28 February 2016

Geeking Out: NPR at Smokey Row

 If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you probably know that I'm a huge fan of NPR. If I'm home or in the car, it's a good bet that I'm listening to NPR. Lucky for me, Spouse has a cousin who works behind the scenes for NPR in Washington, and we've even taken a tour of the facilities. That was kind of one of the most exciting days of my life. :)

Being in Iowa during an election cycle, we had a lot of media attention leading up to the caucuses. Imagine my excitement when I learned that NPR's Morning Edition (one of my favorite NPR programs) would be broadcasting LIVE from one of our favorite local coffee shops on caucus day! 

The only downside was that the doors opened at 4 AM, which is crazy early in my book. I finally summoned up the courage to go (I knew I'd regret it if I didn't) but I couldn't quite make myself get up early enough to arrive when the doors opened, so I decided to head over an hour or so later. To my surprise, Spouse decided to go along. He's not an NPR fan but (I reminded him that) he likes Smokey Row's coffee and enjoys seeing the workings of radio programs. And yes, there was a tiny bit of arm-twisting involved. :)

As a night-owl, I never do anything at this hour of the morning, so I was somewhat surprised that the place was already quite crowded. Clearly there are a lot of early morning people (and NPR fans) in our area. And I could tell right away (even though my eyes were not completely open yet) that these were my peeps! But if they're only out and about at that crazy hour, I'll probably never see my peeps again!

They used a small meeting room off to the side as the "studio" and inside, I could see that they had set up 20 or so chairs for a studio audience. Eventually they adjusted the audio so you could hear the broadcast throughout the coffee shop, even if you weren't anywhere close to the room.

There were lots of media people covering the media!

 After we got our coffee (which NPR subsidized!), I made my way to the back of the coffee shop near the restroom. That was not a popular place to stand, so I had a perfect view of the program through the window! And during the broadcast, I served as the door-opener to the women's restroom. Not a bad sacrifice!

 Host David Greene interviewed several people involved in politics while we were there, which was interesting to observe. A couple of candidates also stopped by after we left.

From my prime viewing spot, I tried to peer in the window (without looking like too much of a geek) to see the screens and controls. Not that I have any idea what's going on, but it was still fascinating to see! I later learned that the small group of listeners in the studio (those brave souls who arrived at 4 AM!) were actually treated to an overview of how the show is put together. Holy cow...that could have been too much for me at that hour of the morning. It was probably better for me to just look through the window. :)

Then things got even more exciting: I discovered that I was stationed right next to a Rubbermaid tub of NPR buttons! The producers were scattering them about on the tables and invited us to help ourselves. People would stop by nonchalantly and pick up a few of their favorites. Even though they didn't show it, I knew they were geeking out on the inside!

Why, thank you, Morning Edition! I'll take one of each!

 In spite of getting up at a ridiculously early hour, we both had a fun time that morning. And when we got back home, the day was still quite young! It's amazing how much you can accomplish when you wake up at 4:30 in the morning! :)

Now each time I listen to Morning Edition, I think about that crazy early morning at Smokey Row. A presidential election, caramel lattes and NPR: It just doesn't get much better than that!

26 February 2016

Feline Friday: Paper, Not Plastic

Tinsel has always had an unhealthy fascination with plastic grocery bags. It's strange, because many moons ago while visiting my parents, she actually got her head caught in the handle of a plastic grocery bag and went flying through the house with the bag billowing out like SuperCat. By the time I finally caught her, she was somewhat traumatized. I thought she'd stay clear of plastic bags from that point on, but I was wrong. She loves the crinkly texture and if I accidentally leave one lying out, she'll lick and even chew it. Seems she (and many other kitties) can't resist.

Last night I came home from the hair salon with a heavier plastic bag. I briefly stepped out of the room and came back to this scene: Tinsel had shoved her head down inside the bag and was licking it! I took a second to grab a photo before tossing the bag in the garbage. LOOK AT THAT TONGUE! That's some serious licking! :)

While it makes for a funny picture, this represents a dangerous situation for a kitty. It would be very easy for a kitty to get her head caught in the handle of the bag. For this reason, I never leave plastic bags lying around. In this case, of course, I was standing right there and would not let that happen! 

Note: Plastic bags can be dangerous around cats, so please take care to remove them from your kitty's environment! Plastic bags can be recycled at many grocery stores.

This Public Service Announcement has been brought to you by Tinsel. :)

20 February 2016

New Use for Old Cart

I recently shared that we rehabbed an old cart from my dad's garage. I put it in my craft room, not quite sure what I would use it for. But after just a couple of days, its new use revealed itself to me: Corralling class supplies!

I use baskets or boxes to contain the tools I need for my classes, so I always have mismatched containers sitting around my craft space, depending on how many classes I have in the works. As soon as I create my class projects, I load up the basket or box so it's ready to go when it's time for me to prepare my kits and actually teach the class. Several weeks go by between the time I prepare a class and the time I actually teach it, during which time I tend to misplace my containers or empty them out in frustration looking for stuff I've misplaced.

Suddenly it dawned on me: The cart would be perfect for corralling all this class stuff! I gathered up four identical baskets from various places around the house and labeled them for my next four classes. Each basket contains the supplies I need for each class, like dies, punches, paint, or ink. Each basket will sit on the cart until I need them for kit prep or class, then I'll empty it and re-use it for the next class. If I've misplaced a tool, chances are it will be in one of these baskets. (Unless I've thrown it away, which has happened lately...)

This may seem like a little thing, but it has already helped a TON! Instead of being scattered around the room in various types of boxes or containers, all of my class tools and supplies will now be gathered in one place, neat and tidy!

19 February 2016

Feline Friday: Extreme Cuteness with Rory

For today's Feline Friday, I had planned to share some pictures of Tinsel and her recent trip to the vet for a check-up.

Then Bailey texted me these pictures of little Rory and I just had to share. Because...look how sweet she is!

 Last week, Bailey was out of town for a few days so Rory was watched by a professional cat-sitter. (If I lived closer, that would be my job!) Since Bailey came home, Rory has been even more cuddly than usual. If that is even possible!

  And even cuter, I might add! I'm not sure I could leave this little pillow-stealer to go to work each morning!

 Seriously, could you? ;)

12 February 2016

Feline Friday: Invasion of the Kitchen Towel Monster

Gentle blog readers, I don't want to frighten anyone, but we've had a sighting of the exceedingly rare KITCHEN TOWEL MONSTER! This kitschy creature is only seen during the cold winter months when it emerges, cloaked in terrycloth, from the Expensive Cat Basket.

The Kitchen Towel Monster moves across the floor somewhat slowly but steadily...advancing toward the ultimate goal. 

What could this cloaked creature be seeking?

NOMS, of course. :)

11 February 2016

A Few Recent Cards

 Sorry for the lack of posts this week! I've been up to my ears in designing class projects, writing instructions, and making kits. I'm making progress and enjoying the creative process but I think I'm getting slower all the time. At least it feels that way this week!

One of the things I've neglected of late is my own stash of cards. I find that really funny because I teach SO MANY card classes! :) I've needed a few cards lately and found myself scrambling to create them on the fly. It's much better to have a good card inventory on hand. What's that old saying about the cobbler's children having no shoes? Yep, that's me right now: SHOE-LESS! One of these days, I really need to devote an entire day to replenishing my stash.
One can never have too many thank you cards on hand but when I checked my card basket, there were none left. I decided to do a stenciled background on this card using Distress Ink. It was quick and fun, making me wonder why I don't use my stencils more often! So while I was at it, I made a couple of extra stenciled backgrounds to use on future cards.

 Of course, my daughter always gets a personalized card for her birthday. She's a fan of hedgehogs so when I found this cut file on the Silhouette website, I knew it would be perfect for her birthday card. It was simple to make: I just printed the text then sized the hedgehog to fit the card front. I mailed the card inside a box with some birthday gifts so I took the opportunity to decorate the envelope to match.

 This year I only sent one Valentine (how sad is that?). For this card for my daughter, I went straight to my stash of extra die cuts (the heart, arrow, and "love") then found a patterned paper to match. When I remember (ha!), I also like to line the envelopes. It gives a nice finished presentation to the card.
 Here's to finishing up my projects so I can get back to blogging...and card-making! :)

05 February 2016

Feline Friday: Through the Day with Lily

While working today, this was my view. :)
Mommie! I am hungrie!


Mommie! Feed me!


 Then later, whilst I was enjoying a muffin...
 MOMMIE! Again I am hungrie!

DIS MUFFIN...I needs it!


 Then finally (after a tiny nibble of muffin), along came Lily the cuddlebug. Awww!
As you can see, there's never a dull moment in the day with Lily in the house! :)

02 February 2016

Cart Project Finished

 Last fall, I shared that I was getting ready to start re-habbing this cart which I brought home from my dad's garage. He used it for his tools and, as you can see, it was in very rough shape. It has taken awhile, but this project is finally finished!

After trying a few different grades of sandpaper, it was apparent that no amount of sanding was going to fix all of this cart's issues. So we asked a friend to sandblast it and he generously did so...using my dad's sandblaster which his neighbor had purchased at my auction. So in a sad but nice sort of way, my dad participated in this little project.

After the sandblasting was done, Spouse took on the job of spray painting, so all of the credit for this project goes to him. I'm very pleased with how it turned out!

The only disappointing part of the project was that I fell short of my initial "vision" for it, shown below in this Pinterest photo. I had planned to paint the shelves in three colors to match my craft room but as you can see, the inspiration cart has handles whereas my cart has "legs" on the corners. Because the legs look like they're almost part of the shelves (instead of being completely separate as in the inspiration photo), it was hard to determine a color scheme that worked. So I opted for a galvanized silver color for the entire cart which makes it more versatile. But I will always love this three-color cart! *sigh*

Anyway...moving on! :) I bought new screws and Spouse put the cart back together. I really do love the simplicity of the re-habbed silver cart!

Even sandblasting did not remove all the imperfections in the cart. It had had just had too many layers of paint and too much hard use to erase all of that. "It's character," Spouse reminded me. Very true.

The new screws were only available in brass. At first I thought I'd spray paint them to match the cart, but then we opted to leave them as is. After all, the silver and brass combination is popular right now.

I have a couple of spots where I could put the cart in my craft room but I'm not sure yet exactly where it will go. Of course, my dad used to roll the cart wherever he needed it and I can, too. That's the nice thing about a cart!

I also haven't decided exactly how to use the shelves, but another good thing about a cart is that it gives you more horizontal storage/display space that can be changed as needed.

So now I have a few items from my dad's shop cleaned up and put to use in our house. I know that he and my mom would have gotten a big kick out of that.