Friday, April 30, 2010

The Friday Five

Coffee drinkers in search for the perfect cup, won't find their brew here. This week's five: favorite tea flavors.

I'm a tea drinker from way back. I remember having my first cup of tea at my Auntie's house. The tea was more milk and hot water than tea, but at 10 years old I felt very grown up. The tea ritual is not so much in the sipping, but in the sharing gossip, problems, advice, and laughs.

I've tried flavors of loose tea, but since I'm the only one around here who drinks tea, loose tea seems such a waste of time to brew for one cup. Easier to plop a bag in a cup of water and nuke it. I average 4 cups of tea per day. 

1. Tetley, the brew of choice for every day. I find it to be robust especially if steeped longer than 4 min. which I've been known to do.

2. Celestial Seasoning's Morning Thunder. Sometimes called Gunpowder tea. Very potent.All the fun of coffee without the jitters.  As I recall there was  a picture of a bull on the front of the box. This was my morning blend when I worked at Marquette Cement a zillion years ago. Haven't seen this tea on the shelves in a very long time.

3. Twinings Earl Grey. Love the smell of the bergamot.

4. Twinings French Vanilla. Good for a comfort cup. A good substitute is a Splenda Vanilla for coffee packet in a cup of good ol' Tetley.  I find myself reaching for this more and more especially in the morning.

5. Chai.  The Young One enjoys this too. The only tea she will drink. For a special treat we'll stop at Barnes and Noble. At home, we drink Tazo Organic Chai, a gift from The Eldest.

Oh, and I have to add one tea flavor I really detest, Sweet Tea. Gag.

Are you a tea drinker? Do you have a favorite flavor or blend?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Letter A Week Project

I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the letters or how to display them. I thought a wall hanging like a quilt would be cool. It would cost a fortune to frame and,  of course, I wouldn't have room to display it in the dollhouse. Making a book came to mind, but there were so many design decisions to make. How big, what kind of paper, what kind of binding? Made my head spin. I wanted something fun, but simple. Light bulb! Blocks! Then all the sanding and sealing the wood. Not to mention the cost. Fun, simple, but inexpensive, with materials I already have laying around.

So, I made the block out of a sheet of drawing paper. Outside lines are cut. Inside lines are scored. The box is then folded up and glued with Yes! Paste. The finished letters are then glued to the box faces. Ta Da! A block.
Have you started a project with one direction in mind, and then ended up with something very different?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wed Letter Day

Waste not, want not. I was looking through the scrap boxes trying to find some colored paper for a letter of the week, when I saw a practice sheet of simple watercolor tulips I had done. This "U" popped out.

Have you used an old work in a new way?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Work In Progress

The paint job. Base and top coats. Needs a bit of shine and some detail.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Work In Progress

Lettering done. Illustration done. Painting the dragon. Blue, but of course.  What are you working on today?

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Friday Five

Wednesday was spent at WPI, the college The Young One will be attending this Fall. A lot has changed since I was in college 37 years ago.

1. Though college was expensive, tuition wasn't out of the price range for my parents. Tuition only cost an arm instead of an arm, a leg, and a first born. My parents weren't required to divulge their tax reports.

2.  My term papers were typed on an electric Smith Corona type writer. If I needed a copy of this paper, I inserted a sheet of carbon paper between the type writer paper. Typing mistakes were carefully erased with a pink pencil eraser with a small brush on the end. Corrections were also carefully made to the carbon copy. A relatively new product, Wite Out Correction fluid was also available. If you needed to insert another sentence or paragraph, you had to retype your entire paper. Research for papers was started in the library using a card catalog: small drawers with neatly printed or typed index cards that would direct you to the book in the library stacks. Special collections items were requested in writing and given to the librarian. If the library didn't have the book you needed, you went to another library to look for it.

3. I only needed to budget $500 to $700 for books for my entire 4 years at college. The most expensive books were $25.00 hard cover. I had to buy my books at the college book store. I could buy used books from students who had already taken the class, if they were selling their books, and if the professor was using the same edition.

4. Correspondence with a professor after office hours was done by leaving a typed or hand-written note in his/her mailbox or with the department secretary. A first class stamp cost 8 cents. Telephone calls from a pay telephone were 10 cents for a 3 minute local call. Long distance calls were 25 cents for 3 minutes. Telephones were tethered to a wall at home or office and in a telephone booth for a pay telephone. Push to talk was called a Walkie-Talkie and used only by the military.

5. As a commuting student, I could eat meals in the dining hall, but had to pay cash. If you needed to buy something, you paid with cash or you wrote out a check. If you needed cash, you went to the bank, during bank business hours (usually Monday to Friday from 9 am to 3 pm. Some banks might stay open late one day usually Thursday or Friday when people got paid. The late banking hours would be 9a to 4:30p or if you were lucky 5pm.. Banks might be open until noon on Sat.) For cash you filled out a withdrawal slip or wrote a check out payable to cash or yourself and took the slip or check to the teller. If the withdrawal was from a savings account, you handed the teller your savings account passbook. S/he would type the amount in your passbook.

How were things different when you went to college?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wed Letter Day

Another doodle. Pigma pen on Diploma Parchment (I think)

What are you working on?


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Signs of Spring

If the daffodils, tulips and buds on the hydrangea weren't enough of a clue that Spring has arrived for me, the marathon sneezing bouts did it. Last week, before the rains, the culprits were the maple, poplar, and pine trees. With every breath, I could feel the histamines invade my body. Eyes rubbed red and raw. A general feeling of malaise that even a nap couldn't cure. Over the counter allergy medications are only good if I don't need to be conscious. And why do non-drowsy allergy medications carry a "this product may cause drowsiness" warning? Benedryl is absolutely the best OTC remedy though it renders me comatose which is probably why it works so well.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, how do you cope?

Monday, April 19, 2010


It was one of those days. Another phone call about the same on going problem. The method of choice to calm the throbbing behind my left eye would be to eat anything (preferably sweet) in sight that didn't move As luck would have it, we had arrived at the end of the week, and Himself had not done any grocery shopping. I wasn't much in the mood to bake.  Percussive maintenance seemed to be the next best alternative.

What do do you do to alleviate stress?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Friday Five

The picture of Ink from yesterday's tea party made me think of things I liked to do as a kid. I didn't play much with dolls or tea sets though I had them, I was a tomboy. More of a survival tactic with having an older brother and having to tag along with him and his friends. So five things I liked to do as a kid:

1. I loved to ride my bike up and down the street. I couldn't wait to get older and be allowed to turn the corner.

2. I loved to swing. The best part was getting to the top of the arc and jumping off. I also wanted to swing so high, I'd go over the top bar. It never happened.

3. Reading was another favorite past-time. When dancing lessons proved to be an epic fail for me, my dad took me to the library every Saturday where we would wait for The Brother to finish his accordion lesson. Dad would leave me in the children's library, but I liked to go into the adult library and wander through the stacks and smell the fragrance of the books.

4. One of our favorite games to play was based on the television series Combat. Himself and I would crawl through the bushes and dirt between our yards. He was Sgt. Saunders to my Lt. Hanley. I got to be the LT because I was older and bossier. Still am (-;

5. Summer evenings would find all the neighborhood kids gathered to play Kick the Can, a variation of Hide and Seek except a good kick of the tin can would free all the captured kids and prolong the game. We always had to go in at 8:15 pm when the street lights came on  or Himself's mother would holler for her brood of five, whichever came first.

What did you like to do as a child?

Thursday, April 15, 2010


With lousy weather, feeling crummy, and schedules finally syncing schedules, my friend, Red, was able to come over for tea. Several months back over steaming mugs of tea, Red mentioned she was looking for a china teapot. How she would love to use the china. Got me thinking because I have several teapots, china cups, and a china tea set which belonged to my mother. She  gave the tea set to me a few years ago. These items live in a curio cabinet and are not used. I thought setting the table with the china would seem pretentious. On the other hand, it seemed a shame not to use the fine china.

Ma bought the tea set when she first moved to the house where I grew up. She wanted something nice to have to serve the ladies tea. She found the tea set at Jordan Marsh. Most likely it was on sale as Ma was keen for the thrill of the hunt. The china is Rosenthal and the pattern is Caprice. Delicate ivory cups with pink dogwood and yellow forsythia blossoms. (I'd have preferred blue forget-me-nots) Ma worked so afternoon tea with the ladies didn't happen, but she used the set whenever we had company.

I set the table with the tea set, pretty dishes, and linen napkins. Baked a non-traditional Irish Soda bread. We ate, gossiped, laughed, and sipped tea from the pretty cups.  With Ink hopping up to check out the goodies, it was almost like being 6 yrs old and having a tea party with imaginary friends.

Do you use your fine china or best dishes only when you have company?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tweet Cloud

For those of you who use Twitter here's an application that can be used as a happy, little time waster or a statistic of your tweets. You can generate a cloud of the words you use most frequently in your tweets.

You log into this application with your Twitter account name and password, You can generate a cloud for the words used in a day, week, month, 3 months, 6 months or a year. If you don't want to notify your followers about your cloud, make sure you remove the check from the notify box.

My cloud shows what I was tweeting about this past month. What words do you use most frequently?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Wishful Thinking

Got this idea while I was paying bills and sending deposits for college tuitions. Mixed media collage, watercolor, silver marker, Ziller Glossy Black, Nikko G nib.

What have you been wishing for?

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Friday Five

With all the social networks to join, it can be difficult to keep up with status updates. Third party applications like Tweetdeck and Seesmic, can help organize and keep track of tweets and status updates on Twitter and Facebook. I've tried both of these applications and though they made things easier, they didn't go far enough for me. I use another client, Digsby. Five things why Digsby works better for me:

1. Not only can I update my status on Twitter and Facebook, but I can also add a status for LinkedIn. (MySpace is also included, but I'm too old to be over there) Like Seesmic or Tweetdeck, I can elect to cross post to each social network or choose which I want to update.

2. With Digsby, one can instant message with friends on Yahoo, AIM, MSN, without having to load each instant messaging program. I only use Yahoo for instant messaging and find I prefer to IM through Yahoo instead of Digsby. Yahoo has a Buzz feature, like an obnoxious doorbell, so I can buzz my friends to let them know I'm really online and not just left the program up and running.

3. What makes Digsby most useful to me is also being notified when email hits all my accounts. I have a business email, personal email, junk email and since I'm taking over my elderly parents bills, I have an account set up for them. With one click from Digsby, I can see new messages. I can delete them from Digsby or open my inbox to read messages.

4. Digsby runs in the background and when a status message or email comes in, a small pop-up screen shows me which network/friend has posted. You can also choose to be notified by a sound too. I only use the sound for email which is helpful if I'm away from the computer.

5. I find it convenient to have all the programs I love to use at my fingertips without keeping screens open and running. Oh, and Digsby is free!

If you're interested in checking out Digsby, you can click on the download button above. I just use Digsby, I don't get paid for endorsement.

Oh and one more. I had a small problem with Digsby. Seems after I used my phone to update my Facebook status, status updated from Digsby didn't show as FB status. They appeared on my wall, but not as my status. Not really a big deal. I tweeted about it. And Digsby responded! Asked me when the problem occurred. Said they're  working on it. Nice that a company cares about their users as well as their product.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wed Letter Day

Can't believe it's week 14 already.  Some mindless doodling with a Pigma pen. The cool thing is getting lost in all the scribbles. Maybe I should call this Saturday Night Fever?

What are you working on today?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Work In Progress

My calculations were slightly off. (That's why I majored in Medieval English Lit instead of math). I increased the circle and was able to finish off the quote. Started the illustration. Pleased with how things are turning out.

How's your work in progress coming along?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Watercolor Play

After torrential amounts of rain and vaccing water from the basement, the sun finally came out. We had unseasonably warm weather over the weekend when Spring Fever finally hit me. I grabbed my sketchbook, a few brushes, watercolors and sat in the sun room and painted these crazy tulips.

Have you had a bout of Spring Fever yet? What flowers have sprouted in your garden?

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Friday Five

When I was a kid, seems there were a lot of holy movies shown on tv during the Easter season, not just the blockbusters The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur. My five holy movie picks to enjoy year round

1. The Silver Chalice Paul Newman's film debut. He plays Basil, a Greek silversmith who is commissioned to fashion a chalice to place the cup Jesus used at the Last Supper. His task is to sculpt the faces of all 12 apostles and Christ from descriptions given to him. He is able to sculpt the faces of the apostles, but he agonizes over his failure to sculpt Christ's image. Paul Newman absolutely hated this movie. Described himself as prancing around in a cocktail waitress dress. He might have hated this movie but this is my favorite. If you get Turner Classic Movies they are airing this movie at 2:30 pm EDT on Sunday, April 4. Check your local listing.

2. The Robe starring Richard Burton as a Roman centurion in charge of the Crucifixion. When he wins Christ's robe while gambling, he goes mad and his life changes forever. The movie also stars Jean Simmons and Victor Mature as Marcellus' (Burton) slave, Demetrius

3. Demetrius and the Gladiators, the sequel to The Robe. Victor Mature reprises his role as Demetrius. He is in charge of keeping Christ's robe from falling into the hands of the emperor, Caligula. Demetrius is forced into the gladiator arena after assaulting a Roman soldier. He denounces his faith and his hope for salvation. Fox Movie Channel is airing this movie on Friday, April 2 at 6 AM. Check our local listing.

4. The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima In 1917 three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal report seeing a vision of a "beautiful lady" who tells them to pray the rosary for world peace. Word gets out the children have witnessed Mary, the mother of Christ. Crowds begin to gather at the site. The children are threatened by the government and the Church, but they remain steadfast in their story. Forbidden to visit the grotto for the lady's final appearance, the children disobey. The crowd gathered on October 13, 1917 and many witnessed strange apparitions in the sky. I haven't seen this movie in 40 years. Might have to put this on the DVD list.

5. The Fourth Wiseman starring Martin Sheen as Artaban, the fourth magi who takes 3 precious gifts with him to present to the newborn Messiah. Along the way, he gets sidetracked and spends the next 33 years seeking Him out only to miss him. Sick at heart, Araban sees his life as a failure.

Do you have any holy movies to add to the list?

Thursday, April 1, 2010


The Eldest took a trip to Rome with her college as part of their "Capitols Around The World" program. Each year during Spring break, a group travels to a different world capitol. Last weekend, she came home from school and told us all about her trip (though each day while she was on the trip, I received an email from her a combination of homesickness and excitement) so I got a sneak peek.

She had a window seat on the flight out, but had a hard time sleeping on the plane. She was rewarded by a view of the sun rising over the Alps. Like her mother would have done, she didn't have her camera ready. Also like her mother, she took few pictures on the trip. Too busy looking around or photos weren't allowed or more often she forgot to charge the camera.

Lots of cute guys all over the city like the young barista who served her an espresso. He also gave her some chocolate coated espresso beans.

While visiting the Trevi fountain, they saw a young couple in one of the niches making out. The crowd around the fountain was so thick, she couldn't get close enough to toss in a coin.

She didn't get a good view of Trajan's Column and couldn't see the inscription. Oh well, next trip.

She had gelato every day. One favorite flavor was blue with colored star shaped sprinkles called Stella di Cielo. Stars of Heaven. She said it tasted like cake frosting.

Walking on cobblestones even in comfortable shoes eventually hurts your feet.

Roman drivers drive like maniacs and are worse than drivers from Boston. Rather than risk their lives to taxicabs, the group walked to all the attractions when they weren't on their tour.

She didn't have to wear a head covering when she went to visit the Vatican. Made Himself and I wonder what the Church is coming to. (-; She also saw some very attractive Swiss Guard in their colorful uniforms. From the Vatican Museum, she brought back a decorative plate for me. The Angel with Lute by Melozza da Forli. She also grudgingly admitted the Fine Art appreciation class she was required to take came in handy when visiting the museums and seeing all the architecture.

She had a four hour bus ride to Florence where they saw Michelangelo's David. The girls thought he was more impressive from the back. She also brought back a miniature red mask for The Young One. Red is The Young One's favorite color. The Eldest bought a beautiful turquoise scarf for herself and a necklace. She was also impressed with seeing "The Prisoners", Michelangelo's unfinished sculptures.

Another side trip was to Assisi. She couldn't imagine living there and walking up the steep hills every day. She was impressed with the Basilica of St. Francis which she said looked like a wedding cake with three churches built on top of each other. The group also toured a vineyard and were treated to a wine tasting and olive oil tasting. Hard to believe my baby is legally old enough to drink wine. She brought back a bottle of white wine for me and a bottle of olive oil for Himself.

I had been nervous about her going on this trip, after all she's still my baby. Less nervous by her thoughtfulness to spend a Euro each day to rent an hour of time on the hotel lobby computer to send me an email. It was fun to vicariously share her trip. To see her horizons expand and the world through her eyes.

Have you traveled to Rome?