Friday, September 30, 2016

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Texted with my cousin, M.

2. Chatted on Facebook with my cousin, Little M's daughter. She recently found me on Facebook. So nice to be able to keep in touch.

3. Found a slantboard for half price at Michael's. It's one of the items need for Reggie Ezell's year long class, 26 Seeds.

4. Himself and I went to see Sully. Hooray for Old People Day at the movies.

5. Then we went for the Old People's Meal Deal at Uno's. 25% off your bill on Wednesdays if you're over 55.

How was your week?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passsed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them. Today's chapter:

17. March 1979 - Dad's 60th birthday. Dad is blowing out candles on
the Italian rum cake from Mike's Pastry with an assist from his grandson.
Also in the photo, left to right: Ma, her sister, Uncle J, husband of Dad's
sister, E, niece R, sister in law L married to Dad's baby brother, R. The
rum cake was always a present from Ma's sister.
My birthdays were celebrated. My mother's uncle, Zio [ed: Italian for uncle] Francisco, he was a number one pastry chef. And although he had to be brought and picked up by a relation as he was blind, he could still bake. My mother would take out everything he needed to bake. The board, the Italian rolling pin. This was a broomstick that was sanded down by hand until all the paint had been removed. And as it was used, it began to take on a nice, yellow color from the eggs that were used to make pasta, cakes, etc. Every Italian home had one of these.

My mother would place all of the ingredients that were needed. Then take his hands and put them on the flour, the eggs, salt, sugar, etc. He would then go to work.

When he had mixed everything and rolled it flat or took bits off to make the Italian cookies, they would be ready for the oven. The same for the cakes. He would also mix the various creams, and have my mother put them in a pan for heating and would ask her to test for consistency.

He would make the Italian layered cake [ed: Italian rum cake], cannoli, paragini, everything that you could buy at Mike's in Boston [ed: Mike's Pastry 300 Hanover St. in Boston's North End]

When he was through, whoever brought him to our house would come to pick him up and take him home. My mother's uncle was my grandfather's brother. The uncle and his wife loved my mother. We visited often. Even their children would visit.

During all of this baking day, I would sort of raise some problem. I would get in the way. One birthday, I sat on the window sill as I tried doing see-saw. My mother would tell me to stop or you'll fall on the piazza [ed: porch or deck on back of a triple decker. Ran the length of the building. Each floor had its own piazza. ] I did and split my head. My poor mother took a conniption.

I was taken to the first aid station. [ed: Boston City Hospital Relief Station, Haymarket Square] They wanted to put stitches in. She would not allow it. She didn't like to have me sewn up.

That night, after dinner, I would hear some talk in the hallway and then music. Mother opened the door and the little orchestra marched in. And friends, not mine. This was done in the evening. I was treated like a prince with my head bandaged that year.

My birthdays went on like this until The Depression. It was my father's way, I guess, to celebrate.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

DIY Lip Balm

The cooler weather is reminding me I need to amass a supply of lip balm. The DIYer in me is happy to make up a batch. I also like knowing what's actually in the stuff I use.

I made some last year which lasted me all through the cold weather months. I didn't have lip balm tubes, but used small, plastic pots. They worked fine until I had to put a sausage finger in to get out the last bit. The recipe, from Instructables Honey Lip Balm, used honey both as a flavoring and as a humectant (retains moisture). The only thing I didn't like about the recipe was the honey came out of suspension.

The Home-Made Lip Chap recipe from Wellness Mama takes 4 simple ingredients: beeswax, coconut oil, shea, or cocoa, or mango butter, and optionally, essential oil for flavoring.

I had shea butter, coconut oil, and a brick of beeswax on hand. The beeswax brick takes decades to grate a small amount. Since I was going to order lip balm tubes, I decided to splurge and order some beeswax pellets.

For flavoring, I used Young Living's Stress Away essential oil. It's one of my favorite oil blends. Smells like vanilla and lime.

So all set. Sort of. Someone didn't read all the way through the recipe to see how many tubes of lip balm would be made and didn't have enough tubes ready. No worries. Poured the excess into the silicon mold and can remelt when the tubes have been sterilized.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Scary, Hard Part

Lettering done with Speedball black acrylic ink using a Nikko G nib. The acrylic ink I prefer to use is Ziller, but someone didn't tighten the cap on the bottle of Glossy Black so it dried out.

Silhouette  of dancing man was traced from a photograph and cut from black Canson Mi Tientes. Applied to the canvas with matte medium.

The lettering is usally the scary part of doing a piece. It is always done first. You don't want to spend a lot of time on the artwork only to find you messed up the quote on the last word, last letter. Better to do your lettering first.

The fear of messing up the lettering is taken out when using acrylic ink on canvas. If a mistake is made, it can be "erased" using a small strip or wad of damp, paper towel, or a damp,cotton swab.

"You can't wait for the storm to be over. You have to learn how to dance in the rain.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1.  A tweet to Netflix resolved issues we were having binge watching The Blacklist before the season opener.

2. Cooler weather means baking season has started. I celebrated by making hamburger buns.

3. The new sink adapter for the dishwasher arrived from Amazon courtesy of the Young One's Prime account.

4. The sink adapter worked! Don't need to have the repair guy back. Thanks to Repair Guy for giving me the part number to order from Amazon.

5. So happy to have the dishasher back in service. You don't miss what you have until it's gone.

How was your week?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

L-R: Emma (Dad's youngest sister), Archie (Achille), Fanny (Rafaella),
Bobby ( Dad's youngest brother, aka Chick, Chickie)
To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passsed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them. Today's chapter:

I also remember that my mother when she felt I was old enough, would have me go to meet my father during the Summer at the streetcar stop. If it was raining, she would see that I understood when I got to the bakery to stay in the doorway and wait for the trolley. When my father spotted me as he stepped out, he would smile and then walk home. She would also send me on other times and as he and I walked home on the beginning of Frankfort Street, windows would go up and women would look out. Well, your grandfather was one inch short of six feet and dressed like he owned the bank [ed: he was a tailor and made all his own clothes] and handsome. He knew what was happening and kept walking straight ahead and paid no attention.

Speaking of fashion, check out Auntie's peep toe shoes. Uncle looks to be 12 or 13 years old so 1941 or 1942. I'm not sure where the photograph was taken. Everyone is dressed in their Sunday go to meeting clothes so I'm guessing the photograph was taken in front of a church. It doesn't look like Our Lady of Mont Carmel which was their parish church. It could be The Sacred Heart Church, but the church I knew as a kid had burned down in 1965 and was rebuilt. I wouldn't know what the church looked like in the 1940s.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Hamburger Buns

Burgers for supper
Shopping for buns, a no go.
Baked fluffy goodness.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Hi, Ma!

While visiting Boston a couple of weeks ago, I took a walk along Newberry Street. This street, in the Back Bay, is filled with trendy, apparel stores and boutiques. One of the window displays caught my eye, a couple of dozen, old, Singer sewing machines. There was also a sandwich board advertising the Boston School of Fashion Design.

Ma was a seamstress so the sight of all those old Singers made me think of her. Or she sent a message to say hello. She also took a few classes during the late 1970s and early 1980s at the Boston School of Fashion Design.  I was the model for many of her classroom projects. In one class, she had to make her own pattern and then sew the garment. She asked me what I wanted. I was working as a computer programmer/consultant at the time so needed business attire. I asked her to make me a blazer with a Chesterfield (velvet) collar. And she did. A beautiful black tweed blazer with black silk lining, black velvet collar and covered velvet buttons. I can almost fit into it, again.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Do Over - Background

Hind sight is a wonderful thing. A man dancing in the rain should be on a grey, misty background.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Friday Five Good Things

Cupcakes arranged to look like a bridal gown, tux, and ring
Five good things that happened this week.

1. Decorated cupcakes with The Eldest for a bridal shower for her friend. Binge watched BBC America's 50th anniversary salute to Star Trek.

2. Himself went shopping and brought home dinner already made. Roast chicken, sides, and chocolate cream pie

3. Changed homeowner's and car insurance policy to save some money.

4. The Young One and I watched Pixels.  I'm not a big Adam Sandler fan, but this movie turned out to be better than I expected. Hilariously sarcastic.

5. Dishwasher needs a repair. To save a few pennies on parts, the repairman told me to order the sink adapter from Amazon as it would be half the price of what the repair company would charge.

How was your week?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

Many years later, he still played with the cart
To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passsed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them. Today's chapter:

Aunt Filomena also lived with us for a while. She was to take car of me and was dating. She was pinching me. I complained of course. No attention was paid. She did marry Michael Grifone and had 3 daughters, Mary and Clara and the third daughter. I forgot. She was a quiet girl. Married and went to New York state.

As a little boy I caused a lot of trouble.[ ed: from stories I heard about Dad growing up, he caused trouble as an older boy, too. (-; ] I had a little cart and I would push it to the end of the hall and hit the downstairs door.. I made a lot of noise my mother would ask me to please stop.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Artings, where art and outings collide. The word is a portmanteau, and I made it up. (And I'm insufferably pleased with myself.)

I was inspired to start a(nother) journal after the trip A and I took to the Boston Public Library.

Above the entrance on the outside of the library, is a carved head of the Roman goddess, Minerva. (Greek, Athena). She is the goddess of wisdom and the arts Her mascot is an owl.

Sharpie pen, Tombow brush markers

Monday, September 12, 2016

Do Over

The other day, I alluded to the fact I'm working on a new painting.

This is the piece I want to do over. I like it, but... The row of crayons bothers me. I'd be happier if the melted wax dripped from the top edge of the canvas instead of looking like a valence. Also, the crayons were glued with hot glue which dried out so some of the crayons fell off.

 And the puddle isn't as translucent as I wanted. I think I need to dilute the silver ink more.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Blogging Tips

My friend, A, wants to start a blog. I thought I'd post some tips to get her started.

It helps to think how/why you want to blog: advertise your business? show off your work? talk about a hobby? share recipes? keep an online journal? rant? review books/movies? all of the above?

Picking a name. If using your blog as a platform for business, it's best if you use your name as your brand. As much as I loved The Pony Express, it didn't make it easy for people to find me. Btw, that blog is still out there, but a reader will be re-directed here.

There are lots of blogging platforms. I like Blogger. It's easy to use. Readers don't have to have Gmail addresses to read or comment. You can schedule blog posts ahead of time. (I don't always do this). You can schedule your blog posts for a certain time of the day. (If I've schedule a post, I use 4:30 am)

Try to blog every day or on a schedule your blog readers will come to know. Some people blog week days only as no one really reads blogs on the weekend. Some blog Mon. Wed. Fri. However you choose to blog, be consistent. Missing an odd day every now and then is no big deal, but you'll lose readers if there's no fresh content.

I've found it helpful to have certain days be about certain topics. It's a way of always having new content on the blog. Wednesday is Wordless Wednesday, where I post a picture or cartoon. The wordless refers to the fact I keep my mouth shut for once. I follow the meme Throwback Thursday (#TBT) posting memories from long ago. Another meme was Friday Five (e.g. five favorite movies, songs, things about me) that evolved into The Friday Five Good Things as a way for me to focus on positive things. Lots of memes to use This Day in History, Quote of the Day, Joke of the Day.

Try to always include a picture with your blog post. Pictures are eye catching and make the post more interesting. Imnsho.

Try to use copyright free images. Your own pictures are best. You can find copyright free images at The Graphics Fairy or The Morgue File

Include blogs your follow on your blog roll. Most often they'll reciprocate (you can always ask if you're not too shy). It helps drive blog traffic.

Build a dialogue with your readers. If they post a question, answer them either on the blog. Or use their question as a new blog topic.

Less than 10% of readers will leave a comment. Don't be discouraged. Either they don't know what to say, are too shy. Look at your blog stats, you'll see people are reading. It takes time to build a tribe.

In your blog comment settings, you can moderate comments before you post them to your blog. It does help keep out internet trolls. I haven't had issues with that so I don't  moderate comments. Only if the blog post is several days old.

You can restrict your blog to only people you know. Through settings add their email addresses. I don't do this.

Any setting you make, can be undone if you change your mind.

Include a LinkWithin widget on your blog. It will show random, past posts. Might entice new readers to stay on your blog longer.

Ditto popular posts.

Your blog is  your home. You make the rules.

Have fun!

Anyone else have tips for A?

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1.  I silently celebrated Ma's birthday. She would have been 98 years old. Miss you!

2.  The Eldest had cable installed. She recently went to work for a cable company and gets the package at a discount.

3. And we spent the weekend binge watching some premium channels.

4. Was surprised after so much rain and wind, the garden kites are still intact and look great.

5.  I started a new painting.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

My grandmother's dishes which must have rattled in the cabinet

To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passsed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them. Today's chapter:

I also remember when my mother was getting me ready for bed and I was horsing around and she was trying to get me to stop so she could finish. When the chair and the water tank began to shake. My mother said, "Oh, Dio!!!" [ed: Oh, God!] She knew what it was. It was an earth tremor. Everything settled down. [ed: The USGS lists two moderate earthquakes in Massachusetts, January 7 and April 24, 1925. "The epicenter of the January 7, 1925, shock was off Cape Ann; the reported felt area extended from Providence, Rhode Island, to Kennebunk, Maine." Dad would have been 5 or 6 years old.]

While I had brothers and sisters for some time I seemed to be alone. Although, Mario came 18 months after me.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Still Flying High

I wasn't sure how the garden kites would fare in the heavy rain and wind from post-tropical cyclone Hermine. But this morning, the kites are still flying high.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Chibi Iconography

I wanted to make another garden kite for a personal intention, but I don't know how to  paint in the style of Russian or Greek iconography. (Too many rules! (-; ) St. Jude is the patron saint of hope and impossible causes. Did a search of images and found saints done in chibi style (Japanese anime style to depict a little person or animal as cute and child-like). I liked the whimsy. Hey, Jude!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Remake Ben Hur

was mildly entertaining. A good way to kill a hot, Summer afternoon, but the film fell far short of the 1959 epic.

Some thoughts:

This version was so anti-climatic.

Having Judah and Messala being adopted brothers did nothing to further the story.

Lacked the irony of Judah Ben-Hur being adopted by the Roman Consul, Quintas Arias.

Ditto when Judah returned to Jerusalem as Young Quintas Arias to exact his revenge on Messala.

The movie didn't remotely follow the book or any storyline of the other film versions which did.

There was no excitement in the chariot race. It was more of 100 meter dash.

Morgan Freeman played Morgan Freeman instead of Ilderim.

Again, the ironic point was missed that Arias trained Judah in the sport of charioteering. And Judas, as young Arias' reputation as a winning charioteer having won races in the Circus Maximus was known.

The story of the Christ (the sub-title of the novel) wasn't woven through the movie until the end.

This version lacked drama and tension.

The ending was touchy-feely instead of the dramatic realization of the redemptive power of forgiveness and love.

I'd be surprised if it won an academy award let alone 11 of them.

Glad we saw it with discounted tickets. You might want to wait until the movie is shown on network television. Better yet, watch the 1959 version starring Charlton Heston.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1.  Spent a most excellent day at the Boston Public Library with A. Went on the Art and Architecture tour and had Tea at the Courtyard Restaurant in the BPL

2. Bakes scones with The Eldest for her coffee hour after church services

3. The Eldest sent a text that the scones were a big hit.

4.  After the wellness group meeting, stopped for a bite to eat at Five Guys. Love me the little bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mustard

5. Had a lovely chat with 5 year old, sweet W. at the Worcester Art Museum Open House. We talked about popping wheelies on a scooter and cannon balling in a pool  He had asked me what the art manikin I had with me was so I told him an action figure for artists. Then we twisted the manikin into silly poses.

How was your week?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passsed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them.

I remember my first love. She was the landlord's baby child. It was Summer and we were in the yard. The garden was cultivated and I was on the inside of the gate getting rides opening and closing it. She was on the walkway. Dressed in a light pink dress and her reddish hair nicely down. She was also drinking from wax bottles, small, and when emptied could serve as gum to chew. She shared them. I had evidently played with her previously. At some point she died and I remember my father talking my mother to dress me in a pair of short trousers he had made for me.

My mother was hesitant. She did not think that I should go. She didn't think I should visit. My father convinced her. She dressed me and I went down to the first floor where she lived with her brothers and sisters. She was the baby. I entered the living room and looked at the casket and saw her inside it. Of course, I did not know  what it was about.

At some time in the 1990s, I was visiting my sister, Olga. Peter Massimineo [ed: not sure of the spelling as I can't quite decipher the writing] Olga's brother-in-law dropped by. During the course of his visit, he was asked about his family, brothers and sisters and how they were doing. He covered everyone except his deceased sister. I told him you had another sister, described her and the wake. He said, "You're right. I did omit her."

Then there was a short silence and he asked me, "You remember that?"

I said, "Yes,"

"You were three years old."

I remembered, age I did not know.

[ed: The photograph is actually of Dad's youngest brother, Robert ( aka Bob, Bobby, Chick, or Chickie at 2 or 3 years old). I don't have a photograph of Dad as a baby/toddler. He and Uncle Bob looked a lot alike so I imagine this is what Dad looked like at this age]