Friday, January 29, 2010

Do you look like a celebrity?

Do you resemble a celebrity? Do you think you look like someone, or do other people see a likeness that you don't see at all?

A million years ago when I worked in a doctor's office, some of the patients thought I looked like Ali McGraw. I never saw that. The only thing we had in common was long dark hair and dark eyes. I was never that thin, my hair was never straight, and most magazine covers had her looking somber which has never been my natural expression.
Years later, with short hair, I was told by a few that I looked like Stockard Channing as she looked in the movie Grease. I didn't see that then, but maybe a few decades later I could see a bit of a resemblance. Not enough that I could fake her I.D. but I would be too chicken to do that anyway. Mom always said I did not have a poker face. A sightless person would know I was lying if I claimed to be anyone other than who I am!
This picture is a few months old, taken with my laptop's camera.
Recently at the library, the desk clerk insisted I look just like Ina Garten. My hair is the right length (a little longer than the photo above) and we both have pudgy faces. I'd never be confused with her by my actions in the kitchen. She isn't one of my favorite Food Network hosts, in fact, I really don't care for her show at all.
Hopefully these are all lovely ladies and if they are lucky, their personal lives might be almost as warm and loving as mine.

And for the record, the camera in my laptop is a little out of focus. The person I really look like, even before getting out of bed and combing my hair or brushing my teeth is this person.
Delusionally yours,

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Seven weeks to go!

Grandbaby Knitty is due in seven weeks. I wonder if he will arrive five days early and share his daddy's birthday? Babies have their own schedule and we'll be delighted whether he comes a little early or a few days late. Easy for me to use the word "late"...I'm not the one carrying him! 

If I would stop procrastinating and get a bear sewn and stuffed, I could say that I am as ready for the shower as one can be with over a week to go yet. I finished the candy favors, small boxes of Hershey Nuggets and individually wrapped butter mints. The mints are from Michaels, wrapped in blue with the words Baby Boy on them. The wrappers on the Nuggets are Avery labels #8160 which fit nicely around Nestle's Treasures, Hershey Nuggets and also Hershey's miniatures.
I had round labels (printable stickers) in my stash and added this little Thank You to the side of the boxes.
Here are the images I used on the candies. I love making these wrappers for any occasion or even for no special reason.
Hmmm, maybe if the big guy who lives here hasn't found the unused Nuggets, I'll make some Valentine labels and wrap the last of the candies for us. Think they'll last until Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Virus warning

I hate to think getting hit with a computer virus is going to be an annual January event, but it DID happen again.
Last Thursday the man who took care of computer problems at work was here to take care of some issues with the computer that had been in Bill's office at work.  I couldn't connect to the internet via our wireless modem for Bill because his computer didn't have the Magic Doodad (highly technical term) internally installed that would allow this to happen. Once the additional Magic Doodad was in place, the computer guru needed the encryption key and password for the modem.

A few minutes later he handed me the slip of paper back and said that wasn't the key or password. Huh???? Apparently the last time AT&T was here fixing our U-Verse problem, they reset everything which caused the modem to revert to the default code. I very seldom use my laptop at home so I was unaware of this. Before the guru left, I checked my laptop to make certain I could connect after entering the default info. Everything was fine. I hadn't used the laptop since just before Christmas so I updated the anti-virus and ran a scan. Life was good.

Friday morning I had about 90 minutes before an appointment and thought I'd make a blog entry from my laptop which was still on the table.  A few minutes later a message popped up from the task bar from Windows Security saying I had an infection and to "click here" to fix the problem. A bogus message like that last year led to a week's worth of trouble with a trojan that embedded deeply on my hard drive. I closed the message rather than clicking on it and attempted to open my anti-virus program. That gave me the same message. When I tried to run a scan, I was directed to download a program (not my anti-virus) for a fee. I closed that window but had the sinking feeling the damage was done, and I was right.Photobucket

After rebooting, cussing, and idle threats to unknown creators of viruses, I downloaded the free version of Malwarebytes and ran a scan while getting message after message about the infection, accompanied by attempts to sell me anti-virus software in addition to Internet Explorer (not my default browser) repeatedly opening and trying to go to a porn site!Photobucket

An hour later, 100 infected objects had been quarantined. Thank you Malwarebytes! I was 20 minutes late for my appointment buy my friend understood when I called her to say I was running late. I had been taking notes in case I needed to call the guru for help.

If you get a warning that appears to be from Windows Security, please don't click on that pop up. Go to your anti-virus program or go to Windows Security on your own through your control panel and make sure the message isn't a hoax. The 'false alert' trojan looks deceptively like the real thing, the four colored shield symbol.

I have no way of knowing where this came from, but I suspect Facebook is involved. Facebook itself isn't evil, but spammers seem to know how to use it to their advantage. Both of my sons, two of my nieces, and a few internet friends have all been hit recently and what do we have in common? Facebook. To further add to this theory, one of my knitting friends has switched form a Dell laptop to a Mac this past year. She got the same Windows Security warning and she isn't running windows! And yes, she is on Facebook.

I hope this warning helps someone, and if not, maybe the recommendation of running Malwarebytes will be of assistance. Doing this Photobucket doesn't do a thing for the computer and isn't even that much good for firming your upper arms.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Grandma Shower

I became friends with a nice bunch of elementary school moms back in 1983 when my oldest son began kindergarten and I volunteered to run the Santa Workshop. I heard snickers behind me at that PTA meeting. Some of the women were relieved that there was new blood. Others simply couldn't believe a newbie would take on something like that (ignorance IS bliss!) and a handful became faithful elves who gave a morning or two each week to work on projects that were sold in December.

A year or two later, one mom discovered she was going to be a grandmother. Her high school aged daughter was pregnant. She and her husband struggled with this. They were shocked. They were worried about their daughter. They hoped she wasn't derailing her education. Our friend was worried about how others would react to her daughter once the pregnancy was obvious, and if some would think she failed to raise her daughter "properly". One of the women in our group decided to have a surprise grandma-to-be shower for her. She wanted our friend to know we supported her without judgments. The party was a success. The grandma-to-be relaxed. The party was good for all of us. 

A few years passed and another woman was about to become a grandma. The first party had been so much fun, the host decided to do this again, but this time it wasn't a surprise. Since then, one by one, there have been many grandma showers. They've been loud on laughter and long on friendship.

A few evenings ago, it was my turn to be the guest of honor, and believe me, I am honored to have these women in my life. Here are pictures from that night, but first a few explanations. After a wonderful dinner, we played our first game. We were each given a baby who was upside down in a plastic cup with their head frozen into the cup by an inch of water. Our challenge was to "break our water" without cracking the glass, hurting the baby and using no hot water, microwaves, or such.

Our next game wasn't caught on camera because we were working too diligently. We had teams of three working to assemble a 63 piece child's jigsaw puzzle. The age was 5 and up, but I don't think they planned on multiples of 50-ish women working them!

The next game was again played by teams. We had to transfer a pacifier among team members using a straw but no hands. Do you have any idea how hard it is to hold a straw in your mouth when you are laughing?

Each gift is so very special to me....from the laptop so that my grandson will be able to blog just like grammy, to the shirt that announces my new status to the world,  from the 'emergency stash' of wine to that beautiful quilt and all the gifts in between...I am so very lucky and feel so loved that I am choked up while typing this.

If you've never heard of this type of party, please consider throwing one for a friend or relative who is going to become a grandma. It isn't about the gifts, no matter how wonderful they is all about the love.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Book endings

Ever come down to the last few pages of a book and hate to see it end? It doesn't have to be a blockbuster for me to feel that way. There are many series that I read and sometimes what happens to the main character in a particular book is secondary to the story, but is a cliff hanger of sorts. I just finished Sue Grafton's U is for Undertow and while "cliff hanger" is not an accurate description, I was left wanting more. This is not a criticism of the book, just the opposite...I am left hungry for the next book which will undoubtedly reveal a bit more of Kinsey's (the main character ) personal story.

I won't spoil it for anyone who enjoys this series and hasn't read this one yet.  All I will say is that I consistently like Grafton's books and this one was a very good read, a blend of the mystery Kinsey is hired to investigate and the mystery of Kinsey's relatives and her childhood.

Some book endings, sadly, are permanent. I just read that Robert B. Parker died. He was the author of three detective series featuring Sunny Randall, Jesse Stone and my favorite, the Spenser series. He also wrote numerous books that were separate from these mysteries. He will be greatly missed.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sunday Insomnia

When I was in high school, I was a good student with a heavy schedule and worked at maintaining a good GPA. I slept fine Monday through Saturday, but on Sundays I often had trouble either falling asleep, staying asleep or sometimes, both. I worried about the week ahead in the wee hours of the night. I can't tell you when it stopped as it wasn't an every week occurrence. I also can't say it stopped because of anything I consciously did or did not do.

The busiest years of my adult life were when my sons were very young and again when I went to work for my husband as an office manager. It had been a long time since I had worked full time but I was up for the challenge. I still carpooled them to school, practices and games, music lessons and catechism.

Sunday night insomnia returned not during those busy years when I had so much to juggle, but during the last two years that I worked. I have no idea why it came back then. It disappeared again when I retired. I've had an occasional restless night, but I could lay the blame on a pressing personal deadline, a legitimate worry, or something I ate or drank too late in the day.
Guess what is visiting me again?   Last night I was awake between 3:00 and 5:00.  Nothing is happening this week that has me worried or excited. I didn't feel anxious in those hours, just wide awake and then annoyed. I turned away from the clock. That didn't help. I tried a relaxing technique where you concentrate on relaxing your toes first and work your way up your body. I felt limp like spaghetti. Wide awake spaghetti.

I recalled reading a blurb on insomnia that suggested counting backwards by threes from 300. The idea is that this takes your mind off your worries, but is boring and will lull you to sleep.


300...297...294...hey, 294 is the first three digits of my phone number!...291...288, oh, that is funny, my sister-in-law was just talking about too many eights in the knitting pattern she is using and how she couldn't count by sixes now.

Hmm, where was I?

300...297...294...291... on so on,  down to 222...that used to be the name of a pain reliever sold at pharmacies in Canada. Hmm, was that the real name or was that what we called them here in the States?...Shoot! Where was I was before I started thinking about Canada?


It was a long night until just before the alarm went off. Thanks to my slave driver friend Theresa, I made it to the gym this morning despite sleep deprivation. She assured me my snoring didn't bother any of the other members. 

I'd smack her, but I just don't have the energy for it today. She'd better look out tomorrow though!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Always check your child's homework!

 Always check your child's homework

(Here's the reply the teacher received the following day)

Dear Mrs. Jones,
I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer.

I work at Home Depot and I told my daughter how hectic it was last week before the blizzard hit.  I told her we sold out every single shovel we had, and then I found one more in the back room, and that several people were fighting over who would get it.    Her picture doesn't show me dancing around a pole.  It's supposed to depict me selling the last snow shovel we had at Home Depot.

From now on I will remember to check her homework more thoroughly before she turns it in. 

Mrs.  Smith

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

4 weeks to the shower, 8 weeks to the due date...

With a little less than four weeks to the baby shower and 8 weeks until the due date, I am relieved to have finished knitting the blanket.Photobucket
This picture shows the blanket still pinned to the blocking mat, but without a baby to model the blanket, I found it looks better here than in a later photo I took with it draped over the couch.

Here is a closeup of the pattern. It is a four row repeat and not difficult after the stitch sequence is memorized. I used an acrylic yarn that has been in my stash for many, many years. It was made by Patons but is no longer produced. It has a wonderful feel and washes beautifully, both important factors for baby items in my opinion.

The pattern came from Vogue Knitting on the go, Baby Blankets, seen here:

I have a few more things in mind to make before the shower, but none should be as time consuming as this was. Please stop me if I buy supplies for any more projects before the baby arrives. Unless it is something really, really cute. Photobucket

Always check Snopes first!

Darn. I had just posted a good story, only to learn that it is false. I usually check before I pass things along. It wasn't the type of story that would harm anyone, but I pulled it because it just plain isn't true.  I'm writing this now just in case some of you saw it, came back  and now wonder where it went.


P.T. Barnum is laughing at me right now, I just know it!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Helpful Hints

I can't vouch for this advice, I got it in an email this morning. A few things I've heard before.  At the very least, none are harmful if you decide to try them. 

Peel a banana from the bottom and you won't have to pick the little "stringy things" off of it. That's how the primates do it. 

Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store.
If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.


Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil.
It will stay fresh much longer and not mold! 

Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating. Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking. 

 Frying Ground Beef
Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef.
It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking. 
Creamy Eggs
To really make scrambled eggs or omelets rich add a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and then beat them up. 

Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste of garlic and at the end of the recipe if your want a stronger taste of garlic. 
Snickers Dessert
Leftover Snickers bars from Halloween make a delicious dessert. Simply chop them up with the food chopper. Peel, core and slice a few apples. Place them in a baking dish and sprinkle the chopped candy bars over the apples. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes!!!  Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream. Yummm!

Reheat Pizza
Heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to med-low and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza. I saw this on the cooking channel and it really works.
Easy Deviled Eggs 
Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up. Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg. Just throw bag away when done easy clean up. 
Expanding Frosting
When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving. 

Reheating Refrigerated Bread 
To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster. 
Broken Glass 
Use a wet cotton ball or Q-tip to pick up the small shards of glass you can't see easily. 
No More Mosquitoes
Place a dryer sheet in your pocket.
It will keep the mosquitoes away.

Squirrel Away

To keep squirrels from eating your plants, sprinkle your plants with cayenne pepper.  The cayenne pepper doesn't hurt the plant and the squirrels won't come near it.

Flexible Vacuum
To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings. 

Reducing Static Cling
Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a clingy skirt or dress. Same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose. Place pin in seam of slacks and ... ta da! ... static is gone. 
Measuring Cups
Before you pour sticky substances into a m! easuring cup, fill with hot water. Dump out the hot water, but don't dry cup. Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.
Foggy Windshield
Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car . When the window s fog, rub with the eraser! Works better than a cloth!

 Reopening envelope
If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include something inside, just place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two. Viola! It unseals easily. 

Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs. It's cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth. It's also a great way to use up the conditioner you bought but didn't like when you tried it in your hair.
Goodbye Fruit Flies
To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass, fill it 1/2" with Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 drops of dish washing liquid; mix well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever! 
Get Rid of Ants 
Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it "home," can't digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if it rains, but it works and you don't have the worry about pets or small children being harmed! 
The heating unit went out on my dryer! The gentleman that fixes things around the house for us told us that he wanted to show us something and he went over to the dryer and pulled out the lint filter. It was clean. (I always clean the lint from the filter after every load clothes.) He told us that he wanted to show us something; he took the filter over to the sink and ran hot water over it. The lint filter is made of a mesh material ... I'm sure you know what your dryer's lint filter looks like. Well ...the hot water just sat on top of the mesh! It didn't go through it at all! He told us that dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh that's what burns out the heating unit. You can't SEE the film, but it's there. It's what is in the dryer sheets to make your clothes soft and static free ... that nice fragrance too. You know how they can feel waxy when you take them out of the box .. well this stuff builds up on your clothes and on your lint screen. This is also what causes dryer units to potentially burn your house down with it! He said the best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time (and to keep your electric bill lower) is to take that filter out and wash it with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush (or other brush) at least every six months. He said that makes the life of the dryer at least twice as long!

I haven't mashed the egg yolks in a bag for deviled eggs, but I do use a bag for filling the halved egg whites. I've used damp paper towels to pick up broken glass shards with success. As soon as the paper towel tube is available, I'll be trying that hint, and I totally agree with the last item about the dryer lint screen. I don't know the science behind dryer sheets being to blame, but scrubbing the screen does clear it and hopefully means the dryer works more efficiently.

The only hint that doesn't make sense to me is the Snickers Dessert. C'mon....really? Has anyone ever had LEFTOVER  Snickers???  Photobucket