29 May 2012

Tabby Tuesday

Over the weekend, we watched African Cats, a beautifully photographed Disney documentary about lions and cheetahs. It was fun to observe how Tinsel and Lily reacted to seeing their cousins from Africa. Lily was particularly captivated by the playful lion cubs. At one point, Tinsel arched her back as if she needed to defend herself from an approaching lion!

 While there are many similarities in behavior between domestic kitties and their wild cousins, we concluded that Tinsel and Lily live a much, much easier life -- especially when it comes to mealtime! These two pampered girls wouldn't fare so well in the wild! :)

25 May 2012

Feline Friday: Cheap Cat Tree :)

 As I've been thinking about my "new" revamped crafting space, the thought occurred to me to get a nice cat tree for the corner near the window. Then I realized that I already have one! :)


24 May 2012

Craft Room Update

I am pleased to report that my craft room/home office is completely painted! I still need to do quite a few touch-ups, considering that I got way too much caramel paint on the white ceiling. I am the surely the world's slowest and worst painter. But as long as you don't look too closely, I think it will be okay! I do love the color!
 Of course, things are in COMPLETE disarray around here, as I've moved most of the contents of the room into our guest room and also into our bedroom. Meanwhile, I've had to take over the kitchen and dining room in order to work on class projects and store samples.

 The flooring guy stopped by earlier this week to measure the room and the walk-in closet. I haven't picked out flooring yet but I'm planning to get some type of wood-look floor that will be durable and easy to clean, since I tend to make messes in this room.
Depending on the type of flooring I choose, it could be ready to install within the next two weeks. YAY! I can't wait to start putting this room together into a more functional and inspirational work space!


21 May 2012

Planter Progress!

Slowly but surely I am getting on top of my gardening projects. My immediate goal last week was to finish planting my patio pots, a task I wasn't able to get to earlier in the month. 

Last summer, I planted more patio pots than I had in the past and really enjoyed the extra color, so I decided to do that again. I bought plants for nine pots and herbs for three. Although the nurseries were a bit picked over, I did manage to find some really nice plants. They seem to be off to a good start.

I also happened upon a perennial plant sale at someone's home, so I picked up a few hostas to plug holes in my garden areas. I still have some problems to fix in my flower beds, but at least the hostas helped fill in some of the gaps. A gardener's work is never done!

18 May 2012

Feline Friday: Turkies!

 Both Lily and Tinsel LOVE deli turkey, but only Lily expresses her love like this...

Just like a dog, she doesn't miss a thing!

Her begging probably constitutes bad behavior, but it is really, really cute (in spite of the blurry photos).

She reaches up with her paw to touch it.

She'll even dance to get a nibble!

Please, more turkey! I'm begging you! Alright, Lily...just one more bite! Who could resist those little white paws?

17 May 2012

Thankful Thursday

Here are just a few things I'm thankful for right now, during the month of May:

Flowers blooming and ready to be picked! This is one advantage of the early spring. I don't think I've ever had bouquets this early!

I picked a bouquet similar to this one to take to my 100 year old grandma on Mother's Day. We're thankful we still have her in our lives! And of course I'm thankful for Tinsel and constant her companionship, moody as she may be. :)

 Our daughter is HOME and we LOVE having her here! Who knows how many more summers we'll have with her, so we're trying to enjoy every single minute. And of course I'm also thankful for Lily and all the joy she brings to our lives each day.

And our daughter occasionally cooks! I'm very thankful for that. What a treat!

I'm also thankful for the painting assistance I've been getting. My crafting/office space is a complete disaster, but at least I can see progress now. I'm extremely thankful for that!
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14 May 2012

Front Planters - Thrill, Fill, and Spill!

 I'm running WAY behind on my planters this year. I normally have all of my patio planters done before Mother's Day. That didn't happen, but I did manage to get the two front porch planters done last week.

I decided to go with a purple and white theme to match the fan flower hanging baskets I purchased recently.

Earlier this spring I cleaned out all of my pots so they were ready to go. These particular pots have drainage holes in the bottom -- a good thing, but I've found that slightly covering the holes prevents the dirt from leaking out over the summer.

Of course, you don't want to completely cover the holes because then the pot wouldn't drain properly. So I cover the holes with shards from broken clay pots. This allows the water to drain and keeps the dirt IN. I also just like the word SHARDS. :)

When purchasing my plants, I kept in mind this rule of thumb for creating a nice looking planter: THRILL, FILL, and SPILL. I chose a tall plant to THRILL -- provide height and interest from a distance. The vincas will FILL in the space, and the small white trailing flowers will SPILL over the side.

I hope to finish the rest of my planters before next week!

11 May 2012

Feline Friday: Senior Photo Shoot

 In honor of all the graduates, Lily put together a brief senior photo shoot for today's Feline Friday post.

Unfortunately, the shoot started out badly while our subject dealt with some anger issues.

While she took a few cleansing breaths, we took some aerial shots but quickly decided this was not a flattering angle.

 Soon Lily began enjoying the photo shoot and did her best to strike a fancy Glamour Shot pose. Not quite, Lily!
 Awww, here's one for the scrapbook!

 Finally, the purr-fect shot! Congratulations, Lily!
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09 May 2012

Gardens in Early May: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Although I've made a lot of gardening mistakes over the years, I somehow still manage to start each spring with a sense of optimism. This is the year, I boldly say to myself, setting aside all the troubles of past gardening seasons. With that goal in mind, I recently surveyed the progress of my flower gardens to assess what's working...and mostly what's NOT! Here's my quick assessment of the GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY things happening in my flower gardens.

GOOD: I'm very pleased with how my front flower bed is filling in. I think what I like best about this bed is the variety of textures and colors. Unfortunately, the ground cover situation may get out of hand this year as I seem to have two types of plants competing for territory. (Here's one of my many mistakes: I thought one ground cover had died, so I planted a second...then the first one came back to life!) Other than a few weeds and that unsightly black plastic edging, I'm fairly happy with this area.

BAD: What's the deal with these yellow iris? You'd think I could get more than two flowers from this large patch! The truth is that they needed to be divided years ago. A good thinning would improve the bloom situation. But at least I have something green and growing in this spot!

UGLY: I have a large gap in front of the birdbath. After tearing out some unruly spiderwort a few years back, I've generally reserved this space for annuals. But I'm tired of tending to annuals, so I I think I'll be filling in this shady spot with transplanted hostas.

BAD: I have a few plants coming up in this corner area, but the gaps are making me crazy. I'm tempted to add more hostas to fill in the space. In addition, I've got a couple of plants here that need to be moved, as they're barely limping along.

UGLY: At the other end of the same bed, I've got a crowding situation. The catmint requires aggressive pruning to keep it in check, and the two sedum plants will get so large by mid-summer that they'll crowd their neighbors and split down the center. These plants need to be divided or moved.
UGLY: I have several ongoing spacing issues in this garden, including this large gap next to the birdbath. This year, I vow to plug the holes once and for all! On the GOOD side, I am pleased with the plants I added last year which slightly alleviated the gaps. The purple iris (moved from another area of the yard) are doing well and add some much needed variation in texture. The wild rose is doing so well that I'm going to have to move the plants on either side of it to give it more room. With all of those thorns, I won't be touching it anytime soon!

So here's to maintaining the GOOD areas -- and fixing the BAD and UGLY ones. This is the year! Maybe this season I'll be right.

04 May 2012

Feline Friday: She's coming home!

 We're all very excited around here because Bailey is coming home for the summer! But I'm guessing she'll have more stuff with her than Lily has packed in her tiny suitcase!

We cannot WAIT to have her home for the summer! We are going to have FUN! We don't have anything very exciting planned except just being together. That will be the most fun of all!
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02 May 2012

Craft Room Progress

 I can only stand so much chaos! In the middle of umpteen creative projects, I decided to paint my craft area. I figured that if I waited for the ideal time it would never happen, so I decided to just jump in and do it. But the visual clutter was making me completely crazy so I finally decided to move more stuff out of the room. Besides that, I could no longer walk around the space -- and moving the ladder was becoming increasingly cumbersome.

 So now most of what was in my scrap room is in the guest room. Hope we don't have any guests for awhile... unless they enjoy scrapbooking!

 The timing of this operation is less than ideal, because Bailey will be coming home from college in a couple of days with a dorm room full of STUFF. It's obviously not going to land in the guest room like it did last summer!

 I need to go through a SERIOUS editing process before taking this stuff back into the craft room once the flooring is installed. I'm going to be very attentive to both FORM and FUNCTION. In other words, it needs to be useful to me AND fit with my color scheme in order to go back into the room! If it doesn't match, it must be hidden from view. I shall be ruthless about that!

(And don't tell Spouse, but the guest room is next on my list. If I survive this project, that is!)

 So with a lot more stuff moved out, the craft room looks a BIT less cluttered. As you can see, there is a fair amount of space in this room. In addition to what you see, there is a large walk-in closet (although you can't begin to walk into it right at the moment) with shelving. Much of that closet is devoted to my daughter's old school papers. Serious work needs to occur in there this summer, but for now I'm just leaving the door SHUT!

The painting is progressing very slowly. The window wall has been treacherous and needs two more coats of paint. And of course, in spite of my taping program, I've managed to get a fair amount of Behr New Chestnut on the white ceiling. All of those spots will need to be fixed.

I initially thought I was going to have to acquire a valance, but I've changed my mind now. While they're not perfect, I'm much happier with the blinds since I painted the boards they are hanging from. The unfinished wood was really an eyesore! Now that this problem is fixed, I'm not going to worry much more about that window. That's a good thing for everyone because I'm a disaster with a sewing machine!

This is my inspiration fabric. I have had it for at least three years now...waiting for this moment! I love this fabric because it incorporates my favorite avocado green color, plus brown AND black -- and it's STRIPED! Everything in the room much match this fabric! 

Spouse doesn't know it, but I'll be painting the desk black -- forest green will not be allowed! I don't know what I'll be doing with the fabric yet -- especially since I don't sew. I only have a small amount, so I may coerce my daughter (who actually DOES sew) into making some throw pillows.

I'm finally making some progress in the space and can't wait to finish this step. Hopefully with Bailey home in a few days, I'll be able to enlist her help and the painting will go a bit faster!
This craft room overhaul is long overdue. If I can achieve what's in my mind, it's going to be great!

Our Visit to IU

 In late April, we took a trip to Indiana University to visit our daughter and attend a performance of the IU Symphonic Band, Concert Band, and Wind Ensemble. It was a weekend filled with world-class musical performances, and we had an absolutely wonderful time!

 We decided to leave a day earlier than planned so we could catch the rehearsal on Thursday afternoon. What a treat! It was so fun to get to hear this amazing performance twice! Click on the photo to enlarge and you can see our daughter standing at the back left in the percussion section, behind the piano.

We were completely blown away by the performances of all three groups. What a great experience to be part of an ensemble playing such challenging music! This is one of the true benefits of being a student in the Jacobs School of Music. As a future music educator, these experiences will serve her well.

Bailey knows that I've always got my camera in tow, so after the performance she asked me to go on stage (my stage debut at the MAC!) to take a few pictures with friends. Here's a photo with some of her friends from the percussion studio who performed in the ensembles that evening.

And here's a photo with her boyfriend taken after the concert. They're learning to cooperate with me. :) As an added bonus, we also got to meet his parents and spend some time visiting with Bailey's new roommate and her parents!

 Of course, Bailey had to go to class on Friday, but she still had time for lunch with us. Conveniently, I had my camera with me to catch a picture with her dad wearing his Hoosier Daddy shirt. (I need to find a Hoosier Mommy shirt...)

 It was a beautiful day in Bloomington so while she went back to class, we took a long walk on the new B-Line trail, an extensive walking path that follows the route of one of the old train lines. 

The trail itself is very wide and well-lit, with rest stations and signage with historical information along the way. This particular stretch of trail winds through a lovely wooded area.

 Southern Indiana is known for its limestone. In fact, many of the buildings at IU are constructed from limestone which gives the campus a beautiful, old world feel.


Bloomington has a very active arts community, so it's not surprising that there are several public art installations along the trail. This giant table with chairs is located next to the farmers' market venue.

 This particular weekend was the annual Little 500 bike race -- a team event modeled after the Indy 500 and featured in Breaking Away, a movie from a few years back. A mere 25,000 extra people converged on the town that weekend for racing and massive amounts of partying. Although we were told to avoid it at all costs (good advice!), I wanted to see the venue, so we stopped by to look at the track as they were setting up. Now I can say I've been to Little 500! :)

It was one treat after another that weekend: Bailey had time to play for us! She and her friends were in the midst of preparing for Upper Divisionals, a barrier required of all sophomore music majors in which students play for their department professors to determine if they can stay in the program. (She passed!) I LOVE listening to her play timpani and don't get to hear it very often!

And she also played her marimba piece. I could listen to this instrument all day. Such a beautiful sound! So far, Bailey has had the opportunity to study with three of the four percussion professors and hopes to work with the other one next year. With such great instruction covering all facets of percussion, we can definitely see how she is growing and developing as a musician!

 Friday evening we got to attend the percussion recital of a junior performance major in her studio. What a great recital! Given that Jay is also a percussionist, it was a really special treat for him. We followed the performance with a trip to Red Mango, the local frozen yogurt hangout. YUM!
After lunch on Saturday, Bailey had more practicing to do so we entertained ourselves by going to several junior/senior recitals, including a harp recital which left us speechless. There are over 1500 performances at the music school each year and on that particular day, there were student recitals taking place every hour. This photo was taken in Auer Hall, the most beautiful recital hall on campus. The acoustics were especially designed for the pipe organ which was installed last year after years of preparation.

 At the time we planned the trip, we found out there was going to be a big jazz concert Saturday evening so we decided to stay for it. It was an absolutely fabulous performance featuring four well-known jazz musicians who attended IU playing in various ensembles with jazz students. A highlight of the evening was the performance of IU's Latin Jazz Band!

As you can see, we had a fantastic time visiting Bailey, seeing her friends, and catching so many wonderful performances. A weekend like this confirms that IU is a very special place. We feel grateful every day that Bailey is so happy at Jacobs and is getting such a fantastic education.

And even better, if that is possible: We get to pick her up for the summer in just a few short days!