Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

End of the year found me all nostalgic for foods my mother and grandmother made. Breaking with tradition, I made home-made cheese ravioli for Christmas Eve instead of the (seven) fish dishes. I always did a modified  version of the Feast of the Seven Fishes mainly because I hated the seven fish traditionally used. This time, I agree with you, Sunflower. Baccala and eel are nasty.
<-------- Last night, I made zeppole, a type of fried dough. This was a treat my grandma made for us. Crispy little balls of dough deep fried in olive oil. We barely waited for them to cool from their molten bath. My cousin D, taught me to dip the zeppoli in Grandma's sugar bowl. Not only would the zeppole be enrobed in sugary goodness, but Grandma would yell at us in a mixture of broken English and Italian. She didn't begrudge us the sugar, but she didn't like us dipping the greasy dough balls into the sugar bowl and fouling the sugar to be used in coffee or tea.

Later this afternoon, another tradition, we will place our order for Chinese food. While the rest of the family will watch The Three Stooges, I will be with The Doctor. BBC America is running a Doctor Who marathon all day and showing episodes from my doctor's run (the Tenth Doctor played by David Tennant).

I don't make resolutions so here's to a Happy New Year. I hope 2013 is less stressful.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Friday Five

I love gadgets. When Lysol came out with the no touch soap dispenser for the kitchen and bath, I thought I'd give them a try.

1. I love the clean lines of the dispenser. No ugly bottles on the counters. The soap dispenses without dripping so no mess from wet hands or soap residue on the counter.

2. The bathroom and kitchen dispensers are slightly different shapes. Which means...

3. The soap refill from one won't fit in the other dispenser. Really Lysol? The kitchen dispenser matches the decor better in my bathroom. Soap is soap.

4. The refill bottle doesn't have a removable cap. You have to buy the small Lysol refills which can be more expensive than buying a larger bottle of soap and refilling the dispenser. That really bites, Lysol.

5. An easy fix to avoid having to buy the refill bottles: when the bottle is empty, drill a hole in the top. Using a funnel, you can refill the bottle with your favorite soap.

Have you bought a product or gadget you've been less than thrilled with?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Boston Public Library eCard

Wolfram von Eschenbach (c. 1170 - 1220)
While hanging out at the New England Genealogical Historical Society, a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled on a link to obtain an electronic library card from the Boston Public Library (Massachusetts residents only). Big deal, right? Yeah, a very good, big deal. With the electronic card, I not only can I download and read e-books, but I can access The Boston Globe newspaper archives to look for wedding, birth, and obituary notices all from the comfort of the dollhouse.

If that's not enough excitement, the e-card is good for two years. The e-card can be upgraded to a genuine Boston Public Library card. All one has to do is visit one of the branches present a picture ID to prove you are a Massachusetts resident. Still not enough of a big deal?

The library card is the golden ticket to access the Rare Books and Manuscripts department. To be able to see first hand samples of medieval writing up close and personal gives me chills. I'll be planning another trip into Boston, soon. Anyone want to tag along?

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

The first time, I read Tolkien's The Hobbit was in college. While I adored the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I didn't care much for The Hobbit. It was a children's story, written for Tolkien's son, Christopher, and not suited to my sophisticated taste. I feel the same way about the latest Tolkien saga from Peter Jackson. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is entertaining enough to kill an afternoon, but lacks the epic punch of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Hard to believe a short novel is being dragged out to a two or three part film.

We saw the film in the super high-definition 3D format. The scenery was breath-taking. (Note to self: add a trip to New Zealand on the bucket list.) I only had one bout of vertigo due to an aerial camera shot which panned too quickly for me. The super high-def 3D is so real, you almost feel you were part of the action. The acting is superb. The special effects are stunning. The detail of the CGI, hair, feathers, and eyes are so life-like. The score has familiar themes and the dwarf song, The Misty Mountain, is hauntingly beautiful. But..The film tries too hard to compete with LOTR and falls flat. 

Have you seen The Hobbit?

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Friday Five

Today marks the Winter Solstice. Five facts

1. We are halfway through the dark.

2. Today is the shortest day and longest night of the year. Following the Winter Solstice, the days begin to grow longer and the nights shorter.  Is istJuly yet?

3. In Celtic tradition, the Holly King rules until Yule ends when the Oak King cuts off the Holly King's head and then rules until the Summer Solstice. Go read Sir Gawain and the Grene Knight

4. Who does the Holly King look like?

5.  I leave you with Wassail, from the Old English Waes hael meaning, Be you healthy.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

From Trash to Treasure

Years ago Ma had given me her treasured Rosenthal china tea set. She also gave me a box that had another tea set in it. She said this was supposed to go to The Brother, but she figured he wouldn't want it so it came to me. The box had been kicking around as I had no place to display this tea set until I brought Ma's large curio cabinet to live in the dollhouse.

As I unpacked the box, I pulled out a teapot, a creamer, and the sugar bowl that didn't survive The Brother's school tie whip. (The reason The Brother was supposed to inherit this set. The sugar bowl was carefully glued together). There were four saucers, a teacup with a broken handle, and a tea cup. The tea cup had a chip in it. Worthless to sell. Worthless to drink from. I didn't want to toss it out. What to do?

A bit of Gorilla Glue (love this stuff especially since GG came out with a new non-clog bottle) on the foot of the cup attached to a saucer. Add a bit of ribbon for a hanger. Voilá!

I found one of my own tea cups with a crack in it. It received the same Gorilla Glue and ribbon treatment.

What was once a bit of trash is now transformed into beautiful and unique Christmas ornaments. It's now a lovely reminder of happier times spent with Ma and my mother-in-law as they imparted wisdom and gossip to me over cups of tea.

Have you rescued something from the trash and transformed it into a useful object?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tools, Gadgets, and Widgets - Evernote

One of the tools, I can't seem to live without is Evernote. Evernote is a free utility that allows you to capture things you find on the web.  You can organize your findings into notebooks to capture ideas, things you like, your interests, anything.

Yeah, it sounds a bit like Pinterest, but doesn't have the sketchy copyright in its terms of use and service. Unlike Pinterest, the original URL from the page you like is saved. Many Pinterest users simply repin items from the home board so the original URL gets lost.

I especially love the fact that Evernote is not only available on my desktop, but my laptop, iPhone, and iPad. I can find or save anything no matter whether I'm at my desk, in a waiting room, or in the kitchen. I can also share my notebooks or a note. Evernote allows users to share notes via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email. Convenient if you are working on a group project. Ok, go check out Evernote.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Prissy's Wreath

Before the elves could begin decorating the wreath for my elderly neighbor, Prissy, they had to organize the bauble box. There was so much tossed in the box, it was hard to see what we had to work with.

Found a couple of red flocked birds to go with the red bow. Added pine cones, berries and silver baubles for some glitz.

Prissy went out last Sunday with her daughter so the elves were able to deliver the wreath to Prissy's door. She was so surprised.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

There Are No Words

In Memory of the students, teachers, and staff at the Sandy Hook Elementary School , Newtown, CT

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Friday Five

My friend, Teague, took me into Boston yesterday for a day at the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

1. Before hitting the library, we had a quick lunch at Firehouse Subs.

2. I'm not a member of NEHGS, but could obtain a day pass to the library for $15.

3. I looked through death index books  for my great aunt and great uncle, Manny, the stonecutter. Found the death records and can now contact the city hall to see about getting a hard copy of the death certificate. I'm hoping it contains where they are buried.

4. I looked through marriage indexes but couldn't find their marriage record. I'm beginning to think Manny went back home to Torre le Nocelle, Italy to marry my great aunt.

5. We need to make another trip in as there was so much to look at on six floors. There were many beautiful, calligraphed family trees and other artwork. Next time, I'll have to ask if photographs inside are permitted.

Where has your research taken you?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Are You an Egg?

Then why do you use the default egghead shape as your profile photo on LinkedIn?

When I see the egg, I'm not inclined to make a connection. The egg tells me you don't really care about the site. A friend probably sent you an invite, and you felt obligated to bang something up. You may pop in from time to time, but you're not serious about networking through the site. That's ok. Maybe you should delete the account, but you may miss a valuable opportunity.

Stop being shy and bust out of your shell. Upload a picture of your smiling self to use as your profile photo. You don't have to use a head shot. How about a picture of you in your favorite chair or location? Or your favorite pair of shoes? Just put up a picture that identifies you as a real person and not an egg.

Monday, December 10, 2012

For Better or Worse

I was feeling better. Thursday was an extremely productive day. And then Friday, I woke up feeling like gum on the bottom of a shoe. Saturday, my face caved in. I quickly figured out my cold turned into a sinus infection. Why do these things happen on a weekend? Fortunately, the doctor's office I go to has urgent care hours, nights and weekends. I was able to get an appointment Saturday afternoon, and the doctor prescribed antibiotics. It's amazing how after the first dose, I instantly felt better. Better living through chemistry.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Friday Five

The translation of the Nikolaus' poem

1. Advent, Advent. A little light burns

2. First one, than two, than three, than four (counting the candles on an Advent wreath)

3. Then stands the Christkind at the door.

4. The Christkind, an angelic figure usually with blonde, curly hair, is the traditional gift bringer at Christmas in Germany.  Kris Kringle, is the Americanized pronunciation of the diminutive, Christkindl. Because Santa has been used as a marketing tool (a certain US soft drink company), The Christkind is in competition with the Weihnachtsmann as the gift bringer in Germany today. Weihnacht is the German word for Christmas. Mann is translated as man. Weihnachtsmann is equivalent to the US Santa Claus.

5. And the last line of the poem: If the fifth candle burns, then you have slept through Christmas.

Do you do anything to count the days or weeks leading up to Christmas?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Froher S. Nikolaus Tag!

Advent, Advent, ein Lichtlein brennt! 
Erst eins, dann zwei, dann drei, dann vier
dann steht das Christkind vor der Tür!
Und wenn die fünfte Kerze brennt, dann hast du Weihnachten verpennt