31 August 2011

Meet Gary!

Bailey is often mistaken for a much younger person than she really is -- it's not unusual for her to be offered Crayons and a children's menu at restaurants. Normally she's quite irritated by this but at this year's Iowa State Fair, it worked to her advantage.
We were checking out the working exhibits in the 4-H Building when we came upon a very busy table where two middle-school 4-H girls were teaching kids to make Grass Head Guys. With only a moment's hesitation, Bailey took her place in line next to much shorter children -- and their parents. :)

She was leaving for college in just a couple of days and thought a Grass Head Guy would be the perfect addition to her windowsill.

To make the Grass Head Guys, you put a small amount of grass seed in the toe of a cut-off nylon stocking. Add a bit of dirt, tie the stocking, and tuck it into a plastic drinking cup. Later at home, you fill the cup halfway up with water. The water wicks up the stocking through the dirt and to the grass seed, which will sprout in about a week's time.

The kids added facial features and patterned paper "clothes". I'm guessing that Bailey was the only one who chose paper to match her dorm room! She immediately named him Gary the Grass Head Guy.

Gary rode all the way to Indiana in a cup holder and took his position on her windowsill. She was quite certain that everyone on her dorm floor would want their OWN Grass Head Guys as soon as they saw him. (I'm not sure if this phenomenon has taken hold quite yet...)

I had almost forgotten about Gary when we Skyped with her a few days ago. So I was delighted to see that Gary now has hair! In fact, he has so much hair that she's had to give him a couple of trims, tidying up the stray pieces growing out of his nose.
Who knew a college student could have so much fun with a cup of dirt? :)

29 August 2011

Monday, Monday

It's Monday and the start of a very busy week! I have lots of projects to start (and finish) in the next few days. I'm not quite on top of things YET but I am getting there! :)

Since it was such a nice day on Saturday, we decided to take a quick trip to the local farmers' market. I'm not sure why we don't go more often -- there's really no excuse! I always enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes. While there, we picked up fresh produce so that Spouse could make his famous salsa when we got home. That's always a good thing!

In other news, over the weekend I learned that a project I made for an upcoming class is missing from Memory Bound. I'm hoping that someone picked it up by accident and will return it to the store. I have detailed photos and instructions written, but I do not have the time to recreate the project right now. I'm completely bummed out about this situation. :(

On a brighter note, it is Bailey's first day of class at IU today! She texted me this morning that she had taken a first day of school photo. When you're the daughter of a scrapbooker, I guess you know that first day of school photos are important! :) I can hardly believe she's old enough to be in college, let alone starting her second year. It sounds like she has a fun mix of classes this semester and I am excited to see what this year brings for her!

25 August 2011

Feline Friday: CORNS! The Movie

By request, here is a brief movie of Lily enjoying CORNS!

24 August 2011

Tabby Tuesday on Wednesday

Oops! I meant to post this picture of Tinsel yesterday for Tabby Tuesday. Here it is Wednesday already. And it's actually almost Tabby Thursday. Oh, well.

I've been up to my ears this week finishing up some projects. My friend (and helper) Tinsel is never too far from my work. She likes to monitor everything I do, especially if it has to do with ribbon or pop dots. :)
On the subject of Tinsel, I took her to the vet yesterday for a third check of her blood. A bit of background: Back in the winter, her doctor suggested she have a thorough blood work-up because of her age (10 years!) and due to the fact that she had lost a bit of weight. (He didn't seem to believe that Lily sometimes eats Tinsel's food or intimidates Tinsel to the point where she won't eat. HA! He should visit our house at mealtime!) 

So Tinsel had the blood test last winter and unfortunately, her white count was extremely low. A low white count can be a sign of several very serious illnesses. But all of her other blood tests were perfect, so the vet didn't see any immediate cause for alarm. A high white blood count suggests a recent/current infection, but a low count can be indicative of a long-term infection so Tinsel went on a round of antibiotics. We re-checked her blood 10 days later, but the count was up only slightly.

Of course I spent considerable time researching (and worrying about) all the possible causes of low white blood count. Trust me, if you're a kitty person, you don't want to even THINK about any of the scary things I learned. But in the end, I decided to trust my instincts and not worry. I've had cats all of my life and can recognize a sick kitty. Tinsel is a perfectly normal girl in every way -- her appetite and activity level are quite fine. As if to prove this point, a quick check of the scales showed that Tinsel has gained almost a pound in the last six months!

On her visit this week, Tinsel's white blood count was up a little higher, but still considerably lower than it should be. Again, all of her other blood tests (and organ function tests) were perfect so the vet doesn't recommend any additional testing (which would involve bone marrow sampling) at this time. He thinks that Tinsel may just be a kitty whose body doesn't manufacture enough white blood cells. So for now, we just have to watch her for illness and infection -- she would have a hard time fighting anything off without antibiotics.

Tinsel's vet is now calling her an "outlier" -- a kitty whose blood tests fall outside of the normal range. It's just how she is made. And we love her just the way she is!

21 August 2011

All Moved In!

 As I mentioned in last week's post, this year's transition to school was much easier than last year's. Nevertheless, we still had a few tears. Bailey wouldn't be Bailey without tears at every transition. It's that little thing called "change" that trips up the both of us. She gets that from her mama, I'm afraid.

But the tears were short-lived and (of course) she was pretty much fine before we even left our neighborhood.

A short 8.5 hours later, we arrived in Bloomington and she picked up her key at Forest. Same room, same roommate as last year. In fact, nearly half of the people on her floor are returning from last year.

We made it upstairs in just a couple of trips. The good thing about moving in early (for drumline and marching band camp, in Bailey's case) is that you don't have to wait for carts or elevators.

The new RA made AWESOME door decorations for everyone. (Click on the photo to read the small print.) Bailey and I got ridiculously excited over these Starbucks cups!

Bailey's roommate won't arrive until next week so she had plenty of space to spread out while organizing her side of the room. They have a "double" room which is actually two formerly single rooms with part of the wall between them removed. It gives each person plenty of space with just a tiny bit of shared space next to the foot of the beds.

She picked out new artwork for her walls at Hobby Lobby -- cheery posters, arranged in a grid. Guess she gets that from her mama, too.  :)

This is the desk side of her room. We finally figured out a better way to situate the screen for her TV by taking out one of the shelves. So this year it's on the lowest shelf instead of the top. This will mean more movies and TV, which actually may not be such a good thing from a time-management standpoint ... LOL

Her closet is (as usual) arranged in rainbow-color order (yet another obsession we have in common). This level of organization brings a tear to her mama's eye! And this is only one side of her closet. There is a LOT of storage space in this room.

And here's the best part of the whole deal -- a happy Bailey, all settled in.

 Love her to pieces. :)

17 August 2011

Back to School!

By all accounts, it has been a wonderful summer. Bailey certainly packed a lot into it: She took three classes, worked as a counselor at two IU music camps, taught percussion lessons, and became CPR/First Aid certified. No wonder the time has gone so quickly!

A year ago this week, we were packing her bags and mopping up tears. Her astronomical fears about college -- and her ability to be successful at IU -- were unfounded, but she had to discover that on her own. And that she did. She adjusted in only a matter of hours -- so quickly and so well that we never received the "Come get me!" call that parents of college students dread.

This year, the weeks leading up to this day have been completely different. She's relaxed, happy, and eager to get back to IU -- back to her friends and back to the freedom of college life. There's an air of confidence about her, and it's incredibly gratifying to see -- because as parents, we wanted nothing more than for her to believe in herself.

I've said it before but it bears repeating: Parenting Bailey has been the biggest joy of my life. In spite of the white-knuckle moments, it has been a great privilege to ride along on this adventure, watching her grow into the young woman she is meant to be. 

So this week, the tears will be mine. But they will be tears of gratitude -- and eager anticipation of all that lies ahead!

Cakes at the Fair

We always enjoy checking out the food competition at the Iowa State Fair. (Did you know that the Iowa State Fair has the largest food competition of any state fair anywhere?) In years past, Bailey entered several food categories and took home ribbons for her Extra Tall and Sprinkly Rice Krispie Bars, Caramel Chip Bars, and more. As you might imagine, I've never entered any of my culinary masterpieces. Food is generally NOT my domain.

We were particularly impressed with this year's cake entries, a few of which are pictured above. Check out the camper cake (upper left) and the Harry Potter "Monster Book of Monsters" cake (lower right). I'm amazed at what these people can do with fondant!

As for me, I think I'll stick with paper!

16 August 2011

Animals at the Fair

Like last summer, our time at this year's fair is a bit short due to the fact that we'll be leaving this week to take Bailey back to college. But no matter how limited our fair time, we make a point to visit the animal barns and displays. It always surprises me when people go to the fair every year but do not enjoy looking at the animals. I can't imagine the fair without animals!

Here are a few of my favorite animal pictures from this year's fair. We've especially enjoyed visiting the baby goats and lambs. AWWW!

13 August 2011

State Fair 2011

It's Iowa State Fair time! We've spent two full days at the fair so far, meaning that I'm WAY behind in my other work, so this will be a quick post with just a few favorite photos!

Our first stop was the sheep barn to see if there were any sheep in spandex (see last year's spandex report here). I was disappointed to find only one, but we decided it is too early in the fair run for fashion. Once the sheep are sheared (?) shorn (?), then they'll don their spandex suits to keep clean.

Next stop was the cattle barn where we always seek out baby cows. Oh, I guess they're called calves. I should know this, considering I'm an Iowa girl. :)

And look at this tiny lamb, just a couple of days old!

Here's the inside of the Agriculture building, my favorite building at the fair.

Watch for more photos over the next few days, including -- HOPEFULLY -- many more sheep in spandex!

12 August 2011

Feline Friday: Tinsel, the Girly Girl

Over the past few months, Tinsel has developed the most endearing little routine: She sits on the counter while I'm getting ready in the morning.

No matter what time it is or what she's doing (napping or...napping), she comes running the minute she hears me pulling out my supplies. She's been hanging out in the bathroom long enough now that she's no longer afraid of the blow dryer. She meows pleasantly as she steps carefully around my cosmetics, and she even purrs on occasion -- a most unusual behavior for Tinsel!

She watches everything I do with great with interest. I've concluded that our Tinsel is really a girly girl. 

But unlike me, she's absolutely beautiful every day -- and without effort! :)

11 August 2011

Another week...

It seems I have many irons in the fire right now. I'm keeping crazy busy checking items off of my lengthy to-do list. But I'm grateful for the mix of creative endeavors on my plate right now. It's all good stuff!

For a couple of days last week, I was focused on making kits for my State Fair Mini-Album class which was held over this past weekend. What a great time we had! Thanks to all who came and enjoyed a few fair memories that afternoon.

 In order to make things go smoothly in class, I often pre-cut materials. I love how everything looks when it's ready to go into the class kits!  

 In addition to a heavy-duty paper trimmer, here's something else I have to have whenever I make kits. :)

I started the packaging process at Memory Bound, where I had plenty of space to lay everything out.

Later, I took the pieces home to take advantage of a timely offer of help from Bailey!

When she was a little girl, she would occasionally help me in classes at the store. She's still great help and, as any parent of a teenager knows, it's always wonderful to spend time together, no matter what the task. I treasure all the moments I can spend with her now, because summer is fleeting. In just one more week, we'll be taking her back to Indiana.

And then I'll be back to making kits on my own. Sure, I can do it, but it's not nearly as fun without my helper!

08 August 2011

Bathroom Mirror Transformation

I am SO EXCITED! Spouse finished our bathroom mirror project over the weekend and I'm really pleased with the results.

To recap, we recently updated Bailey's bathroom (which is also the guest bathroom) with paint and new fixtures.

I wanted to frame the mirror (as I've seen on numerous HGTV shows) to give it an updated look. We've been pondering this task for several weeks now -- picking out the wood, painting it, and figuring out how to adhere it to the mirror. Here's what the mirror looked like BEFORE....

And here it is framed! I am really happy with how it turned out.

We purchased long strips of molding and spray painted them to match the fixtures. Then Spouse cut the wood strips and mitered the corners using a handy mitering box which we happen to have. (For some odd reason, we actually have two of them -- I guess one never knows when the urge to MITER will take hold.)

The online instructions I'd read recommended using Liquid Nails as the adhesive, but Spouse found other tips which suggested hot glue instead. Liquid Nails apparently has to be HELD in place until it sets. Spouse didn't feel like holding onto the frame for six hours, so he opted for hot glue, which dries almost instantly. The other advantage of hot glue is that it can be easily removed from glass if necessary.

The only problem he encountered was the fact that the wood strips were not completely flat, which made gluing them to a flat surface a bit difficult. One area needs to be re-glued, but otherwise it appears to be holding well. 

I'm really surprised at how different the mirror looks with the addition of a simple frame!

05 August 2011

Feline Friday: NOM NOM NOM!

At the risk of appearing like we have no hygiene standards whatsoever at our house, I bring you these lovely photos of Bailey and Lily -- mostly Lily -- enjoying an ear of corn.

During dinner, I had just been "entertaining" my family with tales of how Mittens, one of my childhood cats, could eat corn RIGHT OFF THE COB when Lily appeared on the scene, not to be outdone by ANY cat, living or not.

She hopped up on Bailey's lap and helped herself!

Of course, Bailey did not NOM in the same place that Lily NOMMED! These photos are really just for dramatic effect. 

I promise.



Now if we could just teach her how to use those corn holders...

03 August 2011

Project Central!

It's one of those days/weeks/months when I have more projects in the works than I can keep track of! I'm having so much fun creating things...I just wish there were more hours in the day. I can function pretty well on minimal sleep, but I can only drink so much coffee and Diet Coke!

I am super excited about my State Fair Mini-Album To-Go class coming up this weekend at Memory Bound! We were able to open up a few more spots in the class so we will have a LOT of fair fun happening! I'll be making kits later this week for the class. If you're interested in attending (or purchasing a complete kit!), just call Memory Bound at 515-965-1102.


Here's a side view of this little book which is packed with pages, pockets, and tabs. I know we are going to have WAY TOO MUCH FUN (remember that fair theme from a few years ago??) in the class.

I'm also getting ready for my Furever Friends Mini-Album class which will be coming up on Sunday, August 14. This little album uses the WRMK 4x6 pad as a base. Some of you know that I've been doing an album a month using this format for the past year. We've had a great time with these books!

This little album will work for cats or dogs. My sample is the cat version. (I'm sure no one is surprised by that!) But I really do love dogs, too!

This week I finished a Halloween Mini-Album using the new WRMK Spookville collection. I absolutely love this line. The muted colors and figures make it feel a little bit retro.

We will be offering this class in September on a date to be determined, so you will be able to get ready for all of those Halloween photos! I love these little ring-bound albums because you can add as many pages and photos as you'd like. I think it would be fun to punch holes in your favorite Halloween candy wrappers and add them to the album, too. 

In addition to these classes, I'm working on a Kaiser Craft card class for September, planning classes for fourth quarter, and starting on several free-lance projects. I just hope my creative muse stays with me long enough to finish everything! 

Now where is my Diet Coke???

01 August 2011

It's August!

It's August, and that means summer is on its last legs around here. And nowadays, Summer = Bailey Home. By the middle of this month, we'll be scooping up her college stuff and heading back to Indiana. We've loved having her home for the summer. She may be ready to go back, but I'm not quite ready for her to leave. :(

As for me, I've been super busy with projects and class stuff for Memory Bound, as well as a few freelance assignments which will keep me occupied through much of the fall. Although it generally looks like an explosion took place in my craft space, I'm happy with the mix of stuff on my plate at the moment.

Here are a few snapshots from the past few days:

One of these days, I'd like to attach a camera to Lily. This is what the view would look like. :)

 Bailey has been working on bass drum music in preparation for IU drum line auditions. While the cats have accepted most of the percussion instruments around here, they have not taken well to bass drum practice. AS YOU MIGHT IMAGINE.

This coffee can is really effective at keeping the rabbits away. I think I'll remove it and see what happens. Hopefully the plant is big enough that it no longer tastes as yummy as when it was small.
It has been almost unbearably hot around here for the past couple of weeks, with temperatures hovering close to 100 degrees almost every day. As a result, my gardens are suffering. But I did find enough flowers in bloom to make a nice bouquet over the weekend.

I've also joined Pinterest, a virtual bulletin board community, as a way to keep track of images I like from around the web. I'm just learning my way around it now but from what I've seen, it looks like it will be inspirational AND convenient. You can't beat that combination, in my opinion.

So here's to a happy August, wherever it may find you.