28 December 2012

Feline Friday: Santa Was Here!

 On Christmas Eve, the kitties began waiting patiently (or not so patiently) for Santa to arrive. Tinsel came to us on Christmas 12 years ago, so she is always excited to see Santa again. She even dressed up for the occasion!

 Tinsel waited...

...and waited...

...and waited some more once Christmas morning came.

When Lily realized she was supposed to be doing something, she also got in on the waiting game.

Finally it was time to peek in the stockings! There were treats...

 ...and more treats...

 ...and canned food (YUM!), along with some new mice.

The kitties had a very happy Christmas!

27 December 2012

Lily's Christmas Photo Shoot

 The reindeer antlers are packed away with the Christmas stockings, strategically placed so that I'll remember where to find them. Ever the optimist, I'm always sure that THIS IS THE YEAR we'll get the perfect shot of Lily or Tinsel in antlers. 

This first photo comes close, minus Bailey's hand holding the antlers in place. Lily only looks somewhat pained.

 Reindeer in a windstorm?

Nom, nom, nom...

 On second thought, she's just as adorable without props. :)

24 December 2012

Recipe: My Grandma's Snickerdoodles

 I'm the first to admit that I don't do much baking. Because I'm prone to all kinds of culinary mishaps, the exacting nature of baking makes it a very risky activity for me. In addition to my fear of failure, I have no self-control when it comes to cookies, so I'd rather not have them around to tempt me! But Bailey enjoys baking, so I gladly welcome the treats she makes. She's much handier than me in the kitchen -- my main job is to stay out of the way!

We recently dug through the cupboards to see if we had all the ingredients to make my grandma's Snickerdoodle Cookies and surprisingly, we did! Grandma is 101 years old, so you know that this is a tried and true recipe. Snickerdoodles are not specifically for Christmas, but my grandma often makes them around the holidays.

1 cup shortening (we used 2 sticks of butter--that's why they're so good!)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cinnamon and sugar to coat the cookies

-- Instructions --
 Mix the first 3 ingredients (shortening, sugar, eggs) until creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and mix.

 Mix up a bowl of cinnamon and sugar to your liking (start with a small amount of sugar and add in cinnamon to taste). Shape the dough into small walnut-sized balls then roll them in the cinnamon/sugar mixture until coated.

  Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes. Don't overbake.

 Now just TRY not to eat them all in one day!

21 December 2012

Feline Friday: It's Lunchtime Somewhere!

 I'll bet you woke up wondering this: Just how far would Lily go for a tiny bite of leftover steamed potatoes?

This far!

And even this far! There is no limit to how far she'll go for a tasty morsel!
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20 December 2012

Christmas Cards from Scraps

There's something about a blizzard that makes me want to hunker down and CRAFT! As the snow started to fall yesterday afternoon, I gathered my stash of Christmas products and decided to make a few Christmas cards. I spend so much time creating cards for my work that I sometimes run out of time and/or lose my mojo to make my own...and that's sort of what happened this year. Until yesterday! Six days before Christmas is a good time for one's mojo to return...just in the NICK of time! :)


 I almost never send out handmade cards to everyone. This year, it will be a mix of store-bought and handmade cards which I'll mail as I finish them. My main goal is to use up some of my Christmas stash. Because I do a lot of freelance Christmas projects, I've accumulated an extreme (for me, anyway!) amount of seasonal product over the years.

After gathering all my stuff, I had to take a rather long break to make dinner and watch the Indiana basketball game :), so I finally got back to crafting as the storm was picking up speed. We put on a pot of coffee, so I was good to go for several hours!


As the blizzard roared outside, I was nice and toasty inside, making lots of cards from leftover bits of this and that. Here are a few I put together using some Echo Park and October Afternoon product. Of course, each card is unique but to save time when making lots of cards, I try to repeat a general design using different elements, as you can see in the two smaller cards in the front of this photo. When I run out of stuff that works with that design, I'll come up with another idea and go with it for the next few cards.

And considering THIS is what it looks like outside this morning, I'm hoping for another productive crafting day!


19 December 2012

Thank You Cards from Scraps

 I wasn't born anytime close to the Great Depression, but I know that my frugality sometimes makes it seem that way! I always keep leftover bits of this and that because I know that with my simple style, it doesn't take a lot of stuff to make a card or scrapbook page.

So naturally I keep a basket of leftover die cuts and punched pieces on the ready! I recently needed to make a batch of thank you cards, so I dug around in it to see what I could find. I pulled out four die cut hearts and four flowers and matched them up to four card bases I had already cut. I dug through my drawers of scraps to find a strip of patterned paper for each card which would visually tie together the colors. Then I printed and cut the text and assembled each card in no time at all!

I firmly believe that you really DON'T need to spend a lot of money to make a perfectly fine card! :) Long live SIMPLICITY!

14 December 2012

Feline Friday: Everyday Lily

Happy Feline Friday!
As hard as it is to believe :), Lily and Tinsel do not go on grand adventures every day! Most days they are busy just being adorable. Here's Lily in few of her typical EVERYDAY positions.

She enjoys hanging out on her corrugated scratching post. It's like her own tiny little deck.

She also spends quite a bit of time sequestered in the basement while Tinsel eats. Tinsel may well be the slowest eater on the planet, while Lily is without question the fastest. Here, she has licked her plate clean and is waiting to be let back upstairs so she can steal Tinsel's food!

Lily also has several unusual poses, including this one which we see from time to time. Most of these positions occur when she gets distracted while licking her tummy. Yes, Lily, that puffball might be fun to play with, but you'll have to get up first!

Any cat mom will tell you that it's the EVERYDAY moments like these that make kitties so special!

12 December 2012

New, new, new, new, MEW!

Today's post is about a few exciting NEW things!

#1 -- The first NEW thing is the great brown corduroy 31 bag I purchased from my cousin. This is a big deal for me because I almost never buy stuff like this, but the free bag I've been carrying for years now finally gave out. I've been using the new bag to haul my class stuff back and forth to Memory Bound and it works great! As a little treat to myself, I also bought the owl coin purse, just because it's so adorable...not because I ever have lots of cash to put in it! Right now it's full of paper clips and rubber bands, which are much more practical anyway!

#2 -- A couple of weeks ago, we got a NEW furnace, finally replacing the original one which was on its last legs. It has made my crafting space (which was previously very cold) nice and toasty! We'll also be getting a NEW air conditioner sometime before next spring. It's amazing how small the new furnace is!

We also had some duct work changes made at the time of the installation, so we had to take nearly everything out of the back storage room. This was no small feat! All of the stuff sat in a BIG PILE for another week until the guys came back and cleaned our duct work. I have finally started putting stuff back, but I'm trying to clean and re-organize as I go. It's very overwhelming.

 The stuff on the shelves didn't have to be moved, but I'm kind of re-arranging some of it as I go. We don't need HALF of this stuff! I'm on a deadline to finish this basement project, as we'll be having people here over the holidays and need the space where everything had been stashed.

 #3 -- I just finished up the store NEW-sletter! It's always fun to see how it looks when it comes back from the printer. The online version will be up soon.

#4 -- I recently finished up the project for a NEW recipe album class, one of my favorites in a long time! I started with a great assortment of Bo Bunny Sweet Tooth products with a bit of this and that added in.

Whenever I make a mini-album project, I start by planning out the pages. I love using the NEW floor of my craft space for this part of the process! This helps ensure that there is a good "flow" of color throughout the project. I don't adhere anything until I settle on the final design.

This is the cover of the album. I'll be teaching this class in February!

#5 -- And now, here's the MEW -- one of my favorite LOLCAT images in a long time!

08 December 2012

Our Latest Trip to Indiana

 This past week, we made a quick trip to Indiana University to see our daughter perform in her first and only concert with the Singing Hoosiers. She has added choral education to her instrumental music education program so was required to spend one semester singing with this group. Of course, she loves to sing and had many years of show choir experience in middle school and high school, so it was a treat for us to see her perform again in a group like this!

It was an absolutely wonderful trip, other than the fact that I dropped my phone. :( It was on my lap when I jumped out of the car at Jimmy Johns to pick up a sandwich for Bailey! I could not have felt worse about it...I've been so careful with my Droid! Spouse covered the front of it with packing tape and it worked just fine, and a new phone was waiting for us when we got home. We transferred everything over to the new phone and I re-installed all of my apps, so I'm good to go again. I'm glad that Spouse had the foresight to get the insurance plan on my phone (he must have expected me to do this!) so I only have to cover the deductible. 

 Bloomington is all decked out for the holidays! I took several photos of the square last year so I didn't do that again, but it's just as pretty this year!

We had a few minutes to hang out at the beautiful IU Memorial Union before heading to the concert venue. It was the week before finals, so students were sprawled out everywhere -- some studying, some Facebooking, and a few sleeping. :)

This sculpture in front of the art museum on campus is lit up in rotating colors at night. To get the full effect, you must be a college student and lie on your back with your legs up the building. We did not do this, so we did not get the full effect!
This is the outside of the beautiful IU Auditorium where the concert was held.
The annual Chimes of Christmas concert is a holiday tradition in Bloomington. This year's concert was a blend of traditions with a few new twists, thanks to the new director who is a nationally known vocal jazz educator. Read a wonderful review of the concert here.

The students had four costume changes during the show, starting out with winter coats and scarves. The snowy backdrop created a beautiful setting.

 Several groups performed during the evening, including a local middle-school show choir group (shown here in front). Photos were not allowed, but we had to sneak just a couple! You can see the official photo album here.

Of course I had to have some pictures after the concert, including one with her boyfriend!

And one more in the sparkly red dress! 
 We are so proud of Bailey and very excited about all the fantastic performance opportunities she has had at the Jacobs School of Music. I love that the faculty has supported her in pursuing instrumental AND vocal music education because she's always been strong in both -- it's one of the things that makes her unique! As much as I love to hear her play, it was a special treat to see her back on stage singing again! 

07 December 2012

Feline Friday: More Decorating Fun

Lily blends right in with this quartet of snow people, don't you think?

03 December 2012

A Tree in ALMOST Every Room

 Many years ago, I jumped onto the "Christmas tree in every room" bandwagon. I had visions of small themed trees in EVERY room of the house. At one point, I had six trees but now am down to five...nowhere close to the number of trees I had originally planned. I certainly have the ornaments to decorate many more trees, but they take so much space to store and so much time to decorate that I've become somewhat dissuaded to pursue my once-lofty goal. 

 In addition to the large tree which sits in our entry way, have two pencil trees which I absolutely love. If I were to buy more trees, they would probably be thin ones like this. They're much easier to store and set up than the large ones. When Bailey was growing up, she had a pencil tree in her room decorated with all of her ornaments. Lately I've been putting one in our living room, decorated with my old world Santa ornaments and a few antique glass balls.

I have another pencil tree on the landing of our staircase. In recent years, I've used gold ornaments on this tree, but I think that next year it may be time for a new theme for this tree. I do like having a tree in this space.

 The tree in our dining room has seen better days, but it still fluffs out fairly well. When Lily was a baby kitty, she knocked this tree down repeatedly so I used to tie it up (actually I tied ALL of our trees) with fishing line. Now that she is older, she doesn't bother the trees so I've been able to hang my grandma's antique Shiny Bright ornaments on it.

The last tree to go up this year was the kitchen tree. I've always liked having a tree in this space, and in years past it has been decorated with cookie cutters. That's not too convenient when you want to bake Christmas cookies! :)

Here's the tree right after I assembled it -- and before I fluffed it up.

Here's my supervisor, Lily!

After a bit of fluffing, the tree was looking much better. This tree has a variety of needles (some short, some long) which I really like. There are also several real pine cones on the tree, which are a bit hard to see in the photo.

Last year Bailey bought me several "snap-lock" type containers at Target for my ornaments. I need to buy more this year! I have all the decorations for my kitchen tree stored in one compartment, which makes it really easy to assemble.

I started with a too-long string of lights but finally got them all on the tree:

Next I added my red apples, which I've had for over 20 years. The apples were originally strung together in a garland, but I cut them apart to create individual ornaments. For some reason, I really like having apples on a Christmas tree!

The apples work well with the Cosmo Cricket ornaments I made a few years ago for a class at Memory Bound. With the apples and style of the ornaments, the tree has sort of a folk-art feel.

There are some tiny red heart ornaments on the tree which I've had since college!


I'll admit that each year as I'm working on my trees, I still get the bug to put a tree in EVERY room. I'd really like to put all of my ornaments to use...and the only way to do that is to get more trees. REALLY...how much space would it take to store a few more pencil or table-top trees anyway? Maybe this year I'll finally check out the after-Christmas sales!