Wednesday, February 29, 2012

SylSyl: Custom Clutches - my new polka dot perfection clutch!

Last week, Jennifer at Diary of a Working Mom  (awesome blog, even if you aren't a mom!) notified me that I had won her giveaway for a a free clutch or wristlet from SylSyl on Etsy.




Yeah baby! I was so excited because I have been wanting a cute little clutch for holding my keys, phone, etc. when I go out in the evening. I chose the

Abby Clutch / Wristlet with Poppy in an adorable black and white polka dot print with little daisies here and there in red. 


Less than a week later, my prize arrived on my doorstep! I'm just thrilled with it! Not only is the bag gorgeous on the outside, but it is lined with a gorgeous teal satin-like fabric that contrasts perfectly with the red poppy! It is beautifully made, and feels sturdy. It has a solid construction that helps it hold it's shape, rather than take on all the bulges from my various goodies I stuff inside it.


As a bonus, the poppy is on a pin that can come off, so I can use it on other things, and if I want to use the clutch in my handbag, I don't have to worry about damaging the flower!

I'm thrilled with the bag, and can't wait to use it! My thanks to Jennifer and Sylvia for the giveaway, and for sharing their creative talents with me! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Jake and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Skunk

Poor Jake. He loves other animals. But, he is a city dog who has been moved to the country, so I expect he was very surprised when he rushed up to see the cute kitty and it sprayed him!

This happened after the dogs asked to be let out at 5:30 AM. Have I mentioned that I am not a morning person? I went to bed about 2 AM, so I was really not a happy camper at 5:30 AM. And, he rushed past me, went right into my bed, and began wiping his eyes on my pillow.

Yeah. Not the best start to the day!

So . . . I thought I'd share with you my experiments in getting rid of the skunk smell. After going online, I found that tomato juice doesn't really work well as it just masks the smell. That was fine with me as I didn't have any tomato juice handy.

I guess at different times of year, and depending on their age, skunks have a different smell. My house smelled like rancid garlic and burning rubber. I'm pretty sure that isn't on Sentsy's list of fragrances for this year. I don't recommend it.

Of course, I immediately went to Facebook, and texted my sister and niece. They each brought me a remedy.


This is Jake . . . after many, many baths. He is holding a huge fluffy ball in his mouth. He doesn't have a strange growth coming out of his mouth. It's just coincidence they are the same color.


These are all the products I used trying to get rid of the stink!


You put this on, wait for five minutes, and then wash with shampoo. Didn't work, at all.


You put this on and just allow it to dry on, no washing required. It does lessen the smell, but it has it's own bizarre smell.


After searching online, I found several recipes for getting rid of skunk smell. I went with 1/4 cup of baking soda, 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide, and a small dollop of doggy shampoo. 

<insert Hallelujah Chorus here>

This actually worked better than everything. He is 99% skunk smell free, and I think the remaining smell just where I think I was too cautious in applying it around his face. (I didn't want to get peroxide in his eyes.)

The baking soda doesn't dilute easily, so you don't want to make this in one big batch. Mix small batches of it, so you can really dilute the baking soda into the peroxide mix. 

You just apply it, let it sit five minutes (while trying to convince your dog that he really needs too just stand in the bathtub for a while), and then wash it out with more doggy shampoo.

My dogs both HATE being bathed. Jake, who is about 80 lbs, shakes like I am trying to skin him alive any time I put anything liquid on him. Putting him in the bathtub is something akin to torture (for both of us). He survives, looking and smelling wonderful, and I leave limping smelling like a wet dog.

I'm sure that now that we live out in the country, this won't be our last encounter with a skunk. I will be keeping this little recipe handy. Unfortunately, hydrogen peroxide does not "keep" for long periods, so you really need to buy it fresh to get the best result!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Quartz Mountain Resort, Lone Wolf, Oklahoma



As I mentioned earlier, I spent a couple of days in Lone Wolf, Oklahoma, at Quartz Mountain for the first of the five Leadership Arts classes. 

Quartz Mountain Resort is located near the Texas border in the south west corner of Oklahoma in the Quartz Mountain, which is part of the Wichita Mountain range.   I have to say, coming from California, the mountains aren't all that tall - most of the mountains in the range are between 15800 and 2000 feet above the surrounding plains. It is surrounded by trails, and is 1.5 miles from the Quartz Mountain Nature Center.

The resort is on the shore of Altus Lake. Unfortunately, due to our crazy drought, the Lake was nearly 27"low, but it was still quite lovely, and it is slowly rising.  

My favorite part about this resort is that it is the permanent home of the Oklahoma Art Institute

The Oklahoma Arts Institute's home page says: "The Oklahoma Arts Institute was created in 1976 as a private, non-profit corporation dedicated to providing an educational program of excellence in the arts for young people. In 1983, at the request of the parents and teachers of Arts Institute students, a second program was added to accommodate adult artists. The Arts Institute's purpose is to develop artists and arts audiences across the state and the region, improving the quality of life for all Oklahomans."

For more info about the resort, click here:

I'll be writing about my experience at Leadership Arts soon, once I have a chance to process all that I learned. In the mean time, here are a few snapshots of the resort that I took during my stay.









Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fortune Favors the Bold!



My favorite quote is "Fortune Favors the Bold" (Virgil). The older I've gotten, the more wisdom I've found in this saying.

It is easy to become fearful; in fact, I believe that mainstream media encourages fearfulness. Negative things happen to everyone. Every successful person has his or her share of disappointment. 

I believe, however, that you have to concentrate on the fact that with risk, often comes reward. For example, baseball players with the best home run records as having the worst strike out records as well. If you are living your life to your full potential, not every plan is going to work out as intended. You will encounter disappointment, but what is important is how you deal with it.

Examine the way that you look at fearful situations. My own definition of "failure" (and each of us have our own) is to go through an experience and not learn something. If you think about it, I have made it very difficult for myself to feel like a failure. Why set yourself up with negativity?

How you think about a situation will determine how you move forward. It can be hard to be "BOLD" when you feel a failure. Even if you have a perfectly good reason to be negative, even if your negativity is not your "fault" (e.g. you are dwelling on what someone else has said or done) it still has the power to shut down your ability to move forward effectively, boldly.

Any negativity is destructive, regardless of where it originates. I am not suggesting you simply "think pretty thoughts" and ignore the reality of life. Bad things happen, and are often beyond your control. But you don't have to let them take over your positive outlook. See them for what they are, and commit to finding the positive in them.

I believe that it is very important that you don't let your fears and suppositions get in your path. How many times have you not tried to accomplish something, or did not ask for something (a raise, a book deal, a job) because you were sure (in advance) the answer would be no? How many things have you not attempted because you were sure it could not be done?

If you are sure it can't be done, you will stop looking for ways to do it. There is a famous quote, which I will paraphrase, that says, "Those who say things can't be done are generally run over by those who are doing it." 

Being bold means that you keep working at it until you find an approach that works. It means that you don't let the fact that something hasn't been done in the past keep you from doing it now.

You control your actions. Being bold means that you may hit the proverbial "brick wall" more often than others. It also means that you will experience more success because you will try more and not let negativity sideline you (at least not for long) when you experience setbacks.

If you like the image above, you can print out a full size version at this link: Fortune Favors the Bold!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Getting Involved - merging passion and action

Recently, I learned that I am one of 31 people chosen to participate in the state and federally funded arts advocacy program "Leadership Arts" through the Oklahoma Arts Council. The program includes 4 months in 4 different communities (Quartz Mountain Resort in Lone Wolf, Norman, Medicine Park, and Tulsa), plus then the Oklahoma Arts Conference. 

I applied for the program two years ago, and was not chosen. I decided to apply again this year, and was thrilled to be chosen for this year's group. Out of each group, there are only two or three spots for individual artists, I believe, so it is doubly exciting.

I believe that volunteering is very important, and while there are many opportunities to volunteer, I think it is important to choose wisely. It is easy to become burned out if you are involved in something that is not a passion for you, because most volunteer opportunities are time consuming, and not necessarily easy or fun, all the time. To stick with it, choosing a topic that truly touches your heart is important.

In 1997, I started a Charity with the help of my mom, and a huge pool of terrific volunteers. (http://www.memoryboxes.org). In 2009, I decided it was time to hand it off to another leader. I loved the opportunity to work with artists, and provide boxes for infant bereavement programs around the world. After nearly 12 years with all the responsibility of leading the program (shared with my mom, who is a wonder-woman), it was just time to move on.

Since that time, I have stuck with short-term charity projects in the community, and through my church. Recently, however, I've found that I wanted to get back into working with the arts, and Leadership Arts seemed like a terrific place to start.

Leadership Arts is designed as a statewide network of community art leaders. it includes members of arts organizations, city representatives, and individual artists, such as myself.  Class members will learn how arts and cultural development can be harnessed to create economic opportunity, provide a high quality of community life, and ignite the creative potential of Oklahoma’s youth. 

I'm excited to be attending the first session this week at the Quartz Mountain Resort. Session one is on "Making a Case for Arts Education", which includes Leadership Resources, and Advocating for Arts Education.

The Oklahoma Arts Council web site says, "Participants will learn why and how the arts make a significant contribution to Oklahoma's economy, how communities have developed arts programs and vibrant arts spaces to enhance quality of life, how the arts improve the image of cities and neighborhoods while serving as a centerpiece for community engagement, and how the arts cultivate creativity, attracting and retaining a creative workforce.

Sessions are interactive and will expand participants' understanding of group dynamics and the value of group work. Leadership Arts will help you better articulate and advocate for the arts in Oklahoma, design strategies for employing local assets for cultural development, work towards creative partnerships and consensus building, and teach you to mobilize your leadership capacity and the capacity of others."

The National Endowment for the Arts – FY 2011 Performance & Accountability Report said about the program,

"The Oklahoma Arts Council created the Leadership Arts Academy to
foster development of arts leaders and arts-active communities in Oklahoma.
In addition to developing a statewide network of community arts leaders, this
program was also designed to raise public awareness of the arts and convey
how the arts and cultural development can be harnessed to create economic
opportunity, provide a high quality of community life, and ignite the creative
potential of Oklahoma’s youth. Classes have been held annually since 2008."

So, look for some upcoming posts about the things that I am learning, and my travels, for this wonderful program!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Linky Follower Party Hop 2


Many of you have probably already heard that

GOOGLE Friend Connect will go away

on Feb 29 for any one that is not with blogspot/blogger
BUT
there is good news
There is a NEW awesome tool–Linky Followers
It has so many amazing features (that GFC never had). If you have not signed up you should. (yes you can have both.) I love the new tool so much and want everyone to enjoy all the new features.
…and did I tell you its super easy and FREE!
What better way to celebrate a fun new blogging tool than to have a party so break out your poodle skirt and saddle back shoes cuz’ we’re having a LINKY
RULES:
1. you MUST have the LINKY FOLLOWERS tool on your site to participate.
If you see that your link has been deleted you need to add the LINKY FOLLOWER tool to your site and then come back over and re-enter your link
{You can have both the LINKY FOLLOWERS & GFC on your site but you must have the LINKY FOLLOWERS tool to participate in this party hop.}
2. You MUST follow the person who has the party on their site as a thank you.
3. Just add your blog button to the LINKY PARTY below.

4.Then grab the BLOG HOP code
You will find the code right under the Linky Party where it says CLICK HERE TO ENTER
–just under that it says: WHAT IS A BLOG HOP? GET THE CODE HERE
Click on GET THE CODE HERE and enter it into a post on your site.
You can grab the party button code in the FOOTER at Its So Very Cheri
You can grab info from my post if it helps you with your post.


5. Then you follow other bloggers–(as many as you want)
–leave each one of the blogs that you follow a comment letting them know you are following them and ask them to follow you back.
If you want to add the BLOG HOP to your own site you will get lots of new followers(see rule #2)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Birchbox - monthly subscription service

I know that it must seem like I do nothing but get subscription boxes . . . but I've just had several arrive recently!

The latest is from Birchbox.com. It is only $10 a month, and of all my boxes, I think it is my favorite in terms of value for cost.

This is what the outer box looks like . . . you know when it's wrapped in bright pink, what's inside is gonna be good!


After opening the inner box, it looks like this. I appreciate that they make an effort to make it look like a gift! 


So here are the specifics: Eye Rock Designer Liner - single-use stick on eyeliner strips! From the Birchbox web site, "The stick-on adhesives are super easy to apply and help you create an array of eye-catching looks. Unlike traditional liners, they won’t smudge or fade."


Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant. It is a skin exfoliating powder. You just add water, and then it creates a paste that will buff dead cells away. From the web site, "When you mix the fine powder with water, it turns into a creamy paste that polishes skin’s surface with a mix of chemical and physical exfoliators. The rice bran base is rich in phytic acid, famed for its brightening and softening properties. Other actives include papaya enzyme, salicylic acid, and finely ground colloidal oatmeal, all proven to smooth skin and remove debris."


BeautyBlender: hot pink sponge used for blending make up. From the web site, "Unlike traditional sponges, the soft texture and elliptical shape of the beautyblender® allows foundation to blend into skin with a natural finish and no streaks. When saturated with water, the sponge will expand to twice its size, making it easy to cover your whole face and still get into all the nooks and crannies. Using the sponge damp prevents it from absorbing excess foundation, so you won’t be wasting any makeup."


Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint. It is an award-winning tinted moisturizer. Web site descripion, "The formula has light-diffusing minerals, which give skin a soft glow and also smooth over any fine lines. Antioxidants like ginseng and gingko biloba leaf extract help improve skin, and SPF 20 wards off UVA and UVB rays."


A couple extras were included; a sweet little heart shaped nail file:


Six free tunes from Indie Rock Band, "Green River Ordinance".


I love opening these Birchbox samplers each month. I always find at least one product that makes it's way into my life long term.  I wholeheartedly recommend it! Click here if you want to sign up! If you use this link, I get credits from Birchbox, so it is a great way to treat yourself, and support my blog. Thanks!



Monday, February 13, 2012

February Blissmo Box!

From the Blissmo web site, "Think of blissmobox as a wine club of sorts, except instead of sampling Pinot Noirs every month, you're discovering exceptional organic & eco-friendly products that are safer & better than conventional alternatives. Every month you'll get to select from a set of curated, limited-quantity box options. Trust us to choose for you? We'll auto-select the box we think you'll like most. Don't like the options that month? Skip the month or send to a friend."


Yes, once again, I'm sharing one of my monthly subscription services. Each month, you get a crazy fun selection of products. Usually, you get a choice of three "theme" boxes. My personal favorites are cosmetics and/or bath products. This month, I chose the "Rise and Shine Foods" package, because there wasn't an option for beauty. 



Here is the box as I opened it. Love that feeling of excitement!


And here is all it contained. Quite a selection for $19 a month!! Below, I'll show you the goodies up close.


Crofter's Premium Spread - organic Strawberry. It is Gluten-free, free of corn syrup, and USDA certified organic.


Hey Shuga! is also certified USDA organic, and is GMO free, with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. It is 100% organic pure cane syrup.


Camela's Products Baking and Pancake mix. Gluten & Wheat free. 


Nature's Path Organic Love Crunch Granola (Apple Cynamin). It is USDA certified organic, and contains no GMO's or corn syrup.


This is the only product that is lost on me, as I don't drink coffee. (It is too grown-up a drink for me!) It is certified USDA Organic, and fair trade. I was sent decafinated whole bean coffee.

Of all the companies I subscribe to for new products, I have probably found the most that I have continued to purchase from Blissmo. It is an excellent value for the price, and they genuinely look for products that meet their customer's desire for organic and eco-friendly products.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Update: Laundry Room Clutter

I am slowly getting the laundry room taken care of, but it is still "under construction". I have now cleared all the clutter, and organized the materials that are left, and now made a curtain to cover it.


Here is step two in the makeover process. I used a shower rod to hang the curtain. I chose to make the curtain long to cover both the shelf, and the hangers. 

I started by measuring down from the ceiling the length I need the curtains to cover. I wanted it to open in the center so I could easily get to the items on the shelf. 


This was the "before" of the area. As you can see, things were just sort of flung up on the shelf to get them out of the way. After sorting, and discarding, I organized what I had into batches and then looked at my existing stash of bins and plastic drawers to see what I could use, and what I needed to find or purchase to get everything organized.


Here is the after of the shelf organization. I had the drawers and the extra shelf at each end. I purchased the black and white zigzag bin, and the stacking black bins, at Target. (Love me some Target!) I purchased the shower rod at Dollar General for $6.00, and the fabric at fabric.com


I measured the width to be 62", so I decided I would use 114" inches in width to cover the space, and to give the curtains some flow. I didn't want them so full that I couldn't easily pull them back, but I also didn't want them to be straight across. 

I cut the fabric and then hemmed it on three sides.


The reason for the three sides is that I changed my mind about the length of the curtains after I had purchased the fabric, but fortunately, I had some teal fabric from another project on hand. Because I'm trying to add teal into the kitchen, which is next to the laundry room, this worked great for me. So, I cut the additional length (8", accounting for hems and seam), and then hemmed three sides of the teal fabric, and put right sides together to sew the two pieces of fabric together along the unhemmed side.


Next, I got ready to add the grommets. I'd never used large grommets and was nervous, but these were so easy to use that I now want to use them on everything! I used Dritzhome curtain grommets. They come eight to a package, and I paid $10.69 per package for them at fabric.com.

The grommets come with this handy little stencil. I used a pencil to trace the line where each would go. (I simply folded the curtain in half to determine the center, then I placed them at the far ends, and then half way between the end and the center, for five grommets per panel.


After drawing the circle with the stencil, you go in and cut out the circle. No worry about making it perfect. The edges are covered by the grommet.


This is what one side looks like - it has these little spikes.


You put it on one side (it doesn't matter which).


This is the opposite side. The little spikes fit into this piece.


Just place the two pieces on opposite sides and press down. They pop together easily, no tools required.


And voila! You have a perfect grommet. I'm not kidding you when I say that a five year old child could do this with supervision. It's that easy!


Here is what it looks like with the panels open.


And again, closed. So many people come in via my back door . . . which I hate, but the front of the house doesn't have a path to it, yet, and no landscaping, so it is understandable. 

I still have to redo the ceiling lamp in this room, and perhaps add a curtain on the door . . . but it's progress!


Photobucket


I Heart Nap Time
















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Sunday's Best Linky Party!