31 July 2008

Better picture of chandelier

Spouse and I took down the two-story scaffold last night. That was no small task, I might add. Spouse scores bonus points because before we took down the scaffold, he washed the window. As you might imagine, it doesn't get washed very often!

I promised a better photo of the new light once the scaffold was removed. I am really happy with it, and even happier that this particular project is done! Thank you for all the nice comments!

Best Decorated Cage...here we come!

If you've been reading my blog awhile, you may recall that last August, Daughter and I got the crazy idea to enter Lily in our state fair's Household Pet Cat Competition. Long story short (read the whole thing HERE), it was a complete DISASTER, but somehow Lily managed to win 10th place out of 17 cats (that was, in fact, last place, but we don't focus on that little detail). We actually won the Best Decorated Cage, and we didn't even know there was a contest for that!

This year, we've made the same misguided decision to enter Lily again in competition. We KNOW that our only hope is to win the Decorated Cage Contest, so we're putting most of our effort into that part of the competition. (I mean, we will groom Lily and hope for the best, but given her performance last year, we may well be thrown out of the ring as soon as the judges see her.) Too bad we couldn't JUST enter the cage competition and leave the cat at home...

Anyway, our fair has a 70's theme this year, so I created a "cage topper" in line with that. I matched the fair font and logo as best I could. I cut out die-cut flowers to coordinate with the cage cover that Daughter and my mom sewed last year, then I selected a few photos which show Lily in sweet and innocent (read: non-snarling) poses.

This is only one part of Lily's overall cage design. There will be more to come, playing on that 70's theme. You see, when it comes to the Best Decorated Cage Competition, we WILL prevail. :-) We're fierce. Umm...some of us more than others...

30 July 2008

Let there be light!

Last night, Spouse replaced the shiny gold chandelier in the entryway with a new bronze fixture. As you may have read in yesterday's post, this involved setting up a two-story scaffold. I'm happy to report that no spouses were injured in the hanging of this light!

Here is Spouse on the scaffold taking down the old fixture. I did NOT get on the scaffold. My job was to hand him stuff and take pictures. :-)

The project was supervised by Lily, of course.

After the old fixture was removed, Spouse hung the new one up temporarily so we could figure out how high it should be in relation to the window. This involved several trips out to the street to see how the light looked from outside.

"Okey doke, that looks about right," says Lily.

Once the light was hung at the proper level, we added the amber sconces. The chandelier actually came with big, round white ones which looked like cereal bowls. We bought new ones to match our color scheme.

And here is the new chandelier! I am so happy with it. It fills the space much better and works well with the color scheme. After we take down the scaffold, I'll be sure to post a better picture. Oh, and we still need to get the right kind of light bulbs which will allow us to use the dimmer switch. The light bulbs shown here are just temporary.

Another big project -- DONE! Yippee!

29 July 2008

Next project: Replace the chandelier

Get ready for our next big re-decorating project. This one may end up being our most challenging yet! We're taking down this shiny gold, too-small-for-the-space chandelier in our two-story entryway and replacing it with a larger bronze fixture.

Most people in their right minds would hire this job done, but not us! The estimate for that was $250+, way more than we were willing to pay. For the modest sum of $25, we rented this fine two-level scaffold and Spouse will hang it for free!

My dad picked up the scaffold at the rental place for us, then somehow he and I set it all up. (Yes, it was very heavy lifting those braces over our heads!)

This is the new chandelier, still in the box. I'm under strict orders not to unpack it yet, but I cannot wait much longer! Instead of the current six lights, this one has two levels with nine lights, so it should be much brighter and have a much bigger visual impact. We purchased amber sconces to replace the white ones which came with the light.
Meanwhile, the kitties have been testing the scaffold for strength. It seems to meet with their approval, and they're enjoying the view.

Yes, Lily...it's a LONG way down!

Stay tuned this week for more on the hanging of the chandelier

28 July 2008

Quick and easy layout

Here's a layout I finished up a few days ago. Nothing fancy...just happy to have it done. These photos have been sitting in a page planning sleeve for a couple of years now. I do not know why I hadn't gotten around to doing anything with them, but I was tired of seeing them sitting there!

My daughter has helped out with Vacation Bible School at our church for several years. These pictures are from 2004. I used some very old stuff on this layout. I'm sure you can spot it: Heidi Swapp chipboard letters (I was out of the letter "s" so used the "negative" pieces), epoxy tags, and Ki Memories paper (note that I'm only using a strip of it...the rest is still hoarded!).

This particular set of photos (actually from a film camera) was printed many moons ago when I was going through a somewhat odd stage of having all my photos printed 3.5x5" with white borders. (White borders are an option at the store where I print.) These days I get 4x6" prints (or other sizes) and only rarely choose white borders. Obviously, borders work better on some photos than others. In this case, I didn't want to go to the trouble of re-printing the photos or trimming them off, so I worked around them.

27 July 2008

Recipe: Corn Casserole

If you've been reading my blog, you probably know that I'm not a great cook. I actually do (or used to) enjoy cooking, but I have some problems with the operational parts of it. I also live with very picky eaters. So I look for easy recipes that the people I live with will actually eat.

This recipe for Corn Casserole (from Paula Deen) meets my criteria. My cousin's wife brought it to a family Christmas gathering last December. At the time, I'd never heard of Paula Deen from The Food Network. Paula's specialty is southern-style cooking. This recipe could not be easier, and everyone will eat it! It's a great side dish to take if you're going to a potluck, as long as you can keep it warm.

Corn Casserole

1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (recommended: Jiffy)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese**

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and top with Cheddar. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.

** Sorry, Wisconsin friends: I'm not a cheddar cheese fan, so I leave it off. It tastes fine without the cheese. :-)

25 July 2008

Spray painting adventures: Part II

Emboldened by our success with the plant stands and picture frame, Daughter and I decided to spray paint this shiny gold floor lamp with a hammered bronze finish.

Here's the lamp to begin with. As you can see, it is quite shiny.

And, after Daughter's careful work, here is the completed lamp! It looks totally different in the bronze color. AND it blends right into the dining room instead of saying, "Look at me! I'm gold!"

I am now on the lookout for a different kind of lampshade with a less traditional shape, one which will provide a little better light. When I get the new shade, I'll post a photo of the lamp in the completed dining room.

Dining room...check!

After spray painting the floor lamp, I decided to purchase a new lampshade in a simpler style. We wanted one without pleats (which collect dust and block light) and in a less traditional style. After bringing home two from Target which didn't fit, I went to a real lamp place and bought the one below.

Although the lighting is not good in the picture below, the tan/goldish color and texture of the lampshade work really well in the dining room.

Now I THINK the dining room is really, truly DONE.

I'm completely in my task-master mode. Next on the list: Hang the new chandelier in the entryway.
After learning that it would cost $250+ to have it professionally installed, Spouse thinks he is up for it. Now this may be our most challenging re-decorating task yet, as it will involve setting up a two-story scaffold. But not to worry...we have a good disability insurance policy! Look for this story in the next couple of weeks.

Feline Friday

Lily's Super Secret Hiding Place
Sure, Lily...no one will ever find you there!

24 July 2008

From gold to bronze

As part of our (my) re-decorating efforts, we're in the process of changing the metal finishes in our house from shiny gold brass to a dark bronze. We've replaced faucets and light fixtures, and Daughter just finished changing out all the switch plates and plug covers. (That's kind of a little thing, but you'd be surprised what a difference it makes.) Stay tuned for the hanging of the ginormous new chandelier in our entryway (hopefully we will NOT be re-enacting that famous chandelier drop from Phantom of the Opera).

In an effort to save money, I decided that some of our metal pieces (like picture frames and plant stands) could probably be painted instead of replaced. I picked up a can of Rustoleum Universal hammered finish spray paint so we could give it a try.

I started with an inexpensive shiny gold picture frame. Since it was super slick, I gave it a quick sanding before starting. (I'm not sure that was even necessary.)

And here is the finished frame. Yippee! This stuff works great. It dries really quickly and has enough of a "hammered" look to mask imperfections in the application. (Remember, I'm not particularly handy when it comes to this kind of thing.) I wish this particular brown was a bit darker, but it's at least in correct color family.

Next, Daughter painted four plant stands. (See, I know when to bring in more highly skilled help!) Two of the stands (see above) had a pewter finish and the other two had been spray painted black a few years ago. (Oops...I hope Spouse is not reading this post!)

Now all four plant stands have a bronze finish. They really turned out nicely, thanks to Daughter's excellent painting skills. (Funny thing is, even though she painted all of this and I painted just one frame, I'm the one who ended up looking like a bronze tin man.)

So now I'm off to pick up another can of spray paint. Hmmm....what can we paint next? I'm eyeing that shiny brass floor lamp. Stay tuned.

23 July 2008

Cranberry Grapefruit Sparkler

I love Sobe Diet Lean, a cranberry grapefruit drink which you can find at the fountain at Panera and Quiznos restaurants. Although it is available in bottles, I have not been able to find it locally, so when I ran across this recipe in the Body + Soul ezine, I thought I'd give it a try. It's not as sweet as Sobe Lean, but it's really good nonetheless.

Cranberry Grapefruit Sparkler

1 cup cranberry juice
1 cup grapefruit juice
1 cup sparkling mineral water
Juice of 1/2 lime

Combine ingredients and pour into 2 glasses. Stir, add ice, and serve. Makes 2 drinks.

Since I'm the only one around here who likes this kind of stuff, I just made up a batch in a pitcher for myself. I don't care for lime, so I left it out. This is a really refreshing drink for a hot summer day.

22 July 2008

Frybread experiment

Daughter spent this past week as a junior counselor at a local history camp. During the course of the week, the kids did some outdoor cooking. They made corn bread and stew in a Dutch oven, and they also made Native American frybread. Over the weekend, she decided to try making it in our kitchen.

Since we didn't have an open fire, she had to use the stove to heat up the oil. This step is obviously important. It was unclear exactly how hot the oil needed to be in order to properly cook the frybread.

While the oil heated up, she mixed up the batter in a Ziplock bag. (I'm sure there are more traditional methods of mixing the batter, but when you're cooking over a fire with kids, Ziplock bags probably work pretty well.) She snipped of one corner so that the batter could be squirted into the hot oil.

Oops. The oil was obviously too hot. Daughter thought this first batch of frybread looked like something that could be found in the cat litter pan. :-)

She let the oil cool, then tried it again. The open fire was easier, she observed.

This time, the frybread came out golden brown.

Daughter had mixed up some cinnamon-sugar and put it in a baggie. My job was to drop in the warm frybread and coat each piece. (Note that I have the easy, safe job! She's much handier than I am in the kitchen!)

And here is the frybread! It's probably not the healthiest thing to eat, but it is rather tasty.

Kudos to Daughter for being so fearless in the kitchen.

21 July 2008


My name is Tinsel.

But I also answer to
and Gristle.

Please make a note of it.

20 July 2008

Random Musings on a Saturday

Special "oops" note: I've fixed my site feed settings so now you can subscribe to my blog through Google Reader or another feed service. I really love visitors and didn't realize the settings were off. Sorry for the past inconvenience!


It's been a long time since I've felt like posting a list of Random Musings. I still don't really feel like it, but I have collected a few that I thought I would share before I forget them. I figure that sometimes you have to "fake it 'til you make it", right? So without further set-up, here are a few random, uncollected thoughts and observations I've had in recent days.

* It became clear this morning that either Spouse or I am losing it when Daughter opened the sugar container at breakfast and found coins mixed in. Seems that the coin jar had been sitting next to the sugar jar, and one of us (I'm thinking it was HIM) misfired.

* Under the heading of Stupid Things Employees Say (note I did NOT say "stupid employees"), I was at a local home improvement store this week looking for new glass sconces to fit the chandelier we just purchased. The guy helping me asked, "OK, are those things called scrunchies?" Umm....no. Scrunchies go in your hair, sir. I've never seen a chandelier with scrunchies.

* I don't watch much TV, but this season I have been watching Design Star and The Next Food Network Star. First, Design Star: I'm terribly disappointed in this season. I LOVE David (the winner of season #1), and I'm having a hard time seeing how this season's contestants come anywhere close to his level of talent.

Second: The Next Food Network Star. I started watching this because it's usually on when I'm at the fitness place, and now I'm completely hooked. The competition is pretty intense, but (IMHO) none of the final three contestants has everything the judges are seeking. In the end, I think they'll have to choose the person whose weakest area can most easily be improved through training. Not sure yet who that should be.

* After watching both of these shows over the past few weeks, I've decided that I need to have my own cooking show on HGTV. It would be called Can This Dinner Be Saved?. Here's the premise: Well-intentioned, idealistic woman with an appreciation of fine French food failed to pay any attention while her mother tried to domesticate her and now lacks basic culinary skills (although she really did take a cooking class in Paris). And even if she could cook it, her dysfunctional family wouldn't eat it.
The Food Network producers really should talk to me. Filming could start just about any day.

* Similarly, I really should also have my own decorating show on HGTV. This show would be called, What's Wrong with this Room? and would feature my numerous decorating fumbles and sometimes misguided attempts to correct them. I have enough material to go for several seasons without re-runs. :-)

* I have discovered that when adjusting a font size up or down, I must keep the size on an even number. Twenty-five is NOT OK. Twenty-four is fine.

* Never having discussed this with Daughter, she revealed to me last week that when adjusting the volume on the TV, only certain volume settings are OK with her. Put the volume on "11" and she can't handle it. It must immediately be changed to an acceptable number.

* I'm sure there is a diagnosis for the above two items. I'm not sure that I want to know what it is.

* I've posted warnings about not ironing clothing while you're actually wearing it. Now here's an additional warning, also related to hot appliances: You know the little metal stand that curling irons have? Do not attempt to close that stand by pressing it against your body. You see, I have apparently developed a little habit of folding up the stand (when ready to use the curling iron) by knocking it up against my shoulder. I never realized I was doing this until the day I happened to be wearing a sleeveless shirt. Hopefully by next summer the scar will lighten. :-)

* Why do they design houses where guests enter through the laundry room? Sure, we have a front door, but often times people come in through the garage, which means walking right through the laundry room where wet items of clothing (like ratty old pajamas) are likely hanging.

* Speaking of stupid laundry room designs, I cannot tell you how many times my head has been shut in the dryer door. I finally took a picture of this so that I could garner some sympathy. As you can see by the photo, the garage/laundry room door is right next to the dryer door. It never fails: I'm stooped over with my head in to the dryer pulling out things and someone (usually--no, ALWAYS--Spouse), opens the laundry room door. It hits the dryer door and slams it shut onto my head. (Well, not completely shut, but you get the idea.)
* You're probably thinking that this explains a lot of my issues, aren't you? :-)

18 July 2008

Feline Friday: We sail at dawn!

Ahoy, mates! Captain Lily here!
We're about to set sail from the kitchen to parts unknown.

I can already feel the salty breeze in my whiskers!
Oh, no....methinks a storm's brewin', mates! Hang on...we're headed into rough seas!

Whew...that was close!
Land ho! I see a distant island on the horizon! Oh, I guess that's my food bowl.
Let's dock here, mates! This cruise is over.

17 July 2008

Layout share

Here's a layout I put together using one of Valerie Salmon's sketches. If you haven't visited her blog, check it out for some great ideas and inspiration.

I don't use sketches too often when I scrapbook, but as I've been trying to get back into the creative process lately, using a sketch makes things a little easier.

I always end up with really bad concert photos (like the one at the left), but in this case our neighbor used his zoom and gave me a couple of close-ups of the choir. I really appreciated that!

Supplies: cardstock: Bazzill; patterned paper: Sweetwater (really old!), Creative Imaginations; sticker letters: Arctic Frog; flowers: Prima, Bazzill; other: buttons

15 July 2008

Afternoon nap

After several minutes of searching for Lily, I finally found her napping on the closet shelf. The tail and leg were pretty sure clues to her whereabouts. :-)

14 July 2008

Layout share

Here's a layout I recently finished up, based on a sketch (page 40) from the Designing with Recipes book by Autumn Leaves. We've been using this book for our monthly book club at Memory Bound. Our challenge is to use the materials in our kit each month. This month's kit included the Prima paper and cardstock you see here. Surprisingly, it ended up being a good match for these old piano recital pictures. The fun colors help brighten up less-than-perfect photos.

Supplies: cardstock: Bazzill, patterned paper: Prima Dude collection, sticker letters: Arctic Frog; ribbon: May Arts, Bo Bunny; ink: Colorbox; font: Futura

13 July 2008

Fresh lemonade

My friend, Sharon, mentioned recently that her husband was whipping up a batch of fresh lemonade. This inspired me to give it a try. I always drink the lemonade at our state fair each summer. It's made with lemons and a bit of orange, too. It's really, really good (but way too expensive). When I lived in France during college, I used to drink fresh lemonade all the time. I don't know why I've never tried to make it...

...especially since, believe it or not, I have an electric juicer. It's only been used a couple of times to make orange juice. Of course, it works for lemonade, too.

The first step is to buy the lemons. It takes a LOT of lemons to make a modest amount of lemonade. I think a person should start with 10-12 lemons. Of course, when I saw the price of lemons, I only purchased four. :-)

Four lemons resulted a scant 10 ounces of juice. Don't drink it yet! It is very, very sour. :-) To this lemon juice, we added 1 cup of water and sugar to taste (at least 1/2 cup).

Pour over ice and drink. We ended up with two glasses of lemonade from this experiment. There wasn't much of it, but it was very yummy on a hot day.

12 July 2008

Butterfly Mosaic Garden Stone

If you've been reading my blog, you probably know that I've been on a quest to go through closets, clean things out, and finish up projects. A couple of weeks ago, I sorted through Daughter's extensive craft cupboard and came upon a garden stepping stone kit which I bought her years ago but somehow she never created.

I considered giving it away or selling it at a garage sale, but then the kid in me emerged: I wanted to make it myself! :-) I didn't care for the primary-colored mosaic pieces that came with the kit, so I picked up some inexpensive sea glass at Michaels to use instead. I love sea glass.

Daughter mixed up the cement for me (remember, I'm somewhat tool impaired...yes, even for things like this).

Then we poured the cement into the butterfly mold. Well, SHE filled the mold while I held the bucket. She thought it was safer that way. :-)

Here is my sea glass. It came in a bag, all mixed together, but of course I had to sort it by color. :-)

I placed violet sea glass around the edge of the butterfly and on the body.

Then I filled in the wings with green and blue sea glass.

After three days of drying, here is the completed butterfly. I'll put it somewhere in one of my flower gardens. Although it's a stepping stone, I don't want it to be stepped on!

The butterfly isn't fancy, but it was fun to make...and it's done!
Now I have a piece of garden art that we can all enjoy.