Saturday, February 28, 2009

...By Any Other Name

With thoughts of Spring in the air, I thought I'd share a lovely PINK bloom for this week. Beverly @ How Sweet the Sound is our hostess for the weekly Pink Saturday event. There are over 100 participants sharing all sorts of cool PINK items.This beautiful enamel rose brooch is my mother's. It was made by the Coro Jewelry Company, which at one time was the largest costume jewelry maker in the world. They were in production from 1901 until the 1990s.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Where I Blog

I have been tagged by Ellie, The Twins Mama, to share with the world the spot where I blog. It's not a pretty site, folks. Officially it's my craft room, but really it's kind of like my little fort. I have snacks, extra clothes, slippers, Excedrin, TV, and of course all my crafting supplies. One corner is the computer, printer and file cabinet.I have a Gateway desktop with a 19" monitor that is 6 years old and still runs great! I just had more RAM added and that's all I've had to do since I bought it. The computer desk is one of those el cheapo particle board carts from Wal-Mart. I've had all different types of nicer desks and I keep pulling this one back out of the basement because it just fits me best for typing and general usefulness. If, for some reason you'd like to see the whole craft room I blogged about it HERE. It's an enormous mess right now and I wasn't going to clean up just to take new pictures. Sorry, Ellie!
On Wednesday I posted 5 opportunities for a giveaway prize. It ends tonight at midnight.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009


It's Vintage Thingies Thursday, my favorite day to show off treasures that have been in my parents' house for 45 years. Suzanne at Colorado Lady and the many other participants have all sorts of great things to show too, so be sure to visit them.
Wondering what sweet little baby(s) might have been fed from this dish? ME! And later on, my sister, of course! For those who don't know, this was a baby dish from GE that warmed up the food and kept it warm. A mini chafing dish!You can see from the stains that carrots and other red foods were popular in the childhood home of the Evil Overlord!I have no idea why my dad saved this, in its original box in the basement. By the time it would have been sold at a yard sale it probably was covered with other stuff and never found. Now no one would want it. I wouldn't! Don't you just feed the baby out of the container, whether you make or buy the food? And isn't room temperature just fine?
As you can see from this picture, I was kind of a scrawny baby. At six weeks the pediatrician had me put on rice cereal because formula alone just wasn't cutting it. I've definitely made up for those six weeks over the last forty years! I did get much cuter after the first six months, I have to say.
Did you use one of these dishes with your babies, or were you fed out of one as a child? Could you get those stains out?
You might want to check out my post from yesterday. I am giving away 5 prizes!

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Favs for $250

Auds @ Barking Mad would like bloggers to show off their favorite posts. To encourage this, she is offering a $250.00 Target gift card to those who participate!! I'm in! Plus, this is a great way for me to think about what I write and maybe some folks will read posts they missed. To encourage you to check out a couple of my favorites, I'm offering a giveaway! Post a relevant comment on any of the following posts between Tuesday, 2/24 and Friday, 2/27 and you'll be entered to win a small prize. Since I have to come up with 5 prizes, they'll be something small, earrings probably, or handmade notecards, who knows! You can enter once on each post. If you have already read a post and commented in the past, you still need to leave a comment between 2/24-2/27.

First Up: What IS an Evil Overlord? doesn't get many hits, so I guess people don't want to know. I'm glad I have this post on my nav bar, as several visitors have accused me of being un-Christian, or said they found the title of my blog offensive. But most people love the title and get the joke.
With Caregivers I wrote about how important my family has been during my almost 6-year struggle with cancer.
For my 50th post, I held a virtual Beach Party that I thought was clever and fun!
Collecting vs. Hoarding was one of my first posts. Looking back on all I've written about vintage collectibles since then, it seems I was destined to find Vintage Thingies Thursday.
Speaking of VTT, I like all of my posts, but I am listing my first one, Vintage Cameras, to represent them all.

Thanks for taking the time to read some of my favorite posts and enter the giveaways. Do you have any favorite posts of your own? Of mine? Post about your favs before March 2 and sign on up at
Barking Mad for that $250.00 Target gift card!

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Respect the Blog

I couldn't sleep tonight, so I was up clicking away and stumbled across a blog I had never visited, Don Mills Diva. I don't remember the path I took to get there, but the ultimate gateway was this colorful button. I'm such a magpie, I had to click, and then I read a story that made me so disappointed, angry, and frustrated, especially as a teacher, that I had to share it with all of you.
Kelly, aka DMD, is a "mommy blogger" but like all of us, she's more than just one thing, which includes being a trained journalist. Recently she was quoted by a reporter in The Times-online, the web version of the respected UK paper. Interestingly, this reporter never interviewed Kelly, but took all the "quotes" and information from an article about her that appeared in another publication and on her blog. No credit was given to the reporter of the first article, the blog, or Kelly herself, although she was quoted from the other sources.

Kelly wrote a post, Times On-Line Flunks Journalism 101 that began, "I don't know whether to be flattered or furious." She followed up with the inspirational Write On! Respect the Blog, sharing with her readers the results of contacting the reporter from the times, and her feelings about the disrespect often shown to the world of blog writers. Encouraging readers to speak up and validate themselves, Kelly has organized the Respect the Blog movement and has links to many wonderfully inspirational posts that made me feel proud to be a blogger. One in particular, Michelle's Blog, made me realize that I, and all of you who blog, am a real writer. She said, "We are all writing together, in a new kind of permanent library that is only in its infancy. How we choose to go forward from this point is important."

Whew! That's a lot of background into this little bit about me as a writer! As I said, I haven't considered myself a writer until about 20 minutes ago! Obviously I can write, and as a big reader I've always wanted to write a novel, but I know that I probably never will. Because the few times I've written even a short story, I haven't enjoyed myself. I can do it if I am taking a class, but I think I am much better at writing non-fiction. I began blogging because I was trapped here in the house with no one to talk to, so I thought I would write about what I was reading and crafting.When I discovered Vintage Thingies Thursday, originally at Confessions of an Apron Queen and now hosted at Colorado Lady, I found what I now know is an important interest of mine. I began writing about the vintage items in my family, how they were once used and how they are used now. I research the items, manufacturers, and sometimes find places where readers can buy similar items. I think the information in my posts is appreciated as much as the pictures, at least from the comments people leave. If you are a regular reader, you know I also write about my crafts, what I read, and sometimes little stories about my family or my health, all of which is "real" writing, although I never thought about it before. I just thought I was entertaining myself until I could go back to work!

So folks, to wrap it up, here's what I want you to take away from this reading: (Yes, that's the teacher in me writing now!)
  1. Take pride in yourself as a writer. You may think you're just babbling about your life, or sharing recipes, etc. but you are creating a permanent record of your thoughts and ideas. And for me, please show that pride by running the spellcheck!
  2. Credit your sources of information as much as possible. Credit ideas that give you inspiration, too!
  3. Ultimately, Respect the Blog!
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Monday, February 23, 2009

Miss America vs. Barbie

Back in the day, one of the things my sister and I might do was play dress-up with gorgeous party dresses, jewelry, and makeup. We wanted to learn how to put the makeup on just right. Who better to guide us on our journey to womanhood than Barbie and Miss America! Did any of you have one of these awesome mannequin heads?Kathleen had this Miss America, who is still in really good shape and wearing her shiny, foily crown. She has blue eyes, a blue box, and a blue label. My Barbie head is lost forever, but we really did a job on her face, so it's best to let her RIP anyway. I found this picture online. Notice her big blue eyes and eyeshadow, and her fluffy blue hair doo-dad. It is the closest I could find to what my Barbie looked like, but she didn't have hands. I think they're kind of creepy, growing out of the tray that way, don't you?They came with awful gummy makeup that Mattel said we could wear also, but it didn't seem to go on human skin as well as plastic. And it didn't really come off poor Barbie's face unless our mom used a scrubber and really worked at it. Barbie also had styling tools so we could do her hair. Because the base was so light, if you tugged at the hair, she'd flip over! This was a toy that we wanted and then when we got it it wasn't as much fun as we thought. Any toy disappointments in your childhood?
Be sure to visit Smiling Sally to see all sorts of blue goodies!

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

50 is Not a 4-Letter Word

Yet another thought-provoking book from a first-time author, Fifty Is Not a Four-Letter Word by Linda Kelsey is a year in the life of Hope Lyndhurst-Steele. As she approaches the big 5-0, Hope has it all: a high-power job as the editor of a popular women's magazine, a loving husband, and a son about to finish his schooling. Being born on New Year's Day, a wonderful party is thrown for Hope, and many of her misgivings about aging are set aside.
Returning to work after the holiday, Hope is informed that her "women can have it all" magazine, Jasmine, is being re-launched as a happy homemaker publication and will be run by a new editor. This is the beginning of Hope's crumbling life. Jack, her laid-back husband is becoming frustrated with her cynicism, self-pity and sniping. Olly, her teenage son is running around with the neighborhood "cougar", a divorcee with two small children, and her mother has just announced that she has only six months to live.
This all sounds like a big "downer", but it isn't because of Ms. Kelsey's wry wit and the realistic perspective with which she endows Hope regarding her life. She uses funny metaphors, describing something as "dreary as watching a TV chef boil an egg" and includes funny scenes that make the reader relate to Hope, such as when she buys a ball-thrower for her dog, but can't quite figure out how to "flick" her wrist and get it to work.
Feeling abandoned and lost, Hope starts to rise from the ashes and works to repair her relationships as she grows and tries new things. Becoming a first-time dog owner and joining a trekking group brighten her life and give her time to think about what she wants from life and what she really thinks about the life she had been living. All around Hope there are a variety of relationships from which she can learn and think about what she wants. Her parents, who have been together 55 years and still are totally enthralled with each other. Maddy, her best friend, afraid to acknowledge her love for a man because of what she perceives as disrespect toward a loved-one. Nick and Sally, a couple who have lost a child and now work together to create a charity. And the couple she aspires to be, her cousin Mike and his partner Stanko, who exhibit their love and respect in every day moments.
I really enjoyed participating in Hope's journey, meeting new friends with her and experiencing new things. The story of bringing home her Labrador puppy, Susanna, re-kindled my desire to have a dog of my own, and the trekking group sounds like a fun way to get in shape, much better than walking the sidewalks alone. I found the ending of the book, which is not the ending of Hope's story, to be extremely intriguing.
This is a wonderful book, and would be great for a discussion group or a writing group. This is the first book from Linda Kelsey to be published in the United States, I am going to try to get my hands on her second, The Secret Lives of Sisters. Fifty Is Not a Four-Letter Word will be available in stores in March.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Year Round Blooms

We've had a week of fairly mild weather here in Massachusetts and most of the snow has melted with the exception of the nasty, dirty stuff along the roads that gets piled up by the plows. It's even smelled like spring is on its way, but I am NOT fooled. Mother Nature has done this before and then BAM hits us with a snowstorm on April 1st. I kid you not. Of course, that was 12 years ago...Anyway, that's a long explanation for how I chose my Pink Saturday offerings this week. It's not time to start planting, and many people are horrified with fake flowers and plants, but I think you will like these.
These sweet china flowerpots have been in my parents' living room all of my life. They are no more than 2" across and the tallest is about 3" high. They are so small that I am a bit concerned that Beverly might drive on up to Connecticut and steal them since she has so many cute tiny things! Because there are three, my sister and I always thought there was one for our mother and one for each of us. Like all children, we were very self-centered! In reality, our parents bought these English china tchotchkies on their honeymoon to Bermuda in 1963. Because there are three they count as a collection, right?

My personal favorite is the only one that is broken. It's a clean break on the stem of the white flower. I don't think it's even glued back together, we just put the stem that was left in between the other 2 and it's balanced there. I wonder if Dorothea has glued it since we moved out?My sister is a big pansy fan. She has baskets of hanging pansies every spring and summer and puts them in her flower beds and around the mailbox.
I'm off to visit Beverly at How Sweet the Sound and as many of the Pink Saturday participants as I can, and I'll be stopping in throughout the week, too. I hope you'll take some time to see their treasures, also!

Friday, February 20, 2009


I'm participating in a birthday card swap with my local scrapbooking group. I send in 10 cards I make and get 10 different ones. I'm still trying to use up my stash, and not buy any new materials, so they are all different.My stash includes buttons, so I used a few. I don't know why I am so weird about using my "good" embellishments on things. It's like saving the good china; why? I definitely bring in more buttons to the house each year than I send out. Too bad their not money, I'd be in the black all the time! Something a little sedate.I really like this floral background paper. I like how the brown paper makes it not so "girly". Another of my nifty vintage buttons was sacrificed on this card.These are bright and fashionable. They would be great for some hip young lady's birthday.
So that's what I've finished this week. Something that inspires me to finish at least a project a week is Finished for Friday over at Lit & Laundry. You should go check out the projects that others have finish, sewing, baking, organizing, etc. and be inspired!

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ernestine's Ringy-Dingies

Some readers of this blog are too young to remember Ernestine the annoying switchboard operator created by the talented Lily Tomlin. I myself am almost too young, having just turned 6 when Laugh-In went off the air in 1973, 1 day after my birthday. But I thought it would be a cute trip down memory lane for some of us if I mentioned her on this Vintage Thingies Thursday post. Why? Because I am showing pictures of my parents' phones. Notice I use the present tense. These are the phones still in use on the cul-de-sac of Cinnamon Lane. They have been there since 1965 when the house was built.
The luxurious kitchen phone is hard-wired into the house. The luxuries here include the shoulder rest and the super-long cord that was added in the mid 1970s. Before that, Dorothea (my mom) could only get as far as the sink on the other side of the room. This cord gave her the freedom to move into other rooms a little bit. I can't believe that cord hasn't dried up and cracked! Notice the 1970s wallpaper, also appropriate for VTT. In the bottom left corner of this picture is a B&W photo of me taken for my high school yearbook tacked to the wall. Since I was the editor I stole it. There are also assorted pictures of popes, family, and children from my mom's home daycare that are now all grown up.Ah, the red princess phone! I don't know if this is actually the "princess" style, but it sure looks like it. I would love to have this phone in my current bedroom, but as you can see it still has a 4-prong plug. This is the upstairs phone in my parents' room. When both my sister and I hit high school a luxurious 25 foot cord was added to the plug so we could take the phone down the hall to our rooms for privacy.The sound on this phone is very fuzzy ever since my evil sister threw it into my angelic face in 1985. All I did was unplug it from the wall! My front teeth were a little wiggly for a few days! Lesson learned: Don't mess with a girl who's on the phone with her boyfriend.

That's it. 2 phones in a 10-room house. They have phones in the basement and family room now, as well as a cell, but still no call-waiting or caller ID. I live alone and have 3 phones and a cell My goodness, how times have changed!
Do any of you still have these dial phone in your homes? Anything wired right into the wall? Do they work?
Click on over to ColoradoLady to see what Suzanne and the other VTT folks have to show you this week.

Meeting Some Goals

I've spent the past 2 weeks trying to write a variety of types of posts for the Blog Improvement Project. I found it pretty challenging, especially varying the length of my posts. I think I write on a variety of topics, and could have gone back through old posts to match everything on the Bingo list, but the goals was to do it in the 2 week time frame. I managed 8 out of 10, which is pretty good. I had real trouble with writing an opinion post, even though I am a very opinionated person, so that was weird too.
This time the task is to focus on Blog Basics, which I've listed below. As always, Lisa found some great articles to help us with this and explain why certain things just work better certain ways. We don't have to do everything on the list, but I've already completed it, since I had been working on my gorgeous new Blog Design by Susan this weekend anyway!
  • Write (or update) your “About Me” Page - Created it w/ new blog design. Put in several pictures, too!
  • Update your contact information - Put it in more than 1 place.
  • Add some sort of picture of yourself - Already had 1 in profile, as well as in many posts.
  • Update your Blogroll - Removed some I never visit, added some new ones.
  • Create a link to your Archives on your front page - already had it
  • Add a link so readers can subscribe to your blog via RSS - already had it
  • Get to work on other basic blog maintenance you’ve been meaning to do
On January 7, when this year-long improvement project began, these were the goals I set:
  • Select a new blog design that shows more of my personality. DONE
  • Include relevant links in posts. TRYING
  • Work on content that will encourage comments and return visitors. COMMENTS HAVE GONE DOWN! WASSUP, FOLKS?
  • Investigate ways to make money through my blog, without losing its current personality/charm. BLOGHER ADS
I am pretty impressed with myself on this, I must say! I usually am not good at following through with goals that have a long timeline. Of course, I still have a bunch of other non-blog projects that need to be done, all with shorter timelines! I have a birthday card swap due in March, an All About Me swap for April, and I need to renew my teaching license by June. So I guess I'll go do some of that now!
I'd appreciate your comments on how things look, how the new design works for you, and any THEORIES ON WHY MY COMMENTS HAVE GONE DOWN!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hungry Woman in Paris

Hungry Woman in Paris is the literary debut of award winning screenwriter Josefina Lopez. Much like her fabulous film Real Women Have Curves, the book is about mother-daughter relationships and a young woman finding her way between her Mexican and American cultures. Coming to the United States as an undocumented worker at the age of five, Canela leads the life of a migrant farm worker with her parents and nine siblings. The backbreaking work allows her parents to eventually provide a stable home for their children and give them the opportunities they hoped to find in Los Angeles, including college.

Now a journalist and activist, Canela is engaged to a Chicano doctor and has reached the milestone of her thirtieth birthday when tragedy strikes. Her cousin and best friend Luna, living the American dream according to Mexican culture, commits suicide and reminds Canela of all in which she truly believes. Breaking off her engagement, Canela uses her honeymoon trip to Paris as a chance to escape and breathe. Impulsively, she decides to stay and enrolls in the prestigious Le Coq Rouge cooking school.

The people Canela meets in her classes help to reawaken her passions and hungers. The experience of learning to cook brings back many memories of her childhood. Returning to Los Angeles after nearly a year, Canela has a stronger perspective on who she is and the life she wants to lead.

I really enjoyed Canela's story and wanted to see how her experiences changed her or re-awakened parts of her. Her take on yet again being an immigrant, as well as having the French question her status as an American was interesting and enlightening. The descriptions of life in Paris were great, making me feel I was experiencing it with Canela and meeting so many interesting people in this international city. Of course, being a huge Top Chef fan I loved all of the cooking school scenes!

Like most good stories, this novel is not just one thing. It is emotional, educational, romantic in a non-sexual way, and amusing. The chapters have witty titles such as Like Water for Canela, Eat Woman Drink Man, and Last Mango in Paris. There are funny and interesting little side stories, such as shopping at the Louis Vuitton flagship store, and the rules for living in what is a servant's apartment. I look forward to Ms. Lopez's second book, A Girl and a Ball, which she is currently writing. Hungry Woman in Parisis scheduled for publication on March 9, but can be pre-ordered on Amazon. Also, if you've never seen the film Real Women Have Curves, I strongly encourage you buy it or get it through Netflix. It has an all-star Latino cast including America Ferrera, George Lopez and Lupe Ontiveros.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Check out my new do!

It's a Blue Monday for some, on this first day of school vacation week in Massachusetts! Blue for the many moms who will be hearing "I'm bored," at least once a day this week. Send them outside to run around the house five times. Or clean some bathrooms with BLUE toilet cleaner! That'll show them that they're not bored. And you definitely won't be bored if you go visit Smiling Sally and the other Blue Monday participants!
I am so excited about my Blue Monday offering this week! Have you already guessed what it is? That's right, my new BLUE website! I have been very jealous of those of you with your professional blog designs (Nikki & Suzanne), and have been looking around for a while at different designers and digital kits. The most difficult decision was choosing the colors, patterns, and fonts; there's so much from which to choose. Than
k goodness I had a fabulous, organized, experienced designer guiding me through the process. Susan has done many blog designs for Blogger and is getting her feet wet with Word Press. She did my page over the weekend, with about 15 emails back and forth between us All with 3 kids running around her house, too! I am a total control freak, and Susan gave me everything I wanted. She was always so helpful and accommodating, even when I kept asking for a certain shade of cream and wanted it changed about 3 times. She even made me a signature graphic from my own signature! How cool is that?!
Here's one of the best things...I spent a lot of time researching this, as I do everything, you know. I looked at more than 10 designers' sites and narrowed it down to those that could do 3-column designs and navigation bars, because those were things I couldn't do myself. Of the ones I found, Susan was HALF the price of the others. Whoo! Hoo! She also did not have a mile-long waiting list so she got to me right away, and like I said, gave me all her attention. Now that I've been bragging on her she'll hopefully get a lot more requests, but she'll be worth it if you have to wait a week or so, I promise.
Here's some more blue blogs that Susan has designed.

If you're thinking about a bog re-design, or just want a new header or button, I hope you'll consider Susan. Now hop on over to Smiling Sally and visit the other Blue Monday gals!

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