Friday, April 30, 2010

Scrapbooking Continued

I spent all day yesterday at this computer working on that scrapbook. Barely got the bed made and - thank heavens - there were leftovers to have for dinner!  I was cross-eyed by the time my day ended.

I do feel like I am on the right road with this now. Although there are a lot of years of his life that I do not have any info for, I am scrapping what I do have in time order. This makes me feel organized.  I also changed my page theme a little.  The scrapbooks I have made before do not continue a theme - other than being about my family.  Thus, everytime I made a page, I could do something different - making it as elaborate or simple as I felt like.  That is more fun but takes longer - so, I am going to keep the page designs for this book simple and the same throughout the book.

I would love to share it here. It's certainly more fun to do things if you can show them off.  However, there are family names involved, and I feel insecure about that - though I don't know who would care. I guess I could "redact" them. :)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Back to Scrapbooking

I wrote a few posts back about my latest scrapbook of my husband's father, who died when my husband was only 3 years old. I have had all the materials (playbills, newspaper clippings, etc.) laying out on my dining room table for the past couple of weeks waiting for inspiration to hit me. Unfortunately, it didn't, and all of that stuff was getting on my nerves. Of course, I know that frequently inspiration comes if I just start working at whatever. So yesterday I spent a lot of time sorting everything and putting them into folders according to a timeline.

I really was not satisifed with the page design I had created previously and decided that I needed to give it a little more thought. Today I spent some time on  kuler , an  Adobe website with ready-made color themes. They can be downloaded to Adobe Photoshop but not to the old version of Photoshop Elements (V.3) which I have. However, it gives me the hex numbers, and I can manually put the colors in.

I chose these colors from a bunch of heritage color themes.

There are three living generations in my family named after this man - my husband, my son, and my grandson.

I keep thinking about him as I work on this book......wondering what my husband's life would have been like if he had been able to know his Dad...........wondering if he knows that I am making a scrapbook for him.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Old People Who Blog

I don't usually talk to my friends about this blog. Most of the women I know in my age group are not interested in anything related to the internet other than email. They look at me a little funny if I do mention that I am blogging.

Bloggers Over 50, a website I found recently, has a long blogroll of bloggers. They all seem to be in their 50's and 60's.  Looking for someone more my age, I googled "elderly bloggers"  and came up with The Ageless Project - a site where "elderly people"  -(:( I don't feel elderly) - can register their blogs under the decade in which they were born. The dates start back in the 1910's and there are some interesting blogs on this site.

Some of them have family members who are web designers, etc. and who maintain their blogsites for them.  I am patting myself on the back that I am learning to do this all on my own.   Sometimes I think that is more fun for me than the actual blogging.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Book Review: mr. muo's traveling couch

I liked Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (see my report on this) so much that I read  mr. muo's traveling couch by the same author, Dai Sijie. I was not disappointed.

The inside flap of the book cover gives a better description than I can:
After years of studying Freud in Paris, Mr. Muo returns home to introduce the blessings of psychoanalsis to twenty-first century China. But it is his hidden purpose - to liberate his university sweetheart, now a political prisoner - that leads him to the sadistic local magistrate, Judge Di. The price of the Communist bureaucrat's clemency? A virgin maiden. And so our middle-aged hero, Muo, a Westernized romantic and sexual innocent himself, sets off on his bicycle in search of a suitable girl.
This book is really funny (though I do have to admit I have been accused of having a weird sense of humor). While reading the book, I kept wondering how it would feel to live with such an imaginative brain as this man has.......a thoroughly enjoyable book.

Here is the review in the N.Y. Times..

Saturday, April 24, 2010


I spent quite a bit of time reading It is chock full of information - some of which is too technical for me. Or maybe there was just so much that I could not take it in. However, I am trying to follow his suggestion of claiming my blog in Technorati......and for that I am suppose to insert this code -  7KD5VBTRMMC4I - in a post.

The Technorati Help Page says:
We realize that putting this odd code text into your feed means that all of your feed followers (and perhaps Twitter, Facebook, and other sites) will see it, but it's the best method we've found so far to demonstrate to us that you control the blog. You can remove the code once the claim is complete
I am not sure why I need Technorati  (but I will keep researching)! This blog seems to be more about my trials and tribulations in learning how to blog more than anything else............But after all I am an old lady :) and doing this on my own.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Blog Reading

Blog reading is more than an "Occasional Pursuit" for me. I am always curious about other people...what they are thinking...and how they do things. I guess I am an info junkie.

I can't figure out a good way to keep the blogs I subscribe to.  At present, I use Delicious tags and keep it opened in the sidebar. I first have to click on my Delicious tag, then click on the blog, and then it takes at least 2 or 3 seconds to load the whole blog. Of course, I don't want to wait 2 or 3 seconds!! :-)

I use to have IE as my browser and I really liked their bookmark and feed sidebar.  Firefox that I am using now.....not so much.....though it works much better as a browser on my computer.

I don't like Google Reader,either. Probably because I have to click to get Google's homepage, click on my Reader account, click on the blog.......It's all just too much clicking for me.

I spend waaaay too much time reading blogs.  I open one blog that I like, and before I know it, I follow links from it until I have clicked way off into the web and found at least another million blogs that I want to save. I can't spend the whole day reading blogs. I still have a house to clean and a husband to feed. But  I'm so afraid I'll miss something good!!

I know, I know - the logical thing to do is  to set a timer and when it goes off, just quit. Sometimes that works for me and sometimes it doesn't.........depending on my level of will power on that day..........and even on my best days, that's not so good.

I would like to know how others organize their bookmarks and use their blog reading time wisely.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Funeral

I have spent the last few days in another state to attend the funeral of my sister. For all of her adult life, she suffered from the terrible disorder of schizophrenia. The last few years of her life were spent in a nursing home. Needless to say her disease affected our whole family.

In the face of a seemingly purposeless and terrible existence, it is hard not to question why, but I have to believe there must be a reason.........

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Yesterday I spent some time working on the scrapbook I have started for my husband's father.  See the initial post here.  This entailed scanning old newspaper articles into my computer using Photoshop Elements. These clippings are more than 80 years old and are not in the best of shape. I did some research on the internet about how to scan them. The only useful information that I found was to scan them at a lower resolution than I normally do for my scrapbook photos. 150 - 200 dpi's were suggested and I found that this did help some.   Here are the pages that I did..........
They are not great but are at least readable when printed. Click on them and use Control + to enlarge them on your computer screen.

Our printer does not do 12x12 pages so my scrapbook pages are 8.5 x 11.  I use Pioneer Memory Books generally carried by Joann's and Michael's.  They are inexpensive and I can buy refills for them. Actually, I prefer 8.5x11  albums. They are easier to handle and store although you cannot put as much on the smaller pages.

I've decided to use a very simple design for the pages in this book - not many added elements.  So maybe I can get through with it fairly quickly.  I really enjoy doing this but it does take a lot of time.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Book Review - Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

 For most of my life, if I started reading a book, I would finish it even if I didn't particularly like it. As I've gotten older, I don't do that any more.

Here is one that I have just finished - a neat little book, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, written by Dai Sijie. It was originally published in 2000 in France with the English translation published in 2001. According to the book's jacket, the book was soon to be made into a film. Don't know if this movie has ever been made or not. 

It takes place in China in the early 1970's after Mao ordered all of the universities there closed and all of the boys and girls who had graduated from high school to be sent to the countryside where they would work and live with poor peasants to be "reeducated".  It is the story of 2 boys who were sent up into the mountains during this time essentially to live and work in poverty.  However, somehow they did seem to have a lot of free time.

They met the daughter of the village tailor (the Little Chinese Seamstress) and one of them fell in love with her.  The boys were able to steal some contraband western novels among which were books by Balzac.  The boy who was in love with the seamstress would read these books to her in their courtship - thus the name of the book.

This was a sweet book with a somewhat surprising end.  But the thing that impressed me most was the very clear, descriptive, beautiful writing of this author. It is a fairly short story and very entertaining.

Here is the first chapter in this book.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Another Template

I found this free header at Smashing Magazine. It is by CV Designs. Isn't it lovely?

I am trying another template from the new template designs in Blogger.  I really prefer a simple, essentially white and black, uncluttered look.  I know I have got to quit changing templates all the time. I'll never have a "brand" (I'm being funny). I'm beginning to think I just enjoy experimenting and learning how to do all this stuff rather than the actual blogging.

Also, I have added a couple of "pages" and intend to explore using pages further.
I spent several hours this past week trying to figure out Feedburner - finally got it configured in with the last template I was using.  I still don't quite understand it.  Since the Feed Chicklets still show, I am assuming it is working with this template.  However, SiteMeter is gone and I've got to figure that out again. Mrs. Mecomber, if you are out there, I could use a blog post about Feedburner! I like the way you explain things!

In my next life, I am going to Web Design school!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Beautiful Day in Sunny Florida

We have had a beautiful day. Blue skies, great weather, not too cool, not too hot. My husband, grandson, and I went to a craft fair and farmer's market.
A good photographer would have cleaned the food wrappers, etc. off the table:)  I"ll blame this on my husband as he is the one who took this picture.

Here is a photo taken today of the Lantana Bed that I was working on a couple of weeks back. They are beginning to grow and pretty soon will be covered with flowers.  Lantanas are a Florida native plant, don't require much water, and are very hardy. They come in several colors. Mine are red and yellow.  We have planted asparagus fern in the bare spot between the Lantanas and the patio.

The Bottle Brush trees here are in bloom. This photo does not really do this tree justice.  The "bottle brushes" are a vivid red.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Here are 2 interesting websites that I found with Stumble Upon. Well, one of them is kind of weird. This is the weird one.  Whoever put this website up needs to find something to do.

This one  about  how to repurpose a wool sweater into a bag is more practical.  The bag is lovely, and if I ever find a 100% wool sweater at the Goodwill Store here in Florida, I'm going to make one.

Have a Great Day!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tasty Tuesday - Menus - Salmon Loaf Recipe

Most homemaking and Mom blogs have Menu Mondays. I'm always a day late and a dollar short so I am having Tasty Tuesdays - at least I'm hoping the meals will be tasty. (:-) Usually I can get by with planning only 3 or 4 menus for the week as there are just my husband and myself here.  This week my daughter and granddaughter are here so things are a little different.
Here is the plan..........

Tonight:  Salmon Loaf with Bechamel Sauce/Rice/Orange-Glazed Carrots/Tossed Salad

Wednesday:  We're eating out.

Thursday:  Beef and Potato Casserole/Sauteed Cabbage
Friday:  Chicken and Spaghetti Casserole/Broccoli

Saturday:  Sauer Kraut/Pork Chops/Baked Sweet Potatoes

Sunday:   Baked Beans for Square Dance Club picnic

Monday:  I'm winging it!

Salmon Loaf with Bechamel Sauce
1 can (12 oz) salmon ; drained with bones crushed and skin removed
6 oz. buttermilk (see below for substitution)
1/2 cup cracker crumbs  (12 saltine cracker squares)
2 eggs
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons parsley flakes

Bechamel Sauce
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp. flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
2 teaspoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons margarine or butter

I usually start by draining the salmon, putting it in the bowl, removing the black skin, and crushing the bones with my fingers. They are a good source of calcium. Then I add the other ingredients, mix them well and pour it all into a greased loaf pan or corningware.  Bake 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees.
B├ęchamel Sauce:  Combine milk, flour, salt, pepper, mustard, and brown sugar. Beat with wire whip until smooth.  Add 3 Tbsp. margarine. (Actually, I only add 1 1/2 Tbsp.) Cook, stirring, until thickened. Serve over the salmon loaf.

This is an old recipe that I have made for years.  It's good and inexpensive. If you do not keep buttermilk on hand, here is a good substitution .

Monday, April 5, 2010

My Sewing Closet

In the early years of my marriage, I had a sewing machine set in a simple cabinet. Over the years I sewed with that machine in our family room, in the dining room, or in our bedroom in the various houses where we lived.  There was always a sewing mess in those rooms.

After my last child left home, we decided to use one of our bedrooms as a computer and sewing room.  My husband has a long desk and several file cabinets on one side of the room, and I have a smaller desk on the other side.  Not much room was left for sewing.

My husband bought a new, computerized, portable sewing machine for me, and after seeing in a magazine an idea for converting a closet into a sewing space, I decided to have a shelf with a fold out extension built in the closet in that room.  My handy husband put up other shelves and lights inside the closet. It works pretty good - not as much room as I would love to have but at least I can fold up the extension and close off the mess.

Now.........if I could just figure out what to do with all the mess important stuff my husband leaves needs to keep around his computer!

Closet closed

Closet with the extension folded up

Extension down with machine set up for sewing

Fabric shelves at the top of closet

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thrifting and Firefox

I had always used Internet Explorer for my browser.  Recently, mostly from curiosity, I switched to Firefox after reading a little about it on the internet.  I had been having trouble with my internet connection flipping in and out.  My husband and I could not figure out the cause - especially since he was not having any problems with his computer.  Surprisingly, after I switched to Firefox I had no more problems...........Don't know if that information will be useful to anyone.  Probably everyone else already knows it!

This post needs some photos so here are the last of my recent thrifting at estate sales
A pretty little basket for $1.00
A bowl with a rose pattern for 50 cents. 

And a turkey basket for 50 cents.

Did I need them?  No, but they were cute and a bargain!