Married to the Empire

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Whole Lot of Nothing

My mom commented recently that ever since my cousins and I started using Facebook, none of us update our blogs very frequently.  She's right.  But it's so much easier to come up with a sentence or two, rather than composing paragraphs of interest, complete with photos.  What can I say?  Facebook allows me to be lazy.  It's just easier.  More than that, though, is that I often feel as if there's not much to say here that hasn't already been said.  My life is pretty much the same-old, same-old each day. 

Calvin didn't see the vet last week, as I'd originally said he would.  He wasn't acting like he felt much better after a week on his new antibiotic, and he still had plenty left, so after conferring on the phone with the vet's office, we decided to push his appointment off for another week to give him more time on the antibiotic.  I suspect tomorrow's testing will show that he still has his infection.  I'm hopeful, though; it's all I can do at this point. 

My friends threw me a very belated birthday party about a week-and-a-half ago.  My friend Sandy made the cake.  Mice on top, cats on the sides.  Very cute!

My friend Marylou gave me the Brookstone version of a Snuggie.  (I call it a better-than-a-Snuggie because the quality is a billion times better.)  I can no longer make fun of Snuggie owners.  I still think they look ridiculous, but they really are quite convenient.  Even Steven was impressed with it, although he won't use it because it's pink.  My male cats have no problem with that, though.  Calvin thinks it's the greatest thing ever, and Doogie loves it, too.  I caught him looking all cute on it this morning, in fact. 

I learned a lesson last week.  It never hurts to try stuff, but sometimes those things fail.  Because I've had so much trouble finding glossy paper, and when I do, it's expensive, I decided to see if brushing glossy Mod Podge onto cardstock would work with alcohol inks

For the record, it doesn't work--at least not well.  Didn't hurt to try, though! 

I received a lot of Amazon gift cards for my birthday and Christmas.  (I got a new Kindle, so everyone wants to make sure I have plenty of money for buying books for it!  Appreciate that!)  In addition to Kindle books, I bought some silicone loaf pans for making soap, and also this book:

There are photos for every single step of every project. That makes this sewing novice very happy, as I'm a visual learner. Hopefully I'll get around to actually doing something with some of the fabric I have.

And now you're all caught up on my not-very-exciting life.  I could take pictures of my laundry, too, if you'd like...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Saving Money on Crafting

Craft projects can be expensive.  Every new medium requires some output of cash, so it helps to save money where possible.  Lately, I'm really into using alcohol inks.  The applicator for that uses little felt pads.  

A package of 50 refills is $5.  That's pretty crazy for tiny rectangles of felt.  Instead of spending so much, I bought a 20-cent sheet of craft felt.  I measured the felt pieces my applicator came with, then cut rectangles of the same size from my sheet of felt with a rotary cutter. 

For a mere 20 cents, I got 38 felt rectangles to use with my applicator.  Major savings!  Every little bit helps.  Admittedly, I hate measuring things, and it took a little time, but I think it was 100% worth it.  And the savings allows me to buy a new bottle of ink.  Priorities, you know.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Working with Alcohol Inks

I bought myself some alcohol inks after watching a tutorial video online.  Then Steven gave me some more for Christmas.  I was so excited about trying them out because everything I've seen with them looks so amazing.  But it never looked right for me.  It took a ton of ink, and the colors weren't blending.  I went back to watch the video again and realized my problem.  You have to use glossy paper.  BIG difference!

Stupidly trying to blend colors on regular paper

Oh, look at that!  Glossy paper makes all the difference!

I love how all the colors blend together, and I found it rather addictive to try out color combination after color combination. 

Of course, then I discovered that if I want to stamp on top of them, I need archival ink.  More supplies to buy.  Funny how when you try a new medium, suddenly you need a lot more stuff to go with it. 

I've been making a few bookmarks, but also these for the fronts of cards:

Deadbeat Designs is a Texas-based company that makes really great Texas-themed stamps.  LOVE THEM.  I also have some bluebonnet stamps from DD.  And naturally, I had to glitter things up a bit with my Martha Stewart glitter.  I'm a glitter girl. 

I'm finally having fun in my craft room again.  I'd been pretty creatively empty for a while, but last weekend I attended a rubber stamping convention, and I got some ideas (and some new stuff!).  I've been happily working on projects again.  Feels good to create!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Little Calvin Update

Calvin has been on  new, powerful antibiotic for 5 days now.  I do think he's feeling a bit better, but I think his infection is still there.  He sees the vet on Wednesday, so we'll know for sure what's up at that point.  For all who have been praying for him, a sincere and heartfelt thank you

Taken in November when Steven decided to put Calvin in a tree in the backyard.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Calvin Isn't Doing So Well

Doogie being forced by Calvin to share a bed, which he hates to do!
I woke up Saturday morning to find that Calvin had soaked through his new bed during the night.  And I do mean soaked.  We'd only owned the bed 8 days at that point, and it had already been through the washer twice because of Calvin's peeing.  So now the boys are back to sharing a single bed, which interestingly, Calvin never pees on. 

The color of the urine indicated blood in it.  And he was throwing up.  I took him in on New Year's Eve for a bladder infection.  He received a shot, but he's now built up antibiotic resistance to it.  In fact, he's now built up resistance to every antibiotic in my vet's arsenal.  These constant bladder infections are weakening him. 

I did manage to get the vet on the phone on Saturday morning, and she decided to call in a prescription to a local pharmacy for a kitty-sized dose of a Z-pack.  It's actually a liquid (I suspect for a child), and I have to measure out a dose every day and squirt it down his throat. 

We're just praying this works. 

It's heartbreaking to see a cat taken out by something so simple as a bladder infection.  But this is what kidney disease is doing to him.  Not all cats with kidney disease are prone to bladder infections; Calvin is just one of the unlucky ones. 

And I wonder at times how much is too much?  I know there are probably those who think we do too much for him, but when a simple antibiotic can kill an infection and give him his life back, why not do it?  I just hate to see a bladder infection be the thing that ultimately ends his life.  Because when he's infection free, he's still pretty perky and happy. 

If you pray and don't mind praying for animals, please pray for Calvin.  Pray that this drug will actually work for him and clear up his latest bladder infection.  Thank you.

Friday, January 7, 2011

When Things Just Come Together

We always do a White Elephant gift exchange with our youth group, as we really don't want them going out and spending money on Pointless Gift Exchange gifts.  (I have a serious issue with that.)  Besides, it's more fun when things are just silly or strange. 

A body pillow wound up in the exchange.  Let me clarify... a used body pillow.  And I was nearly leaping out of my seat with wanting it.  Here's why:

The pillowcase is an exact match for the curtains in my craft room!  And because my cats like to hang out with me when I'm in the craft room, it seemed perfect for them!  And sure enough, Doogie loves it!  It washed nicely, so who cares if it's used?  And yes, I totally stole it away from a kid.  But she's a senior, so hardly a kid, therefore, no guilt.  Right? 

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I always laugh about how January issues of women's magazines are all about organization.  How silly that we're all expected to fall in line with wanting to get our houses in order just because Christmas is over.  And yet, that's exactly what winds up happening in my house.  *sigh* 

I think I figured it out, though.  It's when my husband is on vacation, and when he's suddenly doing all these projects around the house (example: it used to be the one time of the year that Steven's former Star Wars room would get dusted and cleaned), I want to work around the house, too. 

We've lived in this house nearly 12 years.  In all that time, the shelves in the garage had never been cleaned.  But over the holidays, Steven tackled that project.  And wow!  It's amazing how much extra space he reclaimed by doing so!

The bottom shelf with seemingly-5000 boxes of ziplocs is reclaimed space.  Steven wanted to create more pantry space for me, which he did in spades!  So excited!  And notice that I had to Martha Stewart it all up a bit with some MS shelf paper.  Not because the garage needs to be prettier, but because this will make the shelves easier to wipe down. 

I got busy in my mess of a craft room.  (It's always a mess when I mention it here.)  But this time it was a wreck.

All that piled up mess in the above photo is now organized, put away, or moved to the giveaway pile in the guest room.  I also had a mess of paperwork to deal with.  Let's just say that my shredder begged for a break after I kept shredding receipt after receipt after receipt.  Seriously, it gave up.  Just wouldn't work any more.  It was back to business, though, after resting for a couple of hours. 

Steven also got the former Star Wars room all fixed up after a trip to Ikea.  (And who am I kidding?  I bought some stuff there, too.)  Pictures of his room to come at another time. 

Cleaning up and organizing always feels so good!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Beautiful Butterfly Artwork

The best part of my nieces being in Texas for a while is that I get to see them.  A lot.  Another sweet part of it is that they feel motivated to make things for me.  I love getting artwork from them! 

Emily, who is 9, handed me a butterfly that she drew for me on one of her new canvasses she'd received for Christmas.  Such a lovely gift deserves to be displayed.  One problem:  the canvas was a strange size of 9"x6".  (Must be a weird British thing.)  To get this properly matted and framed would be expensive because it would require custom matting.  (Okay, so I could ask my Daddy to do it for me, but I really wasn't looking to go that fancy.)

We went to IKEA for some totally unrelated stuff, but I saw this 8.5"x11" frame in turquoise, which goes beautifully with the decor in my craft room. It was only $2 (and honestly looks it close up, but high on a wall... not so much), so I bought it.

Next I cut some coordinating scrapbook paper to fit the frame.

I used large glue dots to affix the canvas to the paper, then I put it all inside the frame. 

I think it looks pretty nice like that!  Next, I hung it on the wall above one of my butterfly batiks.  (How serendipitous that I already had a butterfly theme going in the artwork in the room!)