28 October 2011

Feline Friday: Not again!

After being shut in the dryer awhile back (read about it here), you would think that Lily would remember that the dryer is NOT a good place to nap!

But no! I was hanging up clothes when I turned around and found her in the dryer on top of wet laundry, of all things. (The door was open -- no harm done this time.) Maybe she was after that dryer sheet. She loves dryer sheets, you know.

Or maybe she thought that the dryer was really a spaceship that would zoom her off to college. No such luck, Lily! No college -- or dryers! -- for you!

25 October 2011

Recipe: Skillet Spanish Chicken & Rice

We tested another recipe from Clean Eating magazine and deemed it a success. This recipe really couldn't be easier. Just be sure to have a big enough skillet on the ready.
Click on the photo below to see the recipe. If you're looking for a simple one-skillet dinner, I'd recommend giving this recipe a try!

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21 October 2011

Feline Friday: Lily, Then & Now

Lily used to fit comfortably in this basket!

But that doesn't stop her from sitting in it now!

It's not unlike someone who tries to fit in too-tight jeans. She's clearly in denial about her size!

20 October 2011

Craft Room Storage

Over the past few weeks, I've been picking away at some changes in my craft area. While my space has always been organized, it has never been inspirational to me. Rather, it was a mix of unattractive storage with no real theme. 

I finally decided that it was time for a change, so I bought Target cubes and transferred many of my supplies to canvas bins which fit inside the spaces. 

It has taken me some time to figure out how best to use the canvas bins. They're deep and I didn't want to just throw items into them. So I found small containers to fit inside the bins so as to use the space efficiently. I have found that I can now store a lot of supplies in a very small amount of space!

For the past few weeks, the bins haven't been labeled -- and that was driving me crazy! I finally got that done and now it's much easier to find things. I made tags in Word by creating text boxes with white text, filled with black.
I wanted the white text to show as cream, so I printed them onto cream cardstock. Then, because I am changing the metal in my craft area to brushed nickle, I decided to hang the tags with ball chains to match. I have a large stash of ball chains. One can never have too many!

After making a test set of the tags, I decided that they would need to be laminated in order to keep them from tearing over time. Then I remembered that I had a package of plastic badge holders which would be perfect for my tags. I adjusted the sizes a tiny bit, printed a final set, and slipped them into the badge holders.

 This made me ridiculously excited!

Here's a peek inside the bins, so you can see how I organized the space. All of these stacking containers fit down inside the canvas bin labeled "INK".

 There is plenty of room for my ink pads, Distress Inks/handles, and Cat's Eye Chalk. In my old storage system, it took 2 large drawers to hold all of these items.

All of my card making supplies fit into one canvas tote. In my old system, these same supplies were spread over 3 very large drawers.

These stacking containers snap together and hold my envelopes and card bases. A separate container fits in the bin and holds card-making embellishments.

I have a separate bin for embellishments. This is the only area I'm not completely happy with. For the past couple of years I have stored my embellishments by color in small drawers. I love the color organization, but I didn't love the drawers. I've spilled the contents more times than I can count! I wanted to find small containers that would fit into the bin and allow me to store my small tins of brads and such without spilling them. 

After considerable searching, I finally settled on these small containers from Office Depot. They are deep enough to hold a lot of embellishments and fit nicely in the canvas bin. In fact, I combined some colors (red/orange/yellow) since I don't use much in that color range. Unfortunately I found that in pulling out the bins, I STILL spilled brads and buttons -- in fact, even more so than with the drawers.

So I converted BACK to this system which I used a few years ago and put all of the tins back in their containers. (I never stopped using the little tins -- I just moved them back into the metal boxes they came in.) I really do love this storage system. The only thing that bothers me is that my brads and buttons are no longer with the rest of the embellishments. But it's certainly better than spilling them all the time!

I'm very pleased with how compactly my paints and other colorants now fit into a single bin. In my old system of plastic drawers, these supplies were scattered and took up far too much space. Now everything fits neatly in one bin.
My space is a work in progress, but I'm already much, much happier with how it looks and functions!

19 October 2011

Warm Towels on Wednesday

It's cold this week, so the kitties are eager to dive into the warm towels just as soon as they come out of the dryer.

 I wish I could do the same!

17 October 2011

Christmas in October!

It's not even Halloween yet, but I'm already up to my ears in Christmas! I've been working on kits for my fall Christmas card classes at Memory Bound. In fact, the first class was yesterday!

 We're using the new Echo Park Season's Greetings line for this set of cards. I always enjoy seeing how the materials look all packaged up.

This year we're using quite a bit of twine on the cards. Twine is a very popular embellishment right now, and I hope it is here to stay!
Because of the twine, I did NOT put my kits together at home this time. As much as I love the kitties, I did NOT need help from Lily and Tinsel!

15 October 2011


I love nature. I love trees. But even I am having a hard time loving our locust trees right now. Funny thing is, we had locust trees (the 100-year old variety) at our old house. The only thing better about these much younger locust trees is that they don't drop deadly 6-inch thorns that pierce your shoes.

But they're trouble enough. In dry years, the girl trees (we have two in our yard) produce an extreme number of pods. Apparently the girls go into stress and feel the need to reproduce, so as to create even MORE locust trees.

The pods are heavy to rake. But they're somehow light enough to blow everywhere. On windy days, you hear them hitting the house with a "clunk". And worse, they blow into our neighbors' yards.

Our yard looks like this. If you're unlucky enough to live next door to us, your yard looks like this, too. So my first task in Pod Clean-Up is to rake everyone else's yard, such is the extent of my POD GUILT.

Spouse prefers to wait until every last pod is down from the trees before dealing with them. Maybe he's hoping that they'll blow right on out of our yard.

It's probably not a good sign when it's easier to shovel than rake your yard.

Can I get some sympathy? Or at least some ideas for a pod craft project?

14 October 2011

Feline Friday: Naptime Protocol

It has been interesting to observe how the bond between Lily and Tinsel has evolved over the years. Lily has always adored Tinsel, but Tinsel loathed Lily from the day we brought her home. They definitely have a love-hate relationship: Lily LOVES; Tinsel HATES.

Yet over time, I've noticed Tinsel's attitude very subtly changing. Her tolerance for Lily has finally improved to the point where they can actually sleep on the bed at the same time.

Over time, I've observed Lily inching closer and closer to Tinsel. And -- amazingly -- Tinsel ALMOST allows Lily to touch her. ALMOST.

This week I saw them napping together with a Protective Blanket Barrier between them. This little arrangement seems to provide Lily with the closeness she desires while allowing Tinsel to maintain her "purr-sonal" space.

It makes me happy that they seem to have a closer relationship now...

Even though Tinsel would never admit it!

11 October 2011

Busy Season!

I've been busy working on several projects for Memory Bound as well as a full plate of freelance projects. The holiday season is fast approaching! Actually, from the looks of things around here, I think it's already here!

I'm very excited about this Kaisercraft Advent calendar. It's not done yet -- I need to add some Christmas things to the center plus cover the outside with paper. When completed, this calendar will be a store sample to give customers one idea of how to decorate this wooden keepsake.

Our annual Christmas card class is coming up soon! I'll be teaching four sessions of the class this year using the new Echo Park Season's Greetings line. Here are a few of the 20 cards we'll be making. I'm working on kits and such this week.

I'll also be teaching another We R Memory Keepers mini-album class using the new Peppermint Twist line. This is brightly colored little album which would be a fun place to keep favorite Christmas snapshots.

This reindeer and sleigh are for another class coming up in early November. These pieces were a lot of fun to make!
I'm hoping to wrap up these and several other projects soon so that I can FINALLY get my craft space under control. I started re-organizing it and haven't finished that process yet, so for the time being things are in a bit of a disarray! 

That's a sign of progress...right? ;)

07 October 2011

Feline Friday: On Mi Wai to IU!

I am so exsited! Bailey invited mee to IU for dis weak end or maibee even to stai! I am all pakked an reddy to go! Her frend Katie will bee pickeen mee up!

I haz a small sootcaise an ezen a silver purrs to mach mi furs! I haz ben waiteen a long tyme fur mi invitashun!

Heer is what all I pakked:

My passpurt -- cuz we r goeen to cross da stait lynes!
Sum twine -- I choosed red an wite fur IU!
A pennant -- in case I get to go to da gaim an see da band!
Temptashuns -- but I maybe eeated dem alreddie
Mi Luckie Puffball -- to plai wif in da dorms!
Two maik-up brushes -- to luk prettie fur da boiz an also becuz day fit in my purrs!

I haf to be shur it all fitz!

An it duz! I mite even ware maikup on da trip to IU!

Uh oh, Mom can wee pakk sum moar Temptashuns?

Gud bai, Tinsul! I will miss u!!! KISS KISS

I will juss wate heer bi da door fur Katie! I cant wate to go to collij!

Note from Lily's Mom: Lily only THINKS she is going to IU! While Bailey would love to have her there, she is not allowed in the dorms, even though Lily thinks it would be quite fun! I need to find a way to break the news to her... ;)

06 October 2011

Gardens in October

It's fall -- my favorite time of year! The trees are beautiful but, unfortunately, my flowers are not. They are suffering from three things:

1) We are nearing the end of the growing season
2) Drought-like conditions
3) NEGLECT! My lack of time in recent weeks (months) has contributed to sad-looking garden spaces.
Of course, it's the time of year when potted plants naturally start looking a bit "leggy". I've already had to discard some, but the spike plants are still going strong, so I simply moved them to empty pots where they will live out the rest of their days. I've never tried to do that before and have been pleased with how well it worked.

I attempted to do something fancy with the mums on the front step which DIDN'T work so well, as you can see in the photo with the pumpkin. After removing the pink impatiens from the pots, I squeezed two small mum plants into the space, leaving the spike plants and the sweet potato vines in place. Well, this bright idea was a "FAIL", as my daughter would say. There simply wasn't enough space for all of these plants. The spikes tipped over and the mums split apart, resulting in a very odd-looking arrangement. Since the photo was taken, I have pulled out the spikes and the sweet potato vines which allowed the mums to move closer together all by themselves. While not what I originally envisioned, it certainly looks less weird.

It will soon be time to move my strange assortment of houseplants inside, including the tall Dr. Seuss plant which Spouse threatens to put in the dumpster. I'm also thinking about keeping my herbs over the winter, since they've had such a good run and I really don't feel like I've used them enough. We'll see how that goes. Both houseplants and herbs are pictured in the collage above.

Soon it will be time for a good garden clean-up, then planning will begin for next spring's gardens, when my cycle of optimism, hard work, and hopefully LESS NEGLECT will begin all over again!

03 October 2011

A bike ride, a snake, and a wayside station

On Sunday afternoon, Spouse and I put our respective fitness levels (mine being MUCH higher than his!) to the test: We went for a bike ride out of our town and along the river. By the time we got home, we had ridden 11.5 miles. To those of you who do RAGBRAI, 11.5 miles is nothing. But for us, it is almost impressive!

It really was a perfect day for a bike ride. The leaves were beautiful. Even this view of the muddy and very low river was rather scenic. And Spouse only threatened to abandon me on the trail a handful of times, prompted by my fear of going down hills and over certain bridges.

Other than the photos Spouse took of me with Helmet Hair, the low point of the ride was when I RAN OVER A TEENY TINY GARTER SNAKE coiled at the side of the trail, possibly sleeping or (hopefully) already dead. You see, being relatively inept on my bicycle, I do not have the ability to swerve for snakes or other critters -- or even scratch my nose if it itches while I am riding, such is the Death Grip I hold on my handlebars. So over the snake I rolled, triggering immediate and prolonged screaming which no doubt terrified the small children riding the trail with their grandparents.

I finally calmed down at the point where it was time to turn around and head back home. We stopped at a small pond (a lovely but unnatural blue-green color which made me wonder if it was actually a sewage lagoon) where, tucked in the trees was a very quaint wooden structure which I determined must be a pleasant little wayside station. Actually, from a distance it looked like a giant cuckoo clock.

The closer I got, however, the more worried I became about what might be inside. Plastic plants adorned the outside of the structure, giving me a slightly creepy feeling. I pulled opened the doors, not quite sure what awaited me...

and inside found several small statues and urns of incense. This prompted me to theorize wildly that the structure might be some sort of crematorium, which of course was a ridiculous notion. The ashes around the urns were surely from the incense -- right?

After leaving the wayside station, we headed back down the trail toward home, where I had the opportunity to pass the squished snake again (and confirm that yes, he really was dead). And, even though I had a few terrified moments along the route, as I pulled into our driveway I felt very grateful to live in a place with lovely trails and that my late nights at the Dreaded Fitness Place have enabled me to ride such a distance. Maybe it was a surge of exercise-induced endorphins, but I even felt a little bit sorry for that snake and wondered, briefly, if I should go back and push him off into the grass for a proper ending to his short and slithery life.

01 October 2011

New Ribbon Storage!

I'm in the process of re-vamping my craft space. While functional and organized, it has never been a place which inspires me. I finally decided that I spend so much time in this space that it really needs to feel good to me.

Among many changes, I decided to change the way I store my ribbon. I'm not a huge ribbon person anyway, but the way I had it stored was making me even less likely to use it. As you can see in this photo, Lily and I had organized the ribbon onto floss spools (in rainbow-color order!). I loved how it looked and we worked very hard on that system, but I found that once the ribbon was wound, it was cumbersome to remove from the box. Then of course I had to IRON each piece of ribbon I used because of the creases! 

So (I admit, with a twinge of sadness), I took all of the ribbon off the spools and pared it down to that which I will actually use. I put the ribbon and twine I wanted to keep into jars. I've been using a jar for scraps of ribbon over the past year and don't mind it at all -- it's easy to access and wrinkle-free!

 I know many people who store their ribbon in jars and love how it looks. Not me. I have learned that I am definitely a "closed storage" kind of person -- seeing all of that jumbled ribbon (even though it is sorted by color) drives me completely bonkers. I cannot stand visual clutter!

So I bought a few papers to match the fabric which I'll be using in the space...

...and I covered my jars in the paper! I made labels for the jars so the contents can be easily identified.

Now I am very, very happy with my ribbon storage! It's functional AND inspirational to me!