Friday, October 31, 2008

Seven on Samhain

Out of all the holidays, I think as an adult Halloween is my favorite. A holiday based around candy can't be bad. Dressing up in costume is fun. The biggest appeal is no expectations beyond a bit of candy for this holiday. No huge preparations. And most important no shopping and wrapping of gifts or trying to cope with a gift list that gets bigger and bigger each year.

The only challenge, besides not eating all the Halloween candy before the holiday, is making the costumes. I don't sew. I can do embroidery, cross stitch, needlepoint, and I can sew on buttons. Anything out of that realm is beyond me. Costumes for my girls began with a sweatsuit base. (it's usually cold here on Halloween so a winter jacket could be worn under or over if need be.) and then makeup and the odd accessory made or bought.

In honor of Samhain, seven costumes I put together for my girlies.

At four years old, The Eldest fell in love with Thomas the Tank Engine. I had seen a Thomas apron in a catalog and it was ridiculously expensive. Sewing the apron was beyond me, but not beyond my mother who was a seamstress. I showed her the apron. I embroidered the Thomas face, and she did the rest. I found an engineer's cap and I had a blue bandana. Grandpa found the railroad lantern. A ghostie costume for the three month old Young One was easy, a white nighties, a white bonnet and tiny Halloween socks, a baby gift from a friend.

Kindergarten brought us Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The Eldest just loved those dwarves. Sweatpants, my turtleneck with giant buttons, a belt to blouson the jersey, and a stocking hat courtesy of Grandma. The Young One wore hand me down pumpkin pjs.

Killer bees started with black sweatsuits and bee wings and hats from Oriental Trading Company. Glow sticks were pinned to their backsides for a stinger.

The Eldest wanted to be a fairy. We had a leotard and fairy wings, crown and wand from Oriental Trading. The Young One wore the bee costume again.

While doing some shopping in Wallyworld, The Eldest spotted a pumpkin princess costume and she fell in love with it. Her school was having a costume parade and party. The costume was ridiculously expensive, but how often would The Eldest be 8 years old. I bought it. The expression on her face said it all. Now, at 20 yrs old, she still has fond memories of that costume.

The Young One dressed as our kitty, Mitty. Hooded sweatshirt, sweatpants, mittens and kitty ears, tail and a makeup kit from CVS.

The Eldest wanted to be a hula dancer. A trip to I-party garnered the grass skirt and lei. And so she wouldn't freeze off her coconut mcguffies, a warm sweatsuit in her favorite color.

My piece de resistance was the year The Young One wanted to go as Hedwig the owl from Harry Potter. A children's craft book furnished the pattern for an owl mask which was cut from foam and decorated. A white felt chest plate of feathers for a bit of realism. The hardest thing to find that year was the white sweatsuit.
Any Halloween memories for you? Have a blessed Samhain and a Happy Birthday to Ink.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday Weigh-In

After a long expedition to the Mahket and coming home to fight with Vista, here I am with the Wednesday Weigh-In, a day late and a dollar short.

No loss for the week, no surprise there. No gain and that was a very pleasant surprise. The Young One and I went out to dinner Mon. night at the Longhorn Steakhouse. I had planned what I was going to order ahead of time. House salad with balsamic vinaigrette on the side, The Renegade steak, and a baked sweet potato without the signature butter and brown sugar. The steak is an 8 oz cut and the potato is usually large so I planned to cut each in half and only have half for dinner. It's what I usually do because the portion is so large, I can't really finish it.

All went according to plan until The Young One ordered. She ordered the same thing, but had the butter and brown sugar on her potato. Well, how many extra calories could that be? So I had it too.

While eating dinner we both eyed the dessert menu. We've eaten at this restaurant before and the fried cheesecake just sounded so appealing. Usually Himself and The Eldest are with us and they make comments about how the dessert sounds so disgusting. So when the Young One asked if I would split dessert with her, I didn't hesitate. The only way to improve a good thing is to deep fry it.

The picture of the dessert was very deceiving. The waitress brought out a footed punch bowl filled with 8 petite four-sized fried cheesecakes on a mountain of vanilla icecream and strawberry sauce. The dessert was so big we barely made a dent in it. We did eat the little cheesecakes but left behind most of the vanilla ice cream. Fried cheesecake is so goooooooood.

I know I should be remorseful, but I'm not. The whole evening would have been worth an extra pound or two. I enjoyed the company of my youngest. Before dinner, we browsed the mall and went into her favorite stores: FYE, The Game Stop and Barnes and Noble where she dropped hints for Christmas. Over dinner she told me the goings on at school, the subjects she likes, the subjects that bore her. She told jokes and made me laugh.

Not losing an ounce this week was so worth it.

Ok, ok. I know. Three Our Fathers and Three Hail Marys and I promise to be better next week.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Was trying to think of a topic so trawled the Internet to get some ideas. Came up with this: 7 things about hand-me downs.

1. Have you ever worn hand-me downs? Yes

2. Where did you get them from? I was 2 yrs younger than my cousin so I wore all her hand-me downs. My aunt used to call me the rag picker.

3. Have you ever given hand-me downs? Yes

4. To Whom? To friends who have children younger than mine.

5. How do you feel about hand-me downs? As a kid I didn't like the nickname the rag picker. As a mom, kids clothes are expensive and kids hardly get to wear some items more than a time or two. So I don't mind accepting hand-me downs from friends or giving hand-me downs to friends. To or from only people I know.

6. Do you frequent yard sales? Nope. I have enough junk of my own without buying someone else's.

7. If you were given $25,000 to purchase furniture for you home would you buy new or an antique? It would depend on what I was looking for. I coveted a cherry pie crust table. If I had the money, an antique. Didn't, so settled for a round cherry tea table from Ethan Allen. On sale!

What's your take on hand-me downs?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday Weigh-In

Finally 16 weeks, 14 pounds and I broke through the first mental block barrier. I had to weigh myself 6 times this morning just to make sure. I thought hitting this number would make me happier. Don't misunderstand, I am happy and lighter. It's just a lot harder and taking longer than I thought. Then there was someone this week who asked if I had lost weight. I thanked her for noticing, but couldn't help wonder how huge I must have been for her to make a comment.

When I was in my mid-20s, and needed to drop a pound or two, I wouldn't eat for a day. Not that I ate much anyway. My eating habits were atrocious. I didn't eat breakfast, just had a cup of tea. Lunch was usually a can of soda and something out of the snack machine at work. If I was travelling to a client, I'd skip lunch so I could bolt home an hour early. I did go out for lunch with the fellas I worked with or dinner out. Fast food. I was also hustling tennis games at the club where I hung out.

I've been trying so hard to follow my plan. An old WW exchange plan. 2 milk, 2 fruit, 3 or more veg, 4-6 bread, and 3-5 oz. protein per day. I also have an extra 700 calories per week (This takes care of real sugar in tea or a special treat) Roughly it works out to a 1200 - 1500 calorie diet. I try to weigh and measure. I used to write down what I ate, but now just keep a running tally in my head. It's so much work and sometimes I find my self obsessing about what I can eat next or how many of something I have left to eat. I'm also frustrated by the gain a pound, lose a pound, gain 2, lose one, plateau, my body seems to go through. I also try to walk the treadmill every morning. Half an hour at 3mph, a little over a mile and a quarter. Sometimes I play with the incline and walk up hill both ways. Today, I increased the walking speed by .2 mph. My little legs were flying!

What I really want is to "have lost weight". To have the commercial of me standing next to my beach ball before picture and me now in my cute, tight jeans. Voila! I lost x number of pounds. Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.

I think I need to find a thin picture of me. The me at the end of the tunnel. Something tangible to aim for. Me and my first car, Hubbell, a '79 Mustang. (No, I don't plan on getting down to that weight again. At 53, it's unrealistic, and I doubt I could maintain it.) Look at those tube socks, can't get much cooler than that.

What are the things you are doing to keep yourself motivated and on track?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Words to Live By

This month's ATC theme is Words to Live By. From She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, John Wayne as Captain Nathan Brittles: Don't aplogize. It's a sign of weakness.

Screen capture taken from the movie and then sepeia toned thrugh the magic of Paint Shop Pro X2, Walnut ink, gel marker, Rubinato pen on Diploma Parchment dyed with burnt sugar.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


I was trying to decide the topic for today's seven when inspiration hit my mailbox. Seven things in my mailbox.

1. Reader's Digest, along with the nag card that this is my last issue. Dad gives me the digest every year for Christmas.

2. PC World Magazine, along with the nag card that this is my last issue. I renew this subscription every year at the annual school magazine drive fund raiser.

3. Notacheck. The check stub when your pay check is direct deposited. Across the face of the check is printed Not A Check.

4. The Pyramid Collection. One of the catalogs from the mail order house The Eldest works at. I love browsing catalogs and then into the recycle bin.

5. American Girl catalog. It's been years since we purchased Samantha for The Eldest and received this catalog. Hmm, wonder if Land's End or LL Bean is selling mailing lists and I got on this one.

6. Whatever Works, a home and garden catalog. Part of the mail order house where The Eldest works.

7. Young Explorers, an educational toy catalog. Ditto second part of number six

What was in your mailbox today?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Burnt Sugar Dye

While cleaning the studio, I came upon an issue of Somerset Studio with an article on antiquing paper. That provided the perfect excuse to take a break, so I sat down with the magazine and a cup of tea. The article by Lea Everse had a recipe for Burnt Sugar Dye. I couldn't pass up an opportunity to procrastinate so I made the dye.

Burnt Sugar Dye

1 cup granulated white sugar

a pinch of salt

enough water to dissolve the sugar.

In a heavy sauce pan, place the sugar, salt, and enough water to dissolve the sugar. I had no idea how much "enough" was so I used 1/2 cup of water. Cook over medium heat until the sugar burns and turns a dark brown. You can judge doneness by the reek of carbon in your kitchen.

Pour the burnt syrup into a foil lined baking sheet and cool thoroughly. I used a foil pie plate. When cool, break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

Sounded simple enough. And it was. What is not mentioned is humidity effects the end result. If the weather is humid as it was yesterday and today, the mixture remains tacky. I've moved the pie plate from the kitchen to sit on top of the dehumidifier to see if that will help to dry it out.

To use, place a lump of burnt sugar in a small container,dish, or whatever you use to mix small amounts of paint. Add a few drops of water until you get the desired shade of brown. Paint onto your paper. The author also suggests you spatter drops to get interesting gradations of color. If applied too thickly the paper will be sticky and can be sprayed with a fixative.

I haven't gotten to the usage part yet. So here is my burnt sugar sitting on top of my immaculate drafting table.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday Weigh-In

I know where your two pounds went, Erica. I gained them this week. I was bad. I need my jaw wired shut.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Today, I went to see Sepeia Memories - 19th Century Photographs an exhibit currently on display at the Worcester Art Musuem. Seven things about this exhibit.

1. I understood it! Every inch of it. Sometimes looking at modern art, I think the emperor is naked. Why is this art? But no such thought while viewing the photographs

2. I was amazed that a photographic process was in use as early as the 1840s. Such as the Daguerreotype, a process of exposing an image on a copper sheet fixed with silver and exposed to iodine vapor. Only one image could be made from the negative.

3. The sepeia refers to the warm, brownish tones in the photographs, but doesn't involve real sepeia ink from squid.

4. There was a stereoscopic viewer in a glass case. The viewer was made from cherry or mahogany and had intricately lace-like carvings.

5. I had to stand on tiptoe to peek in to the viewer to see a reclining nude. Her back was to the viewer. Her pose was positively chaste compared to the models in a Victoria Secrets catalog.

6. Since the early phographic process took so long, the subject had to stand still for a long time. the exhibit had a picture of a bull calf and another of a cow. Guess the animals wouldn't fidgit.

7. There were photographs of lots of famous people: Robert E. Lee sitting in front of his home just after the surrender at Appomattox, Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln and Dorothea Dix to name a few.

Do you like looking at old photographs? Wondering about the people in them or why a picture of a cow was taken? The cow above is not from the exhibit. It's clipart and then through the magic of Paint Shop Pro X2, I turned it into a Daguerreotype. Fun!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Is This Any Way to Run an Airline?

The problem, I received a bill from Charter for internet, phone and television services for October. The last bill was paid on 12. Sept. and you will recall on the 15. Sept, we began 3 days of installation hell with Verizon. We had no telephone, no internet, and no phone services for those three days.

I called Charter Customer Service only to be told since my name is not on the account, they could not speak to me. Even though I'm the one who pays the monthly bill. An argument ensued and I asked to speak to a Supervisor. Was put on hold and the call never answered.

I call a second time and had to endure the same song and dance, and the frustration of being put on hold and no supervisor picking up in a timely fashion. By now, I'm spitting nails.

From the Charter website, I followed a link to talk to a live representative. I pretended to be Himself. Part way through our conversation, I almost asked the representative if she was mentally impaired. Bostonians will instantly understand the expression I was going to use including the colorful adjective. At this point, I began typing in CAPS

Here is the actual transcript:

Thank you for choosing Charter Chat Live! A Customer Care representative from Billing Inquiries will be with you shortly. You have been connected to TTD Ria .

TTD Ria : Thank you for contacting Charter Communications Support Team. My name is Ria. How may I assist you today?

Himself : Hi Ria, I received a bill for bundled phone, internet, and tv, however on Sept 15, services we terminated because we switched to Verizon

TTD Ria : Hi, Himself.

Himself : since we have not had charter services since Sept 15, we should not have a bill nor expected to pay any bill

TTD Ria : Please let me check on this.

Himself : thank you

TTD Ria : Can you please provide me with your account number?

Himself : Yup

TTD Ria : Thank you.
TTD Ria : The balance left on your account is $115.74.
Himself : except there should be no balance
Himself : and when I returned equipment, we were told there was a credit on the bill. and we should receive a check

Himself : the last bill paid was in the amount of $183.90 and paid Sept 12

TTD Ria : Himself, this bill is for your services for the period of 10/16/08-11/15/08.

TTD Ria : Please be reminded that you are paying for your services one month in advance. Himself : we are no longer with charter

Himself : services were terminated Sept 15

Himself : we did not use charter services after Sept 15

TTD Ria : Yur services are scheduled to be disconnected on October 15, 2008. Himself : the services were disconnected on Sept 15
Himself : for 3 days while Verizon completed installation I had NO phone, NO internet, NO TV TTD Ria : Himself, you had Charter services since 2004.

Himself : yes, but as of Sept 15, 2008 we switched to Verizon

Himself : so from Sept 15 2008 to the present, we are not using Charter services Himself : we are Verizon customers
Himself : ergo the bill was sent by mistake
Himself : I turned in 3 boxes and a modem for the phone
Himself : we no longer have charter equipment
TTD Ria : Himself, I are you saying you had your services connected September 2008 and had those disconnected on the same month?
Himself : yes
TTD Ria : Himself, I'm sorry but I can see on the account that you had Charter services since 2004.
TTD Ria : You may go to your local office to check on this further.
Himself : is that the only way this issue can be resolved?

Himself : you cannot help? TTD Ria : I'm sorry but I can't see what you are saying on the account that I pulled up.

TTD Ria : What is reflected in my database is that you had services with us since 2004.

Himself : what don't you understand
Himself : THIS YEAR
TTD Ria : Himself, I'm sorry but I can't just believe in what you are saying. I need something as proof. I'm sorry but what you are saying is not reflected in my database.

TD Ria : Well, I'm sorry but only the local office can check on that further.
Himself : can you tell me if the local office is open on Sat
Himself : and what the hours are
TTD Ria : Sure. TTD Ria : Your local office is open Monday8:30 AM1:00 PM2:00 PM5:00 PMTuesday8:30 AM1:00 PM2:00 PM5:00 PMWednesday8:30 AM1:00 PM2:00 PM5:00 PMThursday8:30 AM1:00 PM2:00 PM5:00 PMFriday8:30 AM1:00 PM2:00 PM5:00 PM
Himself : No Sat hours?
TTD Ria : I'm sorry but no.
Himself : do these transcripts get looked over for quality assurance?

TTD Ria : Yes.
Himself : please note: Customer Service should not be an oxymoron.
Himself : I guess this ends the session

I'm of a good mind to ignore the bill and wait to receive if you don't pay this bill, we will terminate your services. Let them!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wednesday Weigh-In

Fifteen weeks and I've lost 13 lbs! I was surprised to see I lost one pound this week. This was a very hard week for me. The hungry horrors just seemed to take over. I really wasn't even hungry, just seemed to have a need to shove something in my face. Why do carbs have to taste so good? Why can't carrots or broccoli taste like chocolate or cookies?
Speaking of chocolate, The Young One will be bringing home a case of chocolate bars to be sold as a fund raiser for the Junior/Senior Christmas Ball and the Junior Prom. Deep sigh. Forlorn look. I can see another rough week ahead with candy bars in the pantry.

My new jacket in size medium arrived yesterday. Color me blue like the new jacket. Remember I tried The Young One's jacket on and it fit? My new blue jacket is a little snug through the arms and bust. Seems LL Bean decided to change the style slightly. Why do they do that? Why do they assume every woman wants fitted clothes? I like my clothes to fit well, but I like a little breathing room too. This jacket makes me feel like a sausage.

So I don't know what to do. Do I wait 4 or 5 weeks and hope if I lose another 4 or 5 pounds, the jacket will fit the way I like? I'm not even sure losing a few more pounds will help. Maybe that's punishment for buying clothes made in foreign countries where a size 2 is considered a medium.

If I wait to drop a few more pounds, I might not be able to wear this jacket, but that will put us into late Fall and it gets pretty darn cold here.

Send it back or keep it? Send it back and order a man's jacket? Mens clothes are so much more comfortable. They don't princess seam men's clothes and the manufacturer's don't add lycra spandex to men's clothes either.

So this week's question. How do you handle the hungry horrors? And what would you do about the jacket?

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Earlier this week I helped my friend, Red, set up a family reunion site. She showed me stuff about her family that goes back some 300 years. To one who is only second generation in this country and can trace her family back as far as grandparents, I find stuff like this fascinating. So seven facts about Red's family.

1. Red is a descendant of a man who settled in Ipswich, MA (near Salem of the famed witch trials) in 1693!

2. Members of Red's family fought in the Revolutionary war.

3. The first family reunion was held at the farm of her great, great, grandfather next town over in 1887

4. Her family has had a reunion every year since 1887. This year marked their 121 reunion.

5. For the 100th reunion, a book was printed with all the begats from the first ancestor with pictures of past reunions.

6. Red attended her first reunion when she was 7 mos old. A picture of her with a bunch of cousins was in the book.

7. Red's mom grew up on the farm at the top of the hill on my street. The farm is still a working farm, and still in the family owned by one of Red's cousins.

Do you know your family history? How far back can you trace your family?
The gentleman in the photograph without a hat is my maternal grandfather. The tall gentleman directly behind him is my paternal grandfather. Don't they look like the Godfather and his hit men? (-;

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wednesday Weigh-In

I thought when I got on the scale this morning it would be a case of holding the line. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I pushed through for a one pound down.

My weight loss buddy, Erica hit one of her milestone numbers today and I'm a pound away from hitting one of those mental block numbers too. And I also had a feel good moment when I tried on my college ring for giggles and it almost fits and so does the black onyx pinky ring I used to wear all the time.