Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Cookie Baking

These were taken December 20.  Happily, cuteness never grows stale!

May I therefore present:
Making Christmas cookies with Conner, age 9 and Alex, age 6.

 Here we are making chocolate crinkles.  I told Conner that it was like playing in mud, only it was chocolate.  He was immediately up for it!  Here he is rolling the chocolate into balls and then covering them with sugar.

Rachel and the finished chocolate crinkles.

 I figured it was more important for the boys to be creative than for the cookies to look standard.  The R2D2 in the upper left is a great example of this theory!  We just let them play.

This is a Yoda cookie, in case you were wondering.
 Thanks, Mom, for letting me use your kitchen, where I could fearlessly fling flour, and thanks Rachel, for letting me come play with your boys!

Christmas Photos

I'm feeling slightly more human.

That isn't saying much.  But I've managed to get some photos together from Christmas....

We took Grandma to Mass on Christmas Eve.
Caroling with friends--this was a lot of fun!   We went to Bonacum House, a nursing home, and sang for two bishops.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Still sick....

I've spent the last four days in a drug-induced haze.

Yep.  Still sick!

Friday, December 27, 2013

I Wanna Make This!

I spotted this cool project with decorated blocks that I want to try.  I was flipping through a magazine at the grocery store the other day (I think it was Cloth, Paper Scissors), while unbeknowst to me my beloved was already through the checkout line and waiting in the car...

But I digress.

I couldn't find the artist's work on-line.  These come closest...

But the originals were much cooler.  They had lots of little windows.  I'm thinking this spring, when Dad's workshop isn't so cold!

Update: The magazine is Cloth. Paper, Scissors and the artist is Holly Kreag.  Here's the cover with her artwork on the front:

Sniffle, Cough, Sniffle

I'm sick.

I'm glad that we got honey from Gen and Doug, as I prefer to use honey in my organic Throat Coat Tea, but other than that, bleck.  I'm missing out on seeing Elizabeth from Chicago (flies back tomorrow), and our good friends Dave and Sarah (and our goddaughter).  And The Magician beat me at Crokinole.

I'm trying not to pout!

I did manage to do a Christmas craft before I got sick, though, so hopefully I'll post that soon.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

God in a manager.

This changes everything.

Wishing you and yours every blessing!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Weekly Round-Up

This week I...

.... was grateful The Magician's show went so well.  He got an enthusiastic thank-you note from the client which really made his day. 
Doesn't his beard add a certain professorial dignity?
 .... appreciated this BLT, a little 'love you' from my husband:
Life is full of little things.  Savor them!
.... picked up Reinvention: Sewing with Rescued Materials by Maya Donenfeld.  She's given my an idea for a new, no-tech closure that I can adapt to use on purses and journals.  Stay tuned!
... am a little bummed that the Amazon link has had only one sale this month.  I had hoped Christmas would be our biggest month yet.  Since we just bought a car, it would have been nice.... Oh well.
... met Mike Demps (Huskers 1998-2000 - defensive back) when we went to buy our car.  He was quite charming.  It reminded me of the days when I was a TA and had a couple of football players in my Comp I class.
 ... bought a car.  I thought we were treated really well, and got a fair price.  Of course, the savings account is still reeling from the blow, but we shouldn't have to buy a car or have repairs on this one for a long time.
.... enjoyed the "All the Christmas Stuff is FREE" sale at the best thrift store in the whole world.  I picked up this mistletoe and I have big plans to put it EVERYWHERE when we decorate for Christmas.  (Probably Christmas Eve. My German husband prefers that anyway.)
My beloved says it is holly, not mistletoe.  He's totally wrong, right?  And he should kiss me anyway, quite regardless!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tutorial: Festive Little Container

  • Yogurt container
  • Tissue paper
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Mod Podge
  • Glass Baubles 
  • Foam brushes.
First, prime your yogurt container.
 Next, glue on tissue paper using regular glue:
Let dry between layers.  I found that it looked too much like toilet paper, so I added more colors.
Seal with Mod Podge:

 Then seal it again.  And again.  It needs to feel like the tissue paper is plastic!  Even so, I wouldn't get it wet.

The glass baubles I glued on with Beacon 527, mostly to match the stone-encrusted ones I'd also made.

I am using it as a mini pot, but I wouldn't recommend that.  Too delicate to really clean up stray bits of dirt.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Who Knew?

An unbelievably rude waiter at Oscar's Tavern in New York so unintentionally amused Muppet creator Jim Henson and Sesame Street director John Stone that he inspired the creation of Oscar the Grouch.

And he probably had no idea he was famous.... sort of.
The above tidbit is quoted from the book Who Knew? Things You Didn't Know About Things You Know Well by David Hoffman, page 156.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Crokinole Anyone?

This month I received my new Crokinole board.   Crokinole is a popular Canadian game that is kind of a mix between bocce and shuffleboard.  It's rumored to have started in the Mennonite/Amish community but there isn't any evidence of it.  More info can be found at Wikipedia.

Both of us ooh'd and aah'd at the niceness of the board and then tried a quick, partial game.  My wife ended up winning.  We played another quick, partial game.  Same result.  Third time... yep, she won again.  Thereafter she reported that she thinks she's going to like this game!

Over our Christmas break, I hope we get a chance to set an afternoon aside for a real tournament.  Then we'll see who wins :-)

Here's a good YouTube video about the rules.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Thoughts

So grateful to God that the Magician is OK!

This is the third day after the accident and he hasn't had any unpleasant surprises, health-wise.

And we can either be upset about the money a new car will cost (that was yesterday!) or grateful that we have the savings to buy a new car.

(We had insurance, of course, but the Honda that was hit was really old and my beloved now has such a long commute..... When you are putting 70,000 miles a year on a car, you don't really want to buy one with lots of miles already.)

So I'm going to try to opt for "grateful we have the savings" mode...  Also, The Magician had a show last night that went really well, which is something else to be grateful for.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Chive Experiment Results

The results are in... and they are inconclusive, for the most part.  (See here for a description of what I'm talking about.)

Here's how the different chives did....

Just water              4.5 inches
Short pot #1         6 inches
Tin Spot #3            7.5 inches
Self-watering        8 inches
Short Pot #2         9 inches
Tin Spot #1           9 inches
Tall Pot                 9.5 inches
Tin Spot #2           10 inches

Conclusion: soil is better than just water.
Since the tin is probably shorter than the short pot, I'm not sure height makes as much difference as I'd like to think.  Considering the variation in soil pots, I'm not even sure I can claim much again just-water.

Ah, well.  Perhaps I'll try more garden experiments in the summer.

Weekly Round-Up

This week I....

... am grateful my husband wasn't hurt, but not quite ready to be a one-car family.  (Too late on the last one!  Apparently that is enough damage to render the car "totaled," insurance-wise.)

... helped a dear friend put her dissertation on Kindle.  It took about three hours, which was much less time than I expected.  The dissertation was already formatted with page breaks and bookmarks in MS Word which sped up the process considerably.  But she decided to single-space ALL her block quotations instead of leaving them double-spaced as her advisor had insisted so she had to move through 200+ pages changing each one.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Steve Jobs and Fonts

Steve Jobs took a calligraphy class before he dropped out of college completely, inspired by the calligraphy he saw all around him back in the day when "every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed."  This is one of the reasons that the first Macintosh computer came with multiple choices of fonts, including some new designs that were "named after cities he loved, such as Chicago and Toronto"  (Pages 1-2).

~ From Just My Type: A Book about Fonts by Simon Garfield.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Fixed Rather Than Discarded - Zipper Pull

This is my second repair in less than a year, but it took five minutes and I had all the supplies on hand, so why not?

The reason it keeps breaking, I think, is because the little hole through which I poke the wire is too narrow to use any kind of heavy-gauge wire.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Is that what they call a vocation, what you do with joy as if you had fire in your heart?

~ Josephine Baker

I wonder how many people know just what this is and means, but can't follow that call?

I'll just be glad I get to follow mine in bits and pieces.  It's better than not at all.

And there are some of my vocations I get to fling myself into whole-heartedly, like loving the good, hard-working man who is my husband!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hello, Monday

My last Weekly Round up makes me laugh, because I was waxing poetic about the beautiful weather and we now have 4 inches of snow on the ground.  I have to go outside this afternoon for an interview for a freelance project and I'm not looking forward to driving in this.  (He called me this morning and wanted me to come to the interview this afternoon.  Seriously?  Do have no respect for my time at all?)  At least I will have more time this way to get the piece written.

The backup finally finished on Saturday, or was it Sunday?  Anyway, my computer had been on constantly for almost a week, and it was such a relief to turn it off.  I did go ahead and purchase a year of BackBlaze.  It is a nice feeling that my stuff is backed up someplace off-site.  As a cloud -- i.e., a web-accessible place from which one can retrieve files when one is on a different computer than the one where the files were created -- it's actually rather clumsy.  You have to pick a file, and then they e-mail you a zipped folder and then you download it to get your files.  But I generally email files to myself when I need them, so it's not a big deal.  The thing I like about it is that it backs up quietly in the background without me having to do anything, and that it does not appear to have slowed down my computer at all, which was one of my big concerns.

Artist @ work

I'm still working on Alex's book, although the odds that I'm going to get it done in time for Christmas are really small...

So why can't I draw a bird with it's beak open?

These are  my attempts:

This is my solution:

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday Thoughts

Here is an image that popped into my head with peculiar vividness the other day.

A strong, broad-shouldered man is carrying a child in his arms.  He's so strong, she weighs practically nothing to him and so loving that he holds her securely.  But she is screaming in panic: "Don't drop me!  Don't drop me!"

He smiles tenderly and says in reply: "Why do you think I would drop you?  I never have before.  I am plenty strong enough to carry you.  All your life I have loved you.  Of course, I might have to set you down so you can learn to walk.  But I'm not going to drop you.  And I promise I'll hold your hand."

So all that frantic worry is useless and silly.  He has me and I am safe.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Weekly Round Up

This week I....

.... took advantage of unexpectedly lovely weather and went geocaching with my beloved!  (There is a reason for that exclamation point: It was above 40 degrees in Nebraska in December!)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Solar Light Update: Winter

Remember that solar light that we calculated we would have to use as a night light for 10 years in order to break even?  I think it’s now 15 years!  During the winter, it doesn’t get quite enough light, so we’ve had to leave it out for two days in a row.  (No, my time is apparently not that valuable!)

Anyway, now that it is bitterly cold, I’ve kept it inside.  I just hated going out and fetching it.  I discovered via a little on-line research that solar cells can be charged from regular artificial light.  It isn’t efficient at all, but it is better than nothing.  So between leaving the solar light out on the table in the sunny dining room and having it continue to charge from the regular lights (which would be on anyway—we aren’t leaving them on just to charge it), we’re still able to use it every other night.

This is silly, I know.  But I am obsessed with solar power stuff right now! 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

New Clothes! (Sort of)

I tackled my mending pile today.  (Survival tips are at the end of the post if you want to try this yourself some time.)

Now I have added the following back into my wardrobe: a slip, two dresses, and a sweater.

Here was my mending pile:

 Here's my "new" sweater:

Tips for tackling the mending pile

1. Don’t do it very often!  Then it feels like shopping—“Look what I found!”  (Seriously.  It works.  It had been so long I actually thought I had lost the slip, but how does a nice girl like me lose an undergarment?)

I tried to make a rule that I would mend one item every time I went to play in my craft room.  Didn’t follow it.  Not even once!
2. Call a friend.  Here is Carla working on pretty smocking and keeping me company.  There is no way  would have done it without her!

3. If you hate something why fix it?  If you are going to have to rework the entire garment, why fix it unless you absolutely love it?  The first reason is why the brown dress went in the give-away pile.  (I love the Franciscans.  But I don’t want to dress like one, in polyester no less!)  The second reason is why the lovely yellow dress went into the give-away pile—the amount of work necessary to get it to fit was just too much.

I also sorted the pile and discovered that much of it was stuff for re-fashioning.  
I promptly popped it in a box, labeled it, and put it with my other fun stuff. 
The mending stash is now much smaller!

Who Knew?

Burt and Ernie are believed to be named after Burt the cop and Ernie the taxi driver in It's a Wonderful Life.

There you go!  Trivia you can actually use!  (Well, no.  But then it wouldn't be Trivia, would it?)

The above tidbit is quoted from the book Who Knew? Things You Didn't Know About Things You Know Well by David Hoffman, page 157

Monday, December 2, 2013

Herb Garden Experiment

As you can see, my herb garden has a variety of containers now.  (This is really not about frugality, unless I count my time as worth pennies an hour--this is about needing green stuff around and playing in the dirt even though it's winter.)

I’m doing a little experiment with the first three containers.  Which is better: self-watering, water-only, or water and soil?  Granted, I don’t have a large enough sample size to draw a definitive conclusion, but I await the results with interest nonetheless.  Plus I'm curious to see if the deeper soil of the fifth pot from the left makes a difference.

For instructions on making the self-watering one, see this blog post.

Happy Birthday, Chrissy!

Wishing you everything good thing in the coming year!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday Thoughts: Advent Begins

Happy New Year!

Today marks the beginning of the liturgical calendar for many Christians around the world.

My spiritual New Year's Resolution is not to do anything extra.

Just to do more lovingly and completely the spiritual practices that I already do.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Weekly Round Up

This week I...

... hung out with Marcia at Crescent Moon coffee shop and listened to some poetry
 … enjoyed having the Daileys over for a pleasant Sunday afternoon chat about creativity, sub-creation, invention, and discovery.  I created "Dreamville" which the Magician turned into an airplane.    These two photos some things up nicely.

A good time was had by all!
 … did some work on my painted shoes, since I already had painting stuff out while working on the lamp stand.

... spent time with family for Thanksgiving.  Here, Dad teaches my niece Arwen to play solitaire.
 (In real life she isn't that blurry!)

... watched the odometer on the Honda hit 100,000 miles on the drive back from helping Dave and Sarah move into their beautiful new home.  (And then dusted off the dashboard!)

... per my brother-in-law Micah's advice, I downloaded a trial version of BackBlaze, an on-line (and therefore off-site) back-up system.  It only backs up files like photos, Word documents, videos, etc, not applications, but on my really old machine I have 19,697 files that meet its criteria.  So far it has taken about 24 hours of my computer being on continuously to get about 10,000 files downloaded.  Happily I can still use my computer while this is going on.  Anyway, apparently upload speed is always much, much slower than download speed.  I will let you, my loyal readers, know how the system works and if I decide to spend $5 a month for the service.  As Micah pointed out, whatever disaster claims your computer would probably claim your back-up external drive, too, so having your data in a cloud is more than just being able to access it from multiple computers.
... counted my blessings, not least of which has been getting to spend lots of time with my beloved, as we are both off from work the second half of this week.