30 January 2009

Feline Friday: Bringing the outdoors in

Ever since winter started, the kitties sit by the back door and meow almost every day. I really don't know why they're doing this: It's not like I'm going to just open the door and let them outside to play! They only go outside in nice weather and even then, only on a leash.

To help them remember that it is COLD outside, I occasionally carry them out and set them down in the snow, which they do not like even one little bit! They pull their little feet up and cling to me while I carry them back inside. :-)

Yesterday I decided to bring in some snow for them to inspect. Lily thought it was pretty interesting to touch, and she soon discovered that she could eat it, too.

Tinsel, on the other hand, was less than impressed. She turned her nose up at the snow and went back to snuggle in her warm blanket.

My thoughts exactly.

29 January 2009

Tabby Thursday

At least once a day when I'm trying to use the computer, Tinsel plants herself directly in front of the screen. She does this especially when she's hungry and wants my attention. It can be very difficult to work around her! Sometimes she even steps on the keyboard and typessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!

On this particular occasion, I was reading (or trying to read!) my blogging friend Sarah C.'s blog, 2Paws Designs. Tinsel rubbed all over the screen as if to say, "Hi, Chester and Cali!"

26 January 2009

Hello Sunshine! Cosmo Cricket Cards

I'm teaching a card class this coming weekend at Memory Bound using the colorful and kitschy Cosmo Cricket line, Hello Sunshine. I used an 8x8 paper pad to make the cards, and I have to say it was the most fun I've had making cards in a long time. These are just a few of the 12 cards we'll be making in my class.

The papers in the Hello Sunshine collection remind me of old aprons or dishtowels you might find in your grandma's kitchen drawer. The retro patterns give the cards a unique look...either you like it or you don't!

I'll be putting kits together this week. It's going to be a fun class!

24 January 2009

Layout share

Here's a layout I made as a store project for Memory Bound a few weeks ago. Since this was a New Year's themed layout, I decided to use some black and white photos from Daughter's party from the previous year. The Ki Memories chipboard letters played into the theme and color scheme perfectly.

On the left-hand page, I used a sheet of
scalloped Bazzill cardstock, a 5x7 photo, and some die-cut flourishes. The right-hand page incorporates a block of hidden journaling, a New Year's quote, and a few of our favorite photos from that evening.

23 January 2009

Feline Friday: Too much of a good thing?

Exactly how much TV should a cat be allowed to watch in one day?

One hour? Two hours? Five hours?

According to my calculations, Lily watched the bird and squirrel DVD for FIVE hours yesterday and at least that long today.

She stares at the screen, completely engrossed in blue jays and squirrels, until she can't keep her eyes open, then after a short nap she wakes up and continues viewing where she left off. (Keep in mind that the plot is fairly loose...)

Perhaps the worst part is that we are now humming the irritatingly cheerful theme song.

21 January 2009

My life in tubs

Since December, I've been on a mission to get things under control around here. I must be making progress, because our daughter observed recently that the content of our lives has now been reduced to plastic tubs. This photo shows only a few of the many, many tubs that are now in our basement storage area.

As I've been organizing stuff, I've been thinking hard about what to keep. I've given some things away and taken quite a bit to Goodwill. But there are lots of items that I want to save or that I don't have the heart to get rid of right now, so into the tubs they go. The tubs have eliminated a lot of visual clutter from our daily living space. Plus, they're stackable and fairly watertight, and having the contents organized will make downsizing much easier in the future.

20 January 2009

Tabby Tuesday

Please excuse us, dear blog readers. This is NOT ladylike behavior!

19 January 2009

Another show choir weekend

(Click to enlarge...imagine the scent of aerosol hairspray permeating the air!)

Between January and the end of March, nearly every weekend will be occupied with some sort of high school music event, including several show choir competitions. We love to support the kids, so we go to as many events as we possibly can. This past weekend, our choirs traveled to a big competition in eastern Iowa and we made the trip to watch them. All of the competing show choirs were top-notch. We were very proud of our group, placing 5th runner up amid very tough competition from around the Midwest.

On the downside, winter driving conditions deteriorated during the day, creating black ice conditions for the drive back home. At one point, the interstate was closed due to a 21-car pile-up, so we had to pull over and find a hotel for the night. Somehow the busses made the trip home safely, but we were worried sick all night about kids traveling on the icy roads.

Next weekend our school will host a huge show choir invitational. Hopefully the weather will cooperate! But with winter in Iowa, you never know.

17 January 2009

Project for a cold winter's eve

I spent a couple of snowbound evenings this week going through two years of old scrapbooking magazines. I cut out layout ideas and a few full articles for my idea binders, then recycled what was left of the magazines. It's quite amazing to look through old magazines and see how scrapbooking trends have changed. Even though these magazines weren't super old (2005-2006), the "look" was different then.

My idea binders aren't anything elaborate at all. I have one binder for full articles (divided by subject) and a second binder for layout ideas, categorized by number of photos used.

I'm much more likely to actually find an idea I'm looking for in a binder, rather than search through pages of a multiple magazines. Plus, magazines take up a lot of space -- space that I do not have! Whenever I feel like doing something scrapbooking-related (but not actually scrapbooking!) working on my idea binders is a nice, productive activity.

16 January 2009

15 January 2009

It's HOW cold?

Here in the Midwest, we're enjoying a lovely blast of arctic air this week. The temperature right now is -10 with a wind chill of -31. Hard to believe, but tomorrow is supposed to be even colder. Schools all around the state are closed due to the dangerous wind chill.

You know it's cold when poor Lily positions her body over the furnace vent and lets the hot air warm her tummy!

Christmas card collage

This is the third year I've made a layout collage of Christmas cards. I really enjoy this little project, and it's a good way to get the old mojo back after a post-holiday slump. :-) It's surprisingly fun to punch and arrange the squares.

This idea comes directly from Ali Edwards. A good square punch makes all the difference!

Of course, I don't do this with all the Christmas cards we receive. I keep photos, letters, and some cards intact in a pocket page. But this is a nice way to preserve some favorite images of the season.

Square punch (2 1/8"): Marvy; cardstock: Bazzill; tab & alphabet: QuicKutz Studio; font: Futura; ink: Colorbox

13 January 2009

Where did the time go?

It's so hard to believe that our little girl isn't so little anymore.
She's turning 16 today. Yet I remember those sweet, soft jammies and "new cup" like it was yesterday.

Happy 16th birthday!
We love you beyond words.

12 January 2009

A new toy for us!

We received a Starbucks coffee press for Christmas. I had heard great things about pressed coffee but had never tried it. This evening, we took it out of the box and put it to the test.

The instructions suggested using a more finely ground coffee than you would use in a regular drip coffee maker. We used coffee ground specifically for a press. You place the grounds in the bottom of the glass cylinder, then add hot water and let the grounds steep for four minutes. (The nice folks at Starbucks conveniently included a timer with this set!)

Next, you carefully push the plunger down into the cylinder, pressing the now-floating grounds to the bottom.

Once the plunger is at the bottom, your coffee is ready to be poured. (Of course, I used one of my Starbucks mugs!)

The press produced a very robust cup of coffee, not as strong as espresso, but much stronger than an average cup. My cup had a few too many grounds in it, but Spouse thinks that's because I poured too quickly. (His cup had no grounds, so yes, he is the superior barista!)

Once we (I) get the hang of it, I think we'll enjoy using the coffee press for a change from time to time.

11 January 2009

And then there were four (and a bird)

Last night at Starbucks, I found the most adorable little deer in the clearance bin. I left behind four of his brothers and a small red bird, promising myself that I'd go back today (without Spouse, who scoffed at the notion!) and get the rest of them. I could not stand the thought of them waiting forlornly for a home! :-)

By the time I could get back to Starbucks today, sure enough, one of the remaining brothers had been adopted! So I snagged the three that were left (and the bird) and went on my way.

They are just about the sweetest little guys!

And the bird will be cute on the tree.

I must admit, they seem very happy to be reunited!

10 January 2009

Oh, deer!

Look who I found at Starbucks! At only $1.99 in the clearance section, how could I walk away from this little fella?

Because Spouse snapped this photo with his Blackberry, the colors are a bit washed out so you can't see his festive outfit. Starbucks the Deer has soft, brown corduroy sides, a green plaid tummy, and a cranberry red back.

Four of his brothers are still living in the clearance bin (along with a little red bird), and I just may go back tomorrow and get them all.

09 January 2009

Feline Friday: New Year's Resolution for Lily

Before Christmas, I hauled the ladder (which had been sitting in our entryway for months) back out to the garage. After all, we finished painting this summer.

But Lily has missed playing on it, and (I'm sorry to say) her expanding waistline suggests that she needs a bit more physical activity.

So back inside came the ladder. Lily may not realize it yet, but she is one of the thousands of Americans starting a fitness plan this month...

Step (ladder) aerobics!

08 January 2009

Found in Decluttering

Over the holidays, I had a fit of decluttering and in the process, I unearthed this little gem. What is it, you may ask?

No, it is not a hot water bottle, as some have guessed.

It's an eyeball whoopie cushion. Just what every home needs.

My optometrist spouse brought it home from a convention several years ago.

I'm not really sure why a person needs a ANY whoopie cushion, let alone one with a bloodshot eyeball on it. This brand of humor is obviously too sophisticated for my simple brain.
As soon as I found it in the laundry room drawer, I knew it was excellent blog material. Unfortunately, Spouse beat me to it and posted it on his Facebook page for his optometrist friends to enjoy. They seem to get a bigger kick out of it than I do.

07 January 2009

A new season

Our daughter is involved in so many activities that our entertainment calendar is solidly booked! Last night was the official kick-off of the competitive show choir season. Our school district has four show choirs (8th grade through varsity) and this is Daughter's first year in the top group.

The group is gearing up for a weekend competition in Wisconsin. They looked and sounded super last night. We're looking forward to a great competitive season

06 January 2009

Can you hear me now?

I'm forever misplacing our cordless phone. But this morning, the phone was more lost than usual.

I accidentally washed it. Tossed it right in with the jammies and socks.

No wonder I couldn't hear it ringing when I called our home number. It's hard to hear a phone ringing under water.

The funny thing is that my mom once washed her cordless phone and remarkably, it still worked!

I'm hoping that after a little time in the sun, the phone will dry out and work again. But given the fact that I can sort of hear water sloshing in it, I'm not holding out much hope.

Ah, here's to a little good, clean fun to start out the new year! :-)

05 January 2009

A Finished Project: Every Week Album

This is the time of year when many people are starting new projects, but I'm just finishing one up: My 2008 Every Week Album.

This is a project from a Danelle Johnson class which includes a photo and journaling for every week of the year. I actually took this class back in April, 2007, but I held off on adding photos to the album until this past January. I blogged about it initially here.

When I first started this project, I had every intention of keeping up with it at least monthly. That worked great until about April of last year, when I fell off the wagon. When I picked it up again last week, I was eight months behind. Take it from me: The key to this kind of project (whether it's a photo a week or a photo a day) is to KEEP UP WITH IT. Do not try to do it all at once. It was easy to do one week or month at a time. Eight months at a time? Not so much.

Whining aside, I'm pleased with how the album turned out. Since I don't normally do this kind of scrapbooking, it was interesting to look at photos that span the course of a year. Given the fact that 2008 was a particularly difficult year for me, I found that it was a good exercise to write about some of those experiences. In a tangible way, it helped me see that in spite of the rough patches, life somehow goes on. And it is mostly filled with good stuff.

In the class, Danelle gave us a stack of 5x6 chipboard cards joined by a big ring. We created spaces for journaling using stamps. I used mostly 4x6 photos for the album (I cut a few to smaller sizes), then I journaled on the opposite side of each page. She provided a pack of patterned paper and stickers which I used throughout to create a consistent color scheme.

For the most part, I used my own handwriting for the journaling, but in a few cases, I printed text from blog entries or scrapbook page journaling and included that instead. Sometimes I wrote a little...sometimes a lot.

I'm pleased with the end product, and I know we'll enjoy looking at this snapshot of 2008 in years to come.

04 January 2009

Recipe: Chinese Cole Slaw

Here's a very easy recipe which is great to take to potlucks! Lily loves it (although she probably should not eat too much cabbage!) and so does Daughter, so you know it must be good. It sounds a little strange, but trust me, it's very tasty!

Chinese Cole Slaw

1 pound cole slaw mix (this comes in a bag like lettuce)
2 packages uncooked ramen noodles (oriental flavor)
1 bunch green onions
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds

2 ramen noodle seasoning packets
3/4 cup oil
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup vinegar

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the dressing and pour over coleslaw mixture. Chill overnight.

01 January 2009


If there is one thing I learned in 2008, it's that none of us knows how much time we have left here on earth.

Although it sounds a bit trite, I've come to understand that every single day we have is a gift.

I believe that a gift is something unexpected, something not to be taken for granted.

The day that my mom passed away started out like any other for her. She was going about her normal activities -- visiting friends, shopping for groceries -- when suddenly, her time on earth was done.

Experiencing and reflecting on her passing jarred me into a harsh reality: The same thing could happen to me, or to any one of us, at any time. Any day.

Would I be ready?

Every single day we are here on earth is a gift, yet I often squander the gift of time. I fritter away hours on the urgent and neglect the truly important. I miss opportunities to connect with a friend or to really listen to someone close to me.

In 2009, I want to more carefully use the gift of time. I want to spend it more thoughtfully in order to leave the world a better place, be it through a kind word or deed, or a memory captured and preserved.

I don't want to leave the truly important things undone.