Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Weird Al's Word Crimes spoof, an AP Tweet, and punctuation matters

Weird Al Yankovic is a novelty musician whose stellar career has spanned three decades. As one narrator of his work said, Weird Al is "fully committed to novelty music." Many of the artists he's spoofed have gone by the wayside but Weird Al is still singing away. He is a genius.

First, he has made a long, successful career in music. His songs not only are spoofs, but the lyrics capture the attitude of the spoofed song and also the musician who sings them. His videos are knife-edge sharp and dead on. Best of all, he's funny.

You might wonder, who IS Weird Al, has he done anything? Anything at all? The UK Telegraph sums up his career:
Over a 38-year career, he’s recorded more than 150 parody songs, released 14 studio albums, played over 1000 live shows (to audiences who "range from toddlers to geriatrics”) and shifted 13 million albums. He’s directed videos for other artists, including Hanson, Ben Folds and Black Crowes. He’s written and starred in his own cult film, had his own CBS sitcom, and appeared in all three Naked Gun films, 30 Rock and The Simpsons.  
The UK Telegraph again, reported yesterday that "Weird Al Yankovic is more popular than ever. Is it time to take him seriously?" I put it to you that his genius for lyrics, the deft touch of his satire (never mean, always funny, a tough thing to do) and his spot-on videos for thirty years would indicate,...um, YES.

My personal favorites of his spoof songs are Amish Paradise, a spoof of Coolio's Gangsta's Paradise, Addicted to Spuds, a spoof of Robert Palmer's Addicted to Love, and Eat It, a spoof of Michael Jackson's Beat It.

His more recent spoofs are funny too, especially the spoof of Pharrell Williams' Happy called "Tacky." And this one:

"Word Crimes", a spoof of Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines. (I don't recommend watching the original song in video.).

OK, this song had me literally sputtering and snorting milk. OK, not literally with the milk, but literally snorting and sputtering, and linguists will get it about the literally. Also in the song an homage to 'few or less', 'irony is not coincidence', and 'its v. it's'. Grammarians UNITE! Here is our anthem!

I've been an editor, a copy editor, a journalist, a researcher, a grant writer, and a creative writer. Words and punctuation matter. They are my life!

People would jokingly say to me, or not jokingly say, 'stop being he grammar police, it's not a crime!' Well maybe not a law-breaking crime, but sometimes inattention to punctuation is a heart-breaking crime. Like today.

The Associated Press tweeted the progress of the Malaysian plane crash victim bodies back to the Netherlands. At one point, the AP's tweet caused alarm. They wrote:


A comma! A comma! My kingdom for a comma! What the AP meant to write, of course, is "Breaking, Dutch Military plane carrying bodies from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash, lands in Eindhoven."

Enjoy Word Crimes. It is hilarious.




PS look for the deliberately inserted split infinitive ;)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bountiful basket day

It's Bountiful Basket day! I was excited to see what we would get in our basket this time. I was hoping for some berries, since we haven't had berries in a while.

We got some! Strawberries AND blueberries. We also received a pineapple, nectarines and plums. For veggies we received green cauliflower, broccoli, onions, yellow squash, brussels sprouts, and tomatoes !!

It is the first rainy, cool day that we have had here in NE Georgia for a long time. Bonus! I can roast them all in the oven. This time I tried using a large ziploc. I put the cut up veggies in it along with a glug of oil and salt. I closed the ziploc and shook it with all my might. I think the oil coats the veggies better than when I put them in a bowl and toss. An even coating is the key to even baking and thus the key to even flavor. The oil seals it in and allows a gentle crisping.

I baked some potatoes and popped some oatmeal-banana bars in the oven too. I had a couple of  leftover bananas from the last basket, so I mashed them and threw in a cup of oatmeal, a pinch of sugar, salt, cinnamon, and butter, added raisins and sunflower seeds. A healthy baked snack.

Of course while it was baking I had a cup of caramel ice cream with caramel on top. Life is good.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Thank you!

You guys! As we say in New England. Thank you for your kind comments on my previous essay asking me to reconsider my hiatus from this blog. I very much appreciate it.

Even though I post daily on my other blog, never lacking for topics, sometimes posting more than daily, on this blog if I don't post often I feel pressure. It is of my own making, no one is pressuring me. I still mentally go through the litany; is this interesting, do I have anything to say today, I haven't posted in a week, what will I do?

I needed to take the pressure off myself. So, the hiatus. Even though it's only been a week, I feel better not having gone through the usual self-induced stresses I put myself through. I am going to work on that.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Having lived in New England for 43 years, having been a licensed driver with a car for 27 of those, but only having had a garage for 3 of those years, I'd vowed that if I ever had a garage again I'd use it.

And I've been faithful to my promise here in GA, since moving to an apartment that happily came with a garage. I always put my car in it. In New England, it is because of extreme cold and snow that you want one. Shoveling out, warming up, and scraping the windshield (all before work) are not activities I enjoy any longer, if I ever did in the first place. In Georgia, it's the heat that does terrible things to your car. The occasional hailstorm or branches falling down would crack your windshield, too. So why not avail myself of the extra precaution and grab an opportunity for longevity in an important asset I own?

One day, I didn't put my car in the garage. One day. And the next morning I came out and the sun had melted the leather on the driver seat. The lower part was black and cracked. My car is 21 years old, so I am definitely not complaining about the longevity of the interior. It has lasted and stayed good. It was only a matter of time until it crumbled. I've had the car for the last 7 years.

I got in and drove it but when I arrived back home I noticed my shorts were black. Ah, so the degraded leather transfers to what I am wearing. Not good. I need a car seat cover.

However being frugal, I did not want a fancy one. The car seat cover will in all likelihood last longer than the car will. I looked up online the items available at the Dollar Store, my go-to place nearby. I do not enjoy large box stores and I refuse to drive to one anyway. The nearest one is about a 40 minute drive. Makes no sense to drive 40 minutes, use at least $8 worth of gas, not to mention half a day, to buy one item.

The Dollar Store is half a mile and stocks all the things I usually need. What they don't have, I buy online and have it sent. Long live the internet.

The online catalog displayed several car seat covers, and there were several options that were $5 or less. Great! I hopped in (having placed a towel precariously in the spot where the ruined leather was) and drove the half a mile to the tiny corner of town where four or five stores are, lol. After a few minutes of looking and not spotting a car seat cover in the automotive section, I asked the clerk.

"Nope. Sorry, we don't carry car seat covers."

Oh.

What is a frugal person to do? More to the point, what is a stubborn, frugal person to do? I came here to solve a problem and I am not going to leave until I have a solution to that problem. Something can be a car seat cover, it doesn't HAVE to have the name 'car seat cover' on the front label. And I didn't need a cover to go over the lower part of the car seat, only the upper part needed covering.

I looked and I looked. I looked at ironing board covers. I looked at shower curtain liners. I looked at rugs. If you ever watch Project Runway and you get to the "Unconventional Materials Challenge" you know what I mean. The designers are sent to the Christmas ornament store or the Dollar Store or the Hardware store and told not to buy material but buy any other materials that they will then use to make a dress out of. They wind up with tinsel they braid to make  shorts. Like that. It forces you to look at everyday items in a new way for additional uses you'd normally not think of.

I was feeling like a Project Runway designer with Tim Gunn about to call time, but at last I found something. It is vinyl, the same material the 'we have them in the catalog but we don't carry in real life' car seat covers in the catalog were, and it was the right dimension. It was tall. It was...

...a laundry bag.

It does the job. Now, no it's not fancy or pretty, However, I am the only one who ever gets in my car, ever. No one will ever see it unless they walk by my car and directly look in the tinted windows. The car is ok looking on the outside, but it IS 21 years old, so a laundry bag as a car seat cover is not a total mismatch. It's not like I'm covering brand new Corinthian leather in my Mercedes with a Dollar Store vinyl laundry bag. And the price was $1.50.

So that is frugal tip for the day. Something doesn't have to be the exact thing.

We learned when we lived on the sailboat, that everything at The Marine Store was marked up 20-30%, just for being in the marine store. But if you wanted a bolt, or a shackle, or a canvas repair kit, these exact things can be found at the hardware store for much less. Same with animal items, go to the Pet Store to find a water bowl and they will be fancy and expensive, or even if they are plain, they'll cost more just for being in the pet store.

Same with the car seat cover. What you are only looking for is a durable material of proper size to cover your seat and protect your clothing. I liked the laundry bag because it had a closed end. I just popped it over the headrest and worked it downward and the open end tucked nicely into the seat, and best of all, it completely covers the burned and blackened leather.

I used rope to tie back the 'wings' sticking out from the head rest which obscured my rear vision a bit. I didn't mind, but I didn't know how picky the police around here are about such things.

This approach isn't for everyone. If you have a nice house, and the pet bowl is in the kitchen and you have a lot of guests who will see it, then you might want to be consistent with the ambiance of your room by investing in a nice animal bowl. If your living room chair has a rip, you might want to get it upholstered and not put a laundry bag over it. If you will be subject to the taunts of the sister or the jabs of the mother-in-law, you might want to save yourself the heartache and go fancy.

But for me, I was happy with the low-cost, low-stress, time-saving result of the laundry bag.

Cost: $1.50, PLUS the soft savings of not having to expend gas, nor any time. The whole project took me about 20 minutes, not half a day.

Frugal tip #235, anything can become anything else. :)


Thursday, July 10, 2014

ON HIATUS

I started this blog in August of 2006. Almost exactly 8 years ago. I believe I've said everything I wanted to say...lol I don't have that interesting of a life anyway. I'm going to take a break from this blog. It may be a long break or it may be a permanent one. Thank you for reading, I appreciate it so much. God bless.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Online photo collages

I like the idea of making art and I do have a flicker of a creative impulse. But I am not good in actually making it. I am not being disingenuous. I re-read my old report card and the art teacher said in effect, 'her heart but she tries, the poor l'il thing.'

My creativity comes out in writing and in photography, but not in actually executing something in real life. When I look at a journal page and a pile of materials, I go blank. It's frustrating to have the impulse but not the skills. I yearn, but my yearning can't be fulfilled. It's a sad, tragedy I tell you.
Some of my really bad collage. I did the paste paper underneath
and that came out good. The rest, not so much.
It's called Women of the Bible
Making art is also expensive...buying glue and paper and all the other things...even scrounging them at yard sales is time consuming. I simply don't have extra money to spend on glitter when I can use it to help feed someone or buy gas for my car. Then there is the question of what to do with the finished product. Frame it? Stuff it on a box somewhere? Sell it? I only have so much space here in this studio-ish apartment.

So my art journals have languished. When I go in the bedroom and see my older finished ones on the bookshelf I avert my eyes. They mock me.
"Navigating Spiritual Waters"
I decided to try online art, or digital art. At the root of everything for me is the question, "Is it functional?" I know the concept of art for art's sake and the notion of functionality are at odds. But it's me. Function AND form must be perfectly balanced It is one reason I enjoy architecture so much. Also the HGTV Design shows.

The question for designers is how to fill a space so that it is beautiful AND functional. I love that. I remember a season of Design Star in the episode of the White Box challenge. All the contestants in the show are given a room-sized space of same dimensions, painted white, a budget, and the same amount of time. The direction is to create a room. I like seeing the results because they all had the same amount of money and the same space but the results vary so widely.

But in one of the seasons the designer put the couch upside down on the ceiling and I about had a mental break. Nooo, it's not an art installation! It's a room! Someone has to sit down in it, sometime! Well not really but you see the issue. If I wanted "Crazy Art Challenge" I'd watch that show. If it existed.
House of Broken Hearts
But I digress. I like experimenting with online collage and greeting card making. I have so many photographs I want to do something with them! Changing my Facebook homepage isn't enough. Nor is changing the banner once a year or so on my blogs. I figured there was everything else on the internet, why not a free online collage maker?

And there is. There are several. They vary in ease of use and result, but I found one I liked almost right away. PhotoVisi Collage Maker.

Making collages digitally saves me from having to scrounge materials and buy too many products, lets me use my photos, and still has an element of creativity to it, shifting from art design to graphic design. With online collage making I still need to make decisions that affect the end product just as I would as if I was making it from scratch. I have to match templates to mood, making sure the photos I use are harmonious with the template and with each other, spacing it out well, wisely choose finishing filters, and ensuring colors on the border enhances and doesn't detract. It is much more my speed. Selecting between presented options is better for me than simply creating it out of thin air while looking at a blank page.

So one of the books I got from Amazon was "The Creative Photographer."

The book summary says the author shows you what to do with photos in making them into greeting cards and other things. Perfect. I send a lot of cards. Notes of encouragement, thank yous, etc. I'm always running out. If I can combine my photography into a functional card or note, then all the better. I should stock up on ink. Then, let 'er rip!

This was my first try, and I wasn't trying, just quickly clicking here and there to see if PhotoVisi was any good at all. Featured are my travel photos from Wickford RI, Monterrenti Italy, Labrador Canada, and Big Ben in London.


Some of my flower photos

I printed the travel photo collage out on cardstock and sent it as a thank you the other day.

Here is a Christmas Card I did with some of my photos. The top photo is a close-up of a prism light I have in my window during the season, and the bottom one is a close up of the decorations on top of the prism. This wasn't made with PhotoVisi though. I forget which online collage maker did this one. I added the text.

So you can see how I will spend the rest of my summer. I've reduced my life to research and writing blogs online ministry, entertainment online, and now hobby online. Pretty soon I will be a hologram and you'll only be able to find me online.


Monday, July 07, 2014

It's summer: attack of the zucchinis!

How do you tame a dozen zucchinis and turn them into a manageable recipe? Here is the secret.

Below are ten zucchinis we received at Bountiful Basket. I have two more in the fridge.

In summer we often get overwhelmed with the large amount of produce suddenly appearing. Between our own gardens, Bountiful Baskets, and friends who also want to offload some produce from their gardens, we can open the fridge and feel like the yellow squash, cukes, tomatoes and zucchini are getting the better of us.

Like the birds... Tippi Hedren having a quiet smoke, listening to the children in the school sing...

...and a few zucchinis birds appear


And a few more...


AAAAAACKK! Run for your life! It's the attack of the zucchinis!

Well, this recipe settles the matter. I put the zucchinis in a large stock pot with some olive oil and salt, put the burner to medium, cover and let it go. Once in a while, stir because even in Calphalon or teflon they stick. Let it go a loooong time. The water is reduced out of the zucchini and what is left is a browned, nutty mound that tastes like heaven. All those zucchinis made two bowls of this: (it's a cereal bowl), or four side dishes as accompaniment-



I topped it with Parmesan shaker cheese. My husband's grandmother was from southern Italy and he got the recipe from her. Most recipes say to saute only a few minutes but if you let the zucchini go for 45 minutes, or longer, it reduces to a nutty, flavorful dish. It certainly helps banish the claustrophobic feeling that you're surrounded by zucchinis that will rise up and take over the kitchen...


Saturday, July 05, 2014

Life is good!

You ever get a feeling of just in-the-moment overwhelming pure contentment? Satisfaction with life and all that it is? Of just pure bliss?

Yesterday, last night's and today's great weather, the Bountiful Basket of produce, the anticipation of church tomorrow, of having books and time for good study, three magnificent animals, and an abode that fits me like a glove. All is well. Very blessed here


Wikimedia Commons, by Michael


Thursday, July 03, 2014

Half of summer goals accomplished, other half coming up

I moved some things around in the garage and saw that my plastic bin of photos had a big hole in the bottom corner. I did not want mice to get at them. I brought the bin inside and today my goal was to go through all the photos I own. I scanned a bunch of pictures and reorganized the bin, and tomorrow I'll try to find a spot in the apartment to put it (a challenge in a two room apartment with one closet). I'll have fun over the next few days playing with them and posting some and adding scripture verses to some, and all that jazz.

Here is one photo. In 1993 we visited the very famous car collection of Bob Bahre in West Paris Maine. It is a private collection rivaling any in any place in the world, whether museum or private. But once per year on Founder's Day, the Bahres open the collection to the public for free (donations accepted). I enjoyed seeing the Tuckers, Packards, Rolls', Mercedes, mostly from the 1930s but many were from the prior generation and even some carriages from prior to self-propel era. He owns the car Clark Gable owned (1938 Packard) the car used in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and much more


I think this is a 1928 Packard 5th series Formal Sedan hood ornament

After that I plan to dig out some of my craft supplies and try making some collages again. Or paint something.

My goals for the first half of summer have been completed. I wanted to dispose of my television, and move the large bureau that it's on and clean behind it. Also to re-wrap the wires into bundles. An ounce of kitten-prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I wanted to swap my art around and also fix several pieces the - ahem - kitten had slapped off the wall and broken.

I planned to take the quilt off the hanging bar and gently wash it and replace it on the bar. Not easy because the bar is just an inch or two above my reach and I have to stretch to get it on there, and the bar isn't securely affixed to the wall and the likelihood of it falling down is great. (Update: phew, mission accomplished and I didn't tear, break, or ruin anything!)

Another goal was to empty my closet and drawers and reorganize them completely. It feels very good to have neat drawers! I made all my hanging clothes be according to type, season, and color. Sigh of relief...

Last, I had come into a bunch, and I mean a bunch, of theological books. I wanted to reorganize my bookshelf and put them in groups of like subject, and put the books that I'd let become stray from their spot back into the order.


Top shelf: art, beauty, shells and shell encyclopedias and compendium
Second shelf, Bible reference books, atlases, Old Testament, John Macarthur books.
Third Shelf: open hole for cats to jump into and hide behind books, spiritual warfare library on rest of shelf. Also book of world symbols.
Fourth Shelf: commentaries, biographies.
Bottom shelf: native American books, shell identification books.

I like being organized. No that's not cottage cheese on the gas radiator. It is an empty container which I use to put cat food in to feed the beasts, one of which can be seen nibbling even as I took the photo. The small dustpan and whisk on top of the bookshelf is to sweep up their crumbles.

I completed all those projects. Now for the second half of my summer of relaxation and privacy, here ensconced in my fortress of solitude, under the cone of silence, I plan to work on my photographs, make some art, and finish the Spurgeon biography. I also started a biography of Eugene Sallee who was a missionary to China in 1905. I already made 80% headway on the photos.

Of course the usual things I do still apply. I always do bible study, writing both blogs, answering email, and a project or two for people in my real life as they come up.

And what would spare time be if I didn't experiment with cooking some of the wonderful products I receive at Bountiful Baskets? I made the yellow squash patties the other day and they were excellent. Two separate friends had dropped off BUNCHES of yellow squash from their garden and I was inundated. Happily so. I made yellow squash patties (about 2 dozen!) and yesterday I used most of the rest and made cream of squash soup.

This morning I did something different, I put a patty on an English Muffin half and a runny fried egg on top. It was delicious!

With all the mangoes I'd gotten at Bountiful Baskets, I had to so something with them. I froze a few (for mango slushies or mango smoothies), and also I tried black bean and mango salad. I have to say this was a total success. I added scallions instead of the yellow peppers (because I had scallions and didn't have peppers, lol) and skipped the cilantro (again, I didn't have this ingredient). Also we'd received many limes at BB so I used the lime juice that's recommended and freshly squeezed some in there. Salt finished the seasoning. Very good combo, the mango and black beans, both taste wise and it was pretty.

So that was the plan and that is the new plan. I have about five more weeks of summer to enjoy before returning to school in  Mid-August. I'm blessed with this much time off, that is for SURE!!


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Summer heat & humidity equals summer headache

I made a nice breakfast this morning: a scrambled egg with feta, a tasted garlic stick, and a couple of the yellow squash patties I'd made yesterday.

I also popped into the oven a really good item I've come to enjoy making (and eating) a chewy oatmeal bar (or cookie). It only has a couple of ingredients and so is very quick to make. Oatmeal and mashed overripe banana are the main ingredients, along with a dollop of butter a pinch of salt and sugar, cinnamon, and anything else you want to put in. I add sunflower seeds and raisins. The other half I put in craisins instead of raisins. The only thing is that they take along time to cook, so I started early so the apartment wouldn't get too hot.

While the oven was on I threw in the garlic sticks I'd bought on reduced sale yesterday. Never use the oven for only one thing!

Yesterday was sort of cool(er), and then at noon it rained hard and cooled things off more. I didn't use the air conditioner. After 5:00 or so when the rains stopped, I still didn't use the AC. This is because the hottest temperature of the day comes at 4:00 so I thought I was safe to keep the AC off. It actually began to get hotter, though. The humidity was creeping upward and this made the air seem very hot, even if the actual temps were lower than they had been at 4:00. I hadn't counted on the humidity, it was awful. I didn't notice the apartment getting slowly hotter. I was the frog and the place was the boiling pot, and by 11:00 when I went to bed I realized I was sticky, irritable, and restless.

That yucky feeling continued through the night, and I woke this morning with a headache, sweaty and restless. Ick.

Two ibuprofen didn't reduce the headache so I'm going to take two more, and a cool shower. Yes, it's late, but I just couldn't seem to get my day started at 8:00 like I usually do.

~~~~~~~~~~~an hour later~~~~~~~~~~~

Headache still there. Lesson learned: Use the AC! A love summer so dearly because it is such a blessed time at home, but the heat that comes with it sometimes is a high price to pay. I do long for these kind of sharp, cool, October days: