Monday, December 19, 2016

Friday December 16, 2016
We decided to brave the frigid temperatures and head downtown to check out the lights after my sister’s recommendation last weekend. Apparently we were the only ones in the family not to have seen them yet. I was told there was a giant screen with a fireplace projected on it as well as store windows with scenes from “The Twelve Days of Christmas” displayed in them. We parked in the Columbus Commons garage and emerged from a glass enclosure completely encompassed in blue lights which was kind of funky. We immediately saw the TV screens at the far end of the field. It’s too bad they were only faux fireplaces as a bit of warmth would have been nice, but we soldiered on.
We found the store windows (across from the old Lazarus store) of which the displays were done by the Ohio Arts Council I think. I also liked the many buildings made out of all white Lego, one of which had a moving mechanism.

Across the river we saw an American flag projected onto a set of steps or bleachers, which was certainly large and kind of cool.

On the Scioto Mile where there’s normally a splash park in the summer, there was a TV screen where a figure skating Santa and several reindeer would appear from time to time.  It’s just too bad there wasn’t also an ice rink there. Add a few vendors selling hot cocoa or dry roasted peanuts, etc. and you would almost feel like you were in a proper big city, but Columbus is a bit low key. You have to travel to Cleveland or Cincinnati to really experience the holiday festivities.

After about an hour or so of wandering around we figured we pretty much saw all there was to see, and had experienced as much of the cold as we could take, so we headed home (where we enjoyed mugs of hot chocolate while wearing our furry slippers in front of our gas fireplace).

Sunday December 18, 2016
Tonight we attended the second annual Irish Christmas in America concert in the Abbey Theatre at the Dublin Recreation Center. I honestly don’t remember hearing about it last year, but the holidays are so busy I often don’t have time to make note of every event.

There were six musicians covering the keyboard, guitar, fiddle, bagpipe and Irish flute, and at least a couple vocalists. Occasionally a trio of Irish dancers came out and danced a jig or two. Aside from the music I especially enjoyed the banter between songs and the few jokes they told.
The only thing that could have made the concert more enjoyable is if it were held somewhere with a liquor license. Not to sound like an alcoholic or anything, but Irish music is best enjoyed with a glass of whisky or some other spirits. That’s why I enjoyed our one evening out in Dublin this summer when we went to a local bar to hear a couple musicians catering to the tourists. At any rate, if there’s a third year for this event, you can bet I will be first in line to get tickets.

Slainte (in good health)! Have a good week everyone!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Chinese Lantern Festival

Wednesday December 7, 2016
Tonight I suggested to Andrew that we attend the Chinese Lantern Festival being held at the state fairgrounds. I first read about it in one of the local papers and had just seen an article about it in Ohio magazine, so it reminded me that we still hadn’t gone yet. It opened just after Thanksgiving and is around until just after the new year. After checking the weather forecast and stepping outside, I determined that now was as good a time as any since temperatures are supposed to plummet over the next few days and we may even get some snow.

So, after dinner we donned our warmest clothing, grabbed our cameras, and drove out to the fairgrounds. Being the middle of the week we didn’t expect crowds, and we got that right as there were just a few dozen cars in what is almost always an overflowing car park when we attend events there (like the Home & Garden Show in 2015).
We entered the fairgrounds via a large Chinese arch that was also a lantern of sorts. None of the lanterns were what one might think of as traditional shapes, so it definitely wasn’t what I expected, but was still impressive. Some even moved like the rocking pandas and the windmills, so those were kind of neat. Since it wasn’t crowded I was grateful to not have to wait too long for people to move so I could snap my pictures. Since I wasn’t wearing gloves most of the time, I was certainly trying to be as quick as possible.
I only paused briefly to look over the merchandise for sale. I couldn’t resist buying a panda necklace (which I’m sure is aimed at the child market, but what can I say, I’m a big kid!). There was also lots of (Chinese) food and drink for sale on the midway (including spiked cider and hot chocolate).
At 8:00pm there was a brief show demonstrating the balancing, juggling and gymnastic talent of half a dozen young Chinese men who were probably freezing cold, but performed like troopers. Because most of the audience was wearing gloves, to make up for slightly muted clapping we vocalized our praise by whistling and shouting. Andrew and I also enjoyed splitting a nice toasty cup of hot chocolate and some chocolate dipped fortune cookies. I dipped mine into the hot chocolate forgetting about my fortune inside. It was a bit soggy, but I think it said, “You will eat many fortune cookies in the future.” As there were five in the box, I think that fortune will come true.
We walked around and saw the rest of the lanterns before heading home. I figure we got our money’s worth ($15@ + $5 parking) in the hour and a half we spent there and I can definitely recommend it. There are concessions for seniors and students, so it is possible to get a discounted rate.

诞节(that’s Chinese for Merry Christmas)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Lots of Projects...

Friday December 2, 2016
Tonight’s project was to wrap lots of yarn around a Magnolia branch to make myself a cute little Christmas tree (which may or may not take the place of a proper tree). My friend, Leslie, was kind enough to give me a bag of her leftover yarn. You can’t beat a completely free $$$ project like this!
Tamsin in action
I spent the better part of the evening sitting on the floor surrounded by colorful balls of yarn while our cat, Tamsin, occasionally joined in the fun running off with a ball or two when the mood struck her.
(the stray twig is now secured with electric tape)
In three hours I managed to complete the entire trunk and may just end up leaving it like that since I am a bit short on time and have plenty more projects to complete (like a yarn wreath!).

I will be sure to take a photo later after I’ve anchored it and hung a few baubles from it.

Saturday December 3, 2016
Today was my Quilting 101 class at Joann Fabrics. Although I have no plans to make a formal quilt as such, I thought it would be interesting to learn the mechanics of making a simple square. Fran was our instructor. It was her first time teaching a class there and I thought she did pretty well. It’s not her fault there’s a lot of math involved (most of our squares had to be cut to 5 7/8”). Although she had cut out her own pieces and may have planned to make a square as well, she made sure to check on each one of us (there were three of us) each step of the way, which I very much appreciated.
The BEFORE picture

Although two and a half hours were allocated for the class, I knew I wouldn’t get done in that short a period of time, and I don’t recall the other two finishing that quickly either (though one of them might have since she had had some quilting experience previously). I ended up staying over an extra hour and was forever grateful to Fran for not minding (I would have). My bobbin ran out of thread, so I had to take extra time to refill it and then try to remember how to properly put it back in place. I also had to rip out stitches on more than one occasion and had to recut one piece. All these little setbacks cost me maybe a half an hour, so that explains some of the delay.
the AFTER picture
All total about half my squares turned out symmetrical, so I am happy enough with my first effort. I am thinking of making a pillow out of it sometime later.

Would I be interested in doing another quilting class in the future? Possibly, but it’s so time consuming (and a bit frustrating when things don’t quite line up), that I’m not sure when I want to allocate the time to do that. Fran told us they also have a Square a Month class where I guess you make a quilt out of the collection when you’re all done. To be honest I haven’t had a chance to look at the list of future classes, so too early to make a decision.

Sunday December 4, 2016
Today was our annual pre-Christmas outing. Last year Andrew and I drove to Cincinnati where we spent the day walking around the city observing and enjoying the festive atmosphere, especially in the square where an ice rink was set up with various food & merchandise stalls surrounding it.
This year we opted to stay a little closer to home and went downtown to the Columbus Museum of Art to take in the special exhibit, “The Sun Placed in the Abyss.” Seeing so many photos/films/videos of the sun on such a dark day outside was most uplifting and made me yearn for summer days. I thought the public had some interesting thoughts about the exhibit as noted on the index cards displayed on the opinion board.

Afterwards we browsed in the galleries at the rotating collection seeing a few new pieces as well as some old favorites. While walking around we had the pleasure of musical accompaniment as the Columbus Choir performed a free concert in the atrium at 3pm. Nothing says Christmas quite like hearing a choir perform. The acoustics were fabulous, so it sounded a bit like being inside a cathedral (bringing back happy memories of being in England). After a quick browse around the gift shop (of which I am happy to report I didn’t buy anything), we headed out.

All in all a pretty busy, but pretty good weekend.

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving Weekend 2016

Sunday November 27, 2016
Happy post-Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you all enjoyed your weekend whether you spent it with family or friends or out shopping or just at home catching up on things (like we did).

Wednesday I got out of work early so I treated myself to a late afternoon matinee of “Bridget Jones & Baby.” As I was in the middle of reading the book I was concerned there might be several spoilers in the movie, but I need not have worried as the two took slightly different paths (and I quite honestly enjoyed the film version more). I won’t give away the sex of the baby, but there’s not much else I can say without spoiling either the book or the movie. Suffice it to say I got my money’s worth ($2.25) and it cheered me up a bit (after having yet another bad day at work).

Thanksgiving Day 2016
Since my family had already gathered the weekend before, Andrew and I spent the day at home alone. I decided it would be a good time to catch up on some projects. Some things took longer than I anticipated as I literally spent the entire afternoon scanning a roll of APS film. Yes, I know that dates me as a nostalgic Generation X. The reason for scanning the roll (on the ancient scanner Andrew bought me at least 15 years ago in the UK) was the company I paid to develop it and make prints apparently no longer prints panoramic photos full size. Instead they squeezed them onto 4x6 photo paper. For most of the photos it was okay, but there were at least 10 that had some of the detail cut out of them because of this. Hence, I have decided to have proper reprints of these done (not sure if I will print them myself or have them done elsewhere).

While I was waiting on the scanner I decided to finish a photo album/scrapbook I had started last summer in an art class at the Upper Arlington Senior Center. Not wishing to try and interpret the written instructions and drag out the project any longer, I decided to just do my own thing, which was to glue on a set of metal rings/spine and punch holes in the pages and attach them that way. I also selected some photos I can insert into each page (the pages are designed as envelopes to hold photos or whatever other ephemera one would like to store). I am quite pleased with it even if I did leave out all the flourishes (I have ribbon and other bits and pieces). I can still add more to it later, but at least it’s more or less functional as a photo album.

Since we had already had turkey, we decided to do something a little different and made a Japanese themed dinner of Gohei-Mochi (rice on a stick) and meatballs with a side of vegetables and sweet Saki to drink. Andrew decided to take up that challenge and did a pretty good job with it. The hardest part was getting the rice to brown under the grill. A kitchen blow torch would have sped things up a bit, but we don’t happen to have one. Either way, they tasted great and I discovered I quite like Saki (but couldn’t drink too much since I had to go shopping after dinner). For dessert we had Green Tea Kit Kats purchased on sale at World Market. I still couldn’t taste the green tea, but they certainly are green.

My first fail of the weekend (other than grossly underestimating the amount of time my various projects would take) was not studying my Goat Cheese Pumpkin Pie recipe more closely. If I had, I would have seen that it needs to sit and chill for 6-8 hours. Also, I didn’t have enough powdered sugar. Thus it was that I nipped out after dinner for my first ever Black Friday (on Thursday) shopping trip to Target. I was worried that the lines would be horrendous, but management had a plan and executed it expertly. Having all hands on deck and using taped off areas, shoppers were herded through and distributed to the first available cashier (much like lining up for rides at Disney) where purchases were rang up in record time. Hence, from the time I left my house to the time I got back home I think only about a half an hour or so had lapsed, so I was quite pleased. It was at least another hour and a bit before I had the pie made and the kitchen cleaned up, so I very much enjoyed putting my feet up afterwards.

Friday November 25, 2016
In the morning I sorted through my candle collection and decided to thin it out a bit. I then spent best part of the afternoon putting all sorts of ads on Craigslist and Nextdoor Ridgewood figuring people would be in a spending mood being Black Friday and all. Sadly, not a single response, so it ended up being a colossal waste of time.

I was cheered up when I saw that I had received an unexpected package which turned out to be a dvd mailed to me by Larry Auman, owner of the Auman Museum of Radio and TV. The dvd contained three 8mm/Super 8 movies I had donated to the museum earlier this year (since we don’t own an 8mm or Super 8 projector). The movies were a Tom & Jerry flick, The Rescuers and Captain America. Two out of three I had seen previously, but the Captain America film was new to me. I didn’t realize Iron Man was a vintage comic book super hero having only seen him in films over the past 10 years or so. I must remember to send Mr. Auman a nice thank you note. Although it would have been nice to see them in their original format, the film wobbles and sound irregularities were recorded, so it was the next best thing.

In the evening we headed to the Lennox AMC where we had reserved tickets to see “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” Anticipating that it might be quite busy we thought it would be prudent to reserve tickets in advance. We need not have worried as there were only about 7 or 8 of us in the theatre. Apparently everyone else was still out shopping or had already seen it last weekend when it first came out. I wanted to demand a refund of my $3 service fee, but knew that it would be more trouble than it was worth. At least the movie was good and didn’t feel like a two and a quarter hour film. Andrew and I are both curious where this franchise is going next since we read that there are seven films planned in this series.

Saturday and Sunday were spent running errands, decorating the church for Advent, and raking leaves, so nothing too exciting to report. It has certainly felt like a long weekend, and although I certainly didn’t get everything done, I at least accomplished something, and Andrew felt it was a pretty productive four days too (he made his Christmas cake and Christmas pudding).

Have a great week everyone!