Friday, December 31, 2010

The Friday Five

We're not ones for big parties and prefer quiet celebrations. Five ways we celebrate New Year's Eve at my house.

1. We have Chinese food for dinner. So doesn't everyone else in my town so the wait at dinner time can be upwards of an hour or two to get your food. I beat the rush by calling in our order around lunch time. No wait. Little boxes and foil trays sit in the fridge all afternoon, and when we're ready to eat, everyone nukes their favorites on a plate.

2. We watch The Three Stooges marathon. We're a household of Stooges fans. Can't think of a better way of waiting for midnight than watching the boys. No matter how many times I've seen the routines, the jokes and schticks never get old.

3. Just before midnight, we will switch the television station over to watch the ball drop at Times Square, and marvel at how well preserved Dick Clark is.

4. Himself will pour us a festive beverage to toast in the New Year as the ball countdown begins. Egg nog, soda, sparkling juice in wine glasses. When the girlies were little, they got a big charge out of this.

5. After the toast, the old folks will immediately head to bed with a reminder to the girlies to make sure the house is locked up, and the lights, computers, and television are turned off.

How do you celebrate New Year's Eve?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ice Lantern

This idea came from my friend, Bev. At least, I think it was Bev. Anyway, this is a candle holder made from ice. Bev used a star shaped mold. You can see a picture of a lantern used at the Alphabeas Holiday Luncheon.

I thought the lanterns would make lovely luminaria to line the front walk on New Year's Eve as well as a hostess gift. Very pretty and a lot safer than immolating a paper bag. I didn't have time to go out to look for a mold so I improvised. 

All you need are two containers a large one, and a smaller one that fits inside the larger one. And some sort of item to use as a weight: stones, marbles, hand-weights. Water, and a votive candle.

I used a plastic Mason jar for the larger container and a 9 oz. plastic cup for the inner container.  Fill the larger container with a couple of inches of water and let freeze until solid. Insert the smaller container and fill the space between the containers with water. Don't fill to the top, leave some room for the ice to expand. Insert your weight into the cup.

I used a one pound hand weight and duct tape to keep the weight from shifting. If you like, you can drop food coloring into the water. I wanted to freeze bits of holly and greens, but the space between my containers was too small. At the Christmas luncheon, fruit was use in the mold. Very pretty. Put your containers and weights into the freezer and freeze until solid.

To unmold, remove the duct tape and weight. Hold the container under hot running water. Place on a plate to use for a centerpiece, or place outside. Tie a bit of ribbon if you wish for a dash of color. Insert the votive candle and light.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I got tagged in another all about me meme on Facebook.

1. What time did you get up this morning? 
The first time, 5:15. The second time 6:30.
2. How do you like your steak? 
Medium well  
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? 
Avatar in 3D
4. What are your favorite TV shows?  
5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?  
  Somewhere warm all year long  
 6. What did you have for breakfast?  
Waiting for Himself to get up to have a muffin with him.
 7. What is your favorite cuisine?  
 8. What foods do you dislike? 
Cheese, especially when it’s not cooked.
9. Favorite Place to Eat? 
Anywhere I don’t have to cook the food
10. Favorite salad dressings?  
Balsamic Vinaigrette
11.What kind of vehicle do you drive?  
2004 Ford Taurus Wagon
12. What are your favorite clothes? 
Tee shirt and blue jeans
13. Where would you visit if you had the chance?  
Germany (again), Australia, Tasmania, Scotland, Greece
14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?   
½ full
15. Where would you want to retire?  
In the lap of luxury
17. Where were you born? 
In a hospital
18. What is your favorite sport to watch?  
Not much of a sports fan. Used to follow men’s tennis back in the olden days of Cliff Drysdale, Rod Laver, John Necombe, Tom Okker.  (I liked the packaging of the tiny white shorts (-;  )
19. Who do you think will not tag you back? 
20. Person you expect to tag you back first?  
21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this?  
 Anyone who answers  
22. Bird watcher? 
Would rather watch the Blokes
23. Are you a morning person or a night person?  
Mid-morning person
24. Pets? 
A black cat named Ink
25. Any new and exciting news that you'd like to share?  
Nope, SSDD (same sh…stuff, different day)
26. What did you want to be when you were little?  
A cowboy
27. What is your best childhood memory? 
When I was 10, I got a bike for Christmas. There was no snow that year and it wasn’t freezing cold so I spent the day riding my bike up and down the street.
28. Are you a cat or dog person? 
29. Are you married?
30. Always wear your seat belt? 
31. Been in a car accident? 
Yup. Christmas Eve morning 1984. I spun donuts across 3 lanes of a highway ( 128/95) and back. Thought I wasn’t going to be engaged that night.
32. Any pet peeves? 
I’ve never owned a peeve. Are they easy to keep? I like a low maintenance type of pet.
33. Favorite pizza topping? 
Sausage and mushroom
34. Favorite Flower?
Blue hydrangea, white roses, gardenias
35. Favorite ice cream? 
Heavenly Hash
 36. Favorite fast food restaurant? 
Wendy’s. I’m partial to the #4 heart attack on a bun
37. How many times did you fail your driver's test? 
3rd time’s a charm
38. From whom did you get your last email? 
The bride sent me her guest list
39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? 
Amazon, would be a toss up between books and electronics
40. Do anything spontaneous lately? 
41. Like your dinner last night? 
42. Broccoli? 
43. What was your favorite vacation? 
1998 Trip to SC to visit Himself’s college roommate and family, saw Lurray Caverns on the way down and Hershey Park on the way back., 2005 Legacies in Dallas, TX where I got to meet Nutterone and go to my first rodeo, 2006 trip to the Twin Cities with The Young One, got to meet Erica and Nutterone took us to the MN Zoo, Mall of America, and Sunrise, MN birthplace of Richard Widmark.
44. Last person you went out to dinner with? 
45. What are you listening to right now? 
46. What is your favorite color? 
47. How many tattoos do you have? 
None, but I’ve done 2 designs for clients and working on a third design
48. Coffee drinker?
Nope, tea.
49. How many children do you have? 

If you want to play along, copy and paste. Then let me know.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Blizzard 2010

We're still in the middle of the first significant snowstorm of the season. By Minnesota standards, our foot of snow (so far) is  a flake on the shovel. The weather dudes are calling this the Blizzard of 2010 (nothing as colorful as Snowmageddon, the storm that collapsed the Metrodome roof) Our storm met the criteria for blizzard conditions (sustained winds or wind gusts over 35 mph, snow, and reduced visibility for 3 hrs or more).

It's still snowing this morning (7:30 am) though hard to tell how much snow we've gotten because of the drifts. Still windy as the ribbon on the lamp post is acting like a windsock. The wind is blowing in from the northeast. Happily the mailbox survived the plows (so far), we still have electricity, and there's still candy in the candy house.

It would be nice if this was the first and last storm for the winter, but I doubt it. In the meantime, I'll keep my eye on the First Day of Summer widget I installed. Only 175 more days!

What's it like out your window today?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys

Richard Widmark Tribute

Craig | Myspace Video

and vikings, and soldiers, and homicidal psychopaths, and detectives, and naval officers, and down on their luckers, and...

Richard Widmark
26. December 1914 - 24. March 2008
Gone but still greatly admired.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Friday Five

Christmas Eve seemed like the longest day of the year when I was a little kid. Emotions and excitement both ran high. Was I on the naughty list? What would Santa bring? Five of the best gifts Santa brought:

1. Etch-A-Sketch, the magic drawing screen that you shook to erase your drawing and start all over again. I loved to try to write in cursive.

2. Colorforms, die cut vinyl shapes you stuck on a plastic laminated board. Though I loved all the sets, I was partial to Miss Weather and Miss Cookie's Kitchen.

3. As a tomboy, I didn't care much for playing dolls. (Did you ever notice how incredibly ugly the 1960's Barbie doll was?) However, the Christmas I was 4 or 5 (1959 or 1960) I received a doll I absolutely loved. The doll was just my size (around 3 ft tall) and walked albeit stiff legged if you held her hand. She could even wear my clothes. She had short curly blonde hair and blue eyes. Santa propped her in a real baby bassinet for me to find at 5am Christmas morning (we have home movies to prove it). The doll was about the only doll I ever really enjoyed playing with. Until The Brother decided to use her for target practice and shot her eye out with a bb-gun.

4. Spirograph, a drawing toy consisting of small gears, that fit into larger rings. You pinned a sheet of paper to a piece of cardboard. Pinned a ring or gear on the paper and fitted another gear to the inside or outside of the ring or outside of the gear. Each gear had a bunch of holes. You fit a colored ballpoint pen into one of the holes and carefully engaged the gears going around and around creating wicked cool geometric shapes.

5. The box of 64 Crayola Crayons with the built in sharpener.  So many colors!

What was your favorite toy to play with when you were a kid?

Monday, December 20, 2010

'Tis The Season

Wearing a sweater, sweatshirt or polartec, and rubber soled shoes plus dry air adds up to making the human body a giant van de Graaf generator. Static electricity flies from my fingers every time I get up from my nylon covered computer chair. The Young One has a door chime in her room. My electric presence in the kitchen 10 feet away from her room has set the door chime off! While I think lightning shooting from my fingertips is a pretty cool super hero power to have, most others don't agree. To lessen the impact of a hug, I usually carry around a twist of tin foil so I can de Guass myself, that is get rid of the static charge. When outside my home, I wear a wrist watch with a metal band. (The foil twist is dorky and too Harry Potterish)  A must to touch the band to the car door before filling up the car with gas!

If you could choose a super hero power to have, what would it be? 

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Friday Five

The weather dudes are humming about our first major snowstorm. I think they're jealous of the amount of snow that has piled up in the Land of Here There Be Dragons. (MN, IA and places further west of 495 (-;   ) I think the weather dudes also get a kick back from the grocery stores by creating a panic so that shelves of bread and milk are wiped out. Though I hate to get sucked into the panic mode, I also want to hedge my bet. So five things we do to prepare for a major storm.

1. Himself will fill up the gas can with gas. Both for the snow blower (though that needs to be fixed) and more importantly for the generator to keep the sump pump running in case the electricity goes out or the basement may flood.

2. I will fill up empty kitty litter buckets with water. No, not to drink. If we lose electricity, we also lose the pump to the well. No electricity, no well, no water to flush the toilet. The joys of life in the Back of Beyond. I will also fill the tea kettle and a couple of pitchers of water to drink.

3. Himself will go to the grocery store and will buy milk. Tea without milk is so barbaric as Blythe the Forger in The Great Escape tells Hendley the Scrounger.

4. Himself will also buy candy. This will be under the guise of filling the candy house for the holiday. (Four bags of candy have already disappeared. Damn elves.)

5. And just so we will have some nonperishable food stuffs, Himself will also tote home cookies, crackers, and chips. If the storm fizzles, Himself will be able to keep up his strength while watching the Patriots game on Sunday.

What storm preparations do you take in case of a major storm?

in the past we have found if we complete steps 1 and 2, the storm fizzles.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Love it, or Hate it?

I was savoring the last treat from the bag. A soft, puffy marshmallow enrobed in toasted coconut. I love coconut. Coconut shrimp, macaroons, cake, donuts, Hostess Snoballs (even if they are pink), Almond Joy, Mounds. Pina Collada.  The list goes on and on. I think coconut is one of those food you either love or hate. No middle ground with coconut.

What about you? Coconut, love it or hate it?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Dishes

Several years ago, a friend gave me 4 place settings of the Spode Christmas Tree pattern. She didn't use them so gave them to me. The family grew but the budget didn't. I've been adding place settings from the Christopher Radko Christmas Tree pattern found at Target. I love using the Christmas dishes during this month. Even plain old meat loaf seems festive when presented on a Christmas plate.

Do you use Christmas dishes? What's your pattern?

Monday, December 13, 2010


Finished the wreath and hung it on my front door.

What's on your front door?

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Friday Five

This week's five topic came from Himself. Five things that should never be empty

1. the tissue box

2. your wallet. As the Irish blessing goes, "May your purse always hold a coin or two."

3. a candy dish

4. the refrigerator

5. the toilet paper holder

Want to add to the list?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

On the Drawing Board

I've been asked to illustrate a Christmas poem. The 36 line poem was too long to fit into a small sized frame. So I typed the poem in Word using 12 pt Lucida Calligraphy, a "calligraphic" looking font. (Technically, if it's not done by hand, it can't be called calligraphy) The poem was printed on Diploma Parchment a lovely cream colored paper using a laser printer. The Diploma Parchment is not that mottled junk you find in pads in some art aisles of chain stores. I don't know the paper mill, but Diploma Parchment is one of my favorite papers to work on. It takes both ink and paints well and doesn't buckle.

In the poem, a homeless woman visits a crèche in a city park. The illustration, a decorated initial for the first word of the poem measures approximately 1 3/4" x 1 3/4". Painted with gouache, watercolors, Pigma pen. I was asked to make two copies, one for the client to give as a gift to the poet's daughter and one for the client to keep. This illustration is almost complete except for adding the features to the faces of Mary and the baby. The figures of Mary and the baby are surrounded by a wash of Schminke Goldperl watercolor.  The scan is meh.

What letter do you see in the illustration.?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


threw up in my kitchen! Must mean it's wreath making season.

This is the wreath I made for my parents and elderly neighbor. Hard to see in the pic. There's a little bird and pinecone on the left, pinecones, holly leaves and berries.

Do you make holiday decorations?

Monday, December 6, 2010

A First

Last week, I bought a graphic novel for the first time. Oh, I've read them. My girlies are heavily into anime and manga so I've read their graphic novels. (Ssshhh) Gundam Wing, Ruroni Kenshin, Card Captor Sakura, Heat Guy J to name a few.

As reading material goes the graphic novel (comic books for us old folks) was enterntaining enough, but not a genre I embraced. As a kid, reading comic books was severely frowned upon by the nuns and my parents. Perhaps it was a gender thing. Not suitable for girls, but considered more of a boy sport. If I wanted to read a comic book, I went to Himself's house and read his comic books. Superman, The Hulk, Captain America, The Mighty Thor, and a bunch of Micky Mouse and Donald Duck. Himself even had comic book versions of classics like Treasure Island.  I always preferred to read the book version of the classics.

When author, Diana Gabaldon, announced a few months ago, she was releasing a graphic novel based on Outlander, I was both excited and skeptical. How could an intricate story be condensed into the graphic novel format? The entire Outlander series has captivated me, and I wondered if the graphic novel would hold up.

The Exhile tells the story from the Jaime, the hero's point of view and that of his godfather, Murtagh. This version allows us to see things that Claire, the heroine, didn't see or know. (Outlander is told from Claire's perspective.)

The illustrations by Hoang Nguyen are very lush. The pages are thick with a lovely glossy finish. I wondered how the artist would be able to translate the description of Jamie. Each reader as her/his own idea of what Jamie looked liked. Mr. Nguyen came pretty close. Though in some later panels, faces seem to be a bit distorted. As if a square drawing had to be put into a rectangular panel. One amusing point is the drawing of Claire.  She's described in the book as having a well rounded figure. She starts out in the graphic novel as a well endowed woman, and ends with Mother of Heaven, but did you see the size of her MacGuffies? LOL

Perhaps that's part of the graphic novel/comic book genre. All the heroines and villainesses in the comic books seemed to have enormous MacGuffies and very tiny waists. I always wondered how Wonder Woman, for example, could stand up without toppling over let alone run as she was so top heavy.

I enjoyed reading The Exhile. And had the same thought I always have at the end of Gabaldon's novels. That's it? That's it? Though I found the graphic novel to be entertaining and a quick read, I'd rather wait for the 8th book in the series to come out.

Do you like the graphic novel genre or prefer to have your own imagination furnish the illustrations for a novel?

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Friday Five

It's Grinch season. I'm with Ocscar ; the season starts too early and lasts too long. Six months of Summer? I'll be first in line to by a ticket. Six months of Christmas? Bah humbug! I whined about things that make me grinchy last year. You can read about them here.  In the meantime, enjoy a little Oscar.

Are you a grinch, too?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What Do You Do?

What do you do when your barely over five foot tall daughter (though quite tall for a Hobbit) brings home a gown she must wear for the Festival Chorus?

What do you do when she tries on the dress which was made for an Amazon woman?

What do you do when most of the skirt pools around on the floor  like a black, satin lake?

What do you do when you are told, the gown may not be permanently altered to fit your daughter?

First you panic!

Why didn't they give you this dress last week when the new dress order was placed? We could have had time to think. Think.

And I thought.

We could pin the hem!

No, the pins would be pokey when she walked. And they would leave holes.

Staples! If they didn't leave holes going in, they certainly would leave holes when pulled out.

Scotch tape.

Not sticky enough.

Duct tape.

Too sticky. The glue residue might remain on the dress.

What then? What then?

Light bulb!

Painter's tape!

Sticky enough to hold the substantial satiny fabric, but not too sticky. 

Up went the hem.

Six and a half inches all the way around.

The hem is up.

As she slowly turns, the hem appears to be even!

She walks in safety in the night.

Hopefully, the tape won't give way as she climbs up on stage and her riser.