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!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Project update, movie review, etc.

Thursday November 17, 2016
Tonight I finally finished my stained glass panel. As predicted, there certainly was some blood, sweat, and tears (thankfully more sweat than the other two things). This week I learned how to properly frame my project by cutting edging pieces made out of zinc using a hack saw and a mitre box. That in itself wasn't difficult, but getting the pieces open (using a Fid) was a whole other story. So far I think that was probably the most difficult or certainly most labor-intensive part of the project. I'm definitely not eager to use zinc trim again and might stick to using lead, which was my other option (and what one of my classmates used).
Unlike when you buy plastic photo frames, remove the sides, slide in your poster and easily replace them, with the zinc trim you don't just fit the the trim pieces around the stained glass panel. You jimmy it a bit so it's slightly tucked in (I think), but how you secure them is by using solder. Honestly, it looks really messy in my opinion, and you need to do it on both the front and back, so it's not like you can just hide one side. It's too bad you can't use hot glue, or really any other clear drying adhesive, but I assume the experts have done ample experiments and determined solder is the way to go. Incidentally, you also solder your chain onto the zinc trim. The nice thing about soldering everything is how firm it holds, but can still be easily changed by just heating up a soldering iron and touching up the bits you're not happy with.
My criticism of the class/instructor is that it simply isn't long enough. Six two week sessions doesn't cut it as only two out of the four of us actually completed our project during that time period. Speaking for myself that's only because I did some work at home in between, as my classmate might have done as well. The one that was furthest behind didn't do that and is still several hours from completion on his. I also wish my teacher would have offered more constructive criticism along the way like, "Hey, I don't mean to be critical, but you might want to recut some of your pieces because you're going to have problems later on with them sticking out." Instead, she was like the eternal optimist, "It might work, but if not, we can always fix it later." It's true that you can keep cutting, sanding, foiling and soldering right up to the end, but it's easier if you can get it right the first time.
My instructor was kind enough to step in and try to fix my panel where a couple pieces stuck out (making it impossible to get the zinc trim flush with the panel), but she had to get rather rough with it, and one piece of glass broke in half (probably due to a heat fissure caused by the soldering iron). I winced every time I saw or heard a crack and almost told her to just leave it alone and I'd figure out another way to frame it or just leave it off altogether.
Two and a half hours later my piece was finally finished - imperfections (cracked glass and gaps) and all. I felt like just shoving it in my trunk (with all my other amateur art work), but some part of me softened and decided maybe I should display it after all, so it's currently leaning against the window in our home library, though I will probably hang it elsewhere.
Suffice it to say the class was certainly a learning experience, but not sure I plan to do stained glass again anytime soon!
Friday November 18, 2016
Tonight we went to a local movie theatre and saw "Arrival" with Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. I can see why the critics liked it as it's definitely thought provoking and well thought out. Although you see the aliens (three words kept going through my head - elephant, spider, fingers), there's still quite a lot left to the imagination. However, the movie does jump around a bit between different moments in time, and this can get a little confusing (hence, the discussion in the car on the way home as I tried to make sense out of it all), but it's all part of the fun. Without giving away the ending, anyone hoping for another "War of the Worlds" or "Independence Day" type movie will be disappointed.  

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

pre-Christmas shopping, etc.

Thursday November 10, 2016
Tonight I learned how to apply flux and solder to my stained glass piece. I had no idea that you melted the solder and dropped it onto your piece. It’s definitely not as easy as my instructor made it look. At one point my spool of solder got stuck to my piece since I wasn’t melting it fast enough. I learned that when you’re soldering, heat is your friend since it makes the solder malleable. So you can always correct a mistake just by applying more heat. I wish our instructor had suggested doing the backside first (but then it would have been a hassle to flip over each piece and tape it down on the other side), but no biggie since both sides turned out more or less the same. Although the spool of solder was pretty warm at times when I went to roll out another length, I managed not to burn myself, so I was happy about that. The board underneath my project has a few scorch marks, but thankfully Andrew (who loaned it to me for my project) isn’t too concerned about it.
Next week our instructor is bringing in edging pieces to tidy up our pieces and make them more presentable. For now my piece is leaning against the window in our library where it will probably go once it’s completed.

Friday November 11, 2016
Today we had gas logs installed in our fireplace, which was quick and easy (though not cheap costing over $1000). I wish we had done this sooner as it makes our living room nice and toasty, not that we’ve really used it yet since we haven’t been home in the evenings over the weekend.

Tonight we attended Hilliard Davidson H.S.’s production of “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” I can’t remember whether or not I’ve seen the movie, though Andrew is pretty sure he has, and both of us have definitely seen “Ed Wood.”

I liked how they updated it with modern day references to pop culture (“The X-Files, etc.). The props and scenery was top notch, as was the acting. My favorite character was General Mills. I look forward to seeing Austin Templin in more productions in the future. My only criticism of the play was that some of the lines got drowned out by the music, so a better job could have been done at controlling the volume there. All in all a first rate production. Good job Hilliard Davidson Drama Club!

Saturday November 12, 2016
Tis the season for craft fairs and Christmas shopping. I am happy to report that I did manage to get a little Christmas shopping done at one of the two fairs I attended today, but as my sister is one of my blog followers (I think), I can’t report what I bought. I’ll suffice it to say I think she’ll like it and be a little surprised. The two craft fairs (one at Darby H.S. and the other at Britton Elementary School) were rather small, at least in comparison to the one at St. Brendan last weekend. The vendors from both craft fairs could have fit comfortably in Darby’s gymnasium with a little room leftover (though there would have been duplicate vendors – 31 Gifts and Origami Owl were at both).
hand quilted hoodie bought at Darby H.S. craft fair
I spent the rest of the afternoon shopping at various places, but mostly at the mall taking care of the rest of my Christmas shopping for my parents. I was a little surprised to see Santa there so soon, but I guess there’s less of a line if you go earlier rather than wait until after Thanksgiving.

In the evening we attended a Six Strings concert at the King Arts Complex in downtown Columbus. It’s somewhere we haven’t been before, but it was a fine venue for the concert. Previously we’ve been to the Lincoln Center and the Southern Theatre to see Suzanne Vega and Dar Williams.

Tonight it was Dar Williams who let local author/activist/poet Harvey Wasserman open for her. He discussed his latest cause, which is to close down every nuclear power plant in America hoping to replace nuclear power with solar and wind energy. Not sure everyone in the audience really paid much attention to him as the three ladies sitting to my right were all texting and reading stuff on their cell phones while he spoke. At least they put their phones away once Dar came out.

Like last time we saw her, she was fantastic and gave a really good concert. We were more than happy to buy her latest CD and have already listened to it a couple times. Now we’re both just hoping Suzanne Vega tours again sometime soon.

Well, back to raking more leaves. Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

November News...

Tuesday November 1, 2016
Tonight we Partied with the Pets at our local Capital Area Humane Society where we make monthly donations after having brought home our very own fur baby, Tamsin. The event was a fundraiser with the target to raise $35,000 which is apparently what it costs to feed the furry residents until they find forever homes. I’m not sure if they reached their goal, but the director, Rachel Finney, announced they had already raised $25,000. We brought a check for a small donation figuring every little bit helps.

Besides munching on hors d’oeuvres and lovely desserts (and knocking back the wine : ) we met all the feline residents. Unlike when we visited the cat cafĂ©, most of these cats were awake and quite lively. It was hard not to fall in love with all of them (and I don’t think that was just the wine talking), but Tamsin has made it very clear she doesn’t wish to have any siblings. So, with a heavy heart, we had to walk away. There were lots of people browsing, so maybe one or two of them came back later to adopt.

We also met the resident guinea pigs, one of which reminded me of my brother’s pet named Casey. Sadly, Casey only lived a couple of years. Later my sister adopted an all brown guinea pig and called it Brownie. Brownie lived for at least four years, so we often held her when we were home from college.

Saturday November 5, 2016
Today my friend Kathleen and I went to the St. Brendan’s annual Craft Fair. I suggest we go on a fact-finding mission to gather decorating ideas for Christmas, and, if the price was right, perhaps pick up a wreath or an ornament we could use.

We spent nearly two hours wandering around and only found one booth that sold wreaths, but we weren’t impressed. We did quite like the booth selling ‘Yeti’ (furry snowman) ornaments. I ended up going back to buy one later after we admired them our first time around.

Even though we didn’t leave empty-handed, we failed in our mission to gather ideas we could use for decorating the church for the Christmas season. However, we did receive inspiration for projects we could do in the classroom or around the house, so the morning wasn’t a total loss.

I think we both agreed that our favorite booth, at least in terms of feeling good about where your money was going, was the booth where a lady was selling jewelry (made out of rolled up paper) crafted by women in Swaziland. In fact, she had such a good memory that she remembered who made each and every piece, and asked if you wanted to see a photo of who made the bracelet or necklace you just purchased.
We also loved the little blue boxes our purchases came with at the Origami Owl booth (they’re a private jewelry making company that make their sales by home parties, like Tupperware). I bought a charm for my necklace and Kathleen bought a pair of earrings for her daughter.
Later in the evening, since it wasn’t windy for a change, we decided to finally burn the huge pile of twigs that has been accumulating for the past couple of months. I also took the opportunity to make s’mores, which was quite fun (we did that after the last twig had been thrown on the fire; turning our marshmallows over the hot embers).

Sunday November 6, 2016
Among other projects, I decided to work on my stained glass piece. Although I finished putting the foil around all my pieces on Thursday, I wasn’t happy with how they all fit together. Thus, I decided to recut a couple pieces, so now everything fits together rather snugly, even if it’s far from being straight all the way around.

While I was doing that, Andrew cut and laid another drain pipe next to our side garden to help drain water away from the house.  At one point Andrew blew into the hollow pvc pipe which made a noise similar to a digeridoo (perhaps a new hobby?). It was a task he very much dreaded doing (like me with the stained glass), but he managed to get it done in the space of an afternoon.

Hence, at the end of the weekend we both felt a sense of accomplishment.

Have a good week everyone!