Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Dreaming of a River Cruise

I'm a bit rushed today, had to have some back-and-forth with a customer. Still, I want to get something out there for all of you, and I've been dreaming of doing one (or more) river cruises in Europe with DH after we're retired. I always get mailings from Viking River Cruises, and after looking at reviews of other companies, decided to request a catalog from Avalon Cruises as well. I've been slowly looking through their massive book of cruising choices and information. I think I'm really falling in love with the idea. 

There are two things I really like about Avalon Cruise line ships. The
first it the French balcony which opes up the entire end of the room,
making your room into a single large balcony. The other is the bed
position which allows you to lie in bed and watch the world pass by
in front of you. Pretty nifty! 

DH's idea of a vacation is a series of short drives from Point A to Point B. He's not in the mood to sit in the car for long lengths of time any more (very understandable) and he's really not in a mood to go outside the USA either, but I want to so he'll probably go at least once. It may never happen again, so I'll have to make it a good one. LOL

Rooms are small on board a ship - no two ways about that. But
I love the mirrored wall to the left that gives the illusion of
size, and having the bed positioned as it is allows a wonderful
vista of the land as it passes by. Here, it is of a Danube cruise. 

We haven't had a vacation together since 1994. That's what happens when you own your own small business and one or both of you need to be available at all times. It's rather like working a small "tienda" on the streets of any large city, but we don't carry milk and eggs, we carry beads and crafting supplies. It allows us to have reasonable hours, but we still have to be there six days a week. 

The major reason I'm looking at a river cruise is because it is
small and intimate. Avalon ships average 132 passengers and
50 crew. Viking River Cruises top out at 190 passengers and
50 crew. Either way, it's not the thousands of passengers
you get on the large cruise ships that travel the oceans.
Small can be good and can be very customized. 

So today, while enjoying my "day off" which, of course, entails laundry, housecleaning, grocery shopping, etc., I'll also be dreaming about river cruising and relaxing for several days in a row while looking at spectacular scenery. A girl can dream, yes? Enjoy your Wednesday and I'll be back tomorrow. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Aggravations Are Passing Blips

I generally love living up here in the "Frozen Northlands" of the USA, but in winter it is debatable. Winter's a beautiful season - there's nothing quite as stunning as looking at dawn's light spreading across expanses of snow and the bones of trees. There's also nothing much nicer than looking out at falling snow and settling into your favorite chair to read a good book or work on a project, knowing you don't have to be outside in the weather. Mornings like today, however, aren't quite as nice. 

Winter is a beautiful season. It features snow, ice, and deadly cold,
but also landscapes of unparalleled wonder. 

It's not snowing. It would almost be better if it was, because usually the temperatures are higher when snow is falling. No, it's clear and cold - really cold. Although the actual temperature is only negative 1 (-1 F = -18.3 C), we have a breeze blowing. Breezes are wonderful in the summer when we're wilting from the heat, but in the winter they really suck. My negative 1 F temp will feel like negative 16 (-16 F = -26.6 C) when I leave for the pool in a bit less than an hour. That qualifies as icky in anyone's book, 

I currently have an older version of the Epson Workforce.
It's been a great printer and I've worked it to death.
I'm thinking about getting the WF-3620 this time.
I like Epson printers - they're generally reliable, give
good quality printouts, and don't cost a lot to get. 

Remember my printer woes? I've tried just about everything to get them resolved, but since the printer was starting to have issues anyway, DH and I have decided to go ahead and purchase a new one in another week to ten days. These days the printer isn't the expensive thing, it's the ink for the printers that's the killer. Unfortunately, I'll end up wasting about $100 worth of ink cartridges when we trash the printer. Still, we both agree - we must have a working printer at home. We rely on it too much to be without one. 

The nice thing about my aggravations is that they can be resolved. I can bundle up in a warm coat when I go out into my frigid temperatures today, winter eventually will pass into spring, and purchasing a new printer isn't the end of the world. I wish world problems like hunger and hatred were as easily solved. Pass along a little kindness today - buy someone a cup of coffee, bake a favorite treat for your family, help out at a homeless shelter, or just play with a child or a pet. A little happiness can go a long way. Enjoy your Tuesday, I'll be back tomorrow. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

OMG What A Game!

We're still marching toward Super Bowl Sunday, which actually will be held in Minneapolis this year in US Bank stadium. Our home town team, the Minnesota Vikings, have played in the Super Bowl before, but have never won. Since the last time, the league has expanded (a lot) and the competition has also expanded (a lot). But we have a really good team this year with an unknown quarterback who stepped into the job and took off running. It's been a bizarre year for us, and yesterday's game was just one more example of how bizarre it really could get. 

I love this shirt. Don't own it, but almost wish I did. Of
course, both Green Bay and Chicago are already done
with their seasons, and we're still playing! Go
Purple - Go Vikings! 

As a Vikings fan, you wear your purple and gold, you know how to do the "Skol" cheer, and you enter every game hopeful, but knowing it's the Vikings and we'll lose. Especially as we climb the ladder toward the Big Game. we'll lose. It doesn't stop us from cheering ourselves hoarse, it doesn't stop us from dreaming, but we've been there before. We've done the higher ranks - the Divisional Playoffs, the Divisional Championships, and the Big Game itself. We've done this dance before, and always had our feet stepped on. 

New Orleans didn't play well until the second half, but then they
really pulled it out and made it a game. The final three minutes
of the game will be watched for years to come. 

Yesterday we played the New Orleans Saints for a chance to get to the Divisional Championship. In the other games around the league, two winners were upsets - the Jacksonville Jaguars over the Pittsburgh Steelers 45 to 42. A very tight game, but I was pretty happy - I'm quite fond of cats. The Philadelphia Eagles over the Atlanta Falcons 15 to 10, which was a surprise and a very well-played game, and finally, the New England Patriots over the Tennessee Titans 35 to 14. The Patriots are going to their seventh consecutive Divisional Playoff Game. For some great highlights and a nice synopsis of each of the four games, check out this link

On the last play of the game, Case Keenum threw to his favorite receiver,
Stefon Diggs, hoping to get enough yardage to allow a field goal to
win the game. But Diggs ran with it, and made it to the end zone.
Touchdown! Victory! We're going to the Championship round! 

If you missed our final three minutes of play, you missed football at its best. The Vikings had the lead, then the Saints did, and on the final play of the game, with no time-outs or other options left to use, Case Keenum threw to Stefon Diggs who ran it into the end zone for a touchdown! We won the game! With zero seconds remaining on the clock! It was a miracle play, it'll be in highlight reels for years to come, and we actually did it! We're going one step farther along, to the Divisional Championship game next weekend where we'll meet the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia for a chance to play in the Super Bowl in three weeks. 

I don't dare look too far ahead, but damn! Damn! We're going to the Divisional Championship game! Damn! I'm SO doing the happy dance. Enjoy your Monday, I'll be smiling all day. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Project Runway All Stars Episode 2 Spoilers Below

Did you happen to watch this week's episode? Did you catch Isaac Mizrahi's poodle ensemble? OMG - men past their gay teens should NEVER be caught wearing a suit with a poodle applique at the pocket and a matching poodle bow tie. The next time Mr Mizrahi complains about an outfit being too much like a costume, I'm going to remember this suit. I understand that he's made a name for himself with poodle designs and also has some real life poodles, but really? Now ... on to fashion. 

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, the theme this week was each challenger designing an outfit his woman would wear walking a runway in a post-apocalyptic world. Each designer had to design an outfit and also come up with a backstory for why their model would be wearing that specific item. So here we go . the best of the best and worst of the worst in no specific order.  

I liked Ari's dress - quite a lot. Her dark to
light to dark ombre was stunning and the
accompanying jacket complemented the
gown well. 

First we start with Ari. She really pushed every last minute out of the one-day challenge, making both a wonderful blow-torched-lace gown as well as an accompanying jacket. The gown was in fiery red indicating flames, the jacket in black to indicate that the flames had been suppressed. She started out with white fabric and dyed and painted all of the gown, so I was impressed with her ombre effect. Very nice. 

Merline actually did a great job with the construction
of her Basic Black Dress, but it didn't really click
as a total winner. Still, she ended up in the top
three and her construction details were sound. 

Merline placed her model in year 2180 with the dress actually being a map to "the key". What key? I haven't the vaguest idea, and I don't think the judges figured that one out either. It was remarked that Merline did a much better job of her seaming this week, obviously taking last week's judges' comments into consideration when constructing this little black dress. It was almost too simple, though. A basic little black dress brought forward in time with some interesting angles and folds. 

Stanley's color choice was called "swamp" by
Isaac Mizrahi. The other judges weren't quite as
harsh, but to me it looked as if that flame
she had gone through was too selective. 

Stanley made a multi-tiered dress in a god-awful olive/khaki color. Usually I'm all over this color palette, but this particular fabric left me cold. His 'opera caught on fire' backstory was innovative, but the judges did point out that the fire seemed to have been quite selective so they found the story a bit hard to accept. 

The letters on the back of the jacket looked like
a five-year-old had drawn them and cut them
out. If this girl was truly a fire fighter for Detroit,
I'd expect the lettering to look professional. 

Char wanted to make a futuristic fire fighter from Detroit, even going so far as to put "DET FIRE DEPT" on the back of the jacket. Unfortunately, she didn't distress enough and the jacket seemed quite "costume" (see my opening paragraph regarding Isaac Mizrahi and costumes). Although Isaac liked her pants with a train concept, Alyssa said the pants looked as if they had met a lawn mower. I suspect she didn't mean that in a good way. Georgina didn't like the design at all, so this was a miss on all counts for Char. 

I really like Kelly, but this was a miss. The top
at least had a bit of visual interest, but the bottom
was a tangled mess as it walked the runway.
The headphones helped her backstory, but
did nothing for the actual outfit. This was a miss. 

Kelly made her own bodice fabric (which I thought rather atrocious, although Isaac said it was the one redeeming part of her design). Her girl had started the apocalypse by dancing so hard that she set the world on fire. Hmmm. Remember what I said yesterday about the Devil being in the details? Here Kelly went overboard with the headphones. It was a firm "NO" from all of the judges, who felt that her time would have been better spent making a more cohesive design and outfit. 

Normally this oversized print would have been
cause for serious criticism by the judges, but Anthony
balanced that large print with the darker bodice and
his flame and smudges throughout. It was the classiest
fire-damaged gown I could have thought of. 

Anthony wanted an African look and backstory, so his model was a princess from Gambia. (Does Gambia even have princesses outside of Disney over-do? I have no idea.) His princess was attending the MET Gala when the world ended, resulting in her dress catching fire. I thought his placement of burn marks and ashes was quite strategic, and I loved the interplay of the bold print and the black tulle. Isaac called the look "distressed and fresh as a daisy". OK - whatever you say, Mr. Mizrahi. 

Who walked away from the apocalypse in style? That would be Anthony with the well deserved win for his lovely Gambian princess gown. The loser? Well, that was Kelly. I guess the headphones which received negative comments from each judge, married with a shredded look that really didn't walk down the runway effectively, sent her packing. 

There you have it. It's -9 F right now, so really effin' cold. I'm going to get bundled up and head to the pool for my swim. I suspect my reward coffee later will be extra appreciated today! Enjoy your weekend, and Go Vikings (sorry - it's the playoffs on Sunday and I have to support my hometown team). 

"Project Runway All Stars" Returns - No Spoilers

"Rookies vs Vets" is the basic foundation for Project Runway All Stars, Season Six. I was hoping that they would continue the trend started by Heidi and Tim's regular Project Runway, i.e., using models reflective of real life women. Unfortunately, it seems that PR All Stars has returned to the standard model stable body type - skinny, young, and tall. Bleh...

I loved having models of many sizes
for Season 16 of Project Runway. Liris
Cross was one of my absolute favorite
models of all time. I wish PR All Stars
had continued that trend. 

The second episode's designs were inspired by post-apocalyptic disaster - a very open concept that seems to be popular in fashion as well as in basic trends. After a trip to Mood, the designers begin making their Runway looks, torturing their fabrics and embellishments by using dyes, combs, blow torches and paints. Their goal was a "Runway Look for a Post-Apocalyptic Woman" and a backstory had to accompany each look. 

Once again the standard judges for Project Runway All Stars are
design-winning designers Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman.
They join host, Alyssa Milano. Be sure to check out Isaac's
poodle look for Episode 2 - only he could pull off the jacket and
bow tie combination he's sporting. 

There is a fine line to walk when distressing fabric for the purpose of fashion. The goal is something that looks as if it simply couldn't exist properly without being distressed, but that also doesn't look as if the holes or various colors weren't intentional. Intentional is great, but in a one-day challenge only a minimal amount of time can be spent on distressing before actual construction has to ensue. Do you see that fence? For this challenge there were a lot of designers attempting to balance on top of the fence instead of crossing over it and finishing their designs. 

In essence, they were designing for worlds far beyond
the pale. Think Mad Max meets Project Runway. 

By the end of the day, at least 1/3 of the designers hadn't even started distressing their fabrics, and several designs were still in pieces. With the runway show scheduled for the next day, I imagine there were several designers who didn't get a lot of sleep while they were stressing about their design and the lack of time they had to finish things before the Runway. 

We're taught that the devil is in the details. Is it
the same in fashion? We'll find out. Who won this
challenge and who was sent home? Spoilers tomorrow! 

So how did they do? I won't put spoilers until tomorrow's post, but until then, have a wonderful Friday. I have the day off again. I got all six repairs/restrings completed yesterday and except for a bit of glue on the knots that I'll put on today, I'm finally caught up. When they pick them up, I'll have almost $200 towards the classes I bought earlier this week. Yeah me! LOL. Time to bundle up and shovel whatever the snowplow put across my driveway. The joys of winter. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

An Icy Day Off For Me Today

I'll be very carefully poking my way to the gym this morning. It's not snowing (yet), but it's been misting overnight and the streets will be icy and slippery. I don't have to go to the shop today, I'm taking the day off and working on the rest of the repairs that I have pending. Still, I don't like driving or walking on ice. The snow band ended up moving south of us, so we might get three hours of light snow in mid-day, but we won't get the "up to nine inches" that had originally been threatened in the forecast. 

We really dodged a bullet on this one. Originally we were supposed
to be purple - a minimum of 5 inches, but up to 10 inches. Now we'll
see less than an inch out of this, although the streets may be quite icy. 

I managed to get my under-desk drawer drilled and new screws installed yesterday. I'm quite pleased. Instead of four small screws, it is now held by twelve much beefier screws. If these don't hold, I may have to look at some serious work - maybe bolts drilled into the desktop. That would't be fun, though, and I'm hoping the new screws will do the trick for several years. 

I went from a single screw similar to the right-hand size,
to three screws similar to the left-hand size in each
bracket. If this doesn't work to hold things well, I'm
not sure what else I'll be able to do. It feels much sturdier,
though, so I'm hoping for the best. 

The repair and the angles I had to position myself for it, forced me to clean beneath my desk, - a very good thing. I now have my under-desk areas organized as paper products (specialty printing papers and sketchbooks, mainly) and design books (everything from Wraethau to LOTR designs as interpreted in artwork to Japanese family crests and design motifs). I have one more small box of stuff in paper bags that I'll go through today or tomorrow if I need a break from customer repairs. 

Last week's winning outfit was this dress with the unusual
sleeve design. I really liked the concept a lot - rather
like modern armour - an overlay of outward protection.
The judges did mention that the construction should have
been cleaner, but the sleeve design was what caught their eye. 

Today is Thursday and tonight it's time for the second episode of Project Runway All-Stars, Season 6. I'm delighted to be involved in fashion once more. Poor DH is going crazy - the upstairs TV is only showing captions on the cable channels, not on any of the network channels. This is new - only over the past 48 hours - but since he relies on captions for his programming, he's getting quite frustrated. Wish I could do something, but I'm clueless on this one. Enjoy your Thursday and drive carefully wherever you are. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Doing the Happy Dance

I'm finally feeling human today. Of course, my "humanity" can sometimes be debatable, but I'm not blowing my nose every two minutes and I actually feel pretty good. I'll be at the pool in a little less than two hours from now and I can't wait. It may not be the greatest workout I'll ever have had, but  at least I'll be back in the water. This is me doing the happy dance! 

It's going to be a really busy day and I have a TON of stuff
to do, but I'm finally feeling much better and I think I have
everything in order for maximum efficiency. 

Enough people have been hit with the Creeping Crud around here that it was even one of the lead stories on the news last night. As suspected, we didn't have the flu, but we certainly did have colds of varying intensity. Chickie and DH rivaled each other for how awful they felt, but I really escaped with minimal issues, even though it was miserable to go through. 

There's nothing fun about the "creeping crud" except
waving good-bye when it finally leaves. I'm grateful
I didn't get hit any harder by it than I did. 

On today's agenda - getting everything possible done that requires me to be out and about. Tomorrow we'll have much colder temps, a wicked wind, and snow of anywhere from 1" to 7" total falling throughout the the day. I get today and tomorrow off because I worked for my manager last week when he was sick. He'll be dealing with tax forms and reports over the next few days, and I'll get at least Wednesday and Thursday off, and maybe Friday also. I'll be doing customer repairs, fixing my under-desk keyboard drawer and generally catching up a bit. 

I'll be borrowing DH's cordless drill again today to get
my under-desk keyboard drawer more secure and the
one side repaired. I'll feel much better about the entire
item after each bracket has three longer screws instead
of one dinky one. 

I was successful in registering for my classes at Bead & Button Show yesterday, and also got my hotel reservations made. I'm actually driving out a day later than usual this year, but there wasn't anything causing me to need to be there on Tuesday, so I'll head out on Wednesday the 6th of June instead of Tuesday the 5th. I'll return home on Sunday the 10th, which will give me Saturday afternoon and evening to decompress and allow for a good night's sleep on Saturday night. I'll be staying at the Hyatt Regency once again, so if you're at the Bistro or the bar and see me, stop by and say "hi". 

I was't sure whether I wanted to stay here, at the Hyatt
Regecy, or across the way at the other host hotel, the
Hilton. I usually end up spending a lot of time at
each of the two hotels, but for my classes, the Hyatt
was more convenient this year. Maybe next year
I'll opt for the Hilton again. It's a beautiful hotel. 

On that note, I'm calling today a done deal and getting this going. I'm heading out to see my friends and swim at the YMCA, then diving into my day. I have lots to do, capped off by a long-overdue phone convo with Aearwen later this afternoon. Huzzah! Have a wonderful Wednesday and may your day be merry.