31 March 2008

Every Week Project: March

Today's post is an update on a project that I'll be continuing throughout 2008. Back in January, I posted about this little album that I actually created last year in a class taught by Danelle Johnson. I'm planning to blog about this project as the year progresses.

My initial plan was to add photos at the end of each month so that I could print four at one time and conserve photo paper. Well, that worked for January, but February slipped by me completely. So last week, I printed photos for February and March and added them to the book.

It really couldn't be easier...the pages are all ready. I just have to select a significant photo from each week, print, and add to the book. I have a packet of matching
paper and embellishments for this project, so it's easy to add a bit of trim. The journaling blocks are also prepared which makes it easy to write about each photo.

For the month of March, I added five photos, including this photo of shoes. Daughter's high school friends hung out at our house several times over spring break, and this was a common scene in our entry way.

I also added a photo of Daughter and some of
her show choir friends. March is a big show choir competition month, and it also marks the end of another show choir season. It's always a bittersweet time of year.

By the end of the year, I'll have 52 photos representing both little and big moments of 2008. I'm really looking forward to the prospect of having a completed album in December. Watch...I'll be finishing it up on New Year's Eve! :-)

27 March 2008

Blog Post to Layout

When I started my blog, one of my main objectives was to create text for future layouts. Since I usually begin a layout by figuring out the story that needs to be told, using my blog posts saves me time when I sit down to actually create.

Here's an example of exactly what I'm talking about. This layout is almost identical to this blog post. I printed the photo collage (created in Picasa) to measure 7.5x7.5, then I formatted my blog text in Word. Once I determined how much space the story would take, I figured out how everything would be arranged.

I got the formatting for the title while walking on the treadmill and watching Quick Fix Meals. I have no idea what this woman was cooking, but I really liked her logo!

I used a Krylon silver leafing pen around the edges of the title block, although you really can't see it well in the photo. In addition, I punched a snowflake, pressed it into an embossing pad and heat embossed it with silver powder. I added silver brads along the scalloped edge.

So there you go. Blog post to layout. I love it when things go as planned!

Please don't eat the kitty litter



Recently, I've been trying a few different kitty litter brands in one of our litter boxes in an effort to please Tinsel, who has developed an occasional aversion to Fresh Step Scoopable Multi-Cat Litter.




So what's the most important feature when purchasing kitty litter, you ask?

It must be non-toxic. As in non-toxic should a cat happen to eat it.

My concern with toxicity stems from last year's summer vacation, when Tinsel and Lily went to stay at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Grandma had purchased a bag of Fresh Step Crystals. We found Lily, muzzle deep in the litter box, blue and white crystals all over her face. It was unclear how many pretty crystals she had eaten.

Knowing Lily's history of eating things she shouldn't (carpet, paper, drywall...), I was somewhat concerned when the vet suggested I try an inexpensive bag of clay litter for Tinsel. We concluded that Lily most likely would not eat clay, so I purchased a bag. But no sooner than I filled the litter box, I found her eating that, too. Clay is not a good thing for her to ingest, so out to the garage went the bag.

My latest purchase was this bag of natural wheat litter. I was fairly certain she'd at least taste it, but since it is completely non-toxic, I wasn't as concerned. We actually love the litter, and Tinsel seems to like it, too. Her litter box "issues" have stopped. And even better, Lily hasn't shown an interest in it at all, so I concluded my problems were solved. Or at least I thought they were...

Last night, I cleaned the litter box and filled it with fresh wheat litter. This morning, I heard some odd noises coming from that vicinity and sure enough, there was Lily, face deep in it. She looked up at me, licking litter from her chops, as if to say, "What's the problem?"

And she's got a point. It probably tastes just about like the cereal I had for breakfast this morning.

Although it's non-toxic, I think I'll take her word for it.

26 March 2008

What were they thinking?

OK, I've just returned from a quick run to the grocery store, where I spotted Kellogg's new Wild Animal Crunch.

I don't know about you, but I am completely APPALLED by the name of this cereal. I'm sort of accustomed to the name of my cereal reflecting the ingredients. For example Oatmeal Crunch contains oatmeal, and Frosted Flakes are...well, Frosted Flakes.

Wild Animal Crunch does NOT, thankfully, contain wild animals, but the name and photos certainly imply that it does.

Do the good marketing people at Kellogg's not test product names? Evidently not on people like me. I'll be interested in watching how long this one lasts.

Lily says...

I'm on a seafood diet: If I see food, I eat it.*
Anonymous

* yes, even grapefruit!

24 March 2008

Marimba on Monday

In case you haven't had the opportunity to see or hear a marimba, I thought I'd share a bit of one of DD's practice sessions over break. I love the sound of this instrument!

But first, a couple of important disclaimers:
1) Viewer must overlook relatively poor quality of the film -- it was made with a digital camera.
2) Viewer must not gasp at the sight of flowered wallpaper in the entryway --it will be coming down soon!

That said, enjoy!



21 March 2008

Feline Friday: Easter photo shoot

Our photo shoot began with a pair of cat reindeer antlers, hastily retro-fitted with cardstock bunny ears for the Easter holiday.

Our first model was called in and was found to be most uncooperative. She allowed but a single decent (albeit blurry) photo before she left the shoot in a complete huff. What a cattitude!

Fortunately, a replacement model was found almost immediately, sleeping on a pile of towels and blankets. In her still-drowsy state, she proved to be a marginally willing subject, as long as the
photographer and her assistant worked rapidly.

Please disregard the evil-looking scowls and have a lovely Easter!




20 March 2008

Tales from the fitness place

Let me preface this post by saying that I am about as far from being an athlete as you can get. Until this past week, the most exercise I've ever had (other than long-distance walking) is childbirth. (As an aside, they don't really prepare you for that, do they?)

So for me, joining a fitness place is like dropping in on a completely strange civilization, where people actually sweat and look somewhat buff. Here are some observations I've made during my first week of visiting this strange new world:

* From what I've seen so far, lots of people at this little fitness place appear to be training for the Beijing Olympics. Who knew?

* Headphones are important, so you can watch TV whilst on the treadmill or bike. Headphones also contribute to the overall fitness "look".

* OK, I'm trying to remember to refer to the bike as RECUMBENT, not RECOMBINANT, which has to do with DNA. Although I'm pretty sure my DNA is somehow involved in this whole thing...

* After riding the RECUMBENT bike until I thought I was going to keel over, the "Fitness Summary" on the bike screen told me I had only burned 37 calories. 37 calories??!! This cannot be accurate. This data would suggest that I didn't come close to working off my raspberry/white chocolate scone. If I rode long enough to burn all those calories, I'd surely have to be hospitalized. So one has to ask: Wouldn't it be a whole lot easier (and money-saving, too) to just quit eating the scones and skip the exercise torture? The answer is YEP, but in some twisted sort of way, exercise is apparently not just for burning calories -- it's actually supposed to be good for you!

* Headphones should have a pretty long cord, otherwise a person risks strangulation. (Don't ask for details.)

* If you work hard enough, you'll actually sweat. I really don't like to sweat, but there appears to be no way around this.

* Unless you are a trained professional, DO NOT decide to do the "Mountain" setting on the exercise bike... or even the "Random" setting (which is just the "Mountain" setting in disguise).

* It would be really easy to fall off the back of the treadmill, although I haven't done that yet. At higher speeds, it's a distinct possibility.

* It can be somewhat alarming to see one's heart rate rapidly approach the "Target Heart Rate" and then keep right on going.

* Gym wipes are used to wipe other people's sweat off of the equipment. EWWW!

* I will not get back on the Evil Stair Thingy until I'm the only person in the place. To operate it, you have to simultaneously move your feet and arms in different directions, and somewhat independent of each other. This is something I haven't quite mastered, to say the least.

* I do not want to see anyone I know while I'm there. I do not want to talk to anyone. I just want to get in, do my little thing, and leave before anyone recognizes me. Oh, wait -- there is NO WAY anyone would recognize me.

* Because there is no HGTV, I've resorted to watching the Food Channel while on the treadmill and RECUMBENT bike. This is either a very good thing or a very bad thing. I haven't decided which.

* My legs are pretty strong, all things considered, but my arms are not nearly as strong as I thought they were. And everything in between is completely questionable.

* Always identify the exact position of the STOP button.

* After going to the fitness place for several days now, I'm sore but will admit that I feel a bit more limber. Not that I was stiffened up or anything. Like I would ever admit that, anyway...

So now I'm asking this: Where's my old elementary school PE teacher, the one who called me "physically unfit"? The one who made fun of me when no one would take me on their team: "Come on, SOMEBODY has to take her!"

Haven't seen HIM at the fitness place. Ha! Take that, coach!

18 March 2008

2Peas Challenge

Today's Two Peas blogging challenge is this: What is something you do well?

This is a hard one for me. I'm naturally inclined to think of things I don't do well. I could come up with an entire list of those. In fact, here are a few, just to keep things in perspective:

Things I DON'T do well:

* Swim -- probably the WORST possible thing you could ask me to do.
* Ask people for money -- I could never be a professional fundraiser.
* Confront people if I'm unhappy about something. Spouse and Daughter would probably disagree with that.
* Program the DVD player or anything with buttons (other than a computer).
* Shop -- hate it, hate it, hate it.
* Say no.
* Keep tropical fish alive -- oh, I feel TERRIBLE about the fish I've killed along my learning curve....
* Stay in touch with friends -- sadly, I don't do this very well. I'm working on it.
* Use a map -- I just don't. I get lost regularly. Not a problem for me, but it really bothers people around me. I just allow extra time because I know it's gonna happen.
* Work with numbers -- call me math-impaired. I'm all about words. No numbers. Just words, and an occasional picture.

Here are a few things I think I do fairly well:

* Produce decent-looking things using MS Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. YAY for that!
* Organize events -- big ones, small ones. If I'm in charge, there's a spreadsheet and I become a taskmaster!
* Organize stuff -- I'm pretty good at this, although right now I have way too much stuff to organize.
* Develop and teach classes -- I think do pretty well in this department. I do enjoy it.
* Connect with cats and dogs -- I would have a house full of them if I could.
* Write, when I let down my guard and just do it.
* Stay focused -- if I'm working on a project, I can totally ignore everything around me for extended periods of time. This is not always a good thing, but it does have some advantages.
* Follow through -- if I say I will do something, I always do it.
* See patterns, symbols, and deeper meanings -- I'm definitely a "shades of gray" person...As much as I like to accomplish things, I'm a fairly abstract thinker.

Some assembly required

Just because it's spring break doesn't mean that Daughter gets a break from practicing piano and all things percussion. Normally she has to do her marimba practicing at school, since we don't have one at home due to the cost ($8,000+) and space requirements.

But this break, she got the opportunity to bring home the 4.5 octave concert marimba...IF she could figure out how to take it apart and put it back together.

Daughter really wanted the convenience of practicing at home, so she got instructions on taking it apart from her teacher and home it came...in the back of Spouse's SUV and in approximately 1,000 pieces.

Now that it's back in one piece, I've been enjoying the warm, tropical sounds of this beautiful instrument. It's the perfect cure for the winter blahs.

17 March 2008

Random musings because it's Monday

Since it's a Monday and there is nothing better than procrastinating on a Monday morning, let's have a bit of random musing to start off the week. If you're new to my random musings, this is simply a collection of often incredibly useless (but occasionally somewhat useful) thoughts or observations from recent days.

* It's generally not a good idea to fling open the dishwasher to add a plate whilst it is in full wash mode. Theoretically speaking, of course.

* I am all about eliminating spelling errors from signs....actually, from any printed material. Imagine my delight when I learned of TEAL: Typo Eradication Advancement League. Some like-minded folks are taking a road trip across America (even as we speak) in an effort to track down and eliminate typos. You can track their progress on the website. Man, if I were available through May, I'd be asking to go along. I'll be sure to take a picture of the "Turkey Leg's" sign at our state fair this summer. I'm sure they'd appreciate it.

* Sometimes Tinsel gets cat hair in her nose and it makes her sneeze. It's almost like she's allergic to cats. Except she is one.

* I would still like to see a moose in the wild.

* Speaking of large, antlered animals, Caribou Coffee has pretty decent scones. Better than Panera.

* Speaking of Panera...I ordered a Greek salad there last week, minus the feta cheese and the onions. OK, some would say that if you lose the feta cheese, it's hardly worth calling a Greek salad, but I can't stand feta cheese. I actually order the Greek salads at Panera just for the Kalamata olives. I could eat my weight in Kalamata olives. Anyway, I get my salad and find that it is nothing but lettuce and dressing.

I gently inquire as to the whereabouts of the olives.

"Oh, we're out of them," says nice Panera manager.

OK, people. At some point, the already stripped-down Greek salad ceased to be a Greek salad. I think that happened at the point where we lost the olives. And at that point, the lowly customer should have been informed so she could have changed her order. Instead, she ended up paying for a Greek salad which consisted of lettuce and dressing. The dressing is good, but it's nothing without the olives. Grrrr....

* It doesn't matter how long you sit at a stop sign...it will never turn green. (If you happen to be one of the teenagers present in a certain SUV on that day, please keep your appropriately snide comments to yourself. JK, of course. Bring 'em on!!)

* Grapefruit juice is really good. I like it a lot. I'm drinking a lot of it. But even better is Sobe Lean, which you can only find at a couple of restaurants around here. It's diet cranberry grapefruit juice. YUM.

* If you're not already sitting down, perhaps you should do so before reading this: Spouse and I have joined a fitness club. Never before have I done anything like this. (I was the girl in elementary school who no one wanted on their team. I was the one the coach called "physically unfit".) So I have spent the last two evenings familiarizing myself with various Machines of Torture which are designed to manipulate muscles that I didn't know I have and am pretty sure I do not need. The good thing is that some of the Machines of Torture have televisions attached. The bad thing is that they don't have HGTV. Upon discovering this, I felt a profound sense of "bait and switch". Moreover, I had to purchase "workout pants" because my friends told me (in no uncertain terms) that I could not wear my sock monkey jammies to the fitness club. No HGTV? No sock monkey jammies? What kind of place is this, anyway???

* Our tap water has started tasting awful lately. Spouse talked to someone at the water department who said they are adding loads of chlorine to combat chemical run-off, something they frequently do in late winter. Nice. A couple of years ago this month, I lost an entire tank of tropical fish. At the time, I was sure something had changed in the water, but no one at the water department would confirm it. Now I know. I'm so sorry to have annihilated you, little fishies.

* Give me a bookstore, a rainy day, a blueberry scone in a paper bag, and a caramel latte, and I'd be totally happy. Seattle, here I come.

* While waiting for a table at Applebee's, you might be holding one of those little light-up buzzers. When the buzzer goes off to signal your table is ready... 1) Do not scream and 2) Do not attempt to answer it like your cell phone. Again, these are just tips. Purely theoretical, ya know.

13 March 2008

Feline Friday: Damien

Meet Damien, the kitty we adopted after we moved to our first house.

Damien, my vanilla and caramel kitty. Damien, who I think every morning when I put cream in my coffee until it turns a lovely caramel color, just like his fur.

Damien, the most aptly named of all cats. Damien, who eventually grew to 19 pounds and (because of his viciousness) had to go live with my parents on the day Daughter was born. Damien, who once put my dad in the hospital. Damien, who sucked a blanket before he went to sleep. Damien, who ate part of stuffed Mealy the Mouse's head and nearly succumbed to intestinal blockage. Damien, who tumbled into a cactus patch as a baby kitten before we brought him home from the farm. Damien, who fell asleep on my lap as I pulled thorns from his paws. Damien, the legendary cat who our vet still remembers, years after his untimely death.

Damien, my first true kitty love.

12 March 2008

Found

Behind Spouse's desk, he found this little treasure.

And he scanned and sent it to Daughter (now 15) with a note...


Things like this show why it's hard to watch a girl grow up so fast!

I love you, too.

Daddy


How true. Where did the time go? What happened to all the years between then and now? I believe that many things happen for a reason. That note was a little gift, found at just the right time.


11 March 2008

Tagged: 7 Weird/Random Facts

Busy couple of days...Sorry for the delay in getting to this tag from Sarah!

Here are the rules:

  • Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
  • Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
  • Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
  • Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Here are my 7 random/weird facts:

  • I love crab cakes. When we travel anywhere near the ocean, I eat crab cakes everywhere we go.
  • I’m not a morning person. If the day started at 4pm, that would be fine by me.
  • I’ve driven home from the grocery store without my groceries. Several times, in fact.
  • I can’t wiggle my ears or whistle. But I still seem to get by pretty well.
  • I played baritone in junior high and high school. I really wanted to play French horn, but the band director told me he “needed more women in low brass”. So, being all about equality, I set aside my own desires for the good of the cause.
  • In my undergrad studies, I minored in piano performance. I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t play nearly as often as I should these days. One of my goals is to get my performance level back up to where it should be.
  • One day, I’d like to buy a vintage Land Rover. Camel Trophy, here I come. I am completely serious about this. That new Land Rover commercial is not helping me.
I'm tagging Cheri, Maureen, Lynn, KarenSue, Heather, Darcey, and Colleen. Have fun!

09 March 2008

Fun with a used dryer sheet


Is your house overrun with used dryer sheets?

Do you ever wonder how you could put them to good use after they've softened your clothes?

Well, look no further. Thanks to the creative and crafty folks at splitcoaststampers, you can put your used dryer sheets to work jazzing up your stamped images.

Here's how:

1) Stamp an image; color if desired.
2) Run the stamped image through a Xyron, face down, so that the adhesive ends up on the design side.
3) Stick the used dryer sheet to the stamped image, right over the top. Trim the dryer sheet as needed.
4) Rub superfine glitter into the dryer sheet. The glitter will stick to the sheet for a shimmery appearance.

The glitter doesn't show in the photo, so you'll just have to trust me on this one. It's fun, foolproof, and actually somewhat amazing! We tried this technique in my glitter class last week with excellent results all around.

Next time you do laundry, give it a try!

07 March 2008

05 March 2008

Inspired by another tag

I was going through a few piles of stuff over the weekend and found another tag that I recently pulled from the trash. If memory serves me, this tag came from a shirt that DD bought at Target. I love the layers of color and the white design at the side.

As a result of my scavenging, I now have quite a collection of tags, postcards, ads, and brochures collected on my table for when I need a bit of inspiration.

I actually think this tag would make a great layout, but I started with a card just to see how it would translate. To make the card, I used a bit of Making Memories acrylic paint on the card base. After it dried, I added a few Basic Grey rub-ons (only a few: I'm hoarding the rest!) to the left portion of the card. I cut the letters using QuicKutz fonts (Khaki and Olivia). They're not the same look as the original tag, but I wanted to use what I had on hand and didn't want to mess with figuring out font colors on the computer.

So thanks for the inspiration, Mossimo Tag Designer...wherever you are!

04 March 2008

03 March 2008

A few good things

Thought I'd start the week with a quick list of a few things I pretty much love:

Thomas English Muffins. I'll eat other English muffins if I'm forced to, but Thomas brand is the best, IMHO. The package refers to the "nooks and crannies" of these particular muffins. If you're someone who appreciates English muffins, you know what I'm talking about...lots of holes for the butter to soak into.

Blueberry preserves. Did you know that on the continuum of fruit spreads, preserves have the most chunks of fruit? The continuum goes like this: jelly, jam, preserves. No jelly or jam for this chickie. Only preserves, and preferably blueberry.

The Font Thing. If you're looking for a simple way to organize (and better utilize) your fonts, The Font Thing is for you. It allows you to view sample text, see entire character sets, categorize your fonts, and more. Best of all, it's free.

Divine Design. I swear, Candice Olson is the most talented interior designer in the entire universe. I could never afford her services (and you have to live in Toronto to be on the show), but I'm completely inspired by how she transforms ordinary or dysfunctional rooms into amazing spaces.

Kokuyo Dot 'n' Roller. This is by far my all-time favorite adhesive. Available in permanent and repositionable, the adhesive dispenser doesn't jam and clog like the Herma brand, and the tape doesn't break as sometimes happens with Duck adhesive. Plus it's super easy to insert refill cartridges (unlike Herma). I recommend it in just about every class I teach.