Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tom Hanks Movies

I feel like I've finally been immersed in movie culture by seeing 2 highly-acclaimed Tom Hanks movies that I'd never seen.

My husband and I watched most of the "The Green Mile" a few weeks ago, and it was definitely as good as I'd heard. (Granted, I've been a Stephen King fan since I was a teenager and have the screenplay for "The Green Mile" but I'd never seen it).

Then a few days ago we watched most of "Forrest Gump". Also a very excellent movie, and one that will linger in my memory forever.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice

Happy Winter Solstice to everyone. This stunning photograph was taken at Newgrange in Ireland on winter solstice as the light illuminates the passageway and chamber. My sister has been several times (not on the winter solstice, though) and eventually I want to see it.

At this time of year, I'm especially fascinated by all the different religious celebrations that occur around the solstice. One of the more interesting specials I've seen was on the History Channel dealing with the "history" of the winter festivals. If you're interested, you can see some of it at

I'm in no way affiliated with the History Channel

Friday, December 18, 2009

Winter Storm

We're getting ready for our first big snowfall that's supposed to start tonight and last through tomorrow. I guess it will be good for the ski resorts, but I don't know how to ski (although I've heard that the Wii balance board skiing games are pretty realistic).

I used to love snow until I started driving. Which reminds me that this might be a good opportunity to take my son out to an empty parking lot and let him learn about driving in snow.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Google Voice

I've been exploring Google Voice and there are SO many features that I'm not sure how to take advantage of all of them.

Right now I'm mainly using it to text my daughter since I'm a SLOW texter and it's so much easier for me to use a regular keyboard. So using the unlimited SMS feature, I text her phone, she texts me back, and I read it online like email.

There are other features like a Call Me widget (the image is above) that I haven't played with yet. And I've used the the voicemail transcription and REALLY want to use it more, so I'll keep fiddling with that.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


My daughter thought I might enjoy playing Farmville on Facebook, and it is a fun way to connect with people. My son has a farm, too, so I visit his farm and send him presents. So far, I'm at level 16 (4 away from being able to get a dairy barn for my cows).

For me, the funnest part of this game is that it's real time. If you plant a crop that takes 1 day to ripen, then in exactly 24 hours, your crops are ready to harvest.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Charlaine Harris

My sister gave me the first book in the Harper Connelly series, and I'm hooked. So far there are 4 books featuring Harper who is able to find dead people and "see" how they died. She was struck by lightning at age 15 and had this "gift" ever since.

Harper uses her special ability for clients and travels from city to city with her manager step-brother Tolliver. (I'm in the middle of book 2, and I haven't read the blurbs of the next 2 books to see what happens to them).

This now makes me curious about Ms. Harris' other books, so if you have any opinions of them, please let me know.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Favorite Doll

In another post, I mentioned my favorite doll when I was a  youngster, and here she is. Her name was Chrissy and she had adjustable hair. I think the button on her belly would let you pull her hair to its full length, and winding the button on her back would roll it up and shorten it.

My grandmother dressed her for me when I was in my early 20's. And I never asked her if she chose the green velvet to look like the green curtain "Gone with the Wind" dress, but I always assumed she did.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Rug Clipping (Part 3)

As promised, here are the pictures of my rag rug. It's made from 3.75 rug canvas, and I'm using 1" x 4" fabric strips. I then fold the strips in half and slip them through the holes in the canvas. I'm using my jewelry pliers to grab the strips and pull them back through the canvas, so it's time consuming but still fun.

The canvas is 3' x 5' so it's going to take me quite a while to finish it, but I'm trying to decide the color design and then make sure I have enough fabric for the whole rug.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Raymond Khoury

I read Raymond Khoury's "The Sanctuary" and "The Sign" back to back, even though they don't share any of the same characters. They're both thrillers and page-turners.

"The Sanctuary" deals with a search for a life-extending elixir and the ethics involved with presenting it to the world if found. "The Sign" deals with how technology-induced phenomena could be used to manipulate people's religious beliefs.

While being very entertaining, the books did have (in my opinion) important messages and were very thought-provoking.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dora Links Dolls

My nieces are getting Dora Links Dolls from my sister for Christmas, and I had no idea what these are. But I wanted to get them accessories to go with them.

I found them at Toys R Us and then looked up the website to learn more. I would've absolutely loved this when I was a preteen.

My favorite doll then was a Chrissy that had adjustable-length hair. When I was older, my grandmother dressed it for me and I still have it (somewhat) carefully preserved. Maybe I'll post a picture (I know, I know, I'll add this to my list of pictures to shoot and post.)

I'm in no way affiliated with Toys R Us, Mattel, or Dora the Explorer

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Maker's Mark Tour

I enjoyed a very nice Thanksgiving with my family this year.  And for Black Friday, instead of shopping, we decided to tour the Maker's Mark distillery in Loretto, KY.  I've always wanted to visit so we trekked there and it was worth the drive.

Firstly, it was beautifully decorated for the holidays.  My favorite parts of the tour were the still house and the fermentation room.

Afterwards I got to dip my own souvenir bottle in the red wax to seal it.  That was very fun and something I'll treasure.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Computer on TV

I was so happy that we figured out how to hook up my laptop to our big screen tv. Several of the Louisville games were on espn360 this week and I didn't really want to be stuck watching them at my desk. Plus, I wanted to be able to work on my rag rug during the games.

(The rug is really coming along well. I promise you pictures soon.)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Paula Marantz Cohen

While I was looking for Christmas movies the other night, I stumbled on the P&P movie, so I decided to read "Jane Austen in Scarsdale". It's a modernization of "Persuasion" where Anne is a high school guidance counselor.

Of course it's a love story, but I also enjoyed the whole explanation of the college admissions process that Anne battles for her students. We'll be going through that soon as my son applies to colleges, and I vow to NOT be like many of the parents she describes in the book.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I love Christmas movies, and seeing them on ABC Family is just ideal for me. So I saw part of the "Snowglobe" movie and was entranced. I didn't get to see the whole movie, but I found it at Sam's Club so I was able to watch it.

It's a delightful movie about family and wanting the holidays to be perfect. This theme really spoke to me 'cos when I was little, Christmas was so simple and magical. So I keep trying to remember that as the holidays get hectic with planning and presents.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Louisville vs. Arkansas

Tonight I get to see the Louisville Cardinals basketball game on ESPN. I love watching basketball but it drives me nuts, too - I guess I get overexcited. College or NBA, it doesn't matter - I still get kinda hyper.

Last year I found that it was much better for me during basketball season if I was working on a project during the game, so I started crochet and fabric projects which I frequently share with you on this blog.

This year I'm working on a 3' x 5' fabric rug which is coming along very nicely. I'll post pictures this week so you can see it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I talk about My Points alot since it's one of my favorite rewards programs and I love redeeming my points for Amazon certificates so I can buy books.

I've been a member since about 1999 (or so) and it just continues to get better. I've been doing some of my Christmas shopping through My Points so my rewards will add up faster.

There is a referral program if you're interested in joining but you don't get a unique link to use. To refer someone, you need to send them an email invitation which is the only drawback that I have with it. (But if you're interested, I'd be happy to send you an email).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Origami (1st Try)

As soon as I get my latest MyPoints gift certificate (in the mail), I'm going to buy a book about fabric origami boxes. I'm fascinated by the idea of being able to stiffen fabric and fold it to make gift boxes and maybe even purses.

These are just 2 attempts using 6" x 6" origami paper to make a cup and a gift bag (from this tutorial). But I think they could be enlarged and could make really cute big bags from fabric.

As always, I'll let you know as I make progress.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Vampire's Assistant

My daughter and I finally saw "The Vampire's Assistant" movie this week.  She'd been begging to see it and has started reading the Cirque du Freak books.

I didn't want to see it and was hoping that she could go with one of her friends. But none of them wanted to see it (or see it again) so I told her that I'd take her. I was pleasantly surprised that it was better than I expected.

I really wanted to thank the review at Surviving My Tween Girls 'cos that reassured me that it was not too PG-13'ish.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

No Sew Bag with Zipper (2nd Try)

I'm getting the feeling that this may take several tries before it looks the way I want, but I won't subject you to every single iteration.

These are better.  I actually used duct tape for the handles and to line the fabric, and I really like the glossy look. (My daughter does, too).  I put the zipper in the one on the left using glue and duct tape.  I still have more work to figure out zippers, though - they're tricky.

But I got this cool blue, red, yellow, and beige duct tape so I'm set to keep trialing and erroring until I get them right.

Monday, November 9, 2009

No Sew Bag with Zipper (First Try)

I have really wanted to try the no-sew bags and made my first attempt this evening.  I'm using the Jodi Kahn book as my template, and it's completely my fault that the bag doesn't look like hers.

I keep trying to merge 2 different designs, and inserting the zipper is going to take some practice for me.

I've never been handy with a sewing machine but I think I'll be able to use the stapler and duct tape method, so I'll keep practicing and will let you know how it goes.

The nice thing is that I can just take out all the staples and start over !!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Katherine Howe

I just finished "The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane" by Katherine Howe, and it had all my favorite elements: Salem Witchcraft trials, scholarly book hunt, supernatural or psychic events, and a love story.

I've always been fascinated by Salem. When we went to a school book fair when I was 10, I bought a book about the witchcraft trials (and I still have it). It was so amazing to finally go there last year, and the biggest surprise for me was that it was a seaport. I'd always thought Salem was a small, isolated village.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Progresso Giveaway

Progresso and MyBlogSpark recently sent out a gift pack so the sparkers could try the Progresso High Fiber Soup AND give a lucky winner the chance to win a gift set as well.

My family tried the Chicken Tuscany soup and we really enjoyed it. It had a texture in-between bean soup and chicken broth. I love bean soup but I've never tried to make it myself and why should I when I can open a can and have it taste this good?

If you'd like to win a gift pack like the one pictured here, please leave a comment on this post letting me know your favorite flavor (you can find them here). The winner will be selected on November 8th. This is only open to US residents. The gift pack will be sent by MyBlogSpark.

I will need your email address so I can notify the winner, and you can leave it in the following ways:
1) enter it in your comment, but please use "at" instead of "@"
2) make sure I can send you an email via your blogger profile
3) send it me to me using this secure message form

UPDATE: My daughter chose the #3 so Cheryl is the lucky winner. You can visit her blog for more contests and giveaways.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Outlook Express Mail

I'm so excited 'cos I found a fast, easy way to archive folders of email in Outlook Express. I tend to use my OE as a filing system, so I like to keep old emails. But I don't want to clog up my OE since it DRAGS my computer processing time if the folders get too big.

So, VOILA. The tip at Inside Outlook Express helped me so much. It's quick and easy. This may be old news for some people, but I wish I'd known it a long time ago.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

No Sew Crafts

I had a brainstorm this weekend while I was searching for instructions and patterns for no sew purses and tote bags, and decided that I should start a blog with links to the fun no sew crafts that I find.

I've been printing them out and putting them in a huge binder (it's 4 inches thick) and I'm running out of room.  So I'll go back through the binder, find the links to the projects, and put them in my blog.

I'll still post pictures of my works in-progress here, though. But I'm excited about it, and think it will be fun to share.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Amanda Grange

Since I was reading P&P books, I thought I'd quickly read "Mr. Darcy's Diary" by Amanda Grange. It's P&P told from Darcy's viewpoint, and it was VERY well done.

It's in diary format, so it's not overly long, and it is quick to read. She used most of the actual dialogue from P&P, however Ms. Grange did add some invented conversations (expanded from text in the book) that were illustrative and pointed and quite in-character.

This book and Ms. Grange's other "diaries" from the Jane Austen men (Mr. Knightley, Colonel Brandon, etc) got great reviews on Amazon, so I need to see if I can find them. Our local libraries don't have them, but maybe I'll initiate a request and see what happens.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rug Clipping (Part 2)

This is my next attempt using 2" long fabric strips with the rug canvas. I think I prefer this length.

Now I'm going to make a color plan. I want to make concentric rectangles. Most of it will be solid navy blue (the color scheme for my house), but I'll use the print in the picture that has navy, red, and white.

I need a kinda monotonous craft to do while watching basketball, since it is almost that time. Last year I made the banners for my windows during basketball season, so this year I can work on a rug.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rug Clipping

So I got my big piece of rug canvas - it's 60" x 36" and I have to do something with it. I want to try locker hooking (see my earlier post) but I also would like to make a rug for my entrance hall.

I was interested in trying latch hooking with fabric strips but then I read about rug clipping in a book by Clare Hubbard. Clipping is similar to latch hook except you don't make a "knot" with the loops.

So this is my first attempt to try it and see how it would look. This is using 4" long strips that are 1" wide. I think they're too long and shaggy, and I'm going to cut them in 1/2 (to make 2" strips) and see how it looks.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Our neighborhood has a Halloween Phantom that roams around, rings your doorbell, and leaves goodies on the doorstep.

I love this "new" Halloween fad.  I get the biggest kick out of seeing the treats left on the porch.

Plus I enjoy shopping for fun stuff to make "boo" bags for others in our subdivision.  I usually have my kids ring the bell and run, though, since I don't know if I'm fast enough, and I don't want to get caught. 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Seth Grahame-Smith

I'd read really good reviews about the book "Pride and Prejudice and  Zombies" by Seth Grahame-Smith, and it is pretty hilarious.  Of course, it's more funny if you know the story of P&P first (in my opinion).

I'll try out my theory on my daughter who wants to read it, but has never read the original P&P nor seen any of the movie versions. She wanted me to read "Zombies" first and make sure it wasn't gruesome (it's definitely NOT).

So I'll let you know if she gets curious about the original P&P after reading the Zombie version.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dan Brown

I finished Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol" and I was very, very impressed. Of course, it was a thrilling, page-turning story. But it was the meticulous research that's mind-blowing to me.

While I was reading, I wanted to see all the buildings, monuments, paintings, etc that played a part in solving the riddle. In the grocery store, I saw a companion guide magazine that supposedly showed them all. I might go back and skim through it now that I've read the book and am so intrigued.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Memory Wire Bracelets

In the Creative Home Arts club magazine, there were some craft projects using memory wire to make bracelets.  I thought that looked like fun and wanted to try it (granted, I think alot of things look like fun - that's why I'm a Scanner) so I got some memory wire from my local craft store.

I started this one last night and finished it tonight. The hardest part was making the closed loops on the ends since this memory wire is TOUGH stuff.

Then my daughter wanted a teal one (that's her favorite color) so I made one for her tonight as well.  Her's was easier since the beads were bigger.

The Bead Stoppers also helped alot. They're little springy fasteners that you use to keep your beads from falling off the wire.

The pictures were taken with a scanner by the way which is why they look all sparkly.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Locker Hooking

I bought this book through my crafting book club, and I can't wait to try it.  Locker hooking is kinda the reverse of latch hooking (which I did as a teenager and I still have the pillow I made). You use rug canvas and pull the fabric strips up through the holes and lock them by pulling yarn through the loops.

I looked all over my town for rug canvas and couldn't find any.  My craft stores don't carry it (which I find kinda surprising).  So I had to order it and the locker hook tool online.

I like working with fabric strips (as in crocheting with fabric) so I think this will be fun.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Web Site Cleaning

Today I'm doing Fall cleaning on my websites.

I have to check all the "shops" on my Favorite Online Shops blog and website. Some have changed shopping carts so the current links don't work. Also, some of the shops have closed, and the owners don't always notify their affiliates.

I always feel sad when I have to delete a "shop" from my blog and website. I know some of them have tried so hard and just can't stay afloat.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Afternoon Snacks

As I said in an earlier post, I'm a snackoholic, and I graze all through the day.  I tend to eat a smaller lunch, then have a snack in the afternoon to hold me until dinner.

And during my daughter's tennis season, I got hooked on Chex Mix Turtle bars.  I also love the taste of the Fiber One Oats and Caramel, but they made me feel really bloated.

Then the All You people sent me a sample of the new Slim Fast bars, and they're WONDERFUL. They taste like candy bars. My daughter loves them, too, and since she's a chocoholic, I'd rather she eat these than chocolate.

I bought several flavors today at WalMart to try them, and now I'm trying to find the best possible price. So far, the Amazon Subscribe & Save program looks interesting. You save 15% plus get free shipping. I guess I'll see which flavors my daughter likes the best and go from there.

I'm not in any way affiliated with Amazon, Slim Fast, All You, General Mills, or any company that makes yummy stuff. I just love to eat the yummy stuff.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Titania Hardie

My sister gave me this as a gift last Christmas, and I've just finished reading it now. It's such fun - riddles within riddles. The descendants of John Dee pass down a secret from generation to generation. No one has solved it before, and now Alex and Lucy are racing to find it before the bad guys do.

I love books about Shakespeare and Elizabethan England, so I wish there had been more about John Dee in the book. But I think Ms. Hardie was assuming that if we wanted to know more, we'd do our own research.

This sets the tone for me to read Dan Brown's new book, so I'll let you know what I think of it soon (my son loved it).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Basket for Basket Bingo (Part 2)

While I was in crochet basket mode, I thought I'd be really helpful and make a basket that could be used for a raffle prize at our upcoming bingo fundraiser.

This basket is made from 5" strips, and this is the best basket I've made so far.  I asked my daughter if she liked it, and she wants us to keep it. She also agreed it's my best.

I guess I'm getting more skilled since it only took me about 3 hours to make it.  Again, the bows seemed to take the longest time since I'm not very creative with them yet.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Basket for Basket Bingo

The basket bingo is just a few days away and I've been assembling prizes for the "balloon burst". I had a small silver-plated jewelry box and wanted to put it in a basket, but I didn't have one small enough.

So I decided to crochet one using thin fabric strips that I'd unraveled from my rag rug (see my older posts about that adventure).

Anyway, it only took about 1 - 1.5 hours to make this small basket.  The nubby look is 'cos I tied the ends of the strips together instead of gluing them so they stick out.

Also, I braided the handle and tied it to the basket instead of crocheting it.  I'd like to get more decorative, funky handle ideas for baskets (and same for bows).

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cornelia Funke

I'd been wanting to read the Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke for ages, so I finally read Inkheart the other day.  While it was good and I'm kinda curious about what happens in the next book, I'm not quite ready to venture into it.

Not trying to making comparisons to Harry Potter, but the main villain Capricorn made Voldemort look nice.  It was rather dark with not many bright, sunshiny spots to lighten the mood.

I thought the premise was VERY creative and not at all what I expected.  And of course, I love any novel that features books (and book preservation) so prominently.

I'm also somewhat curious to see how the movie compares to the book, so maybe I'll rent it.  I just hope they don't make Capricorn REALLY scary.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Basket Bingo (Part 2)

Oh my heavens, I had no idea these fundraisers were such hard work !! I'm the prize coordinator, so I get to decide if an item (or group of items) will be a raffle prize, a door prize, or a balloon burst prize.

That part has been fun since I have alot of Mary Kay items that make great prizes (I've been a consultant since 1995, mainly personal use). Plus since I help promote the home-based businesses through my Favorite Online Shops, I have lots of giveaways from them also.

But I had to devise a way to make the balloon burst fun WITHOUT using balloons (I don't want to blow them up and then pop them) so I'm writing the prize number on a children's playing card, then covering it with a wrapped starlight mint taped to the card. It kinda plays into the Halloween theme also.

I'll be glad when this is over......

This is not an actual picture of a bingo prize. No dogs are being given away as prizes. I just thought it was a cute picture.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I'm trying to decide whether it's worth the money to buy a membership at or not. I have a free 30-day trial that expires on 10/16 so I have to either cancel or pay by then.

It costs $84 per year, but you can get up to $500 worth of free shipping by shopping through their site (similar to Ebates, but you get free shipping instead of cash back).

My only problem is that alot of the merchants where I shop don't participate. You can still get $40 in shipping rebates per year for ANY online merchant, but I'm not sure that I'd use the remaining $44.

Also, I can't see that has any type of referral program, whereas Ebates does (and yes, that's my referral link above).

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Orson Scott Card (Ender)

I just finished "Ender in Exile" by Orson Scott Card, and I'm deeply in awe of his talent. In my opinion, Card is one of the best writers of this age.

Years ago I fell in love with his Alvin Maker series, and the Pastwatch book is one of my all-time favorites (and can't wait for the rest of the trilogy). However I always thought Ender was too science fiction, but my son absolutely loved it, so I decided to try the first book ("Ender's Game"), and I was blown away by Card's vision and spirituality.

I had to take a break after finishing the Ender series, but fully intended to read the Ender's Shadow series. And now (after reading "Exile") I'm ready to dig into it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Title Trader

I had 4 or 5 old VHS tapes that were unopened that I wanted to post for swapping, so I did some searching (using Swagbucks so I can get points and redeem them for gift cards) and found Title Trader.

I looked at other swap sites, but they wouldn't accept VHS tapes - only DVD's. On Title Trader, you can list almost anything for swap.

I haven't heard anything negative about them, so I'll see how it goes and see if I can find a home for these VHS tapes. If you know of any other swap sites that let you list VHS tapes, please leave me a comment.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

17 Again

My daughter watched "17 Again" with me the other night. She'd already seen it once and she told me I'd enjoy it.

Actually, I wouldn't be 17 again if you paid me. Those years were so gawky and awkward. I couldn't wait to get through high school and go to college.

But the movie was funny and it had some very sweet moments, both with his "kids" and with his "wife". I told my daughter she might also enjoy Drew Barrymore's "Never Been Kissed" since she hasn't seen that, so maybe we'll watch it together if we're bored this weekend.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Organizing Coupons (Part 2)

I think I may have found the best solution for my coupons !! For awhile I had them ALL in 1 big binder but that was too heavy to lug around.

I wanted them alphabetized, but I wanted to be able to flip through them by page. And I wanted coupon holders that would fit comfortably in the seat area of the shopping cart. So using the idea of small photo albums (50 page albums for $1 each from our local craft store) from How I Save Money, I'm using 3 and have them alphabetized as A-H, I-P, and Q-Z. They all 3 fit in the seat area of the shopping cart and are VERY easy to browse and flip while shopping.

(The basket simulates a shopping cart but it's actually smaller, so the coupons fit better in a REAL shopping cart).

All 3 albums fit into a small tote bag for carrying in and out of the store so I don't feel like I'm dragging a file cabinet with me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Speedy Fox

While surfing EntreCard (which now has a referral program - YAY) and Adgitize (which has always had a referral program- YAY), I found references to SpeedyFox at these helpful blogs: Coming Back to Life and

It really, really works and I'm thrilled !! Firefox loads so quickly now, and the browsing history is much, much faster.

Now if I could find a way to speed up Outlook Express, I'd be bubbling with joy.....
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