Friday, May 30, 2008

Show and Tell Sunday!

This is the first time I’ve participated on Show and Tell Sunday, which features all sorts of bloggers showing and telling about a specific topic.

For more great sites featuring today’s topic, storage, you can go Little Pink Studio.

For me, storage is a big deal because I have a lot of stuff. In the basement are tons and tons of those big plastic bins everyone has filled with Christmas, Easter and Halloween stuff. Nothing glamorous, but when the sewer backed up, I didn’t lose a lot of stuff.

I thought I’d show how I use some of my other storage strategies…

We’ll start in the kitchen. I love having sets of silverware with bright handles and I only have two drawers, so they go into colorful flowerpots!

My grandma’s old Depression glass jar is great for tea.
In the art space, I use an overabundance of mugs and mason jars for brushes, pens, pencils, scissors, skewers – you name it. Here are a couple of them, along with a painted tin can I like! Behind, you'll tea tins -- I use those for buttons and repurposed jewelry.
(The rest of those pesky pens and brushes are on a lazysusan wedged behind the bulletin board.)

I put small leftover yarn balls in a clear plastic jug from the dollar store. It’s easy to dig in and grab what I want for tag embellishments.

A smaller apothecary jar from the dollar store works for end-of-the-spool ribbons.
The container on the left of the shelf is a metal carrier, which was my favorite purchase at the Artiscape silent auction. It has about eight compartments and I stack ephemera in there, along with other items that don’t really work anywhere else. I love it. (The theme is Casablanca, and the artist did a terrific job!)

And everyone probably has these for embellishments and small supplies.

I put my “currently in use” embellishments in muffin trays.

I have envied Pam Garrison’s closet. Mine isn’t nearly so tidy, and doesn’t merit photographing, but there are a couple of things to see here.

I love the eight-slot hanging sweater dividers for storing smaller papers, booklets, thematic items. The danger is if you overload. I found the Martha Stewart line (K-Mart) to be particularly strong. It’s easy to categorize your items. (Trust me -- this is more organized than it looks, but posting all this reminds me it really is time to revamp it a bit!)

My other favorite storage trick is for paper. I do lots of collage and often buy very oversized sheets, or have odd lengths. I use a pant/skirt hanger and just clip the papers together, then hang them up. They stay pretty fresh that way, and it’s easy to get to them. I’m going in to redo this closet this summer and will probably change to divide the hangers by color.

One of my favorite ways to store tall rolls of paper is in tall wastebaskets and baskets. Some of the tall colorful metal outdoor vases (Target) work, too.

Then there are the ever-popular clear shoe boxes. They're everywhere (some labeled, some not -- but I did buy a labelmaker this week, so by Sunday, who knows?)

Do check out others Show and Tell Sunday ideas! I know I will!

What's Up with the Weekend?

It’s our intention to go to the Lansing Lugnuts baseball game tonight.

It’s the weather’s intent to rain.

We’ll see who wins!

Tomorrow my twisted sister in all things creative, the multi-talented Ms. Gina, is coming to town and we’re going to hang out! Gina works for a marketing company that distributes just about every craft and art supply known to humankind and can do just about every craft included in their line. So, you can imagine, we’ll be having fun!

I’m also going to play a bit with some of the images from The Vintage Workshop collections. Thanks to Beth and Karla’s Birds and Bonnets swap, I was the lucky winner of a gift certificate. (Thanks to the Vintage Workshop for donating these!)

These are a few images from the collections I chose – you really should check out the huge variety available at The Vintage Workshop. Prices are reasonable, you can get them in different formats – on a downloadable sheet or downloadable collection that you can size to your work, or on disk.

(I chose several foodie collections to add graphics to my cookbook pages!)

I leave you with my executive assistant. He had a lot to say last night, between being very playful indeed.

("What do you mean, stop playing on the desk? I'm just doing my job -- cuteness!")

What are you doing this weekend? Hope it's a nice one. Don't forget to stop by Sunday for my storage ideas and a link to even more!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Walk through Rosie's Garden

My neighbor Rosie is well named. Her garden is glorious, starting with tulips and daffs in the spring and going right through autumn.

Here's her garden -- the house you see the side of is mine. I have a grand view.

Before I show you a weird thing I saw last night, I wanted to share some beautiful spring flowers with you, courtesy of Rosie!

OK, now -- I need your opinion.

This may look like a lackluster gray sky. Actually, by the time I got home and got the camera, it was sort of lackluster.

But look at the blob of color. It looks a bit like light -- like perhaps the sun is peeking through (this was around 8:30 at night.) And this photo was taken after the clouds moved in a bit -- before, there was clearer sky -- or at least more of it.

The sun was to the right of the trees -- by quite a bit. So it's not that. It looked like a rainbow a bit earlier -- you could clearly see part of the spectrum Red, orange and yellow, and maybe faintly green.

(Oh, and not a rainbow -- there wasn't rain within miles.)

Any idea what this is?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Do You Do Digital?

No, not digital photography. I mean, are you ready for the digital television conversion?

OK, I work at a TV station and I’m supposed to be all excited about this. Great pictures! Unparalleled images! Multicasting! More stations without cable for free!

At the risk of having anyone I work with read this, let me give you my own assessment of the digital transition.

It stinks.

Stinks would not be my preferred word. You don’t want to know my preferred word.

For several months I have been answering questions addressed to the station’s “Digital Guy” (who is an actor, although when I’m answering the questions, I’m using my acting skills too, because I haven’t got a whole lot of clues about what I’m writing. It’s like my seven years as a bookkeeper when I didn’t even balance my checkbook. You don’t want to know…)

In other words, I’m not the Digital Guy, but I play him online.

Anyway, this weekend, I got my converter box for home. Actually, this is a picture of the box from online. My box is white. I don't like it. I wish I bought a brown one, but you couldn't tell from the outside of the box, and I went to four stores to find one.

You will need a converter box for any television set not hooked up to cable. I had just hauled up an old 13-inch telly from the basement for the art space. My coupon arrived (more on this later) and I was excited about hooking it up.

So, hook I did. Antenna into converter box. Box into telly. Two remotes (like I don’t have enough to lose).

Let me say that this is an OLD telly and most of the time it doesn’t work. When (and the operative term here is “when”) I get a picture – it’s fabulous. Score one for digital.

And WHEN the stations work, I get all four WKAR channels (we multicast) as well as two other stations. Better than before.

Having said that, the stations come in and out based on the whimsy of not only where you are located and where your antenna is directed (which isn’t as easy at it seems) but also whether leaves are blowing, the Gypsy is walking by the rabbit ears, or it’s Sunday. (Or Monday, or…)

Maybe if the antenna was on the roof (I don’t get on the ladder, much less the roof) or it was somewhere else, it would be better.

Oh, yes, and signal strength isn’t as strong as analog, so even if you can watch a station now, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can watch with the same clarity or at all when you go digital.

AND, when you lose a signal, you don’t get snow so you can follow along. It either stops, pixilates or goes blank. So, if you’re like me and you just sort of want to follow while doing something else, you may not be able to.

Here are the basics you need to know if you are into television, even remotely (no pun intended).
To watch TV after February 17, 2009, you will need to do one of the following options: Order satellite, order cable or have a converter box. You need a box for anything not hooked up to one of the above. You can order a coupon for $40 off at this site, and they take about a month to arrive and must be used in 90 days.

Second, you need an antenna.

Sometimes rabbit ears will work (I’m told). You can find out more about antennas here.

Third, you will need to adjust the antenna everytime you want to watch something different. Which may be OK.

Hooking up is easy – antenna to box (plugged in) and box to TV.

You will also want a hammer. This is for beating the television into small parts you can throw out easily or divvy up for recycling – if you can find anyone who recycles televisions and doesn’t charge you an arm and a leg for the privilege.

Or, you can go back to cable.

'Nuf said. Now, I’d best go back to answering digital guy questions and telling people why they aren’t getting us.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Thinking of You...

Happy Memorial Day!

I'm loving this holiday weekend. I took Friday off, too, and am doing a combination of homely tasks and just good fun.
I started out with a visit to the farm market early on Friday to get flowers for home and cemetery.
The little markers reminded me of when you see the grave markers at Arlington or in Normandy. All straight, all the same.

I went early, but there was a huge crowd, and no wonder! What a maze of color!

Inside, a pianist sat amidst flowers, veggies, gifts and cards, playing a grand piano!

I did get in some laundry time. Gypsy helped. He seemed to be enchanted with whatever was in the pant leg.

Then he graciously tried on my pre-felted baglet, which looked like a rather jaunty cap on him.
He appeared less than amused. ("Oh, the things I DO for that woman, just for a bit of Fancy Feast and tummy rubs...")

Yesterday I planted -- not done yet, but working on it! After dinner we took another walk down to the park --

Beautiful at twilight.

It is coming into its summer season.
Harry the Heron was happy to pose.

So was I!

And today we hit the cemetery to plant geraniums at my family's plot.

The family plot -- wasn't that a movie? Memorial Day has always been a bit of a thing for me. As long as I can remember, I would accompany my mom when she would plant at her parents and grandparents. It was a bit of a history lesson, for some of the names in the cemetery (including R.E. Olds, who invented the Oldsmobile) were pioneers in city history and industry.

It was also a lesson in family history. First there was simply my grandfather, joined prior to my birth by his wife. Then one of the daughters, Eleanor. For a very long while, that's all that was there -- till Mom and my aunt, Grace, followed in 1977. Dad was next, then my uncle Wendell, and a year and a half ago, my uncle, Martin.

I love planting the red geraniums (mom liked red; it's what we always did) and white petunias. Then picking lilies of the valley from the hill behind the stone for the parents, aunts and uncles.
Rick accompanied me. The only family member he ever met there is Martin. I wish he'd known the others.

After that, a picnic. I made two wonderful things that I'll post here -- confetti orzo salad and cantaloupe and mint salad -- along with brownies.

We found a bench on a hill by the river overlooking the riverboat. Glorious weather, an occasional skier or powerboat. Such fun!
Now, back to planting! Art tomorrow!

Confetti Orzo Salad

I got this recipe when a woman named Esther made it on a cooking show the station sponsored. I later found out that Esther got it from my friend Kate, who got the original from "Cooking Light." (Which was the first time I realized Kate and Esther knew each other!)
I don't think it much resembles the original -- I'm not sure it even resembles Esther's! So, I'm putting the only written-down version I have here (I'm not sure whose it was, Kate's, Esther's or mine) and then my changes for today. It really is the ultimate "trash can" salad -- there are so many variations you can make, based on what you have handy.

Prepare one cup of orzo (5-6 minutes). Rinse cold and add a bit of olive oil, so it doesn’t stick.

Chop the following (or your combo of ingredients for a total of about 2-3 cups veggies and herbs)
green pepper
red pepper / yellow or orange pepper
parsley / scallions (I just use three or 4) / sun dried tomatoes / blanched asparagus / carrots or celery / black or greek olives / broccoli

Add to taste as many fresh herbs as you like. I prefer basil, oregano, dill, rosemary, but you decide! Or, you don't have to...

Add feta – ¼ c. or so.

Toss with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. (Also good with lemon or lime juice in place of oil.)
OK -- the Jeanie Variations (actually, most of those are the Jeanie Variations) -- today I used (because I had them) shredded carrots, stuffed green olives, salmon, capers... as you can see, whatever you have works well! Best of all, it's a great picnic salad because it has no mayo and isn't bad at room temperature.

Cantaloupe and Mint

Make a simple syrup -- you'll need 1/4 c finished. Proportions are 1 part sugar to 1/2 part water. I used a quarter cup of water and half cup of sugar and have some left. (You can also add ginger to this if you have any.)

Cantaloupe from one melon in balls or chunks
2 T chopped candied ginger (optional, but yummy)
1 big bunch of mint, chopped
juice of one lemon
juice of one lime (optional)

Mix together and add 1/4 c. of the syrup. Best served chilled.

You could also add watermelon or other fruits as well.
Happy Day!

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