Marauding Squirrel goes to the spa

animated gif of a squirrel receiving a back massage from another squirrel

My friend Lisa in Kentucky has a squirrel that keeps pilfering goodies from the bird feeders at her family’s place. A whole group of friends on Facebook is involved in a running joke about Marauding Squirrel. We may laugh, but I must defend the little guys. Squirrels of all sorts work so hard at what they do, poor things!

They stretch:

And ... stretch Fineshades Park Day Trip 8

They hang:

Stretched Out Drop in and stretch out

They sneak:

Sometimes they’re forced to solve puzzles devised by cruel human beings:

this is my squirrel proof feeder

One of the sacks is living! Squirrel-proof?

It’s exhausting!

Squirrel lounge

Sometimes they just need to relax. Can you blame them?

animated gif of a squirrel receiving a back massage from another squirrel

After a week of looting and pillaging, Marauding Squirrel needed a trip to the spa.

Mansight: Things hiding in plain view

The mister and I have a long-running joke about mansight. It’s a term I coined to describe the phenomenon explaining the inability of most men to see what is right in front of them. You know what I’m talking about, ladies. You ask him to get the cottage cheese out of the fridge, but he insists there is no cottage cheese in there. You look, and the cottage cheese container is performing covert ops, stubbornly hiding in plain sight next to the carton of last night’s take-out leftovers. That’s mansight.

So, I laughed aloud the other night when I ordered Chinese food for delivery from the awesome Billy Lee’s Chop Suey House since Howie was at a meeting. This was the fortune in my cookie: “You find what you’re looking for; just open your eyes!”

I didn’t just laugh when I read that, I roared. It’s not often something so perfect shows up in a fortune cookie. So, I made a little sign, writing “Mansight…” and drawing a heart. I affixed the fortune in the heart’s center and placed the sign on the fridge.

Saturday morning, I asked my beloved if he’d noticed the fridge.

“Yes….”, he said, a little testily. I asked him when he noticed it and he replied, “This morning.”

I put it on the fridge Tuesday night.

That, friends, is mansight.

Happy valentine’s day, Howie – I love you dearly!

Handmade card using stenciling and reverse stenciling technique

Juan’s 2010 bday card, inside spread

Originally uploaded by gardenwife

This last weekend, I tried something different. I stamped an image, cut it out, and used both the cut out image and the remaining cut-out left in the cardstock as stencils on a card. I like the masking technique and am happy with how this card came out! I’m going to develop some original, hand drawn designs and import them into Make The Cut from my scanner so I can cut them out using my Cricut. I’ll use plastic next time around so my stencils will last. Have I mentioned lately how much I love Make the Cut? *Sigh*

After I cut out the leaf images I used on the front of the card, I was left with their shapes outlined in pieces of cardstock. So, I inked around one of the cut-out leaves several times, using a white Cat’s Eye ink. Then, I used the leftover cardstock with the shapes cut out as stencils, using a cream color. I cut smaller shapes out of another stamped image (this made it easy to see where I wanted to make my cuts) and used that paper as a stencil for the dark areas you see on the cream leaves. The ribbon’s velvet. The vellum paper with the quote was part of a Die Cuts With a View quotes stack.

The quote:

“The greatest use of a life is to spend it on something that outlasts it.”
William James

The note to my friend is blurred out for privacy reasons; when will I learn to take photos before I write in cards?

Those without Cricut machines can check out stencil cutters such as these. You can trace your design onto plastic and cut it out yourself.

If you’d like to learn about similar inking techniques, there’s some great how-to videos on YouTube. Here’s a good one to get you started:

After 5 years chained to a doghouse, flat coated retriever needs a good home

My friend Jessica is the lady who rescued  Stella puppy from a pound in North Carolina and fostered her until we adopted her in June. Jessica has another foster who needs a home and I thought some of my friends could spread the word about him. Here’s all about him from Jessica, in her own words:

Eli is a flat-coated retriever, who was given to a family as a Christmas present 5 years ago. At first, life was great. He had two young boys to play with and a warm bed to sleep in at night. After a few weeks though, the excitement of a little puppy was starting to fade, and the responsibility of caring for and training a dog was starting to set in. The boys were no longer interested in their old best friend, and the parents couldn’t find time in their busy schedules to help either.

So Eli went outside, for good. They got him a short metal chain which they attached to an old, rotting dog house, far enough away from the house that he couldn’t be seen. And that is where Eli spent the next 5 years of his life.

Flat coated retriever rescue needs good home

Once a week he would excitedly greet whoever came to fill up his automatic feeder. After a quick pat on the head, it was right back to his life of complete solitude. Five frigid winters, and five hot summers passed as Eli sat, imprisoned by a chain, totally forgotten and alone.

Eli, chained to a doghouse 5 years.

Take a second to imagine the torture of not being able to move out of the same three foot area for five years, day in and day out. Think about the fear he must have felt when it stormed, or how cold he must have been when it snowed, how miserable he must have felt when the summer sun beat down on his black coat. No way to escape any of it, no way of removing the chain wrapped around his neck.

The most painful to think about is the loneliness and rejection he felt and how much his heart must have ached for the loving family he once had. After five years, many would have lost hope, some may have lost their minds from total boredom, others completely enraged at people for sticking him outside and never giving his existence a second thought.

Flat coated retriever rescue needs good home

Not Eli, he spent those five years saving up and conserving all the love he had, anxiously but patiently awaiting that one person who he could give it to. One person that would see him and believe he was worth bringing inside, who would comfort him during the storms, give him a warm bed to spend cold snowy nights, and most importantly someone he could love and who would love him too.

They say good things come to those who wait, and Eli’s patience paid off. One of the boys who had loved him for those few short weeks got married, and when his wife saw Eli, she decided that she would be the person who would finally help free him. She posted a desperate ad on Craigslist, hoping for a miracle.

I think I’m more of a sucker than a miracle because when I happened upon the ad, my heart sunk. It was 10 degrees outside and all I could think about was how cold and miserable this poor dog must be. When I went to sleep that night I looked at my two pit bulls, comfortably hogging the bed like usual, snoring loudly, happy, content and warm snuggled under the covers, the guilt was overwhelming. This is what every dog deserved, not just my own. I called the lady the next day and made the drive through the snow to West Virginia to save Eli.

I was greeted by a dirty, ratty black dog, with a huge smile and wagging tail. I knew immediately it was worth it. I took him to my moms where Eli made himself at home in one of her bedrooms, and made himself his own little den in the closet. That night, I slept much better, and so did Eli, warm and safe, finally.

Throughout the weeks he has shown the true heart of a rescue dog. He is loving, humble, grateful, and far more forgiving than he should be. He is working very hard to overcome his fears, which at first included the TV, garbage disposal, dryer, and many other normal household noises.

Some emotional scars from a life of such neglect are harder for him to work through. He still paces back and forth, especially when he is really happy, and we think this is a byproduct of being chained and not being able to move for so long. He is timid around men, not aggressive by any means, just a little scared and likes that he has his own closet to retreat into when the situation gets too overwhelming.

He also has anxiety about being outside alone, which is understandable. This is actually a positive however, because in his desperation to get back inside he does his business very quickly and comes right back to the door.

His fears are quickly being replaced, almost daily, by small victories. He has recently learned to play and received his very own stuffed animal for Christmas this year, which was the first ever he got to celebrate with a family. He is also learning the art of fetching tennis balls (He is a retriever after all!). Despite his fears of the outside he picked up potty training quickly as well and lets you know when he has to go.

He has been vaccinated and de-wormed and will be neutered in the next week or two. And despite needing a good teeth brushing, the vet said he was in excellent health. He also just got his first bath and after all the burrs and knots were removed, and the dirt of 5 years scrubbed off, his coat is now a shiny black and matches his inner beauty.

The only thing Eli is missing now is a family of his very own. He has made a wonderful foster dog, his gentle, calm, sweet nature has made it easy to fall in love with him. He loves people and craves attention, and going without for so long means he has a lot of catching up to do.

However, finding him a forever home will open the spot back up for my mom to take in a new foster, and save another life. There are 6 million pets euthanized every year in the United States, which means there is never a shortage of neglected dogs in desperate need of someone willing to give them a second chance.

Flat coated retriever rescue needs good home

Eli’s perfect home would be with a couple or woman-only home, whose lifestyle is a little slower speed. Being a little older and very low maintenance, he is content to lie at your feet, and merely be in your presence. He gets along with the other dogs at my mom’s but the boys tend to bully him a bit. Her little female pittie, Gracie, seems to have bonded with him the most, and he spends a lot of time just watching her, learning how to act.

He needs a family willing to give him the time he needs to adjust and will help him continue to overcome his fears. Most importantly, he needs a family who will shower him with the love and affection he deserves. In return, he will be the most loving, loyal dog on the planet. He will literally worship the ground you walk on. Dogs like Eli never forget what they came from, and he will thank you every day for giving him a chance.

If you think Eli may be the dog for you, or you have any questions please feel free to send me an email or call me! Thanks so much!


Please spread the word about Eli. What a sad thing for a social animal like a dog to be chained to a doghouse, alone, for so long. Dogs are pack animals and thrive on social interaction with other animals and, in their absence, their people.

I can give you Jessica’s contact info if you’d like to learn more about Eli.

People as pixels: imaginative group shots

t-mph-49-ameagleI’ve always loved seeing creative group photos, be they from weddings, school events or Christmas get-togethers. They sometimes make creative use of props or costumes, sometimes incorporate odd poses…Just something to make the pictures stand out from the rest.

This isn’t anything new, though. I have some vintage photos in my collection which feature two couples posing in various silly ways for the camera. I need to scan these pictures and post them in a separate blog entry. Right now, though, I want to bring your attention to some amazing group shots from the turn of the last century and the early 1900’s. They’re photos taken of soldiers at various militaryt-mph-46-woodrowwilson posts, hundreds of soldiers per shot making up “living” objects.  You might say each soldier serves as a pixel in the grand design.

I’m posting some small thumbnails in this entry, but I encourage you to go to The Hammer Gallery’s People Pictures online gallery to view larger thumbnails all on one page, each opening to a high-resolution image you can view in great detail. These shots are amazing!

t-livingunclesam-loresAnyone who’s done group portraits knows how difficult it can be to get everyone situated and in sync. We photographers can take dozens of shots and end up with one keeper. Thank God for Photoshop and other image editors! So, imagine what patience it took to create these massive tableaus. You know it had to be very hot, standing crowded together in wool uniforms. I wish there were movies available to show the behind-the-scenes work that took place before the shutter was depressed and history was made.

And film was expensive back then, plus developing the pictures took time. There was no way to preview images in a handy LCD and see if everyone had his eyes open or if Charlie in the dark uniform was accidentally standing in the middle of the white-uniform section. Precise detail had to be noted ahead of time, for there were no second chances, not with groups this large!

t-mph-48-libertybellI wonder if the majority of the people in these pictures ever got to see the finished photographs. Did each serviceman receive a copy? I’ve seen one of the prints firsthand, the Human Liberty Bell. It was an old photo, probably original to its 1918 vintage, framed in a well-worn dark wooden frame. I’ll do more reading on this mole-zion-shieldsubject and in the future will provide more detail about who received copies and where else the images were used.

Again, to see many more of these amazing group photos, in higher resolution, go to
The Hammer Gallery’s People Pictures Online Gallery.

For more information about these pictures and the process the photographers went through to capture them, see the following links:

Actually, I’m learning so much from each new link I read, I think I need to revise this entry at some point. In the meantime, if you Google Arthur Mole and John Thomas, you will find a lot of information. It’s fascinating reading for anyone interested in the military, photography or art.

Bachman and Bou

I’m enjoying some Fireside Blend at Caribou this afternoon. With me is a Richard Bachman Stephen King book, Blaze: A Novel. I haven’t even cracked it open to read more yet, though; I keep seeing people I know and figure I can read a book any time, but some friends I rarely get to see. Not only that, there are always new friends waiting to be made. So many of our friends were made right here while sitting in these very chairs.

Anyone feeling blue should consider finding a nearby coffee shop. You never know who you’ll meet and befriend. Coffee may be pricier at a good coffee shop, but it’s still much cheaper than a therapist! A good coffee shop is like Cheers (wasn’t that a great show?)…Just without the drunks. 😉


Scrappers Gallery winter scrapbooking retreat 2009

Scrappers Gallery
Winter Scrapbooking Retreat 2009

With the holidays over, take time for yourself. Join us for a fun and exciting 26 hours of cropping. Surround yourself in the winter beauty at Dawes Arboretum and get lots of pages complete. Watch the birds and view the beauty of nature while cropping inside by the fireplace. If you’ve joined us for our past crops, you won’t want to miss this.

As usual, you will get delicious meals, a goodie bag, and door prizes. You’ll get to make a winter mini album project, too.

There is only room for 48 lucky croppers, so don’t delay. Register with us today!


Friday, February 20, 2009
10am to 10pm


Saturday, February 21, 2009
8am to 10pm

Please note that the hours stated are Dawes Arboretum operating hours for our event. You will not be able to enter prior or remain after stated hours. Thank you for your understanding.


Dawes Arboretum
Fireside Room, located inside the Visitor’s Center.
7770 Jacksontown Road (SR-13)
Newark, Ohio 43056


Each cropper will get the use of a 4’x30″ space with a 17″x23″ self healing craft mat. If you need electric, please let us know at time of registration. Please understand that if you bring electronic devices, they will be part of your allocated space. You will be assigned a seat, so if you are part of a group, please let us know at time of registration.


You may unload your cropping supplies at the Visitor Center entrance before parking your car.


We will have limited merchandise available for sale at Dawes Arboretum. Please bring cash as we will not have access to credit card machines. Since it is impossible to bring all of our merchandise, each cropper will also receive a discount coupon that they may redeem at either store location prior to the end of the crop. The coupon will be given out at the time of paid registration. Since we do stock some different products at both stores, you may want to visit the store that you do not frequently shop at for some new inspiration.

Scrappers Gallery Heath
645 South 30th Street
Heath, Ohio 43056
740-522-CROP (2767)
6.10 miles from Dawes

Scrappers Gallery Zanesville
1222 Brandywine Boulevard
Zanesville, Ohio 43071
740-450-CROP (2767)
27.14 miles from Dawes


We will have a table set up with Quickutz, Ellison and Sizzix die cutting machines and a variety of die cuts from our tool center.


On Saturday, you will be able to make a fun winter mini album project. The project will sample a wide variety of scrapbooking tools.


  • Friday Lunch lunch is not provided, you may bring a lunch
  • Friday Dinner Italian herb chicken breast, green beans, red skinned potatoes, rolls/butter and water
  • Saturday Breakfast fruit, pastries, coffee and juice
  • Saturday Lunch box lunch of your choice that includes deli sandwich, side salad, cookie and water
  • Saturday Dinner lasagna, salad, bread sticks and water


Dawes Arboretum does not have lodging accommodations. However, for those croppers who would like to stay nearby there are two hotels less then 5 miles away.

Best Western Lakewood (Amerihost)
122 Arrowhead Boulevard
Hebron, Ohio 43025

Super 8 Hotel
1177 South Hebron Road
Heath, Ohio 43056
4.81 miles from Dawes 4.98 miles from Dawes


Cost of the two day event is $130. You may reserve your spot by either paying in advance or holding it with a credit card. Crop fee must be paid at either store location prior to event with either cash or credit card.


If it becomes necessary to cancel or change your reservation, please notify us immediately. Refunds will be honored 14 days prior to event.