31 August 2010

Lost and Found

Many of you know that we recently dropped our daughter off at Indiana University. Well, we didn't exactly drop her off and leave. Since IU is quite a distance from our house, we helped her move her into her dorm and stayed at a nearby hotel for the weekend while she auditioned for drumline.

After setting up her dorm room on Friday, Daughter hung out with friends while Spouse and I enjoyed an evening out. As we were headed back to the hotel around 12:30 AM, I received a text from Daughter:

"WHERE'S MY BEAR?!?!?!?"

It seems that in the craziness of unpacking and arranging her dorm room, we hadn't noticed that her Very Special White Bear was MISSING. This bear had ridden all the way to Indiana on her lap but somehow hadn't made it to her dorm room. This was indeed disconcerting. Bear was her security! Yet there she was, all alone in her dorm room for the first night of her college career -- without him.

But where could he be?

Daughter had stayed with us in the hotel on Thursday night. I was certain Bear must be somewhere in the hotel room. It would be easy to miss him among the white sheets of her bed.

But when I got back to the hotel room, Bear was nowhere to be found.

At 12:45 AM, I found myself in the hotel parking garage, rummaging through our SUV. No bear.

Up and down the dark parking ramp I went, looking under the cars and even in the garbage cans. No bear. My stomach began to hurt.

I walked through the hotel courtyard where an extended family sat around the tables, chatting and laughing -- and clearly unaware that a Very Special White Bear was missing. At one end of the table, I spotted a baby carrier and passed by it twice, peering in to see if the baby was clutching Bear. No such luck.

I stopped at the hotel desk and asked the night manager if anyone had turned in a bear. No, they hadn't. My heart sank.

"Could you please, please double check? You see, my daughter is alone in her dorm room without her bear. We MUST find it."

No bear. I was just sick.

Up and down the hallways of the hotel I went. I looked in the elevators, the lobby, anywhere we might have walked. No bear.

Finally, I had to call Daughter and report that tragically, Bear was nowhere to be found. I could hear the ache in her voice.

Since he was clearly not in the hotel, my fear was that Bear had somehow fallen out of the SUV at a rest stop and was still lying there, alone and forlorn. (Some of you may recall that I cannot stand the thought of stuffed animals lying out in the elements. If you doubt me, read this post from a awhile back.) I pushed that terrible thought out of my mind, hoping instead that some pleasant little child (with clean hands) had picked him up and taken him home to love.

I instructed Daughter to check at the dorm desk in the morning. Perhaps we had dropped him as we carried items up to her room that day. But our hopes were dimming.

I'm sure Daughter had trouble sleeping that night without her bear. So did I. I woke up repeatedly wondering how we could have lost track of something that was so important to her. What did it mean? Was there some symbolism in this unfortunate event?

The next morning, I went down to the lobby to fetch a much needed latte. On a whim, I stopped by the hotel desk where a different manager was on duty. "Excuse me, I asked about this last night, but I just wanted to double check...Has anyone found a bear?"

The manager smiled. "Oh, a white bear with red roses?"

"YES! That's it!" I jumped up straight up in the air, nearly spilling my latte.

She retrieved Bear from a back room and handed him across the counter. I thanked her profusely.

"You'll never guess where we found him."

"Where?" I asked.

"In the laundry chute. Housekeeping must have scooped him up with the sheets."

What an adventure for the little white bear! A trip down the laundry chute was quite a memorable way to start his college experience. He was very lucky they found him before laundry day, or he might not have fared so well.

After calling my daughter with the good news, I headed down the street to the local bakery to buy some scones. I was waiting in the Saturday morning crowd at the counter when I realized I was still clutching the bear.

A grown woman carrying a teddy bear probably attracted the attention of the locals, but it didn't matter to me. Bear was found. Daughter was happy. I had a good feeling about this college thing.

Smiling, I tucked the bear securely inside my purse and headed back to the hotel with my bag of scones, just in time for the next text:

Where's my retainer?

30 August 2010

Halloween Mini Album

Here's a project I recently created for Memory Bound: A Halloween mini-album. This class will be held in early October. What a fun little project!

The base of this project is actually a 4x6 Halloween-themed paper pad by We Are Memory Keepers. When I saw the pads in the store, I thought they'd make a perfect foundation for a mini-album. Of course, I added a few additional doo-dads, too. :)

The jagged black strip shown here is actually our Accu Cut grass die, cut from black cardstock. Looks kinda creepy in black, don't you think? (Not unlike our lawn these days...)

This little album has tons of room for small Halloween prints, stories, jokes, candy wrappers, and any other memory you'd like to save about this spooky holiday.

In fact, I had so much fun with this album that I didn't stop with Halloween! We'll be offering additional classes for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

25 August 2010

Need dorm room stuff?

As we were moving Daughter into her dorm room last week, we took a quick trip to Target hoping to find a rug and an extra package of hangers.

But as we soon discovered, the IU Target is NOT your ordinary store. As we walked in the door, we were STUNNED to see an incredible volume of back-to-college inventory. Coffee pots, toothpaste, microwaves, plastic tubs, Clorox bleach (?), towels, you name it...stacked to the CEILING all around the store! We had never seen anything remotely like it!

After wandering around the store laughing and snapping pictures, we finally asked a store employee about the inventory. We learned that the Bloomington, Indiana Target stocks more back-to-school supplies and dorm room essentials than ANY OTHER TARGET IN THE UNITED STATES!

Yes, we found hangers and a nice remnant rug. And picture frames. And a Sleeping Beauty flashlight, too.

Who knew so much fun could be had at the IU Target?!

24 August 2010

A VERY Big Day!

Over the weekend, we moved our daughter into her dorm room at Indiana University in Bloomington. She'll be studying music education/percussion at the Jacobs School of Music.

The school is eight hours away from our house so of course, the distance from home made her pretty apprehensive. But once we arrived and she started setting up her room, she began feeling right at home.

Of course, she SHOULD feel right at home in her room because somehow she was assigned to the EXACT room (and even the exact SIDE of the room!) she stayed in when she attended a week-long percussion academy there last summer! At a school of 42,000 students and multiple dorms, what are the odds of that? ;)
She had to arrive early for drumline auditions so for a couple of days, she had the entire floor almost to herself. Her roommate will arrive later this week, so we used the empty side of the room to spread out while she was organizing her side.

She's in one of a handful of "double" rooms -- formerly single rooms joined together by a partial wall (visible in the picture below). This configuration is really nice because it gives each person his/her own space.

When we started the college search process last summer, we had no idea where the journey might end. As it turned out, she ended up in the very room where the journey began and this time, she's all smiles!

We could not be more excited for her as she begins this new adventure!

20 August 2010

Feline Friday

Just a typical late summer morning around here. Doesn't everyone read the newspaper with a cat draped across their back? :)

19 August 2010

Animals at the Fair

One of my favorite things to do at the Iowa State Fair is visit the animal barns. Pigs, cows, sheep, horses, poultry...you name them, I love them all. Here are a few of my favorite animal shots from this year:

Top row: A very happy pig who obviously doesn't know what's coming!; Rare "ginger" sheep with wool to match my hair!; Bailey meets Sheep; Baby ducks!
Middle row: A brand new baby goat; Mama and baby sheep; LOTS of baby pigs - just born!; Pig on Pig!
Bottom row: Sheep Peek; Lamb trio; A beautiful Belgian draft horse; A gorgeous chicken

18 August 2010

Iowa State Fair Sew-In

Our daughter participated in the annual Iowa State Fair Sew-In again this year. This charity event, sponsored by a local quilting club, offers volunteers the opportunity to create simple "strip quilts" for children in need. Any level of skill is welcome, and volunteers are free to spend as much time as they'd like on the project during their time at the fair. Some people make only a portion of a quilt, while others make the entire thing. Last year, volunteers made over 150 quilts. This year, the organizers are aiming for 200!

Thanks to her grandma, Bailey has developed very solid sewing skills...unlike her mother! Since she had made a quilt last summer, she finished this year's quilt in just over 2.5 hours. She started by picking out fabric (she choose red strips in a variety of patterns) then sewed the strips together. Next, she added batting and a quilt back and pinned all the layers together. (I was allowed to help with pinning!) Finally, she sewed the quilt top to the back and added the binding around the edges.

Participating in the Sew-In is a great way to spend an afternoon at the fair. We know the quilts will be loved by the children who receive them!

16 August 2010

Sheep Fashion Report: Fashion Meets Function

My apologies for the delay in the second (and final) installment of this year's Iowa State Fair Sheep Fashion Report. When I stopped at the sheep barn early in the weekend, the gates were closed as new sheep arrived for competition. Of course, I kept my fingers crossed that this new batch of competitors would bring OUTFITS with them. Lucky for me, they did!

If you click on this collage, you'll get a better view of the range of sheep fashions I observed over the weekend. Although they brought their outfits, as EWE (sorry!) can see, this new batch of sheep also brought along some fashion issues.

As noted in several of the photos, bulky garments still prevail. I decided to find out WHY, so I found a Nice Farm Boy boy hanging out in a pen texting some Nice Farm Girl in the next barn. "I'm not from a farm," I smiled and told him as I approached the pen. (In retrospect, my camera probably made this fact fairly obvious. Had she been with me, Daughter would have been mortified.) "I really prefer the spandex sheep outfits. Why are so many sheep wearing bulky suits this year?"

Nice Farm Boy told me that sheep "outfits" are meant to keep the sheep clean. (Apparently fashion is not the primary goal!) He went on to explain that TUBES (the technical term for the spandex outfits) are sometimes difficult to put on the sheep, so many farmers prefer the BLANKETS (the technical term for the bulky --UGLY-- outfits). I cannot imagine why a sheep wouldn't want to wear the more stylish tube, but apparently many of them baaaaa-lk (sorry!) at the idea. I guess this year's sheep are favoring function over fashion!

While touring the sheep barn, I found only a few TUBED sheep, with very few of them sporting fashionable patterns. As you can see above, one spandex suit featured blue and white flowers which I took to be hibiscus. The tropical theme is a nice look, but it doesn't seem to be catching on.

One duo of sheep sported leather blankets, sort of a "fierce" Wild West look which didn't work all that well with their pleasant personalities. A trio in a nearby pen wore light blue/striped cotton blankets, which reminded me of "Leave it to Beaver"-style pajamas. I'm sorry, but jammies are a little too bland for such cheerful, perky sheep!

Just as I was ready to leave the sheep barn in complete despair, I heard a bit of commotion in the pen behind me. Imagine my delight when I turned and spotted a trio of sheep wearing what will surely be all the rage next season: pink and brown blankets! I'm sure my fellow papercrafters will agree that these suits (lower right corner of collage) were no doubt inspired by Ki Memories scrapbooking paper. Even though they're a bit bulky, they are certainly eye-catching!

These Ki outfits prove that function CAN be fashionable and give me reason to hope for better sheep fashion days ahead!

14 August 2010

Sheep Fashion Report: A Disappointing Start

Well, I'm sorry to report that sheep at the Iowa State Fair are not dressing well this year. Maybe it's due to the extremely hot and humid weather, or perhaps the economy has taken a bite out of sheep wardrobe budgets. Whatever the reason, a quick check of the sheep barn today revealed almost NO SPANDEX. (On SHEEP, that is.)

This year's sheep have shunned the spandex in favor of looser, bulkier garments which really do NOT look good on anyone. I'm all for purple, but this trench coat just makes this poor sheep look lumpy and formless.

This orange outfit is a little less bulky. I'll give a bonus point to this sheep and her pen-mate for choosing the black trim to match their coloring. But as a side note, do you notice the stained underarm of the unclothed sheep? She was obviously embarrassed to be standing there completely naked for the photo shoot.

And just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, I came upon this model wearing last year's spandex, very poorly maintained. You can tell by the look on her face that she's mortified to be sporting a torn leotard. She will not even look at the camera!

My faith was restored when FINALLY I came upon one trio of sheep sporting stylish spandex suits. While I'd much prefer stripes or polka dots, at least these suits are clean and form-fitting.

I'll be checking the sheep barn again in a couple of days to see if the fashion situation has changed. With cooler weather in the forecast, I expect to see all of our sheep looking their very best. This is the Iowa State Fair, ladies! Let's step it up!

12 August 2010

Let the fair begin!

Today marks the beginning of the great Iowa State Fair, considered by many to be the finest state fair in the country.

The fair has always been special to my family. Because we've camped there for so many years, I know the fairgrounds better than my own neighborhood. We've entered a host of competitions and even won a few ribbons. In short, I have countless great memories of the state fair.

But while I love many things about the fair, the animals are at the top of my list.

I absolutely adore seeing them up close.

Especially the sheep in spandex. Every year, I search the barn for stylishly clad sheep and take as many pictures as possible before my family disowns me. It's amazing how sheep fashions change from year to year. Did you not know this?

Be sure to check back in the next few days for a full report on sheep fashions and a host of other important state fair happenings. Then maybe you'll see why the Iowa State Fair is the best one around!

11 August 2010

What's on Your Workdesk Wednesday

Last week, I jumped into a challenge called, "What's on your workdesk Wednesday?" from Stamping Ground. I dutifully posted pictures of my work table here, but the truth is that I almost never work there. I spend most of my time working on the floor.

Why not? There's plenty of room to spread out. Even in social situations, ff given the choice of sitting in a chair or on the floor, I'll almost always go for the floor. The only time I MIGHT sit at my table is if I'm working on a class project, but even then I'm often on the floor. If I'm scrapbooking, you can bet your Tim Holtz Distress Ink that that's where you'll find me.

My blogging friend Linda suggested I share pictures of my floor. After all, it IS my desk, right? So I grabbed this picture one day last week when I was in the midst of a class project. Believe me, the floor doesn't look like this all the time! Today it's perfectly clean!

Of course, there are some drawbacks to working on the floor. The floor makes everything much more accessible to the cats. And I have to be careful not to leave sharp or pokey items lying around for SPOUSE to discover in the middle of the night. (Sorry about that, dear!)

And just so you'll believe that I really DO make stuff on the floor, here are a couple of cards I created that day!

10 August 2010

Tabby Tuesday

Once again, Lily takes any opportunity to catch a ride on Bailey's back. Even wet hair does not deter Lily from her perch!

09 August 2010

Making Kits

Today I'm making kits for an upcoming class at Memory Bound. Call me weird or whatever, but I kind of love seeing the piles of materials, all ready to put into kits. Those ingredients, Assembled Just So, will make a class project -- in this case, a set of cards.

Of course, those kits would never happen if not for my trusty spreadsheet, generally color-coded to match the materials. (Yes, I am THAT much of a nerd.) My spreadsheet lists every "raw ingredient" in the kit.

It's kind of like a recipe.

Except using paper.

Which makes it much, much more fun.

And much, much safer for my students. :)

For this project, I also had assistance from Tinsel, my official Kit Cat.

She looks a little alarmed here.

Or maybe she just swallowed the twine.

05 August 2010

Holy cannoli! Another edible meal!

Okay, everybody, listen up: It appears that I MIGHT be on a roll in the kitchen!

We've had perhaps three fairly decent dinners around here in the last couple of weeks. This may not be remarkable to some of you but for me, it's a big deal. My little bit of success even inspired me to clean out the spice cabinet, something which hadn't been done in ever so long.

Ironically, I've been getting a few of my new recipes at the Dreaded Fitness Place. You see, in the 30 minutes I spend on the recumbent bike, I can (CONVENIENTLY!) watch an entire cooking show on The Food Network. If I'm lucky, I catch Giada Delaurentis who specializes in easy Italian dishes on her program, Everyday Italian. I've made several of her main dishes now, and all of them have been great.

This week, I tried her Crunchy Parmesan Chicken Tenders. I chose this particular recipe because I had some buttermilk (something I almost never have in the house) to use up. Holy cannoli...this recipe is a KEEPER! And I'm not even a fan of Parmesan cheese! The two picky people I live with also loved it, so you know it's good. If you have kids (or even if you don't), you need to make this recipe!

One side note: A balsamic vinaigrette dipping sauce is included in the instructions. I happen to love balsamic vinaigrette so I made it, but I didn't see the sauce as a good fit for chicken tenders. Actually, they're so good that they don't even NEED a sauce. So if you make it, I'd suggest skipping the vinaigrette. Kids can use ranch dressing or ketchup, if they feel compelled to dip!

So here's to another edible meal: One very unexpected benefit of my regular trips to the Dreaded Fitness Place. :)

04 August 2010

What's on Your Workdesk Wednesday

My blogging friend Linda has been sharing pictures of her workdesk for "What's on Your Workdesk Wednesday" and today I'm finally jumping in. Visit Linda's blog here. You will be inspired by her beautiful paper crafts!

Truthfully, I should be sharing pictures of my FLOOR, because I almost never work at my table. I know that working on the floor is not ergonomically sound, but it provides a lot of room to spread out!

In keeping with the challenge, I'm posting a few pictures of my "real" workspace. It's relatively tidy at the moment.

You can see a pile of junk at the left of the picture. It seems like there is always a pile or three on my table...leftover "this and that" stuff needing to find a home. At the right, you can see my plastic templates which I made a few years ago (read about them here and here). I use them all the time when putting together layouts. I also love my glass mat. I put a piece of white cardstock under it so I can see the lines.

Right now, I have a few Longaberger baskets and tin buckets sitting around my scrap space. The bucket was a Target Dollar Spot find and is just the right size for my small collection of chipboard. The baskets hold chipboard coasters, journaling cards, and mini albums in various stages of completion.

Also sitting on my table are some very cool diecut titles I bought a couple of weeks ago at Memory Bound, the store where I teach. I love the detail on these titles! I have more than one trip to DisneyWorld waiting to be scrapbooked, so I actually need to pick up a few more of them.

This is a cool organizer thingy that my daughter gave me for Mother's Day. I love the color and the compartments!

Feel free to jump into this challenge. For more about it, visit the Stamping Ground blog!

03 August 2010

Tabby Tuesday

Sumtymes mi mommie givs mee just a TAIST of ice creem!
Dis makes it a GUD day!

02 August 2010

Planter Envy

On a visit to the farmers' market on Saturday, I caught a few pictures of the beautiful planters which line the streets of downtown Des Moines. I love the different combinations of flowers and foliage which give each planter a unique and sophisticated look.

My planters, by comparison, aren't looking quite this lush nowadays. I'm going to keep these ideas on hand to inspire next year's gardening efforts.