Saturday, December 31, 2011

Auld Lang Syne

Words by Scottish poet, Robert Burns. Arranged by Kevin Walsh.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The New Stove

The old stove was slated to be replaced next August during the Tax Free (hopefully) weekend. Poor old stove had plans of its own and had to be replaced sooner.

The new stove arrived last Tuesday. It has a sleek, black, wipe down exterior. The ceramic cooktop has no raised burners or nasty burner rings which are impossible to clean under.  Inside the oven, the heating element is hidden. Inside, outside wipe down easy. The only thing that could make this stove more awesome is detailing of flames like you see on racing cars or Harleys.

However, the stove is most emphatically not a Christmas present. There's a rule to be followed.

Love me sweet,
Love me tender,
Don't you dare
Give me a blender
Unless I ask for one.

Do you consider household appliances an appropriate gift to your significant other?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tools, Gadgets, and Wizards - Make It Snow on Your Blog

Want to make it snow all over your Blogger blog? Add a Widget at the bottom of your blog layout. Select the HTML widget. Don't bother to give it a name to keep it hidden. Copy and paste this line of code into the box:

<script type="text/javascript" src="" /></script>

Save. Voilà! Your own blizzard. When you get tired of it, go back to the layout screen and delete it.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Friday Five

Five Christmas traditions we did, usually on the same day, when I was a kid.

1. My mother would make us dress in our Sunday best for a trip to Boston. If Dad was taking us, he'd drive to Woodland Station, park the Dodge or the green Studebaker wagon, and we'd take the streetcar to Park St. If Ma was taking us by herself, we'd take the bus from the end of our street to Park Sq. Ma would hurry us through the Combat Zone (red light district)  on lower Washington St. to the store 

2. From Park St. we'd walk a block over to Washington St. where Ma would do Christmas shopping at Jordan Marsh and Company. (In 1996 Jordan's was bought out by Macy's)

3. When her shopping was done, she'd take us upstairs in the store to The Enchanted Village. While waiting in line to see the Big Man, we'd be entertained by a huge Christmas display of mechanical dolls, lights, and electric trains.

4. After, we'd get to have lunch at Kresge's lunch counter, a baloney and onion sandwich though I had mine with yellow mustard and no onions.

5. Before going home, we'd get to walk around Boston Common looking at the Christmas lights and the skaters on the Frog Pond.

Did you do anything like this when you were a kid?

Thursday, December 22, 2011


It wasn't an Uruk-hai invasion, but a snow family made from a hand print. Crafterella made some, and I thought I'd make some, too. 

The original directions used a satin finish ornaments. I couldn't find satin finish so ended up with shiny finish. (Nothing like trying to find ornaments five days before Christmas, and the mall was insane!) The original instructions used small ornaments because the craft was being done with children. I think they measure 2 1/2 inches in diameter. The ornaments, that is. I have no idea how big the children were. I opted to use a large ornament, 4 inches in diameter. The original instructions also had hats and scarves colored with Sharpie markers. That don't fly on a shiny finish ornament. I used my pots of acrylic paint by Plaid.

It's a fun project. Would be fun to do with kids, if you didn't mind the mess.

What's keeping you busy today?


Mark of the Uruk-hai? Come back later to find out.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Goodbye, Dear Friend

You are a good friend. I so appreciate your 25 years of faithful service. You were a marvel with your self-cleaning feature. You saw me through sterilizing baby bottles, baking tons of cookies and brownies for bake sales, and goodies for the girlies and Himself. We cooked gallons of soup and gravy (i.e. pasta sauce). You were with me as I took on the mantel to host the holy days of obligation.  You were there for the successes and the sacrifices. The smoke went to heaven, the smoke detector sang arias, and I'm sure we elected a new pope or two. I will miss you.

I will not miss having to clean under the burner rings or the grease under the cook top. I will not miss the struggle to rid the ridge around the oven door free from gunk.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I Won An Award

Robin from Pink House Studio has presented me with the Versatile Blogger Award. Not only that, but she gave me a topic for today's post. Thanks, Robin!

The rules are:

1. Nominate 15 bloggers for the award.
2. Inform the bloggers they have won.
3. Share 7 random things.
4. Thank the person who bestowed the blog award.
5. Add the award to the blog.

I'm not sure I could come up with 15 bloggers that would play along. So, I invite anyone who would like the award to take it and play along.

Seven random things about moi:

1. For a few years, I studied martial arts. I achieved the rank of green belt with stripe (the lowest of the advanced ranks)

2. I didn't get my driver's license until I was 21. The Little Princess had lots of chauffeurs to ferry her around.

3. I scribble notes with a mechanical pencil.

4. Though left-handed, I crochet right-handed.

5. A few years ago, I began having double vision. To correct the problem, prisms are in my eyeglass prescription. If my lens get any thicker, I'll be borrowing the lens off the Hubble telescope. Getting old sux.

6. I sucked my thumb until I was 5 years old. No amount of quinine or nylon mitts stopped me. What did was when I burned my thumb while playing with matches.

7. My favorite animal is the black bear.

Your turn.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tools, Gadgets, and Widgets - Digital Scrapbooking Software

This should have been yesterday's post, but the computer was acting slow and stupid again.

The nursing home wanted a small picture (no larger than 5 x 7) to be put outside the room. Knowing how some items at the nursing home grow legs and walk away, I had no intention of giving an original photograph.

The MyMemories Digital Scrapbook Suite software came in handy. I scanned in a couple of photographs from the family album and used one of the quick page templates. These pages are like mats. The background is already decorated. You just insert the photograph(s) into the hole. Very quick. I also used the text tool to add Ma's name to the page. It's just not shown here. Album pages can be exported as images (.jpg, .png). Printed out, trimmed to size,I thought it  looked quite nice. I used a different quick page template and made one for Dad's room, too.

Looking for a last minute gift? Click on the MyMemories Suite promotion code button on the upper right on this blog. Use the promotion code STMMMS65809 to get $10 off the  $39.97 full price. With lots of freebies (background papers, quick page templates, embellishments) to download, it's a lot of bang for your buck.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Friday Five

Certain foods are always associated with a certain holiday. Stuff that you can't get any other time of the year. Five of my Christmastime favorite treats.

1. A chocolate orange. It's a chocolate candy ball flavored with orange. When you rap the ball hard on a table top, the candy breaks into orange wedge segments. This is an annual stocking stuffer.

2. Ribbon candy. The shiny, bright, glass shard candy always seemed too pretty to eat.

3. Gingerbread men. Biting the head off a gingerbread man is good for stress relief besides being good eats.

4. Commercially produced, creamy, thick eggnog with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top.

5. I'm probably in the minority, but I like fruit cake. My dad used to make a most excellent fruitcake. It was moist, crammed with jeweled fruit, and soaked in brandy. He used to make a non-traditional yellow fruitcake, too. (I also like plum pudding. Himself's aunt made that one Christmas. Though I'll admit I liked the hard sauce it was served with better.)

What's your favorite holiday treat?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ribbon Wreath

This is the wreath I've made for my folks in the nursing home. So as not to take up too much space, the wreath starts with an 8 inch straw form. Ribbon is woven in loops and held in place with colored pearl-headed pins. I especially love the fact I'll be able to remove the Christmas ribbon and replace it with seasonal ribbons throughout the year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Strathmore is starting up their online workshop series. Registration is now open and the first workshop, Doodles Unleashed: Mixed Media Techniques with Traci Bautista begins on 1. January.

Watercolor Sketching with Cathy Johnson begins 1. March 20 12 and FORCE Drawing Technique with Mike Mattesi begins on 1. May 2012.

The classes are self-paced and free! You do as much or as little as you want. Take one workshop or all three. Online classrooms are open until August 1. You are given space to create your own page to upload work and join in discussions.

This is a great opportunity if you don't have access to art instruction. Or you don't like traveling through snow, the sun is out, it's Thursday or any other excuses you can come up with. Best of all, it's free!  Go check it out. Strathmore 2012 Online Workshop Series. I'll see you in class.

Monday, December 12, 2011

On My Own Front Door

While browsing through the Plow and Hearth (I almost typed Heath!) catalog, I saw an unusual door decoration, an ice skate. I liked the idea of something other than the same old, same old wreaths I usually make. So a trip to the box store for some holly and a noble fir swag, ribbon I had on hand, a skate from the boot box, and a pair of beaded skaters in blue (of course) which my Ma made as shower favors when I got married. and ta da, my version.

What's hanging on your front door?

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Friday Five

Five Christmas traditions at my house.

1. The Advent tree with its tiny ornaments is brought out. Sometimes the tree makes its appearance on 1. December, too! When the girlies were little, they took turns hanging the little ornaments on the tree counting down to Christmas. I'd be perfectly happy to have the little tree as the Christmas tree, but that thought goes with number 5.

2. Wreath making. This year, I'll make a traditional wreath for my neighbor. With the folks in the nursing home, a wreath for them will take a new twist. I'm not putting a wreath on my door this year as I break with tradition. More next week.

3. I have enough Christmas ornaments to decorate two trees. Ornaments that always make the tree are picture ornaments of the girlies. Each year, I find a picture frame ornament and commemorate either a special occasion like the Eldest's graduation from college or just an extraordinary smile. I also love the hand-made ornaments they made when they were little, as well as ornaments I made or were given to us as gifts.

4. The crèche goes up with its eclectic group of visitors. This year, two dragons will join the group.

5. And I get grinchy. I splurged on a Grinch tee shirt this year.

What traditions do you have?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Make An Elf of Yourself

This craft falls under the "if you don't have anything better to do during your holiday planning" category. I found a simple elf pattern that originally appeared in a McCall's magazine during the 80s.

I made a .pdf file of the pattern which you can download here. If I made the template correctly, the figure will measure 5.5" x 5" (13.97 cm. x 12.70 cm.)

You can use paper, felt or other fibers and embellish as desired. Instead of drawing an elf face, I printed an extreme close-up for moi using the thumbnail print option in Windows. The photograph was cut into a 1" (2.54 cm.) circle.

Makes a cute gift tag or ornament. Linked by their mittens, a few elves would make a nice banner to hang from the mantel or on the wall. I have the elf makings for my other family members. Haven't decided whether the finished elves will go on the tree or be made into a banner.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hanging Tinsel

This is a re-enactment of the first argument Himself and I had at our first Christmas 26 years ago.

Hanging Tinsel
by: ponyexpress1860

The argument was resolved the following year by purchasing a silver bead garland. Several years later while visiting Old Sturbridge Village, I watched the tinsmith make twisted tin tinsel. I bought 3 dozen at the gift shop as a joke.

Every year when we watch old movies like The Bishop's Wife, Miracle on 34th Street, or It's a Wonderful Life, Himself will lean over and whisper in my ear, as the camera pans the beautifully decorated, tinsel dripping Christmas tree, "That's the proper way to hang tinsel."

So, festively tossed or anally hung strand by stand?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tree Trimming

The living room has been deep cleaned, or as cleaned as it will get. The furniture moved. The boxes of Christmas decorations have been brought up from their home under the stairs. The tree has been put together. Only one snag as to whether the first section brought upstairs was the bottom or the middle. When I asked Himself why he didn't label the sections of the tree, he said he did but the labels looked ugly so he ditched them.

 We used to get a real tree. Each year the trees were different shapes. Sometimes wider, sometimes taller. Somehow always bigger. Himself is an illumiphile. He loves Christmas lights. Lots of lights. Each branch must have lights on it.  Enough lights to make the train on the electric meter spin like the high speed Super Chief.  Each year, with the real tree there would be one or two trips to Ray's to buy another strand of lights. Each year we would hear  the whisper of horse's patoot as Himself wound in, under, and around the tree trying to get his light strands to cooperate. And each year, the girls and I would have to wait three days to decorate the tree before all the lights were properly placed on their branches. The light placement production was almost as tedious as the correct placement of tinsel.

This tree came pre-lit. It was an early bird Black Friday purchase Himself made a couple of years ago. A steal with thousands of tiny lights properly spaced on each branch. Today, the tree trimming will begin.

Is your Christmas tree up and decorated?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tools, Gadget, and Widgets - Remove Ads

AdBlock is an extension you add to your browser (Firefox, Chrome, Safari). It blocks ads on web pages and prevents tracking cookies from downloading to your computer. Flash and banner ads are blocked so you can read without annoying distractions. Your pages load faster because there are no pesky ads. If there is an ad you need to see, you can easily change the options by clicking the red stop sign icon that appears in your browser tool bar. The program is donationware. It's free, but the programmer asks you to make a donation if you can afford to.

To find the AdBlock extension download for your browser, use your favorite search engine to find it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Friday Five

I got this blog award from author, Erica Vetsch at On the Write PathThe rules for the award are to

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave the award to you. Thanks, Sunflower!
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Give the blog award to 15 bloggers.

Five things about myself, plus two more.

1. In college, I majored in English, specifically Medieval English Literature. I can read three dialects of  Middle English.

2. I know a few words and phrases (and some can even be said in polite company!) in: Irish, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and Japanese.

3. I don't like to go barefoot.

4. I don't chew gum.

5. I was one of Mr. Popper's penguins in the third grade book fair.

6. I lost a pair of Bolle sunglasses while taking a picture of Patton's statue at West Point. When I got the pictures back, I saw exactly where I lost my glasses.

7. In all the times I played in the woods (and I wasn't supposed to), I never saw any hobos (the reason we were forbidden to play in the woods).

It's your turn. I know you want to. Go ahead, snag the graphic, and tell us about yourself.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

1. December 2011

Rabbit, rabbit. White Rabbit. That's what you're supposed to say on the first of the month. Any idea where this rule originated?