30 November 2007

It's Feline Friday!

Overheard this week (loosely translated, of course):

"Tinsel, when I grow up, I want to be just like you," says Lily with the utmost sincerity.

"You'll never achieve my supreme level of grace and refinement, you miserable little twerp!" retorts Tinsel with a haughty sniff.

28 November 2007

Next Stop: Dining Room

If you've been following our re-decorating adventures, you may recall that we have been working our way through our pink/floral lower level room by room. We started with the relatively benign laundry room, worked our way through the kitchen, spent eight months working on the half-bath, and now we're in the dining room. (After this room, "only" the two-story entryway remains. That task looms larger than life, as the entryway is completely covered with pink floral wallpaper. One day I'll show you a picture and you'll see why it's daunting.)

Right now, the dining room is a complete mess, but we are making some progress. We replaced the ghastly "What Was I Thinking?" border with a much more neutral one and we've covered the burgundy portion of the walls with a deep green (it's not as bright as it appears in these photos). Spouse is now in the midst of painting the top portion of the dining room a very light green. The light and dark greens in the dining room coordinate with the olive green in the kitchen and the gold in our Pirates of the Caribbean bathroom.

As I've said before, these particular shades of green are not for the faint of heart. But the reality is that they look a whole lot better than the previous color scheme. Our table and china cabinet no longer blend into the walls. The tone of the woodwork doesn't clash with the paint. At first I was worried about the green, but now that more is painted, I love it.

And here is a very funny note: The single photo above is the back of our china cabinet. We bought it several years ago from an older neighbor. We had the entire china cabinet stripped of paint because she told us it was constructed of mahogany. Guess what color it was painted before we stripped it?

Olive green. Almost the exact shade we're painting the dining room, as evidenced by the bit of paint we saved on the back of the cabinet.

I don't think Spouse sees the humor in this.

Creative Cafe Class Project

The store where I teach recently got the new Creative Cafe. I love the concept of being able to select buttons, felt flowers, and chipboard from cute little jars in exactly the quantity or style that I want. I'm a sucker for an attractive display.

I've been working on a couple of classes for 2008 using goodies from the Creative Cafe. This one is a little ring-bound album using the library cards and cardstock stickers that are part of this new line. Of course, since I'm "all about felt" these days, I couldn't resist adding a few felt flowers.

This project holds 14 wallet-sized photos and could be expanded to hold as many
as you'd like. The library cards (on the reverse side of each cardstock piece) provide ample journaling space for each photo. And since I use Picasa to manage my photos, it was super-easy to select and print them in the wallet-sized setting.

I love projects that come together easily like this one. I think it's really good for the psyche to, every once in awhile, be able to start and finish a project in a short amount of time. Everyone needs a sense of accomplishment from time to time, right?!

26 November 2007

Lily finds her match

A few days ago, we found a small "cat" finger puppet in our family room. No one remembered it or had any idea where it had come from.

After thinking about it for awhile, I realized I had recently seen Lily "at work" behind our puppet theater, constructed by my parents for DD when she was considerably younger. The puppet theater does not get a lot of use these days, and I had forgotten about the basket of finger puppets which sits on the floor behind it.

Sure enough, Lily must have found it in that basket.

To verify that this is the way it actually happened, I staged a small "reenactment". I planted the finger puppet back in the basket and plunked Lily down beside the puppet theatre. And just like clockwork, she dug through the basket and pulled out the cat, leaving the lamb, the bird, and other small animals for another day.

"Dis one looks like me, Mom!" I could almost hear her say.

24 November 2007

Pure bliss surely tastes like this

I think I've found my true love:

Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars.

Last holiday season, I heard people talking about them, but I never saw them at our local Starbucks.

This year, our Starbucks has them. Every day. Singly. And in a lovely box, which conveniently holds 16 bars.

I'll go out on a limb here and proclaim that Cranberry Bliss Bars are better than scones. They are better than Bazzill cardstock. They are even better than Williams-Sonoma Winter Forest Hand Lotion.

So go get one. Or get a box. Trust me: They freeze well and you'll never be found wanting.

23 November 2007

One more reason to go to Starbucks

In case you need one more excuse to go to Starbucks, let me offer this: The advent calendar, introduced last year, is back.

I picked
up mine after LAST Christmas for around $5. I fished it out of the clearance bin, brought it home, ate all of the candy without telling anyone, and packed it away with the intent to alter it before this Christmas. Of course, I completely forgot about it until this week.

Inspired by my recent burst of productivity with the button tree, I decided that tonight the Starbucks calendar should be altered. I even used my beloved Ki Memories paper, lovingly hoarded since last Christmas. Strike while the iron is hot, I always say.

As you can see by the above photo, the calendar consists of 24 numbered drawers. On the back side of each drawer is a portion of a Christmas scene. By the time December 24 arrives, the entire scene is complete. Because the drawers have to flip around, you're limited in how much alteri
ng you can do. I kept it simple and used patterned paper, stickers, rub-ons, and punches. Nothing lumpy.

So now, my task is to fill each drawer with some little goodies. AND to refrain from eating them until the appropriate day.

So take my advice and run to Starbucks today to pick up a latte and an advent calendar.

Oh -- and don't forget the Cranberry Bliss Bar. You'll need your strength for crafting, after all.

It's Feline Friday!

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and sharing of pleasures.
Kahil Gibran

21 November 2007

And that's a lot to be thankful for...

A little holiday baking

When they were passing out the "baking gene", I was overlooked. But thankfully, DD received an extra helping. Cookies, cakes from scratch, brownies...you name it, she can bake it.

And now, we can add pumpkin pie to the list.

A couple of weeks ago, she saw a note that our church is providing pies for an inner city meal site. "Mom, I signed up to make a pumpkin pie," she told me.

OK, I thought. This could be interesting. While she has done a lot of baking, she has never made a pumpkin pie.

Last night, she made three. We even get to keep one.

Quite appropriately, my sole task was to pay for the ingredients. And conduct extensive taste testing.

20 November 2007

Button Tree

Have you seen the button trees that people have been making this fall? As soon as I saw the original one created by Tia Bennett on Two Peas and read Ali Edwards' post about her button trees, I knew I wanted to make one. I loved the colors Ali used and decided I would create one in similar colors to match our new green and gold decor.

I wanted to use green, brown, gold, white, and red buttons for my tree. In addition to using buttons in my stash, I chose the Harvest Grab Bag buttons by Buttons Galore & More, since that mix appeared to contain most of those colors. I couldn't find them locally, so I had to order them online, and when they arrive
d, I discovered that the mix included a LOT of purple and orange buttons (guess I'll be ready for Halloween, huh?). After sorting out all the unusable ones, I became concerned that I wouldn't have enough to cover the tree, but alas, it worked out almost perfectly.

My tree is 9 inches high, and I used close to 250 buttons to make it. (No, I didn't count them! :-) I know that since I used an entire box of 250 pins.) Tia's instructions worked very well: I started with the largest buttons and pinned them randomly to the tree, then I added the medium buttons, each one touching a large one. Finally, I filled in with the smallest buttons. That step was the hardest part, and I still see some gaps that need to be covered with buttons.

I haven't figured out what I'm going to do with the top of the tree yet. Tia's tree has corsage pins in the top, but I'm thinking about doing something different with mine.

Total time to make the tree was about 2.5 hours. Not bad at all, and it was surprisingly fun, too. And, better yet, I actually like how it turned out.

19 November 2007

It's Fruitcake Season Again

Last year, I waxed poetic about re-discovering The Fruitcake of My Childhood.

Oh, fruitcake lovers (if there are any of you out there)...let me remind you that it is now the season to order your Trappist Monk Monastery Fruitcakes. Get them here.

Pricey? Yes, but quite worth every penny. I assure you, there is NO better fruitcake than this. To quote from the website: "It will make believers out of even the most ardent fruitcake skeptics."

I'd recommend that you act on this immediately, because I will soon be placing a large order. :-)


18 November 2007

Can this blog be scratch and sniff?

This is a totally random (for me, anyway) post...not about cats or cardstock. It's all about scents.

Today I'm posting about two scents I absolutely love, and (gee, what a surprise!) they are similar. I only like (and tolerate) certain scents. My favorites tend to be pine-related scents, but they have to be "just so"... I don't like them all.

Last winter, I discovered Williams-Sonoma Winter Forest Hand Lotion and Hand Soap. I swear...there is NO better pine scent than this. It truly evokes a walk in the woods. (I slathered it all over me this morning before church and my daughter told me that she thought she must be sitting next to a tree. I'm not sure she meant that as a compliment.) I think I'll soon be hitting the WS store and picking up a few more of whatever they carry in this scent.

Last week, I discovered another great scent, similar to the Winter Forest scent but not quite as woodsy: Yankee Candle Mediterranean Cypress. Oh, my gosh...this is such a clean, fresh scent. I have been burning this candle since I bought it.

Do you like woodsy, pine scents? If so, I highly recommend both of these! They are perfect for this time of year.

No, scratch (and sniff) that...they are perfect for all year round.

17 November 2007

2 Peas Blogging Challenge

Today's 2 Peas blogging challenge is this: It's the weekend. What are your scrapping plans?

This weekend, I'm trying to restore "ORDER" (Remember? ORDER was my "word of the year" back in January...HA!) to my scrapping area. Memorabilia has taken over the entire space...in fact, my entire life. Over the past few months, I have somehow accumulated PILES of stuff that must be sorted and stored away. Some of it will hit the recycle bin, but most of it will be kept for that elusive day when I may choose to include it in a scrapbook.

Most of the piles consist of school or activity-related papers or programs, stuff I've brought home from vacations, or other papers I want to keep. I have a system set up for keeping most of this stuff, but alas, I'm not so good at maintaining it. I have a plastic tub for each year of daughter's school career, and within each tub are files for each school subject. At some point, each of those files could be pared down to what's worth keeping, but that will wait for another day. Right now, it all goes in the tub. The school papers will not go in the scrapbooks.

I also have an accordion file for programs, certificates, and other activity memorabilia that MAY go in the scrapbooks one day. Those are stored in date order so that if I'm scrapbooking 2004 stuff, for example, I can open up the folder and see what I have kept there that may pertain to the activity. I have a similar accordion file for memorabilia from each vacation we have taken. Some of that stuff will end up in the albums for those trips, when I eventually get to them.

The problem is this: I tend to pile up the papers to file "later" and then, since I don't really like to do that, I just let it accumulate. Now, things are out of control. So I've been working on sorting the piles this week and I hope to get through them by the end of the weekend. I really need to finish this before I can get back into my scrapbooking, otherwise I'll never be able to find the memorabilia I need when it's time to make a particular page.

So that's where I am with scrapping plans this weekend. First things first.
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16 November 2007

Feline Friday: Everyday Lily

This week for Feline Friday, I'm celebrating Everyday Lily. With this cat, every day seems to bring something new. Or sometimes something not so new that you would have preferred not be repeated.

So here are some glimpses of what Lily did this this week.
No breakage, leaps, falls, or food spills...just little, everyday cat stuff. But it's the stuff that makes Lily special.

* Found a pin cushion and carried it to a nice, sunny spot to play. Not a good idea, Lily.

* Re-discovered the "donut" toy, with the ping pong ball in the track.

* Paused for a photo op in an old kitty basket from my childhood.

* Stole a straw from someone's drink and ran through the house with it.

Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
(Antonio Smith)

14 November 2007

Now Showing: POTC IV

A couple of days ago, I posted photos of our nearly-completed half-bath, which Spouse says looks like the queuing area for Pirates of the Caribbean.

I'm happy to report that the transformation is now complete. Yesterday, I purchased a hand towel (actually, I purchased three and returned two) and a soap dispenser (bought two and returned one). But best of all, I found a super-cool candle thingy to set on the back of the toilet. To top it off, I bought some "spa" tangerine-vanilla
scented tea lights. (Probably not exactly what they smelled like in pirate days, but hey...)

Everyone, including Spouse, Daughter, and Lily, agrees that the candle thingy is a good addition and adds to the POTC atmosphere (although Spouse is now making somewhat offensive references to purgatory). But there are some issues: Lily stands on the toilet and gets dangerously close the the flames. Daughter is a little concerned that her hair will catch on fire if she uses that toilet whilst the candles are burning. (OK, that's a legitimate issue.) And I also discovered that when you flush the toilet, the six burning candles go sliding toward the newly painted wall, thus creating a fire hazard. So yesterday I purchased little felt pads and stuck them to the legs of the candle thingy to make it a bit more stable. That problem was solved. Lily and Daughter are on their own.

With the kitchen, laundry room, and POTC bathroom complete, our re-decorating efforts will shift to the dining room and entry way. Ladies and gentlemen, may I remind you that we have a two-story entry way completely covered in pink floral wallpaper. To remove it will require a scaffold.

Or perhaps Johnny Depp.

13 November 2007

The 70's thing continues

If you're a psychologist, perhaps you can shed some light on this situation. You see, I seem to have a somewhat intense fascination with the 70's these days. I grew up in the 60's and 70's, and now that 70's stuff is back in style, I'm really feeling the love. Stuff from that era just feels comfortable to me. That is not the case with everyone of the same generation, though. Many people who experienced the 70's IRL do NOT want to revisit it.

Just look what has happened lately
due to my obsession:
* The kitchen has bee
n painted Tate Olive green.
* The laundry room and half-bath have been painted Sweet Maple gold.
* I found my original Spirograph and Super-Spirograph and now have them here at the house with me.
* I've been combing flea markets
for the perfect owl for my kitchen.
* In my vast stash of old stuff around here, I found some authentic 70's gold and green kitchen towels with happy little mushrooms. There is a reason why I kept them all these years.

* I am completely obsessed with all things felt.
* I purchased the Sassafras
Lass owl stamps and have used them with alarming frequency.
* I may take up macrame again and get it right this time.
* I created this little album for no particular reason except to use the Basic Grey Mellow line, which appears to have been made for me. I initially planned to frame the paper and hang it in the kitchen, but Spouse put his foot down (he doesn't feel the love). Now I've confined my Mellow stash to this mini-book. I've rounded up a few photos of me with my French class friends from the 70's to put in it.

So tell me, what's behind this obsession? Am I trying relive the past? Recapture my youth? Look hip? Whatever it is, I hope someone stops me before I resurrect my old crocheted vests.

12 November 2007

Yo, Ho, Ho: From Heinous to Tuscan in Eight Easy Months

If you've been reading my blog for long, you may remember that we started working on our half-bath back in April. I am thrilled to report that yesterday, November 11, the job was finished. (Well, two remaining things remain to be purchased: a new soap dispenser and a new hand towel, but I'm calling it done, for psychological reasons.)

We've been down a long, ugly road with this little project. Back in April, I got the bright idea to start peeling off the heinous (to borrow a word from my friend, Darci) wallpaper. After five minutes, I discovered that it would not come off. We worked on it tediously for weeks, even enlisting daughter and her friends and trying almost every method of removing it, but eventually we abandoned ship.

Our next bright idea was to try to prime it heavily and paint over the mess. Unfortunately (that being a big understatement), you could still see heinous wallpaper through the paint.

Finally (and this was my only good idea), we purchased textured, paintable wallpaper (made in England, thank you very much) and just covered it all up. This weekend, Spouse finished painting it Behr Sweet Maple, the same 70's color as our laundry room. (Yes, it is a bold color...not for the faint of heart.) I even forced him to hang up an old print from an art exhibition I attended many years ago in Paris. Then Spouse toiled mightily to change the fixtures from bright gold to dark bronze, encountering numerous plumbing issues along the way. But, in spite of all the pain, I have to say that the transformation is quite amazing.

As you can see, we don't have a huge amount of light in the new bathroom. I told Spouse that this is actually a good thing, since most people look more attractive in low light. Moreover, "It's Tuscan," I announced, borrowing a word from another friend, Sharon.

But Spouse is not convinced that it is 70's or Tuscan. He says our bathroom now looks like the queuing area for Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean.

70's...Tuscan...whatever. Arrr.....I'm calling it done.

07 November 2007

No Change

I don't like change. Never have. Probably never will.

For as long as I can remember, my mantra has been this: "The certainty of misery is better than the misery of uncertainty." To me, change means uncertainty, and I avoid uncertainty at almost all costs. And yes, that sometimes leads me to stay in unhealthy or unproductive situations. And yes, I know better. You might say that I have some "control issues". That would be a true statement. (But I like to think I'm "controlling" in only the nicest of ways.)

Just to clarify, though, I am not opposed to making small, incremental changes of the "continuous improvement" genre. I am very much a process-oriented person, so if I find that a certain aspect of a process is not working, I tweak it. I tinker with small "adjustments" all the time. And I'm OK with that.

But big change? Nope. Not gonna do it, unless I'm backed into a corner or desperate (my recent re-decorating efforts would fall into the "desperate" category).

Just for the fun of it (and so that we're all on the same page here), let's make a list of the types of changes (in no particular order) Miss Janet does not like. Be warned: This list may not be complete. Print and refer to it as needed.

Hair -- As indicated in the previous post, I change it once every 10-15 years. And my current hairstyle change is going to take 10 months to execute.

Clothing -- If you've been reading my blog for awhile, perhaps you'll remember the garage sale of this past summer when I attempted to sell my 20-year old wool suits. Once I buy an item of clothing, I tend to hang onto it, even if I'm no longer wearing it. In a perfect world, I would actually like to wear the same basic thing every day. In my climate, I would need one winter outfit and one summer outfit. I'd buy clothing in several different colors to allow for washing, but basically I'd look the same every day. And I would not have to deal with the stress associated with changing styles and sizes.

Shoes -- I would like to wear the same shoes every day (in fact, I pretty much do). In summer, I wear my brown or black Born sandals. In winter, I wear my Born shoes. That's plenty of change for me.

Boyfriends -- Now that we are into the teenage years, I've discovered that change is part of that process, too. Boyfriends come and go, and I'm going to have to get used to that fact.

Houses -- I became physically ill when we left our first house (which I consider my only true *home*) to move our current house.

Scrapbooking product -- The amount of change in the scrapbooking industry causes me great distress. It seems that I find something I like and two months later, it is no longer available. Don't even get me started on all of the Bazzill cardstock colors which have been discontinued of late.

Make-up -- I wear pretty much the same make-up that I've always worn. Over the years, I've periodically gone into hyperventilation when manufacturers have discontinued the foundation or blush I wear. I've written letters begging for product to be brought back, only to discover that I'm probably the only person on earth still actually using it. Which, of course, would be why it was discontinued in the first place.

Albums -- I'd like to find one kind of scrapbook album that I like and stick with it forever. My current brand has been discontinued, and that causes me distress. I know that as soon as I make the difficult change to a new album, it, too, may be short-lived.

Aging -- I don't like the fact that DD is getting older. Although the teen years are stressful, I want to stay right where we are right now (well, maybe I'd go back to the pre-teen years). And because I see her getting older, I'm fairly certain that I must be, too. And getting older forces me to face serious topics like my own mortality. And the possibility that my Born shoes will someday be discontinued. At which point my feet will be very cold because I will have no shoes.

The realist in me knows that change is sometimes good. It's often healthy and can lead to bigger and better things. But the sentimental fool in me resists it. She clings to the past and holds onto things that are certain, because change brings the unknown, and the unknown terrifies her.

So just for today, I'm digging in the heels of my Born shoes and staying right where I am. No change for me.

No way, no how.

On the subject of hair

I went to get my hair cut yesterday. It was, in fact, a red-letter day, since 1) I actually remembered my appointment and 2) I took along photos of a new possible hairstyle to show my hair stylist.

Understand that this is a huge deal for me. I only change my hair once every 10-15 years, and then, only after considerable study. In addition, I had gone to some lengths (bad pun intended) to obtain the photos in the first place. Since the hair in question belongs to an actress on a certain soap opera, I first scoured the Internet to find a photo. Coming up with nothing, I finally recorded the show and then snapped photos of the TV screen with my camera.

But after all of the build-up to this appointment, I came home looking pretty much the same. It seems that it will be ten months before I can get my hair to look like her hair, and even then, it's possible that my hair won't do what her hair does. It will take ten months for my layers to grow out to the right length to create this new hair style. Ten months? By then, I surely will have forgotten the objective and in the meantime, I'll look like I'm in some never-ending transition.

As a consolation prize, my stylist suggested I borrow the contraption pictured here. Understand, people: I am NOT a tool person. Yes, this is a low-tech tool, but when it comes to hair, I am completely tool-impaired. Supposedly it will smooth your hair while adding volume. How I am to simultaneously maneuver this 11-inch sucker and a dryer with a diffuser is beyond me.

Sensing my disappointment about the ten months to a new hair style, my stylist finally said with a weak smile, "Well...It's worth a try." So I, ever the dare-devil, said, "Okay, let's go for it." And she left my layers untrimmed.

For the record, my new hair will appear in August, so check back then.

04 November 2007

An important public service announcement

This morning on NPR, I heard a news piece about this weekend's successful space walk outside the international space station to repair a solar panel. While I'm happy that the astronauts made the risky maneuver without incident, I was a bit alarmed to hear this "oh, by the way" tag at the end of the story:

A later inspection inside the station turned up a small tear on one of the spacewalkers' gloves, and a pair of needle-nose pliers was lost in space.

Mission controllers are tracking the pliers and said they don't believe the tool poses any collision risk for the station.

Hello?? A pair of needle-nose pliers is LOST IN SPACE? What exactly does this mean? OK, fellas, it's dandy that they won't dent the space station, but let's consider the other possibilities here. Shouldn't we be a bit more concerned about this?

Will the pliers be sucked into some perpetual planetary orbit, never to be seen again?

Or will they randomly plummet to earth?

And if they do plummet to earth, where will they fall?

And most importantly, will they fall with the pointy end down?

Just to be on the safe side, until the pliers are located, don your bike helmet and don't look up.

02 November 2007

Feline Friday: Lily, No!

Last night, it occurred to me that Feline Friday was fast approaching and I was suffering from a serious lack of interesting cat photos.

Enter Lily, with a brand new, albeit dangerous, trick: Walking on our upstairs railing.

It started early in the evening when I was down the hall and heard Lily meowing. When I saw her little (big) behind wiggle, signaling that she was contemplating jumping onto the railing, I could not believe that she would try such a thing. Lily is not the most graceful of cats and the railing is narrow with a full story drop below.

"Lily, NO! Don't do it!" I cried. Tinsel sat on the stairs below and meowed at Lily as if to say, "Go for it, you irritating fool! I hope you break your neck!"

But faster than I could grab her, she launched to the railing and began walking it like a tightrope. At one corner, she decided to do something fancy and nearly lost her balance but otherwise, she walked like a model on a runway. She even allowed a Feline Friday photo shoot.

Then later in the evening, when I thought she'd lost interest in the railing, I heard a very strange scrambling, scraping sort of noise. I rounded the corner and found Lily hanging by her front claws from the railing over the open stairwell. I literally caught her by one armpit (legpit?) as she began to fall. I kid you not: The rescue scene was like something out of a Lassie movie. We've got the deep claw marks in the railing to prove it.

So Happy Feline Friday to all. And thanks, Lily, for risking life and paw to provide new material.