Sunday, September 30, 2012

Christmas Card Classes

The Fincastle Library has asked me to orchestrate some activities in the meeting room.  Library usage is down all over and a slight drop in a small library is a big deal.  I have been trying to come up with some things to do during the day to get in the adult crowd.  My father and my grandfather both used to do slide presentations of their various travels.  Travelogues were big events and they could fill an auditorium at Pasadena City College back in the day. My father was the school Psychologist and my grandfather was on the Board Of Trustees, so maybe they came to avoid losing funding or getting psychoanalyzed .  My brother kindly, and with ancient slide-type technology,  put some of them on DVDs and I may try that.

 Our good friend from New Zealand, Grant Foster, used to travel around the United States presenting travelogues of many interesting counties including New Zealand, Greece and Portugal with witty dialogue and glorious scenery.  I have thought of using some of them, assuming I can get the rights.  The question I have is whether people would come out for a travelogue, or is the National Geographic Channel in a La-Z-Boy all they want?

In the meantime, I thought I might offer some card making classes.  Without assistance I can probably teach about 10 people at a time and if we can fill the room with crafty adults they might just check out a book on the way out.  Maybe they will check out a book on card making and teach ME the next week. 

I decided to start with a Christmas Card.  I won't be able to get the room scheduled and the class advertised earlier than that.  If it goes over well I can do one more class before Christmas and then maybe Valentine's Cards?  Who knows.  Maybe some generic cards would work.  I guess I will ask the attendees what they want to do.

In the meantime I have been practicing a simple embossed card with a handmade envelope.  I may need to make a trip to Michael's or Jo-Ann's craft stores to get more ideas and an idea of costs.  I want them to be able to make two cards and envelopes and to keep the classes under $5. I also want them elaborate enough to be a challenge, yet easy enough to teach a room full of people to do in under 2 hours.


First I cut the card stock in half.  I may do that before the class...a bit worried about X-acto blades and distracted crafters.  Just fold it in half and then open it to see where to stamp.


I tried white and colored stock and different placements.  After stamping, I embossed with gold embossing powder and colored the card.  I covered the ribbon with matching glitter glue for a nice effect.  I like the gold on the green card, but the colors are hard to see.  Gotta rethink that.  Maybe I should use a lighter color.


I had the idea to use Christmas paper to make the envelopes.  This probably wouldn't work with cards to be mailed, but hand delivered cards could be pretty.  I have an template that is easy to use and makes the right size envelope for these cards.   I also made one using card stock. It would hold up for mailing.   I learned some lessons about gluing them together that I am thankful to have figured out before the class.


So here are a few ideas that I may use.  I'm hoping a "field trip" to some stores will give me more ideas so that each card can be embellished to suit the "artist".  I'm kind of excited about the whole thing.



Buchanan Gazebo


My girls used to love the Gilmore Girls.  In fact I think they still watch it in re-runs.  The show took place in the fictional town of Stars Hollow.  It painted a really nice view of small town life.

Buchanan is also a small town.  Though I think it is way smaller than Stars Hollow.  We have quite a few events that are fun.  There is the Civil War weekend where they camp in the park and fight right down the main street.  Mountain Magic in Fall is this weekend and there will be vendors, live music and a car show.  I admit to liking the junk food best.  Funnel Cakes, anyone?

Recently the Town Of Buchanan built a very cute Gazebo in the Park.  I believe the intention is to have music and celebrations there.  If you donated to the building fund, you could get your name on a plaque for all time.  Or until it fades away or something.  We liked the idea of giving to the community and also that some future descendants will find our names and be amused.  So there we are.

 I mean THERE we are!


There was a very nice ribbon cutting and Harry Gleason, the Downtown Revitalization Manager gave a nice speech about the town's beginnings.  Harry is in charge of all of the festivals and events we have and everyone knows him.  Lots of individuals and businesses donated to get this new addition to Buchanan built and I can't wait to go to the first concert.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Touristy Things

We don't get to London a lot by any means, but the times we have been, I have avoided the London Eye.  I think it has something to do with avoidance of crowds and heights, in no particular order.  My girls assured me that the Eye was sufficiently slow and solid as to keep me from embarrassing myself.  So we went.


Lee bought the tickets online and we were there early.  With the purchase of a ticket we were allowed to go to the 4D experience associated with the Eye.  It was too early for the Eye to start, so we went.  It was a fun (and short) film and told about the building of the Eye and the opening day, all in 3D.  I think the 4th dimension was the bubbles and the fog blown around us.  Not really sure!  But it was interesting watching the Eye being built and to see some aerial shots, plus the seagulls that flew at us.

It seems that the Eye used to be slower, according to others on our "pod."  It took a little more than 20 minutes to go around and did not seem too fast or too slow. 


The day was reasonably clear, this IS London after all, and we could see Parliament and boats and bridges.  The most interesting thing about London is that there is ALWAYS something being built or repaired and there are buildings built hundreds of years ago right next to the most modern looking of buildings.


The River cruise was fun and we got to see parts of London we had never seen before. I like to have a knowledgeable guide explain what we are seeing and they had that. 

Other than Parliament, the most iconic sights from the Thames are the Tower of London


with the Traitor's Gate.


And the Tower Bridge.


So now we are home and I have to go back to clearing brush and blogging recipes.  A change of pace was nice, but I can't wait to get back into the routine.

English Tea Party

While in England for our daughter's wedding, Lee and I took the opportunity to have a few different afternoon teas.  One was a formal one at the Lace Market Hotel in Nottingham.


 Lee hosted the whole famdamly for my birthday. 


There were finger sandwiches, scones, meringues (called macaroons for some reason) and cakes.  We each got to pick our own pot of tea.  It was great!


Then when we went to London we went to a small shop called Bea's of Bloomsbury.  Our hotel was in the same neighborhood and we had seen a story about it on the Travel Channel before leaving home.


It was full of cupcakes and cookies and tarts.  Just every baked good you want to have and know you shouldn't.  But this was a vacation and so we did.


Everything was delicious and at the counter was a display of a cookbook from Bea's.  I followed my routine of making sure there were sufficient recipes that I want to fix and pictures to make sure I did it right.  So we bought one.  I just went on Amazon and found I overpaid by $10, so don't fly over there to get your own.  Order it online!  But this was my souvenir of our trip, so I am OK with that.  Really.  I won't obsess about it at all.


I have a whole bunch of recipes I collected while over there and will start on them just as soon as I get to the grocery store.  We have been back for 4 days and have been living off Atkins bars and frozen meals! To (mis)quote Shakespeare, "Get thee to a grocery."  And I intend to.  Just as soon as I can get these #@*! photos to upload!

The Wedding

We just got back from our daughter's wedding.  I wish I could say that I helped plan the whole thing and I did a magnificent job.  It WAS magnificent, but no thanks to me.  Poor Trista had to do the whole thing.  Her Maid of Honor and Mother of the Bride were conveniently elsewhere and it all fell to her.


I had seen her dress on line, but was thrilled to be able to go with her to the final fitting.  Trista and Rob have been gym rats for months and when we went for the final fitting, there was a bit of adjusting for the dress to fit her sleekly svelte figure. She looked absolutely gorgeous and wore shoes with a pop of color

She chose the Holme Pierrepont Hall, a Tudor house in Nottingham. It is absolutely perfect for weddings and you should all go out and book it.  There was a hallway that had paintings of the Hall in each century since the 1300s when it was wood.


 The current structure is from the 16th century.   


And you thought YOUR house was old!  I loved to see how it changed over the years and yet how it stayed the same.  This photo is from a card placed discretely in their entrance (and taken openly, by me!)


The gardens were glorious and the formal pictures were taken in their topiary gardens.  I would be surprised it they didn't have a full time gardener.  ("I want one, too," she said in a whiny voice.)  It was the first and only sunny day during our visit.  Other than a bit of a chill, it couldn't have been better. 


Rob is part Scottish and Trista was born in Hawaii, so they combined these two disparate themes into a cohesive whole.

A before, or during shot.


And then the after. 


We had a bagpiper for the music as Lee walked her down the aisle. of the Church of St. Edmunds next door to the Hall.  Then he led us over to the Hall where all the guests were greeted with a lei.  Yes, they were fake flowers.  How do expect to get Plumerias in England?  Well, you can't.  It was fun to see most of the guests, including the children, wearing their leis throughout the evening, even through the dancing.
There was a man playing a Ukulele in the gardens for the reception.  He even played Sweet Leilani for Trista.  Her middle name is Leilani.


The meal included a roast pig, rice and grilled pineapples.  It was all delicious, therefore I can also recommend the caterer that works with the Hall.

The cake was designed by Rob and changed inexplicably by the caterer.  Travis carved the topper and they cut the cake with a family heirloom sword.  It had apparently been used in battle in the distant past and I am glad MY piece of cake was cut by the caterer.

Trista and Rob gave us a candle with their wedding invitation affixed to it to match the one we were given for our wedding.  Ours was lit some time ago during a power outage.  I think it was during Hurricane Iwa when we lived in Hawaii and Trista was an infant.  Theirs is pristine and holds a place of honor in our home.  That won't keep it from being used to keep the dark at bay during an emergency.  But I'll buy some batteries to use, just in case.


I didn't take many pictures. I was too involved in seeing all that she had planned come to fruition. Rob's sister Maggie is a fashion photographer and kindly offered to take the wedding pictures. I can't wait to see them and I hope she can PhotoShop me to look younger and thinner! I hope she was able to enjoy some of the festivities in addition to her "duties".

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Not What They Seem


Our pets look sweet and cuddly.  Look at this face.


Look at this one.  Don't they look like big (and little) balls of fluff?  Don't be fooled.  Looks can deceive...Don't judge a book by its cover... and other cliches like THAT.


These are vicious bunny murderers.  BABY.  BUNNY.  KILLERS.  Oh, sure they roll over and purr and let you rub their sweet little tummies.  But when your back is turned they become Dexter!  The only thing worse is this ....


This sweet puppy face hides not only a bunny murderer. but a bunny EATER.  There.  I've said it.  Our dog kills and eats bunnies. I have seen him with my own eyes

I have rescued a few baby bunnies, but they always die.  The websites I have read say that this is usually the case.  But I still rescue them.  My theory is that it is better to die in a box lined with grass in a quiet room that to be consumed by a mean, unrepentant DOG.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Why Do We Love Our Pets ?

Are our pets worth the trouble?  It's hard to imagine.  They expect our lives  to revolve around them.  And in a lot of ways, this is true.  We can't go away without making arrangements for them.  They want to eat everyday.  Gotta have a treat if they are forced to stay home alone.  Okay.  Now it is clear to you that our pets are spoiled.


Then there is the way we are forced to decorate our homes to keep them from ruining it.  Sheets on the couch.  Scratching posts everywhere.  And they use them, too.  But that doesn't mean it keeps them from ruining the couches.


 When we bought them, we knew ruination was a possibility, so we deliberately chose the less expensive couches.  See??  Running our lives!


They leave wee bits of themselves on the carpets.  They hack up fur balls on floors AND carpets.  But yesterday, they became downright destructive.  I heard a crash in the other room and this is what I found.


Years ago I had made this needlepoint.  I looked in every antique shop we went to, searching for a chair or ottoman to put it on.  We found this chair/storage in a shop in Orange County.  The perfect size.  I don't know what happened, but I can guess.  Someone wanted to use this as a launch pad to jump elsewhere and over it went.  I think I can fix it.

I don't know who the culprit is.  I guess it doesn't matter because what can I do?  I can't sit them down and explain what they did is wrong and take away their allowance until it is paid for.  No consequences for bad behaviour. 


But look at that face.  So cute.  And so unrepentant.  Gotta love 'em.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Salad Kits


Lately I have discovered salad kits.  This doesn't mean that I have quit cooking/baking.  It means that the cooking/baking necessitate salad only meals.  So lots of times all we have for dinner is a salad from a kit.

Now, don't feel sorry for Lee.  He is frequently the instigator of these meals.  He doesn't see the point in eating three meals a day and if we eat out for one of those meals he claims he isn't hungry for hours.  Sometimes even the next morning.  I am not starving the man!


The nice thing about salad kits is that they have a mixture of greens, veggies, topping and dressings.  One bag is just right for the two of us.  Which is good, because they do not keep well.  Once the dressing is on you have to eat it.  They become a soggy mess overnight in the refrigerator.


They would also work for a family if there is a main dish.  Add a casserole or a protein and you are good to go.  We sometimes add in frozen pre-cooked chicken and then it is like a fancy restaurant salad.  Well it is no longer frozen when we add it of course.  Let it thaw and then heat it briefly.


These are from Walmart, but you can also buy some very nice ones at other grocery stores.  They can't compete with the salads from Trader Joe's, but they are a great idea for us.  We get a delicious salad with a lot of variety without having a bunch of produce go bad in the refrigerator bin.  They are inexpensive and not too bad on fat and calories. 

I like to add extras sometimes, onions are always good for me, cucumbers, shredded zucchini.  Use whatever you have.  You can even thinly slice a bit of leftover steak.  Let your imagination run.

Friday, September 21, 2012


I am not particularly fond of doing laundry.  I am not particularly fond of cleaning anything.  But I am particularly fond of clean clothes and clean houses, so I clean.


My mother-in-law once told me she loved doing laundry.  It is satisfying in that you start with a huge pile of dirty things.  Then at the end of the process you have a small stack of clean and tidy things.  More satisfying than cleaning toilets I guess.


For some reason I tend to wash on the weekends.  When I worked or when the kids were in school it made sense.  Now it is a habit.


When we lived in Tonga and Samoa laundry was a different thing all together.  You would fill a large tub with water and soak the clothes.  Then each item was removed and scrubbed.  You could purchase a long rectangular bar of soap, about a foot long.  And each time you did laundry you would cut off a hunk to use. 

First lay out the dirty item on a rock.  Scrub it with the soap.  If there is obvious dirt, use a small handful of coconut fibers as a scrubber.  Wad the clothing up and hit it a few times with a large, smooth stick. Rinse and repeat. 

When we got to Tonga we bought a wash board.  These are not for making old time music.   If you have never seen one try here.  A washboard is a piece of corrugated metal that is encased in wood with two feet .  You hold it with the feet in the water and then rub the clothing against the metal bumps to scrub it clean.  This is a step up from the handful of coconut fibers.  And from the stick on the rock.

The clean clothes are then draped over bushes to dry.  In some cases they were placed over a single strand of barbed wire that was strung between two houses.  If you push down gently they stay in place and don't blow away.  Much faster than clothes pins!


Perhaps you can see why I like my new washer and dryer.  They are even on pedestals so I don't have to bend over very far.  It uses less water than the old fashioned method and less electricity than all but the newest models.  You have to see how the rest of the world operates to appreciate how lucky we are.  Modern technology.  Ain't it grand?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Edgar Mint


I generally don't read books that are recommended by serious reviewers.  This includes Oprah Winfrey.  They are usually so depressing and awful.  I don't care how well a book is written, if it makes me want weep all day or shoot someone, I'll pass.  This is why I read a lot of mysteries.  I may hate the bad guy, but I know he'll get his in the end!

The Roanoke Times had a review of  The Miracle Life Of Edgar Mint by Brady Udall.  I liked the premise.  It starts with a small Apache boy who crawls under the mail truck in front of his home on the reservation.  The mailman is devastated when he runs over his head and tries to stop the blood pouring from this small boy by using his shirt and then his pants.  He is pronounced dead and carried off to the local hospital where he is revived and expected to live the rest of his life in a coma.

Miraculously he comes out of the coma to become a pet of the rehabilitation section of the small hospital.  His alcoholic mother has moved away and can't be reached.  One of the men who share his room, becomes close to Edgar .  Edgar learns to read but the brain damage from the accident prevents him from forming letters, so his roomie arranges for him to have a typewriter.  This typewriter goes with Edgar throughout the rest of the story and proves his salvation. 

After sometime he is sent to a school for various tribes of delinquent Indians.  Here is is tortured and abused with no help from any of the adults that are supposed to teach and nurture him.   At this point in the book, I almost closed it up and sent it back to the library unfinished.  Something I can rarely force myself to do, no matter how bad a book is.

But this isn't a bad book.  Is is well written and engrossing.  It is just difficult to read because this poor boy is tortured over and over.  He finally is sent to live with a Mormon family where he the happiest of his life.  Their personal problems spill over onto Edgar and he is sent adrift in the world once again.  His whole life he has been upset at the idea that the mailman thought he had killed a boy, so he sets out on a journey to find him and relieve his mind.

I started to worry that this book would end with a flame out where I would wonder why I was torturing myself this way.  I did not want to become so engrossed in Edgar's well being and then have the whole rest of his life be one miserable mess.  The book takes a turn that I won't tell you about or it will spoil the end, but it was unexpected.  I will tell you that  I liked that it didn't turn sappy and sentimental, but was satisfying and wrapped up the whole story.

So I would recommend this book if you like the Oprah book club, but not if you want to smile and laugh your way through a book.  I fall somewhere in the middle.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Finished Throw


I finished my knitting project!  A few weeks ago I was close to being done and then I checked out a bunch of new books from the library.  The new books have to be returned in a week.  I had been knitting in the evenings and now it was taking me TWO WHOLE days to finish EACH book.  So I HAD to put my knitting aside to finish the books.  And then I just didn't pick it back up again.

I don't mind the clutter of a knitting project when I am working on it.  But having the clutter when I am NOT working on it bothers me.  I can't put it away in the craft room or I'll forget about it and never get it finished.  So I put aside the books, I only have one left from the library, and made the big push to finish it. 

Only ONE library book, you say?  Aren't you nervous?  No, because I have a bunch of purchased books from the used paperback bookstore and I have a BUNCH of books on my Nook ( some from the Free Friday and some from the Deal of the Day from Barnes and Noble) that I keep as my emergency back-up books (EBUBs).  And that does not count the books on hold for me, at last notice I have 20.  Gotta stop requesting so many at a time!

I loved the color and the soft, silky feel of the yarn.  It was nice to knit and should feel great as a throw.  The yarn tends to unravel, though, so I had to tie a knot in each end.


This project worked up pretty fast, notwithstanding the whole stopping part.  The throw is reversible.  This made it hard to remember if I was working on the right side or not.  I occasionally had to refer to the picture on the pattern to figure it out.


I have a tip for knitting that I learned years ago.  Write out each row of the pattern on a 3X5 card.  When you are through with a row, slide that card to the back so the next row is showing and you know which row you are on.  Otherwise you have to keep a counter or notes and then you may forget where you are.  I even keep the cards from year to year and have gone back to a favorite project and don't have to write them out again.

Lee asked what I was going to do with THIS one.  All the other knitting projects have been gifts.  I think I am going to keep it.  If will be the first decorating item for our new set of rooms in the basement.