Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Halloween Festivities

So there's this blog that I follow called Cake Wrecks. And on this blog, they feature things like this cookie creation. We had a Halloween Party at work (more on that later) and someone brought in this cookie for the party. As soon as I saw the inscription, I immediately thought of Cake Wrecks. It's not too wrecky, but the Wreckorator does need a spelling lesson.

On the home front, the ApotheSCARY is back in action, this time in our front hall. Many of the bottles still haven't gotten labels. Guess people will just need to use their imagination to decide what's in them.

Also at home I had my glass pumpkins and some candles set out on the bookcases in the "library/office" area. It's really just this odd space between the front entry and the rest of the house where we've got a few bookcases and Chris has his computer desk. Anyway, I thought it was a good space for this display, although it is a little crowded.

The final area to decorate was the windowsill in the dining room. I had thought about putting things out on the sideboard like I normally do, but thought this was a more visible spot. It has my ghosts, a few more candles, and some items that I got from a swap last year. I had my witch mobile hanging from the ceiling fan in the dining room.

Since I had the ApotheSCARY set up at home, I wasn't sure what to bring to decorate at work. And did I even want to decorate at work? It was kind of expected of me since I still had the brick wall set up from last year's display, but what should I bring in? In the end, I brought in a large skeleton and some fake gravestones and had those set up. Not too exciting, but it also didn't take a lot of effort or creative thought (which I was lacking).

So more about work.... We had a Halloween party again this year, which I planned. We decided not to have a cube decorating contest again since so few people had participated last year. This actually was good for me since I was out of ideas.

Instead, we just had a costume contest. However, we did add a new category this year. For individual costumes we had winners for Best, Scariest, Funniest, and Most Original. And we added the new category of Best Group Costume. I was wondering how many groups would get into this and was happy to see that 3 groups participated (ranging from 3, and 4 participants, to a 12 person group).

The party itself was pretty easy to plan. Put together some invitations and posters, send out calendar invites, contact the cafe for food... Then on Friday run to Costco for beer and a few other food items, set up, and Party!

I actually ended up with two costumes. I wanted to wear my Ren Faire dress for the party and I wanted to wear a costume all day. However, I knew it wasn't practical to wear it all day. But then I decided to wear a costume for skating on Saturday, so got a cat costume. Perfect to wear for work! So I started off in a cat costume, and then changed just before the party. I had thought about just wearing the ears and tail with normal clothes, but then decided to go with the leotard, tights, and dance skirt. And jacket. A "must" since the leotard was a little skimpy.

The winners for costumes were: Me for Best, Jeremy as Dracula for Scariest, Chris as a Spelling Bee for Funniest, and Linda as "Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Rain". I don't have a picture of her costume, but it was a blue shirt with cotton ball clouds and she walked around with a squirt bottle spraying "rain".

The Best Group Costume was the Legal department as The Wizard of Oz.

Another fun costume was "Smarty Pants". And I got a shot of everyone from Marketing who was in costume- Flavor Flav, me, a cop, an escaped convict, and a hotdog.

As to Halloween itself, as I mentioned, since it was Saturday and I had skating, I dressed in a cat costume. I then wore my costume for various errands. But then in the afternoon I was exhausted I lay down for a nap. I ended up sleeping for 4 hours and woke up at 8:30. Chris hadn't turned on the outside light, so we never did get any kids at our house. :( How disappointing that I slept through Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Once again, my photos are "published" online!

A couple of years ago a photo I took was put online at BBC.com. Once again, I've got a photo up at an online news site. This one isn't quite as cool though.

Boston.com was looking for user submissions on Halloween decorations, so I sent them a couple of photos of my ApotheScary shop. Here they are! (You can click on them to view larger.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Getting creative again

Wow, I scrapped! It's been way too long since I had a creative outlet. And then I got two layouts done in the past four days! I just need to keep this up. I was hoping to finish getting my craft room unpacked, but instead I just started to mess it up even more. Plus I think that most of what's left, especially what's on the table, is pretty much going to live there anyway.

It also helped that I joined the Tally Survivor challenges. And I did the challenge on the first day. That NEVER happens! Usually I make my LO on the last day of the challenge, or have to do a makeup challenge, so this is quite the accomplishment for me.

Now I need to edit some photos and place an order. I have about a year's worth of photos to scrap. Yikes, I've gotten behind!

Edited to say, that after posting this, about an hour later I finished another LO. I'm on a roll!

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's official...

... we're homeowners. On the 14th we closed on our house. Spent Saturday painting. A little more painting on Tuesday. And two days ago we moved in. Lots of boxes! Still a few miscellaneous things at the old apartment that need to get moved over.

HUGE thanks to Andrew, Gentry, Kristin, Jason, Pete and my dad for helping us move. Sorry we had to pick one of the hottest days of the year. Too bad that rain didn't cool things down and cut the humidity. Wish we could have done more for you than just feed you pizza.

Also HUGE thanks go out to Liz for her assistance with unpacking yesterday. I realized last night that I lack focus. Actually, I think I knew that, but I confirmed it to myself. Chris was putting together the cabinets that we got for the kitchen. I was unpacking a few boxes that I had borrowed from work and needed to return. Most of these boxes were in my craft room. So I go in there, open one, and realize it belongs in the office. So I bring it to the office. Then I notice an open box of books. So I take out the books and finish putting those away. Then I have to break down the boxes. Um. No. I needed to get those original boxes emptied.

This is why Liz was fabulous. With her help we got the dining room completely unpacked and put away. And she put out some candles to give it a nice decorated touch. She also tackled the kitchen. This room was completely overwhelming me because there weren't nearly enough cabinets. (What you see pictured is all of them, probably about half of what was in our old place.) But she found a place for almost everything. And I think that with the cabinet that we got, we now should have homes for everything.

Tonight's agenda is to go to the old place and try to get the remaining stuff. Tomorrow is trash day, so we'll put that out (there's a lot!), empty the fridge, load up the cars, and if the weather isn't too gross, maybe I'll dig up some plants that I want to take with me. And at some point later in the week, we'll get around to cleaning and touching up the walls. Unpacking at the new house? Probably not so much of that tonight.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sunday was Father's Day and in honour of the occassion I made these very cute desserts. I got the idea, directions, and templates from Bakerella. Pretty easy to make, but a bit time consuming due to all of the steps. But worth it, I think. Next up, cake pops?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happy belated 12th of June!

Apparently our town decided that they didn't want to deal with fireworks on the 4th of July, so instead they had them last Friday. Huh? And Boy Chris was able to have an "I told you so" moment. The fireworks were scheduled for 9, with music starting at 8. So I suggested that we bring some food and get there around 7:30 or so. No one was there. Ok, the DJ was there, but that was it.

Silly me, I assumed it was live music and that people would get there early, set a blanket out on the ground, and have a picnic. Nope. Seating was on the bleachers of the football field. Around 8:30 it started filling up. I'd say that we now know better for next time, but seeing as how we're moving, there won't be a next time.

I did have a chance to play with my camera and try some new things with taking pictures of fireworks. Would have been better with a tripod, but I didn't want to deal with that.


It's 10 days before the Derby and I'm actually done with my car? This is most unusual. I'm usually finishing it up the day before or the day of. But here it is.

I also am making another car. It's the same design that I've done before- one that's pretty quick. I usually make a simple one and then don't feel so bad if I have to give up on my fancier car. So my simple car may need another coat of paint, but otherwise is more or less done.

I guess this means I can spend more time doing other things like decorating cookies and baking Friendship Bread.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Britain's Top 10 castles

The Travel Channel had a program a while back of Britain's Top 10 Castles.

10. Windsor Castle
9. Hampton Court Palace
8. Edinburgh Castle
7. St. Michael's Mount
6. Stirling Castle
5. Caernarfon Castle
4. Leeds Castle
3. Tintagel Castle
2. Warwick Castle
1. Tower of London

I think I've been to all of them except for Stirling Castle. Although Caernarfon I saw when I was 8 and really have no memory of it. After this trip Chris will have all of them except for Stirling, Caernarfon, and possibly Leeds.

I guess next we'll have to work on Europe's Top 10 Castles.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tales of a Pinewood Derby car

Last year my friend Jeremy made a US flag for his Derby car since it was held on the 5th of July. So we were talking about what special holidays might be around this year's Derby. I looked it up and here are a few of the special holidays.

Captain Kangaroo's birthday, National Columnists Day, anniversary of the melody to Happy Birthday being written, National Orange Blossom Day, National Picnic Day....

I entertained the idea of decorating a block of wood to look like a cake and putting the words to Happy Birthday on it. I thought about doing something with a picnic theme, but then Chris said that he wanted to make a picnic basket. He's since dropped that idea.

I decided to go with National Orange Blossom Day. I drew a branch onto my block and then cut it out- making sure to leave branches for the axles. However, the problem was then that my "car" weighted .7-.8 ounces. Ugh. I cut away a lot of weight. We went in search of fishing weights. We were going to go with tungsten since they are much more dense than lead, but instead we got a variety of lead weights.

We drilled into the front and back and added half an ounce on each end. Add some stain and putty, and I'm now up to 1.7 ounces. Still nowhere near what I want. For leaves I had thought about carving them, but I tried that and although it was working, I wasn't thrilled with the way they were turning out. And it still wasn't going to be heavy enough. Then I thought about polymer clay.

But did clay flowers and leaves count as "simple add-ons"? Since I was unsure, I asked my back-up committee of judge, and he told me that it would be ok. So if anyone has a problem with it, it's Boy Chris' fault! I was going to add some bits of lead into my clay before baking, but Chris told me I couldn't do that. Something about fumes. Whatever!

So instead I took some lead fishing weights and pounded them with a hammer until they sort of resembled leaves. Hopefully I can get them to stay on the car!

Then there was the clay. Yesterday I made a bunch of leaves and flowers. I had one flower that I really liked. The directions said 130 degrees for 15 minutes per quarter inch, and don't overbake. Mine were about 1/8 inch so I did 5 minutes- checked, nope. 5 more minutes. Pulled them out. Left them for a bit and tried one and it broke. Did they need more time? I put them back in a bit longer. When I took them out, they still broke. What was going on? If you overbake do they become too brittle? That's when I re-read the directions. They were supposed to go in at 130 degrees Celsius (275 Farenheit). Wait, who puts the Celsius temp first? Maybe it's European? I checked- Made in the USA!

Tonight I tried again with much more success. The pictures that you see here were from tonight's batch. Once my lead leaves get painted I should be able to start assembling it. And if I'm lucky, when it goes down the track, it won't break or fall apart.

Finally, I leave you with a mystery. I don't think it's Derby related. Ok, there's a derby website on this post-it, but what I want to know, is what the heck I was sketching. I asked Chris what it was and he doesn't know either. Any ideas??

Trying not to overplan....

  • Flights booked
  • T in the Park tickets purchased
  • Reserved tent, sleeping bags, etc for T in the Park
  • Hotel in Edinburgh booked
  • Hotel in Horton-in-Ribblesdale booked
  • Hotel in Bingley booked
  • Hotel in Maidstone booked
  • Hotel in London booked
  • English Heritage 2 week membership purchased
  • Maps for 3 Peaks of Yorkshire hike purchased
  • Guide books and road atlas purchased

To do
  • Arrange for cat sitters
  • Book rental car
  • Book Globe Theatre tickets (decide which show we want to see- Troilus & Cressida, Romeo & Juliet, or As You Like It)
  • Decide what are must-see's, maybe-see's, and what can be crossed off the list
  • Get adapter so that will be able to use the computer
  • Countless other things that my brain can't handle right now!

So what's on the list of things for us to see? Yes, I realize this is quite ambitious for a 16 day vacation.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Flowers and houses

So what's happened in the world of Chris since I last posted? And aren't you impressed that I've been updating more frequently? Three posts last week and another one now? That's 4 posts in 10 days! But who am I kidding, I'm sure this won't last.

When I thought we were going to get the other house, I went to the library and started looking through gardening magazines. One of them had an article on peonies. It suggested that instead of leaving them out on the bush where the stems are likely to break since the blooms are so heavy, as soon as they start to bloom, you should cut them and bring them inside so that you can fully enjoy them. So I did. And they're pink and wonderful!

And speaking of the peonies, I've been going back in forth in my mind (and a bit with Chris) about what I should do with the peonies and various other perennials in my garden when we move. I've spent a fair amount of money on them, and they've taken a few years to become established and actually look good. So do I leave them in a garden that may quickly become neglected, overgrown and unappreciated, or do I dig them up and move them to the new house? If I do decide to move them, that means that I'll need to know where they're going, and will need to prep the area in advance. This could be easier said than done. I think the ones I care the most about are the peonies, my lavender, and my chives. I've had those chives since I lived on Myrtle Street. They're at least 8 years old and have moved 4 times.

So how's the house hunt going? We've looked at a ridiculous number of houses! we started on May 1st. I think we've looked at 18 houses- maybe more. And that's just the ones we've gone into. We've looked at so many more online. They all start to blur together! We put an offer on the one I mentioned last week. We were ready to put an offer on another and then learned that they were under agreement.

Wednesday night our realtor sent us a listing. Chris and I both liked what we saw. It had been on the market for two days. We asked to go see it ASAP. Last night we went to check it out. Our realtor commented that he had gotten there a bit early and was able to walk around and look at it, and then he went out to his truck and started to fill out the papers. We loved it. We were ready to make an offer. We agreed on a price and he gave them until the end of today to respond. He wanted to get it finalized before their scheduled open house this weekend. When we left we stopped by to visit my dad, and after talking about it a bit we decided it wasn't worth haggling over what is a relatively small amount of money, so we called our realtor back and said we were going to offer the asking price. They accepted. So I'm still a bit wary and am trying not to get too excited, but I think it's ours. Here are the pictures.

Friday, June 05, 2009

All good things must come to an end

Turns out I spoke too soon on the house. Even though we had a verbal agreement, someone else came in and offered them more. We weren't given the chance to match that offer.

So now we're on to looking at more houses. Saw one online last night that we thought looked fabulous. It had only been on the market a few days. Told our realtor about it. Someone else has already put in an offer. Grrr. However, we do have a few others we're going to try to see this weekend.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

What else is going on?

So I realize there is a huge problem in the fact that it takes me a month or longer to update this blog. Guess I should make more of an effort to keep up with it. So here's a rundown of some of the other things that have been going on.

For our anniversary we went to see the Spinal Tap: Unwigged & Unplugged concert. It was awesome! It was a mix of classic Spinal Tap songs, some of their "earlier" work (when they were The Originals, The Thamesmen, etc) as well as Folksmen songs from A Mighty Wind, and even a song from Waiting for Guffman. Here are a few of the pictures from the concert.

Throughout the show they showed various clips of things on the screen behind them. So for Stonhenge they showed a little Stonhenge being lowered and then troll dolls dancing around it.

However, I think the best moment for me was after the show. We went around to the stage door. We certainly didn't rush out there, but we were the first ones. Odd. The longer we waited, the more people showed up. And then we got the sense that they were trying to make a speedy exit because the tour bus was moved up more into a direct exit with the door. However, that didn't stop me from getting Christopher Guest to sign my copy of Guffman- my favorite of his movies.

And a little bit of an update on my mom, since I've mentioned concerns, but then never gave details or an update. Since the fall we've been concerned about her and the fact that she was living alone in a 2-story home. However, she resisted any suggestions that we made about her moving elsewhere. Then in March things took a turn for the worse. Presumable it was an exacerbation of her MS. But she was stubborn and still thought she would be ok on her own. Visiting Nurses and a home health aide started to come, but there were some other problems and she ended up going to the hospital. She spent 5 days there and then since she wasn't going to be ok on her own, she went to a rehabilitation hospital for a month. She's still not back to a self-sufficient functioning level, so now she's at a nursing home. Time will tell how long she stays there or where she goes next. Thanks to everyone for the kind words, notes, etc that you've shared with me during this time.

Skating continues to go well. In fact, I've even started taking a second day of lessons. However, these new lessons are a very different format, and I haven't decided yet if I really like them or not. I think my big problem is that it's not really challenging enough. I just keep working on basic things. Which can be good to perfect my technique, but it's also a bit boring.

I guess between looking at houses and everything else going on, my scraping has kind of slacked off for a while. Not sure if it was just that I was busy or if my mojo was gone. I did actually get into my scrap room and made some cards over the weekend while Chris was at poker. It felt good. I just need to get back in there and create more. I'm feeling really behind. I'm trying not to let it get to me, but it's starting to get to the point of being completely overwhelming. Especially when I think that I've barely started pictures from last summer's vacation, and in a little over a month we'll be off to the UK, where I'm sure I'll take 100's more photos. Must make an effort to do more.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Exciting news...

We are soon to be homeowners! We put in an offer on a house, they countered, and we are accepting their counter. So by the end of the summer, we'll be the proud owners of a little green colonial built around 1918. I didn't take pics of the front of the house since those were available online in the listing, but here are the other pics that I took of the house. This one here is if the backdoor and a peek at the yard.

In other news, the 6th annual Pinewood Derby is coming up in less than a month. The day that it's being held (June 27th) happens to be National Orange Blossom Day, so my idea is to make an orange branch with leaves and flowers. I started over the weekend and the branch part looks pretty good. Carving flowers and leaves out of wood is going ok, but I think I may try making them out of clay instead. However, my big problem is that my car is very light. We'll have to get very creative with weight placement to get it up to 5 ounces. Ideas in the running are putting fishing weights into the clay as well as steel leaves. We'll see. I have 3 weeks to figure it out.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Goodbye winter!

(Recited to me many times by my mother in an over-emphasized Brooklyn accent.)

Spring is sprung, the grass is ris.
I wonders where the birdies is.
They say the birds is on the wing.
Ain't that absurd?
I always thought the wing was on the bird.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Next stop, Olympics training camp?

Remember this video? Well, now it's a little over a year later, and I'm much improved. Or am I? I can do the basics a lot better, but I still keep falling on that lunge. :) In my defense, this time I'm trying to do a three-turn at the same time as my lunge.

It really gets entertaining a little after the 3 minute mark, but you can actually see my "talent" if you watch the earlier parts.


(Damn copyright infringement! Youtube removed my audio track! For now it's still available on Facebook. Hopefully you don't need to be my "friend" to view this.)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Derby Time!

Finally got around to finish scrapping last year's Derby pictures, and now I need to think about what to make for this year's Derby. Any suggestions?

And to anyone who's interested in coming or sending in an entry, it's June 27th.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm a bit emotionally spent at the moment so am not up for giving details, but here's how creativity hit me tonight. For those of you know know what she's been going through, let's just say things have taken a turn for the worse the past few weeks. Now we just need the strength to get through this and come to an agreeable solution that will be beneficial to her health. And since the brunt of this will be on my shoulders, let's hope we dont' kill each other since I don't have Andrew's patience.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

More trip plans

So on Friday I commented about not knowing how we were going to deal with the whole camping aspect of going to Scotland. I started thinking of the various options- bring our own gear with us, ship stuff to the UK office, ask people from the UK office if they had anything we could borrow, buy new while we're there... None of these seemed like good options.

I posted on the James forum about my quandary. One person offered that if I wanted, I could have stuff shipped to her, and she would bring it along. Nice offer, but probably not something I would choose to do- sending things to a random stranger. And then someone else mentioned about Tangerine Fields.

This is the best option yet! You book through them and you get a tent, air mattress, and brand new sleeping bags. When you're done, you can take the sleeping bag with you, or if you leave it, they'll donate it to charity. Also, they do all the set up and take down of your tent. This certainly isn't an option I would choose had we actually been living in the UK, but it's perfect for us since we'll be flying. So I booked a tent package this morning.

Hmmm, what's next on the planning list?

I've started to look at flights, and they're all ridiculously expensive. We'll probably fly in and out of different cities- either fly into Edinburgh and out of London, or vice-versa. However, finding direct flights to Edinburgh, or anywhere near there, is proving to be impossible. And like I mentioned, everything is crazy expensive. Flying RT from the same city doesn't really help anything.

And realizing that we're going to have to pay for a rental car to be parked for 3 days while we're at T seems like a waste of money, but otherwise we're not going to have anywhere to stash the rest of our luggage. I'm somewhat concerned about leaving a laptop in the car for 3 days as well, but not too much we can do about that. I know I'll need it for back-up for my photos. I'm sure I'll be taking way more pictures in 2 weeks than my memory cards will hold.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Active Weekend

So skating has been a lot of fun lately. Although my waltz jump is still really sucky, my teacher has realized that I'm better than the other students on other things. So last weekend she taught me to do a spread eagle, and then yesterday she had me doing a lunge and a 3-turn simultaneously. Yeah, not so easy. And I was doing so many lunges that I'm in a bit of pain today.

But then since the weather has been so nice (upper 50s, low 60s) Chris and I went for a bike ride today. Only about 6 miles, but that was enough. I don't think we've been on our bikes since we went to Acadia back in August.

Too bad tomorrow it's supposed to snow. I guess we're back to winter for a bit longer. too bad the garden didn't get that memo. I've got bulbs popping up all over the place.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Mel, you can call me crazy now...

So a week and a half ago when I first mentioned it to Chris, he seemed to think I was crazy. I guess somewhere along the lines I wore him down. Would have been cheaper if he had said yes a week ago though. :)

James is playing at T in the Park in Scotland in July. If I had gotten tickets last week when they first went on sale, we might have just been able to get a ticket for Saturday. However, he didn't approve the purchase a week ago, so tickets sold out, without me getting any. And then yesterday I saw that a limited number was going to be re-released. (Ticketmaster had a limit on how many could be purchased, so these were some of those extras now going to the public, etc.) No mention though of how many tickets, what types, etc.

Tickets were going back on sale at 10 am. 10 am UK time, 5 am in Boston. Blech. I dutifully set my alarm for 4:30. For those of you who know me, I HATE mornings. But I was even semi-awake before my alarm went off. Hit snooze a couple of times and got up.

First I tried for tickets for Saturday only. Tried a few times and no luck. Tried for weekend with camping, and found tickets right away. So now we're going for the whole weekend and somehow we have to figure out how to get a tent and other camping gear over there. I guess worst case we skip the camping and find somewhere else in the area to stay, but who knows.

And we all complain about Ticketmaster fees, right? Well the service charge on the tickers and the parking ticket are expected. But for ticket delivery, when purchasing internationally, box office collection is the only option. Why does that cost me £2.25? It's not like they are sending it anywhere. Actually, I gladly would have paid to have the tickets sent to me, but that wasn't an option.

So yeah, we're going to Scotland. Now we need to plan the rest of our vacation. :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Productive Day

Yesterday I went to a crop. It was scheduled to go from 9-9. I knew that this was way too much time for me, so I figured I would get there around 10, and leave around 7 or 8. Well I got there at 10:45 and left around 5:30. I didn't bring nearly enough to work on, so by that point I was done with what I had brought. Oh well, I still had a productive day.

And then today, I spent some time this afternoon cleaning up my scrap room. Came across lots of things that I didn't remember that I had. Probably have a lot more that I can get rid of as well. Now I have a bunch of things to give away, some to save for a yard sale, and some others to possibly put on eBay.