Wednesday, July 30, 2008

VTT: Handy Hannah

Welcome to Vintage Thingies Thursday sponsored by Lisa, the Apron Queen. Stop by her blog to find links to all of the participants and see what they are showcasing this week. Maybe you can join us next Thursday!
I have several nifty things to share with y'all this week! Some are from my mom & some from my dad. They are all displayed in my powder room, along with my apothecary jar collection, which I will be sharing in the future. This room has no natural light, so colors may be distorted in some of these photos.
First up, my mom's hair dryer from high school, circa 1955. She even has her name on the fancy case. It still works! When we were kids in the 70s, she would set our hair in lovely pink rollers, sometimes the kind with foam, sometimes the kind that was a net-type roll covered with another roll. We would take turns sitting under this awesome dryer, attempting to watch TV, but the sound was so loud it was futile! You will notice the extreme portability of this device, which comes with a longer than usual electric cord, and a strap so the user can wear the control box like a purse and move around the room. How convenient!
Another way to dry one's hair would be what we today call the blow dryer. This one weighs 3 pounds! Handy Hannah is stored in her original box, with instructions to the retailer on how to display her to the best advantage! Like the first dryer, it still works!
Once your hair is dry, you need to give it some finishing touches for style. You could use one of my curling irons! Just lay it on the stove to get warm, then wrap your hair around it as you would with its modern-day counterpart. I've actually tried these just to see what it was like! The whole time I kept remembering the scene from the book Little Town on the Prairie where Laura burns half of her bangs off!
And finally, let's enhance all these curls by pulling them up and doing a fancy hair-do! This thing that looks like a baby gate stretches to different sizes and can have hair wrapped around and through it, secured with bobby pins, to make a variety of super-cool up-dos. The problem is, the joints of this gate grab hairs and taking it out is like waxing your head! And yes, I did try it, even after my mom told me not to!
That's it for this week! I encourage you once again to check out the other participants, and think about joining us next week!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Summer Swap

A cute blue & white box arrived in the mail yesterday! It came all the way down the coast from Nova Scotia to Boston, and through customs. Bigger than a shoebox, smaller than a breadbox, I was all excited to see what it held...
An ENORMOUS amount of fun summer items from Kim @ A Place to Call Home! Kim & I were partners for the Simple Woman's Summper Swap. We were supposed to send 3 things: something we had gotten at a flea market or garage sale, something we already had, and something new or that we made. Kim sent me a gorgeous tote bag, not too big or small. Inside she put a gardening notepad, a Mary Engelbreit address book, a cute tiny "garden flag" to put in a potted plant, some scrapbooking supplies, and a pair of vintage white & blue candlesticks. WOW! Everything is so summery & cute!
I have participated in a couple of swaps and I am always thrilled with what I receive from total strangers! Swappers really do their research into the interests of their partners. Peggy @ the Simple Woman plans to sponsor these swaps seasonally, so check it out! You can also see all of the things people received by visiting the page for the Summer Swap.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pay it Forward

Joanne from My Little Cottage in the Making posted about this blogging exchange and I thought it sounded pretty nifty!The idea is based on the book Pay it Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde, which most of us know as the movie, starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment.
The exchange focuses on doing an act of kindness without expecting anything in return other than that the recipient will, in their turn, pass the kindness along and pay it forward.
This is how it works...

I am going to agree to send something fun, cute, & nice to the first 3 blog owners who post a comment on this entry. In turn, those three will post this information and pick 3 people they want to send something to and so on. Unfortunately, due to postage costs, I can only pay it forward within the United States. If you are interested in participating, be one of the first 3 blog owners to leave a comment!
The little something you send can be something you made, bought, were given or found. Just a gift that will make the person smile. There are no cost restraints, but don't go crazy!
If you'd like to join in, be one of the first 3 people to leave me a comment. You have to promise that you will then post about this on your blog, link to me, and then send something to the first three people who sign up to play along through your blog.
I hope people like this idea. It's a small way to bring a smile to someone's face!

In another effort to Pay it Forward, I thought I'd mention a few giveaways that are ending this week.
The big one this week is the Bloggy Giveaways Carnival! A huge number of participants have already signed up to give things away on Friday, August 1.
Inis @ a Lovely Thing is sponsoring a Christmas in July giveaway with several participants. Drawings will be on Friday, August 1.
Funky Fairy Inspirations is giving away free products to their store for a full year! Drawing will be Friday, August 1.
Dena @ SunEGrl Loves to Shop is giving away a great bracelet, $50.00 Target gift card, and 500 entrecard points. Drawing on Friday, August 1.
Jayne @ Bunny Chic Boutique is giving away a $100.00 to Fairy Tale Jewels. Drawing on Monday, August 4.
The Handmade Showcase is a brand new blog meant to introduce you to artists and handcrafters working in a wide variety of media. There are a huge number of giveaways listed on this site!
The Giveaway Corral is also new and features listings of both handmade & corporate giveaways.

SImple Woman's Daybook: July 28

I am participating in the Simple Woman's Daybook, sponsored by Peggy at The Simple Woman. It is a great way to start off the week! Stop by Peggy's blog to see who else is participating and read their entries, then think about joining us next week!
July 28, 2008
Outside my window is a dead lawn with crab grass and dirt patches. Because I live in a condo, we have a lawn service. I use the term lightly, since there is no lawn to service! Why aren't we planing a new lawn or stopping the service? HMMM...Maybe this is what I am wondering, also!
I am thinking that I am getting WAY too used to not going to a job each day! I'm starting to enjoy it again!
I am wondering why so many young men think that the straggly caterpillar over their top lip looks manly! It skeeves me out!
I am creating, sort of! Really, I am finally getting some decorating done! Since I can't do anything myself, I have a handyman who comes and does the manly things that a husband would do, if I had one. The great thing about a handyman is that he actually DOES the chore and it's done the way I want it! No arguing or "Honey Do" list! Once everything is done I'll post some pictures for you!
I am going to the doctor on Tuesday. Like I do every other Tuesday. BO-ring!
I hope that more people will sign up to host a Christmas in July Giveaway through A Lovely Thing.
I am thankful that so many blog friends stopped by my Beach Party last Friday!Thanks for showing the bloggy love with your comments!
One of my favorite things are sour drinks! I love
Newman's Lemon-Aided Iced Tea, and Nantucket Nectar's Half & Half! They used to make a cranberry-lemonade that was my sour drink favorite.
I am reading The Beach House by Jane Green.
In the kitchen I have been making lots of salads with fresh local produce! Isn't this a great time of year?

Here is my picture thought for you!
2 Good Buddies, Bo & Murphy, visiting at my house! I wonder whose chair they have appropriated!!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Salon: Jane Austen

Welcome to the Sunday Salon, a group of readers who all try to set aside a good chunk of time each Sunday to read and to write about what we read. To visit the other participants, click on the Sunday Salon button! Everyone has different reading & writing styles, you're sure to read about some great book or author that would be perfect for you!
My mother, who is also an avid reader, and I were talking yesterday about some books that have become movies, movies about authors, etc. and of course, Jane Austen came up. Neither of us has read all of her books, but we have enjoyed the ones we have! We've both seen all the movies & miniseries of all the books, and read some of what I will call the "spin-offs". What we both want to know is, "What is the current obsession with Jane Austen?" Are we looking to hark back to what we perceive as a simpler time? Do people need more romance in their life? Do the crazy family members, money problems, manipulative neighbors/community members make us appreciate or hide out from our own, similar situations? I don't know why, but it seems like Jane has been everywhere for the past year or so, even down to the Which Jane Austen Heroine quiz that so many bloggers have posted! I thought for today I'd mention a few of the Jane Austen-inspired books that are out there, most based on Pride & Prejudice and the man many perceive as the ultimate, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. It totally blew my mind to see that Barnes & Noble has an entire Jane Austen section just for these spin-offs!
The first Jane spin-off I ever read was Pemberley: or Pride & Prejudice continued by Emma Tennant. It's exactly what it sounds like, life one year after the marriage of Elizabeth Bennet & Mr. Darcy. Christmas is coming, along with a flood of relations from both the Bennet & Darcy families. To top the strain of the holiday season, Elizabeth & Darcy are having communication problems & Elizabeth is feeling inferior because she has yet to conceive a child, while her sister Jane has already had her first baby. It is written somewhat in the old-fashioned Austen style, and the issues and characters seem believable and carried through from Pride & Prejudice.
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler is very well known, and a big best-seller that became a movie. Both were good, not great, at least for me. After seeing the movie, I felt like I understood the book characters a little more, which NEVER happens to me. Maybe I just wasn't as into the book as I normally would be, but I remember being excited to read it, because it was highly recommended by a friend who has similar reading taste.
Austenland by Shannon Hale is a modern-day romantic adventure about a New Yorker who has the opportunity for a 2-week full immersion vacation as an Austen heroine. Technically, it is probably "chick lit," but a reader will definitely enjoy it more with some background knowledge of Jane Austen's novels. I found it funny and a fast read.
The spin-off book that best held my attention was The Man Who Loved Jane Austen by Sally Smith O'Rourke. This is one of those "what if" books. What if Mr. Darcy the character, was based on a real man? Well, this book takes it one step further, throwing in a time-travel element. As you may remember from when I read Diana Galbadon's Outlander, I am not a time-travel fan, but it worked for me in this novel. The book flows easily from past to present, where a young NY artist is trying to piece together the mystery of a love letter she has found in an antique desk that supposedly was once owned by Jane. The strange thing that sets off her research and detective work is that the letter is written by a "Fitzwilliam Darcy."
I have not yet read The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James, but it does look interesting to me. The publisher's synopsis states:
What if, hidden in an old attic chest, Jane Austen's memoirs were discovered after hundreds of years? What if those pages revealed the untold story of a life-changing love affair? That's the premise behind this spellbinding novel, which delves into the secrets of Jane Austen's life, giving us untold insights into her mind and heart.
Publisher's Weekly refers to the novel as "a pleasant addition to the ever-expanding Austen-revisited genre," and Bette-Lee Fox from Library Journal highly recommends it. I have put it on my TBR list, but I'm not rushing out to get it right now.
So these are my ramblings about Jane, her novels, and society's current uber-love for both! I'd love to know which Austen novels and/or movie versions are your personal favorites, and if you've read any of these "sequels" and "spin-offs"!
By the way, for those interested, you can purchase your Jane Austen ACTION FIGURE at the Library of Congress Shop.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Blogging World

Since yesterday was my 50th post Beach Party, I decided that today I would write about blogging in general. I got into blogging this past winter through Terrie @ Terrie's Li'l Piece of Serenity, who is an online friend I met through a message board and Rate My Space on None of my friends or family IRL have blogs or visit blogs, and they were always something I thought were kind of narcissistic, people writing about themselves, or trying to make some kind of a political point. I just didn't understand why the need to keep what would essentially be a journal, and then post it for the world to read. Of course, now I know that people blog for a variety of reasons, the main being to share ideas with those of similar interests, such as mommy blogs, crafting, home-schooling, home-based businesses, you know the list! Blogs are a great support for people who may not get this support IRL because of their geographical or physical location. It's virtual networking, on an enormous scale!
I began blogging as something else to do during the day. I have been on medical disability for almost 2 years, and I can't do a lot of the physical things I used to, so more sedentary pursuits like crafting & reading have essentially been filling my time. Then I discovered the message boards, where I was encouraged by people to share my foolish thoughts on books, crafting, TV, whatever, with a larger audience, to create a blog. Since I enjoy technology and have created web pages in the past, I thought I'd give it a go!
I spent quite a bit of time at the beginning on the layout & design, like most of us do. I wanted my blog to be visually readable, and easy to follow. I searched around until I found the code to add the third column to my standard Blogger template, and I wiggled the colors around a little. I made my own banner with some photos I had taken at various beaches. I didn't want a deep or tall banner that required people to do any scrolling before they could read the title of the first posting. One thing I had learned when I took a web design class was that people want information as soon as they click on a link; don't make them scroll for that first bite!
After it looked OK, I finally published a couple of posts about crafts, decorating, and books I was reading. I wasn't sure how search engines found blogs, so I did some research on that topic, and joined a couple of groups people could search, such as Blog Catalog and Blogs by Women. I found blogs I enjoyed, starting with Terrie, and followed the bread crumbs out of the decorating blogs into crafting, mommies, homeschooling, and home keeping. I am not a mommy, I don't home school, and I am a terrible home-keeper, but you can see how the trail goes! And, even though these things are not part of my daily life, I obviously have something in common with many of these bloggers, because we all are on each others' bread crumbs of blogs trail! It was neat to find people I remembered from RMS now out in the blog world ahead of me, including French, Picket, Rue, and others I may not have mentioned!
I found that leaving comments brought people to my blog, and asking questions in my postings b rought me more comments. Then I stumbled upon some nifty weekly events which encouraged people to visit others with similar interests, Vintage Thingies Thursdays, and The Simple Woman's Daybook. I find the Daybook a great way to start my week peacefully, and the Vintage Thingies is a lot of fun to see what cool old things we all have! I tried participating in the Sunday Salon book discussions, but I have recently been reading a lot less due to some vision problems, as well as obsessive blogging!
With my own real world getting smaller each day, meeting people online has been a blessing. I enjoy the contests & giveaways that many bloggers sponsor, and I try to publicize them when possible in my sidebar. I recently came across a fabulous blog for women, The Secret is in the Sauce! They have been doing 6 Weeks of Summer giveaways, and this week is the last one, a 4GB iPod! Last week it was a Sony digital camera! The neat thing about SITS is that it is a sisterhood where the members post the group logo on their sites, and always leave comments on sites where they see the logo. Also, the SITS main site has a featured blogger each day, which is another way of highlighting your own blog, or again, meeting other people.
So, these are my random ramblings on how my thoughts about blogs have changed in the past 6 months! I hope through this trail you may have found an idea or a blog that will interest you! Please let me and the blog owner know if you have!

Friday, July 25, 2008

50th Post: Beach Party

Welcome to my 50th Post Beach Party! I hope you will be able to stay & participate in all of the fun activities I have planned for the day! There are also beach parties happening at these other blogs. Be sure to stop by and visit them, too!
Shelley's Stuff is having a Minnesota Lakeside Party! Her writing is hysterical!
The Chocolistas are having their party, where else, Cocoa Beach!
A Cup of Joy is holding her party in Australia!
The ladies at The Summer Kitchen are having a 1956 Beach Party!
My beach house overlooks the Ogunquit, ME tidal river, so you will be able to get down to the beach easily. People are bringing umbrellas & tents, some are bringing food, & others drinks.
The kids immediately hit the water! I've got a variety of traditional beach activities planned so no one gets bored! First up will be the sandcastle contest. We'll start this one early, so people have plenty of time to finish.
In the soft sand close to the house I've set up a volleyball net. This is something that both the kids & adults will enjoy.
I've also got 2 sea kayaks. No one gets to use them if they've been drinking, & they must wear a life jacket!I've asked people to bring kites if they'd like to do some kite flying.

Because the beach in front of the house is smaller & difficult to access, we have few other people here and kites flying out between our tiny beach and the larger beach will be beautiful to watch!
In case of grumpy kids, or those who need to get out of the sun, I've set up a little art station on the corner of the porch. I found these great design-your-own kite kits online! They are made of the proper rip-stop nylon and come with paints so you can decorate the plain kite.
As the tide goes out, the hard packed sand will be great for playing bocce. This is another great game for all ages.
There's so many fun things planned, I definitely don't want to be cooking, grilling, or running around all day, so I've decided to serve kabobs!
They can be pre-cooked & eaten cold, or people can make their own on the grills I'll have set up in advance. I've gotten every kind of meat, potatoes, onions, and fresh summer veggies! I feel like I've been chopping for days! Oh, wait, I have!
I'm even going to carry the theme through with fruit kabobs and a yogurt dipping sauce; the kids will love it!
For the adults I also have "salad on a stick" with a homemade pesto dipping sauce. Olives, tomatoes, cheese, and maybe some bay leaves. Yum!
When the sun goes down, the over tired kids will either be taken home, or will bunk down in the big loft bedroom. The adults & older kids can break out the fire pit and have s'mores to bring this long, fun day to a close.

Please take a minute to sign the GUESTBOOK, so we can see how far you've traveled for this party. Leave your picture with a comment, if you'd like!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

VTT: Kitchen Items

I am again participating in Vintage Thingies Thursday with Lisa, the Apron Queen. Stop by to visit Lisa & the other participants & check out all of the cool vintage things they are showcasing! Maybe you can join us next week!
This week I am showcasing 2 items from my dad's basement! I know you've been wondering if I actually had more stuff! Sadly, these items are stored in my basement now, as I have no place to display them, but in the past when I've had space above my kitchen cabinets that's where they would be living.
First up is a toaster that my great-aunt used up until her stroke in 1984. We assume it still works, but with all of the rust & dust from the last 25 years in basements, I'm sure not plugging it in! To use, the bread would have to be flipped so it toasted on both sides, but it is quite fancy because it can make 2 pieces of toast at a time, as you can see!

The next piece is a kitchen scale, made by Landers, Frary & Clark. It was my paternal grandmother's and my father remembers his mom using it all the time.New Britain, CT was once known as the Hardware City of the World due to all of the manufacturing of tools & machinery. It is best known as the home of Stanley Works. Landers, Frary & Clark was a major manufacturing company in New Britain from 1842 until the late 1960s. They made general kitchen items such as coffee grinders, egg beaters, etc. During the Civil War, when so many men lost an arm, L, F &C patented a combination knife & fork, which they continued to manufacture up until WWII. In addition to daily use items, after the Civil War in 1866, the company made fine silver and silver plate using this hallmark. During both World Wars they converted their factories to make armaments for the war effort.

Be sure to stop by Confessions of an Apron Queen to see the list of this week's participants. Visit their blogs and please be sure to leave a comment!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Living Green

Are you trying to be more aware of your individual environmental impact? Trying to improve your financial bottom line by looking into daily practices that will save you money as you recycle things for new uses? Have you always been thrifty & responsible?
I was raised by parents who both grew up during the Depression and WWII in working class families. They both lived a thrifty lifestyle their entire lives, because they had to. Some of their practices seemed ridiculous in the 1980s when I was growing up, and many are the things that we are being told are good daily practices now.
For example, we re-used our brown lunch bags until they fell apart, which we found embarrassing as kids, but now I say why not? My mom would rinse out the Baggies from snacks, turn them inside-out to dry, and re-use them. My favorite re-use, which I now admire greatly, is the Reynolds Aluminum Foil. My mom can get up to 6 uses of a piece of tin foil in which she cooks her awesome grilled potatoes! I could tell you all about her various money-saving efforts, but this post is really about being green, so I'll save the "savings" for a future post!
Going green isn't just about saving the planet for our children, it's about protecting human health and creating a sustainable economy where the entire biosphere, plants, animals, & people, can coexist. I've been skipping around the blog world, as well as the Internet in general, and I've found some interesting places I'd like to share with you!
Grandma Goes Green is an AMAZING blog in the original tradition of an on-line journal! Here is what Barbara says, "In January 2008, I pledged to stop shopping for myself for one year. I am a 53 year old psychotherapist who realizes that I have to set an example for my children and grand kids in regards to consumerism and the environment. I am at a point in my life where I don't really need anything new, but I realize that I have gotten into a habit of mindlessly consuming things. This blog will record my journey through this year of no shopping. " I find reading about her journey so interesting and inspiring!
Low Impact Living is a great place to start learning about your individual impact on the environment and can help you make choices about daily practices and environmentally-friendly products. They even have a cool Environmental Impact Calculator that shows not only the carbon footprint but also energy, water, wastewater, trash, and stormwater runoff footprints of your home and lifestyle. It can recommend ideas based on your specific information that can save you money, reduce your environmental impact, or in many cases both at the same time!

David Suzuki's Nature Challenge is really cool! He gives you 4 top ways you can make a difference, one of them being to talk about your "green" living. So many of us bloggers have big mouths, that should be the easiest! By signing up you will receive monthly newsletters with green living ideas. This website is out of Canada & is written in both English & French.

So, have you switched to tote bags for groceries? Bought a hybrid or smaller car? Gone with organic foods & cleaning products? Switched to CFL bulbs? How is it working out for you? Tell us here in the comments!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Simple Woman: July 21

I am participating in the Simple Woman's Daybook, sponsored by Peggy at The Simple Woman. It is a great way to start off the week! Stop by Peggy's blog to see who else is participating and read their entries, then think about joining us next week!
July 21, 2008

Outside my window I am looking at the deck and thinking that I need to give the furniture a quick wipe-down.
I am thinking that I am glad I made my weekly to-do list before doing this week's Daybook. It lets me lay out my week, as well as prepare for this posting.
I am wondering how the bolts on toilet seats come loose if they are underneath. HMMM...
I am creating a fun blog post for Friday, which will be my 50th post. I am going to host a virtual Beach Party!
I hope to have a lot of visitors on Friday for my Beach Party, celebrating my 5oth post. Maybe some of you will host your own Beach Party that day! Let me know so I can link to you.
I am going to the big city of Boston on Friday to have some tests to see if my Graft vs. Host disease is getting any better. The good thing is that the results are instant, so I don't have to wait days or weeks!
I am thankful for my parents who will drop everything to come help me, and they live 2 hours away! My mom is going with me for my tests on Friday, and then taking me to do errands on Saturday. Can you believe that I can't even do general errands by myself?!
One of my favorite things are Dove ice cream bars! The chocolate is creamy and thick, and the ice cream stays firm and doesn't melt all over the chocolate. They are expensive, but worth it!
I am reading Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon by Donna Andrews. It is a light mystery that is part of a series I was reading a few years ago.
In the kitchen I am planning to make stuffed peppers for my mom when she arrives Thursday. It's something she loves, but never has because my dad doesn't like them.

Picture Thought: I wish this was me! (Free image from Mary Englebreit's web site!)