Saturday, 31 January 2009

Some Food for Thought

My daughter has pre-announced her engagement and so the diet is on!
You are probably wondering how someone can 'pre-announce' . . . and you are so right in questioning that expression!

Her 'fiancée' has purchased the ring and wants to surprise her with his proposal, but she knows he is asking, and because she lives in the New York City area, she knows she must plan the wedding early or there just won't be one.

I have been procrastinating on dieting - well - if I am honest - since last July!
Well this pre-announcement has me right in gear, no excuses now! I need to look good in my mother-of-the-bride dress!
My long suffering husband met me about 40 pounds ago and I need to shed it back to what I weighed when we announced our own engagement.

So this week I began in earnest - low carbs is what works for me. I know, I know - no lectures, please.
(Everyone has an opinion, and unless you have read the Atkins books, I don't want to hear about it!)

I began my love affair with carbohydrates when I was just a young girl - penny candy was my main squeeze at the time, or perhaps, starter-drug, might be the more appropriate terminology! But it didn't take long to advance to ice cream, candy, cake, and pie! Oh how I LOVE pie!

And other carbs too - pasta, bread, corn, oatmeal - if it is made from starch and/or sugar, I love it! My sister, Sue says that she is positive that the manufacturers of the loveliest of carbohydrate things, place heroine in their 'white foods' to keep you addicted and coming back for more!

So this is a sacrifice for me - I have given up all of it. Yup, I am down to eating only low carb items during the day and a sensible dinner with maybe just a bit of potato or corn, and green everything else.
Snacks consist of tea, coffee, and sugar-free Jello.
Sometimes a bit of apple, raspberries, strawberries, or grapefruit, too.

I wanted to wait until Monday to get on the scale, but I faltered, and had to get on it today, and found I had lost about seven pounds! I am so pleased!

So I was thinking about all of this tonight when I was making dinner, and I thought I would share a recipe with you all.

Have you heard of Gordon Ramsay?
He has such a potty mouth, but we love him anyway.
In what I believe was his first series on TV, (where he goes around rescuing restaurants in the UK from certain disaster,) he helped one particular pub to become known for its great hamburgers.
And even though I didn't have a pen in hand, and he didn't provide measurements for the ingredients, I memorized it. A great feat at my age!
I made them tonight - usually reserved for summertime grilling - and it brought a bit of sunshine to our dreary day. They are yummy and I know you will adore them!

1 - 2 lbs of minced beef - hamburger to you Americans
chopped onion - a small one
Worcestershire Sauce - about 1/8 to 1/4 cup, depending on how much hamburger you use
Dijon mustard - a heaping tablespoon or two
1 egg - again, if you are making a big batch, add more

Mix it all up together and season with salt and pepper while grilling.
Don't overcook.
These have a lovely flavour and melt in your mouth when cooked properly.

Let me know how you like them!


Monday, 26 January 2009

Back to My Roots

Guidance counselors expected you to make life altering decisions when you were a mere 14 years old. And, I was just ambitious enough, that I thought I was up to the challenge.

With the entrance examinations passed, I had been accepted, enrolled, and my first tuition deposit paid, to a private, Catholic, all-girls high school.
I thought it was what was expected of me and what I wanted, but then . . .

The lure of being one of the first girls accepted into a previously all-boys school, that had, as a major, Graphic Arts and Photography, was just too much to pass by.
And therein the first fork in the road appeared, taking me on a journey I might otherwise have missed.

For one thing, had I attended Nardin Academy, I would never have met my husband-to-be.
And although the outcome, many years later, was divorce, I wouldn't, today, have my three beautiful children if not for that very first fork in the path of my life.

My decision to attend public school, with boys, photography, and art, instead of private school with girls, church, and nuns, was a good one.

The things I learned at McKinley High School have remained part of me, and have kept me in good stead throughout the intervening years.
The many elements of graphic art and photography have woven their threads into the very fabric of who I am.

A teacher there once said something like: ' as you travel through life, you might think you have left art behind, but you will always come back to it because you love it and it is part of you.'
How right he was!

I have worked as both an amateur and a professional portrait photographer; my home makeovers have allowed me to rekindle all sorts of elements of design; when I had my classroom, I used art to motivate little ones using fabric, paint, and photography to ensure quality outcomes for their work; with the introduction of computers in the classroom, new vistas were found to expand on the traditional, classroom-contained lessons, allowing for publishing to a global audience, that included web design for on-line college applications.

I developed a course for teachers to help them make better use of the websites they had, drawing on information I learned in high school, about print advertising.

And here I am today, in the 21st century, exploring the uses of electronic means for manipulating art that might be 100 years old!
And creating new things from old and offering them to the world.

But this past week, a little bit of my roots came haunting me.
Lessons from the past, the lure of the finished portrait, and the desire to create - to make a beautiful image that will last for a lifetime, all came together to draw me out and away to photograph our granddaughter, Hannah.

And here she is.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

I Love Vintage!

So today, I meant to get a lot more done than I actually accomplished, however, what I did get finished was oh so worthwhile!
I do believe this is my favourite bookplate thus far.
Modified from a magazine advertisement from 1932, the latest little bookplate looks like a vintage illustration much like those botanical prints of days gone by.
However, the amazing thing about this one is that it is actually modified from a colour photograph!
The colour photographs for print advertising were so bad in those days, reworking it in Photoshop has made it look great!
Now I didn't alter the pixels from the original at all - just removed the background and adjusted the colour a bit.
The results are making me cheer!
It isn't yet listed on Etsy, but will be soon.

I am posting it here - click on it to enlarge it and let me know what you think. Thanks!

All the best!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The Times They are A-Changin'

Wow! We have been glued to CNN since about 4:00pm this afternoon, watching as events unfold with the Inauguration of the new President of the United States of America.

It was a bit much for we, who are still a little homesick every now and then, to digest as we saw flags and ceremonies, and speeches and oh-so-much America!
It made one want to be there and relish in the excitement of it all!

Now anyone who knows me knows I am so very non-political and tend to shy away from any conversations in which one might become embroiled in some sort of political debate.
But this today was different.

It didn't matter if you were Republican or Democrat, young or old, black or white or somewhere in-between.
It only mattered that you loved your country and wanted the best for it.

It was so wonderful to see people united and peaceful and everyone looking forward to a new era in America, no matter what the age, race or political affiliation; the news was good: here we have a young, energetic, diplomatic, President, and he wants what we all want: peace, prosperity, and sharing of pride in America.

Dylan has the last words: The times, they are a-changin'.
And now a bit of trivia for you that came up as part of a discussion we were having about the US Capitol. After literally years in school studying US History, it is amazing that we knew Washington, D.C. was not the original capital of the US, however, none of us could recall which city was the first.
My vote was for New York City because I seemed to recall that everyone thought it was Philadelphia, but they were incorrect.
Katie's guess was Philadelphia because she remembered studying about the Continental Congress meeting there, and of course, who could forget the Liberty Bell?
So what do you think?
Have a guess and then go here to find the answers.

Shopping Around

Shopping around on Etsy I found this awesome label seller, LABELSTONE, who makes coasters from tiles adorned with vintage labels.
Additionally, they also sell the actual vintage/antique labels.
The labels once graced the crates containing vegetables and fruits, and sometimes, other things as well.
Ummmm . . . what can I make with them???
I absolutely LOVE them!
I am originally from Buffalo, New York, so I am going to buy this one:

What I do with it - well - I am not sure, but I am buying it anyway!
Take a look and see what you can find in their little shop :>
I like these items:


Sunday, 18 January 2009

I Learned Something Today

The day began much like any other.
I was working on on the computer much of the morning while simultaneously cutting out some sewing projects.
I was anxious to get a Treasury to support craftspeople on Etsy, so that means a lot of waiting.

In between cutting, I was browsing about in the forums on Etsy and came across a title I couldn't resist; something about not bothering to look at the Front Page any more.
Curious about such negativity, I read what the author had to say and it wasn't at all what I had expected to see.

She was saying she was upset that her recently listed products weren't showing up in the little mini-treasury that reveal things recently listed. Of course, I had thought she was going to say she was tired of seeing the same sellers featured on the Front Page over and over again while she languished along with the rest of the thousands of unknowns, ad so would not bother to look to see if her work was there.

Trying to offer support to her, I commented, in the forum, that I never really pay attention to that space on the Front Page, anyway, and that I doubted it would impact her sales one way or another.

She corrected me and said she personally bought many items once she saw the artists work in the tiny space. And she also said she had discovered a lot of new sellers that way, too.
That was the inspiration for a plan set into motion immediately: my new treasury would feature only items from the recently listed window. Fresh and new today, I would see what I could discover if I were more observant.
And wow - I was amazed! She was so right!

I don't know how long I sat there, glued to the ever-changing screen revealing goods just listed from all over the world.
I saw items from the New Zealand, Australia, United States, Canada
Canary Islands_____Italy_______ Finland _______Manila

. . . and so many more!

I tried to be quick and not lose what I liked best, which wasn't easy since the items change every 15 seconds! So it was with speed that I clicked on items, scrolled down to copy the item's number, and then click open the tab for my Poster Sketch, whereupon I pasted the item number in the tiny box.
And eventually, the treasury, New Today, was created.

The lesson learned today was to be more open minded about other people's opinions and obeservations. We are not all the same and although we all do things our way and we think it best, sometimes, our way is not the best way.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Let's Catch Up!

The New Year has arrived and, already, I am behind in just about everything!
It is officially the 13th, although at this writing it is just a bit past midnight.
Due to the holidays followed in quick succession by a myriad of birthdays and then illnesses followed by and during a surprise visit from my daughter, nothing I had planned to have done by now is finished and I have such a backlog of projects and work, I don't even know where to begin!

Laundry is piling up; ironing can no longer fit on the back of the door; sewing projects are mere memories; and cleaning up my blog and writing more must have been something I dreamed when I was so ill with fever!

So where do I begin?
I wanted to post some holiday photos and show some of my decorations and baking but that was before the bad virus set in and took hold of my body. Seriously, it was as if aliens had arrived and taken control. It is the 13th and I still am fighting it, but at least I can sit at the computer for longer periods of time without getting dizzy or feeling a desperate need for sleep.

My best intentions for today went awry . . . and again, it was a day spent taking it easy and also a bit of caring for my husband who has now contracted the same evil virus I have been fighting.

But the glimmers of good are always with me, too, no matter what my physical condition:
Good friends have honoured and helped me with things related to Etsy; I have made some new Etsty friends; and . . .

My birthday arrived with a huge surprise: my daughter and her boyfriend arrived for a surprise visit from New York City! everyone had kept it on the QT and so I was truly surprised when she appeared in my hallway!
I don't think I have ever been so shocked and surprised nor have I ever been given such a special gift.

My dear husband took all of us to dinner in a gorgeous historical restaurant, and we were wined and dined in good company with lots of love between us.

It was a fabulous day with only a bit of sadness in the knowledge that the pair of young ones would be heading back to New York on Monday. A visit all too short but even more meaningful because of it.

Tonight, they are safely back in New York City, the events of the last few days still fresh in their memories as they are with me, too.

So amid the bugs that bite us, are the gardens of memories, and the wisdom to know what is meaningful and what is not.

Keep what means the most close, and let the rest flutter in the wind.