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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Gift tags

Since we're going to be gone (to Mexico!) during the middle of December, Christmas '08 preparations started in January. This photo is a sample of what I've finished so far.

Just tags covered in cardstock, letters cut with the Cricut, and 3-D stickers. Ribbons will be attached when I put them on the packages. They can use them as ornaments later if they wish.

If you want to see more papercrafts, check out Kelli's blog to see what others are creating - and share your work with us, too!

'Tis the season...

Edited at 9:58 - Right after I posted this, I went out the front door - lo and behold, look what I found in front of the deck. I've been watching for the big guy all week, just so I don't walk into the web, or I may not have noticed this:
for SPIDERS! This past week I've had a couple of close calls with the eight-legged wonders, and that's enough. I can be done with them now.
Last Sunday I was getting ready to host my former coworkers from the theater for our end-of-the-summer party by setting up some outside spaces. I bent down to move a planter and almost stuck my face into this: Yeah, that was my reaction. But isn't it beautiful? I had Nick help me position the planter so my guests would be sure to walk around the web and not brush it as they went by. Believe it or not, no one noticed the web until I pointed it out after they had come into the house!

We kept an eye on it all day, and by evening the web was only about half as big as that morning, and by the next morning it was gone completely.

I tried to put the camera on the inside of the web to get a photo of the front of this giant guy, but didn't want to get too close, so the focus is off. You can still get an idea of how very big he was. Even with all the spectators during the day, and cameras (I wasn't the only one taking photos), this guy never moved.

My next encounter was not so charming. One of my responsibilities at the fitness club where I work part-time is to check the water level in the swimming pool and moniter the water temperature. So on Monday morning I filled the pool what little bit I needed to, then put the hose away. I reached down to pick up the thermometer out of the water, and thank goodness I looked down before I touched this:

Sitting there, wiggling it's hairy front legs. Ewww. I quickly left the pool area, but I knew I couldn't leave the spider - there would be members using the pool in a little while, and they didn't deserve to have to deal with this guy. So I got my cell phone to take a photo, then and scooped him out of the pool onto the deck with a broom. I stepped back and he ran after me! That's when I knew he must DIE. And he did.

So what is it that made the first spider so beautiful and the second so disgusting? I don't know. I just know I've had my share of arachno-fun for this season!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Quiet B.E.A.R.

When Nick was a first grader they had "Quiet B.E.A.R." time during the school day. B.E.A.R. stands for "because everybody always reads". That turned out to be a favorite part of his day - just like free-reading time in Mrs. Withee's fourth/fifth grade English class was for me.
We're big readers here, always have been. I remember my mom making me put down my books and go outside to play. My summers were spent at the library and the swimming pool (where I often had a book to read while sunbathing). When Greg and I started dating, he got me started on The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, then recommended Watership Down. We've spent hours together at the local public library, and the kids have gone with us since they were infants.
Nick has embraced reading as a pastime and some of his favorites are stories I remembered from my school days and recommended to him. He's a big science fiction fan, so he has lots of Star Trek and Star Wars books as well. When he moved out, he took the Lord of the Rings books, so I'm on the lookout for another set when I go to garage sales.
Jessi likes to read, but doesn't spend a lot of time with books at this point in her life. I know she liked Wuthering Heights enough to grab a copy of it from the school library when it was on the giveaway table. And she has a series of Francine Rivers books that we gave her for her birthday a few years ago. I need to borrow those.
Literacy was a special interest of mine when I taught preschool, and I was trained to present a "Read for Joy" workshop for parents and community members. I'm still trying to spread the love of reading by taking my niece and nephews to the library periodically for storytime, and helping them pick out stacks of books to take home.
All this to say, when I saw the following on another Nebraska mom's blog, I thought I'd pass it on. I see I've read many more than the estimated average, but there are some classics I've only seen in movie versions. A couple of my all-time favorites are listed, The Secret Garden and Wuthering Heights, as well as Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. Some of the books I read in High School and didn't necessarily enjoy - I'm not a John Steinbeck fan, sorry. And while I love Jane Austen's stories, I don't recall reading them, just seeing the various movie versions. They're on my "to read" list.
I recently finished the Twilight series (anxiously awaiting the movie opening!). Right now there is a stack of books waiting for me that includes The Other Bolyen Girl, The Host, Wicked, and several others.

What is your favorite book so far? I'd love for you to leave a comment and tell me about it. Who knows - it may be one I'd love to experience!

The Big Read is a National Endowment for the Arts program designed to encourage community reading initiatives.
Of their top 100 books, they estimate the average adult has read only six. (If you check out the web site, there are additional books featured besides this list.)

Here’s what you are supposed to do:

*Look at the list and bold those we have read. (My list is bold - I added an asterisk for those Greg has read.)

*Italicize those we intend to read.

*Underline the books we LOVE .

Share this list in your blog, too, if you like.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien*
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee*
6 The Bible*
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell*
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller*
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien*
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger*
19 The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald*
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy*
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams*
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck*
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll*
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy*
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne*
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell*
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown*
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding*
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert*
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley*
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck*
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas*
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville*
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker*
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce*
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens*
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White*
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle*
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams*
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas*
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare*
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl*
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I A-Door Autumn!

Edited 9/10/09:
After I posted this yesterday, fake silk flowers and plastic wheat, and all, I found out there was going to be a P.O.O.P.I.E. party today at the Nesting Place. You'll have to go over there to find out what that means, but this sweet, cheerful little arrangement probably qualifies as a fiasco. Oh well. It's still making me smile.

A little more Fall Nesting going on...

Okay, we all know that we'll have some summer weather again, maybe for a few days or a week, but until then, I'm enjoying this taste of Fall. The air is drier, the locusts are singing, sunrise is later, sunset is earlier, and squirrels are running amok with black walnuts. (Digging little holes and planting each of those hundreds of baby trees I'll pull up next Spring.)

In the spirit of the burgeoning season, I changed the flower arrangement on the front door today. Remember how I've been trying to use what I have around the house to make my seasonal door arrangements? Well, I did pick up a few small picks of cattails to do this one. Oh, and some ribbon.

The sunflowers came from a swag I've had for a few years. Just pulled the sunflowers off the swag and used stems from some of the red flowers I used for summer.

So this whole arrangement totally breaks the #1 HGTV Decorating Mistake since I used fake flowers. Pssst! Some are even plastic - don't tell!

I have to say, this just makes me smile - plastic, silk, fake flowers and all!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Fall Nesting Week

Okay, I couldn't stand it. The weather has been perfectly Autumnal and I needed to get some Fall decorations put up. But I'm not dragging out the totes until I have the den done and put back together. So... last night I did a little crafting and I have at least a temporary display of my favorite season: Remember the sneak peek I gave you of the little something I made for the guest room? I made another, this time for Fall. It's called a "ragamuffin" swag and if you want to know how to make your own, you can look here.
I had the fabric, jute, and some of the ribbon. Today I picked up the orange sheer ribbon and the tulle. I think the little bit of sparkle is a nice addition.

This is tied to the top part of the baker's rack which is currently sitting in the sunroom. I added the few mini-pumpkins picked from my garden last weekend and now I feel better. There is a little corner of Autumn to make me smile.
So if you haven't checked out Fall Nesting Week at the Inspired Room, go take a look at what others are doing to get ready for the best season of the year!
P.S. - I can't wait to show you the den - the new paint color is called "dipped chocolate", and I have to say it, it's yummy! :o)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Nesting Week

It's Fall Nesting Week at The Inspired Room, and I really, really, really want to participate, but I have the contents of the den in my living room right now. Maybe by the end of the week I can get out the Fall decor, because baby, it's cold outside! This morning was a nippy 45 degrees when I went to work. Yippee!
Anyway, don't wait for me (I knew there was a ton of stuff in that room, but I'm not finding much to get rid of. Argh!), go on over right now and look at what others have done. Be inspired!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


I am working hard today getting the den cleaned out and ready to paint. Holy Cow there is a lot of stuff in there. Stuff I obviously thought was necessary, useful, or loved and needed to keep. Unfortunately the "toss" and "donate" piles are not very big... Anyway, I'm taking a quick computer break and read this post so I thought I'd play along and join her conversation. Here goes:

::Name one place you would like to see before you die.

There are so many, but the first that popped into my mind was Italy. Tuscany to be more specific. When I read "Under the Tuscan Sun" (book is 1000% better than the movie!) I fell in love with the idea of spending a summer in Tuscany in my own villa. BTW, I would take Greg along. :o)

::Is there a foreign language you wish you knew or would like to learn?

I wish I was fluent in Spanish. I do speak a very little bit - enough to ask a preschooler to sit down, please, or tell them where the bathroom is.

I also speak a little German, courtesy of High School and Frau ........ (shoot! I can't think of her name!).
Edited 9/3: It was Hoge, Frau Hoge! (prounounced like the sandwich, hoagie). Yeah, came to me when I wasn't even thinking about it. Just popped into my peri-menopausal mind.

::What social issue concerns you the most? What is your favorite soapbox?

I worked for Head Start for fifteen years, so I have a few soapboxes! First thought that came to me, though is the lack of affordable health care in this country. While Nebraska has a good program for children (Kids Connection), there is nothing for women aged 18-40 years. Even when there is insurance available through an employer, it still is often NOT affordable. Do I have an answer? No. I know what I want, but I don't know how it's feasible...

::What do you think your mom would say was the biggest challenge you presented her with?

LOL! I wish my mom was here to answer this, but I think I'm pretty close when I say she thought I argued with her too much. I can still hear her voice saying, "Tammy Lynne, stop arguing with me!" :o)

I better get back to work or I'll have the treadmill and Crossbow in my living room forever...