30 June 2009

Tabby Tuesday

I was unloading laundry from the dryer yesterday and stopped to take a phone call. When I returned, Lily had made herself quite comfortable in the dryer!

29 June 2009

Garden areas in late June

I spent considerable time at the beginning of the summer working on my garden areas (see posts here and here). The changes I made solved some of the problems but, unfortunately, a few issues remain!
In this collage, you can see that I have a decent amount of color in this backyard garden right now, but I still have spacing issues. They are much more apparent now that many of the perennials have reached full size for the season. In some areas, plants are too close, while in other places, awkward gaps remain. I filled the empty spots with new perennials (and some annuals) a few weeks back. Some of them are doing well, but others aren't performing as I'd hoped. In addition, our trees are considerably bigger now and the lighting conditions have changed what was once a full sun area to partial shade.

By snapping a few pictures now, I'll be able to remember where I need to make adjustments this fall and next spring. It's obvious to me that certain plants need to be moved. I'm hoping that by moving them to the remaining gaps, I'll solve the spacing problems.

Gardening...it's always a work in progress. I just have to keep reminding myself that that the reward lies mostly in the journey, not the destination!

28 June 2009

Organization Challenge: Part IV

Well, five us us worked on Scrapbooker X's room last night for over 7 hours. We pushed ourselves because Scrapbooker X is coming home from her vacation today, and we wanted to have the room in good shape for her.

A couple of us spent many hours last night sorting a mountain of buttons, brads, and other embellishments into rainbow color order!

Here's the "completed" wall showing albums, cardstock, paper, and the new shelving. It took 6 hours (prior to our work session) to sort the cardstock and paper. One of our friends spent over 4 hours sorting flowers prior to our work time last night! She put them all into Making Memories jars.

Then she completely transformed the area behind Scrapbooker X's desk to a much more usable space. We had not touched this area until last night but now it's ready for Scrapbooker X to do some serious work!

You can even see the desk now! :-)

As you can see from this photo, the room has a ledge that runs around its perimeter. Scrapbooker X has collected lots of glass containers which will be cute and functional accent pieces in the room. We had hoped to fill and position them decoratively, but we simply ran out of time!

The Very Handy Husband purchased and installed vertical blinds last night faster than you can say ROYGBIV! This made a big difference in the room and will enable her to use the space at night without the neighbors peeking in!

Although we are very weary, I think we all feel great about what we've accomplished this week! The scope of the project was so large that we simply ran out of time (and hands) to do everything the way we would have liked. But the room looks great and the organization systems are now in place. Now Scrapbooker X can take over and really make it work for her!

27 June 2009

Aliens, begone!

I was getting ready to print a set of jazz band photos recently and discovered, to my surprise, that many aliens had been at the concert! Below is just one of the many shots of green heads in this set of photos.

What's a scrapbooker to do? Cutting off the bottom portion of each photo was not a good option. Using a lovely green patterned paper to match the aliens didn't seem like a wise choice, either. After all, I want to get rid of the aliens...not draw attention to them!

But printing the photos in black and white completely eliminated the alien issue and created sort of a retro feel which worked well with the theme of the page. Because I'm all about fast and easy these days, I printed three photos in a column on a sheet of 8.5x11 photo paper and cut around the entire block. But best of all, I used two hoarded products: Some very old Ki Memories paper and four Making Memories mailbox letters. (Not to worry: I still have plenty left!)

Another easy layout done. Aliens (thankfully) not included.

26 June 2009

Feline Friday: How to drink liek a ladie

Sumtimes I get real thurstie fur a cold drink. So I teached miself how to drink out of dis ginormous watr bowl! An I still luk liek a ladie! If u wants 2 tri it, heer's how:

1) Carfullie jump up on da edge of teh bowl.

2) Stick ur head down in it and start drinkin! Drink fast! U mite even see waves. Do not bez alarmd.

3) Ladies shud not get their pawz wet. Carefullie pozishun ur feet just above teh water. Dis taeks practiss!

4) When ur dun drinkin, nonchalantly jump down as if ure doin nothin out of teh ordinarie.

Thaz it! If u tri dis, let me knoe if mah instruchuns werk!

Luv, Lily

25 June 2009

Organization Challenge: Part III

I am so excited! We are making REAL progress in our friend's scrapbooking space. She'll be back from her vacation Sunday, so we've got to hurry!

My friend's Very Handy Husband joined us again this evening and installed shelving along one wall. The shelving idea was the brainchild of my companion on this project, and I think it's pure genius. Adding vertical shelving gives us much more storage and desk space, plus room below the bottom shelf for rolling carts.

Very Handy Husband was powered by Mountain Dew, by the way. :-)

While the shelving was being installed, I gathered cardstock and sorted it very roughly into rainbow-color order. *sigh* There is NOTHING BETTER than rainbow-color order! Next I'll be sorting the patterned paper by color to go into the neighboring paper trays.

Scrapbooker X had this old MAMBI spinning rack in her scraproom, but she was only using the top ribbon racks because the bottom ones are sized for 8.5x11 paper. The spinning rack was taking a lot of floor space which could be used for other purposes.

My friend had the great idea to remove the wire ribbon racks and attach them to the wall. Now all of the ribbon can be arranged in rainbow-color order! *sigh* This is a great example of re-purposing!

And yes, the paint is now in rainbow-color order! *sigh*

We've established zones in the room now for photos/photo printing, her Cricut, Sizzix and QuicKutz, and magazines/idea books. The next big task is embellishment organization.

Much work remains to be done, but the room is starting to take shape!

24 June 2009

Layout: Ice Skating

Here's another super-easy layout I finished recently, again with a bit of help from my daughter.

I created a collage of these fun ice skating photos using Picasa, then I printed it on an 8.5x11 sheet of photo paper. (Cheating? Maybe...but it's a great way to get a lot of photos on a single page. And since I pulled these photos from Facebook, the quality wasn't great, but in a collage it's not quite so noticeable.)
I had my daughter write the journaling, then I printed the title/journaling strip on my wide-format printer.

For all of you Ki Memories fans (and you know who you are!), notice that I used a few pieces from my hoarded stash -- including my coveted chipboard snowman! But I continue to use this particular striped paper only little bit at a time. That way, I'll be able to use it for years to come!

23 June 2009

Organization Challenge: Part II

This evening we worked again on Scrapbooker X's scraproom (read about this challenge here).

Although it may be hard to see, we made some very good progress. We continued sorting items and moving furniture to create a better flow in the room.

In an ideal world, you would completely clear the room and move pieces back in one at a time, but due to the configuration of Scrapbooker X's house, that's not possible. To a certain extent, we had to shift our piles from one part of the room to another to make room to move furniture.

Our third friend wasn't available today, but a very handy husband (not mine!) stepped in and took care of a few repairs. He also helped us move some of the heavier furniture pieces.

Later this week, he's coming back to hang shelving along this wall. I'm told he'll be paid with ice cream! :-)

While we're making real progress, we know we won't have everything done before Scrapbooker X returns from vacation. But we hope that the basic structure will be in place, enabling her to feel productive and inspired in her space!

22 June 2009

Layout: Iowa Jazz Championships

Here's a layout I finished up last week about the Iowa Jazz Championships, with a little help from my daughter. It's a pretty big deal for a jazz band to qualify for this state-wide event. Her band took fifth place this year.

I've been looking forward to working with this particular set of photos. The lighting on stage was great and the blue/gold spotlights made for an interesting vertical design element.

I wanted the look of this layout to be sleek and contemporary to reflect the band's music, so I kept the design very simple (no surprise there!), using strong horizontal lines to balance the vertical spotlight stripes. I enlarged two of my favorite photos, then I had Daughter choose the others.

I also asked her to write the journaling. As often as possible, I like to have her tell the story for her events. In years to come, she'll be glad she took the time to write down her own memories. I think we make a pretty good scrapbooking team! :-)

21 June 2009

Care for some...um...vortex bread?

After our first bread-machine disaster (read about it here), we gave it a few days then decided to try again.

This time, Daughter added no additional water and again followed the instructions precisely. Everything appeared to be going very well until the final 30 minutes or so, when an unusual-looking vortex began to form in the top of the bread.

Unfortunately, we had no idea how to fix the problem at that point, so we let the loaf finish baking and then removed it from the bread machine. In spite of its odd appearance, the bread was completely done and actually tasted quite good.

Just a bit difficult to butter, that's all.

20 June 2009

Organization Challenge: Part I

A couple of friends and I embarked on a little organization challenge this week: We volunteered to organize the scraproom of a mutual friend while she is out of town on vacation! All three of us enjoy organizing and thought it would be fun and challenging to help out a fellow scrapbooker.

Scrapbooker X, as I promised to call her :-), is a super-creative, artistic person. We can only imagine what she could do if her space was organized and inspiring!

As you can see from these photos, Scrapbooker X has a large space...and quite a lot of scrapbooking supplies! She also has several storage units and containers but isn't using them to their full potential. In addition, she has collected a number of decorative pieces to create a garden-type theme in her room. In short, she has the potential for a great space!

On our first visit, we surveyed the territory to get a feel for the task ahead. :-)

When organizing a room, it's a good idea to start with the "big picture." How do you want the room to function? Can you designate areas for certain tasks like stamping, sewing, or die-cutting? Scrapbooker X is lucky to have a room large enough for several activity zones. With a good organization plan, she will also have room for friends to scrapbook with her.

Our first task was to begin sorting and grouping like items together so that we could move furniture and begin to set up activity zones. We labeled boxes for tools, paper, embellishments, and other supplies. We designated a box for items that had made their way to the scraproom but didn't really belong there.

Ideally, the next step would be for Scrapbooker X to sort through each box and group things into three categories -- Yes, No, and Maybe. The "Yes" items are things to keep. The "No" items are things to get rid of -- sell, donate, repurpose, etc. The "Maybe" items should go into long-term storage (6+ months) for later reassessment. The only items that really should be organized are those designated "Yes". But since Scrapbooker X is out of town and can't do this step right now, we may end up organizing everything. She can take care of this step later.

I invite you to follow us next week as we delve into this organization challenge! :-)

18 June 2009

She's hired!

My daughter has been expressing some alarm lately about the mountain of scrapbooking I need to do before her graduation next May. Her concern reached a high enough level this week that she resorted to desperate measures: She offered to help!

She's always had a knack for design, but she's never had the time or interest to do much scrapbooking until now. Of course, I was delighted at the offer! I always prefer to include her journaling on pages about her activities, but this time she jumped in and made a few complete pages of her own, like this one below:

I love how she formatted her journaling and tailored her design to reflect the contemporary dance theme. And bless her heart...she cuts her photos to the same dimensions and lines things up completely on her own, without any prompting from me! And like her mother, she is genetically unable to tilt! :-)

She keeps me moving me along, telling me to quit over-analzying my designs (lol). She formats and types journaling, and edits and and uploads photos. Now she's working on the portrait album I started awhile back. In short, she's quite handy to have around.

What a treat this has been! Things are looking up! :-)

16 June 2009

More fun with spray paint

Last summer, Daughter and I (actually, Daughter) spray painted several brass items in our house. (Read about our spray painting adventures here and here.) Somehow we missed this small brass plant stand.

Luckily, we still have plenty of Rustoleum Universal Hammered spray paint left. No prep necessary!

Daughter likes to spray paint, so we set up operation in the yard and in just a few minutes the old brass plant stand...

had a new bronze finish!

15 June 2009

Scenes from the home show

Over the weekend, we went to the local builders' association home show. I took along the camera to snap pics of a few things that caught my eye...color, design, and decorating ideas.

It should be noted that in one bedroom (see lower left corner of the collage), there were OWLS painted on the feature wall. Of course, that was my favorite bedroom. :-)

Click on the collage to enlarge it. Check out the dance studio, tile floor, reading nook, pool house, and the child's playroom under the stairs. I will never live in a house like this, but it's certainly fun to visit.

14 June 2009


Here are a few pics from Spouse's Blackberry taken during Friday evening's Coldplay concert. Great show, even from the cheap seats.

A highlight of the evening was when the group trekked all the way to the back of the arena and performed a three-song set in the midst of the crowd.

I loved everything they played, but being a fan of their earlier work, I would have liked to have also heard more from the older albums. Of course, that would have made for a much longer concert, but that would have been fine by me. :-)

13 June 2009

Layout share: Solo Fest

Oh, my goodness...you cannot imagine how many pages I must make before graduation next May. :-) I'm plugging away at it, but I must pick up the pace! I guess there's nothing like a deadline to enhance one's productivity!

Here's a recent one covering our band/vocal solo and ensemble festival. I've actually used this design or a variation of it a couple of times now. It's loosely based on a sketch from Cathy Zielske's online class, Design Your Life. I love it when I can reuse a design! And it's a red-letter day when I use a something (other than cardstock!) from my stash. In this case, I used three somethings I need to use a LOT more of: patterned paper, Thickers
, and an American Crafts tag. The paper is an older Paper Preserves sample I picked up somewhere, and I just love it. Although it doesn't show so much in the photo, in real life, the green is a great match for DD's top.

Eventually I will put all of these recent layouts into three-ring binders. My plan at this point is to incorporate certificates, judging sheets (like those she received at this festival), and other awards into the album by slipping them into 8.5x11 page protectors. That way, if DD wants to pull any of them out for her graduation open house, it will be easy to do so.

11 June 2009

Tabby Thursday: A Cat Layout

I hear you...With graduation now less than a year away, YES, I SHOULD BE SCRAPBOOKING MY DAUGHTER'S LIFE...not spending my time on cat layouts! :-)

And, in fact, I AM working on DD's layouts. But I can't resist taking a break for an occasional quick kitty page.

I posted this collage a few weeks back (see post here) when we received the adorable Cat Squares from blogging buddy, Sarah C. Thanks to Sarah for the great treats and the colors which made for a fun color scheme!

Okay, now I'll get back to work! :-)

10 June 2009

Fresh Baked Bread? EPIC FAIL!

On Sunday, I brought home my mom's bread machine. Dad certainly doesn't need it, but both DD and I have used it in the past so I thought it might be fun for us to have at home. Yesterday she went to the grocery store to buy the flour and yeast to make Deluxe White Bread.

I stay away from most kitchen appliances, especially those with lights and numbers. My only task was photo documentation.

She followed the directions precisely. Within no time, the bread machine was kneading the dough. We were all looking forward to fresh bread.

But then, something ominous happened. Some 50 minutes before the bread was supposed to be done, I started to smell smoke. I ventured to the kitchen and saw smoke rising out of the bread machine. Something was burning!

So I did what any responsible parent would do: I summoned DD! After unplugging the machine and allowing it to cool down a bit, she gingerly opened the lid. OH, NO! The bread dough had risen and overflowed the pan! It was now stuck to the inside of the bread machine. And the center of the bread was nowhere close to being done. What could have caused this disaster?

After spending an hour cleaning the bread machine, we went back over the instructions and recipe. At one point, the instructions indicated to check the dough consistency and add water if it was too dry. Unbeknownst to me, DD had peeked in and thought it looked dry, so she added a teaspoon of water. Based on what I read, adding too much water can upset the wet/dry ingredient balance and cause this type of problem.

So she'll try it again soon, without adding water. And hopefully we will have a lovely loaf of bread to enjoy!

09 June 2009

My very first page

I was talking to some fellow scrapbookers this evening about our first pages. Decorative scissors gone wild, excessive shape cutting, sticker sneeze...I have at least three albums full of pages with those features.

Just for fun, I decided to pull out my first page, made at a Creative Memories workshop, and take a look. *sigh* I remember it like it was yesterday. Boy, was I excited! I showed this page to everyone who came to our house.

On the plus side, I used my own handwriting, even for the title! And gee, could this color scheme get any simpler? :-) On the other hand, you'll never see me tilting anything today, let alone on a diagonal. And you'll never see any more than one shaped photo on my pages, if that. (In fact, I only cut ovals once every five years! Not that there's anything wrong with tilting or ovals or circles...I just prefer straight lines!)

Admittedly, I had some very cute pictures to work with, but I regret to this day that I started with this random set of photos of my daughter at age three. While it was a great set to practice on, I've never gone back and scrapbooked anything that came before this completely chance encounter with a small town cat. It's as if her life began at that point!

Will I ever re-do any of those early pages? Probably not, unless by some miracle I finish up all of my other scrapbooking and am sitting around twiddling my thumbs with nothing to do. It's fun to see how my style has evolved over time.

Now will I have the guts to set out those three albums at graduation? We'll see!

06 June 2009

I'm not a fan of pink...

...but I do like how this container is shaping up so far.

The plant with the pink leaves is called Hypoestes. I chose the mix of flowers to match the pink leaves.
I've never tried this plant before, and I'm pleased that it's doing well in all of my containers.

05 June 2009

Feline Friday: Uncovered

Last summer, I brought many of my childhood toys to our house for safekeeping. I sorted and packed most of them into labeled tubs, but two of my dolls wouldn't fit. So I placed them on top of a tub and (because I didn't want them just lying there getting dusty), I covered them with a baby blanket.

But for some unknown reason, Lily doesn't want the dolls covered. Every single day when I go to the basement to change the cat litter, this is what I find:
The blanket is on the floor and the dolls are uncovered.

Mind you, I've never actually seen Lily remove the blanket but I'm 99% positive she's the culprit. This covering and uncovering game has gone on for almost a year, and it's now a running joke between the two of us: Every evening I cover the dolls. The next day, they're uncovered.

I had planned to buy another tub for the dolls but for now, I'm enjoying Lily's goofy antics.

04 June 2009

Tabby Thursday: Will you be my mommy?

From the day we brought Lily home to live with us, she has wanted Tinsel to be her mommy, or at least her friend. Lily craves Tinsel's attention. If she's not swatting at Tinsel, she's trying to give her a bath or cuddle with her at nap time.

But Tinsel is rather aloof to everyone, and she absolutely detests being touched by Lily. In response to Lily's desperate attempts, Tinsel growls and hisses. Sometimes she even smacks Lily in the face. But poor Lily keeps trying. It's obvious that she misses the close companionship of her feline mommy and brothers. It's actually rather sad to see Tinsel rejecting her over and over.

But lately, Tinsel has softened just a little bit. She'll occasionally permit Lily to snuggle with her at nap time, as long as they are separated by a blanket. No fur-to-fur contact is allowed.

Maybe Tinsel will never warm up completely to the mommy role, but I'm happy to see her give in just a little bit.

03 June 2009

Neighborhood garden

We live in a "planned community" with several green spaces. Just a block away from our house is a large park with a formal garden area.

When I passed it today, I noticed that the peonies are in full bloom, so I stopped and took a few photos. This is such a pretty place to sit when you're walking or riding your bike.

02 June 2009

Tabby Tuesday

This is Tinsel in her fantasy Alpha Cat mode.
Unfortunately, her efforts to be in charge are always thwarted by Lily.

01 June 2009

Garden Project #4: Clearing the jungle

Today was the day to tackle the dreaded "garden" area at the back of our lot. Of all the areas in our yard, this one has bothered me the most because 1) it's so visible and 2) it's actually attached to our neighbor's garden, so our weeds tend to spread into their professionally landscaped plot.

While I don't have a comprehensive plan for this area yet, the first step was to "clear the jungle" so I could see the extent of the mess. If you click on the collage above (BEFORE), you'll see that the area was rather overgrown. A thorny crimson barberry bush sits
menacingly at the front of the garden, its prickly stems serving as a warning to anyone hoping to pull a few weeds. At the back of the garden was a patch of iris, given to me by a friend a few years ago and hastily planted there when I ran out of room in other flower beds.

We started by trimming back the bridal wreath, which will encourage new growth and blooms next year. (Spouse did that part because a power tool was involved and somehow he didn't think it would be a good idea for me to operate it! He left the rest of this little project to me.) Next, I took out the iris -- no small task, I might add. (I'm normally opposed to getting rid of any type of flower, but they really didn't belong there and none of my neighbors wanted them. Plus, I have several other patches of that same type of iris.) I also pulled weeds and dug out as many small trees as I could. I left the vinca groundcover in place, hoping that it will continue to spread this year.
Once all the hard work was done, I planted another crimson barberry bush in place of the iris (I swore I would never do that again, but it is pretty and matches the existing bush). I spread new mulch over the entire area, then sat back with a Diet Coke to admire my hard work. :-) Click on the collage above (AFTER) and see if you notice any improvement...You might have to look closely!

It's far from perfect, but at least now it's not quite as embarrassing. I'll see how it looks over the coming weeks and make adjustments as needed.