Monday, April 30, 2012

Does the new monitor make my butt look big?

I remember being thrilled when I went from a boxy, heavy monitor with whatever size screen was then standard to a 17" flat screen. Woohoo! Remember the song "Movin' On Up"? That was how I felt.

Then Bill got a 20" screen. Wow. I tried not to be jealous but whenever something was wrong with my computer (which was becoming increasingly common) and I used his, everyone's blog looked so much better. I could actually see the fun backgrounds instead of just a hint of color and print.

My new screen is 23". Whoa Nellie! That isn't the largest commonly available. They had a 25" but I was worried about it fitting without taking over my desk space. Why are screens measured diagonally? Anyone know?

So here I am with a new computer, new screen, new Windows (7, I was still using XP), new Office (2010 upgraded from 2007) and a new printer/copier/fax/scanner about to be installed. The old printer was too old to play nice with the new computer and the scanner had died a while ago. I can't believe how little the new combo cost in relation to past purchases. Oh yeah, it is wireless too so I can print from my iPad now too!

All of this is exciting (until the credit card bill arrives) but it is also annoying that computers and their related accessories become out of date and incompatible so quickly. We take care of our stuff but looks and routine updates don't matter. Just like people I guess. It is what is inside that counts.

Anyway, I am debating whether to use IE or Firefox as my browser. I had long ago switched to Firefox and liked it but was using an older version that isn't available now. There doesn't seem to be that much difference between the two, at least not for my uses. Our computer guy said that IE has the advantage of your saved favorites being available on any device you use. Hmmmm, that alone could sway me. I found an add-on that performs spell check, something that had led me to Firefox years ago.

Which browser do you use and why?

I am very fortunate to be able to go out and replace these electronics that have come to mean so much to me. Bill and I are very lucky to have met our computer tech who is an all-round nice guy, very knowledgeable and practical with recommendations for us. He understands how we use our devices, shows us ways to improve and point blank tells us when some bells and whistles aren't worth their cost for us. For instance, we don't need a second graphics card because we aren't gamers who need to watch creatures blow up civilization in full color. Does anyone need that?

If I can offer one piece of unsolicited advice today, please do yourselves a favor and backup data regularly. I had just backed up our Quicken files on Friday which saved me a lot of back entry today. I keep a list of sites that I commonly use, everything from banks and stores to  message boards and my blogger info, along with user name(s) and passwords. One message board recently changed sites and I bookmarked it through Firefox but did update my cheat sheet. I was able to get the website from another device, but not everything on my desk top is on my iPad. If something is important to you, back it up and write down the info you need to get there before your motherboard decides to retire.

Ooooh, time to install the printer! I'll be around to visit everyone later!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

R.I.P. old computer

The motherboard on my computer died. A blank screen save for a message that drive 0 and drive 1 cannot be found is a gut wrenching screen first thing in the morning.

I love playing on my iPad but it just doesn't cut it for writing a post or doing any actual business online. I struggled to get a post written the other day and it went poof! right before my eyes. Arrgghhh! That was almost as annoying as the blank screen on my desk top.

Life is good though, thanks to God, hubby and Ron, our computer tech. The computer was old enough to have other issues besides the motherboard, and in computer years, the motherboard was obsolete and would have been hard to find and costly to replace. A new computer was the practical solution. Ron made a few recommendations regarding brands and models, we did some research online and then went to Best Buy. The new one should be operational this afternoon, and old data should be reinstalled later this week.


For those of you who have an iPad, do you find blogging from it awkward? 

Along with a Windows upgrade, it looks like I will have to upgrade the version of Firefox that I use. I am using a very old (again, by computer standards) version because it is compatible with use of emoticons on a few message boards that I routinely visit.

Blogger and Facebook changes, system upgrades, and new hope this old dog can still learn a few new tricks!

Friday, April 27, 2012

"Art Linkletter, like you're mad"

Bill Cosby did a remake of Art Linkletter's Kids Say the Darndest Things which was a segment on Art's daily House Party show in the 50s and 60s. Cynics are quick to point out that the kids were coached in the old shows. I don't know if it is true or not, the clips are still funny to me because of the children. Besides, haven't most of us witnessed a hilarious remark made by a child who had no idea they were being funny?

To my dear youngest son who made this observation just as all conversation around us had quieted years ago at a family reunion: yes, dear, I am aware that have hair in my nose. I will forever think of you when I see nose hair, mine or anyone else's.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012!

I'm still fulfilling obligations that are keeping me from spending much time writing or visiting blogs. This is killing me! I read the following while eating lunch the other day. All the information in green type came from HILDE G. LEE | Daily Progress food columnist

The most famous legend of how coffee was discovered is the tale of Kaldi, an Abyssinian goatherd, who noticed one day that for no apparent reason his normally docile goats had suddenly become exceptionally lively. He discovered that they had been nibbling the berries of a nearby plant.

Bravely, Kaldi tasted the berries, and after some moments found to his amazement that he felt extraordinarily uplifted and invigorated. Convinced of a miracle, he rushed to the local monastery and excitedly told his tale to the abbot, showing him the berries, which he had crammed into his leather pouch.

The abbot, fearing that this was the devil’s work, flung the berries onto the fire, whereupon a wonderful and exotic aroma filled the air. That convinced him that this was God’s work, and the abbot ordered that the beans be swiftly raked from the fire. Several monks immediately rescued the beans. They were then mixed with water so that all the monks of the monastery could partake of this miracle.

Coffee beans grew wild in Abyssinia and Arabia. Before the 10th century, they were eaten by wandering tribesmen. They had discovered the alluring properties of coffee as a stimulant. These tribesmen squashed the ripe fruit of the coffee plant, mixed it with animal fat and shaped the mixture into round balls. They carried these balls with them and ate them at intervals on their long journeys. The practice of enjoying coffee as a drink came later.

By the 13th century, coffee drinking was an everyday occurrence in Arabia, where coffeehouses became very popular. These establishments had a very relaxed atmosphere, usually with music and gambling. Philosophers, politicians and tradesmen gathered in the coffeehouses to discuss the events of the day and exchange ideas.

However, the coffeehouses of that day caused the rulers great concern, as they feared plots and intrigue against their rule might be hatched there. The rulers tried several times to close down the coffeehouses, but to no avail. With the increased popularity of coffee drinking, it eventually spread to people’s homes, where it evolved into an elaborate ceremony.

Coffee was introduced into Europe in Venice in 1615; from there, it spread throughout Europe. Coffee soon reached Rome, where, initially, it was condemned by the clergy as the drink of the devil. Feelings about it ran so high that Pope Clement VIII asked for a sample of the brew, hoping to resolve the matter once and for all. 

One sip, however, revealed how delightful drinking coffee was, and he realized how foolish it would be to banish it from the Christian world forever. So the pope immediately blessed the drinking of coffee. With papal approval, the growth of coffee drinking in Italy was assured, and soon thereafter the first European coffeehouses opened.

In 1637 a Turkish immigrant established the first coffee house in English, at Oxord. Soon afterwards another coffee house opened in London and gradually many towns in Great Britain had coffee houses. They were identifiable by the aroma of roasting coffee and a painted sign haning outside the establishment. The signs usually featured a picture of a Turkish Coffee Pot or a Sultan’s Head. One of the most famous London coffee houses was Lloyds, which was the forerunner of Lloyds of London, the famous insurance company
The first record of coffee drinking in North America was in 1660 in the colony of New Amsterdam.
In Holland, coffee had become a popular home drink, as several Dutch colonies were growing coffee. Four years later, when the British took over New Amsterdam and renamed it New York, coffee drinking had caught on with not only the Dutch settlers, but also the British. Coffee had replaced beer at breakfast time.

The first coffeehouses in New York were modeled after their London counterparts. However, they were more like taverns, as they had rooms for rent, served meals and sold ale, wine, hot chocolate and teas as well as coffee. The more important coffeehouses had meeting rooms — some large enough to conduct auctions. Gradually, it became custom for men to carry on their business at the coffeehouse and then adjourn to a nearby tavern for entertainment.

Today, Starbucks, which is named after the first mate in Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick,” has 19,435 stores in 58 countries. More than 12,00 of those are in the United States. The company was founded in Pike Place Market in Seattle in March 1971 by two teachers and a writer — Jerry Baldwin, Gordon Bowker and Zev Siegal. The trio was inspired by Al Peet, a California entrepreneur in the coffee business, and started out buying roasted beans from him. It was not long before the men began buying and roasting their own beans.

By 1984 the trio had purchased Peet’s and expanded its headquarters to the magnificent old Sears building in Seattle. Today, the more than 12,000 U. S. Starbucks stores are not only stand-alone entities, but are also located in many bookstores, such as Barnes and Noble.
So....are you a coffee lover too? I drink lite Maxwell House (half the caffeine of regular) most of the time, and I drink it black. I love the aroma of coffee. I love holding a mug to warm my hands when they're chilled but I drink it all summer long too. Every morning that I am home I have Dannon coffee yogurt to start my day. My favorite flavor of ice cream? You guessed it!

I don't really look like the creature in the last photo, but I would get squirrelly if I had to forage for coffee.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I got nuthin'

I have nothing to say. Hard to believe? I am in a slump but not bored, sick or in a bad mood. Just a writing slump.
I'll be back after I've recharged, made notes, drank a fifth or found something inspirational.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Fun Photos

Remind me again why I though retirement was going to be full of leisure time.  Until I can get back here with something original to say, here are some fun animal pictures that I received in an email.


Best Friends

Find a sunbeam, take a nap

Time for a face lift!


Good spot for a short nap
I'd love to be in the sunbeam photo or maybe the last one. I've never snuggled with a cow though, so the black Lab in the leather chair gets my vote. Plus I'm a Lab lubber lover and I've often resembled that pose myself.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday Trivia

Why are barns traditionally painted red?
The answer comes from Grit: Rural American Know How    Click the link to read the article in its entirety.

Early 18th-century bridges and barns went unpainted. The right wood in the right place, it was discovered, needed no paint. Even houses in the earliest settlements were not painted. To paint the barn would have been viewed not only as extravagant, but vulgar and showy.
However, by the late 1700s, the art of wood seasoning gave way to the art of artificial preservation. Virginia farmers were the first to become paint-conscious. In Pennsylvania, the Dutch settlements latched on to the custom of red bricks, red barns, red geraniums, even reddish-brown cows. When a Pennsylvania Dutch farmer added big ornamental designs to barns, “just for luck,” he was accused of designing a hex sign to frighten the devil. Many old-timers sneered at their neighbors’ newly painted barns and accused them of copying “those superstitious Germans of Pennsylvania.”

But color caught on. Inasmuch as ready-made paint was not available, a farmer mixed his own. He discovered that skimmed milk, lime and red iron oxide made a plastic-like coating that hardened quickly and lasted for years. Occasionally, it hardened too well and peeled off in sheets. Linseed oil was subsequently added to the recipe to provide the necessary soaking quality. Thus American “barn red” was born. It came into being through function and utility, rather than decor or superstition. It was soon discovered that the red barn color was warmer in winter since it absorbed the sun’s rays.
In the mid-19th century, skimmed milk was used in mixing paint. The belief that barn red originated with American Indians actually has some foundation. Records indicate that, in accordance with an old American Indian custom, farm stock blood was indeed mixed with milk and used for staining interior surfaces. A pigment called “Indian Red” was made from clay mixed with whites of wild turkey eggs. Turkey blood was added to provide a deep mahogany shade. Stains using blood were not, however, suitable for outdoor use.

Red has remained the traditional color for most American barns, particularly in the Northeastern and Midwestern United States. We can thank our ingenious colonial forebears for this visually appealing, colorful heritage.
If you've spent your entire life in a city or suburbs, this might all be news to you. When you make it the final round on Jeopardy and this information clinches the win for you, you may thank me publicly.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Did someone say Easter eggs?

Colton was probably trying to see around Mommy while she was taking this picture at their house, but he did enjoy the barely hidden eggs here at Grandma's. Figuring he had lots of candy from E. Bunny at home this morning and another good share at his other grandparents at brunch (yes, he actually does have other grandparents. Quite noble of me to share him, don't you think?), I was practical (not easy to do!) and only put one small candy in each of six plastic eggs.

He hadn't reached this one yet when he spotted the next one. Next year is really going to be fun for me for him!

The Easter Bunny had been in touch with me two weeks ago and asked if I could help out with a trip to Target. Happy to oblige, I picked out monkey themed rubber boots, a matching hat, and a watering can.

(Don't worry, my son's face doesn't always look like it does in this picture)

Here we have Junior Mr GQ meets Junior Backyard Gardener.

After he changed from his business suit to business casual look, Grandpa took him outside to test the boots.

 This is how you water flowers that haven't sprouted yet.

Hey Grandpa! Wait up!

Last year I attempted dyeing eggs with Kool Aid. Click here for those results. This year I used gel food coloring (cake and candy decorator's supplies) and really liked the shades. 

I saw so many cute dessert ideas this year but decided not to bake anything because of having candy in the house and knowing that none of us were going to want dessert after a big meal. I did make these, mainly because I had everything in the house to make them and thought they were cute.

The pretzel creations directions are here and are from The Sugar Buzz Pantry.

The bunny pops directions were found here at The Decorated Cookie.

I hope your Easter (if you celebrate) was as sweet as mine. After seeing the first pictures, you know I'm not talking about chocolate. Photobucket

Saturday, April 7, 2012

One more flouncy scarf

I had no plans to buy more yarn the night that I purchased another skein of Filatura Di Crosa Moda but color #23 called Rainbow Sherbet demanded to come home with me. What can you say to bossy yarn?

The scarf was done in a little more than one evening, and that was an evening full of interruptions. My husband, bless his heart, doesn't photograph things as I would like them done, hence the scarf hanging on a door rather than on me. I could have used my iPhone but I was wearing a red shirt when I thought of it and too rushed to change.
The airiness of these lacy looking ruffles appeal to my desire for colorful accents. I mentioned this yarn and pattern before in this post. Here is a video from YouTube of what the yarn looks like and how the knitting is done.

This particular yarn is $17.50 per skein at my local yarn shop. The scarf takes one skein. If you don't have access to this brand or are hesitant to spend that much per scarf if you intend to make a dozen as Christmas presents, the good news is that less expensive brands work up just as nicely. While I believe that you often get what you pay for, I don't expect this scarf to become an heirloom. Trendy items should be fun and not cost an arm and a leg.

My favorite craft supply store is Mary Maxim's, located in Port Huron, MI and in Paris, Ontario. This link hows Red Heart Sashay yarn sold in their store at $4.99 per skein. Click on the images below the skein to see the yarn made up in this pattern.

It is now time to think of sherbet colors for another project...dyeing Easter eggs!   Photobucket

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A few finished projects

Another odd week in the Knitty house, not be confused with a nutty house. Photobucket

Yesterday I was working on a post for here when the power went out on our side of the street. It was out for a little over two hours. I switched gears and did things not requiring electricity and returned to the computer mid-afternoon. My post was really messed up and after 20 minutes of trying to fix it, I decided it would be quicker to delete and start all over. Before I got that far, I tried to Google something but Firefox wouldn't allow that to happen. I can't quote the message now, but it was a security issue and appeared that something about Google wasn't up to date.

Hmmmm, that didn't sound good. My immediate reaction was to search for that message online, but I couldn't.... Duh!

I found the message through my iPhone but was still worried until I came across someone saying to check your computer's date and time. Aha! The power outage had reset my computer to a date in July of 2003. Once I reset that and the time, everything was functioning as expected on my computer.

My day and week were rapidly getting away from me so yesterday's post is back in my idea file and today I am showing you my completed vest. The length of time I worked on this is not indicative of  the pattern being complex. It really isn't hard, it is a 4 row repeat. I limited my time working on it to knitting sessions in the store. I don't have an issue with the rule about using yarn purchased at the store during knitting sessions, but I have so much yarn waiting at home from ...shhh...other shops, I needed to slow this project down.

The pattern is called Tampa Vest, designed by Julie Gaddy. It was published in the July 2009 issue of Creative Knitting Magazine. The yarn is a worsted weight silk blend. The name has escaped my mind and I can't find the tag anywhere at the moment. Rather than get frustrated though, I will look for it at the yarn store and make note of pertinent info including laundering instructions. Within 48 hours of getting that info, the tag will miraculously show up here at home.
 Here is a close up of the pattern. Please ignore the rectangular color variation. That isn't the yarn, that is how it photographed against a door with panels.
The other long-in-the-works project that was completed this week was a scrapbook of our Hawaiian vacation. Most of the photos were shown here already and some of the pages have info that I'm not comfortable sharing here (last names, an address, etc). I bought a scrapbooking pack of papers and stickers on the cruise which made this project simple once I finally decided which photos to use and sat down to work. These are the first and last pages:

I see beautifully formatted scrapbook pages in shops and online but they often only have one picture per page and a lot of design detail. My books are not designed to win any contests or impress anyone. They are for my enjoyment (hubby might look at this one more time in the next 10 years) and will take me back to a warm, wonderful vacation when I am freezing in Michigan next January.

I have one more room to dust and vacuum before I call it quits for the day. If you drop in over Easter weekend, you are welcome in any of the main floor rooms but don't you dare go upstairs! The beds will be made but I can't guarantee that bunnies won't be up there to greet you, and they won't be the Easter variety. I think this one has become a permanent resident but I don't remember buying her that coffee mug.