31 July 2007

2Peas Challenge: Post a Random Photo

The first thing I discovered when trying to do this challenge was that I have a really hard time being random. I put way too much thought into exactly *how* I should select this random photo. I tried several methods and discovered pitfalls with each:

First idea: Set up a "timeline" slide show in Picasa. Decide that #37 is a good random number. Watch slide show, counting. Lose count and start again. Choose photo #37 as the random photo. Realize that photo #37 could not be posted. Neither could #36 or #38.

Next idea: Pick photo folder #37, then pick photo #37 in that folder. Another bad idea. There is no photo #37 in that folder. And many of the photos in that folder have already been posted on my blog. You surely don't want to see those again. You probably didn't want to see them the first time.

Yet another idea: Close eyes and randomly click on any photo in the "My Pictures" folder. Try several times and discover that none of the pictures selected could be posted for various reasons: They were photos of DD (which I tend not to post), poor quality, similar to those I've posted before, or photos that no one would possibly want to see (such as the inside of a box or the tires on a mousetrap car. Why do we have those photos, anyway?)

In the end, I closed my eyes and clicked on the "Tulip Time 2005" folder. (OK, first I clicked on the "Tulip Time 2006" folder, but I knew those were lousy photos so decided to go with 2005 instead.) Within the selected random folder, I closed my eyes and clicked randomly on a photo of yellow tulips.

A little bright, I thought. Let's go with the pink ones instead.

Lesson learned: It takes way too much thought being random.

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30 July 2007

Floor space

I teach an organization class at our store. Yep, I do.

You may be skeptical from seeing this picture, but I'm actually a very organized person. My scrapbook supplies all have specific homes, most of them labeled. My cardstock is in rainbow-colored order, my embellishments are sorted by color, and my acrylic stamps are stacked in alphabetical order in CD cases.

But when I'm in the middle of a project (which is 95% of the time), watch out! Things look really bad for a period of time, until I take an hour and put everything away.

I have a couple of tables, but I never work at them. I always work on the floor, which (in a way) gives me unlimited space. When one area becomes cluttered, all I have to do is scoot over. Can't do that with a table, ya know.

Once when I was left alone to scrapbook for the weekend, I took over floors in several rooms before I finally picked everything up. Mega mess, but I did get several layouts done.

One day, I'd love to have a beautiful, sun-filled studio with a center island. I'd have countertops and little nooks for all of my tools. I'd have tall stools for perching and comfy chairs for reclining.

And I'd probably still work on the floor.

29 July 2007

Ready, Teddy?

Yesterday we entered Teddy, DD's latest sewing project, into competition at the Iowa State Fair. Teddy, so named due to an unexpected resemblance to Mr. Bean's bear, sported a lovely teal bow and a competition entry tag.

"He has some issues," DD said as we drove to the fairgrounds. "He'll be lucky if he even gets displayed." I asked her why.

"He has low-quality fur. It's thin in spots."

No big deal, I assure her.

"And he has a green spot on his crotch."

Yikes. Turns out that Zig marker I loaned her to mark the pattern shows through fur. (Oh, yeah...It's for paper.)

Well, I dare say those sewing judges should not be looking at Teddy's crotch anyway.

DD went on to explain that because there is no junior-level category for stuffed toys, Teddy will be competing with the Big Boys in the adult division.

We both know that competition in that division is quite stiff. There could be dolls, dinosaurs, and even bigger bears with plush fur. We won't know who Teddy will face in competition until the judging is complete in a couple of weeks. He's on his own.

Thinning fur and green crotch aside, my money is on Teddy. I mean, who could resist those chocolate brown eyes?

Out of the way, stuffed animals. Teddy will take you down.

28 July 2007

Mini-Album: Life With a Teenager

Here's a project I made a few weeks ago for our store's book club. We meet every month to discuss a current scrapbooking idea book and share projects we have made with the products provided in the previous month. There are no rules: You can make something inspired by the book, or you can make whatever you want. You can make something with that month's products, or you can use something totally different. (Clear as mud?) Anyway, we always have a great time, and Darci (our fearless facilitator) doesn't care if we have nothing to show for ourselves. In fact, I don't think you could ever get kicked out of book club, even if you never do your homework.

This particular time, our product kit included the metal tin and a set of Ki Memories Organized Hip Chip Arrows and Tags (Darci is also a Ki addict). In a previous month, we had received the large Bazzill flower chip and green cardstock chip topper, along with some other goodies. The rest of the stuff I pulled from my extensive, ever-growing stash of Ki.

I started this project with an idea to create a place to put all of the "Zits" comics that plaster our refrigerator. (I've made a few into layouts, but who wants to create that many scrapbook pages based on a comic strip? I sure don't.) I scanned and re-sized all of the comics from our fridge and put them in this little chain-bound book. On the flip side of each page, I'm placing photos of DD which illustrate the particular aspect of life with a teenager described in the comic.

This is another project which is consistent with my personal style. Lots of straight lines, stripes (gosh, that looks like Ki My Guy!), brown printer ink, a little ball chain...some of my favorite things.

Along with my teenager, of course.

27 July 2007

Basic Grey Infuse Round Box

I surely have the best job in the world. Our store owner regularly hands me stuff and asks me to make something with it. She totally lets me do my own thing based on what inspires me. Sometimes she gives me products that challenge me. Those are the projects I enjoy most.

Last week, she handed me a round paper mache box and asked me to decorate it. She originally suggested I use a fall or Halloween theme, but as I looked around for suitable product, my eye was caught by the new Basic Grey Infuse line which had just arrived in the store. I'd been looking at it online for awhile, and I was excited to see that it is even prettier in real life. The pinks, greens, and browns work well with the kraft color of the box. Once I saw the die-cut shapes, I knew the line would be perfect for what I envisioned.

To make this project, I covered the main part of the box in green Basic Grey paper, then I cut out a portion of the flowers from one of the printed papers and adhered it to the green base. (The best adhesive for this project is Tacky Tape and Xyron. I should own stock in each of those companies, given the amount of product I use.) I punched out and inked several of the Infuse Die Shapes and layered them, along with a few Prima flowers and My Mind's Eye buttons, around the box. I used wide ribbon around the edge of the lid and decorated the top of the lid in the same fashion as the box. I used hot glue to secure four wooden balls to the bottom of the box.

For our store display, I plan to fill the box with soap, lotions, and other goodies from a bath store. I hope this little project helps our customers see how a little bit of imagination and some great product can transform a plain, paper mache box into something special.

Feline Friday: Not for Sale

We had a little help from Lily at our garage sale last Saturday. For a good portion of the day, she reclined on the check-out table and greeted customers as they paid.

Meeting the public was another test run for Lily in preparation for the upcoming cat show competition at the state fair. She passed this test with flying colors: She allowed all the customers to pet her and did not hiss or bite.

Because of her good behavior, I do believe we could have sold Lily many times over during the day.

But of course, our Lily is Not for Sale.

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26 July 2007

Five Things

On this Thursday, I've tagged myself after reading Maureen's 5 Things here:

Question #1: What were you doing 5 years ago?

It’s hard for me to remember what I was doing five years ago, five months ago, or even five days ago for that matter. Let’s see...that would have been July 2002. I do know that I was teaching classes, just like I am now, and driving DD here and there, just like I am now. I was also a Girl Scout leader at the time, so I was preparing for the upcoming school year of activities. But don't despair: Fortunately, I keep all calendars and planner pages (I’ve never thrown any away) so that I can answer questions like this. Because of this extensive archive, I can tell you precisely what I was doing on this exact day, July 26, 2002: DD would have been 9 years old, and we were headed to Walnut Grove, Minnesota with my parents for the weekend to see the Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant. In fact, we left at 8:00 AM, five years ago today, in case you were wondering about that. Dang! I knew these old calendars would come in handy some day.

Question #2: List 5 snacks you enjoy:

  • Sesame seed sticks -- is that what they're called?
  • Oatmeal Raisin Crisp cereal without milk
  • Ice cream, if we have it around, which is rare
  • Chips and salsa, especially salsa made by DH
  • Anything with dip – veggies, chips, whatever

Question #3: List 5 songs you know all the lyrics to:

I may think I know these lyrics, but this theory will never be tested, since I don’t sing very often, even alone.

  • Most any song from “Phantom of the Opera”
  • Coldplay’s “Fix You”, “The Scientist” and “X&Y”
  • Lots of older Elton John songs, such as “Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word” and of course, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  • Most of the songs from “High School Musical” (because I’ve heard them 1,000 times), and the choreography, too
  • For #5, I was going to list the songs that DD’s show choir sang last season, but I’m afraid she’d test me on that. So I’ll list “Happy Birthday” instead.

Question #4: List 5 bad habits:

  • Finishing people’s sentences for them
  • Not picking up after myself, especially in my scrap area
  • Losing my patience
  • Procrastinating
  • Not eating healthful foods

Question #5: List 5 things you would never wear again:

(See photo above...Now, some of the items pictured belong to my mother. Keep that in mind when looking closely.)

Well, this should be easy, seeing that I just rid my closet of each one of these items. Let’s see:

  • My blue and green Pendelton plaid wool jacket and matching skirt. Can you say “bagpipes”?

  • My pink flowered shorts, which looked like they were fashioned from drapes.

  • My black swimsuit with the billowy, tropical top and sporty waist tie (someone almost bought this at the garage sale but came to her senses just before check-out).

  • My green corduroy walking shorts -- Let me just ask you: Where would you walk in green corduroy shorts? I dare say, not far.

  • My red and black plaid turtleneck, purchased for a mighty good price at the outlet mall, but which made me look like a lumberjack or an extra on the “Red Green Show”.

Other than the IRRITATING formatting problems generated by Blogger (GRRR!), this wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, thanks to my calendar archive and my extensive collection of "What Not to Wear" clothing.

Anyone else want to give it a go?

25 July 2007

Class kits and other ramblings

On Monday, I boxed up the last of the unsold items from our garage sale and took a load to Goodwill. For some odd reason, none of my 20-year old suits sold. Thankfully, the people at Goodwill were only too happy to take them. All told, I removed over 50% of the clothing from my closet. I could remove another 50% of what remains and not miss it. I've been trying to get my mom to understand that I'd be perfectly happy to wear the same thing every. She just shakes her head and mutters, "What has happened to you? You weren't raised like this."

That done, I spent Tuesday afternoon working on kits for a class I'm teaching Thursday evening. (Notice the Ki product in the photo? Yep, it is last season's Ki, but I firmly believe that Ki never goes out of style. If it's already retro, how can it?)

Anyway, I listened to Pink Floyd's Pulse as I put together the kits. Pulse, a live album, was released in 1995. We actually saw Pink Floyd on that particular tour. An outdoor venue, a beautiful summer evening...a great light show, unbelievable music. In retrospect, I do believe that concert was a life-changing event for me. Or life-affirming. Something like that. Listening to Pulse takes me right back to that time, just about 12 years ago this summer.

Ahh....A little retro Ki, a little Pink Floyd, very little left in my closet...

Mom thinks I'll soon be living in a commune.

Now there's an idea worth considering.
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24 July 2007

2Peas Blogging Challenge: What's Your Style?

Monday's 2Peas blogging challenge has to do with scrapbooking style. What's your style?

I know the answer to this question, but just to be 103% sure, I thought perhaps I should do some further analysis. So I looked through my digital photos to find something that would be indicative of my style, when left to my own devices. (I say this because I often make things in different styles as store or class projects.) I came upon this set of thank you cards I made from some old KI Memories and Paper Salon product. These cards are typical of my personal style.

So based upon Exhibit A, what do you think the answer is?
A. Clean lines
B. Graphic
C. Eclectic
D. Classic
E. Shabby or Old World
F. Hip and Trendy
G. Anything Goes

OK, for those of you playing at home, here are some hints:

* I cannot tilt anything. I recently decided that I could POSSIBLY (only on a good hair day) tilt an entire layout so that it sits diagonally (a current trend), but I cannot tilt a single element such as a photo. You will almost never see anything tilted on my pages, unless it is for a class or store project. In those cases, I tilt just a *tiny* bit because I know that most people do so. Because I don't tilt, the answer to "What's My Style?" cannot be C, D, or G.

* I have determined (and those who know me will vouch for this) that I do not like to tear paper. Yes, I CAN tear paper (and have taught many people to do so successfully), but I find it somewhat upsetting to do so. I am all about straight lines. Tearing paper is visually distressing to me. (No, I have not yet sought therapy for this.) Because I do not tear paper, the answer to "What's My Style?" cannot be E.

* Although it may be hard to believe (NOT!), I am not hip or trendy. I could quite happily scrapbook with only cardstock, photos, and my computer or black pen. My scrapbooking pals know that it takes me YEARS to get through a package of embellishments or line of patterned paper. By the time I use up it up,the trend will have gone out of style and come back in. Because of this phenomenon, the answer to "What's My Style?" cannot be F.

So, friends, the answer must be A or B. In fact, the closer you get to choice G, the farther you get from my style.

Here's way too much analysis about why both A and B are acceptable answers:

* I like clean lines, clear colors, and geometric shapes. Striped paper is my idea of perfection. Especially KI Memories striped paper. Especially, especially the old "My Guy" KI striped paper. *sigh*

* I love simple, airy layout designs like those found in some magazines and catalogs. I often borrow layout ideas from the text and photo designs in Martha Stewart Living and Pottery Barn catalogs. I hoard both of these, even though their layouts look pretty much the same every month.

* If I owned a scrapbook store, it would be completely filled with cardstock. There would be an entire section of Bazzill Lily White (the WHITEST of whites, in my opinion). I would feature Bazzill criss-cross and orange peel textures (although certain pastels would be banned). I would have an entire day of activities devoted to the Bazzill color KI Olive. I would allow Parakeet and Lakeshore, along with a few other canvas textures, on an exception basis. AND I would bring back the discontinued Bazzill color, Tanner. In my store, I would have paper/embellishments from only a few manufacturers, such as KI Memories, American Crafts, Arctic Frog, and SEI. Oh, and patterned paper would be sold by the 4x12 strip, not the sheet. Just imagine it....*sigh* (Yep, there's a reason I'm not an entrepreneur...)

* I'm completely obsessed with fonts and their use. I spend way too much time playing with fonts on layouts, cards, and other projects.

* While most people add things to layouts, I spend a lot of time actually removing elements. I like a clean, functional, "spare" look, like IKEA is to furniture.

So,do you agree or disagree with my answer? What's your own style?

Now, a la Linda Richman from "Coffee Talk" fame, discuss amongst yourselves.

23 July 2007

Lupins, anyone?

I had the great pleasure of attending a performance of Spamalot last night. It reminded me how my high school friends and I used to love staying up late to watch "Monty Python's Flying Circus" every weekend. Then for the next week, we completely analyzed every part of it, silly walks included. I reminded Spouse that it's because of Monty Python that I grow lupins in my garden. (Not sure if he ever really knew that.) Man, I grew up with that show.

There are some great moments in Spamalot, including the scene when the ginormous wooden rabbit is wheeled onstage as a secret weapon against the insult-hurling French soldiers.The songs are memorable and full of word play in typical fashion. Loved the words to "All for One" -- pure Monty Python.

All for one
One for all
All for one
And one for all

Some for some
None for none
Slightly less for people we don't like
And a little bit more for me

22 July 2007

Free publicity!

A reporter from the Des Moines Register called and asked to visit my class at Memory Bound last Tuesday evening. This was a nice surprise! I've never before had a reporter in one of my classes.

In addition to having a great class, I decided that my main goal should be to refrain from doing or saying anything embarrassing, which (if you know me) I'm quite prone to do. (I actually tripped and cut my leg just prior to her arrival. Whew! Got that out of the way early.)

When the reporter arrived, she told me just to continue on as usual and she'd roam around the classroom and catch us in action."OK, everyone, let's act perfectly natural!" I suggested.

As it turned out, the class was very lively, and the reporter (who was not a crafter) appeared have a lot of fun, too. Over the course of the evening, I think we just about hooked her on scrapbooking. (If she had set aside her camera and notebook for even a minute, I would have handed her an ink pad and put her to work.) In fact, the reporter stayed for the entire two hours, taking photos and interviewing each person in class as we completed the project.

The article appeared in Friday's newspaper. You can read an excerpt from it here: article

You can see a gallery of several photos from the class here: photos (click on "Scrapbooking at Memory Bound").

I'm always happy to spread the word about scrapbooking and the great store where I teach. I think the article contributed to both!

21 July 2007

Big Day for a Big Fan

Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know that today is the day that the final Harry Potter book was released. This day has been listed as a holiday on our calendar since the release date was announced.

pre-ordered her copy on Amazon and waited quite impatiently for it to arrive via mail truck. Around noon, we heard the familiar sound of the truck as it rounded the corner into our neighborhood. DD met the mail carrier at the street and took the box directly into her hands. After waiting so many months, it would have been dreadful for the book to be delivered to the wrong house.

Since opening the sacred box, DD has sequestered herself with the book -- no phone, no
Internet, no accidental spoilers -- and plans to read continuously until she turns the final page.
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20 July 2007

IASAR Formed: Sensitive Motorists Sought

Des Moines, Iowa. The blogging world reported this week that a new organization has been formed for the sole purpose of rescuing stuffed animals found by the side of the road.

The organization,
International Association for Stuffed Animal Rescue, will be global in scope, reports Maureen of "I'd Rather Be Blogging."

The new alliance was formed following the recent rescue of
Grandin, a small white teddy bear apparently discarded along a busy thoroughfare of the same name in Manitoba. Grandin's rescue was executed by Maureen and her daughter. Read the full report of this heartwarming rescue here: Teddy Rescue

Maureen says that she was inspired by a similar rescue which took place near Des
Moines some months ago. At that time, Janet of "Of Cats and Cardstock" rescued a stuffed elephant from a roadway on a blustery winter evening. The elephant has since undergone gender modification and now goes by the name "Ellie". Read the full report of this daring rescue here: Rescued

Following Grandin's
rescue, Maureen developed the concept and badge for the international association based a suggestion made by Janet's daughter. She created the organization's motto, "Please help...For those who can't help themselves", to reflect the organization's plea to sensitive motorists. Once the stuffed animal is rescued, the organization expects that the motorist will clean and sanitize it, freshen its bow or frock, and provide it with a new and permanent home.

Janet explained that the name of the organization is pronounced "Eye-A-Sar", not "Eyesore" as suggested by someone not directly involved in rescue work. Although the association is in its infancy with only two charter members, she is confident that it will grow with lightening speed. Already, she has received a request for a window decal. Travel mugs and t-shirts will surely be next.

After all, who can resist a dirty stuffed animal lying by the side of the road?

Feline Friday: Words to Live By

When in doubt, cop an attitude.
Lily in t-shirt and visor, July 2007
Photo by DD

19 July 2007

Garage Sale

It's that time of the year -- the time when my mom and I drag out stuff for our annual garage sale.

We typically have nothing of real value to sell. In fact, we talked today about having a "Reverse Garage Sale". We'll price the items and then we'll pay customers to buy them.

Garage sales are very hard for me. In fact, one day I'm going to write a dissertation about how my pathetic sentimentality leads me to hang onto material things way too long. I'm going to write about how I keep clothing so long that you literally have to dust it in the closet. I'll tell you how difficult it is for me to part with toys, games, playpens, knick-knacks, and ice buckets. I'll write about how I sometimes put things on the garage sale table, only to take them back inside. Those bears pictured above were rescued shortly after this photo was taken at last year's sale.

One day I plan to write about how matter-of-factly my mom rids her life of clutter. She begs me to clear out my closets. She tells me how much better I'll feel. Then I spot a white porcelain cat from my childhood that she's tried to smuggle into the sale and sneak it into the house.

But for today, rather than wax poetic, I've been challenged by my mother to go deep into my closet and clear out the 20-year old wool suits which are sure to be the Next Big Thing. I've been told that I must rid myself of the corduroy shorts that have made their home on the top shelf for ten years. Even the black swimsuit cover-up (never worn in public) must go. Of course, I don't wear any of these items and in reality, I probably won't miss them. (The truth is, I could wear pretty much the same thing every day and be quite happy.) But Mom says if I do not get to the bottom of my closet today, she will come to my house and do it herself. I've been warned.

So if you never hear from me again, you'll know that I've fallen into the black hole of my closet, overcome with dust from my 1980's blouses.

But wait: Isn't polyester coming back in style?

18 July 2007

5 Things

Yesterday's 2Peas blogging challenge was this: List 5 things you do each and every day, weekday or weekend. Because I'm (at least) a full day behind, I'm posting yesterday's challenge today.

1) Drink coffee with Creme Brulee creamer
I must ease into my day with a couple of mugs of strong, dark coffee. I used to use French Vanilla creamer, but then I discovered Creme Brulee and haven't looked back. I can only drink coffee until about mid-morning. I never drink it during the middle of the day, but I often drink it in the evening.

2) Listen to NPR
I actually keep the radio on all night, listening to BBC via NPR. During the day, whether I'm home or in the car, NPR is my companion. It's an addiction, I think.

3) Check my e-mail (somewhat compulsively)
I'm often tethered to my computer if I'm at home. I would not even guess how many times each day I check my e-mail or peruse something on the Internet. It's amazing how much these things are part of my life.

4) Update my blog and peruse other blogs
I love reading blogs and leaving comments when I have a chance. I recently started to make a concerted effort to update my own blog every day.

5) Review and update my calendar / planner
Our family calendar is on Outlook. I plug in events for DD and me, and DH keys his events into his Palm (actually, DD named it his "Pokey" a few years back after seeing him use the stylus). Every few days, DH points his Pokey at the computer and everything is synced. I have my own Pokey but can't deal with using a stylus, so I print out the calendar pages for my Franklin planner. I'm old-fashioned that way, I guess.

So there you have it: My 5 Things. I'm sure that I have many more daily routines and rituals, but these are 5 that are a consistent part of my life right now.

17 July 2007

Mini-card set

Mom liked the triangular box I gave her for her birthday on Sunday. She decided immediately that she’ll use it for a jewelry box. She told DH that she’d like to hire him to paint their bedroom green to match her new box. Ha! That would be the day! DH will not be released for work until he finishes painting our kitchen. That could be a very long time, at the rate he's working.

As you can see from the photo, I put three beads on the bottom of the box for "legs". I stuck them on with my handy-dandy hot glue gun. The beads dressed up the box just a bit. I found a package of four beads on the clearance rack at Hobby Lobby for 60 cents. Can't beat the price!

I filled the box with a few goodies and this set of mini-cards. I picked up a package of 10 3x3 cards with matching vellum envelopes on sale at Hobby Lobby. I used scraps and rub-ons to make the cards. They were very quick to finish. Mom always likes having cards on hand, and I think I’ve finally convinced her that it’s OK to actually use the card sets that I make for her: I can always make more!

15 July 2007

Our Tallgrass Prairie in Mid-July

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Last week, I took another camera walk through the prairie in my ongoing quest to document the summer's changing color palette. It was early evening, and the sun was just starting to set. It was quiet and as I walked, I could hear birds fluttering and bunnies scurrying to hide in the tall grasses. The prairie was golden, dotted with purple and white. Black-eyed Susan, bee balm, purple coneflower, and Queen Anne's lace are just a few of the native plants blooming in mid-July.

As I walked the winding paths, I was saddened to think about the extent to which the landscape of our state has changed. One hundred fifty years ago, 85% of our state was tall-grass prairie just like this. Today, less than 0.1% of the prairie remains.

Many groups are working within our state to restore native prairie areas such as this one. Yet sadly, many of our citizens do not understand or appreciate the wild beauty of this type of landscape. Some look at native plants and consider them weeds. They dislike the untamed, natural look of the prairie and would prefer it to be replaced with manicured grass.

Thanks to a thoughtfully constructed land development plan, the prairie in our neighborhood is not at risk. In my opinion, it's the best part of living in this community. I hope that over time, more citizens will come to appreciate and work to restore areas like this.

Supervised Progress

I'm happy to report on this Sunday afternoon that we have seen some progress of late on our snail's-pace re-decorating project. In years past, I made a series of decorating blunders. The purpose of this project is to correct those mistakes and (hopefully) not make any even worse ones in the process.

* The
laundry room has been painted Behr Sweet Maple. I hung my print from an impressionism exhibit I visited in Paris many moons ago. While it doesn't look like a perfect match in the photo, in real life it works well. The shelf over the sink has always been wasted space, so I finally purchased some black leather file boxes at Hobby Lobby for storage and trim. All in all, the new color is a huge improvement over the old white walls.

* One wall in the
kitchen has been painted Behr Tate Olive. In real life, it's more "pea green" than it appears in this picture. The wall to the left of the green wall is also Sweet Maple. The two colors work well together. I really love the color with our new black-ish countertops.

* Spouse is working on removing the last portions of Ugly Border in the
kitchen. It was apparently super-glued on by the builder from whom we purchased this house. After that is finished, the rest of the kitchen can be painted Tate Olive.

No doubt all of this progress is due to Lily's careful supervision from atop the ladder. Note the belly hanging down between the slats of the paint shelf. I'd say that a few more trips up and down the ladder are in order. What do you think?
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14 July 2007

State Fair Mini-Album

Soon it will be August, and one of my favorite activities of the year will be upon us: the Iowa State Fair. Iowa's fair is not as big as Minnesota's, but my understanding is that it is widely considered to be one of the best in the nation. My family actually camps at the fair and spends the better part of two weeks exploring every aspect of it. We've attended the fair since I was a baby, and we all know that was quite some time ago!

With this in mind, I was only too happy to create a few samples of fair-related projects for the store where I teach. Here are some photos of a 4x12 mini-album that I created using
cardstock, matching patterned paper, epoxy stickers and journaling block stamps. If you've never tried making a 4x12 album, it's very simple and uses your cardstock efficiently! This particular album will accommodate several 4x6 (or smaller) photos of memorable fair activities.

Edited to add: As we get closer to fair time, I'll be posting more about it. In addition to camping and spending a lot of time at the fair, we also enter various items in "open class" competitions. This year, DD is taking a teddy bear (which she is sewing today) and several dessert items (the food competition at our fair is the largest in the nation!). DH, DD and I each entered photos this year. (Competition is stiff, so we'll be incredibly lucky if one is even selected for display.) But..most exciting of all, this year, DD and I decided to enter Lily in the Household Pet Cat Competition! Now, that will provide me with ample blog material, I'm sure!

13 July 2007

Feline Friday: Feng Shui for Felines

In cleaning out a cupboard this week, I came across a book called Fang Shui: Feng Shui for Felines, by Catfucius. It's a tiny book, but it's packed with wisdom. After reading it, I became enlightened and now have a complete understanding of the goings-on around our house.

Here are two bits of feline wisdom for today:

Plants in the northwest corner of the room create positive ch'i for the environment. This positive ch'i is maximized when the sagacious cat makes full use of the plant's energy by eating it.

Care should be taken not to eat too much of the plant. This can lead to excess energy. You must rid yourself of this excess.

The wise cat waits until the dark hours of the morning and then politely deposits the bad ch'i where others will be sure to notice it -- for example, in a bedroom slipper, or on a newly cleaned Persian carpet.

When the wise cat is satisfied with the cleanliness of its hindquarters, it should present them for inspection.
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12 July 2007

Triangular Treasure Box

My mom's birthday is coming up and, as usual, I'm hard-pressed to figure out something to give her. Why are moms so hard to buy for?

After considerable thought, I decided to make her a treasure box. I've had this triangular box for quite some time (it was part of our store's book club kit a few months back). I recently noticed that the box is V-shaped (duh!) and since Mom's name begins with a "V", I thought it might make a fun treasure box for her. I picked out some Chatterbox paper from my stash that I *hope* she will like and put this together.

I lined the outside, inside and bottom of the box and the lid with matching Chatterbox prints. For adhesive, I used Tacky Tape, a glue stick, and Xyron. On the little chain are two metal V's from my alphabet stash and a Bazzill birthday Chip Topper. I backed each with cardstock, then I Crop-a-Diled (yes, it's a verb!) a hole through each and through the chipboard flower to attach the chain.

I am going to add three wooden beads to the bottom of the box, to raise it up a bit and make it a little more decorative.

For her birthday, I'll probably fill it with some small goodies for her: maybe a gift card, some tea, mints, candy...that sort of stuff.

Of course, after I finished the box, it occurred to me that the paper doesn't match her decor in any way, shape, or form. Oh, well -- too late now! Hope she likes it.

11 July 2007

In Praise of Picasa

Several people have asked me over the past few months how I make the photo collages you see on my blog. The answer is simple: Picasa. As much as I LOVE Picasa, I realized I had never blogged about it.

Picasa is a free download by Google. It allows you to organize, edit, and easily share your photos, plus a whole lot more. I have to give credit to fellow blogger, BonnieRose, who pointed me to Picasa when I first started blogging last year.

Picasa has many great features, but the one I value most is the ability to
organize all the digital photos and images on my computer. When I first made the move to digital photography, I had no solid way to categorize and label my photos. When you download Picasa, it finds all the photos on your computer, gathers them, and organizes them in labeled folders. As you upload new photos, they drop directly into folders you set up. You can find and reorganize photos at any time.

Picasa allows you to
edit your photos, too. Granted, you can certainly purchase much more sophisticated editing software, but right now, anyway, Picasa gives me all the functionality I need. You can easily crop, remove red eye, and adjust color and contrast. You can choose from several different photo effects, such as sharpen, sepia, black & white, soft focus, and film grain. You can reverse all of these edits at any time.

It's easy to create a
photo collage within Picasa: Just select the photos you'd like to include and Picasa does the rest. It could not be easier! You can upload the collage to your blog, create a screen saver, and print it to include on a scrapbook page.

Picasa allows you to easily
share photos through e-mail, slide shows, web albums, and your blog. Picasa interfaces directly with Blogger, making it fast and easy to upload photos.

In this quick post, I've just touched the surface of what Picasa can do. If you're looking for a completely simple way to organize, edit, and share your photos, it may be for you. Take a look at the Picasa website for a product tour and instructions on downloading.

And no...this is not a paid endorsement! :-)

10 July 2007

Lily Goes to Bible School

This morning, Lily was the "Live Pet of the Day" at our church's Vacation Bible School. Our only goal was that she not bite or scratch any small children, and I'm proud to report complete success on that front.

I was told that 261 children are in attendance this week, so by my calculations, approximately 522 little hands stroked Lily's fur today. DD and I could feel an occasional deep growl as we held her, but only one time did she really lose her patience with the wee folks.

"Look, she has vampire teeth!"

Otherwise, the comments went something like this for the two-hour visit:

"She's so soft!"

"What's her name? My cat's name is Gary."

"Does she smile?"

The highlight of the visit was when someone brought us some warm bread, right out of the oven. It was intended for DD and me, but before we knew it, Lily had eaten most of it. That seemed to surprise a lot of people. (Ha! If only they knew the half of what Lily eats.)

The general consensus was that she was a better "Live Pet of the Day" than the incessantly barking dog that visited yesterday. She was also better than the pond fish who visited Sunday evening. Actually, a lot better than one particular fish: Sunday's guest dog caught it by the tail and jerked it out of the bucket of water. If not for a swift save by a tunic-clad leader, there would have been a little food chain action right in the middle of Galilee by the Sea.

Thankfully, there was none of that kind of drama today. So here's to 522 little hands, warm bread, and Lily, our "Live Pet of the Day."

09 July 2007

Lily Spruces Up

This morning, I had the pleasant task of taking Lily to the vet to have her nails trimmed. This was a necessary evil because tomorrow, she is going to be the "Guest Pet of the Day" at Vacation Bible School. (Expect a full report tomorrow. If she doesn't behave, we will be looking for a new church.)

Lily enjoys riding in the car, but upon entering the examination room at the vet's office, she becomes a hissing, biting, snarling beast, like something out of a horror movie.

It took two technicians to hold her and several attempts to get every claw trimmed. When they finally finished, one technician pulled out a bag of cylindrical, nearly 3-inch long brown treats. They were so large, I thought they were surely for dogs.

"Here, Lily. Would you like a cat chew?"

While Lily sniffed it, the technician told me that kitties usually don't care for these treats but occasionally like to lick them. They use them more as a calming device. But before she had finished telling me this, Lily had the entire chew in her mouth.
It was so ginormous that for a moment, I thought she might choke. But that was only a fleeting thought, because she devoured the chew as if she had been lost in the wilderness without food for weeks.

"Oh my gosh!" exclaimed the technician. "We've had these chews forever and have never seen a cat actually eat one! Here, Lily, would you like to take one home with you?"

She poked a second chew into Lily's carrier. GULP! Down it went in no time flat.

"Whoa! That's amazing!" she cried.

I've told them on previous visits about Lily's voracious appetite: How she will eat (if allowed) all kinds of food (mandarin oranges, lettuce, Cheetos, apples, cheese...) and even inedible items (carpet, ribbon, brads, dryer sheets, Kleenex, toilet paper, masking tape...). There is virtually nothing that this cat won't eat.

I don't think they really believed me until today.

06 July 2007

I what?

I awoke yesterday morning to a very nice surprise from Rockin' Girl Blogger, Jill:

Holy guacamole! I'm honored and humbled! Believe me (and if you actually DO know me, you know I'm speaking the truth), "me" and "rock" aren't usually used in the same phrase. Unless you're referring to my rock collection, of course. Which is really quite extensive. I have rocks from all the different places we traveled when I was a kid. Including a pumice rock that floats. And a rock that rattles when you shake it. My rock collection seriously ROCKS. But me?

I ran downstairs to tell DH: "Hey, Jill says I'm a
Rockin' Girl Blogger!"

"Huh? Who? You what?"

I found my 14-year old DD: "Hey, Jill says I'm a
Rockin' Girl Blogger!"

"Mom. No. You do not rock."

"Jill says I do."

"No. You don't rock. And neither does your blog. Look -- you wouldn't even have a blog if it weren't for Lily."

Is it true? If so, maybe Lily is the one who should receive this honor. In fact, maybe Lily should get her own blog. Either way, I am grateful to Jill for bestowing this high honor upon us!

Now, if I understand this properly, I am to share the love with five other girl
bloggers. Here are five that I really enjoy...

Colour Therapy -- great posts and photos!

Creative Blessing -- wonderfully inspirational projects!

Bananafish Studio -- beautiful designs!

Tracy Said What? -- terrific writing!

Scrappin' Fun -- great from-the-heart posts and photos!

Now, go share the love,
Rockin' Girl Bloggers! Thanks, Jill!

Our Beach Vacation: 6x12 album

Every once in awhile, I remember that this is supposed to be a cat AND scrapbooking blog. Not a re-decorating blog. Not a gardener-wannabee blog. Not a strange, random posting blog. Oh, yeah... scrapbooking.

In light of that, here are some photos of a recently completed scrapbooking project for the store where I teach. In making this album, I was lucky to get to use the most wonderful double-sided, textured paper from My Mind's Eye. It comes in all different kinds of patterns and color palettes. It's a mix and match sort of thing. In addition to that, I used a set of giant monogram letters. To me, the combination of the paper colors and the letters evoked sort of an old-world beach type of theme. A few years back, we visited Jekyll Island off the coast of Georgia. The grand, old 1920's hotel pictured here is just that kind of place.

Let me also say that this was my first foray into making 6x12 layouts. They are unbelievably easy and fun to do. Whenever I work on sizes other than my normal 12x12, I always wonder why I'm so wed to that format. So many other sizes and shapes are much, much easier.

Now, back to our regularly-scheduled programming.

Feline Friday: lolcat fever

Thanks to Rockin' Girl Blogger, Maureen, for pointing me to this completely rockin' website, icanhascheezburger.

Within the past 48 hours, my productivity level has sunk to a new low as I've immersed myself in the slightly offbeat world of lolcats. If you wonder what the heck I'm talking about, read about this Internet phenomenon on Wikipedia here.

I'm so far gone that I've found a site, lolcat builder, which allows you to easily make your own lolcat captions for cat photos. And y'all know that I have an ample supply of those.

In the back of my mind, I think there might be something else I'm supposed to be doing, but I can't remember what it is.

im 2 bz writin lolcat code.

05 July 2007

One Gold Wall, Yet So Much More

They say that marriage is all about compromise, right? I've been told by DH that I'm not so good at that. Whether or not that observation is actually true could be the subject of considerable debate, but I won't go there. At least not on this blog. At least not today.

Well, at our house, this newly painted wall (ignore the painter's tape, please) is going to represent Compromise, with a capital C. In my grand new color scheme, it was supposed to be a brownish-brick color, but instead it is Sweet Maple. DH does not want the brick color in our house, so I compromised. Don't get me wrong...I absolutely love it, but I hadn't planned for Sweet Maple to be on this wall. I had planned for it to be the color of the laundry room and the bathroom. In reality, it's probably a good thing that the wall is gold. It's bright and cheery, and it lightens up the hallway. I can tell that it's going to look fantabulous in those other two rooms.

The adjacent kitchen walls, which are not yet painted, will be Tate Olive green. The dining room, also adjacent, will be a darker and lighter shade of olive than the kitchen (Ryegrass and Wilderness, to be exact). David, the nice young man in the Home Depot paint department, thought the color scheme looked like guacamole and corn bread. I can live with that.

But I will find a way to sneak in that dark brick color. Maybe I can find a great piece of art featuring that color and hang it on the gold wall. That would still count as compromise, right?

As a side note, if you've never checked out the Behr ColorSmart website, I'd advise you to do so immediately. I use the ColorSmart tool frequently to pick color combinations for scrapbooking. It's more fun than a person really should have with paint colors. I love it so much that I told David, the nice young man who shook my paint at Home Depot, all about how I use the Behr website for scrapbooking but presumed it could be even more effective when used as it was intended, to select actual paint colors. I even told David how I had picked my color scheme using Bazzill cardstock, taping 12x12 sheets to my walls. AND how you can come pretty darn close to matching Bazzill cardstock to Behr paint. AND, I asked -- not waiting for him to answer -- isn't that just about the coolest thing EVER?

And do you know what he asked me?

"Oh, my. You're not one of those people who lets scrapbooking take over their entire lives, are you?"


"Oh, of course not."

"Well, good, then. Because I know someone like that. She's totally out of control."

And with that, I took my Sweet Maple and Bazzill and ran for the door.

04 July 2007

Gardening Notebook: July

I've been making an effort to take more photos of my perennial gardens this year, primarily so I can document how they are developing and remember the problem areas. Here are some observations about my perennial beds in July from my gardening notebook:

* Overall, the color is fairly balanced. Staggered bloom times should ensure color through August.
* In general, the three garden areas I've created on the back of the house are looking better this year than last. If I make some changes this fall and next spring, they should all be in good shape for next summer.
* I need to find a taller variety of zinnia to plant next to the wrought iron fence. Hollyhocks or cosmos would be another option.
* Why, oh why do I have so much yellow coreopsis? A little is alright, but it's everywhere!
* Where is my purple coneflower? It's gone!
* I need to add more native plants to the sun perennial garden.
* There are a couple of awkward spaces in the sun garden that need to be filled.
* The Kansas gayfeather is much too large for the space I've allowed for it. It should be moved to allow space for the globe thistle plant.
* I have never before had a bloom on a sweet potato vine planted in a pot. Does this mean I'll get a sweet potato?
* I need to consider adding another daylily plant next to the existing one on the side of the house. It is doing very well there.
* I need to find some lower growing sun perennials for the edges of the oldest perennial garden.
* I should move some of the astilbe from the front of the house to the new shade perennial garden.

No matter how hard I try, this gardening business is still a matter of somewhat educated trial and error. And that's OK. For me, it's the journey, in addition to the destination, that makes gardening worthwhile.

03 July 2007

Our Tallgrass Prairie in Late June

Not a breath of air stirred over the free and open prairie; the clouds were like light piles of cotton; and where the blue sky was visible, it wore a hazy and languid aspect. {Francis Parkman}

On June 1, I posted a photo collage of the tallgrass prairie areas in our neighborhood development. In the last couple of weeks, I've noticed that many of the native flowers are starting to bloom. So on Sunday evening, I set out on my walk through the prairie, armed with a camera so that I could capture a bit of this emerging palette. In just a few short weeks, the variegated green has become punctuated by flowers of white, yellow, purple, and orange.

How fortunate I feel to be able to watch the prairie change over the course of the summer.

02 July 2007

Wallpaper, Be Gone!

If you recall from a post way back in January, my word of the year was "ORDER". Several things have delayed progress on the ORDER I need to achieve in my life, but now -- get out of the way! Things are starting to happen! How, you might ask, is re-decorating part of this goal? It falls under the heading of creating a simplified, comfortable, and presentable (read: not embarrassing) home environment. AND...it has to do with setting home improvement goals and actually accomplishing them. While I presume this is relatively straightforward for most homeowners, it is no easy task for us.

On the subject of the wallpaper, I am delighted to report that the dreaded fruit wallpaper -- which I loved ten years ago but now despise -- is gone (with the significant exception of the border hung by the builder with Superglue). Very soon, we will paint the walls in our kitchen a lovely shade of green (think: guacamole), which I believe is going to look just dandy with our new counter tops. One of these days, we'll paint the laundry room and half-bathroom a delightful shade of gold (think: dark cornbread). And soon after that, we'll paint the dining room a lighter and darker shade of green than the kitchen. Even though the nice young man at Home Depot who mixed up the paint loved the color scheme, DH seems to despise it. I believe he thinks we will soon be living in "That 70's Show".

On the subject of Lily, she took readily to the ladder. She monitored DH's progress at every turn, and she posed in all sorts of cute positions. I think she's going to look lovely in green, don't you?