Lampshade Makeover and Shakespeare January 27, 2012

It's winter, the option of doing outside activities is limited for me, so I'm turning inward as a lot of us do.  Decluttering, rearranging, and making things over.  It feels like the winter of my discontent, well, maybe not.  Sorry Shakespeare:

   "Now is the winter of our discontent
    Made glorious summer by this sun of York:
    And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
    In the deep bosom of the ocean buried."
                       From "Richard III"

This small lamp was too bright at bedside, so I darkened it a bit with the paper napkin and a lower watt bulb.
I decoupaged the napkin on to the outside of the lampshade.  The napkin was 3 layers thick, and I used the outermost layer with the most color.  So easy to change the look of a lamp with a napkin of your choice.   But, it's missing a little something... any ideas to add trim?

I wanted to add that it's time for you to go to the aceo challenge blog have a look at the January entries and vote.  My aceo is one of the aceos you'll see there.  Thanks for checking it out.

Cold Hands Warm Heart Cariad Love January 27, 2012

Take one word, good all year round, which gets a lot of attention in the deep of winter and that's my word for the Inspiration Avenue Challenge this week which was to use a word or words, letters of the alphabet, or a single letter and make something creative with it.  I chose the Welsh word for love, "Cariad."

The piece is layered, colored, made to look like a postage stamp with postmark, textured to show torn paper, and then graphics and text added.  This was all done over at Picnik which in case you use it and don't know yet, is shutting down on April 19.

There are two saints with holidays in the middle of winter and connected to love, St. Valentine- you all know about and there is also, St. Dwynwen a Welsh saint remembered on January 25.   Since it's not winter everywhere and love makes you feel younger doesn't it, I've given the piece a warmer spring/summer look.  I've had all three seasons here this week and we're back to icy, snowy weather, so I'm concentrating on warmer things.  Click over to Inspiration Avenue to see what the other pieces are for the theme, enter your own at the link before noon est on Sunday, too.

I wanted to add that it's time for you to go to the aceo challenge blog have a look at the January entries and vote.  My aceo is one of the aceos you'll see there.  Thanks for checking it out.

Cozy Egg, Cheese, and Leftover Potatoes Pileup January 25, 2012

Sometimes if I'm too tired to cook, and lucky enough to have a few ingredients in the fridge I just make a quick, but warm and cozy meal.  You probably have times when you don't want to cook or you're too tired. Instead of getting fast food, (which I am guilty of getting when I really should eat better and I don't mean the healthy fast food: salads, chicken breast, etc.  I mean, I need to up my blood sugar and right now kind of fast food! ) I will look for the basics:  egg, cheese, veg, and put something together quickly.  Because of that simplicity, I wasn't even going to make this into a post, but here it is...    

Starting at the bottom:  Leftover mashed potatoes made into a Potato Cake, with a slice of Provolone Cheese, topped with a Fried Egg and a little Parsley to pretty up for the photo.  My faithful and ever present tall Tea mug with scenes of London goes with the meal.  I can tolerate a little cheese and often go meatless, so this is filling, hot, and hearty and also quick to make.   I want this.  Now.

Ups and Downs of Winter and Blog Solutions January 23, 2012

The ups and downs of the thermometer over the past two weeks means that the coat closet never gets thinned out since everything from rain jackets, lightweight coats, wool coats, and all of the gloves, hats, and scarves were used in no particular order.

Frost was my view from the desk this morning, these were long crystals growing in different directions and stuck to the windowscreen.  As soon as the sun peeked through the trees, these became a wet spray on the tiny holes.  I know, because I was changing the camera settings and looked down and then back to find the crystals seeping ice tears on the screen.

Earlier in the week the car doors were frozen shut from the tiny grainy snow that had fallen for two days and nights in bitter cold temps.  A few days of darkness, where you need to have all the indoor lights on even in the early afternoon can be disconcerting to say the least.  Finally, after the ground had been snow covered for a few days, we had a reprieve of warmer temps and the grass was seen again, along with strong winds and rain.  Then we got more wind and a few more inches of snow.  So, the winter so far hasn't been all snowdrifts, but the 0 degree temps with bitter windschills are not my cup of tea.

I just wanted to add that as I read your blogs and leave comments, I'm finding that as soon as I press, "Publish" the comment vaporizes, it doesn't appear.  I haven't been able to join your linkies or follow new blogs, either.  This is not true 100% of the time, so it's unpredictable and I don't know what is causing it or how to fix it.  Some blogs I used to comment at fairly regularly; but for the past few weeks now that's not happening.  I hope you understand.  

I think some of you are also having similar problems.
Switching to Firefox or Chrome is supposed to fix these problems, but I'm using Chrome, so that's not my solution.  If you have a solution, please share.  Thanks! 

ETA:  Found the fix- enable 3rd party in your Settings in the Browser.


Butterfly Dreaming of Spring, it's Only 61 Days Away

Pretty butterfly art is the theme at Inspiration Avenue this week.  Hettienne lives where it's gorgeous and warm right now, so for pity's sake us suffering with winter get to think about butterflies to take our minds off our snow covered walkways and windshields.  Thanks, Hettienne for picking this theme.

I didn't have a chance to make new art, but I'm showing you three aceos and two brooches I already made.  One of those brooches was made while the windchill was 40 below and the snow was coming down horizontally and furiously, so I know about butterfly dreams being a great diversion.

The middle aceo with the USA stamp has the overhead light washing out the color, sorry about that.  These are three collages and one is also mixed media.  Only 61 days until Spring...

If you want to see the art or add your butterfly creation, it doesn't have to be art it could be jewelery, clothing, anything with a butterfly go to the link and add your creation before noon EST on Sunday, January 22.  Check back and see what the new theme is on the following Monday afternoon.  This repeats like that each Sunday and Monday.

Thanks, Pat Liebster Blog and Five More

Growing Old With Grace honored me with the:
 award.  It's given to bloggers with fewer than 200 followers, as a means to   make new connections and span out throughout blogland.  Thank you very much, Pat!  

I found that Liebster can mean, "dearest" or "beloved" or "favorite."  With that in mind I went searching for some brand new to me blogs to give the blog award to, since so many blogs are not widely known, but they are gems just the same.  They're going to be favorites, given time and exposure.

     Accept and Pass on the Award:

  1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
  2. Reveal your Top Five in a post on your blog.
  3. Also let the Five bloggers know they've won by leaving a comment on their blogs. 
  4. Post the image of the award on your own blog.
  5. Have fun, enjoy the exposure by spreading the blog love.

Please enjoy stopping at these blogs, plus visiting Pat. In Random Order:

Fresh Art ACEO Challenge Resolution of 2012

It's the first aceo challenge of 2012, please stop at the blog to have a look and link up your aceo made to the theme, "What is Your New Year's Resolution?"  Mine is a resolution, a goal and a tough challenge, probably the same as many of us, though not all in the same vein.  

Here, my aceo is all wrapped up in letting go of the past, a dark and dreary cold and rocky place; ridding myself of certain anxieties, such as flying and losing weight, to step onto the plane with confidence; and finally, moving on to a brighter and more fulfilling place where there are fields of green and flowers nearly all year long.  Whew, that's a lot to accomplish this year.

You can see the other aceos and link up yours before midnight on January 25.  Go back to the blog and vote for the aceo you like between January 26-31.  The Aceo Challenge

Opinions Wanted, Did I Overdo This Art Tag?

As I was going down for the count, or the vertigo, I was making this art tag, and it was my first attempt at making one.  You see, I made this as a double sided art tag.  By not wanting to do things half way, maybe I was just over thinking (?).

When you make your own art tags, or when you have seen them, is a two sided art tag unusual, unexpected, preferred, or something else?

Maybe I'll just call it a bookmark.

Thrifty Kitchen Valance from Fabric Dinner Napkins

Useful Skills 101

  • Remembering, "Lefty Loosie and Rightie Tightie": Check
  • Driving under hazardous conditions: Check   
  • Safely using an electric carving knife: Check  
  • Making friends with a Sewing Machine: Aackkk!!!  

To be fair, most of the problem is that I can't see the eye of the needle and which way the bobbin thread is leading.  Hope you enjoy this improvised kitchen valance.  It would work in a bathroom and elsewhere, too.

Linking toI Gotta CreateThe Shabby Creek Cottage Two Succulent Sisters

How to Speed Up a Slow Loading Blog Page

With all the gadgets and beautiful backgrounds on blogs, some of the slow loading pages have something in common.  The speed of a loading page may not have anything to do with your internet connection, bandwidth, etc.

Many times the blog  page loads slowly
because the blog background,
the HTML which you have set as a Gadget
is located at the top of your blog's Layout.
Move the Gadget with the code to the bottom
of your Layout.  See if that improves the load
speed of your blog.

Another possible reason for the slow loading blog is that there is another background page still in your Template and you didn't remove it.  Sometimes when I've waited for blog pages to load, I can see the multiple layers of backgrounds loading one on top of another, yet they are not visible once the blog page has finally finished loading.   Just recently I had this happen on this blog because I forgot to remove the Background.

If your blog has a selected background whereby you copied the code and put it in your Layout as an HTML Gadget, you may want to go to Template and see what Background is shown.  If it's not the one you installed, just check the Remove this Background box.  Be certain that you see exactly what you selected for your blog background and if everything looks okay, click Apply to Blog and then click Return to Blogger.

Humongous images and banners sometimes drag the blog's loading time, too. If there are broken links, these affect the page speed as well as lots of widgets, tools, and flashing items.

With limited time, some readers don't wait for slow pages,  and they'll never know how terrific your blog is if they don't stick around for it to finish loading.

If these things apply to your blog, you fix them and it still loads slowly, maybe it's just a bug, a ghostie, one of those unexplainable facets of internet nature.  There's a lot of that going around...

Chocolate Jumble, Candy Cane Bark, and More Easy Chocolate Treats to Make

Do you start a project when there's something on your mind and you need a distraction?  Well, the early morning found me making chocolates, that's a quiet time before the traffic starts, even before the birds get up and Lucy is watching me from the archway, waiting for the slightest gesture from me to give her a hug or something to eat.

On this morning I decided to tackle the candy making as I was getting short of time left to do so.  This is what I was making at 4am.

Gather your ingredients, this is incredibly easy to make.

I like to melt the chocolate in a small nonstick saucepan, slowly between the Low and #2 setting.  You could microwave it.  Check on it, stirring to blend and see how fast and thin the chocolate will drip.
Crushed candy canes added to some of the chocolate, stir and then pour the mixture on a waxed paper lined tray.  Spread with the back of the wooden spoon and then put the tray in the fridge to cool, or on the counter until it's firm.  Give it several hours, depending on the temp in the room, humidity, etc.    
Put as much or as little candy cane as you like.  I made the cane pieces very small, didn't want any broken teeth for anyone.  Once this tray of chocolate was broken, you could see the pieces of candy cane and it looked pretty good.
With some of the plain melted chocolate, I spooned it over the pretzel rods, then I sprinkled crushed candy cane over them and put the rods on the waxed paper lined tray to set, putting it in the fridge to firm them up.

A second dipping would be nice after the first was set and cold, using a different chocolate and then the topping.  Today I was short on time and used one     thick chocolate layer and topping after it.

This is the Chocolate Jumble.  It's broken pretzels and Reese's Peanut Butter Chips  with melted chocolate poured over them in a bowl and mixed thoroughly.  Then the combo is spread on a waxed paper lined tray where I sprinkled ground walnuts and cinnamon sugar on top.

After this was thoroughly set and cooled I lifted it off the paper, turned it smooth side up and whacked it into pieces with a kitchen mallet.  A clean hammer or other strong tool would also work.  I break it up on the smooth side to keep the toppings side looking nice.

One regular size bag of Hershey's Special Dark chips made the tray of Candy Cane Bark and 30 Pretzel Dipping Sticks.  The tray size for the bark was the toaster oven tray.

A second bag of the Hershey's Special Dark chips and about 3/4 bag of Reese's Peanut Butter chips made the Chocolate Jumble.  I used about half a bag of pretzels for the Jumble. It's really good!  The tray size was the long cookie sheet, not the regular size.

With the teeny bits that were left after smashing, I gathered them to save for another use such as ice cream topping, put over frosting, put into cookie dough, etc.

Chocolate and pretzels- good.  Chocolate, peanut butter and pretzels- really good.  If you make it, I'd like to hear how you like it.

Venerable and Varied the Veracity of Versatility

Only 10,697 results found for versatile on ebay.  Here are just a few:

Item image
I agree, he was a music legend.

Item image
Pistol Rack
Could also be useful  as a
Taco Holder.

Condition: Used: An item that has been used previously.
CONDITION: EXCELLENT does not appear to have been used.  
Item image
Now, that's truly versatile both used and unused
at the same time!

Item image
The versatile purple white top turnip.
Finally, a versatile vegetable!

Item image
Entertainment category had a lot of versatile items!
Okay, why are there so many sad yet versatile items?
Item image
Versatile Record Company.
The name of the song is just too sad to be versatile.

Item image
Versatile Geod Epstilbite
This looks like a donut fail.
Item image
Seller with a double versatile vase .
Item image
The seller said there were 11 uses for this scarf but she only gave 4!
Can you come up with at least 12 uses?

Item image
The seller said these wooden napkin rings are Incredibly Versatile!


This post was in honor of winning The Versatile Blogger Award from Lucy's Reality,  Thank You, Lucy!
Lucy offers posts with a humorous and thought provoking point of view.  She's a former teacher, a mom, devoted daughter, and wife.

I know the rule is to pass the award on to 15 other bloggers and share some things about myself, but this time I am saying, You Bloggers,  you who know just how versatile you are, "Come take this award" and wear it with pride.  If you do, it'd be nice to know you, share your post with me, and my link to your post. (Now that wasn't confusing. It's the turnips, they look a little scary.)

Thank you, Lucy it's been a pleasure to get to know  you and share this.

Edit:  Since I first published this post, many of the original items have dropped off ebay, that's the reason for the images not appearing in the post.

One Day at a Time Celebrating January 1st, 2012

We (You, Me, Us) made it through to the New Year and Happy First of January, 2012 to You!

ACEO, mixed media by me, New End Studio.
The wind is furious outside, it's rattling the windows and the birds are taking cover.  There's been rain and not snow for the past two days, thank goodness, could you imagine the height of the snow drifts if that was snow and not rain- no thanks!

Lots of nibbles to snack on last night.  Made sausage rolls in puff pastry for the first time.  No photos to share, sorry; and no leftovers, no hangover either.  Moderation and I feel better for pacing- midnight comes late, and then too wound up to sleep.     Oh well.

Today for dinner I think I'll make breakfast, there's no hard and fast rule for when to eat what.  Calm and easy
day today.  January will start the ball rolling for new
adventures and sharing.
 Have a Happy and Healthy One!