boundless optimism and desire to equip me for adulthood. Between cups of coffee, it makes me wonder how well I am serving my own daughter in this regard. What valuable domestic skills will I teach her this summer?

Hmmm...Lawn mowing sounds like a pretty good place for my husband to start.

08 June 2007

Feline Friday: Of Paws and Patterned Paper

Here are two happy images for Feline Friday:

Lily's precious feet: Curling, kneading, running, leaping...But beware! These sweet, little white-gloved paws mask claws as sharp as razor blades.

I'm working on this small tin as a take-home project for customers at Memory Bound. The paper, alpha stickers, and blue embellishments are by Making Memories. Great stuff. It feels good to accomplish something tangible this week.

07 June 2007

Lily Goes to the Vet

I took Lily to the vet this week to have her evaluated for a possibly urinary tract infection. Lily shows no signs whatsoever of illness, but because of the two recent incidents of "urine leakage" (yes sir, right on my shorts), she needed to be examined.

As it turns out, the vet was unable to palpate Lily's bladder. Seems there was a large "fecal ball" in the way. (Given Lily's voracious appetite, I'm sure this is a normal state of affairs for her.)

Since all of her vital signs are normal, the vet was not concerned about the urine leakage but suggested I try to obtain a sample. Now, my friend Darci (not in the least bit a cat person, mind you) had predicted that the vet would want Lily to "pee in a cup". I imagined myself holding the cup with one hand and the camera in the other. "OK, Lily, NOW!" That would make for an interesting blog post, I thought. But being an experienced cat mom, I knew that there would be no cup involved. In the past, I have scooped up wet cat litter or left kitty overnight at the vet to obtain a sample. It has always been a pretty simple operation.

So imagine my surprise when the vet handed me this syringe. Boy, I thought, a cup would have been hard enough, but this?

Well, not to worry...it's not as clinical as it sounds. Here's what I need to do to obtain the sample:

1) Isolate Lily with her own litterbox. This will be easy enough, since (due to extreme naughtiness) she is now confined to a private basement apartment each night.

2) Put a small amount of litter in one end of the litterbox, leaving the other side empty. Elevate the box on the litter side. The idea here is that Lily will use the litterbox and the "sample" will trickle down to the empty end.

3) Collect the sample with the handy-dandy syringe. Place it in a sealed container and take it to the vet's office for evaluation.

It's as easy as that! Stay tuned for progress updates.

And by all means, watch out for fecal balls.

06 June 2007

Garden in Early June

Last month I posted a few pictures of two of my perennial gardens. It was early spring and not much was blooming. The plants were looking a little puny. So to document the garden as a work in progress, I snapped a few more photos yesterday morning. It's a month later, and the plants are looking fuller. A few more are in bloom. Here are the details of these photos, left to right, top to bottom:

1) Mullein -- I planted this herb last year, not knowing exactly what it would look like or how it would perform. It has turned out to be one of the prettiest plants in the garden. The flowers are cream with a lavender center. I did have to stake it last week because it has a tendency to flop over.

2) Hollyhocks -- I just added these along the side of the house last week and if they do well, I will plant a row of them next year. I just love hollyhocks. They take me back to my childhood every time I see them. We used to make tiny doll dresses out of the blooms.

3) Dwarf Jacob's Ladder -- I planted this shade perennial last year, and I really love it. The plant has beautiful foliage and in a few weeks will have some small white flowers (unless the bunnies devour them).

4) Planter of mixed pink impatiens and begonias -- We bought two of these, courtesy of our school fund-raising drive to raise money for the bands.

5) My little angel reading a book -- Next to this statue is a straw flower plant, newly planted but doing well so far. These flowers apparently do not appeal to the bunnies. I imagine that the somewhat dry blooms would tend to stick in Sweet Bunny's throat. *cough, cough*

6) Distance view of my older perennial bed -- Later in the season or next spring, some plants will need to be moved around in this bed. They are OK right now, but they will be crowded when full size. As you can see, not much is blooming at this time. It is too late for the spring bloomers and a bit too early for the summer flowers, but the buds are in place and they should start blooming any time now. With luck, soon I will have daisies, purple coneflower, globe thistle, saliva, lavender, and Kansas gayfeathers in bloom, to name a few.

7) Summer snapdragon -- This little annual plant has flowered several times, but each time the bunnies devour it. This is the first opportunity I've had to catch a photo.

8-9) Mixed planters of pink and purple annuals. I have a few of these on the patio and front porch.

Next month, I'll try to remember to take another set of photos to document how things are changing. It's always interesting to see how different kinds of plants perform over time. Since my garden is really a trial and error kind of thing, it's always full of surprises.

05 June 2007

Today's Two Peas Challenge

The blogging challenge on 2Peas for today is to write about five songs that you have recently downloaded or love right now. That's a fairly easy one for me since I've been completely in a Coldplay frame of mind of late. If you haven't listened to their music, it is considered "alternative" rock, or "piano rock". Most of it has a contemplative, sort of melancholy quality to it. The one exception on the list below is the last song, which is more upbeat. Some Coldplay music is acoustic (guitar, piano, drums) and other pieces are highly synthesized, with an "ethereal" quality. The lyrics are simple but meaningful.

Here are five Coldplay songs (and snippets of lyrics) that I absolutely love. No...wait! Six!

My apolgies for the inconsistent fonts and sizing below. Blogger is not cooperating this morning.

From 2005 album, X&Y


1) "X&Y" (title track)


I know something is broken,
And I'm trying to fix it.
Trying to repair it, Any way I can
Y
ou and me are floating on a tidal wave...Together
You and me are drifting into outer space...


2) "Fix You"

When you try your best, but you don't succeed,
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can't sleep,
Stuck in reverse...
Lights will guide you home,
And ignite your bones,
And I will try to fix you

3) "What If"

Every step that you take,
Could be your biggest mistake,
It could bend or it could break,
That's the risk that you take
...
What if you should decide,
That you don't want me there by your side,
That you don't want me there in your life


From 2002 album, A Rush of Blood to the Head

4) "In My Place"

In my place, in my place,
Were lines that I couldn't change,
I was lost, oh yeah.
I was lost, I was lost,
Crossed lines I shouldn't have crossed, I was lost, oh yeah.


5) "The Scientist"
I was just guessing,
At numbers and figures,
Pulling your puzzles apart
Questions of science,
Science and progress,
Do not speak as loud as my heart
Tell me you love me,
Come back and haunt me,
Oh and I rush to the start
6) "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face"
Where do we go, nobody knows,
Don't ever say you're on your way down when
God gave you style and gave you grace,
And put a smile upon your face

04 June 2007

I could get more scrapbooking done if I...

1) would just stay off the computer. This would include reading all sorts of blogs and message boards, compulsively checking my e-mail, perusing layout galleries, downloading cool fonts, and looking at the NPR website. It should probably also include blogging, but I staunchly refuse to list it here.

2) would figure out which pictures need to be printed and actually print them.

3) could see the surface of my table. Actually, that's not even a valid excuse because I don't scrapbook on the table. I scrapbook on the floor.

4) would stop living so inflexibly by the "work first/play later" philosophy. Here's the deal: Scrapbooking is play for me. Everything else is work. Since I almost never get all of my work done, I rarely allow myself scrapbooking time.

5) would schedule scrapbooking, like an appointment, in my handy-dandy altered Franklin Planner. Which I altered, by the way, instead of scrapbooking.

6) would set some scrapbooking goals for myself. If I actually articulate a specific goal, I almost always achieve it. The problem here is that I have not taken the time to articulate any goals. (Personal scrapbooking goals, that is. I do have a few other goals in life. I don't want y'all to think I'm a total slacker.)

7) would go to a crop once in awhile and actually crop while there. I am putting this on the list just because some people (and you know who you are, peeps) might think it needs to be on the list. In reality, I will never be able to do this because I cannot actually crop in front of other people. I know, I know...that sounds really strange, but for me, scrapbooking is a really personal thing. I can only do it in the confines of my own little space. (Yes, I know I have issues...Trust me: They are well beyond the scope of this blog.)

8) would stop feeling guilty when I do take time to scrapbook for myself. This is a big one for me. I consider scrapbooking to be an incredibly worthwhile activity, yet I let a multitude of mundane things come before it. Like laundry.


9) would start to feel a teensy-weensy bit of pressure to produce some scrapbooks for DD's graduation open house, which (it occurs to me) will be held three years from now. Sure, I have quite a few pages ready to set out next to the cake and punch, but there are large gaps in what I've scrapbooked of her life. Actually, it's mostly gaps.


10) would stop organizing my stuff and get down to business. I love to organize, and my scrapbooking stuff is in pretty good shape. I wish the rest of my life were as organized as my cardstock.

OK, my idea in writing this list is that the first step in moving the ball forward is to identify the problem. Hopefully, we can all agree that I've done that here. Maybe the next step is to get myself into some therapy. But for now I hope to start tackling these excuses so that I actually start producing more pages. I shall even print out my list and post it as a reminder to myself. With luck, I will report back on my progress, and (hold your horses) maybe even post a page or two.

Now, if you are a scrapbooker and have had the patience to read this far, my challenge to you is to go figure out your own list. Post it on your wall or on your blog, if you have one. Identify what is getting in the way of your scrapbooking productivity.

Then let's get busy! No more excuses!

03 June 2007

Cutify your Stuff with Galvanized Tins

Galvanized tins are sort of my new thing. Well, my new, old thing. Or maybe I should say my old, new thing. The point being, I've had galvanized tins in my scrapbooking area for several months now, and every time I see them for sale, I seem to acquire even more. They are handy for corralling all sorts of stuff and making it look, well, cute.

I stopped by Target this past week and in the Dollar Spot, I found large, round galvanized tins. I bought a couple, not knowing exactly what I'd do with them but that they would be handy for holding something. Now one of them contains the miscellaneous stuff found on my scrapbooking table that really needs to be put away. And now, while it's waiting for that day to come (and it could be a very long wait), that stuff looks cute.

On a previous trip to Target, I picked up a stack of small, rectangular tins. One now hold blank cards and another contains the contents of my Bazzill Swatch Box. (Now, putting the swatches in a tin was the suggestion of my friend, Darci, because every time I used the darn things I could NOT figure out how to get them back into their original plastic container without wanting to fling them across the room. Thanks to Darci, I'm much calmer now.) Another small tin holds the adhesives that I use every time I work on a project. And on a trip to Michaels awhile back, I picked up two larger, oval tins. Now they house a few completed mini albums and smaller projects.


So if you are looking for a good way to store a few odds and ends in your scrapbooking area, my suggestion is to pick up some galvanized tins. They can make just about anything, even your messy stuff, look cute.

02 June 2007

Crock Pot Dreams

Have you ever dreamed about crock pots?

I hadn't...at least not until this week.
In my dream, I was standing in the scrapbook store where I teach. Strangely, there were no products in on the shelves. Without a word, our assistant store manager opened a big closet (presumably where everything was stashed) and out tumbled a crock pot, hitting her on the head and rolling across the floor to my feet. I looked at it and thought "what's up with that?" Then I woke up.

I believe there is a reason I dreamed about a crock pot. Notably, I recently acquired a large box of crock pot liners (this may be the subject of a future post) from my mother. I have given these away to many scrapbooking friends. We discuss how much time we would have to scrapbook if we used our crock pots more. Then we laugh about the abundance of crock pot liners we've amassed compared to the relative infrequency with which we actually remember to use them. And there is another story about crock pots in a hotel room on a trip to CKU, but that one will also wait for another day.
Yet in spite of these real-life crock pot connections, I had to wonder what dreaming of this kitchen appliance might mean. I'm pretty sure you're wondering, too.

According to a highly scientific dream interpretation website, "to see or use a crock pot in your dream suggests that you need to look at various sources to attack a problem. Alternatively, it means that patience, hard work, and tenacity will pay off in the long run. Hang in there and don't let difficulties and obstacles discourage you."

Not bad advice for anyone in any circumstance. In fact, I'm going to attach deep and lasting significance to my crock pot dream. Think roast beef. It takes a long time to cook in a crock pot. Just because it doesn't cook in two hours doesn't mean that it won't EVER cook. Likewise, I will remember that my problems will take some time to resolve.

At least 8-10 hours.

01 June 2007

Our Tall Grass Prairie

Note: It is Feline Friday, and you can read Lily's post below. I had planned to save this one for the weekend, but the prairie looked so beautiful last night that I just had to share it this morning. I'm not trying to steal attention from Lily's Feline Friday post. I swear!

Edited to add: If you click on this collage, it will enlarge and you can see more detail.

How fortunate I am that every day, I can walk or bike through a prairie restoration area, right in my own neighborhood. Over the years, I have learned how important areas like this really are. Historically, there were over 30 million acres of tall grass prairie in Iowa. In fact, 150 years ago, 85% of the state was prairie. But today, as a result of agricultural development and urban sprawl, only .1% of this prairie remains. The prairie in Iowa is on the verge of extinction.

In our neighborhood, several large areas have been devoted to prairie restoration. Experts planned and seeded these areas with native plants, flowers, and trees. Over the years, the prairies have matured and become a haven for many different kinds of wildlife. A bike and walking path gives neighbors ready access to all of this beauty.

Last evening, I walked through the prairies and snapped a few photos. Right now, only a handful of flowers are in bloom. But wait a few weeks and the prairie will be a blaze of color. A few evenings ago, I walked through it as the sun set. Fireflies began to emerge, covering the entire prairie with tiny golden jewels. An amazing sight, truly.

Every day I am thankful to have access to this unique beauty. I have great appreciation for the work that is being done across our state to restore areas like this. What a treat it is to be able to visit this ever-changing landscape every day.

Feline Friday: Lily's Weekend Plans

Mom is busy this morning so she let me write this post. I didn't know what to say, so she told me I should tell you about My Big Plan for the Weekend.

You're lookin' at it, dude.

By Lily, age 1 year, 1 month