Friday, February 26, 2010

The Friday Five

I love watching movies. There are lots of movies I can sit and watch over and over again without ever getting tired of seeing the movie. But there are a handful of these movies which I love, that I wish had a different, happier ending or something different happened in the movie. The movies I have in mind are kind of old, like me, but I'll be giving away a spoiler. If you haven't seen Carrie, von Ryan's Express, The Day the Earth Stood Still ( the real one with Michael Rennie), How Green Was My Valley, or The Great Escape, you might want to skip this post.

1. Carrie I wish Carrie would go to the prom and have a really nice time. Tommy would take her home. She'd have her first good night kiss. Then there would be graduation. Carrie would leave her whack job of a mother to go far away to college, discover a cure for cancer, win a Nobel prize and go back to reunion and thumb her nose at the jerks who made fun of her.

2. The Day the Earth Stood Still This isn't a spoiler as I love this movie, but I wish one small scene could be changed. Klaatu has to provide a small demonstration to get the Earth people's attention without causing harm. He neutralizes the electricity all around the world for a half an hour. Scenes are flashed of traffic stopped, people wondering what the heck is going on. One poor woman is trying to figure out why her washing machine stopped mid-cycle. I feel so bad for this housewife. Klaatu manages to exclude planes in flight and hospitals from the neutralization. I've always wished he'd just let this poor woman's laundry finish so she wouldn't have to redo that load of wash.

3. How Green Was My Valley When Roddy McDowell as Huw is going through the mine after the disaster searching for his father and calling "Daaaaa-dah!" I've always wished the father played by Donald Crisp would yell back "Here, boy! I'm here, Huw" Oh and that the preacher (Walter Pidgeon) would let Angharad (Maureen O'Hara) know how he feels about her so they could get married and live a happy life.

4. The Great Escape. I wish Handley, the Scrounger was able to fly the plane over the border to Switzerland where he and Colin, the Forger would be able to celebrate their escape with a proper cup of tea. "Tea without milk is so barbaric." I'd also like Ashley-Pitt (David McCallum) to just calmly walk away and catch a later train. Bet you thought I was hoping Steve McQueen wouldn't crash the motorcycle.

5. von Ryan's Express I've always wanted Ryan (Frank Sinatra) to make the train.

Are there any movies you wished had a different ending?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wed Letter Day

Week 8. The inspiration for this letter came from my spiderweb-back chairs in the livingroom. Pigma micron, walnut ink.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Once Upon A Mattress

We've had our mattress for 10 or 12 years. My side had just become comfortable like a worn pair of blue jeans. Soft. The just right feel fit. Himself was complaining his side of the mattress was lumpy and the springs were giving out. Time to get a new one. So we would look for a new mattress as an early silver anniversary gift.

We wanted a Sealy so I went online to research stores and prices. It was like comparing apples and oranges. No two stores had the same model mattress. So you wouldn't know if Meadow Brook Ultra was comparable to Song Bird Plush. When I whined to Himself, he said this was the ultimate shell game. Each store could say we have the lowest price on Meadow Brook Ultra because you would never find another store that carried that exact same model.

And the prices! I'm glad we only have a full size mattress because the cost of the larger sizes approached the price I paid for my first Ford Mustang! We're going through a couple of stores and wondering which was more important. A good night's sleep on a supportive mattress for us or a college education for our girls.

I found a model on line that was more than we really wanted to pay (shouldn't a top of the line mattress set run around $300 or less?), but was within our budget.

Then there was factoring in the cost of the box spring? WT? Shouldn't the box spring come with the mattress? Nope, extra. Then there were charges for delivery or you could have the mattress shipped to the store for a fee and you could have the pleasure of picking the mattress up yourself. They would gladly get rid of the old mattress for a fee. One company would remove the mattress to your curb! Helpful. Not!

Now when it comes to size, Himself is is like the Papa Bear and I'm the Mama Bear. He wants a firm mattress, and I want soft. We thought a pillow top would be a good compromise. He could get the firm mattress, and the pillow top wouldn't make me feel as if I were sleeping on the dining room table.

One store had the Sleep to Live mattress which was actually pretty cool. The salesman had us individually lie on a computerized bed and the computer would analyze body size, weight and determine your comfort level. The levels were color coded Tan for extra soft, Green for soft, Blue for firm, and Red for extra firm. Then based on your color the company would make a mattress with one side with your level and the other with your partner's level. We were a red-green combo. This would have been perfect except the price was over three times our mortgage.

We found a furniture store that carried Sealy. They even had a few "on sale" (the mark ups on mattresses are incredible) that wouldn't cost two arms and two legs and were about the same price as the one I found online. We tried a couple of more expensive pillow top models and found they weren't supportive enough for Himself though they were quite comfy for me. We ended up with a mattress that had a diamond rating for comfort. 4 diamonds in our price range was perfect for Himself, but as he was getting up, he said I would hate it. And I did. He tried the 3 diamond and said, I would like it and it was comfortable enough for him. The salesman offered us a choice of free delivery or a free bedstand. That question was a no brainer and free removal of the old bedding. Sold. The mattress will be delivered on Tuesday. Which will give me time to do a quick tidy of the room.

Have you recently made a large purchase and had sticker shock?

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Friday Five

In an effort to cut down on the grocery bill, and the way my family goes through a package of cookies, I've been baking. I usually bake twice a week. I enjoy baking, especially the eating. My favorite things to bake are yeast breads. Five things I have baked this past month.

1. Hot Cross Buns. Love them and not just at this time of the year.

2. Hermits. square spice cookies with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and raisins. The Young One asked why they were called Hermits. Because they smell and taste so good, you want to keep them all for yourself and eat them alone. The recipe called for 2 cups raisins which I thought was too much for the amount of flour so I only used 1 cup.

3. Ugly cupcakes. A scratch yellow cake that instead of crowning spread out flat. I think the amount of baking powder called for needs to be adjusted. They looked fugly, but ate just fine. I only baked a dozen and opted to bake the other half of the batter in a square cake pan. Then I went and spoiled it all by using frosting from a tub. LOL

4. Cornbread. The recipe I have is a bit like mixing Jiffy Cornbread mix and Jiffy yellow cake mix only the recipe uses Bisquick. The cornbread bakes up sweet, more like cake and not gritty. It also uses a stick of butter so there's no need to butter the cornbread.

5. Cowboy Oatmeal Cookies. I have no idea why they are called Cowboy cookies. Just saw cowboy and had to have them (-; They are oatmeal and butterscotch chip cookies. They also taste fine with oatmeal and raisins and I bet they would be good with chocolate chips too.
Do you like to bake? What is your favorite recipe?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wed Letter Day

Week 7 This letter was one of the exercises from an illumination workshop I took with Valerie Weilmuenster several years ago. The exercise was painting acanthus leaves and I ran out of time during the workshop. So this was the perfect opportuntity to give acanthus leaves a whirl. Acanthus leaves are meant to twist and curl so the viewer sees both the inside and outside of the leaf. I think I missed a step and outlined too boldly as my leaves are flat.
What are you working on?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


We love paper. Offcuts and scrap are stored in a large tote. We revel in rummaging through the box. All the pretty color papers, the shades of white paper. So many possibilities. Small books, ATCs, greeting cards, small pieces for tiny quotes or doodles. We revel in the textures, fondling, petting, and pawing the papers. When the box is left on the floor, some of us even enjoy napping among the leaves.

Do you love paper? Do you horde it?

Monday, February 15, 2010


Need to gussy up a last minute gift, but you don't have any bows on hand? Jessica from How About Orange comes to the rescue. She has easy to follow instructions for making gift bows using magazine pages. I made mine from paper I had in the scrap paper box. The process didn't take long, maybe 15 minutes to cut the paper strips and assemble. I spent more time trying to decide which papers to use. Check out Jessica's site she has some great ideas.

What do you do for last minute gifts?

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Friday Five

Tuesday night school was cancelled at 9:30 pm in anticipation of the second snow storm that had paralyzed the mid-Atlantic states. Our Nor'easter turned out to be a No'easter. Didn't stop us from celebrating a no school day and not being buried in snow. Five things I did on our snow day:

1. Wednesday night I unplugged the alarm clock. We slept in until 7am! Usually we're up at 5:30am as The Young One leaves for school at quarter to 7am

2. Himself and I watched The Mark of Zorro with Tyrone Power as Don Diego/Zorro and Basil Rathbone as Esteban. Good, old-fashioned, movie fun: action, suspense, with a little romance along the way. I especially love the fencing scenes. Rathbone is poetry in motion.

3. I took a nap.

4. Ate a bag of M & M's with Himself while watching

5. Ghostbusters. Inane fun. Heard talks are underway for a 3rd sequel with Bill Murray reprising his role as Dr. Peter Vinkman, only he wants to play Vinkman as a ghost.

Oh, and we all watched No Exit a second season episode of Supernatural. The Young One is recording all the eps. Iowa got her hooked on the show. Tried to get me hooked, but I didn't like watching the eps on the laptop. CW56 started showing the eps from the first season. I'm happy to enjoy the program with The Young One.

If you are fortunate enough to get an unexpected day off, how do you spend it?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Quick Card

Here's a quick card to make should you forget your Sweetie on Valentine's Day.

Begin with a rectangular size paper. You want the card to be able to stand up so it can be displayed. A heavy weight paper such as cardstock or contruction paper will work well. The rectangle can be any size you want.

Fold the rectangle in half. And then fold in half again. This will give you four panels to write on. My card is 7 inches along the horizontal. If your rectangle is longer or you want narrower panels fold in half again.

At this point you might want to pencil where you want to write your sentiment.

Accordian pleat your card. If you lay your card down, with the four panel card, the edge of the card looks like a "W"

One each fold draw a small heart.

Carefully cut the heart, but don't cut it all the way out. You want to make a pop out not a heart shaped hole.

Push the fold of the heart in the opposite direction of the panel. Your heart will pop out or pop to the back depending if the panel fold is a valley or a mountain. Clear as mud?
Ta-Da! You have a quick, simple card that can be used for any occasion.
Pastepaper, Ziller's Glossy Black ink, Nikko G nib

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wed Letter Day

Week 5. Illuminated "S". Need to work on my white work.
Week 6. Time to break out of the comfort zone with this bamboo "r". Walnut ink, Arches Text Wove.
What are you working on?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Brendan and The Secret of Kells

Found this YouTube link from Medieval History. It's a soon to be released cartoon about the Book of Kells.

The Book of Kells is a highly decorated manuscript of the four gospels of the Bible. Thought to have been started at the monastery of Iona (island off the coast of western Scotland) by St. Colum Kille (St. Columba) aroud 561. The book was moved to the monastery at Kells (Ireland) after a series of Viking raids somewhere in the early 800's. The book now resides at Trinity College in Dublin where each day visitors can file past to see a page of the book. (Something to add to my bucket list)

As to the cartoon, fanciful, but not historical (though hard to tell from the trailer). Besides the the mention of the historical book, and Viking raids, the only other historical fact I could see comes from Brendan's animal companion, Pangur Bán. The name means small white cat. Pangur makes his appearance in the margins of a sacred text. It's a poem written by an unknown monk about his cat. Either the monk was bored and wrote about his kitty or he was a young monk and given the task as a penmanship exercise. Doesn't that just make you smile?

The flat, round shapes of the cartoon seem to be trying to capture the flavor of the flat drawings from medieval texts. Though the rounded shapes capture the essence of the insular script, they fall short of coming close to the intricate figures in the Book of Kells. They don't come close to the beautifully stylized medieval drawings of Disney's Sleeping Beauty.

The movie is supposed to be released to theaters in March 2010. I don't think I'll bother to waste money for a theater ticket to see it. Maybe wait until someone uploads the movie in its entirety to YouTube or Hulu or some such place.

If you want to know more about the Book of Kells. Check out The Book of Kells, an Illustrated Introduction to the Manuscript in Trinity College Dublin by Bernard Meehan. There are also a hundred or so up close and color illustrations. Gorgeous eye candy.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Paper Storage

There isn't a lot of floor space available for flat files. (Thanks to Grandpa building two enormous dollhouses for the girlies). I came up with the idea of attaching a box to the wall and having the front of the box fold down like an antique secretary desk. Thanks to my BIL who had the time, and some scrap wood to make it so. He also put cork on the front to make a handy bulletin board. The secretary pulls down and is held by wire. It's 2 ' x 3' size is perfect for storing large sheets of art paper. I keep Arches Text Wove, Diploma Parchment, and Arches 90 lb hot press watercolor paper on hand. These are my favorite papers to work on. The setup keeps my papers clean and flat and secures with hook and eyes on the side where I can reach. Originally the hook and eye was at the top of the box, but I couldn't reach it so had Himself relocate the hooks.

Have you had to invent your own storage to suit your needs?

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Friday Five

This week, I ran into some browser not responding nags. Five browsers I've used and my thoughts about them.

1. Internet Explorer 8. IE, the one your computer comes with if you have a PC. The one I always indicate as the default browser even if it's slower loading than others. My computer doesn't seem to play nicely unless IE is the default browser. A program like Swiss cheese full of security holes. And even though I have the latest version, some sites nag me the site will run better if I download IE8. Some webpages built with Microsoft's Publisher, don't display any other links except the home page.  IE is a Microsoft product! A nifty Yahoo toolbar interfaces quite nicely. I can get to a lot my preferred sites by adding an icon to the toolbar. For some unknown reason, the copy/paste feature doesn't work in Blogger so I go to

2.  Mozilla Firefox 3.6 Loads quicker than IE and supposedly is a more stable browser. Until this week, when it kept hanging and then I would get a not responding nag.  Copy/paste worked nicely in Blogger. Cool skins to perk up the look. Fun add ons like Wise Stamp which allows me to customize a personal and business signature for use in my Gmail and Yahoo mail accounts. Sometimes got extra line spacing when adding a picture to a Blogger post. When downloading files have to go through a download screen that keeps track of things you've downloaded until you clear the download list. I find it an extra unnecessary step.

3. Chrome, Google's contribution to the browser hit parade. No toolbar interface. Meh.

4. Safari, Apple browser. Has a window which shows tiles of the top sites you visit. It's supposed to learn your top sites as you browse. It hasn't learned mine yet. Only allows you to delete a site or make it a permanent top site. Can't add a site. Has a nice looking compass as it's desktop icon. Reminds me of the old Netscape Navigator. Meh.

5. Opera 10.10. Has a speed dial window which you can customize. You can add all your favorite sites  and you can see them in one place.  Copy/paste available in Blogger and also works with the Wise Stamp signature. I like the clean look of Opera and the Speed Dial feature. I also like how easy it is to customize. Downside is I can't access my alternate Yahoo email address.

I wish there was one browser to bind them all.

What browser do you use?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It's Baaaaack!

A year and a half ago, I got my computer with Vista 64 bit operating system. Downloaded drivers for all of the peripherals and everything worked ok except the all in one laser/printer/scanner. The printer worked fine. So did the copier, but the scanner? The scanner and the computer weren't talking. No TWAIN. No import from the scanner. Device not found. Put a call into Canon. Spent a good half hour on the phone with one of their techs. Nothing.

The laser/copier/scanner did interface quite nicely with the laptop running XP. If I wanted to scan something in, I'd shut my computer down, disconnect the USB printer cable, and connect it to the laptop. Boot the laptop and do my scanning. I'd either save the image to a thumb drive or usually upload the image to my Office Live Workspace. Then I'd shut the laptop down, disconnect the USB printer cable, reconnect and boot up the PC. Grab the image and away I'd go. A bit of a dance, but it worked.

The other day I had an image to scan, but didn't feel like running upstairs to get the laptop. So for chuckles, I put the image on the scanning bed, ran PSP X2. Under the import function, the scanner was there and labeled! And oh rapture, oh joy it worked! Happy dance.

Have you had a nice surprise lately?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wed Letter Day

Week 4. A drawn and painted Lombardic "I" with 14th. century doodles. Sumi ink and a Nikko G nib

To see what others are doing for the project, follow the link for A Letter A Week 2010 in the upper left hand side bar.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Borrowed Tradition

Today is Imbolc, the festival mid-way between the Winter solstice and the Vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. The wheel is turning towards the light. Ewes will be giving birth soon. Time to think of plowing and planting as the days are getting longer and warmer.

Today is Candlemas. Candles that would be used through the year, were brought to church to be blessed. Blessing the light. A borrowed tradition and something new. Seems weather prediction was also involved. My Farmer's Almanac calendar has a little poem for today:

As fas as the

sun shines in at

the window on

Candlemas Day,

so deep will the

snow be ere

winter is gone.

Today is Groundhog's Day. Another predictor of the weather. If the groundhog comes out of his hole and sees his shadow, there'll be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't see his shadow, Spring is around the corner (in six weeks (-; )

I'm going to press my nose up against the glass of the sunroom slider. We used to have a woodchuck that lived under the shed. I haven't seen Woody in a couple of years. I have a feeling the coyotes had a snack. Poor Woody. I don't need Woody to tell me it's getting warmer out in the sunroom. I can almost feel it (in six weeks)
No matter whether you celebrate Imbolc, have your candles blessed or place your bet on a rodent, enjoy the day.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Drafting Table

Another dent made. I can see the top of the drafting table. This is where I like to work. The drafting table can be tilted, but I'm happier working flat unless I have a very large piece to work on like seating scrolls for weddings. I like surveying my domain from the height of my tall chair.
How do you like to work? Sitting down? Standing up? Reclining on the sofa?