Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Free Astrological Sign - Scorpio

I realize this is late - what can I say?  Life seems to get in the way of all the things I want to do.  I will try to be more on top of these in the future and I apologize to those of you who needed it earlier.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Papelitos Guest Designer - 2nd Time

Whoo Hoo!  I've been asked to be the guest designer for Papelitos 18th Challenge - Music.  I love me a singing boogieman, don't you?  And Stewart is just fabulous.  When I got this digital stamp, I envisioned Stewart as a very well dressed ghoul.  Somehow with a striped vest, he doesn't look so scary, right?  I paper pieced much of this image.  I have a huge stack of paper that I had cut down from 12x12 years ago and every once in a while I drag it out for paper piecing.  Most pieces are 5x7 and they're easy to run through the printer.  All in all, this was printed four times.  Twice on white cardstock, once for the red striped and once for the gray suit.  I had to fussy cut the suit, vest and one white Stewart, I assembled one Stewart and popped it up over the one printed with the music.  His suit has been colored with C3, C1 and C0.  I looked to the internet for words to a song he could be singing as he walked along.  I've never heard this one, but you have to admit the words are wonderfully fitting.  And, I think the skull is really a lantern so I added some yellow Stickles to the eye.  This is my second and last guest design spot for Papelitos and I hope I'm asked back, I love these images.

Recipe:  Georgia Pacific 110lb cardstock, stash design paper, Yellow and Stardust Stickles, Recollections Pearls, MTC/Cameo Musical Notes cutting file, music background was a clip art image, Copics: [skin G40, G43, G82, R22, R00, C00, B02][Tie R37][Shirt C1][Shoes E55, E57]

Edited to add:  I received the following comment from a reader.  I have no way of knowing who is right and who is wrong - this image is still for sale at the Papelitos web site.  If anyone knows the artist who drew this image, I would love to contact him/her and ask permission to use it.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Here we go again....

Carl and I have been shopping for the materials for our next remodel - my bathroom.  My bathroom is like a railroad car, it's 60 inches wide and very long, divided into two rooms.  The first room has a wall to wall vanity, a large 3 door medicine cabinet, and a huge linen closet across from the vanity.  The second room is the tub and toilet.  We originally planned to gut the master bathroom and just update my bathroom.

I had a small list.  I wanted a mirror instead of a medicine cabinet, I wanted to change the light above the medicine cabinet, I wanted my vanity painted and new hardware, I wanted the room painted, two grab bars installed by the tub and a new electrical plug installed on the left side of the vanity - easy peasy, right?

Now we are ripping out the tub enclosure and the vanity and countertop and replacing the tub with a whirlpool tub, the vanity with a much smaller vanity and two cabinets on either side.  Since the new tub is white and the old tub enclosure and toilet was beige, we will need to replace the toilet, too.  We're taking down the wall and door between the rooms to open it up, putting tile on the walls around the tub and tile on the floor which is now linoleum.  And then we're going to paint the room.

I've found all the materials - the whirlpool tub, the vanity, the two cabinets, the mirror, the light over the mirror, the light over the tub (a chandelier), the toilet, the wall tile, the curved shower rod and gorgeous curtain and the floor tile.  I even found the paint and don't tell anyone but it's Martha Stewart (it was the only color that matched the glass tile - honest).  The tile around the tub will be white glazed subway tile (size still to be determined) but the trim is a 1x1 white and greenish gray glass tile, three rows high which will run in a band around the tub, height still to be determined.  I'm hoping for an alcove to put soap and shampoo in, that size also to be determined.  Right now I have a tiny ledge that doesn't even hold my body wash, it keeps falling off onto my foot.

Originally the plan was for Mike to start work next Thursday, but the tub takes two to three weeks to arrive so we're assembling everything and he and Pat will start work in January.  Mike's having surgery on his foot the end of November and will need six weeks to recuperate.  And we need to measure for the wall and floor tile so we know how much to purchase.  I was so very happy with the kitchen, I can't wait to get the bathroom done.  I've wanted a Jacuzzi since forever, I'm going to love this tub - I may never get out of it.

Sassy Update:  No accidents since October 22.  The cat boxes are still in the living room but now in a corner partially hidden by a Norfolk Island Pine.  She uses both boxes, sometimes in the same potty session, part in each box.  We clean the boxes two or three times a day.  We have the Kitty Prozac but haven't given her any yet.  We're still hoping the double boxes with two different types of litter will do the trick.  Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New (to me) Style of Card

Another company that I've been buying a lot from lately is Clear and Simple Stamps.  Their excellent quality and style of stamps keeps me going back to them.  They have a series called "Ragdoll" that has dolls, props and scenery.  They rival PTI in everything but customer service and Clear and Simple Stamps kicks their butt in that.  My last order contained a free copy of PaperCrafts Holiday Cards & More, volume 7.  It's 162 pages of ideas for cards, gifts and decorating and retails for $14.99.  In smaller orders I've received large packages of buttons as a thank you.

This little guy, is Rag Doll Jake:  Cool.  He comes with several phrases and a small apple.  The large apple is from the Rag Doll Scenes 1 which leads me to believe there might be a Scenes 2.  I used Spellbinder's Labels 22 to build on and added a white one to the back for a note and a signature.  I stamped the apple on red textured paper, stamped again on a scrap of brown and once more on a scrap of green, just inking up the part of the stamp I wanted to stamp.  Then I fussy cut the three pieces and glued them together.  It's hard to see in the picture, but I really like the texture of the Bazzill paper.  I can't tell you the name of the designer paper because the cover has been lost but I really like it, it has a nice sheen and embosses beautifully.  I touched up the word 'cool' with Studio G clear glitter glue.
The easel is from Joy Crafts and I purchased it on e-bay.  The company is from the UK but I got it very quickly.  I took another crafter's advice and glued two of them together which made it much sturdier.  I folded my easel, placed it behind the card with the envelope and put all three pieces in a clear cellophane jacket.  I also included a note that the package contained an easel for display.

I'm going to make my Christmas cards this year in exactly the same way - using different stamps, of course.  If you haven't tried Clear and Simple Stamps, check them out.  I think you'll be really happy with them.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sassy Update - Shopping Trip...

We still haven't received the Kitty Prozac from the vet but it should be here today.  Yesterday we made a visit to PetSmart in Peoria.  We're trying to discover the reason that sometimes she uses the cat box and sometimes she goes right next to it.  Litter problems?  Size of the box?  Depth of the box?  Depth of the litter?  Stress?  We purchased two large disposable cat boxes with high sides and an XL plastic cat box.  Lots of room in that puppy.

We put the large waterproofed pad in the living room where she likes to potty and arranged the three boxes (one box has been here for several weeks - sometimes she uses it, sometimes she goes right next to it) From left to right:

Box number 1: disposable with high sides and a corn litter in it.  This litter has a high fragrance and it's the litter my husband likes the best - no dust, clumps really well and the only odor is the litter, but my husband isn't the one I'm trying to retrain..  It's a little more expensive and our last cat used it with no problems.

Box Number 2:  disposable box with a sand litter in it.  Very fine, very dusty, very cheap, it's the one my husband likes the least.

Box Number 3:  extra large plastic box with her usual Arm and Hammer no fragrance clumping litter in it and fairly low sides.

In order to tell which box she's been in, we smoothed the litter in all three boxes.  I hadn't finished smoothing Box Number 3 before she was peeing in it.  A good sign to be sure.

This morning (Tuesday morning), I checked the boxes.  All three had paw prints in them so she had at least been in them.  Box Number 1 was empty, just paw prints.  Box Number 2 had a small amount of poop in it (when she poops on the waterproof pad she poops big).  Box Number 3 had several clumps of pee in it.  We're going to keep all three boxes in place, checking, cleaning and smoothing them three times a day for a couple of weeks.  Having three cat boxes in our living room isn't a solution I like but if we can't alter her bathroom habits, the alternative isn't looking good.  Carl is very tender-hearted and would hate to see her go back to the shelter but he also doesn't want our entire house smelling like a cat box.  I'm a little more understanding - I know where she's been emotionally and I'm willing to clean up messes until we solve this problem. 

 Our course of action:

1.  Leave these boxes in place for several weeks and monitor closely.
2.  If that doesn't work, we'll start the meds and continue #1 for several weeks.
3.  If that doesn't work, we'll continue the meds and lock her in my craft room with her food and cat box.  I spend a lot of time in there and she has a shelf next to the window.
4.  If that doesn't work, we're at a loss.

She's just discovered a new place to sleep - my big yellow corduroy chair in the family room.  Ironic since she used this chair as her first inappropriate potty place and I had to have the cushion cleaned three times.  We removed the cushion and put down a waterproof pad under the cushion, over the arms and up the back.  If she uses it again, it will just be the cushion we need to have cleaned, not the chair itself.  I think that she won't use it again because she's sleeping there.  I will give that a few more weeks and remove the water proof pad.  We've already removed the pad on my husband's chair but one remains on the couch.   My fingers are crossed that we can solve this problem.  I can't imagine not being able to give her belly rubs.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sassy Update - De-stressing...

Sassy went to the Vet yesterday.  We're trying to rule out medical problems in dealing with her bathroom issues.  I've read everything on the internet I can find about cats that won't use their cat box.  While she does use her cat box, she also uses other places.  She now seems to be focused on the rug in the living room.  We've placed a cat box on the rug and a waterproofed pad under it.  She is now using both the box and the pad.  So, we made an appointment with the Wyoming Veterinary Service in Wyoming, IL.  Dr. McFarland thoroughly tested her for anything that could medically cause problems (thyroid, kidney, liver, bladder, and a fecal test) and ruled her extremely healthy.
Our first course of action was Feliway.  Feliway is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone, used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure.  Their literature says their product will de-stress most cats.  Apparently stress in cats is hard to detect.  And she has had a stressful life.  First she was a stray, then locked up in a small cage for a month, the vet, and lastly, our house, medicine for her bacterial infection and salve for her eye infection along with the trip to Wisconsin.  Lots of changes since August 2.

We've really grown to love her.  She's energetic, funny, entertaining.  She loves to play with balls and feathers and rings from the milk jugs.  She purrs every time you touch her and while she's not trusting enough to climb on our laps, she doesn't run when you approach her as much as she used to.  She's curious and any time we're making noise she's there to find out why.  She's developed some really cute habits like following me into the bathroom, jumping into my tub and playing with the shower curtain.  I've dropped a ping pong ball in the tub and I hear her in there playing with it.  She also comes to bed with us and plays with our feet for a while.  Then she gets bored and leaves.  She doesn't sleep on our bed and can't be coaxed back up once she gets down.  She has just started letting me rub her belly once in a while and she makes these little chirping noises that are really cute.

We need to solve this problem, for her sake as much as ours. After discussion with Dr. McFarland, we've decided on the Feliway - one diffuser in each of the two rooms she spends the most time in and Kitty Prozac which she will take once a day.  I've read a lot about giving meds to your cat and the press is mostly positive.  The only other alternative is to lock her in a small room with her cat box for a couple of weeks.  Then periods out supervised until we have a period of time with no accidents.  We hate to have to lock her up.  She's already been through that at the shelter but we may have no choice.  I'll keep posting about our journey and if you have any ideas, be sure to share.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Papelitos Guest Designer - Challenge 16 - Witches

I'm honored to have been asked to be a guest designer for Papelitos, for their "Witches" challenge.  I've been a fan since I discovered they did witches, and cute witches they are.  The witch I've used on this card is called Blairy.  She looks like my idea of Marie Lavaux thinking up a spell to turn a man who did her wrong into something small and slimy - and who doesn't like Dr. Hook?  I'm pretty pleased with the way this turned out.  I'm doing another guest designer spot on October 30th - Challenge 18 - Music.  So, stop back by and see Stewart, my singing ghoul and visit the Papelitos blog and enter for your chance to win a great prize.

Recipe:  Cricut October 31st Tombstone, Poppystamps Grassland Border die, Martha Stewart Bat punch, Martha Stewart glitter, Imaginisce Rhinestones, Stardust Stickles, Copics: [skin G20, G43, G82, E93, B000, BV00][broom Y35, Y32, E57][Purse E31, E30][Clothes BV34, BV11, W3, W00][Hair 100, W8, W5]

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Halloween Birthday

Do you know someone who was born on October 31st?  My husband's sister was.  Not too many classy Halloween birthday cards on the market these days.  I've struggled to come up with something but this year I think I nailed it.  I purchased a Stampin' Up stamp set on e-bay called "Wicked Cool".  I placed a bid on several sets up for auction but the price always topped what I was willing to pay.  Imagine my surprise when I saw a set with a 'buy now' button for much less than the last auction price I saw.  I really like the possibilities in this set which includes the hat, boots, bats, a candelabra, "have a wicked halloween" and a spider web. 

I used the same set to create this card:
The pumpkin in this card and the Happy Birthday in the top card are also Stampin' Up stamps.  It's raining here today but warm.  Hope the weather is nice wherever you are.

Friday, October 12, 2012

I don't usually do this but....

In a world where less than stellar service is usually the norm, I'd like to give some credit to people/companies that go above and beyond to make their customers happy.  I have personally purchased from these places and have been really happy dealing with them.

PB Stamps:  If you like Penny Black, PB Stamps is the place to purchase them.  They have almost every stamp produced by PB, even retired stamps and they don't charge exorbitant prices.  I placed an order for two clear sets of stamps on October 9th.  My package mailed on October 10th and I received it today.  PB Stamps is located in Alexandria, Ohio, so admittedly, if you lived in California it would take longer to arrive, but that is the USPS' fault, not John's.  No elaborate web site here, an e-mail with the stamps you want and their SKU numbers will place your order and John can take either credit cards or invoice you with Paypal.

This is one of the Penny Black Bluebell images I've purchased from PB Stamps.

Another great company with wonderful service is Susana's Custom Art and Card Design.  A great source for Memory Box and Poppy Stamp dies, Susana also designs her own dies.  If the shipping is less than you were charged, she refunds the extra.  A huge gripe I have about shipping is a standard fee for something like a Memory Box die.  It weighs next to nothing and fits in an A2 envelope and I've been charged as much as $6.99 for shipping (can you say "PTI"?).  Sometimes I believe that companies make their profit from shipping.  Susana and PB Stamps both charge actual shipping.  Susana also has great service, packages arrive quickly and she carries her own line of stamps (if you like cute monsters, check out her "Complete Oddly Sweet Curiosities Sets").

My third shout-out is to for the wonderful Card Creator Dies.  I can't even begin to count the number of times I've reached for these sets (I have the A and B set).  When I'm in a hurry, I can't be bothered measuring.  And I've yet to find a really great portable cutter that cuts straight every time.  My Cuttlebug sits on a small table right behind me and my Card Creator dies are right next to it.  I often make cards using dark bases and I only decorate the inside if I'm sending it myself.  I prefer to leave the inside blank so my customers can add their own words.  But a dark card base needs a light inside so I use the Card Creator dies to quickly cut a sheet of lightweight paper to insert inside my cards so a message can be written on them.  While I have tons of dies, this set has quickly become my fav.  So, kudos, Cindy.  I'm lucky to be able to say I knew you when.....

Thursday, October 11, 2012

More from Fossil Rim...

I have more photos to share with you:

These are Aoudads.  They look like Big Horn Sheep but come from the deserts of Morocco, western Sahara to Egypt and Sudan.  Young Aoudads can climb rocks within hours of birth.  They continue to decline in their native habitats due to hunting pressures.  Aoudad are also known as Barbary sheep and are the only African wild sheep.  The little cutie in the second picture was born this spring.

This guy looks like a fox but is actually a Maned Wolf native to Eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil where their status is listed as threatened.  Their name comes from the distinctive patch of black fur across their shoulders and neck.  Though termed a wolf, the maned wolf is actually in its own genus and more closely resembles a large red fox.  They are not part of the drive through park, you will need to take a photo tour in order to see the maned wolf.  They use one small corner of their large pen as a toilet - it just happens to be at the only section of the fence the tourists are allowed to approach.  A commentary on what they think of tourists maybe?

The top picture is a male Blackbuck from India and Pakistan, the second picture is a female.  Considered near threatened, adult males are black and white, females and young males are tan and white.  Only the males have horns.  Due to their popularity on hunting ranches, there are more blackbuck in Texas than in their native India.  The creation of protected preserves in India has rescued this animal from almost certain extinction.  The male blackbuck walks the perimeter between his territory and the next male's territory.  They puff up their chests and throw their heads back in order to intimidate each other.  Males try to steal the females from each other and we witnessed lots of chasing of both other males and females who might have been tempted to move to the dark side.

These are Wildebeest (affectionately referred to as Wildeburgers by the staff of Fossil Rim - every predator in Africa prefers to eat them).  They are common in Southern Kenya and Angola to northern South Africa and are not threatened.  Both males and females have horns.  Calves are up and walking within 15 minutes of birth, right at their mother's side.  Adults can be seen forming a circle around the younger members of the herd.  Fossil Rim is home to one of the largest captive herds in the world.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Update from Fossil Rim...

We finally made it home yesterday afternoon.  We made a detour after leaving Fossil Rim and stopped at the Vicksburg National Battlefield in Vicksburg, Mississippi and Shiloh National Battlefield in Tennessee.  Both are beautiful parks and rich in history.

From Shiloh we made it to Miner, Missouri where we found the Holiday Inn Express all filled up so stayed at a America's Best Value Inn which was large but badly in need of maintenance.  We had two rooms, two TVs and the beds were comfortable with good pillows but there was mold in the bathroom and a hole in the sink.  The bathroom reminded me of a shabby Motel 6.  I hate to think I've become a hotel snob but that bathroom was pretty bad.

I have some pictures for you from Fossil Rim but it will take a couple of days to show them all so let's get started.

By far, the sweetest and most gentle animals were the giraffes.  On some of our drives through the park (and we took many of them over three days), the giraffes were up close to the road. The tour guides encourage you to feed them to keep them close to the road to the delight of everyone who sees them.  You can purchase food at the visitor's center and the Overlook.  The animals seem to love it.  Some of them wait for a car to stop and then rush it but not the giraffes, you'll need to coax them over.
I resisted feeding the animals because I really didn't want to get all gunky (and, trust me, some of them are seriously gunky).  But these guys are so beautiful I finally had to do it.  Their muzzles are as soft as velvet and they are so gentle.  Amazing creatures.
I sent this picture to our good friend, Rich.  My message to him is always a Bronx cheer so this picture was especially perfect, eh, Rich?

This is a European Red Deer and responsible for keeping me awake so many nights while we stayed at the park.  Between the Fallow Deer and this guy grunting, coughing, bugling, I hardly got any sleep the three nights we stayed in the Safari Camp.  In his attempt to lure the girls in, he urinates in dirt and rolls in it (apparently this is attractive to the ladies).  We were early in the rut, soon he will be covered with mud, dripping little balls of it and he is the first to run to a car to be fed.  If you want to keep all of your nose hairs, roll up your window before he gets there, you will be glad you did.
This is a male Fallow Deer.  Fortunately they were always way too tired after a night of cavorting with the ladies to come to the car.  In fact, it was rare during the day to see their eyes open.  Just completely sacked out.

We keep talking about going back in May to see the babies.  They are expecting a baby Grevy's Zebra in the spring (a huge deal since they are endangered).  They also had a baby White Rhino born last October (her name is Ursulla) and they've had 125 Cheetah cubs born since 1986.  This park isn't just a lot of fun to go through but a dedicated nursery for animals that are struggling in the wild.  Kudos to the volunteers that lead the tours, the interns that take such good care of the animals and the scientists and doctors who keep the animals healthy and breeding.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hello from Fossil Rim...

I will share more animal pictures with you tomorrow but thought I would first share where we are staying.  It's called the Safari Camp and it's a collection of about seven tents with hard floors, bathrooms and some even have air conditioning although ours seems to be broken at the moment.  The tents are close to one of the bigger waterholes so we see animals across the fence from our tent all the time.  Last night there was a large flock of turkeys, fallow deer, European Red Deer and a crane which called for a long time.  The fallow deer and European Red Deer are mating right now and I have a snippet of video showing two red deer locking antlers.
Our tent contains two single beds which I swear are just crib mattresses.  The pillows are completely flat, no four star hotel here.  But we don't come for the amenities.  Breakfast is wonderful, and it's all about location, location, location.

 The shower is actually larger than my husband's shower at home.  The bathroom is teeny but adequate for the amount of time we spend there.
The view from the front of the tent is awesome, at night it looks like we can see hundreds of miles since we're up so high.  And this is the front of our tent.  We sat outside this morning and watched the world come to life and listened to the fallow and red deer grunt.  They all spent the day sleeping since all night grunting seems to wear them out.  Temperatures are in the high 80s here down to the 60s at night.  More tomorrow.....

Monday, October 1, 2012

A little of this, a little of that....

Sassy seems more comfortable with us everyday.  She spends a great part of her waking hours in my studio so we've arranged a platform in the window overlooking the bird feeders and that's where she hangs.  When we're in the family room, she's down there playing with the toys that are scattered all over the house.  She has balls, feathers, fuzzies, and the rings that are left when the cap is removed from the milk.

On the potty situation, while not an ideal solution, we have added a cat box to the living room in the spot where she has been going.  If that does the trick, we will purchase a cat box that doesn't look like a cat box and keep it in the living room.  So much easier than cleaning up the mess.  But so far we have only two days since the last mess.  And she has been using the box in the basement, too.  And everyday we fall a little more in love with her.  She follows us to bed at night just long enough to play the "toes wiggling under the covers" game.  And she's developed the habit of following me into my bathroom and jumping into the tub.  Then we play the "fingers in the shower curtain" game.  She likes to hide between the liner and the shower curtain and jump out at me.  She runs and waits for us to chase her.  So, she's part of our lives now, faults and all....

A little of this, a little of that....

Tomorrow we leave for Fossil Rim and I will be sharing that trip with you every evening that I have WIFI.

In the meantime, I leave you with this little candy box.  The cut file comes from SVGCuts.  Their latest offering, Gimme Candy Boxes, is the best so far.  Darling boxes, easy to make.  I've used a Sizzix embossing folder and Recollections card stock to make this cutie.