Monday, December 5, 2016

Holiday Cards Are Finished!

Yesterday we had our second snow - so when I awakened at 7:30 am, the first thing I did was shovel the driveway and sidewalks. Now it's quite lovely - warm enough to melt the snow on concrete and the streets (except where the plows deposited extra amounts), but cold enough to keep the snow on the grass and trees. It's one of the better results from a snowfall, and one that will stick around for a while as we drop our temps about 20 degrees colder over the next two days.

It wasn't a big snow, and not super heavy, but we still got
1-1/2 inches or so, so the grass suddenly is wearing its cloak
of white. 

Yesterday was also the first of our three Sundays in December when we will be open for business at the shop - limited hours, but open. It gave me some time to catch up on some of my Creative Writing course, and also gave me time to finish my holiday cards. Yes - THEY'RE DONE! I'll be buying stamps for them this morning and they'll be hitting the mail tonight. I have one set aside for a pending address, but except for the single, they are done!

I've had this lovely card sent to me in a prior year. Such
a beauty. I won't look this elegant when I mail my
holiday cards on the way home from work tonight. 

That search for the white pen/pencil/charcoal ended up being unnecessary - I didn't use it at all in the finished product. There were a couple of other things that I also tried and then set aside as "not working", but those cards still made the final cut. In the main, I'm pleased with how this year's design turned out. Now to turn my thoughts back to actually making a living! I know ... what a shock!

I'm going to have to try to carve writing time out of each day once again. I've done it before, very successfully, but that was before I was swimming every morning. My mornings at the YMCA changed my schedule and my life. I can't give up the benefits to just sit back and regain the weight I've fought to lose. So somewhere in my crazy schedule I have to pigeonhole writing time. I have no idea how I will make that one happen!

So, I've finished this year's holiday cards. Why am I looking
at and shopping for materials for next year's offering? I'm
really liking the look of stamps and dies from Lawn Fawn.
So cute, and with so many great ideas. 

Oh well, I'll worry about that another day. I'm still trying to get my head around what I want to write about. I guess that should probably be the beginning of it all, right? Have a wonderful Monday - I'm already looking forward to my swim followed by a nice breakfast and then a trip to see Susan at the post office for pretty stamps. Huzzah!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Winter is Coming

I've lived up here in the Frozen Northlands for more than 35 years, you think I'd be used to our seasons, our weather, and all of the other things that accompany the progress of time through the northern portion of the United States. We get extremes of temperatures - both high and low - during an average year. We get rain in December and snow in October and we get too many days of grey skies, but those that dawn without the clouds are an intense blue and are breathtakingly beautiful. We're solidly into our season of cold now, but it hasn't come quite yet.

My shirt was inherited from my father-in-law and
is in lavender tones. Pendleton shirts, if cared for, can
last for a lifetime. They're warm, well made, and
really lovely. They're also expensive - I wouldn't buy
one for myself, so it was nice to have it come my way. 

For example, on Wednesday (my day off) I was running errands between loads of laundry. I started the day out wearing my cold weather gear, but by the time I was going to the grocery store at 10:30 am, I was dressed in a t-shirt and a long sleeved Pendleton woolen overshirt - no coat at all. It was 37F (2.7C) degrees outside, and I was walking through a cold light misty rain without a coat. I shook my head and thought, "OMG, I've turned into a Minnesotan!"

Winter is coming - no way to avoid it. It's a beautiful
time of the year, but one that I'd rather avoid. Maybe
I'll look into being a snow bird after I retire - a nice
time share in Arizona might be perfect - LOL. 

We did get one snow before Thanksgiving so our holiday looked lovely with white lawns, but the roads were open, snow-free and easy driving. Now that the snow is completely gone and we've had a week of day temperatures over freezing to get back into fall mode, that's going to be ending with a thud next week. The cold is coming! From Tuesday on, our highs will be in the teens and twenties, and our nights will be in the low teens. Darn! We're not quite to single digit temperatures yet, but, as is said in "Game of Thrones," "Winter is coming!"

This is all too true, unfortunately. I'm too busy to get to the
Art Museum to see the exhibit that I really want to see, and
January will be tight. But I'm still going to try. I want the cultural
part of Minnesota too. 

I'm adding my signature and putting my chop onto the back of my holiday cards, and then they'll be in the mail. I got a lovely card from Linda Hoyland in England in the mail yesterday making a fabulous start to my holiday decorating. I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend, I'll have to work. This Sunday will be the first of three when I'll have my store open for limited hours for holiday shopping. Ick!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Project Runway - Final 6 - Avant-garde

We're down to the final six contestants, the final two challenges before Fashion Week, and this week was the Lexus Avant-garde Challenge. The clothing had to be a mix of fabric and metallic materials from found materials provided by Lexus. There were some really bizarre designs this week.

Four designs made the top looks:

Rik worked with glass tiles, aluminum dog tags with hooks, leather neoprene and a metallic fabric onto which he sewed individual beads that he made from cut metal pieces, to make a really lovely dress. It was borderline avant-garde, but I thought this was one that would sell right off the rack exactly the way it was presented, for one season. Then it would be found at the local charity shop.

Rik's design would have felt at home in any kitchen
with the tiles over the shoulder and across the back. But
what I liked was that it was pretty. I also loved the
different textures in each of the panels. 

Roberi used aluminum and bronze sheets that he cut into swoop shapes and sewed over a metallic-thread fabric with exposed seams making a futuristic look. I really liked most of it. He also created a face shield that really worked and made the design even more unique.

Roberi's outfit was a bit of "Mad Max" mixed with
"Robo Cop", but in spite of that, it actually worked
really well. It was the mix of metal colors and the
wonderful fabric with exposed stitching below that
gave the dress its character. 

Erin chose to design a dress the way that paper doll dresses are made - with tabs folded over the shoulders and body to hold it on. She made the paper doll dress from embellished chicken wire netting and put it over wide straight pants, all in her signature bright yellow. It was an interesting concept, and even though I wasn't super happy with the execution, the design was unique. The judges seemed to like it. Nina called it very editorial and Heidi just loved the dress upon close inspection. Erin ended up as the winner of this challenge.

Does Erin have any other colors in her palette except
canary yellow? But in this case, it worked. The bodice
of flowers glued to chicken wire actually covered really
well, and all the sharp ends were glue-protected. It
wasn't my favorite, but it was the most avant-garde
design on the runway. 

Laurence did a beautiful look as a little, short black dress. She took metal HVAC tubing that she cut apart into strips and painted black. The judges, correctly, pointed out that she should have pushed a bit more and gone for more color and pattern in her signature style. She said she couldn't speak well for her design in English, so Heidi told her to speak in French. It was lovely to hear her speak her native tongue.

No photo available of Laurence's dress *sigh*. 

Unfortunately my usual photo source messed up their picture with two of Cornelius' outfit and no photo of Laurence's dress. A twenty minute search of images still yielded nothing, so I can't show you her stairstep dress, but it was rather boring with her same square shoulders in basic black. NOT very avant-garde.

On the bottom this week were Mah-Jing and Cornelius.

Cornelius designed "Dune" Tube Worm meets model with the addition of pictographs diagramming her interior organs. Ooof! He had one tube coming out of the model's uterine area, another around the shoulder and a third from the shoulder down in the back. It probably was avant-garde, but no - not a win in my opinion.

The tubes, the color shapes, it was a disaster, and I was
really surprised that it wasn't Cornelius who was sent home. 

Mah-Jing used his denim to make a basic strapless dress and shaped metal mesh and thick copper wire (or tubing) to weave in and out of it. He likened it to coral and how coral twists in and around itself. He formed a busty top and panniers of this mesh, but they were heavy and the model had difficulty keeping the strapless gown up with the weight at the hips pulling it down. I loved the strip of metal he had for a belt, though. Mah-Jing was the loser for the night.

The judges felt that Mah-Jing's design didn't integrate
the two materials, rather that he made a dress and then
embellished it with the metal overlays. In essence, they
were right. Add in the fact that the metal pieces were
heavy and his model kept almost falling out of the
strapless dress and it was a FAIL. 

So there you go, now there are five. I'm rushed today so have a wonderful Friday. I need to plug in the pictures and hit the road.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Looking Ahead to December - Some Links

November ended up with a gain of two pounds. Ick! Of course, I started the month out with an unusual low, and it was a holiday month - Thanksgiving, a holiday that centers around nothing but food - but I'm still not very happy. Despite or in spite of that, it doesn't change much. I'll still be at the gym and in the pool when the doors open at 5:00 am. The pounds came on easily, they'll go off easily too.

I don't hand-address my envelopes - my handwriting is atrocious, and I want
my  cards to actually arrive at their final destinations. But there are some
beautiful hand-embellished addresses out there. If you want to take a stab at
hand addressing, here's a link to a free downloadable template you
might find helpful. 

I spent my time after dinner printing out the envelopes for my holiday cards. With the exception of one card (just waiting on the address information to arrive for me), those are now ready to go. I finished the interior of the cards yesterday afternoon with the exception of the actual signature. I have one more image to heat emboss on the card front and my personal "Made by xxx for you" information to stamp and sign on the back of each card, and then I'm finished. Yes, there is still a lot of time involved, but I'm into the home stretch. No inserts this year - time and the fact that I just couldn't quite pull together what I wanted, nixed that desire. I'll start thinking about an insert for next year's card right after the new year.

I haven't had a calendar by Jacek Yerka before, but his
artwork looks like a lot of fun so this calendar is going into
my computer room so that I can look at it every day and smile. 

I hung my new calendars for 2017 behind this year's throughout the house yesterday morning. I have calendars everywhere - both to remind me of the date, but also to allow me to have an ever changing palette of artwork to view. I'm hanging a lot of my standards - Gardens of the Spirit and Llewellen's Witch's Calendar are two of my favorites - but I also got one on landscape art and one on surrealistic art for the coming year. I think I'll be happy to see the end of this year. It's had some highlights, but has been very disappointing in other aspects. I suppose it's that way with every year, but I won't be remembering 2016 with a lot of joy, just a sense of relief that it is finally over and we can work toward something better in 2017.

I get a copy of Llewelln's Witches' Calendar every year. I
adore the artwork in it. The art is actually tinted scratchboard
art and it is primo! Do you remember scratchboard? Are
you curious about that technique? Here's a link for you

What about you? How are you progressing on your holiday schedule? Are your cards made/purchased and ready to go? Do you have your tree set up or do you even do a tree? Are you planning anything special for your holiday dinner(s)? How's your shopping going - finding all the right gifts? I hope you are having a holiday time of fulfillment and joy, but I also know how stressing these days can be. Take a few minutes for that extra cup of coffee or tea, settle back in your comfy chair, and take a deep breath. It's Thursday and the week is humming right along, so have a good one!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

"Moana" - A Total Win

First of all - "Moana"! This was a really FUN movie. The theatre was completely sold out - well, maybe three or four singles in the back corners were unoccupied - it was crowded. More than 50% of the audience was kids under 12. Once the movie started, with the exception of one infant, not a peep was heard. Laughs were aplenty (love that darned chicken), and thrills followed also. It was well paced, the songs were good, the main and supplementary characters were excellent. All in all, I give this one a strong approval. Stay for the interminable credits, the very last scene is worth the wait.

HeiHei, the chicken, is a wonderful character. Without saying
a word, he can capture the laughs. He's one of the strong supporting
cast in "Moana". 

Chickie left for a second movie on a different screen while I returned home to get some sleep. I'll be dragging for the next few days, recovering from a "late" night, but it was well worth it. I would see "Moana" again. I'm putting it at the same level as "Brave" - entertaining with a strong female lead and good writing.

Monster came yesterday to take down four trees and do a serious trim
on a large overhanging branch. They'll be back in a few weeks to
shred one large stump. They were fast, efficient, and DH was quite
impressed with them. They were also very reasonably priced. 

The tree trimmers didn't arrive until almost noon and I was really afraid that they wouldn't be finished in time. But they were done and out before 4:00 pm. DH said they really messed up the front yard getting their skid loader and the pieces of trees and brush out of the back, but we had been planning to do some work in the front and this will just push that a bit farther into the "mandatory" column. I haven't had a chance to see anything in daylight yet, so I'll take a look today and maybe share some photos tomorrow.

I hereby declare my holiday card list is now complete. I'm really
happy with the end results. There were a few unexpected
deletions, and some additions that made me quite happy.
Now to just get the darned things finished and into the mail ... 

My holiday card list is complete and I'm cutting it off. Marta and cmcmck will be my final two additions and that brings me to my total with a small breathing space for error. I'll be working quite intensively on these over the afternoon and evening today. It's the end of November and I want to get these completed within my mandatory time frame. DH is tired of hearing about them, so time to finish up. Of course, it's never quite that simple, but this can (and will) happen.

Remember the green water for the diving pool at the Rio Olympics? Water
with algae isn't fun or healthy to swim in. My YMCA had the pool closed
until the chemical imbalance was corrected. It wasn't quite this green,
but that's something to be grateful for. 

Apparently the machine that delivers chemicals to the pool broke down over the weekend, causing Rachel to close the pool to swimmers until new chemicals could be added. The pool was only closed until about 6:15 am on Monday, but since that's when I'm usually almost ready to leave after my swim, that was WAY too late. Yesterday the water was a bit cloudy, but that was fine. It'll be even better today. Many of our usual Monday swimmers came yesterday instead, so it was a bit odd seeing the mix of Monday and Tuesday swimmers. I was able to get in my swim which made me very happy. I'm looking forward to today's "day off". Lots to do on my agenda and a nice chat with Aearwen to top off my afternoon. Have a wonderful Wednesday and give a special hug to your pets today. They deserve a little extra love for the joy they bring to us.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Tuesday Redo - Pool, Movie - Haven't I Tried This Before?

Yesterday was a bit of a wash - although I was a good girl, standing in front of the doors for the YMCA at 5:00 am when they were unlocked - the pool was closed. I'll find out more about why later this morning, but suspect it was a chemical issue. In any case, they said the earliest it would open would be 6:30 am, so I blew off the pool, went home and showered, and went out for breakfast. It was amusing to see the three guys who swim in the lane next to me on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, sitting in a nearby booth having their own breakfasts.

Perkins Restaurant and Bakery is my usual breakfast
spot. I like their coffee, and they have some really
nice meals for $4-$8 that I usually choose from. 

Unfortunately it was the beginning of a carb-heavy day which is reflected in my morning weight today. Ugh! The pool should be back up and running today and I'll be there, working off all of my poor food choices from yesterday.

I'll be back in the pool today. I really growl when my schedule
gets messed up, and yesterday was a total miss! 

Tonight I am going with Chickie to see "Moana" after work. This looked really cute, and I'm totally willing to spend $5 on it along with some free popcorn. Popcorn's not the best dinner in the world, but actually, not too bad. It should be a fun time and make up for last week's snow-shortened movie trip. The weather shouldn't be much of an issue tonight.

I'm looking forward to "Moana". It's getting high scores on
"Rotten Tomatoes" in both critical and audience reviews. 

My favorite bookstore, Barnes & Noble, were kind enough to send me a $10 gift card as a membership reward. What a nice thing! I'll be loading that onto my B&N account on Wednesday and it'll be eaten up within two e-books. What a wonderful gift, I'm very happy indeed.

I'm not sure they'll use a cherry picker (getting on down into my
lower yard could be difficult or next to impossible). I know they
are going to use some equipment, though, because they'll be trimming
the yew on my corner to get it in position. 

Today several of our trees will be taken down. We opted for half of the trees we originally wanted cut, but it's still going to be quite the job for them to get to the ones we need removed. They are supposed to phone DH when they are on their way from a small job that will start their day. Ideally they should be out working in my backyard around 10:00 am. It'll be loud, and the neighbors will all be looking out their windows to see what's happening. It's rather funny to be the center of attention for all of the retired folks living on the other side of the creek from me. I just hope everything goes smoothly.

Have a happy Tuesday, all!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Rain in Late November is OK

We're in that in-between time when snow and rain each seem to have equal footing. Last night and throughout the day today it will be rain because we're just a few degrees above freezing. That's just fine with me. As long as the wet stays above freezing and I don't have to drive on iced-over roads, I'm a very content person.

I love falling asleep to the sound of falling rain. 

I finalized my holiday card list last night. If you were on the fence about asking for one to be sent to you, I still have a few slots open, just message me and I'll add you to my list. I'll be printing up envelopes and doing the final interior designs this week and, if everything goes smoothly, they will start to get mailed during the first full week of December.

The best thing about Thanksgiving is that one large bird can give us a lot of meals. We had our main meal on Thursday, then ate hot turkey sandwiches on Friday. DH had more sandwiches on Saturday while I opted for a day off from turkey and did Chipotle instead, and on Sunday we made new mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy and had another Thanksgiving meal. The carcass has now been denuded and is in the trash, and there are two zip bags of turkey still in the refrigerator for DH to munch on and have for more sandwiches. That's a lot of eating for less than $17. Gotta love it.

DH loves his hot turkey sandwiches. He'll end up finishing all
of the leftover meat by the end of the week. 

Our Friday and Saturday sales went really well. Thank goodness. I think I picked the right items to put on sale and quite a few of our customers came in on both days to take full advantage. Now I can relax again until Christmas and our after-Christmas sale. Guess I'd better start thinking about what I want to feature for the last days of the year.

I don't run Cyber-Monday sales, even though I do have an on-line
presence for the shop. I'm not selling DVD's or TV's. My line
of product works much easier in person. 

I hope all of you have a wonderful Cyber-Monday. I glanced at the advertised sales this morning, but there really wasn't anything that I need, so my bank account will be happy. It'll still be a busy day, though, since Chickie is off on Mondays and I work the sales floor solo most of the time. Have a wonderful Monday, I'm off to the pool. OH, and I just realized, TODAY'S POST IS NUMBER 2400! Yeah me - LOL!