Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  I got half my new year's resolution right on the first day!  I started to make excuses for not getting it perfect, but remembered that the goal was not to be perfect anyway, but to be better.  I got up at 7 instead of the five but, but I did get the other half right.  I did make a plan for the day over coffee.  I already have my meat loaf thawing for supper tonight!  I'm usually thinking about what to have at around 5:30--at night. 

Wishing you all the best new year ever especially those who are in their first year living in a new place.  I know that some are in new houses, new cities, even new states.  I've been in New York State all my life, so I really enjoy sharing new places vicariously with friends and bloggers (who quickly seem like friends;-}).  It's been great to see how each of you handles the adventures of relocating.  Brian and I will have learned much from you all on how to handle the change well when we are finally able to move to a nice warm climate in a few more years. 

Have a great day and let me know what your resolutions are! 

(To Elke who I can't get hold of because she is somewhere between New York and Florida, Let me know what courses your going to be taking for the new year, too.)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I was looking back through a couple of journals from 1993 and 1998 and found a pattern relating to new year's resolutions:  they are always the same.  I've never faced that fact before.  The mind is amazingly good at protecting itself.  I could see the problem when reading through the journals.  Every year I vow to try to become perfect and do everything I want to do.

Every year I vow to get my house organized in order to make better use of my time.  This first one is the killer.  It requires that I get every facet of my house in order.  It means that I will need to get and keep the house organized.  I will need to maintain a schedule to keep it clean.  I'll need to make menus and grocery lists that include everything for those menus and all the other things I'll need to keep the house going.

I also resolve to take better care of myself.  I will lose that 10 (or 20, 30, 40...pounds--depending on the year), cook healthier meals (making the menus and shopping above a bit harder), make the hair appointments, do my nails, exercise, shop for clothes, meditate, do yoga.  As part of this, I will fit in my hobbies and passions including writing, sewing, and crafting.  What I have looked at as two resolutions requires an unending number of other resolutions.  I'd be just about perfect if I had pulled it off.

Despite the stupidity of my resolutions, I've had some success over the years.  I've managed to keep within 10 to 20 pounds for the weight loss for the last eight or nine years, my meals are healthier, and I'm better organized in many ways. Another problem is that my resolutions failed to take "life" into account.  Families have problems.  Members need comforting, counseling, a kick in the butt, to borrow the car, someone to accompany them to the doctor, for surgery.  Jobs, volunteering, and neighbors also make demands on time and energy.  These things all take time.  Plans fall behind or need tweaking.  I become discouraged and stressed out more easily than many others.

Here is what I am thinking now.  I need to pick one thing and work on it, become comfortable with it, before adding on more.  So this year, I resolve to get up at 5:00 a.m. every day and write down a REASONABLE plan for the day over morning coffee.  Getting up on time and writing the list are the only things I HAVE to do to succeed at the resolution.  Having extra time in the morning to plan and get started on the day might be just what I need.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Review of Martha Stewart's Glitter Glue: Two Thumbs Down (both mine, of course)

I love glitter.  Actually I love almost all shiny things.  I must have been a raccoon in a former life.  Consequently, it was inevitable that I would try Martha Stewart's glitter.  I got the 24-pack of small bottles in all the colors for half price at Michael's.  Who could resist that?  I want to put glitter inside the clear glass ornaments.  Two problems with that.  I can't find the ornaments or the Future floor wax suggested by many people for adhering the glitter.  The next best thing was to try some glitter in my art journaling.

I bought Martha's glitter glue which looks exactly like the thick craft paste I used in elementary school; the one with the brush attached to the inside of the top.  It worked just like the old-fashioned paste, too.  The paste was difficult to get out with the brush.  As you move the brush around, the paste (or as Martha says, glue) moves to the sides of the bottle and stays there.  The "glue" also wrinkles the paper just as the elementary school paste did.  You end up with a stiff, bubbled, warped piece when it dries.  Did the glitter adhere?  Kind of.  Maybe with practice it would be better.

I also bought the ballpoint-tip glue pen.  It has a squeezy area in the middle so that you can get the glue out when you need it.  It says, "permanent bond when used wet; let dry clear for a temporary bond."  What does that mean?  I'm still not sure.  I think it means that it remains sticky if there are spots that don't have glitter and that that glitter will come off pretty easily.  I know it means that my journal pages will stick together if the glitter comes off.  I'm sure I should not use it in my art journal.    Also, after using it a short time, I could no longer get a uniform amount to flow.  That is a problem with lettering.  Perhaps someone with patience could get this to work.

All in all, The glitter is superb.  It is ultra fine.  The colors are magnificent.  Martha's glue?  Any money I saved on the glitter I lost on the full-priced pen and paste.  (It's paste, Martha, paste!  Thick, clumpy paste!) Both are in the trash can. My end result was five sticky, warped pages with uneven thicknesses of glitter.  Had I been glittering a picture of a dog, it would have appeared to have a bad case of mange.  I've had pages warp a bit from other media.  I'm okay with a bit of that. These pages were not even salvageable. (BTW, I didn't DO five pages.  It's just that the paste/glue was wet enough to soak through making the pages lumpy.)

I'm pretty sure with all the reviews I've seen that the Future floor was will work on the ornaments, but I'm going to have to do some research to find a way to use this glitter for anything else.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

What non-bakers do for sweet holiday treats

I love these marshmallow lollipops covered in chocolate and sprinkly things.  Plunk marshmallows on lollipop sticks from Joann's, melt a bag of Nestle's chocolate bits, pour some sprinkles into a bowl, and have at it. 

I had an piece of packing Styrofoam that I poked holes into to hold the pops til they hardened.  I had to use a skewer for that cuz the lollipop sticks don't have a pointy enough end.

The plastic covers, also from Joann's, went on after the chocolate hardened.  I bought the covers last year for diabetic cookies I made for my father-in-law.  He was the ONLY person for whom I would bake cookies.  He died last month, and we will all miss him.  Frankly though, he had been so sad after losing my mother-in-law the previous year, that I feel at peace with it.  I hope they are together again in some realm and drinking the beer that Ed loved but couldn't have because of the damned diabetes.  Diabetes sucks.  Homemade marshmallow lollipops do not.

Friday, December 17, 2010

My New Ecosystem Journals

Does anyone else ever lose an entire post by going off to find a link?  Arghh! I just did.  I do, however, HAVE  to show you to see the three Ecosystem notebooks I won through Chica and Jo's blog.  I have been staring at them in their packaging for a few weeks now (lovely colors) waiting as I finished up both my work journal and my daily journal.  How is that for timing!  Today is the big day to start all three!!!

These are completely made from recycled materials.  Recycled paper often looks as though it is, well,  definitely recycled.  Not these.  The paper is bright white and smooth.  The covers are sturdy but flexible.  Those features alone make them great notebooks, BUT there is so much more.  They have attached elastic bands to keep them closed, built-in book marks, perforated pages, and large pockets built into the back!  Each notebook has a special identification number on the back pocket that can serve two purposes.   You can use it to find out what materials went into the manufacture.  In addition, anyone finding the notebook can contact the company to get it back to you.  For all this I thought the price would be way up there, but it isn't!  They are really reasonably priced. 

This green lined one begins life as my new work journal.  Throughout the day I write down whatever I'm working on--calls, emails, research, meetings, new ideas, possible problems.  I started doing this for the weekly and monthly journals I do for my AmeriCorps placement. This work journal has turned out to be remarkably useful.     I find myself culling through its pages for all kinds of useful information--dates, times, names, numbers. At the end of  one work day without it, I realized how difficult it is to remember all the little things yet significant things that go into filling the day.

And, finally, to replace all the bits and scraps of paper in my purse filled with random thoughts and ideas for writing and craft project is this little orange beauty.  It's about 3-1/2 x 5-1/2 inches complete with pocket, etc.  I've tried notebooks for this before, but they always become battered and nasty looking.  The sturdy cover, elastic band to keep it closed, and all-around quality of construction  make this one perfect for the job.

With the new year around the corner, I am ordering their weekly planner in  "grape."  If you are going to begin journaling of any kind or haven't gotten next year's planner yet, you have to check out I think you can buy them at Barnes and Noble, too.  Check the site to see about that for sure.    Once again, I have to give a big thank you to Chica and Jo for holding the giveaway and introducing me to such a great company.  Who knew recycled could be so chic!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Crafty Staci's Rapunzel Scarf

I saw this scarf at Staci's blog yesterday and finished it today!  It's that easy. You can get the directions from Staci's blog, but I did change a couple of things that made it easier for me. 

I used two skeins of yarn--almost all of it--following Staci's directions to make 100 pieces of 8 ft long yarn.  Since I wanted to mix the two colors, I just pulled from each of the skeins at the same time to get the 8 foot pieces.  That  made it a lot faster to cut all those long strings--half the time.

I  used a ponytail hairband to hold all the pieces together to tie the first knot.  Since the band is brown and  blended right in, I just left it there.  The knot covers it.  In fact, I did the same thing at the other end to finish it. 

Staci mentioned  another blogger who made an infinity version of a braided scarf.  That blogger, whose name I've forgotten (sorry, but you can hit the link and find it yourself;-}) tied pieces of yarn down the length of the three pieces to be braided to keep them from getting tangled.  That made the process sooo much easier.

The only thing I might change the next time is that I might try braiding it just a bit tighter. I did it kind of loose because I tend to make things too tight when working with yarn.  If you make one,  experiment with this aspect a few different ways when you start braiding to see what you like. 

I could not believe how quick and easy this was!  From start to finish it was only about an hour. It's a nice quick holiday gift especially if you have yarn in the house.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Reusing Old Couch Cushions

I mentioned in another post that I saved some old couch cushions to recover.  I thought I could use one for meditation and just have them around for floor cushions.  They turned out to be more difficult than I thought because my traditional "take the old cushions apart for a pattern and to reuse the zipper and the cording" did not quite work this time.  The material covering the edge cording (which has another name I have forgotten at the moment) was incorporated into the side material.  That sounded like such a great idea!  A real time-saver! As it turned out, it was very difficult for me to figure out how to sew this all together. I gave up twice.  The cushions made their to the garbage area on two frustrating occasions.

Then, I was going through the Feisty Stitcher and noticed that she had a cushion that was sewn to the outside--very simple.  I was using denim that matched the furniture I covered in the four seasons room:

Denim would fray nicely--the perfect look for a rustic kind of fabric!  Here they are!  I'm still working on the edges.  I've been picking out the edges for that frayed look.  It's a nice boring job to do while watching television.

I'm glad they survived two near trips to the garbage.  I'm really pleased with how they turned out and the many uses I'm finding for them.  I love that I can just stack them up in a corner and grab one or two or three to use as needed.   I use one to make meditation time more comfortable and for some yoga things.  My book club is going to be watching Babette's Feast next week.  (Don't you just love a book club that will watch movies, too?)  These cushions are going to help provide the extra seating in the man cave, too.