Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My computer is back!

Life is good, but the computer is not perfect yet. It has no sound and the technician needs to install a link to my email on the desktop again. Our email goes through Microsoft Web Exchange and without the link, I can access the emails but not arrange things the way I like to view them.

I'd like to pass on some advice based on a lesson learned the hard way. Save your favorites or bookmarks often. I had saved a file of bookmarks but it had not been updated in a long time. To rid my computer of the virus, data was transferred to a temporary drive and my C drive was wiped clean. Programs have been restored, a few required re-installation and I am happy to have my data, but I miss my newer bookmarks.

The one that really hurts so far, is the missing bookmark for a test forum I had. I am one of the administrators on a small private forum for a group of long time friends. I created a test forum where I experiment with changes before implementing them on the working forum. I also have a test blog and I bet many of you have one too. I have many website addresses written in a notebook but I never wrote the name of my test forum. I relied on my bookmark to take me there. The part of the name that I created is remembered, but I am doing something wrong with the letter/number combination that precedes that name and was issued by the forum hosts. I've contacted the support team to see if they can look it up for me, but they are swamped in problems right now.

The forum is free of cost which is good. To defray expenses, there are banner ads that run at the bottom or top of the screen. They aren't necessarily bad, they are screened for objectionable content, but apparently some ads have been compromised  with a virus. Not all of the forum members have gotten warnings, but one quarter of them have. Messages on the support board for the hosts show that are other forums are experiencing the same problem and the hosts are now working with Google to resolve the issue.

This leads to my second piece of advice. I am guessing everyone on the internet knows to run an antivirus program, but that may not be enough. If your program doesn't specify that it scans and blocks spyware, you should consider running anti-malware (spyware) also. I had the free version of Malwarebytes and scanned with that often. It is an easy program to download and run and has been very helpful. The last virus I had ensconced itself so deeply into my operating system, Malwarebytes could not delete or quarantine it. After two episodes of that in less than two years, I paid for the upgraded version of Malwarebytes which runs continuously now.

I'm behind in blog reading, commenting and writing but I hope to catch up soon. May everyone and their computer be virus free!

Monday, April 26, 2010

I survived and now I'm organized!

The problem with having more than one craft addiction is the supplies and tools multiply when you aren't looking.

Last week I thought I would organize the small embellishments (stickers, brads, colored staples, etc) that are used in paper crafts. I began this task the day before trash pickup, knowing that some things would be tossed and some would be removed from packaging to fit better in new storage containers. That goal was met as far as the trash deadline was concerned. The reorganizing soon extended to include all the craft supplies, tools, patterns and books that were on open shelves and sprawling on the counter.

I don't have a before picture of my mess but trust me, it was bad. The room that is my craft/sewing room was a bedroom once upon a time. After remodeling the house and moving all the bedrooms upstairs, kitchen cabinets and Formica counters were installed on two walls, and bookcases on a third. The remaining wall has bifold doors that hide storage bins of fabric, yarn, my sewing machine and anything else to large too fit inside the cabinets.

The sorting started with small items. The binders in this photo hold patterns and general directions for projects saved from old magazines and discarded books. They would become thicker before this process ended.
 Adjacent to the counter shown above is a matching desk high counter where I sit when sewing or other crafting. Silly me...I thought I could confine the sorting to that area. I even had Windex ready to clean off the counter tops when I was done!
On to the floor to sort stickers by category. If you sort like this and you're on a chair on wheels, remember NOT to back up quickly and roll over stickers!
Stickers, rub-ons and small embellishments were grouped into 11 categories and were stored in plastic holders designed to hold scrapbooking papers or finished pages. These holders went into a rigid plastic case with a lid. I labeled each section and hopefully a year from now I will remember the logic I used when deciding where something belonged.

Most of the storage containers on the bookshelves were already here but needed to be organized, labeled and sometimes needed additional containers. This whole section relates to paper crafts, from papers down to rubber stamps and Sizzix dies on the bottom shelf. The yellow smiley doll doesn't usually stay there, but he is apropos... he giggles and says "that's funny"...something often suited to what I do in that room.
The next section of bookshelves holds my favorite fiction novels on the top two shelves, knitting books and lots of sock yarn on the 3rd, sewing, quilting and cross stitch books come next, then beading supplies and pattern books, and finally, six binders of patterns, the sticker holder I described above, and an accordion file of decorative 12 x 12 sheets of scrapbook papers. There is a glass block and a string of lights waiting to be used and a concrete looking butler who will go outside soon to hold my drink while on the porch.
Across from the bookshelves is this wall of cabinets and counter. Except for out of season dishes in the upper cabinets, most of what lurks behind the doors and in drawers are craft supplies. The wooden tool box holds more rubber stamps and my covered tray of watercolors and some watercolor paper is on top. In front of the box are projects in progress.
The boxes on the floor are things I hope to get to soon. I need to prioritize and find a home for them rather than sitting out on the floor. I hope.

The current project taking up so much time is a sweater that I began as a way to use up yarn in my stash. I am 2/3 done with the front and worried that I won't have enough yarn to make the sleeves and finish the neckline. The store where I bought the yarn went out of business. I can still get it online, but the dye lot may be different. There are 4 skeins of the yarn on the counter. Cross your fingers for me!  Here is the completed back.

I'd end with a word of advice on not hanging on to so much stuff, to not have so many hobbies, or on not letting things get away from you but I can't do that. When the mess happens again, and it will, I wouldn't want to eat those words.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Getting organized

Where does it all come from? Whether we're talking Tupperware lids, books, craft supplies or dust bunnies, haven't we all wondered if things multiply overnight?

For years now, it seems that the mood to reorganize hits me in January. That didn't happen this year, probably because we were inundated with office supplies including moving the computer that used to be in Bill's office at work into MY SPACE here at home. Geez.....I love the guy and all, but I used to have 6 feet of counter behind me that could be a work space for whatever. Now it holds his computer, printer, rolodex, etc and our chairs sometimes bump into each other.
Oops, I just got off track.Photobucket

The clutter phenomenon begins when one item doesn't get put away properly. The lid doesn't fit with the other lids or maybe the craft supply serves more than one hobby and you can't decide whether to put it with paint related items or beading supplies. The item in question is left out on the counter or shoved into a spot where it fits just for right now...and months later it has buddies residing with it, or has relatives who have branched out and are living in neighboring communities within your otherwise clean and organized home.

Trash pick up is on Wednesdays in my neighborhood. On Tuesday I thought it would be a good idea to organize my scrapbooking supplies and toss out a few things in this week's pickup. I don't even scrapbook much, but I do use the papers, embellishments, inks, etc for cardmaking and other paper crafts. It is now Thursday morning and I am still organizing this crap all of these precious items.

My goal is to be done by the end of the day. I am currently deciding if all seasonal and holiday embellishments can go in one folder or if Christmas and Halloween deserve their own because I have so many of each. The craft room is looking scary right now, but I am seeing light and I don't think it is a train headed my way.

If I'm not back here within a few days, please send a rescue team, preferably someone not interested in scrapbook supplies. I'd hate to be buried alive and hear distracted rescuers exclaiming "this would be perfect for the page I am doing on Aunt Martha and the elephant incident!" or wondering "what on earth was she thinking when she put witches next to Santa elves?!"

As for the dust bunnies multiplying, that isn't my fault at all. They are shameless, wanton and promiscuous! They should control their lust to propagate with a hobby. Hey! I wonder if dust bunnies scrapbook?
Scrapbooking Scrapbook Smiley Emoticon Animated Animation gif

Monday, April 19, 2010

New week, new conversations

Yes, I've been playing with the blog layout again. What do you think? Working on the laptop gave me such a different view and I can't say that I liked the old layout on this screen. I've been playing around with photos too, but that will have to wait for another day.

Meanwhile, here is my grandson having a conversation with his daddy (my son).

We tried to get him to talk to us last night but neither set of grandparents were on his frequency. What a little stinker! His parents, other grands and Bill were all in the kitchen when I took him into Kim's parent's living room during a fussy spell. He paid attention while I quietly sang The People On The Bus and didn't seem to mind how badly I sang. Of course he is only 6 weeks old and hasn't been exposed to much music yet. The dog that lives there is 11 and knows better. She got up and went into the kitchen when I started singing. Her name is Molly, but I now think of her as Simon (Simone?) Cowell. Photobucket

Friday, April 16, 2010


Appliances are rebelling, grocery prices keep rising and it was income tax day yesterday. Anyone want to join me in a drink? I'm having a caffeine-free diet Coke. Straight up. Right out of the bottle.

I'm starting to forget what my other computer looks like. I feel bad that our last day together looked like this
The scanner and printer that are normally hooked up to that computer feel disloyal when I ask them to cooperate with my laptop. I wonder if union lines are being crossed or if they are from different political parties? Bill needed copies of papers to give to someone. His computer has a working printer connected to it but it wasn't going to be physically simple to connect the scanner to his PC. I installed it to my laptop, scanned 10 pages and then emailed them to his computer to print. Except I did something incorrectly and only one page was saved so I had to rescan 9 pages. Sending the email went s-l-o-w-l-y and receiving it seemed even s-l-o-w-e-r. I could have gone to Kinkos, photocopied everything, stopped at 7-11 for the milk that we are out of and been home in less time but this was after 11:00 last night. Unlike some, I don't go shopping in my jammies.
I went up to bed at 12:10 and turned on the TV so that I could fall asleep to a mindless program. Bad habit, but it is my routine. Guess what? The TV is upset with me too. The TV would turn on, the cable box would turn on, but all I could view was a green screen.

Kitchen appliances are giving me grief too. I have a Maytag dishwasher that doesn't clean pots and leaves white spots on glasses. I scrape and rinse dishes. I have tried powdered, get and tablet dishwasher detergents. Rinse aids too. The handle has been replaced twice in less than 7 years. I'd shoot it but Bill won't even allow me to have a water pistol.

Our refrigerator seems to be rusting below the textured surface. I thought surely I was imagining this phenomenon until discussing it at the gym. Others are having the same problem and their refrigerators aren't as old as mine!

Bill asked if I was going to call the computer technician today to see when my computer might come home. I can't do that today. I am sleep deprived and cranky. If he were to tell me he didn't know or any other answer that I might not like (the only acceptable answer being "I'm turning down your street as we speak and will be there in three minutes"), I think I might have a hissy fit.
hissy fit Pictures, Images and Photos
I would go look at new refrigerators, dishwashers, TVs and computers, but Uncle Sam got to our wallets first. 
Some of my friends are having a Middle Aged Woman Needs New Everything shower for me. Forgetful Fran is in charge of the invitations. I hope she remembers to put stamps on them. Hot Flash Hannah is in charge of refreshments. I know many of you like iced tea, I just hope the coffee lovers are ok with chilled coffee.
Wacky Wanda is planning the entertainment. I hope she does better at my shower than the last one. She was excited to find Chippendale dancers at such a cheap frugal reasonable rate.
It wasn't what the rest of us hoped for, but I still have their autographed photo on my refrigerator. It is covering up one of the rust spots.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sun: friend and enemy

I love sunshine. 

I was never one to work on a suntan though, because I always burned so easily. I am pretty fair skinned for having such dark hair, thanks to my maternal grandmother who was a redhead.

Years ago there weren't many sunscreens available except those marketed for small children. A product called PreSun was the first one that caught my attention as a young adult. It was clear, watery and came in a brown bottle. I was married in September of 1975. June of that year, Bill and I went with friends to watch the hydroplane races on the Detroit River. I took PreSun with me and used it as I knew we would be in the sun most of the day and I didn't want to burn.

In the fashion of the day, I wore cut off blue jeans, a halter top, sandals and had my hair in pigtails for most of the warm day. After the races we went to Bill's house and fell asleep on the floor while his mom worked on dinner. I woke up sick, so sick I crawled to the bathroom. Bill's mom was a nurse and wanted him to take me to the hospital but I just wanted to go home. Wherever I forgot to apply PreSun (my ears, the part in my hair, the tops of my feet) and wherever PreSun didn't cover as I spread the watery liquid over my arms and legs unknowingly leaving streaks of exposed skin, and also wherever my clothing shifted and revealed unprotected flesh is where I burned.

Aloe Vera wasn't a known remedy back then. My mom applied Noxema cold cream which sank into the patches of lobster red flesh like raindrops in a desert. The nausea passed and Noxema, lots of fluids and tepid showers got me through the rest of the day and night. Three months later on my wedding day, the odd sunburn patterns on the tops of my feet and the streaks on my legs showing how my fingers were spread as I applied the PreSun were very obvious. The fringe of my cut offs was clearly visible in sunburn. I can't imagine how sick I would have been without the PreSun.

I've had a few minor sunburns since but usually I had sunscreen on or avoided being directly in the sun for prolonged periods. My last sunburn occurred while on a cruise 11 years ago. The day was partly cloudy and I was under an overhang, presumably in the shade most of the afternoon. I didn't take into account the reflected rays from the swimming pool next to me. My neck and upper chest area burned more than my face and arms. It eventually faded and was forgotten until last year at the dermatologist's office.

While talking to the dermatologist about another matter he mentioned my sun damage. What sun damage?! He pointed to the spots on my neck and chest which I attributed to aging. Nope. They are sun damage. How could this be? I wasn't a sun worshiper who spent my teens and twenties basting myself with baby oil while lying on reflective aluminum sheets! Alas, here it is:

The discolored patches are more obvious on certain days and in certain lighting. Again, I can't imagine how different I would look without sunscreen precautions.

This past weekend we were at the birthday party of a five year old relative. The sun felt good on our faces. I sat out in it for a few minutes, then changed seats to one in the shade. I had nylons on and shoes with skinny straps that crossed my instep twice. Guess who didn't have her feet under the umbrella the whole time?
(My toes are curled under here because a pedicure hasn't happened in ages.)

Many drugs affect sun sensitivity. Blood pressure medication and some antibiotics are two that come to mind. I'm lucky that this is all that has gone wrong regarding sun exposure. If you see me outside and I don't have sunscreen on, don't be surprised to see me using a parasol...
...especially if the parasol makes me look like this!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Nothing better than feeling good!

Perhaps this should read "Nothing better than feeling well" but James Brown is somewhere singing "I Feel Good" and I am singing along.
singing Pictures, Images and Photos
I was derailed yesterday with a sinus headache for most of the day. Not enough to render me nonfunctional, but I certainly didn't function efficiently or exuberantly. Dust bunnies snickered and had a field day. Leftovers languished in the refrigerator. Unfinished projects sighed and mumbled about another day gone to hell in a hand basket, and griped because the basket isn't done yet either. Good thing I didn't really see or hear most of this. I spent much of the day on the couch with a heat rice sock on my head doing this:
sleep on couch Pictures, Images and Photos

Between naps, when the headache eased enough that reading wasn't painful, I finished Jeanne Ray's book Eat Cake (click here for reviews at Amazon) and also Vinegar, Duct Tape, Milk Jugs and More by Earl Proulx and the editors of Yankee Magazine.  (Amazon link here)  The first book is a light novel that fit my mood the past few days. I still have no word on when my computer will be repaired and returned. Light reading where everything works out in the end was just what I needed. The second book is full of helpful hints but is just old enough that a few things are outdated. For instance, saving 8 oz yogurt cups for a particular hint doesn't work since most yogurt is packaged in 6 oz sizes now. It was a fun book to skim through even though I know I won't put most of the ideas to use.

Books are great friends. Some challenge, some comfort, some inspire and once in a while, one is only a paperweight, but that still serves a purpose.  I love books.
 Books Book Library Bibliophile Reading Read Smiley Smilie Emoticon Animated Animation Gif Pictures, Images and Photos
I hope all who stop by today are having a great day. C'mon and join me singing!
singing Pictures, Images and Photos Singing Pictures, Images and Photos Karaoke Pictures, Images and Photos

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Never fail lemon meringue pie

Years ago, making a lemon meringue pie was never a sure thing. Sometimes the filling looked right while cooking it, but once it was baked into a pie, I was never sure until I cut a piece whether I would serve it on a plate or in a bowl.

Thanks to a good friend giving me a recipe for the filling made in a microwave, my pie is now perfect every time.
This photo of the cut pie is from the internet. I didn't think to take a photo until it was too late. I could have taken a picture of crumbs and smears on used plates, but that wouldn't have been very pretty.
Now on to the recipe!

Make your favorite pie shell and bake it. Pie pastry is not my strong point. I use Pillsbury or Kroger pie pastries from the dairy case or a frozen shell and bake as directed.

For the filling, I use my 8 cup Pyrex batter bowl and add
1 2/3 cup water
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup cornstarch
4 egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk these ingredients well and cook in your microwave. The original directions called for full power, 5-6 minutes. I have found that 8 minutes usually works for me. You will need to stir after each minute of cooking so I set my microwave timer for 8 minutes and stir when it reaches 7, then 6 and so on. Your mixture will be watery the first few times, then begin to thicken. At the end the mixture will come together beautifully thick, be that at 5 minutes or the full 8 minutes it takes mine.

Remove from the microwave and stir in 2 tablespoons of butter. Pour the filling into your waiting pie shell. Resist the urge to lick your spoon or rubber spatula. The filling is very hot and will burn your tongue. Not that I know that first hand or anything.

For the meringue, in a clean bowl, beat with an electric mixer until foamy
4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Gradually add 1/2 cup of sugar, a tablespoonful at a time, and continue to beat until this is glossy and stiff peaks form. 
Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and beat that in

I spoon large dollops of the meringue onto the hot filling and work it to the edges of the crust. You'll want to cover the edge of the crust, not just meet it in order to prevent shrinkage and weeping. You can smooth the surface of the meringue or make dips and swirls with the tip of a spoon as I did here. I do it this way because that is how my mom did it.

Bake your pie at 400* for 8-10 minutes, until your meringue is a delicate brown. Cool your pie away from drafts.

This was the pie I served on Easter Sunday.
Thank goodness it is all gone. It can be addictive!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter finery without rewards

When you are only four weeks old, you aren't allowed chocolate Easter bunnies, marshmallow peeps or jelly beans.
So what was the point of getting dressed in this get up to look older if it wasn't going to get me the goods?
No smiles until I get into my comfy clothes. I don't care how cute mom and grandma think these duds are. Clothes don't really make the man (or the baby). I am cute even when I am showing a little attitude. Grandma said so.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

April Celebrations

Are you ready to plan your April celebrations? Don't forget these special days!
Since today is already April 3rd, I am skipping April Fool's Day and Good Friday. Today is Tweed Day

I'm sure most of us, Christian or not, don't need a reminder that tomorrow, April 4th, is Easter.
April 7 is No Housework Day (sounds like a great idea to me!)
April 9 is National Cherish An Antique Day (and no, it isn't my birthday...I'm not truly antique yet!)
April 12 is Licorice Day.  I prefer chocolate so someone can have my share.
April 15 is Income Tax Day (as if we need a reminder of this!)
April 16 is Get To Know Your Customer Day
April 17 is Blah, Blah, Blah! Day (anyone hearing Kesha singing in your head right now?)
April 21 is Administrative Professional's Day. I was one for a long time. I still am one within our home.
April 22 is Earth Day, the 40th anniversary of this day meant to bring awareness of caring for our planet.
April 23 is Arbor Day. Let's go hug a tree. 
April 25 is Red Hat Society Day
April 26 is National Pretzel Day
April 28 is Kiss Your Mate Day
April 29 is National Dance Day. Please don't participate if you dance like Elaine Benes. That is my job. 

The month of April is National Donate Life Month, National Garden Month, and Keep America Beautiful Month.
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The birth flower for April is the daisy and the birth stone is the diamond.
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Whatever you decide to celebrate this month, I hope you experience joy and kindness each and every day.