29 January 2010

Feline Friday: Private Dining

At fancy restaurants, VIP guests may be treated to a secluded spot for dinner, commonly referred to as Private Dining.

At our house, Private Dining is offered out of necessity...to keep Lily from eating Tinsel's food! Either Tinsel or Lily may enjoy Private Dining on our basement steps. :-)

Here is Lily enjoying her dinner. Not chewing a bit, mind you, but swallowing it whole.

Hey! Can't a girl get a refill around here?

Apparently this "fancy" restaurant is actually a self-service joint!

28 January 2010

A Benefit of Snow Days

How many of my scrapbooking friends can relate? Nothing better than being holed up inside your warm and cozy house with a stack of photos to scrapbook and idle family members to help!

This scenario has played out at our house several times this winter (with minimal success, I might add). *sigh* A scrapbooker can only hope...

27 January 2010

Another Christmas in January Project

As I shared a couple of days ago (see the post here), I contributed several projects to the 2009 Better Homes and Gardens annual Christmas book.

This one is an "countdown to Christmas" project, created from a plain white box with drawers by Karen Foster. I covered the sides and back of the box, decorated the drawers, and fashioned a "topper" to provide a focal point and additional height. Click on the photo to biggify!

I used Imaginesce products for this project, but you could also create a very cute countdown calendar using leftover bits of this and that.

I have a countdown calendar of my own that I created from a Starbucks product (see it here). The trick is to fill it with goodies that I do not like, otherwise I would eat them all on the first day! :-)

25 January 2010

Christmas in January

For the past few years, I've been a project contributor to one of Better Homes and Gardens' annual books, Christmas from the Heart. This book contains all sorts of Christmas ideas -- craft projects, recipes, decorating suggestions, and more.

I just recently received my copy of the 2009 book and thought I'd share some of my projects over the next few days, even though it is well past Christmas!

This particular project, a child's board book of Christmas shapes, was one of my favorites. I identified a few basic shapes -- rectangle, circle, star, etc. -- and found a set of Christmas chipboard (I used K & Company's Swell Noel line) in which those shapes were visible. The basic shapes are shown on the left pages of the book, and various chipboard shapes are on the right. The child is prompted to find the shapes within the decorative chipboard pieces.

You could certainly alter an old child's board book for this kind of project, but I used a blank book. Those of you who know me understand that I could never alter a book! :-)

22 January 2010

Feline Friday

Forgive me if I've already posted multiple pictures of Lily in her signature TWISTED position.

It's just so darn cute, and she does it so frequently, that it's worth sharing again.

21 January 2010

Ice Storm

I love a good ice storm.

I know that ice is not good for power lines or trees, but I think it can be beautiful. It turns ordinary branches into glistening jewels!

This small tree at the corner of our house took on more than its share of ice in yesterday's storm.

On some branches, the ice was nearly an inch thick!

My thought is this: We can't control winter, so we might as well try to see the beauty in it. And this winter, we've certainly had ample opportunity to do just that!

18 January 2010

Closet Dis-Organization

There is one particular closet at our house which, if left open, is IMMEDIATELY detected by Tinsel. In through the cracked door she sneaks, then up onto the shelves she climbs. This particular closet houses a lot of IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS (i.e., junk), and she cannot resist checking it out.

Recently, I heard a familiar noise and peeked into the closet to find her perched on top of a pile of sheet protectors and empty binders. (Of our two cats, she's the intellectual, you know!)

"SCRITCH! SCRITCH!" she dug at the plastic sleeves.

Frantically she worked, trying to move them out of her way, but completely forgetting that...

OOPS! Those sheet protectors are pretty slippery! And down she went, sheet protectors and binders close on her heels.

Of course, no harm came to Tinsel. She scampered off to an afternoon nap, leaving the closet in even more disarray than she had found it.

15 January 2010

Feline Friday: Everyday Tinsel

To some blind souls, all cats are much alike. To a cat lover, every cat from the beginning of time has been utterly and amazingly unique.

Jenny de Vries

14 January 2010

Scrap Storage

I'm a fairly frugal scrapbooker (okay, VERY frugal), so I really do use my scraps. But there IS such a thing as too many scraps. If you're not quite sure what that looks like, see the first photo below.

This is what my scrap storage has looked like for quite some time. Way, way, WAY more scraps than anyone could possibly use in a lifetime. Sorting through this many scraps looking for that precise shade of green or tiny piece of blue was enough to make me crazy.

Recently I pared my scraps down to a very reasonable amount and put them in smaller drawers I was using for other supplies -- in rainbow color order, of course. I punched a cardstock circle to color-code each drawer. I bagged up the scraps I didn't need and put them in my "donate" box.

Then I covered the inside front of each drawer with black cardstock, because I don't like the contents of my drawers to show! (I mean, who does???)

My only complaint about these drawers (and the two additional sets not pictured) is that they're only 11 inches deep, which means they don't accommodate 12" scraps. I have to store those long scraps with my full sheets of cardstock. But that's probably the best place for them anyway.

And there you have it! Much more organized and usable scrap storage. And it didn't cost a thing.

11 January 2010

Ummm...It's Complicated

In our bathroom cabinet, there is one drawer which Spouse fears to open: The Hair Appliance Graveyard. It is a tangle of cords connecting to devices of all sizes and colors, most of which are not in working order. But I have a hard time throwing anything away which could perhaps be repaired, so there they remain.

I recently decided that it was time to tackle this jumbled mess but decided to pause first for a moment of documentation. Please join me in a little tour of the drawer contents:

* 3 hair dryers, 1 non-working, plus assorted and sundry nozzles and diffusers for the highly technical work of drying one's hair: As Spouse will tell you, I have issues with winding up cords (basically, I skip this step or do it poorly), so the dryer with a retractable cord seemed like a good idea at the time. But, if my memory serves me, it shoots flames. The tiny little dryer came with Spouse when I got him. For years, he thought it was the only dryer I needed on vacations. But it emits about as much air as one expends to blow out a candle. Needless to say, this is NOT enough wind power to properly style my hair!

* 2 curling brushes, 1 non-working, plus assorted detachable instruments of torture: I seem to go through a lot of curling brushes but the reason for this is not clear to me. (Oh, yeah...it's my cord-winding issue!) I've bought some version of the white one 3 times. The one pictured recently stopped working midway through doing my hair. This created a BAD HAIR SITUATION, causing me to rush to Walgreens and hastily buy the black curling brush, hoping not to run into anyone I knew.

* 6 (COUNT 'EM!) curling irons of various circumferences, an unclear number of which are non-working: Some heat but have mechanical issues. Some don't heat at all. One (can't remember which one) throws sparks. I recently bought the 2 devices on the far right but I found that my hair (which is pretty long) isn't long enough to wind around the barrel of the largest one. This also created a BAD HAIR SITUATION, causing me AGAIN to rush to Walgreens and buy yet another curling iron in a minutely smaller circumference. With curling irons, you can't have one that is too small or too large. A curling iron has to be JUST RIGHT. The problem is that I don't know what "JUST RIGHT" is.

SOOOOO...After taking all of the appliances out of the Drawer of Doom, my initial plan was to test them and only put back the ones that do not shoot flames or emit the odor of something electrical burning. That seemed like a reasonable thing to do which would please my family.

Yep, that was the plan.

But then I decided that testing them all would take too much time, PLUS some of the devices MIGHT be repairable (you just never know!) so back into the drawer they all went.

I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE THINKING! BUT, in my own defense, I put them back in a much more organized fashion, so there is actually much more room now in the drawer.

And you know what that means...

09 January 2010

And now for something completely different...

I took a break from the relentless scrapbooking of school events to document a very different kind of event which takes place periodically in our back yard: The dropping of THOUSANDS of locust pods!

These pictures (fall, 2007) show the pods after they've been raked into piles. You should see them when they're scattered all over the yard (and our neighbor's yard). What a mess! The pods are the bane of Spouse's existence.

May I also say how much I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this paper by Rocky Mountain Paper? And no, I did not coordinate the bucket and wheelbarrow to match the paper. :-) It's a tiny bit wonderful when your patterned paper just happens to match real life!

08 January 2010

Feline Friday: Laws of Physics

Daughter has been working on a "physics in everyday life" project this week. She asked Lily and Tinsel to illustrate a couple of laws of physics. Together, they demonstrated Newton's First Law in way not likely seen in physics textbooks:

A body at rest remains at rest ...

...unless acted on by an outside force!

Tinsel leaves after Lily exerts a force on her

that sets her into motion.

As you can see, Tinsel and Lily did a nice job illustrating this important law of physics. They've obviously had a LOT of practice! :-)

07 January 2010

Snow Day!

We're in the midst of our third big snowstorm of the season, and it's only the first week of January. School is closed, there's no bread left at our grocery store, and people are hunkered down waiting for the storm to pass. I actually enjoy snowstorms, as long as I don't have to be out driving.

Sometimes I think the weather people hype up the forecast a little bit and get folks unnecessarily alarmed. I realize that they're trying to keep people safe (and of course that's of primary importance), but sometimes the warnings seem a little over the top to me. After all, we're in Iowa. Snow is to be expected! Let's not be weather wimps, people! :-)

Here's the view out the laundry room window this morning. This particular snow is very light and powdery. Snow usually doesn't stick to the windows like this!

The wind has kicked in and is blowing the powdery snow into some interesting -- almost sculptural -- drifts. This is the drift in front of our house. Hopefully no one will stop by today, since you can't get to our front door at the moment!

This is the view from an upstairs window. As you can see, there is a LOT of snow around here. The first snowstorm dumped around 16 inches, then the Christmas storm added several more. And now we're adding another 6-10 inches on top of what we already had.

It really is a winter wonderland!

06 January 2010

04 January 2010

Another layout inspected & approved

In case you aren't aware of this, all of my projects are inspected by Lily or Tinsel. In fact, Tinsel indicates her approval by STEPPING in the middle of my layouts, leaving her signature DENT.

This particular layout was inspected by Lily, who carefully walked around it and not ON it. I appreciated her attention to that little detail!

I actually finished this three-page set up awhile ago but was awaiting Daughter's journaling. For the last two summers, she has been a junior counselor at Living History Farms. These pages document her first summer as a JC, so I wanted her to write about the experience. We lucked out and got some of the photos from the counselor in her group who was required to document the experience.

Notice the striped paper? I used some of my favorite older (hoarded!) Chatterbox. Lily seemed to approve!


This was our year to host Spouse's extended family after-Christmas gathering. This event started many, many years ago, back when his grandparents were alive. There may have been a gift exchange and other festivities at one time, but the only thing anyone remembers about the event is that Grandma served her famous homemade chicken and noodles. I had the pleasure of watching her make them once. She rolled out the noodles by hand and hung them over the back of her kitchen chairs to dry. It was quite a process, but the results were well worth the wait!

When she passed away, a few years went by when the family gathered without the noodles. Then, in a severe state of carb withdrawal, Spouse started a campaign which he called "Bring Back the Noodles!" He asked his mom to write down what she could remember of Grandma's original recipe so that the noodles could be re-created.

Nowadays, this after-Christmas event rotates between Spouse's cousins. The host family prepares the noodles. The rest of the menu is always the same: mashed potatoes (in a quantity which would serve a small army), a vegetable, a tossed salad, rolls, and leftover Christmas goodies for dessert. The menu is practically sacred: Don't even try to mess with it! It must be EXACTLY the way Grandma used to do it!

This was our year to host the event and our first time making the noodles in such a large quantity. Like Spouse's cousins, we used frozen noodles and rotisserie chicken.

But instead of cooking them on the stove or in crock pots, Spouse got the idea to try making the chicken and noodles in our big roaster. He could clearly see I was terrified by that notion, so he immediately took over. His noodles turned out perfectly, just like Grandma's used to taste!
It's amazing how a food from your childhood can bring back such great memories.

03 January 2010

Double Cat Saturday Night!

Every evening, I have one cat or the other on my lap. Sometimes, there is a little bit of competition between the cats for lap space. Lily has been known to slap Tinsel as she approaches, then jump on my lap. Tinsel growls at Lily menacingly if she tries to steal my lap.

But something very unusual happened last night...it was a rare Double Cat Night! Lily had been sleeping on my lap for a good 30 minutes (notice her little head in my hand!) when Tinsel approached. But instead of storming off in anger, Tinsel jumped up and found a comfortable position on my legs. I can think of only one other occasion when I've had both cats on my lap at the same time.

What a treat! *sigh* Sock monkey jammies, my blankie, and two cats...It's the little things that make me happy.

01 January 2010

Feline Friday

In da MEW year, wee resolze to:
1) eet less
2) plai mor
3) luv eech ozer

Rilly an trooly. At leest until Januarie 2, okai?