Monday, November 30, 2015

Wreath for the Cemetery

We left early Sunday morning to be at the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Agawam shortly after it opened (7 AM) to place a wreath at my parents' grave. We actually had planned on making the trip early Saturday afternoon, but the traffic with people leaving Grandma's house after the Thanksgiving holiday was horrendous. We had no traffic woes early Sunday morning and practically had the highway to ourselves for the hour long drive.

Himself had stopped earlier in the week to pick up a wreath stand, a wreath, and a bow. To me, the wreath looks sad compared to wreaths I've made for the folks in the past, but the military is strict, and Dad wanted to be buried at a Veterans cemetery. The rules are only a fresh, green wreath with a single bow may be placed at the grave and a wreath stand may be used. Wreaths may be displayed from 1. December to 15. January.

The cemetery grounds keepers will remove the wreaths in January. Cut flowers are welcome at any time of the year, and the grounds keepers remove flowers when they have passed. The cemetery is well kept.

I also brought a bouquet of flowers for Ma (her name and dates are on the back of the headstone). Otherwise, she would think the wreath was for Dad. She was funny about things like that. She was the Queen and expected to be treated as such. We always had to greet her first when we visited, even if Dad opened the door for us.

The cemetery was quiet, and we were the only visitors in this section of the cemetery. A few wreaths have already been placed.

Not too far away is an amusement park and last year a new ride opened up. It's a 200 ft. tower drop which can be seen high over the tops of the trees that surround the cemetery. During the warm months, the hush of the cemetery is broken by the joyful screams of park visitors. I don't like visiting the cemetery during the Summer. The raucous shrieks seem more disrespectful to me in this place than a celebration of life. Nothing to be done as I think the amusement park was open long before the cemetery.

The folks wouldn't have liked the noise or the lights from the amusement park. Dad loved town politics and would have been the first in line to fight Town Hall with protests. He would have collected signatures to force the amusemnt park to build a berm as a sound barrier. And that 200 ft. drop ride? That never would have been erected if Dad was in charge. :-D

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sticky Residue

When we were cleaning the glass top that protects the diningroom table, we noticed a sticky residue from the felt disks that prevent the glass from scratching the table. No amount of scrubbing with the glass cleaner would remove the sticky stuff completely.

Lemon essential oil to the rescue. I had read that the lemon oil was good for removing glue left by price tags. Had nothing to lose to give it a try. A drop of lemon essential oil and a little gentle rubbing and poof! Glue all gone.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Baby Got Buns

I like big buns and I cannot lie.  It's been a while since I baked bread. These were the rolls I baked for Thanksgiving. Aren't they gorgeous? Big and fluffy. This recipe is a keeper. Taste of Home Whole Wheat Rolls Very easy.

I only made three changes to the recipe:

I didn't have a 9 in. x 9 in. square pan so I used a 7 in. x 11 in. pan.

The recipe called for brushing the tops of the rolls before baking with canola oil. Seriously? How many calories are you saving? Not to mention the fat in the recipe calls for 1/4 cup butter. Brush the tops of the rolls with a couple of tablespoons of melted butter instead. You'll be glad you did.

I also did the mixing and kneading in a stand mixer with a dough hook. So much easier.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week

1. Have been getting behind with the daily journal. Waiting for an appointment gave me time to catch up.

2. Skyped with A. Was supposed to be an art date, but I ironed linen napkins. There's an art to ironing, right?

3. It's been a while since I've baked. Made pumpkin muffins, apple pie, and whole wheat rolls.

4. Cleaned the flat file, and Himself helped me clean  and lift the glass so I could put Grandma's table runner on the table.

5. We had Thanksgiving dinner in the diningroom with the fine china and Ma's silver. It's been a long time since I've used the good dishes and the first time I've set the table with my mother's sterling.

How was your week?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

To Near and Far

if you celebrate, and if you don't, have a wonderful Thursday. Thank you all for visiting our blog
                                                                           CJ and Ink

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Felted Dryer Balls

Sounds naughty, doesn't it? Felted dryer balls take the place of dryer sheets in your clothes dryer. They are natural, contain no nasty chemicals, and are very easy to make. I followed DIY's How to Make Wool Dryer Balls. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. I made them while watching television.

I found the Patons Classic Wool Roving yarn at Michael's. Two skeins of yarn will make 5 or 6 tennis sized balls. The yarn balls will prevent static and supposedly will decrease drying time. So you save money on your utility bill, don't have to pay for dryer sheets as the yarn balls can be used over and over, and they are chemical free.

If you like scented dryer sheets, you can add a drop or two of essential oil to each dryer ball. I have a test load of towels tumbling in the dryer. I added a couple of drops of my beloved Thieves essential oil to the dryer balls. Figured Himself wouldn't want his clothes smelling like lavender fields.

The clothes had a very faint scent which is probably not a bad thing. Guess most of the scent stayed on the dryer balls as the dryer smells nice. And since the sensor on the dryer seems to be on the fritz, I can't tell if the clothes took less time to dry. Still will be nice not having to buy the dryer sheets and send them to the landfill.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Nothing bad happened on Friday the 13th. Not that I worry about that stuff. Where'd I put the salt shaker?

2. With Himself, watched the Patriots beat the Giants in a nail biter of a game.

3. A Merry Christmas to me present arrived from

4. My essential oil order arrived. Ordered a new (for me) oil, Idaho Blue Spruce so the artificial Christas tree will smell like real pine. Also ordered more Thieves essential oil and other Thieves cleaning products. The cleaner kills germs smells way better than bleach cleaners and is safe to use. Love me the Thieves line.

5. Visited the Prints Dept. at the museum for the final class of the term. The piece I had requested was out to conservation, but the Studio Class Manager selected 4 beautiful examples from different countries dated 15th and 16th centuries. Small precise writing, gorgeous illuminations. And the pieces haven't been viewed in decades so the class was the first to see them.

How was your week?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Rocky Has A Home

Several years ago, I took a stone carving class at the museum. We worked in marble and carved a face by finding features in the stone. My piece, unimaginatively named Rocky, looks like a sleeping knight. Since he first arrived, Rocky's been moved from place to place. He lived in the sun room for awhile before being relocated outside the sun room. I knew he would always be the first feature in the Zen garden.

This morning, Himself moved Rocky to his permanent home as the stone island in the middle of the pebble sea. Himself's description was less eloquent: Gewgaw 1.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Zen Garden

For quite some time, I've been envisioning a Zen garden where the pool used to be. I'm not great with plants, but I bet I can keep stone flourishing.  I asked M who mows the grass and blows the leaves if he could deliver stone. Christmas came early last week as M delivered 7 yards of grey, pea stone.

He and his crew de-leafed the 24 foot sand bed, pulled up weeds, leveled the sand, and raked out the stone.  He was so excited about this project, he's planning a Zen garden in his yard, too.

 I'll be gathering pictures and researching plants. The stone face I carved will be the first feature, and I've been looking at other statues to add to the stone sea. I've found some pretty cool things and I'm sure the garden will be more Zensical than Zen because that's how I roll. Dreaming and planning the garden will keep me occupied over the long, cold Winter months.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

I'm A Genius

Sharing blankets and sheets is always a constant tug of war. Who doesn't like sheets tucked in? Who does? Who wraps the blankets around them like a burrito? Who tosses and turns until they are on top of the sheet, like a magician pulling a tablecloth off a table?

During the Summer, we each had our own top sheet and things worked out just fine. Separate blankets on a full size bed not such a great idea. There's not much room and someone gets buried under an avalanche of blankets. Himself suggested we just use the duvet. After all, the cover on the comforter is supposed to be like a top sheet. But having to undo the cover to wash it and then stuff the comforter back in sounded like too much effort for me.

So, I came up with the idea of pinning the top sheet to the underside of the duvet. Much easier to unpin and wash the sheet. I told Himself I was a genius.

Sleeping in the newly made up bed, I had a dream. In the dream, I was getting dressed to go some where. I was wearing some sort of a tank top except my head was through one of the arm holes. The rest of the top was hanging off my shoulders and was all twisted. Bra and bra straps were showing. Not an attractive sight.

So, the interpretation of the dream? I'm a genius with a healthy slice of humble pie.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week

1. Received a Save the Date from The Nephew

2. Stone for an outdoor project was delivered.

3. Wed. was a cold, raw, rainy day brightened up by the male cardinal visiting the bird feeder. Haven't seen the cardinal pair in quite some time. I usually think of my folks when I see the cardinals.

4. Christmas shopping for the girlies is done

5. The new Paper and Ink Arts catalog arrived. So many toys, so little money!

How was your week?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Throwback Thursday - The Great Northeastern Blackout

Tuesday November 9, 1965. 5:15 PM EST the lights went out all over New England, New York and parts of Eastern Canada caused by a power station failure in Canada.

I was 10 years old and was playing over at a neighbor friend's house when the world was plunged into darkness. Mrs. N. lit some candles.

Ma worked, but got a ride home from Boston from her friend who lived down the street from us. She probably wasn't home very long when the lights went out. She must have known I was playing over Ls house because shortly after the lights went out, with flashlight in hand, she came to get me. It was spooky walking though Himself's backyard to get to our house. I wasn't afraid of the dark, and Ma held my hand.

I remember her telling me she had just finished frying chicken for supper. She was relieved because at least we would have something hot for dinner.

I don't remember much else. A vague recollection of reading by candlelight. We had a fireplace so Ma probably got a fire going so we would be warm. Don't know whether Dad was on the road trying to get home or where The Brother was in all this.

Do you remember where you were when the lights went out?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Four To Go

The small size frame had come from my parents' house. It was a gift and had a picture of the girlies when they were little. Fortunately, I had the same frame in a larger size. I had used it to frame a cross-stitch birth announcement for The Eldest. How do you spell relief?

Matted, framed, picture wired, and delivered to the museum two days before the deadline.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Three To Get Ready - Part 2

Quote lettered, illumination inked and Roberson's Gold Size was applied.

23 karat gold leaf was laid down and burnished with an agate burnisher through a film of acetate.

Shell gold was painted into the counterspace of the U and the round seedlings. When the shell gold dried, it was burnished with the agate burnisher without the acetate. The shell gold seedlings were tooled with a sunburst design and a bird and flower were tooled into the counterspace of the U. The etching give an extra sparkle to gold as the light catches the desingn.

Traditional colors for illumination are red, blue, and green. Since the picture frame had a touch of pink, I decided to mix a rosy red to use on the flowers. 

Painted with gouache and shaded. White work was applied. So far so good until I went to put the piece into the frame. While I had planned on an 8 inch by 10 inch frame, the actual size of the frame was 5 inch by 7 inch. How did I miss that, and what was I going to do?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Three To Get Ready...

With the design for the illuminated letter decided, time to lay out the quote on graph paper. The quote would fit in an 8 inch by 10 inch mat with a writing area of approximately 5 inch by 7 inch. I decided on using the Italic hand. x-height of the letters would be 1/8 inch with a size 1 mm Brause nib.

Since the quote was woodsy, I decided to use walnut ink for the lettering. 

The design was transferred with pencil to the diploma parchment. I decided the corners around the initial would be gilded and the counterspace, the inside of the letter, would be painted with shell gold. The two golds would be a nice contrast.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Two For The Show...

With the quote picked out, the next step was to think about the layout and design. Since I wanted to start the quote with an illuminated initial, I turned to some books and notes for inspiration.

I liked the B with the bird. Not too crazy about the vine, but decided to try it out. Meh.

From the Manuscript Illumination and Gilding notes from the classes I took with Valerie Weilmuenster, I decided I liked the shape of the vine and box from one of her Ws. So I drew a boxed U and added birds to the vine. There's my letter.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Himself helped out with some housework without being asked.

2. Ink ejoyed a crumb of his yellow birthday cake. We enjoyed a crumb or two, too.

3. Got my piece for the faculty art show delivered to the museum before the deadline.

4. Enjoyed some online, retail therapy

5. A stretch of Indian Summer is keeping us in the sun room.

How was your week?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Throwback Thursday

One of the pieces I did as a student in the early 1990s. "Use the talents you possess for the world would be very silent if no birds sang except the best." At the time, I didn't know the attributuion for the quote.

Not a great photograph. Hard to see but I embossed a bird from an embossing template I made. Grey frame, mats, and grey Canson Mi Tientes, black ink, Carolingian hand.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

One For The Money...

So, the reason I didn't complete my self imposed doodle challenge was the need to create a piece for the Worcester Art Museum faculty art show. I thought at the faculty meeting held in September, the faculty art show would be held in the Spring. It's always been held during the Spring in the past. Plenty of time to work on something.

A call for artwork and insurance release form arrived in the mail. Artwork was to be brought to the museum the week of Halloween. Say what? Last day to submit a piece for the show was Monday, The show would run from mid-November through February. Longer than the Spring show and hopefully, would be good advertisement for prospective students for the classes that are offered.

First thing to think aboout is a quote or poem. There was a poem I had in an old cross-stitch magazine. It was about telling a family's history through buttons. Picked buttons from the button box and started laying out the poem. Realized this poem was probably too ambitious at this time. I'd never be able to get it framed in time. Lots of problems to work out such as how to adhere shank buttons. Could buttons be sewn on.  Save this piece for another time.

Pick another quote. Flipped through the my quote book. Decided on:

"Use what talent you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry van Dyke

I had an old 8 inch by 10 inch picture frame. All I'd need to do was cut a backing board for it and add picture hanging hardware. I could do that.

I like working on a paper called Diploma Parchment. It's a lovely, creamy paper. Not the crappy mottled stuff you find in hobby or art stores. This paper takes both ink, paint, and gold well. I wanted to gild an illuminated initial on this piece. Took a sample of paper with me and ran to Michael's to find a pre-cut mat that would closely match the color of the paper. I was good to go.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Doodles, Tangles, and Dangles

Doodles 23 and 24
I didn't quite make the 31 day challenge I imposed on myself. and I'm 7 doodles short. :-D Yup, that's me.

Another project took precedence. More on that tomorrow.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The End of the Quest

Last Monday, I detailed the hassle we had running to Home Depot and Lowes looking for a Nest smart thermostat. I decided to purchase the Nest from the Nest website.

The website was very helpful. There was a questionnaire to see if the product was compatible with your heating system. It involved removing the cover from your thermostat and looking at the various colored wires. If you weren't sure what you had, you could send a photo of the wiring to Nest for help.
I sent a photo and a day later, I got this reply:
"Thanks for reaching out to us. I see you would like to know if your current wiring is compatible with the Nest. I can definitely help with that. After reviewing the photo you sent us, it appears your wiring is not compatible with the Nest Learning Thermostat."
The email went on to say, I could hire a Nest professional installer to re-do the wiring to make the Nest compatible with our system.
So, color me disappointed at not being able to purchase the Nest. I would have preferred an easier to set model, but the one I have works withhout going through the extra expense and hassle of rewiring.
I am glad Nest had a way of checking compatibility before purchasing and kudos to them for a quick reply.