Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving and FINAL Holiday Card Call-Out

I love Thanksgiving, and hate it at the same time. DH was at the store yesterday, so I had him pick up one thing that I knew we needed, just to avoid having to shop on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. BUT, I realized last night that there is one more thing that I will run out of before Friday and so I have to get it today. I'll make a special trip, very early this morning to pick up that single item. I'm crossing my fingers that it will be a quick in/out of the grocery store.

I really liked this little math problem. Practical math makes
more sense than problems that aren't grounded in reality. I'd
say with three bags of flour, however, Grandmother could
make a lot more than a single apple pie! 

I'll be in high gear tomorrow for my "day off" working on my holiday cards. I'm hoping to pound my list of recipients into shape tonight, so please message me if you want one of my cards but haven't sent a confirming message with your address to me. I don't want to lose you in the mix. There are a couple of people I haven't heard from who I might contact directly. I haven't had time to do a final count of respondents yet, and I'm short my normal 50 by a few, so I'll be watching every name. But if you contact me, I'll make sure you're on the list and get a card.

But, as I said, tomorrow will be a day of "Full steam ahead" to get as much done as I possibly can. I still have my Wednesdays off to finalize the cards, but time is running short and I need them to hit the mail ASAP, especially for my foreign friends. Mail delivery across the pond to my various friends isn't as quick as sending things to the next state or city here in the USA. I'm very happy with how they are turning out, though and I'm getting excited watching them come together.

I love this "Early Bird" image from 1916. The envelope itself
is postmarked from 1930, though, so I'm not sure how the two
elements actually relate in time. 

I hope you have a wonderful and productive Tuesday. I'm sure things will fall into place for me soon - or not. ... LOL. One thing's for sure, I'll be in the pool in an hour and everything is better from the other side of my morning swim.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Thor Ragnarok - Go See It!

It's Thanksgiving Week, and on Thursday I'll be cooking a bird and watching football instead of posting in my blog. Sometimes sleep and family time has to be pushed ahead of greeting friends and familiars around the world. But we're still on schedule for all of the other days this week. 

Thor: Ragnarok was wonderful, entertaining, and funny. I loved
watching it and am so glad I talked DH into going with me. 

Yesterday DH and I did a rare thing - we went to breakfast and then to the cinema together to see "Thor: Ragnarok". Both of us really enjoyed the film, although I munched my way through an ENORMOUS bucket of popcorn. Afterward DH said that he heard about 50% of the movie. We'll have to get it on DVD and watch it again so that he can have captioning. Still, even with his sound issues, he enjoyed the film. 

Dr Strange and Thor interact in London - a moment of "calm" before
the next storm. It was beautiful to see what Dr Strange could do
to a god, and just fun to watch his intereaction with Loki. 

I loved it - all of it. After mulling it over, though, I think I liked the segments with Dr Strange the best. It was such fun seeing Dr Strange in a different setting. "Justice League" opened this weekend and a lot of people were going to see that, but I hear the reviews are poor and the ratings aren't very positive. I guess Marvel has the movie franchise wrapped up. 

Black Panther is part of the "Avengers" universe and the trailer
for the upcoming film looked excellent. I'm looking forward to
seeing it and hope it's as good as others in the franchise. 

Oh! And one of the preview clips they showed was for "Black Panther" and it looked really good! It's nice to have a super hero of color, so I'm really looking forward to February when the film will be released. 

Cate Blanchett totally rocks the crazy headdress and lycra skin suit
of Hela, Goddess of Death in Thor: Ragnarok. She's totally
nailed the attitude ad the personality spins of the character. Well done! 

So, on a light and fluffy note - go see "Thor: Ragnarok" for a good movie. Yes, it's fantastical and surreal, but that's what the movies are all about. It's exciting, there's lots of "bangs" and "booms" and fire in it, and there are individual characters of interest. Cate Blanchett is superior as Hela, I loved Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, and Jeff Goldblum was perfectly cast as the Grand Master. 

Jeff Goldblum was perfectly cast as the "Grand Master" in
Thor: Ragnarok. I haven't had so much fun with him in a
movie since the Jurassic Park franchise. 

When we got home, we saw the rest of our football game - our team won, so we're very happy about that. Finally pizza for dinner capped off a happy Sunday - the last Sunday off I'll have until after Christmas. Time to put my retail nose to the grindstone and hope that our 2-day After Thanksgiving Sale and our 3- or 4-day End of the Year Sale (haven't decided the absolute length of the sale yet) bring in some money to cap off our year. 

Happy Monday, everyone! I'm off to the pool to lose the three pounds I gained yesterday. OUCH! 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Project Runway Finale - The Clothes - SPOILERS

Thursday night was the finale of Project Runway, Season 16. Brandon, Ayana, Kentaro and Margarita showed their clothes in New York Fashion Week, then gathered back at the Project Runway studio for the final decision of the judged. Who won? Take a look at the clothing pictured below, four photos for each of the designers, and see what you think of each collection. I'll tell you who won, and in what order the designers were told to "leave the Runway" at the bottom. Don't want to know or see until you've caught up on older episodes? I'm warning you now. SPOILER ALERT!!!! 

Ayana named her collection "Evolution", an exploration of her own personal journey. The judges were all very complimentary about her goal of modest clothing for women. They also applauded that she designed for a group of women (specifically Muslim women) who have been underrepresented in design in the past. Ayana's final gown was a total show stopper, and I loved the variety of ways that she designed her headwear to have different profiles from model to model. 

Margarita's collection was called "Fish Out of Water". She used bright colors and patterns, with a playful sense of design, accented with sparkles of beads. She provided a "Runway Moment" when she instructed Jazzmine to pull off her skirt at the turnaround moment, revealing the fitted swimsuit below for the walk-away. The audience burst into applause at a plus-sized model allowed to celebrate her body shape and being unafraid to "strut her stuff" on the Runway. It was a total win for the designer, the models and the audience. 

Kentaro said that his collection wasn't about winning, it was about showing something beautiful to the judges and the audience. Instead of a canned music track, he had composed and played his own music for the background - quiet and rather mesmerizing in its tones. The audience fell absolutely silent, almost reverent in their attention to the total picture that Kentaro was painting for them through clothing and sound. It was a unique collection and certainly the most editorial of the group. My friend Chickie said she loved the fact that Kentaro's collection didn't emphasize or minimize the plus sized models, rather it celebrated them as normal women who could wear something wonderful and look beautiful. I fell in love with his final dress; it made me think of Japanese spirit figures - fox women and goddesses who roam the countryside clothed in wisps of smoke. 

Brandon titled his collection "Layers of Love". His ombre flamingo prints and multi-height hemlines along with the strapping that has been his signature style were stylish and fun, but I felt that his color spectrum didn't have enough variability to make the collection interesting and show the styles to their best advantage. The silhouettes presented on the Runway were unique and interesting, but by the time I had seen all ten pieces walk the Runway, I had very few individual pieces that I could remember clearly. They had all merged together in my mind because they were so similar in color and style. 

So, who won? The first person sent home was Margarita, whose parents had finally managed to actually arrive, despite having to fly through Hurricane Maria to get to New York. Seeing her family brought Margarita to tears, she had been very worried about their safety during the hurricane. 

The second designer sent back to the green room was Brandon. He was totally shocked at losing the competition, and was in tears as he hugged his girlfriend and family. He said he was sure that he had it in the bag. If he did, that bag sprang a leak. He's an excellent designer, but his final collection was a snooze-fest. 

The final person sent to the green room was Ayana, leaving Kentaro as the winner of Season 16. This was a tightly-fought competition - both designers created strong collections with distinct viewpoints. Either of them could easily have won and I would have been happy. My thoughts on why Kentaro over Ayana? I think Kentaro's collection was more editorial - a bit more cutting edge, and clothing that really made me think, not just look and appreciate. I agree with the judges on this one - Kentaro's collection was unique, different, balanced and beautiful. 

There really were no losers in the final four. I think it was the strongest final four Runway show in the program's history and I'm quite sure that each of the designers will have job offers and will do very well in their design future. 

Next week is the "flatter and fight" episode - all of the contestants of Season 16 gathering together to bond, sling dirt, and accuse. I'm quite sure there will be some hard questions for those Terrible Twins and that idiotic measuring tape and cheating scandal. I can hardly wait - LOL. 

I know it's been a very long and picture intensive post today. If you've made it this far, thanks for reading and looking, have a great weekend and I'll be back on Monday. On Sunday I'm on my way to see "Thor: Ragnarok" with DH, after a relaxing breakfast out. I can hardly wait - it's my last Sunday off until Christmas and I'm going to enjoy it. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Project Runway Finale - SAFE TO READ

No spoilers until tomorrow's "reveal" blog, so feel free to read through today's post. As an aside, did you know that usually the top six designers (and rarely one or two more) actually make Fashion Week design collections? In part it's a smokescreen for who will be showing for the competition, because pictures do sometimes leak onto popular media websites. The extra designers cloud who actually made it into the final, and since the announcement of the winner is pushed back to the smaller TV studio, the security and privacy is kept tight. 

So, Thursday night was the culmination of three months of fashion - the finale of Project Runway, Season 16. Over the weeks we've come to know, cheer or boo, and cross our fingers for our favorites. But as the field narrowed and the DRAMAH decreased, the talent floated to the top. Now, four were left to take to the larger runway of New York Fashion Week. Let's revisit them here, once again in alphabetical order. 

Ayana Ife - The 27-year-old Muslim woman from Salt Lake City, Utah, wants to design modest clothing for women, whether they are Muslim or not. I like that approach. Although I enjoy looking at youthful fashions and styles like crop tops, as a 60+ year old woman, I'm not going to wear them. (I'm hearing a collective sigh of relief at that - LOL.) Ayana designs clothing that I could wear and has sewn several that I want to wear. 

Ayana won the second episode -
unconventional materials challenge
#1 - with this stunning
high-necked dress. 

Brandon Kee  - This 25-year-old designer, who just celebrated his birthday at the beginning of the month, has been at the top of the judges' radar for most of the competition. From the start, when he started bringing his menswear styling to women's clothing, it was almost a guarantee that Brandon would be one of the finalists. Will he win the competition? At this point, it's his to lose, but loss is a distinct possibility because he's got Ayana breathing hot behind him and she's poised to take it all. 

Brandon won Episode 5 with this super-cute
apron dress with tied bell cuffs. I'd wear this
in a second - just love it! 

Kentaro Kameyama - The 38-year-old designer brings the best of two cultures to his strongest designs. When he removes himself from that cultural balance, he falls flat. His designs rely on proportion, perspective, brightness and shadow. However, he can lose track of his possibilities by drowning in the details. He's a Los Angeles designer, and women in that area do look for cutting edge designs, so he may do well for himself because of his Project Runway exposure. He's certainly made a life-long friend in his "brother", Brandon. His Runway show should be unusual and thought-provoking. 

Kentaro won Episode 6 with what may be my favorite
look of the entire season. This set of hakama-inspired
pants and a relaxed crop top merged the two cultures
of the USA and Japan beautifully. 

Margarita Alvarez - This 30-year-old designer has been working in the design industry for half of her life, interning and attending school for fashion design. She has a streak of the unpredictable running through her personality and designs, which can make her pieces extremely interesting. The Puerto Rican designer ended up as a dark horse finalist on the strength of strong designs in her Runway preview last week. Margarita's designs always elicit opinion - positive or negative. There are very few times the designer leaves her audience unmoved. 

This print and outfit were what propelled Margarita into
the final four. These crazy pants with the massive below-knee
flare were edgy and playful. Margarita was just that much
more on the edge than either Kentaro or Kenya, so
she got the third guaranteed spot for Fashion Week. 

So there you have it - four designer with a few examples of their work through the competition. Tomorrow I'll reveal pieces from the final New York Fashion Week shows and announce the winner of Season 16. Project Runway is one of the richest purses for reality shows, coming into the top five between prizes and a $100,000 cash prize. The publicity received by the winner is beyond price. 

Thanks to all of you for walking along with me through Season 16. Project Runway All Stars begins in January, so we'll be walking the Runway again in two months. Have a great Friday and be kind today, holiday stresses are starting to crop up. I'll be back tomorrow with final looks. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Routine Is Back - Yippee!

Thank goodness, I'm back to routine! Yesterday's "vacation" from the pool for the sake of my somewhat annual physical exam was an interruption, but I'm back in the groove today. The test results from my lab work are already back - all within normal ranges. I'm slightly concerned about my cholesterol levels and will work on getting those lower, but no real problems with anything. They were able to slot me into a quick mammogram too, so mission accomplished. All good! I guess it was worth sacrificing my morning swim - LOL. 

When my Dad got his PhD, he used "Doctor" as his title instead of
Mister. It's the way he was brought up in Europe - the way the term
was used there. It did get them into some places faster because
the front desk people assumed that "Doctor" was M.D., not PhD. 

Tonight is the final episode of Season 16 of Project Runway. I'm not exactly sure of how I'll present it, but right now I'm looking at Friday's post being a summary leading up to the Runway, and Saturday being the judges synopsis. If there are spoilers for Friday, I'll make sure to put it into my title and below the cut for those who might catch the episode on-demand or download it later on. 

I love using embossing powders in my work. I've used them for years
in every holiday card. This year's card is no exception. 

I spent several hours working on my holiday cards yesterday afternoon while doing laundry. They're coming along well now. I was concerned, there are some tricky things I'm trying to do, but success seems to be mine, (at least for the time being). I'll be ratcheting these up quickly - my Sundays disappear after this coming Sunday because we're open on Sundays at the shop from Thanksgiving until Christmas. My five-day work weeks will become six days and I growl a lot. Still, if the Sunday is slow I usually kick back and do computer work or some such thing. 

DH has been excited for his Thanksgiving turkey for almost a month. He
loves getting his annual bird and pigging out on it. I don't mine it because
it basically cooks itself. It's not a lot of work and it makes him very happy. 

I'll do a final call-out for holiday cards next week when I'm looking forward to my Thanksgiving turkey. DH will be buying our bird over the next day or two, along with all of the fixings he wants to get. I let him plan the menu - he'll be eating the majority of the food after all. I'm happy to cook turkey, it's a meal that really cooks itself. Except for popping up to baste the turkey regularly (I like a very moist bird, with a golden brown skin), once it's in the oven, I can relax for hours while it makes my house smell SO GOOD. 

Finally, an acquaintance of mine posted this video of the making of a Hina Doll. These Japanese dolls have a fascinating history and are collected extensively around the world. Since my friend Aearwen has a small collection of Japanese dolls, I thought she might be interested, so I'm sharing with all of you because she reads my blog and will catch this. Hope you find it interesting. 

Have a great Thursday, don't forget that Project Runway's final show for Season 16 is on tonight, and I'll be back tomorrow. Yippee! 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Visit to the Doctor Through History

Did you miss me? If you're only early in the morning, yes I'm posting more than an hour late today. My schedule is a bit verklampt today because I have a 7:10 am doctor appointment for my annual physical (which is closer to two years than annual - oh well!). Unfortunately, if they want to do any blood or lab work, they requested no beverages other than water and no exercise before the appointment. I understand the no beverages - caffeine is a drug, after all. The "no exercise" clause threw me for a loop, though. So, I'm experiencing a weekday without swimming and I'm not super happy about it. I'll survive, of course, but my day will seem somehow incomplete. 

I hate doctor visits because they change my schedule. But
every once in a while, they are a necessary evil. Today is
one of those days. 

Doctors - they've grown a lot over the years. They've been around since the village wise woman prescribed a variety of herbs to combat fevers and fight infections in wounds. The ancient Egyptians had physicians who actually studied anatomy and performed rudimentary surgery, and surgery was also practiced (with varying success) in India and in the New World among various tribes. Without anesthetic, surgery was highly uncomfortable, though. 

Babylonian physicians actually wrote down prescriptions for their herbal and concocted medicines, and the ancient Chinese doctors began studying acupuncture and acupressure techniques to balance the chi of their patients. At least that's one technique that carried through to modern times with great success. 

Hippocrates' Oath is still recited by many physicians when
they graduate or during their studies. 

The Greeks had Hippocrates who compiled and consolidated many medical texts into a single reference and composed the Oath that still bears his name. The Hippocratic Oath basically had the speaker swear by several healing gods that the doctor would uphold certain ethical standards including medical confidentiality and non-maleficence. In other words - to do no harm. The oath has been bent by some and broken by others, but it's still remembered and recited today. 

In the Middle East, hospitals were established in the 9th century. Here, trained individuals sewed up wounds, set broken bones, and performed rudimentary surgery. People were beginning to survive physicians and their care. It's a good thing, because that was a bloody time with a lot of warfare. 

The Plague Doctor image is familiar to those of us who
wander the fields of local Renaissance Festivals. There is
usually at least one character who will be dressed in the
beaked outfit of the physicians who walked the streets
of the cities affected by the Black Death. The bird
beak mask was to help with the stench of the unwashed
sick bodies as well as the multitudes of the dead. 

Twelfth century Italy began the first medical schools, turning out students who were expected to apply their hard-won knowledge to the betterment of their patients. Their success ratio was spotty, but they did have some successes. 

Bloodletting was a common prescription in medieval times, and
actually is still practiced in certain instances today. Generally,
though, it didn't really accomplish a lot. 

In the 1800's, medical study and knowledge grew exponentially as science expanded into fields such as chemistry, psychology and immunology. That laid the foundation for the modern physician who reaches for tools of chemical form as much as surgery. The field of medicine has become huge and vast, forcing doctors to specialize in various aspects of health, referring patients to other when needed. The modern clinic was born. 

Today's health clinic addresses many aspects of health, not just the
physical. They buildings are welcoming, and the facilities and
physicians are multi-disciplined. If one cannot help you, you'll be
referred to a different care giver in the same location. 

Is today's clinic an improvement over walking down the dirt road to visit the local healer and get some herbs and advice from her? In some ways, absolutely. We're fighting battles with disease today that were certain death sentences no more than twenty years ago. But we're also bankrupting the citizenry with the costs of quality medical care - it certainly isn't inexpensive! 

So today I'll take advantage of the ridiculous insurance premiums that I pay and see my internist for about 30 minutes, then go downstairs to donate blood to the vampires, and finally I'll be released to begin my very busy day. At least I'll be back in the pool tomorrow, and I'll be back on schedule again also. Happy Wednesday to all! 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

My To-Do List Keeps Growing

Last week the weather-people on the local newscasts were all ..."and we'll discuss when we'll be in the 50's next week...". Well, that hullabaloo died down as the end of the week moved through, and here we are on Tuesday. It's supposed to be "hot" today. That gives DH one day to get all of our leaves raked and gathered before the temps fall once again. Our temps have been in the 20's and low to mid 30's, and we were supposed to have hit the 50's today. BS! My weather apps for the day (yes, I use two different weather apps - it's the Frozen Northlands, weather is important) are giving me a mid-40's high with rain starting in late afternoon. Wednesday will be colder again. Oh joy! BLEH! 

See that topmost arrow? That's aimed right at us. It could be worse, we
could be in the green to the East. They'll be getting colder temps in
Wisconsin. But then again, they are only less than an hour away, so
it's really relative! 

Tomorrow will be exceptionally hectic, so I'm going to enjoy my usual standard of rush, process and sell today before diving headfirst into Wednesday. If I add possible patches of overnight ice to my early Wednesday travel, it won't be a fun day at all. But that's tomorrow. Today is mid-40's until the overnight hours, before we drop into much colder weather by the end of the week. If the first month of fall/winter is anything to go on, we're going to have an unusually cold winter this year. 

If I had any talent or ability to bake and/or decorate, I would have
made a chicken birthday cake for Chickie. As it is, she'll have to
put up with gifts that she wanted and a minimum of muss and fuss. 

Chickie's birthday was last week, and she had a week of vacation left, so she took the week as a "stay-cation" and went all over town to various museums and exhibits, a movie or two, and a workshop. Today is her first day back at work, and we got a huge shipment delivered on Friday that needs processing ASAP. Her birthday gift from me arrived yesterday, so I'm at least on time with that before I crack the whip and make her work super hard. 

My doctor's appointment for my "annual" physical is
tomorrow morning at 7:10 am. EARLY! And I'm not
supposed to exercise or have anything except water
to drink in case they need any blood work. Ack! No
swimming tomorrow! That totally sucks! 

And, between all of the other stuff and a doctor's annual physical checkup tomorrow morning at 7:10 am, I need to get my Black Friday/Small Business Saturday email for my customers pounded out and ready to send. Holiday cards? Yeah, they're on my very active burner too. Sleep? Well, maybe not so much for the next week or two. 

At the very least, I'll have 48 very busy hours for the next couple of days. I have so much that I need to get done, and - darn it all - there are still only 24 hours in every day. Can't I warp space and time and carve out an extra 24? I really could use it! 

Have a great Tuesday. I hope you have less on your "to-do" lists than I have right now. Enjoy your day and, if you're in the cold snap, bundle up! We'll be enjoying our mid-40's "heat wave".