31 January 2008

Thanks, guys!

Thank you to Linda and Sarah for the Excellent Blog award! How fun and exciting!

I enjoy so many blogs these days -- many inspire me creatively, others make me think, and some make me laugh out loud. But the best part about blogging is making connections with people you would never have met were it not for this strange and wonderful thing called the internet.

So thanks for stopping by and making the world a little bit kinder and gentler place. I'd offer you a leftover Cranberry Bliss Bar and a cup of General Foods International Coffee if you were here. I really would!

But since you're not here, I offer you instead a sock monkey wearing a cat wig.
I hope you'll understand.

If not, just smile and nod. :-)

Wedding invitations

I've been working on a few samples of wedding invitations for Memory Bound. Over the past few days, I've made ten different kinds of invitations with response cards. These are a few of my favorites.

Each year when I make sample wedding invitations, I have to come up with names, venues, and even food choices for fake receptions. One year, the groom's name was Damien (my first cat). This year,
we have Claire and Lucas, sometimes referred to as Luke. On another invitation (not pictured here), Claire marries some other guy. ;-) I obviously have no control over Claire.

Note that I used adhesive-backed "bling" diamonds on the black
and white invitation. For some reason, one piece looks strangely gold in the photo.

And oops -- I capita
lized the name of the venue on the brown and blue invitation. I didn't correct it since the samples are for design purposes only. I think Lucas will understand. It's the least of his worries. :-)

Thought I'd better share some of these today, lest you think I've gone into business making cat wigs.

Based on that little venture, I think I'd better keep my day job.


29 January 2008

Make your own cat wig

You may recall that yesterday I mused about the idea of putting make-up and hair on cats. I had no idea that cat wigs are already on the market! Check out the link provided by a couple of astute blog readers! Note that the brown tabby cat looks a lot like Tinsel. I'm wondering if she has picked up a modeling job on the side.

As nice as those wigs are, suffice it to say that $50 is a bit beyond what I'd hoped to spend,
so I decided to bop on over to Hobby Lobby and see if I could purchase a doll wig and adapt it for a cat.

In the doll-making aisle, I found doll heads with attached hair and dolls with no hair, but no ready-made wigs. I did find bags of loose hair which could be stitched or glued to a doll's head. (I'm sure ya'll would agree that would not be such a good idea with a cat.) I was almost ready to give up when I spotted bags of chenille "hair" -- basically curls on thick pipe cleaners. Colors were limited, so I opted for black, which wo
uld complement both Lily's and Tinsel's coloring. And at $2.99, the price was right. Gosh, at that price, a cat could have several.

At home in my scrapbooking area, which now doubles as a cat wig boutique, I set out to fashion some type of stylish do with the chenille hair. Of course, I didn't happen to have any Styrofoam balls the size of the feline heads in question, so I had to use a Nerf ball instead. I tell you...it sucks to not have the proper tools for this kind of work.

My first attempt was a long style with bangs.
That one quickly became unmanageable, so I whipped up an alternative, more casual "everyday" look.

And now, I present T
insel and Lily, demurely modeling "The Mary Ann" for the Gilligan's Island fans in the crowd.

Now I ask you, isn't this worth $2.99?


Firefighters in da house

Thursday afternoon, Daughter and I arrived home to a very strange odor in our house. It smelled a lot like burning hair.

Or perhaps burning fur.

Our first thought was that Lily had removed the furnace vent again and met with an untimely demise.

But no, Lily was safe and sound. We scouted around the inside and outside of the entire house but could not locate the source of the smell, and it was getting stronger by the minute. The furnace fan was making a strange high-pitched noise, so I shut it off. If the smell was coming from the furnace, it certainly wasn't obvious.

Fearing some hidden electrical fire, I called the non-emergency number of the fire department and asked if they could just send someone out to take a peek. Without the fire engine, please.

The answer was no. They would be happy to come take a peek, but only with their trucks.

"Okay, I said, but please don't turn on the sirens. We have cats, you know."

Knowing the firefighters were on their way (and we hadn't been expecting company), I told Daughter to round up the cats and put them in the car, in case we needed to make a speedy getaway from a burning house. She suggested shutting them in her room instead, until we knew for sure if the house was on fire. I thought that was a good compromise. We then proceeded to "tidy up a bit" for our firefighting guests.

In a matter of moments, not one, not two, but THREE firetrucks pulled up in front of our house. Being a bit unsure about Fire Etiquette, I decided to err on the side of hospitality, so I went out to greet them and thank them for coming.

They entered our house and dispersed with radios and heat-seeking equipment. They checked every room. They asked to see my curling iron. (Good thing they didn't find all the dead curling irons in the bottom drawer.) They checked my ionic blow dyer with the diffuser. They spotted Daughter's foam rollers on her bathroom counter and wondered if they were electric. They looked suspiciously at the vacuum cleaner. (I assured them it hadn't been used for days. In retrospect, that was probably stating the obvious.)

At my request, they even smelled the new rug that I had just brought home from Target to use in my scrapbook area. We all agreed that it had a strange odor, but it wasn't the odor in question.

"What's behind that door?" asked the firefighters warily as they neared Daughter's bedroom.

"Two cats," I responded. They scurried the other way. Smart guys, these firefighters.

After thoroughly checking every nook and cranny, they concluded that the house was not on fire, so I covertly handed Daughter the camera and asked her to take some pictures of the trucks. But somehow in all the excitement of escorting firefighters around our house, she set the camera down without getting any shots.

After the fire chief arrived, the firefighters began to focus on the furnace. Then they radioed for a "face to face" (that's firefighter talk for a little chat) in our kitchen and agreed that the furnace was the source of the odor. Apparently when the motor quits working, the grinding metal of fan blades emits a "burning hair" type of smell. That particular evening the temperature was below zero, so the firefighters recommended that I call Mr. Furnace Repair Guy right away, lest our pipes freeze.

Was I a bit embarrassed that I called the fire department for what turned out to be a furnace problem? Yep, I was. And I apologized profusely. But they assured me that they make lots of calls like this and, in fact, had been on a similar call earlier that day. They told me that I had done the right thing...better safe than sorry.

So, before I could offer them a cup of General Foods International Coffee or take a group photo, our very nice new friends loaded up their equipment, radioed the station, and drove away.

Tinsel and Lily emerged from the bedroom without encountering a heat-seeking device.

And $503 bought us a brand new, odor-free furnace motor that very evening.

Considering what might have been, I was ever so thankful to pay it.

28 January 2008

Random musings on a Monday

Ahhh....PROCRASTINATION. 'Tis one of the things I do best.

With that in mind, here is yet another installment of completely random (and for the most part useless) thoughts which come to mind on this Monday morning.

* It's a good idea to label bottles and containers. I have a tendency not to do that, and it drives people in this household nuts. Yesterday, I experienced the consequences when I slathered my entire self in what I believed to be curiously unscented body lotion, only to discover it was sunscreen. Let's just say it went on a lot easier than it came off.

* Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the monthly book club at the store where I teach. While in the midst of our seriously intellectual discussion, someone mentioned that she knew a person who had put LIPSTICK on her cat. THEN another person mentioned that she had actually put BLUSH on her cat!

Of course, this conversation started me thinking about putting make-up on Lily and Tinsel, something I had absolutely never considered. Now, it would be difficult to find colors that would show on Tinsel's darker fur, but blush just might work on Lily. Both of them have blackish-colored lips, though, so my lipstick wouldn't show. We'd probably just go with a clear gloss. But then I got the even better idea of cat wigs or hairpieces. I'm pretty excited about this concept. I don't think it's been done much in the feline world.

* A person just cannot have too many rulers. You never know when you're going to need to measure something. And my favorite kind of ruler is a centering ruler. Although I get harassed about my love for this tool, it is really great for making sure whatever you're working with is centered (hence the name). I also use my centering ruler to mark the spacing for holes in mini-albums and such. It's a really good thing.

* Speaking of the need for things to be straight, I cannot stand it when signs on buildings are crooked. I've blogged about this before, and I still cannot move past my dislike of crooked signs. There is a high-rise hotel near us with a very crooked sign on the side of the building. Even my daughter's orthodontist's office has a crooked sign! Now, I ask you: Does a crooked sign on an orthodontist's office inspire confidence?

* From what I can see, SOCK MONKEYS are the NEXT BIG THING, and people, please note that I was way ahead of this trend. Consider the evidence:
- I have sock monkey pajamas from Target. Now you can also buy matching sock monkey slippers. (They actually look more like lambs with lipstick.) I also have my original sock monkey to use as a stylish accessory.
- Daisy D's is launching a new line of -- you guessed it -- SOCK MONKEY PAPER! Now some of the sock monkeys on this paper have a slightly evil look about them. I guess not all sock monkeys are to be trusted.
- My friend Connie's son watched a show on Nickelodeon recently in which GINORMOUS sock monkeys were invading a city!

* I love snow, but when it starts to melt and get dirty, I no longer love it. If we're gonna have snow, we need to have an occasional "dusting" of new snow just to freshen things up a bit. I told Daughter yesterday that occasionally we need to do the same thing to the cats' litter boxes...not with snow, but with fresh litter! Did you know that "freshening up" the litter box is called "dressing" it? Betcha didn't know that. :-)

* Speaking of litter boxes, at our house we actually call them tidy boxes. I'm sure you're wondering about this, so let me explain. Many moons ago, there was a litter (not sure if they still make it) called "Tidy Cat". My mom started referring to the litter as "tidy"...not unlike calling tissues "Kleenex." The term is now infused into our household. Anyone reading this is free to say "tidy box", "kitty tidy", or just "tidy" from now on. It's my little gift to you.

* I discovered over the weekend that we have not one, not two, but THREE nutcracker/pick sets in this house. This begs the question: Just how often do three people need to crack nuts simultaneously?

* The February issue of Martha Stewart Living features 66 techniques everyone "needs to know". This month, I shall learn to make a fortune cookie out of felt. Stand back, people.

* Why do I invariably sneeze when I'm carrying a full cup of coffee?

* Did you know that if you have more than one Starbucks card, the nice Starbucks guy might combine them for you, if he knows how to do that? But don't let him take away your really cute (but now empty) Starbucks card, because you might be able to do something crafty with it.

That's it for today, folks. Now, let's get back to work, or whatever we're supposed to be doing.

26 January 2008

Every Week Project: Revisited

At the first of the month, I posted about starting this little album which I made last April in a class taught by Danelle Johnson. I deliberately waited until this month to start it, because I wanted the album to contain a full calendar year of photos.

Of course, I was a little worried about whether I would remember to follow through and add photos for the month of January, but I
actually did!

I selected a
nd printed four photos that represented the month for me, then I journaled on the opposite page about each one. I added just a little bit of embellishment and ink and called it good! It really took no time at all.

I'm leaving this album out on my desk where I will see it, and at the end of each month, I'll add my photos and everyday kinds of stories.

And at the end of the year, it will be done! YAY!

23 January 2008

The Organized and a Bit More Inspired Scrapbooker

If you read the previous post, you may recall that I've been reading The Organized and Inspired Scrapbooker. Reading the book confirmed that I'm relatively organized but not inspired by my space. I decided to make some changes so that I'd actually WANT to be in my space. Inspiration, I need you!

The small photo at the top shows my shelves prior to my reorganization "blitz". The collage shows my newly organized, and slightly more inspiring, space. It may not look like much, but after spending some time re-configuring my little area, I think it is more functional and more inspirational. I am seriously lacking in the "decor" department, but that will have to come later. (Actually, that will come as soon as Spouse goes out of town. Then I'll hang some pictures that I purchased awhile back for this room.)

With my goal of "spend no money", here's what I did to improve the look and feel of my space:

* I moved my shelving unit closer to my tables so that all of my scrapbooking stuff is in one part of the room, rather than spread all around.
* I rearranged everything on the shelves so that like items are together (all the photo boxes are in one area, all the books in another, etc.)
* I covered the fronts of the magazine holders in black cardstock. (Previously, they were covered in shades of green.)
* I moved all of my memorabilia accordion files to the area below my printer. (Previously, they were on multiple shelves in various parts of the room.)
* I moved my tables so that, when sitting, I face into the room, rather than the wall. (Mind you, I NEVER work at the table. I only work on the floor, so we'll see if this new arrangement changes my habits.)
* I re-purposed some stacking drawers from another room in the house and moved my wood-mounted stamps and punches to them. (Previously these items were stored on the table.)
* I moved my drawing table to be closer to the shelving unit and window. It was sitting in a dark area of the room and getting little use.

Photo collage, left to right:
1. Drawers under my tables -- containing scraps (WAY too many), punches, wood-mounted stamps, painting supplies, and ink pads.
2. Magazines and idea books on my shelves (still too many magazines...I'm working my way through them, putting ideas in my inspiration binders)
3. Basket of new mini-albums and items to alter.
4. My shelving unit and drawing table. Pens are in the galvanized tins on the table.
5. My two tables, in L-shape formation. These are inexpensive folding tables from Target. They are not super-sturdy, but since I don't sit at them anyway, they work for now. :-) The big basket contains mini-albums in progress (lots to finish up here) and the small basket contains chipboard. Two small galvanized tins (not shown) hold adhesives and my Bazzill swatch books.
6. Cardstock, patterned paper, inspiration binders, and full-sized albums on my shelves.
7. My cutting and tools "station". This is an old printer stand that Spouse found on the curb. It's really sturdy and is a great height for cutting. Can't beat the price.
8. My shelves from Home Depot. Since they are wire, I placed leftover floor tiles on each shelf to create a smooth surface. The second shelf holds my albums in progress (WAY too many). The top shelf holds my boxes with photos to scrapbook. (I have at least that many more photo boxes stored in a cupboard elsewhere in the house.) As you can see, I have plenty of scrapbooking to do. :-) This is why I need inspiration!
9. My Canon i9900 wide format printer and stand. I love this printer and use it all the time. On the bottom shelf are my memorabilia files, organized in month/year order.

This room also functions as our home office, so on the other side, you'll find a large desk with my computer and laser printer. There is also a dollhouse, perpetually under construction, which used to sit where the shelves are now. Now it sits where the shelves used to be. There is also a walk-in closet which is pretty much filled with Daughter's school memorabilia, organized by year in plastic tubs.

After completing this little project, I still have a pile of scrapbooking items that I need to store. They really need to be sorted first -- some are probably good candidates to give away or sell at a garage sale. In addition, I need to label the drawers once I figure out if I like where I have stored everything.

But in general, I'm happier with the way things look and function now. I have less "visual clutter" and a slightly more cohesive look. Although it's far from my "ideal" space, it's certainly more inviting than it was.

Can't wait for that inspiration to hit!

The Organized but Uninspired Scrapbooker

Yesterday I finished reading The Organized and Inspired Scrapbooker. If you're a person in need of organization or inspiration for your creative space, I'd highly recommend it.

For as much scrapbooking-related work as I do, you'd think I'd have a spacious room with plenty of work space. Wrong! I actually have only a corner of our home office dedicated to scrapbooking. While it's functional and organized, it's completely uninspiring. That's what I learned by reading the book: I'm organized but uninspired.

I teach organization classes and firmly believe that ANY space, regardless of size or configuration, can be organized AND inspiring. I have spent a lot of time organizing the "stuff" in my space, but little time thinking about the overall flow and "look" of the space...and that's the part that relates to inspiration.

So last night I set about re-configuring my little space so that it would be a little more inspiring (or at least less uninspiring). In reading the book, I confirmed that I can't handle a lot of "visual clutter". Lots of colorful items on my tables do not inspire me...they distract me. Take, for example, the stacking drawers in this photo. Last year I covered the insides of the drawer backs in tan cardstock so that the contents are not visible when you walk in the room. I felt MUCH better after doing that. In addition, over the past few months, I have also replaced my mismatched photo boxes with black, white, and tan. It's a little thing, but it helps eliminate some of that visual clutter.

So I've been on a mission to do more of this kind of thing: To put more items into closed, but labeled, storage containers. I'm re-purposing storage containers I already have because my budget for this little project is precisely $0. I moved my wood block stamps and punches (previously all on the tables) to shallow, stacking drawers under the tables. Labeled, of course.

Ahhhh....much better. Not inspired YET, but I think my day is coming. :-)

22 January 2008

Ali-inspired project

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending our monthly book club at Memory Bound. We're reading Ali Edwards' latest book, Life Artist. Several people brought wonderful projects to share, some based on the book and others not. The beauty of book club is that it's fairly unstructured. Anyone is welcome, with or without anything to share!

One of the projects I like from Ali's book is one in which she uses a set of alphabet index cards to make a little "everyday" kind of album. I picked up a set of these cards last week and decided to make a mini-album as a place to store photos of some of my favorite projects. I make a lot of stuff, but because much of it is for the store or given as gifts, often all I have left is a photo. I thought it might be fun to have
a place to house photos of my favorites, rather than just leave them in a file on my computer.

The book was super-easy to put together, which is why it appealed to me. I printed my photos, used the handy-dandy Crop-a-Dile to make holes in the cards and photos, and clamped it all together with my beloved metal rings. It may seem peculiar, but I make an effort to take photos of everything I make. I use the photos in instructions (if I need to write them), but also as a record for myself. Sometimes when creativity wanes, it helps to look back over past projects. Obviously, this book is a work in progress which will grow as I print more photos. In addition, I'd like to jot some notes about each project. I'm still working on that.

In addition to the Making Memories journaling paper, I used some of my hoarded Scenic Route paper on this mini-album. And the button is from my friend, Sharon, who recently cleaned out her button stash and shared the love with folks in book club. Sharon's buttons are one-of-a-kind and will be great additions to projects like this.

AND, as an added bonus, I made up a word last night for the process of using hoarded stash: DE-HOARDIFICATION.

I like it. I need to do much more of it.

21 January 2008

My Easy-Bake Oven

In keeping with my recent "retro" theme, allow me to share with you my happy little Easy-Bake Oven. This is not just any Easy-Bake Oven, mind you. It's the original model, circa 1963.

My Easy-Bake still has all the original pieces -- the rolling pin, bowl, measuring spoon, and baking trays. I even have the original cookbook. And, as you can see from the happy little glow of the light bulb, it still works just fine.

Growing up, I would make cookies and cakes and have them ready for Dad when he got home from work. No matter how bad they tasted, he always ate them and raved about the quality.

We eventually packed away the Easy-Bake, bringing it back out when Daughter was three or four years old. She, too, frequently baked cookies and cakes. And we dutifully complimented her on the quality.

After Daughter moved on to the "big girl" oven, I didn't pack away the Easy-Bake. After all, Easy-Bake is more my speed anyway.

In fact, I still have a few cookie mixes on hand. Methinks today might be a good day to whip up a batch. The quality is excellent, ya know.

16 January 2008

Still love this

Last week, I had the pleasure of teaching a "Get Organized Challenge" class. We'll be offering this class each month for at least First Quarter, and most likely the rest of the year. Twenty-four people joined me to talk about organizing everything crafty -- from photos, to cardstock, to embellishments. I think I can safely say that a great time was had by all. Can't wait to do it again.

It's been a few months since I've taught an organization class, and I'd forgotten just how much I love this subject. For this particular class, store employees brought along some of their organizational tools to display. I brought a few things, including my "Color Drawers", probably the very best organizational move I've made.

This time last year, I changed my system of organizing dimensional embellishments to "Color Drawers". Previously I had all of my brads and eyelets in one storage unit, my flowers in other containers, my buttons in jars, etc. After reading nothing but positive comments about this type of system, I made the change to three three-drawer containers, with a drawer for each color. I blogged making about the big switcheroo last year.

Well, I've been living with this organizational "system" since then, and I have to say that I still love it. It triggers me to use stuff I'd forgotten I had or wouldn't have considered. Sometimes I just need "something pink" on a project, so I simply look in the pink drawer and see all kinds of possibilities.

Plus, I just love how it looks. Anything in rainbow-colored order is a good thing, IMHO.

If you've never considered switching to this kind of system, I'd encourage you to give it some serious thought. Several people in my class last week decided to make the change. I know they are going to love it.

14 January 2008

Spirograph is in da house

Continuing on with the 60's-70's theme, allow me to share with you two of my prized possessions: My Spirograph and Super Spirograph, circa 1969.

Growing up, I LOVED my two Spirographs, even more than my Easy Bake Oven (which I still have, of course). They sat on a shelf in my parents' basement until recently, when I brought them home and decided to try them out again after all these years.

It took no time at all for me to remember that there is a certain degree of skill involved in using the Spirograph. Or maybe the word is
control. The more loops on the design, the more apt you are to screw it up just before you finish it.

In playing with the Spirograph, I discovered that the fine-tipped end of a Zig Writer works perfectly. Much better than those weird ball-point pens that originally came with the set. It seems a good use for pens that don't see a lot of action these days.

After a bit more practice, I might be ready to incorporate some Spirograph designs into cards or scrapbooking projects.

Or maybe I'll just keep playing.

What (not) to wear

I'm hopelessly sentimental. In addition to a lot of other stuff, I have kept nearly all of my papers from kindergarten through graduate school. This legal pad is one of the more interesting things I've kept.

This pad is filled with day after day of what I planned to wear to school when I was a sophomore or junior in high school in the late 70's, just about the same age Daughter is right now. I remember writing all of this out so that *gasp* I wouldn't repeat an outfit without letting sufficient time pass.

It's a real kick for me to read this, since I remember most of these clothes (and actually still have a few of the items packed away). The "black gypsy dress" was particularly stylish. And how about those cowl necks? I hated them then and still do. "Gabs" refers to gabardine pants. I'm thinking those were kind of stretchy. (We're not going to dwell on that.) And Gunny Sacs smocks...remember those?

The stars referred to PE days. On those days, I'd have to wear something that I could easily remove without completely messing up my Farrah Fawcett hair. Mind you, it took at least an hour every morning to style it.

Now, as dramatic as it gets around here with a teenage daughter in the house, I have to pity my poor parents trying to survive their only child's list-making teenage years. Methinks this was a little extreme.

Thankfully, I've relaxed just a tad. These days, I no longer have to let sufficient time pass between outfit wearings. In fact, I'd pretty much wear the same thing every day if I could get away with it.

Jeans or shorts, sweatshirt, Born shoes or sandals. A short, short list.

Oh, and no PE.

13 January 2008

In the blink of an eye...

...she turns 15 today.

And she hasn't changed a bit.

She's the light of our life and
loved beyond measure.

Happy Birthday!

12 January 2008

Random musings on a Saturday

I don't normally post random thoughts on a Saturday, but seeing that I'm procrastinating on a few projects, it seems a particularly good day for it. Here's another list of completely scattered thoughts, in no particular order, and of questionable importance:

* Bind-it-All is in da house! I used a gift certificate for this little machine and brought it home yesterday. Because I'm tool-impaired, I had to test out our store's demo first to be sure I could actually operate the thing. I passed that test, so home it came. Looking forward to binding anything and everything.

* Curl-defining shampoo is a good thing. But if you're my spouse, you should not be using it. You have no curls, dude.

* What's the deal with cats and plastic grocery bags?

* Reading The Organized and Inspired Scrapbooker has been enjoyable so far. I think I now know what I don't like about my space. I've determined that I'm organized, but not inspired.

* They still use the word "cobbler" to refer to a person who repairs shoes. Would be kinda cool to have the name of your job also be that of a tasty dessert.

* The Making Memories sewing kit appears to be made for elves. It includes six spools of thread, each one small enough to fit inside your nostril. Not recommending that. Just an observation.

* Why the heck do I have a Making Memories sewing kit anyway?

* I want to live in an old elementary school.
I am completely serious! I think it would be the perfect space for me...huge art room, library, classrooms, wood floors... Just can't seem to get the rest of the family to buy into this.

* "Subprime" has been voted the 2007 Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society. While it has an obvious financial connotation, I heard in a commentary (on NPR, of course) that it apparently snagged the top spot because it is also used to describe anything that is below par. Personally, I would have voted for "lolcat," which was a winner in the "most creative" word category. In case you missed it, the 2006 Word of the Year was "to pluto" (verb) as in "to be plutoed", which means to be demoted or devalued. (I'm sure ya'll remember that sad day when Pluto was demoted from planet status.) So there ya go.

* This American Life is undoubtedly one of the best programs on NPR. You can hear it every Saturday around here or on the web anytime. It was through this show that I was first introduced to one of my all-time favorite writers, David Sedaris. But whether the subject du jour is humorous or serious, I love the pacing, format, and thought-provoking nature of this program.

* Sock monkey memo boards are available here for the low, low price of $99.95. Thanks to my friend, Connie, for this helpful referral. (If you missed it (and you probably did), I recently purchased some sock monkey jammies, to the horror of my family and some of my friends.)

* Nasal irrigation may be good for stopping a runny nose, but I'm not tryin' it. I don't care how runny my nose may be. Just so ya know, it's not runny right now. I'm just taking a position on it now, before anybody gets any wild ideas.

'Nuff said. Now back to work.

Ye of little faith

You know who you are! I'm surrounded by naysayers who tell me that Lily cannot learn to ring a bell for her food. Apparently, some people think that cats can't (or won't allow themselves to) be trained. Well, I'm out to prove those skeptics wrong! :-)

After careful analysis, I concluded that Lily didn't care for the jingle bells in the bag. So I stopped at Staples to look at alternative bells. Initially, I examined the red Easy Button, which retails for around $4.50. I considered asking the sales associate if a cat could operate it, but I wasn't sure she would know the answer to that question. Then I realized that I could push the button through the packaging. One test and I could tell that Lily would not be able to handle it. And I was pretty sure I couldn't handle hearing that guy's voice saying, "That was easy" when, in fact, cat training isn't easy at all.

So I opted for a desk bell, which cost only a little bit more. It's easy to ring and cheerful to hear, so I'm positive that it is going to make her training go much more smoothly. When she wants to eat, she should just tap the bell with her paw.

She hasn't quite started doing that yet. Right now, when I ring the bell, Lily hides and Tinsel comes running.

That's a start, right?

10 January 2008

Feline Friday: This is what can happen...

...at the end of a long week
with too much caffeine,
a box of old baby clothes,
and two unsuspecting felines.

Good times. :-)

09 January 2008

Cat training underway

OK, today I decided that Lily should learn to ring a bell for her food.

You see, one of the owners of the store where I teach just got a new puppy. She has been training the puppy to signal when she needs to be let outside by ringing a bell. The bell is hanging in a bag near the front door. When the puppy rings the bell, it's apparently quite cute.

Well, gosh darn it, Lily is smart, too! She could surely learn to ring a bell for food! After all, she is always hungry. And she already knows to scrape the wall with her sharp claws when she wants food, and sure enough, I come running. (Wait -- maybe I'm the trainable one...)

Anyway, today I put a few jingle bells into a bag and positioned them near her food bowl. Over and over, I put Lily's paw on the bag. "Ring the bell!" I would say pleasantly each time. And when she jingled the bells, she got a morsel of food.

But Miss Lily, smart as she may be, wouldn't ring the bell on her own. For whatever reason, this has been a difficult concept for her to grasp. Tinsel, on the other hand, hears the bell and comes running, but she won't touch the bag either.

Finally this evening, Lily bumped the bag a few times with her paw. I could not tell if she was mentally making the connection between the bell and the food or just moving it out of the way. Clearly, this is not a skill that can be learned in a single day.

After working on this little experiment, I think perhaps I need to get a different kind of bell. Here's why: When I throw treats to Lily, she always smacks them to the floor with her paw. If we had one of those bells that sits on a counter, I think she'd be all over it. The constant "DING! DING! DING!" might get a bit irritating, though.

Daughter suggested that I just post a sign: Please ring for service. We'll try that tomorrow.

08 January 2008


I’ve been tagged by Sarah! Here we go:

1. Name your 2 favorite scrapbooking topics: travel, cats

2. What are the 2 best places you've been to? Paris, Vancouver Island, but can I name more? Chincoteague Island (Virginia), Seattle, Maine, England, Switzerland...

3. Name 2 things you do every day: check my e-mail, listen to NPR

4. Tell us 2 things that pretty much everyone knows about you. I have a daughter and two cats.

5. 2 places you wish to visit: Galapagos Islands, Himalayan Mountains, but can I name more? Antarctica, Tahiti, back to Paris....I could go on and on!

6. 2 things you may not know about me are: I’m an only child and only grandchild (on one side of my family), I hate water

7. 2 nicknames you've had at some time in your life: Jan (but almost everyone calls me that, so maybe it’s not a nickname), JP

8. Name 2 of your favorite drinks: Diet Coke, Starbucks caramel lattes with whip and caramel drizzle (heated to 170 degrees, thank you very much)

9. The question I’m adding is this: What are 2 interesting (in a good or bad way) jobs you’ve had in your life?

In college, I took a few jobs through a temp agency. One day, I had to wait tables in a dinner theater. I took drink orders for a table of retired ladies and decided not to write any of it down (I have no idea why). Well, I couldn’t remember half of the drinks, then they turned out the lights in the theater and I couldn’t find my way back to the table. As I stumbled around with my tray of drinks, I spilled all over one of the ladies. Needless to say, that job lasted only one day. I also was an temporary office manager for a surgeon and got to assist one day with a hemorroidectomy. (No further details about that will be shared! I assure you: You do NOT want to know!)

Notice a theme? :-) All of the questions have 2 in them. Answer the questions, add one question of your own (this tag started with 4 questions) and then tag 2 people. Simple enough?

I'm tagging Darcey and Toners

I'm looking forward to seeing your answers!

07 January 2008

Heavy metal

Today I am taking a quick break from our normally sophisticated blogging discourse to talk about three metal things that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE:

#1) Loose-leaf metal rings!

I have quite a collection of rings and I use them for binding all sorts of things...cards, postcards, mini-albums, plastic bags filled with floss (no, not dental floss--embroidery floss!) ...you name it!

I buy them by the box at my local office supply store. I usually get the box of assorted sizes, ranging from 1" up to 2". At the Midwest Scrapbooking Convention where I taught this fall, I ran across a vendor selling the tiniest loose-leaf rings I'd ever seen: less than 3/4"! So of course I had to buy a few of those to keep on hand. 'Cuz you just never know when you might have something really tiny to bind.

#2) Beaded ball chains!

A close second to my beloved loose-leaf rings, chains are also great for binding various things together, or just for dangling assorted doo-dads from a tin, mini-album, or other project.

You can find ball chains in various lengths in the jewelry making department at Hobby Lobby. They are very inexpensive and fun to have on hand. Just like loose-leaf metal rings, you can't have too many of these.

#3) 7 Gypsies ATC Spinner!

Until today, I didn't know if I'd actually get my hands on one of these, but sure enough, I happened to be at Memory Bound when freight came in. So I snagged one!

I have no idea what I'm going to do with it, but for now, I'm content just to admire its cute factor.

Edited to add: If you don't know what an ATC Spinner looks like when it's full, take a look at this one by Ali Edwards.

OK, that's all I have to say about awesome metal things that bind and spin. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

06 January 2008

Let's talk typography

It may be a sad commentary on the state of my life, but I spend a fair amount of time thinking about typography.

Typography is the technical term for the style, arrangement, size, and weight of a font used in any type of visual design, whether it be an advertisement, a magazine article, a card, or a scrapbook page. In addition to playing a critical role in contributing to the desired “feel” of a design, type can also be used to organize space and provide structure.

A carefully selected font can get you miles closer to your design goals by suggesting or supporting a particular theme or style. For example, when I see this font (Candice), I immediately think of the 70's. This one (Decotech) takes me to the Art Deco period (think: Tomorrowland at Disneyworld).

In general, I've found that I tend to prefer sans serif fonts, although I use all kinds. "Serifs" are the little "caps" at the ends of letters. Fonts with serifs tend to be more traditional (a good example is Times New Roman). Sans serif fonts don't have caps on the ends of the letters and lend a more contemporary feel (see Gill below). Here are just a few of my current favorites (most of these are available free via Microsoft Office or web download):

Microsoft Gill Sans MT – You can’t beat a good sans serif font for a clean, modern look. This is my basic journaling font, for scrapbooking and any kind of writing.

Berlin Sans FB - Also a sans serif font, but a bit more rounded. This font was inspired by the first-ever sans serif font created in the 1920's. Good for a retro kind of look.

Desyrel - A very casual, realistic-looking handwriting font.

Futura - This is the font used for the "Studio" QuicKutz alphabet. Tall and thin.

Impact - A nice chunky font, great for a contemporary title.

Wendy Medium - Another casual handwriting font, just a bit elegant. Love this for titles and captions.

Willow - One of my favorite fonts for achieving an "arts and crafts", Frank Lloyd Wright kind of feel.

So which fonts speak to you? Which ones do you use over and over? Let's talk typography.

04 January 2008

Feline Friday: It was a cold and snowy day...

...the kind of day where you you wear two pairs of fuzzy pink socks and drink General Foods International Coffee (Hazelnut or French Vanilla but not Irish Cream) just to stay warm.

The wind howled fiercely. The snow drifted against the side of the house. And although it was 72 degrees inside, just looking out the window made you shiver.

Yes, it was on this very kind of day that our heroine, Miss Lily, hovered over the furnace vents. Occasional wisps of warm air wafted upward, providing welcome (albeit fleeting) relief from the bitter cold.

Hours passed and our Lily huddled on the carpet next to the new vent (source: Home Depot). She was hanging limply over it, nearly frozen to the bone, when suddenly she noticed that her claw (the only one that wasn't completely encased in ice) fit precisely into the metal grid work. With her last modicum of strength, our heroine gave a quick flick of the wrist and removed the entire vent, flinging it casually to the side.

At last, warm air flowed freely to her face. Dreams of hot summer days (specifically, that really hot day in the pig barn at the state fair cat competition when she didn't have an adequate fan) flooded her mind. Miss Lily became drowsy, almost drugged with the currents of warm air blowing tropically through her whiskers.

"If only I could get closer to the source of this warmth," she mused quietly to herself, her eyes wide and glassy with anticipation.

"Why, there's a pretty silver tunnel! Where does it lead? Perhaps I'll follow it. I think I can fit..."

* * * * *

Was our heroine brave enough to go where no feline (in this house, anyway) has gone before?

Or did all of those gingerbread cookies make her too wide to fit in the tunnel?

Did Nice Furnace Repair Guy have to make an emergency trip to the house?

Or did the homeowners secure all of the vents to the carpet with clear packing tape?

Stay tuned, friends, for the answers to these questions and many more (that you probably didn't even know you had), as we follow the adventures of our fearless feline heroine, Miss Lily, and her fearful sidekick, Tinsel, in 2008.

03 January 2008

Random musings for this week

It's the end of the holiday season, and I've collected a few new random musings (which may or may not be seasonal in nature) for our collective perusal and reflection. Be forewarned (Spouse, I'm talking to you) that this is yet another blog post without a point. Readers are encouraged to make their own points.

* Watch HGTV these days and you're bound to learn about Mighty Putty. You slice off this stuff like you'd cut through a hot dog, warm it up in your hand, then stick it to whatever needs stuck. Mighty Putty sticks handles to cups, repairs aquariums, and even sticks shelves to walls. Mr. Mighty Putty Guy says it will hold up to 350 pounds. Watch the entire commercial and you'll even see Mighty Putty pulling a big rig truck. Seriously.

* After learning about Mighty Putty, you may notice that many rooms on HGTV decorating shows are being painted olive green or gold. I've even heard them use the word "Tuscan". I have not, however, heard anyone say they were trying for the "Pirates of the Caribbean" look, which we recently achieved in our bathroom. But hey - I'm happy that our colors are in style, at least for a few months.

* I would really like to see a moose in the wild. The only moose I have seen in real life was at the Minneapolis zoo. It was so hot on that particular day that the moose was standing in a pond with only the tips of his antlers visible. I should very much like to see the entire moose, please.

* Cinnamon rolls bake much faster if you actually turn on the oven.

* Last year, my word of the year was "ORDER". I didn't do so well with my word of the year. In fact, I've created chaos in some areas. So this year, I'm having a do-over. My word of the year will again be ORDER. In fact, until further notice (or until ORDER is achieved, whichever comes first), my word will be ORDER.

In retrospect, maybe last year I wasn't as committed as I needed to be to the word ORDER. I do recall being concerned with using certain red chipboard letters on the front of my chipboard album and only having so much room for the title. I believe I was missing a few key letters, too, which complicated the operation. Yep, ORDER was about the only word I could spell that would fit. Fine way to determine a life goal, huh?

* Lily loves grapefruit. I've never known a cat to eat grapefruit. But it's slimming, and she could use a little of that, coming off the holiday season.

* I love the word extruded (it's a fancy word for squirted -- well, it's more complicated than that, but you get the idea). Did you know that Cheetos are considered an extruded snack? We saw a History Channel program yesterday about snack foods and they showed Cheetos being extruded. Seriously, the extruded Cheetos (before cutting) were four or five feet long! I am not lying! Get this: The guy who fixed the small holes in our countertop told me that solid surface countertops are extruded, too. That's what causes the occasional air bubble which results in tiny holes. If Cheetos and countertops are extruded, it makes a person wonder what else might be, too. Don't you wonder about that? I certainly do.

* White acrylic paint by Making Memories can substitute for White Out, should you make a mistake when writing something. Came up with this all by myself. So there!

* And finally, in a recent discovery, if you drop your crock pot (containing food) and it shatters, you can pretty much bet that tiny pieces will fly everywhere, and some will stay inside the crock pot. In general, it's not a good idea to serve a dinner containing shards of pottery.

In fact, that last point would make a very good, hopefully achievable, New Year's resolution: No dinners containing shards of pottery in 2008, as much as I love the word "shards".

How about it?

02 January 2008

Every Week project

Back in April, Danelle Johnson taught a few classes at the store where I teach. The owners asked her to host a special class just for the staff, and I was very excited to attend. In addition to being super-creative, Danelle is a genuine, down-to-earth kind of person. If you ever get a chance to attend one of her workshops, don't miss it!

Danelle's project, called "Every Week" consists of a 54-page chipboard album into which you place a photo each week of the year (there are a couple of extra pages for the covers). On the flip side of each page is space for journaling about the photo. In class, we used her acrylic stamps and matching paper line to create the journaling side of each page. The project was completely free-form...you designed your own pages using a set of products and tools.

After the workshop, I decided to hold onto the album until the beginning of this year to start adding photos. I set it aside in my overflowing basket of "Projects to Complete Someday" and completely forgot about it until yesterday morning when I happened to be reading about the 365 Project, a challenge in which you take a photo a day. Reading about that project prompted me to remember Danelle's album, just sitting there. It was actually perfect timing!

So I pulled it out, dusted it off, and finished up the cover (using up old stuff, thank you very much!). Now I'm all ready to go. What a great feeling to have a project ready for photos. More to come on this as we progress through the year!

01 January 2008

Happy New Year!

Hope your celebration was safe and happy!

It seems appropriate to post a picture of these adorable Olive Penguins today since I feel like we're living in the arctic. The temperature outside is a lovely 10 degrees, with a wind-chill of 6 below zero. Lovely! At this rate, the snow will never melt!

DD made this set of Olive Penguins for one of our Christmas gatherings. Thanks to the Paper Capers blog for a great tutorial! Next time, I'll buy smaller olives for the heads, and we'll work a bit harder on smoothing their little white bellies. And somehow, we ended up with several penguins with no heads at all. But in the end, these were only minor technical difficulties which did not significantly diminish the overall Cute Factor.

Thank you to everyone who has visited my blog this year. I am just amazed that anyone at all stops by, and I truly appreciate each and every visit! Here's wishing you the best for 2008!