Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The End of the Line

Hard to believe 2014 is almost done. My diary bulges from where the watercolor brush caused the pages to buckle and from cards and small things glued in the book.

 Only two more entries to make in this year's Good Stuff diary. Wednesday will be a time to read through the book to see all the good things, big and small, that happened this year. Truth be told, I've flipped through the book from time to time through the year.

I hope to get to Staples, either today or tomorrow, to buy a 2015 diary to continue the practice.  I blogged about the how to here. Do you plan on keeping a Good Stuff jar or diary in 2015?

Monday, December 29, 2014

New Toy

For Christmas, The Young One fed my Doctor Who obsession. She gave me a replica of my Doctor's (10) Journal of Impossible Things, the diary he kept when he became human. It has all the drawings and notes from the episodes (Human Nature and The Family of Blood, my favorite episodes.) The journal also came with a mini sonic screwdriver pen. It even lights up, but doesn't make the wibbly noise the Doctor's sonic screwdriver makes. That's probablly a good thing.

I'll be using the pen to write the text in the 2015 Good Things diary.

What new toy did you get?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

3D Christmas Card

No, this isn't my design, though I wish it was. The card was sent by our insurance agent. After the card was unfolded, you just had to hang the snowflakes where you wanted.

This card will most likely be on display for quite some time. Well done, Educator's Insurance.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Gift Box

I wanted to bring some cookies to Prissy. I didn't want her to worry about returning a dish to me. (Technically, if you receive a plate that needs to be returned, the plate should not be returned empty). All I had for a presentation was a boring paper plate. Found the last two sheets of red cardstock and made a paper box. Fast, easy, che  inexpensive, and festive. (If you ever need a gift box, you can find directions  here.)

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. I learned an easy way to stuff a duvet cover. Instead of stuffing and swearing, you turn the cover inside out, add your comfortor and roll. I saw the video from the Meredith Vieriro Show and it was life changing. Go see!

2. Monday, I dropped The Young One off at WPI so she could meet a friend for lunch. I continued to West Boylston to pick up the calligraphic whiteboard marker I left there after the workshop. The Young One texted me her friend stood her up, so on the way back, I stopped and had lunch with her. Small consolation for her, but a plus for me.

3. While in West Boylston, I stopped at Gerardo's Italian Bakery for some pastry. At first, I wasn't  sure it was a good idea. There were no parking spaces, and the parking lot was a box canyon. (Only one way in and out). After 15 minutes, a space opened up, and I had my turn in the bakery: pizzelle (anise waffle cookies), mini canoli and rum cake.

4. With the electricity bill jumping $30, I've been pretty miserly about people leaving lights on. Himself adores Christmas lights. Usually, the tree is lit every night once it goes up. Not this year! On Christmas Eve,  Himself and I sat in front of the Christmas tree admiring the lights and decorations.

5. Passed along my family's genealogy while showing The Eldest how to make ravioli.

How was your week?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Throwback Thursday

The first calligraphic Christmas card I made. Calligraphy, illustration, and signatures scanned into the computer and printed on cardstock. Christmas star and horizon hand painted.  1996

So from my home to yours, Merry Thanksgivaweenakahzayule and Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Attended the Black Belt Dinner and Award Ceremony with Himself. Was happy to be sitting at the same table with my favorite couple Master Beef and "Grandmaster" E. Always a good time with them.

2. Between point and click and a run to the mall, I think I got all the Christmas shopping done. If you don't get a gift, you're on the naughty list. (-;

3. Made some hostess gifts

4. After trying to coordinate schedules, finally had a most delightful lunch with my calligraphy teacher/mentor/friend.

5. Finished up the Celtic Workshop at West Boylston High School. Got to wear my new Celtic theme tee shirt. Merry Christmas to me.

How was your week?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Work in Progress - A Painting

The edge of darkness. All four edges of the canvas are painted black so the painting won't need to be framed.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Prissy's Wreath

Win win all around. We help the Boy Scouts with their fund raiser. Prissy is happy with the wreath. I'm happy to have an easy gift to make by gluing in a few, inexpensive baubles.. After all, what do you get an elderly lady? She certainly doesn't need another china teacup or scented candle. And I get mitzveh points.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. No sudden appointments or car problems. Finally, was able to meet my cousin for our annual lunch. We had lunch at Legal Seafood. I had a delicious crabmeat roll and the decadent Boston Cream Pie for dessert.

2. I decorated a wreath for my elderly neighbor, Prissy. She's so funny. Every year she acts surprised. (I've been doing this for the past 17 years or so) And every year she tells me the wreath is the prettiest she's ever seen.

3. While I was at a meeting, the elves put up and decorated the Christmas tree. If only they would have put the ornament boxes away.

4. Had a great time teaching a calligraphy workshop to students and teachers at W. Boylston High School. Looking forward to returning next week to finish up.

5. I found a surprise in the PO Box when I went to retrieve the mail. FinnBadger sent me one of his wonderful, hand-made envelopes. Rowers on the river in the early morning mist and the Asher Durand stamp (Part of the Hudson River School series) is like viewing the scene from a distance.  I love the back of the envelope, too, because it reminds me of "Lions, and tigers, and bears. Oh, my!" Thank you for thinking of me, Finn.

How was your week?

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. We brought a wreath to the cemetery for Ma and Dad. And just so Ma wouldn't get jealous thinking the wreath was just for Dad, we stopped at Price Chopper for some flowers. Picked a a lovely, long stem pink rose for her. Had the florist clerk add a sprig of Baby's Breath. Also asked if they carried a wreath stand. They had one left so bought that, too. This way we could place the wreath on a stand in front of the marker instead of laying it flat.

2. After the cemetery visit, we went to Michael's Pasta in the Pan for a late lunch/dinner. Good food served in skillets. Glad Himself decided the cemetery trip should be on Saturday instead of Sunday as we originally planned. The restaurant is closed on Sunday.

3. The advent tree got put up before Christmas Eve!

4. Now that we don't have cable the clicker only turns on the TV. You can't change channels. Then there's the clicker for the Bose speaker, and the clicker for the Blu-ray player. We needed one clicker to rule them all. I picked one up while running errands, and Himself programmed it.

5. The decorating for Christmas has begun.

How was your week?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Throwback Thursday

My (maternal) grandma never baked us cookies like oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip. For all the holiday and special occasions, she baked her signature Bow Cookies. Crostoli, as they are called in Italian, are thin strips of dough, tied into a bow knot, and deep fried. Grandma piled them high on a turkey platter, drizzled them with honey, and sprinkled with multi-colored nonpareil balls. They were light and crispy. Heaven on a plate.

I had tried making them a very, long time ago for some holiday or other. My dad said they were not quite like Grandma's, but still very good. A high compliment.

The day after Thanksgiving, I decided to try again. Grandma never wrote down any of her recipes. If she did it would say a handful of this and a little of that. If the dough was too dry, add a little water. If too wet, add a little flour. I found an easy recipe with exact measurements  Crostoli at The Funky Foodgasm

Mine were still not as light as Grandma's. I still couldn't roll the dough as thin as she did. She didn't have a pasta machine and neither do I. (Well, I do. Found it at a yard sale and dedicated it to Fimo clay). Like Dad said, the bows weren't quite like Grandma's, but they were still good.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Work in Progress - A Painting

Under painting with a wash of Burnt Sienna. I still can see my guidelines.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Life Without Cable

has hardly caused a blip in the household. The only one who has had to give up the most is Himself. He's no longer able to watch his favorite team sports. Good sport and team player he is, he's been able to listen to the games on the radio.

Everyone has their Netflix favorites to while away the hours. The only problem has been watching the news. Supposedly through the Blu-ray player we can connect to the internet. We've been able to get to the tv news sites that offer live video, but the video won't play. I suspect it has something to do with the Blu-ray player not having Adobe Flash.

Himself took his laptop and slaved it to the monitor so when we want to watch the news, we do it through the laptop, but watch on the big tv screen. Himself and I have been able to catch up on Supernatural and Gracepoint this way.

At an elevation of 706 ft., in the middle of the woods, and being some distance away from local television towers, we never got good television reception when we first moved here, 29 years ago. But times change. Himself suggested while I was out running errands that I pick up a an HDTV antenna. The antennas are fairly inexpensive. I found one at Wallyworld for 20 bucks. It's a nice sleek design and not the old rabbit ears. Television networks broadcast a digital signal for free. Like the old days when homes had an aerial antenna on the roof. A one time payment of $20 is way better than paying the  monthly nearly $60 digital set-top box fee for 3 televisions.

With some fiddling and a call to tech support, Himself  was able to find the local Boston ABC, NBC, and CBS affiliates. This makes watching the news easier. I think  he was also able to find FOX so we'll be able to watch Gracepoint live. Still haven't been able to bring in CW so will have to watch Supernatural online.

Without cable, life is still good.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1.  While Himself was at a Black Belt clinic, The Eldest invited me to an X-Files marathon. In my room. On my comfy Sleep Number Bed in the upright position. I prefer to think she wanted my company and not the comfort of the bed.

2. While driving home, I saw a blue heron sail over the highway.

3. The physical therapist thinks the problems the Young One is having with her shoulder might be something happening in her neck. A call to the doc to order an MRI. Good news, bad news. The good news is nothing showed up on the MRI. Bad news is the Young One is still in pain.

4. The day before Thanksgiving is baking day. The Eldest has taken an interest in cooking and asked to help.  We baked an apple pie and her favorite, pumpkin pie.

5. We had a quiet Thanksgiving. Just Himself, me, and the girlies. A slow day. No rush. Everyone hung out in pj pants, watched TV, played on the computer, and ate. I was happy everyone was home safe the day before, and the storm for us wasn't as bad as predicted. Had to laugh. While waiting for the turkey to roast, I looked out the front window. In a great escape, a herd of turkeys made a mad dash across the street to the safety of  Prissy's yard.

How was your week?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Remnants of Thanksgiving 1967 at Uncle Mario's
Left to right: Ma (seated), Auntie Emma, Auntie Phyllis, Auntie Olga, me, Uncle Tony, Uncle Jack 
Here we are waiting for Round Two of eating. Have a little something before you go home. Another plate of lasagna or eggplant Parmigiana. Maybe a turkey sandwich. Another slice of pie, fruit and nuts, or Auntie Emma's pizzelles  (Italian, anise flavored, waffle cookies)

If you celebrate the holiday, have a Happy Thanksgiving. If you don't celebrate the holiday, have a fabulous Thursday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Work in Progress - A Painting

Canvas size 24 in. square
Layout done with a blue chalk pencil. Chalk lines are easily brushed off with a microfiber cloth. Still some tweaking to do, but overall, I'm pleased with the design.

What are you working on?

Monday, November 24, 2014

I Got No Strings To Hold Me Down.

While I was on the phone to Verizon to cancel the landline, I also cancelled our cable subscription. We don't really watch much television anymore. We're all quite happy with Netflix. I can watch the news on the computer or iPad. Even the shows we do watch (Supernatural, Blacklist, Gracepoint) can be seen on the computer, a day or two, after they are aired on television.

The only show I didn't really think about was Doctor Who. The last episode of series 8 ended two weeks ago. BBC America doesn't offer the show for viewing on their website. I won't be able to see the Christmas special. Not really a big deal. I like the new doctor, but he's not my doctor. I can happily watch my doctor on Netflix and wait for the new doctor's episodes to be aired on Netflix in the near future.

Dealing with Verizon wasn't too bad. The first customer service rep was flustered when I told her I wanted to cancel the phone and cable. She put me on hold while (I assume) she contacted her supervisor. While I waited forever, I tweeted my frustration, and got a response from AT&T

 Nov 17
Oh no! Join the @ ASAP for service that will make you smile! ^Colton

Made me laugh. Gotta love social media.

Finally, another rep. got on the line to take care of me. I didn't like having to justify my reason to them. I'm not sure Verizon liked hearing I didn't feel like making two more car payments or another mortgage payment. Yeah, the bill was that high, and we didn't even have premium channels except for the Sports package for Himself. The second rep. cancelled everything instantly.

We still have Internet service with them, and I don't have a problem with that. Though I did drop the Internet speed. The speed we were (supposedly) at 35/35 was no longer offered. I dropped to 25/25 and haven't noticed much difference. If it does pose a problem, we can always upgrade.

 I'd really like to drop the cellphone service. That's where the real expense on the bill is. Friend and colleague, Andy Fish, switched his cell service to Republic. You can read his reviews on his service.(Scroll down because the first search of Republic is from Republic Pictures) Andy's a savvy fella.  Unfortunately, I read Andy's reviews a couple of weeks after I renewed my cellphone contract with Verizon. Terminating the contract is too expensive, so it's marked on my 2016 To Do calendar.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Watson, Come Here. I Don't Need You

I finally ditched the landline. I'd been thinking about doing it for a long time. Seemed silly to pay for something that wasn't really used. Most of the calls were from telemarketers. I also had a distinctive ring number for the FAX machine which I've only used a half dozen times. That was disconnected, too.

The girlies use their cellphones to text or Skype with their friends. (Himself is a Luddite and doesn't like using a phone, land or cell.)

 I pretty much transfer all the house calls to my cellphone. I got into the habit of having calls transferred when my parents were in the nursing home as I would get calls from the nursing home staff several times a week (a day!). I also like knowing instantly who's calling me. Call me often enough and you get your own ring tone.

Do you still have a landline?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Graceful Envelope Contest 2015 Call for Entries

Once again, it's time to think about entering the Graceful Envelope Contest. This year's theme is There's No Place Like Home.

Artistically render what home means to you and enter the contest. There are categories for children as well as adults. Teachers, this would be a great way to incorporate art into Language Arts and Social Studies curriculum.

All the rules to enter the contest can be found at 2015 Graceful Envelope Contest

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. The Young One and I attended Master in the Morning for Chi Gong and Wu Chi exercises.

2. After class, we went to Panera for Chai Tea and lunch. Just for fun, try saying Chai Tea. T'ai Chi.

3. Hot flashes kept me warm while waiting for the heating technician to get the furnace up and running. Took him less than an hour.Seems the burner motor shorted out.

4. Ditched the landline. More on that later.

5. Himself's car broke down. He had to have it towed to the shop. Turns out some connections to the battery loosened up (that is he had a few screws loose) so not an expensive problem.

How was your week?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday

My parents had two Japanese maple trees in their yard. One in the front, and one in the back. Twenty or so years ago, Dad found a sapling growing near one of the trees. He carefully dug it up and brought it to us to plant.

The sprig was so little. We weren't sure it would take root, but it did.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Work in Progress - A Painting

Preliminary drawings. A critique I've received is my tigers are too happy, and they don't have "the eye of the tiger look." I can't help it. I enjoy my work and it comes through my hands. Back to the drawing board.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Furnace

went on strike this morning. The hot water holding tank stood along side in solidarity. No heat. No hot water. Fuh Oh bother!

On the bright side, this didn't happen over the weekend where a call to the heating technician would have incurred an extra arm and leg charge. We're not buried in snow with temperatures hovering in the icicles dripping from your nose range. Happily, the electricity is working. I brought the little heater from the sun room into the kitchen. It's taking the chill out, and I'm toasty now. I'll be able to nuke copious amounts of tea while waiting for the heating technician to arrive. Sometime today.

How's your day going?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. My Cousin L called. Distance and work keeps us from getting together more often, but we try once a year to meet for lunch. I had car trouble when we were supposed to meet a month or so ago and had to cancel. Her call was to make another date for the beginning of December. So fingers crossed no car trouble or bad weather.

2. Driving home after a meeting and a rainy morning, the clouds parted to reveal a small patch of blue sky and a faint rainbow.

3. What started as a do one cleaning thing turned into a cleaning frenzy in the kitchen.

4. I'm enjoying the process of working on the next painting. More on that later.

5. My Art of Science Learning team had to do a presentation of our project before a Gate panel. The panel will critique our presentation and either give us the go ahead to pass the gate or to refine our idea. Not sure who we did. I think we underwhelmed them, but I'm glad the presentation is over.

How was your week?

Monday, November 10, 2014