Thursday, April 30, 2009

OO, LA! LA!

What a busy week I've been having with the May Day Giveaways! There's only one more day to enter, so be sure to visit all of the participants and see what they are sharing with the blogging world. The links are all at the top of the page.
Today is my, and many others, favorite day of the week, Vintage Thingies Thursday, hosted by Suzanne at ColoradoLady. She always has something great to share, this week it's some beautifully embroidered linens, and each week I learn something from one or more of the participants. If you have any vintage thingies hanging around, join us some time.
I titled this post OO, LA! LA! because I am showing off something I thing is very fancy, and I am NOT a fancy person, as I hope you know.This beautiful perfume atomizer was found in the attic of my great-aunt's home when we were cleaning it out in 1984. It was in a very nice, sturdy, golden cardboard box that was lined with red velvet. We're pretty sure it was never used. The bulb is dried up, but you really can't tell just by looking at it. Currently it is on display in my sister's dining room curio cabinet. Don't you just love the detail work and the texturing of the gilding? Wouldn't feel oh so elegant having this on your dressing table and spritzing yourself before a romantic night out? Ah, those were the days!
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cemetery Dance: a review

From the book jacket: William Smithback, a New York Times reporter, and his wife Nora Kelly, a Museum of Natural History archaeologist, are brutally attacked in their apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Eyewitnesses claim, and the security camera confirms, that the assailant was their strange, sinister neighbor-a man who, by all reports, was already dead and buried weeks earlier. While Captain Laura Hayward leads the official investigation, Pendergast and Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta undertake their own private-and decidedly unorthodox-quest for the truth. Their serpentine journey takes them to an enclave of Manhattan they never imagined could exist: a secretive, reclusive cult of Obeah and vodou which no outsiders have ever survived.
Zombiis in New York City? Is this something like Vampire in Brooklyn, the 1995 Eddie Murphy movie? Are Shaggy and Scooby Doo going to suddenly jump out of the Mystery Machine? These were my first thoughts when I read this introduction. I had never read anything by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Childs before Cemetery Dance, but I knew their genre and reputation, so I was a bit surprised and intrigued. I am not one for horror books, but I gamely jumped in to Cemetery Dance and found that this is definitely not a horror book, but a crime story. There are so many interesting elements involved, rivalry between newspapers, politics in the police department, laws of squatters' rights and eminent domain, and of course the "is it real" element of people coming back from the dead as a zombii to kill. The information about religions that believe these things is interesting, and explained well, and the description of the Ville de Ziondrilles is so vivid I felt like I could draw it myself, if I knew how to draw. Actually, all of the key things that would be difficult for someone with little background information to envision, such as ancient underground crypts, religious fetishes, and even what a zombii looks, sounds, and smells like, are amazingly detailed, which I really appreciated.
Cemetery Dance features many of the duo's recurring characters including archaeologist Nora Kelly, police detective Vincent D'Agosta, FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast, and Captain Laura Hayward, who all work somewhat independently and sometimes together to figure out the bizarre happenings in Manhattan and specifically Inwood Hill Park, the last natural forest and salt marsh in Manhattan. I had never heard of this beautiful, natural park and found the history presented in the book very interesting. Although this is my first book by these authors, I felt I knew the characters quickly and most of them well. Laura Hayward is written as a strong, professional law enforcement officer, who tries to hold back her more feminine traits at work, which is difficult considering that she and Vincent D'Agosta, although no longer together, have strong feelings for one another. Vincent, also, is a well-rounded character, although he has a few traits that some might consider stereotpyical. Between Vincent's hot head and Agent Pendergast's desire for information before the labs or technicians have finished their tests, their enter investigation is truly a "cowboy" experience.
I definitely enjoyed Cemetery Dance and will go back to the library to get the first book in the Pendergast series, Relic. I'm also passing this on to my nephews who are going to LOVE it!
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Awards, Prizes, & Something Weird

I have been remiss in acknowledging some sweet bloggers who have bestowed awards on me. In fact, I forgot who gave me one, so I went back through all my comments looking, and that's when I discovered something strange. I supposedly have all comments sent to my email. That way I can read them faster and respond. But as I was going through all of these older posts, there were MANY comments and questions I had never seen. I don't know if this is a problem w/ Blogger or Hotmail, but either way, I'm now going to check the comments within the blog, I guess.
Now, on to the awards!
I received the Splashed! award from Bookfan Mary. She writes fabulous reviews that I find to be right-on for me. I like how she reads a variety of genres, too. The Splashed! award is for blogs that inspire, awe, allure, amuse, bewitch or impress you. I am always inspired by these blogs; if you are looking for fun crafty ideas, check them out!
Art & Inspiration
Faerie Dust Dreams
Pip Stitch
Susan @ A Southern Daydreamer honored me with the Lemonade Stand award for having a great attitude and/or showing gratitude. I am passing it on to AnNicole @! Our Suburban Cottage. This girl is so resilient and has made a wonderful life for herself in spite of some adversity. Be sure to check out all of her budget decorating ideas.
I am ashamed to say that I don't remember who bestowed the title of One Lovely Blog on me. I knew it when I began writing this post, and I've already forgotten. That is very unlike me. Hopefully I will remember and add it in soon. If it's YOU, please remind me!!
I am passing this one on to Elyse @ cottage who has such a pretty blog and will LOVE the teacup on this one!
Besides neglecting to acknowledge awards, I've recently won great prizes from two very creative ladies.Elyse from cottage loves pink and Pink Saturday with Beverly, so she made these wonderful clips and gave them away as a PS prize. Wasn't that nice?Michelle @ Faerie Dust Dreams is a multi-talented artist who has wonderful creations and tutorials to share. She gave away this AMAZING craft idea book, and I have been flipping through and daydreaming all last week. Each of these ladies have great etsy shops, so be sure to visit them.
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Scented Blue

Welcome to a beautiful BLUE MONDAY, hosted by Smiling Sally! Be sure to visit and read her sweet story about a surprise she received in the mail.
I have something else of my sister's to share this week.It's a beautiful Art-Deco style glass perfume bottle. Wouldn't you feel like such a fancy, genteel lady as you press the bulb and the lovely mist floats over you? I love the color and shape of this spritzer and wish I had one. But, neither of us wear perfumes, so it really doesn't matter!
I hope you'll take some time to check out my book giveaways and visit the others participating in the May Day Giveaways!
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Sunday, April 26, 2009

5 Book Giveaway!

For the May Day Giveaway Carnival, I am giving away 5 Advance Reader copies of books I have really enjoyed. There will be 5 winners. Each book will be accompanied by a handmade bookmark and a treat to enjoy while reading. Unfortunately I can only have this giveaway open to those in the US and Canada, as postage keeps going up, up, up! All of the participants are listed at the top of the page.

Here's what to do:
The books available are all listed below, and linked to my reviews.
Visit the post where i originally reviewed the book, and leave a comment on THAT POST. Even if you commented on it originally, only comments dated 4/27-5/1 will be entered in the drawing.
You may enter to win all of the books that you'd like to read.

If you desire extra entries, you can:
  1. post my button on your blog,
  2. put me on your blogroll,
  3. fav the review post on Technorati,
  4. thumb it up on Stumble Upon.
For each of these things you need to leave a separate comment for random.org to choose them.

The Books

B as in Beauty by Alberto Ferreras
The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
Busy Woman Seeks Wife by Annie Sanders
Mating Rituals of the North American WASP by Lauren Lipton
Above the Law by Tim Green
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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Such Angels!

When I was very young, my grandpa, aka Papoo, which is Greek, owned a card and gift shop. He would give us little presents from his stock. Something very lovely that both my sister and I have are these birth month angels. Because we are both Spring birthdays, they each have some pink in them. He gave them to us because we were such angelic little girls who always helped our grandma and mother and never fought with each other or yelled...if you believe that I've got some Arizona coastal property to sell ya!
The April girl is holding a basket of colored eggs, and has a bunny peeking around her skirt. There are clusters of flowers on her skirt, and a sweet expression on her face.Both angels have pretty rosy cheeks. For May, she is holding two big bouquets of peonies and has a cluster on her skirt. I also think her eyes are a little "come-hither" for an angel!
To see more beautiful pinks, be sure to visit our hostess Beverly at How Sweet the Sound!
Be sure to stop by next week for my May Day Giveaways. Ten other blogs are participating and all will be listed here.
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Friday, April 24, 2009

Already Missing My Man!

Have I introduced my main man to the blogging world? Here is is, Kyle Chandler, AKA Coach Taylor on Friday Night Lights. I first met Kyle in 1991, River Run, Ohio when he was Jeff Metcalf on the TV series Homefront. We reunited a few years later in Chicago when he was Gary Hobson, receiving the newspaper a day early and averting tragedies in Early Edition. Besides his good looks, Kyle is extremely attractive because of his demeanor. He is very low-key, quietly helps out his friends and players on his team, and tries to be a modern husband. He talks things out with his wife, but is still enough of an old-fashioned guy to not want to talk about sex with his teenage daughter. The characters he has played on TV have all been sometimes conflicted, yet always trying to be ethical.
Besides choosing roles of good guys, Kyle seems like a good guy himself, keeping a low profile in Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters, doing interviews for all types of press, not just mainstream, and giving his name and time to a number of charities. Kate Coyne of Good Housekeeping magazine calls him "a throwback to a classic, Jimmy Stewart breed of celebrity." Who wouldn't love a guy who looks at his newly-born "whoops" baby like this? His other child is 16!
I was checking through my DVR this morning to see what was on tap to be recorded and there was no FNL. The final episode for this season was 2 weeks ago, and I am already missing Coach Taylor, Buddy Garrity, Tyra, Matt, and all the gang. (But mostly Coach!) There were big problems last spring when NBC announced they were cancelling the series, so they brought it back this year, but I hadn't heard what was happening in the future. Checking online, I was thrilled to find out they've renewed it for 2 more seasons! I know Eric is going to show the Dillon school committee what he's really made of when he has to build a team from scratch at the newly re-opened East Dillon High next fall!
In doing a little research for this post, I discovered that I can get Homefront episodes online, so hopefully I can get my Kyle Chandler fix taken care of until the new season of Friday Night Lights!
So, who's your TV boyfriend? The guy you need to see every week? Maybe it's the local news anchor, every night?!
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Childhood Friends for VTT

Another fun Thursday of vintage goodies can be found at ColoradoLady! Suzanne has an amazing quilt she got for just $20.00, plus she is having a name this photo contest. Lots of fun to be found there! Toys, housewares, cars, jewelry, anything goes on Vintage Thingies Thursday as long as it's old. So show us what you've held on to, or what you collect!
I have some "friends" from my childhood. They are still in my bedroom in Connecticut, waiting for me to come get them. Be sure to check out the awesome wallpaper I picked out 32 years ago. It's back in style and goes great with the lime green carpet I chose.Of course everyone knows these are Cabbage Patch Kids and a Hollie Hobby. Did you know that Hollie Hobby was originally an American Greetings image? They were approached by Knickerbocker Toys, who manufactured the dolls. The original artist who created the images in the 1960s is actually named Holly Hobbie! If you're interested in more HH info, try Karen's Holly Hobbie World. There is even an annual convention!
I bought the two Cabbage Patch Kids in February 1985 during a school trip to Spain. At the time they couldn't be found anywhere in the US. 1984 was the Christmas that it was THE toy people wanted. My mom had given me extra money for emergencies, so I bought 1 for my sister and 1 for me. Wasn't this an emergency? Mine is the red head. I have always wanted red hair. I picked the blond because she looked like my sister as a baby. Because they were bought in Spain, they have Spanish names. I'm pretty sure my dad still has the boxes for these in his basement.
Did you have a Cabbage Patch or Hollie Hobbie? Is there a trendy toy somewhere in your childhood memories?
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mating Rituals

Something wasn't right, and she knew it before opening her eyes.
This is the first sentence from Mating Rituals of the North American WASP by Lauren Lipton, a delightful story about soul mates, following your heart and not your head, and the importance of communication.
Peggy and Luke, level-headed strangers, marry the night they meet in Las Vegas. This begins a year of intrigue for the two, as they attempt to keep their marriage on a platonic level, while having all around them believe in the whirlwind courtship. Luke, the last of the Sedgwicks, a revered family that can trace their heritage to the Pilgrims, and Peggy, daughter of free-spirited parents who travel the country in their RV, couldn't seem more different from the outside. Raised with a rigid code of etiquette and an insular circle of friends, schools, and careers, Luke, an aspiring poet manages what little is left of his family trust, working from the ballroom of his family's crumbling mansion. His is a fairly solitary life, living with his 90 year-old great aunt and seeing childhood friends for poker. Always wanting roots, Peggy has created her own family in New York, building a business with her friend Bex and living with Brock, her boyfriend of seven years. Peggy and Luke will both benefit by staying "married" for one year, which will allow Luke to sell the historic Sedgwick House. The money will help Peggy's business, and Luke will finally be able to travel and leave what he sees as the burdens of his family name.
To some, this may seem like a silly premise, very Harlequin Romance, if you will. Explained as a one-liner, it is, but Lauren Lipton fleshes out her characters, showing their strengths and areas in which they need to grow. (As a teacher, this is the phrase parents prefer. I can't say weaknesses.) Luke is so adorably vulnerable, at least to the reader if not those around him, overwhelmed with his own mediocrity in financial management, caring for his rapidly declining great-aunt Abigail, and doing all of the demanding upkeep on a house where pieces literally fall off daily, all while longing for a quiet, esoteric life of writing. Confused, self-reliant Peggy is at a cross road in her life, wanting to be married and to start a family, which Brock is reluctant to do. Being Luke's "wife" on weekends while Brock is away, and observing the marriage of her friend Bex, have her questioning what exactly she wants from life. With Luke's Yankee reserve holding him back from speaking his thoughts and feelings on any topic, Peggy also does not want to say what she feels, which of course leads to misunderstandings and arguments.
The story takes place in the fictional town of New Ninevah, CT in Litchfield County, although there really is a town named Ninevah. Litchfield County is one of the bastions of very old money, privileged families, unlike beautiful downtown East Granby, CT, where I grew up with the newer immigrant population, from the 1800s! I loved all of the funny and true New England and Connecticut things that Ms. Lipton used in this book. The fact that so many houses are white with black shutters, how do you give people directions to your house? Between March and May it is Mud Season. A town green is a great place for protesters to gather.
Mating Rituals of the North American WASP will be available as a paperback in May, making it a great one for summer travel and beach reading. I liked it so much I am going to get Lauren Lipton's first novel, It's About Your Husband, from my library. She also has a very funny blog to which I've linked, so check it out!
By the way, this is just one of the books I will be giving away next week during the May Day Giveaways. Be sure to come back and check it out.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Sweet Little Girl

Isn't this a cute little figurine? It is my sister's. My mom made it in the early 1970s when she was into ceramics. It looks just like my sister did at age 6, and the dog is painted to look like Duster, our first dog. He was such a good boy and took so much loving abuse, wearing dresses and diapers in which we cut a hole for his tail, pulling sleds up the hill for us, being tossed in a blanket, and other things a small dog shouldn't have to do.
Who was your first pet? Did you do silly things with him/her?
Be sure to visit Smiling Sally and the other BLUE MONDAY participants!
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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pink Jasperware

Happy Pink Saturday, one and all! Spring has finally arrived here in Boston, although I'm sure she'll run and hide for a while again soon! The trees are starting to open their buds, and the daffodils are in bloom. On Easter, after a wonderful brunch at a local restaurant, we spent the day at my sister's. I used part of the time to photograph all of her things that I might use for my favorite memes. She has almost as much stuff as I, but she'd deny it!
Wedgewood is best known for their signature blue Jasperware, but they also make it in a variety of other colors. In addition to the Jasperware they make other chinas and crystal.This pink Wedgewood plate is on display in the dining room. It is about the size of a saucer and could maybe hold candy or something small. The hummingbird is very delicate, and the traditional acanthus leaves circle the rim.This little plate is my mom's that she displays in her curio cabinet. It has the Nativity scene in the center and the leaves around the rim are holly and ivy. It is a little deeper than the hummingbird plate.
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Friday, April 17, 2009

Giveaway Carnival!

I am excited to announce the upcoming New England Bloggers May Day Giveaways! During the week of April 27-May 1, many of the members of the New England Bloggers will be hosting giveaways on their blogs. Anyone can enter these giveaways based on the blog owner's individual criteria, such as international, continental US only, etc. All of the participants will be listed here with the Evil Overlord, and hopefully will link to each other's giveaways also.
Many of these bloggers are artists, so we can expect some cool original items, and others are readers like me, so I'm sure there will be some books, as well as other fun jewelry and home decor prizes.
We hope to meet people from all over through this carnival, as our regular readers are introduced to those within the NE Bloggers network. We are offering an extra entry into each of our giveaways if you blog about this giveaway carnival before Wednesday, April 29. Stay in touch for more info!

Participating Blogs
Art from the Heart - Catherine in ME
Basia-Spirit Space - Barbara in MA
The Book Kitten - Kitten in CT

Fabric 'N Fiber Fanatic - Sara in NH
Life, as it is... - Tara in MA
Living the Local Life - Virginia in NH
Loving Mom 2 Boys - Liz in RI
My Secret Garden - Sue in MA
Penny's Art Room - Penny in ME
Penny-Wise People - Colleen in NH
Raise Your Hand If... - Carol in MA
Seriously, No Seriously - Michelle
Thoughts from an Evil Overlord - Elizabeth in MA

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

More Fun Pins

Thursday has rolled around again, the day to show off my vintage treasures! I love Vintage Thingies Thursday, which is hosted by Suzanne at Colorado Lady. There are always so many neat things being shown off! I have some more great brooches from the late 1950s.This looks great on the lapel of a suit jacket, giving a harsh look a little more femininity. I love the multicolored stones. I thought my mom had earrings that matched, but we can't find them anywhere, and she doesn't remember.It's difficult to tell in this picture, but these leaves are cut out enamel and have been curved to lay like real petals. The color is predominantly orange with swirls of pink and gold.My sister and I were always fascinated by this stylized green flower. I am constantly looking for outfits to get it to work right because I want to wear it whenever I can. For some reason I just don't have the colors in my wardrobe to work well with it.
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Is it Comment-Able?

I didn't participate in the Blog Improvement Project during March because the topic of utilizing social media didn't interest me, but I'm back with a bang for April!
April is going to be about making our blogs more comment-friendly. Here's what Kim has to say about choosing this topic: During the goal setting project in January, a lot of people made it a goal to leave more blog comments. This is important, but I think it’s also vital that once you get a new reader at your blog it’s easy for them to engage with you by commenting on your posts.
In the last few months I've noticed a decline in comments, as some of you will remember me whining about mentioning. Jamie Harrop describes the importance of comments in his article 7 Reasons Why I Won’t Comment On your Blog.
Commenting is such an important part of blogging. It’s what often separates the blogosphere and other more traditional forms of media. And while we all set out in the blogosphere to receive visitors to our blogs, it’s comments, or the lack of them, that really worries us in those early months. “Why is nobody commenting on my blog?” is a frequently asked question in any blogosphere circle. Far more frequent than “How do I get more visitors?” and other such questions. Blogging is, after all, community based and connecting with other people and seeing them connect with us is what often drives blog authors.
In addition to Jamie's article, Kim also found 2 others that I really liked.
10 Techniques to Get More Comments on Your Blog by Darren Rose
The art of hoisting comments at Beatblogger.com focuses on journalism blogs but has a great way of giving attention to thoughtful comments.
Well, I read these articles and realized that I do many of the things they suggest. I try to reply to questions I am asked in my comments. The only time I don't is when the blogger does not have an email reply or has chosen to not show their email on their Blogger profile page. I got read of word verification and owner approval for comments. I still get the comments emailed to me, but they go up right away so others can see them and have a dialog if they'd like, and it doesn't stop anyone who can't see the word verification, like me! It's been this way for 10 months and I haven't received any spam comments. I also have my comments appear in their own window. This way visitors can see the post if they need to while writing their comment.
I like the idea of highlighting certain comments and rewarding frequent commenters, so I'm going to think about the best way for me to work those into my repertoire. Maybe a giveaway for most comments each month, responding to questions once a week in a post, something like that. All ideas and suggestions are welcome!
I also discovered 2 reasons why my comments had gone down. One is that many people are now reading the Evil Overlord in Google Reader and the other is a problem between Blogger and Internet Explorer that was giving some people a "stack overflow" message and freezing up their computers when they visited. I found out the solution to that problem is to empty your Temp Internet folder. Or switch to Firefox as your browser.
I hope I can make my blog more comment-able. I blog for fun, and one of the things that makes it fun is getting interesting comments that teach me something, ask me questions or tell me things about the commenter, so I am truly meeting people and becoming part of a community.
If you are looking for great ideas for improving your own blog, I highly recommend visiting Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness where she has all of the topics and articles listed. You can join in on the Blog Improvement Project at any time, or opt out of any topics that hold no interest for you.