28 January 2012

Coming Soon: Let's Scrap Blog Hop!

I am excited to be participating for the first time as a blog hostess in the Let's Scrap Blog Hop. This international blog hop is starting on February 1 (that's next Wednesday!) and continues through the end of the month. The theme is "Leap Around the World" and that's just what we'll be doing...LEAPING from one blog to the next!

"Okay, Miss Janet, what the heck is a blog hop?" 

Glad you asked! :)

A blog hop is a great way to visit new blogs and be inspired by all kinds of talented crafters at each stop along the way! In a blog hop, certain blogs are designated as host sites. For this particular hop, there are 50 such blogs hosted by talented crafters from all around the world! At each blog, you'll find a blog hop post as well as the link to the next "stop" (or blog address) on the hop. Visitors (hoppers) go from one blog to the next throughout the designated hop period -- in this case, the month of February.

Each blog hop is different, but for this particular one, each hostess will be posting a card sketch and sample(s) made with the sketch. Hoppers can participate by making their own cards based on the sketch. There will be chances for hoppers to win prizes...but you'll have to wait for details on all of that!

 Watch for my post on Wednesday morning, February 1 and join us for an entire month of fun and inspiration!

27 January 2012

Feline Friday: A Little TLC

Poor Lily is recovering from a urinary tract infection, her first illness. Being an overly attentive cat mom, I noticed right away that something was off and took her to the vet immediately. She's on antibiotics now and is well on the road to recovery.
Of course, she didn't cooperate one bit for her examination and had to be sedated in order for anyone to get close to her. Unfortunately, she is always naughty at the vet which is why her chart is labeled FEISTY. While she was sedated, the vet trimmed her nails at no extra charge. We all appreciated that! :)
So while she is recovering, she is getting lots of attention -- even more than usual, if that is possible. She needs to be drinking a lot of liquids so the vet suggested giving her chicken broth in addition to water. Lucky for Lily, I happened to have a freezer full of homemade chicken stock which she has been enjoying immensely!

I hope by the time you read this post she will be feeling 100% better. In the meantime, rest assured she is getting plenty of TLC!

23 January 2012

January Update

I haven't been blogging (or visiting the blogs of my friends) as much as I had hoped to in the new year, as I've been busy with several projects. It's all good stuff and I feel very lucky to have work that I enjoy so much! Like everyone, I just wish I had a few more hours in the day!

I've been very fortunate to have picked up quite a bit of contract work for three crafting books which will be published later this year. I started working on these projects last June and expect to finish the last set by spring. I'm really pleased with the projects I've been creating and am very anxious to see the completed publications!

At the moment, I'm busy working on several projects and getting ready for a few upcoming classes. Just this past weekend, I taught another recipe album class -- always a good time. I enjoy swapping kitchen disaster stories with folks in my recipe classes! One of my goals is to get my own recipes a bit more organized this year. I recently moved my most-used recipes to a 3-ring binder and need to consolidate the rest of them.

This coming Friday evening, I'll be teaching a mini-album class. We'll be making a 4x6 album from a journaling pad -- taking it completely apart and putting it back together in a different format. Should be a fun and interesting class!

On Saturday, I'll be teaching one of my very favorite classes, Get Organized Challenge. I've updated the class with new storage ideas and many more "before and after" pictures. I will be repeating this class in March for those who can't make it this time, or anyone who wants to come again. I would love it if my own space were done by March! That might be wishful thinking...

The first week in February, I'll be teaching another in the series of mini-albums I've been doing for the past year using We R Memory Keepers 4x6 pads. This one is from the Love Struck line, which is a pretty adorable product set.

Also in February, I'll be teaching a Year of Cards class twice! We'll be making 12 all-occasion cards which I created using a single sheet of Echo Park journaling cards. This set was really fun to design and I'm excited to share it with everyone.

I just finished up another WRMK mini-album for March. This one is made using the adorable new Cotton Tail line. You can't go wrong with chocolate bunnies! You'll find lots of inking, embossing and Distress Stickles in this one.

I also just put the final touches on another mini-album, this one made with a 7 Gypsies acrylic album and some beautiful Authentique paper. This project is one of my recent favorites.

I'm really excited to teach this class in late April!

In February, I signed up to be one of 50 hosts for an international blog hop sponsored by an online crafting community. I've never done this before so am looking forward to learning about the process. I'll be posting more about the blog hop soon!

 So you can see that I have much to look forward to in the coming weeks. Here's to continued productivity...and more than a few Starbucks runs! Thanks for stopping by! :)

20 January 2012

Feline Friday: The Great Outdoors!

Todai I got to go to da grate outdoorz! I pretended to be a kittie in da wild. RAWR! I am feerce! I am hyding heer to pounce on mi enimie!

Ohai, Mom! Is is tyme for lunch?

19 January 2012

Organization: Ornaments

As part of my mission to get things pared down and organized around here, I recently tackled the rather large project of re-organizing the Christmas ornaments.

After taking down the five Christmas trees, I sorted the ornaments on the dining room table. The ornaments shown in the photo below are just a fraction of the ornaments I have, so I hauled the remaining ornaments upstairs to sort them, too.

Previously, my ornaments were stored in these cardboard boxes. They're sturdy boxes with three layers, but they're really inconvenient to use: In order to reach ornaments in the bottom of the box, you have to lift out the top layers. The dividers then fall apart and the ornaments spill.

Bailey knew I was frustrated with the boxes, so she bought me several Snapware ornament containers at Target. The advantage of this design is that you can access a single layer of ornaments without disturbing the others. I liked the Snapware boxes so much that I bought lots of them!

As Bailey and I were decorating the trees this year, we decided to organize the ornaments that she will want to take with her next year to her new apartment when she has her own Christmas tree. 

One thing led to another, and then I decided that this was the year to start on an ornament mini-album. Many of our ornaments have a story, and I want Bailey to know why each one is special. (You can read the post I wrote about this for Memory Bound here.)

So as I put the ornaments away, I took photos of many of them. I'll come up with a simple album format which will include a small photo and information about each one. 

Bailey made this one as a child at Living History Farms.

I put her ornaments in a couple of boxes, all organized and labeled for next year.

 I organized the remaining ornaments by theme or type and labeled each box. This will make it much easier to find them each year, as I like to change the decorations around to create "themed" trees.

Overall, I feel good about the progress I've made. The ornaments are now much easier to access and much less likely to break. I'll post pictures of the mini-album once it's complete!

16 January 2012

The Power of Pattern

 In the past few weeks, the Dreaded Fitness Place has been undergoing a bit of a remodel. I thought it was perfectly fine to begin with but, as we all know, my fitness expectations are fairly low. 

I was intrigued, however, when they began painting the walls very intense but unrelated colors. To be sure, color can affect one's mood -- and presumably one's desire to exercise -- but I wasn't sure if I could handle a color scheme with no coherent theme. A rust wall, a bright orange wall, a lime green wall...what was going on??? (Yeah, I hear you...maybe I should have been spending more time on the elliptical and less time worrying about color...)

Finally, everything came together when they installed a cool graphic which incorporates the seemingly unrelated wall colors. It's amazing how a pattern can do that! And it's a grid, too! (Do you know how much I love grids? Almost as much as I love stripes!)

Now that I understand the new color scheme, I'm just SURE that it's going to work wonders for me at the Dreaded Fitness Place!

13 January 2012

Feline Friday: Happi Purr-Day, Bailey!

Today is Bailey's 19th birthday! To honor her, Tinsel and Lily made a very special card. I had to help with the computer (because they don't have thumbs, you know), but they picked out all the pretty pictures and colors.

Once the card was done, we had to have a photo shoot.
"What's so funny, Tinsel?" Lily asked. "This is A Big Deal!"

Lily decided to do a solo shot while Tinsel regained her composure.

Purr-Day photo shoot, Take 3!

We hope you have a great day, Bailey, and get all the noms and naps you want!

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09 January 2012

Eagle Observation

 For the past several weeks, a group of bald eagles has been hunting near a small pond close to where we live. You can't miss them, because nature enthusiasts have been also camped out by the pond with their binoculars and high-powered cameras. Their vehicles line the shoulder of the busy highway near the pond.

I pass by the pond frequently, but only last week did I finally have my camera with me and have time to stop. I pulled off the highway and got out of my SUV. I could tell by the strong scent in the air that this must be a good place for the eagles to fish. Whew! 

I don't have a big camera, but I still managed to get a few decent shots of the eagles with my little point-and-shoot camera ...
...even though the trees where they were perched were fairly far from where I stood.

I'm old enough to remember when eagles were very much in danger of dying out, so I'm rather amazed by the fact that today there are so many of them just hanging out and doing their food chain thing almost in our own backyard.

As I stood and watched, one of the eagles must have spotted a fish in the pond. He began a long, circular spiral down toward the water.

As he got closer to the water's surface, he looped up again and headed back to the tree. No fish this time.

But later that day, I stopped again (this time without my camera) and saw another eagle spiral downward and attempt to snag a fish from the water. From where I was standing, I couldn't see the catch in his talons but I assume he was successful.

What a privilege it is to see these mighty birds at work in our midst. If you live in the Des Moines area, don't miss this amazing sight.

06 January 2012

Feline Friday

We are all sad because our girl is on her way back to 
Indiana today!

No more free rides for Lily.

It will be far too quiet around the house again.

We've had a great time with her home, but now it's back to work...right after a little nap.

03 January 2012

Post-holiday weight gain?

Anyone else feeling too big for their basket?

Let's step away from the cookies now and get back to healthy eating habits!

01 January 2012

A Brand New Year

In general, I'm not much for holidays. They tend to make me overly sentimental and introspective. But I managed to get through New Year's Eve this year without slumping into a deep blue funk. Maybe it was because we actually had something to do on New Year's Eve. Turns out it's much more pleasant spending the evening with friends than sitting around the kitchen table grousing about how we have failed to make New Year's Eve plans. Note to self: Repeat next year.

While I may not be one for holidays, I am definitely in favor of setting goals. New Year's Resolutions get a bad rep, in my opinion, only because people set unrealistic goals. Goals in and of themselves are not a bad thing at all. In fact, living your life without goals results in "drift" -- moving along wherever circumstances might take you, without any thought of where you'd like to land.

In giving some thought to my goals for 2012, the theme which comes to mind is SIMPLIFY.  

In recent weeks, I've been feeling burdened by STUFF, material possessions that clutter my space and, more importantly, bring me down emotionally. I've always had a tendency to hang onto things for sentimental reasons. But I've also accumulated a lot of stuff which I've kept only out of guilt or obligation. These kinds of possessions do not bring me joy. In fact, they create a kind of negative, unhealthy energy. As an only child, I know that one day I'm going to take possession of even more STUFF, more than I can begin to imagine, and the thought of that is simply overwhelming.

So in 2012, I resolve to rid my space of unnecessary clutter. I will replace non-working or obsolete items. I will aggressively donate old and excess clothing and household items. I will not throw items away unless they are absolutely irreparable. I will tackle this onerous task room by room, drawer by drawer, box by box.

 My hope is that by the end of 2012, I will have room to breathe. Wish me luck! I'm going to need it! :)