Friday, June 26, 2015

Ephemera bonanza

All you scrapbookers, collage enthusiasts, and bookbinders, be jealous. Be very, very jealous. In the crafting world, I have received the equivalent to an inheritance.

A friend was cleaning out the family attic and received permission to take away all the paper goods. In the recent past during one clean-out, she already gave me a bucket of fabric with glorious colors and retro patterns. Some of it is delightfully funky, like the elephants. See photo below

Well the bonanza today is ephemera. She gave me a bag loaded full of wrapping papers, odd ephemera, and greeting cards ranging from modern back to 1960s. Here is a taste.

First the ephemera. They range from old stamps to 40s vintage valentine doo dads to vintage post cards to art from the cover of greeting cards from all eras.

Then there was a ton of wrapping papers of varying thicknesses and designs.

The pink baby elephants crack me up

Several of these papers remind of 1970s Ziggy. Remember Ziggy?

Sorry the yellow didn't come out well. It's really pretty
These are my top favorites. First the wide view, then close-ups

The flower one at the top left is like
the bedroom flower wall paper I had as a kid

When is this from?! Looks like the 1940s!

Flower power!

1960s, 1970s? I dunno but it's garishly funky

So precious! So vintage!
 I'd given away most of my papers and had not bought or searched for any more, these last 4 years. I was getting low but that was OK because I was not bookbinding nor collaging, never mind painting. But a few months ago I got the urge again. The Lord provided. Thanks to thoughtful people I have been fully-re-stocked. Now just for some time to actually enjoy my hobby. Oh, wait...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A quiet Sunday

It is such a nice day here in Georgia-land. Hot, all right, but I'm not talking about the weather.

I had an excellent sleep (something you value as you get older, lol), and awoke to a sunny day and chirping birds. What could be better?

The pajama part of the morning was quiet. With the windows raised I could hear birds, insects, occasional distant lawnmower. I had my two cups of coffee and got ready for church.

Church was very nice also, a comfortable Sunday School lesson in fellowship with others, and then a sermon on fathers. The children who attended Vacation Bible School and who were present in the sanctuary sang two of their songs for us and there is nothing cuter than kids performing. They did a great job.

I used my new Bible organizer for the first time. Man, is it hard for me to change my routine. It is a good organizer, but it's more like a Trapper Keeper than the canvas bible carrying bag I'd had before. I need different skills to handle it. At the end of the sermon all my stuff slid out, off the pew and onto the floor. My Sunday School lesson book, weekly bulletin, cough drops, scattered. During the prayer. Argh. I'll get used to it eventually. And yes, changing bags requires commitment and patience and a new skill set. At least it does for an autistic person. The smallest little change has reverberations.

Back at home, I made salmon-quinoa patties, served on a bed of greens topped with a dollop of ranch dressing, and potato salad on the side. Dessert was a mug of smoothie: having a cantaloupe-yogurt base, topped with sliced strawberries and a handful of homemade granola. Yum.

I found the first two episodes of Food Network Star on youtube from this season and watched them. Since there was a full complement of contestants the editing could not focus too long on any one person's dish, so I didn't learn anything. Except perhaps I could use corn meal more. It's a versatile ingredient I can do a lot with. If I learn to, ha ha. The many dishes I saw in these 2 episodes featured grits or polenta in unexpectedly luscious ways.

My plans for this afternoon in the immediate future is nap, read my book "All We Like Sheep", and craft something. Probably will make fabric bookmarks while watching a movie. It will be quiet and peaceful. Perfect.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Digital photography School examples

The Digital Photography School tweets out links to tips. I always read them. I'm trying to do better with my photography but I know it's not going to happen. I've hit a ceiling and I don't study enough and practice enough to break through. That's OK, where I am now keeps me amused enough. I don't work for the newspaper anymore anyway so there is no professional need to go beyond. I do have an eye and intuitively I can do well. I'm a good amateur. But that's about it.

Here are DPS tips on minimalist photography. In their first example, I was struck by how similar a few of my photos are to theirs of a door. In theirs, color makes the difference. When you see theirs and mine side by side you can immediately tell why mine have hit the ceiling and theirs are great.

Here is the article. I recommend you read it in its entirety and go to Valerie's website for more. She is very good.

Minimalist Photography ~ 4 Tips To Keep It Simple With A Maximum Impact  A Post By: Valerie Jardin

Digital Photography School

Elizabeth Prata

It looks like I did a little better with this one.

Digital Photography School

©Valerie Jardin ~ The use of negative space
is an integral part of minimalist photography.
Elizabeth Prata

But then again, I seem to be hit or miss-

Digital Photography School
©Valerie Jardin ~ Using a shallow depth of field will allow you to
isolate your subject from a distracting background.

Digital Photography School

Elizabeth Prata

Digital Photography School
©Valerie Jardin ~ You can use a minimalist approach in nature
as well as in an urban environment.
Elizabeth Prata. This, like the heather above, is one I think I nailed, Very minimalist.

This one about texture- I think I nailed it too.
Digital Photography School
©Valerie Jardin ~ The viewer should be able to almost feel the texture.
Sometimes it’s all about finding a creative angle to make the photograph.

Elizabeth Prata

So it's clear to me I have an eye for what makes a good photo, and for composition and texture. I took my shots way before I saw the DPS examples, that's why I was struck by their similarity. I must have something upstairs in the creative drawer of my mind.

But it is clear I do need to study more about light and fix the gol-durn settings on my camera. I messed them up. The lens in my 12-year-old digital Canon Sure Shot keeps falling out and it won't re-seat properly, so there's that obstacle to overcome too.

The water drop and the doors are admittedly embarrassing for their lofty ambitions and complete failure to execute, but I'll take a heather or birds against stormy sky or gargoyle shot any day.

Onward and upward. It's good to have goals.

Friday, June 19, 2015

More bookbinding, several movie reviews

I wrote a few days ago that I'd made a book and some collages. The cover of the book is fabric.

When you glue something you start at the center of the piece, whether it is paper or fabric or leather or cardboard, whatever. And you work the glue into the item in outward strokes, applying some pressure so the glue seeps into its holes, nooks, and crannies. The items will stick better and more evenly if one takes care at this early juncture.

The problem with fabric is that as you press the glue to the edges and beyond, the threads at the edge come apart. The fabric looks like it needs a haircut trim.

I always think that something needs a border. The cover looked unfinished to me. So I added a border. This was a doo-dad that a friend had given me in a box of ephemera. (God bless friends cleaning out their attics!) The color matched and I liked how the circles picked up the circles in the fabric's pattern. I cut up the collages to make bookmarks, lol

I also made  this: it is a single signature, softcover small notebook with a collage on the front.

This is a multiple signature, hard cover with a spine, and a collage on the front.

I've been watching movies each evening. They were all excellent. It is such an advantage to have the internet these days, and I can look up reviews and rating of a film before investing time or money into it. And can switch it off after a few minutes if it's objectionable (Like the tv show satire of politics, Veep, starring Seinfeld alum Julia Louis-Dreyfus politics- CLICK!)

An Unfinished Life, 2005. Starring Jennifer Lopez, Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman. Movie blurb: "A down on her luck woman, desperate to provide care for her daughter, moves in with her father in-law from whom she is estranged. Through time, they learn to forgive each other and heal old wounds."

Beautiful scenery, great acting, understated and moving, nothing objectionable, some scenes of or references to domestic violence, necessary to the plot. One or two curses. Recommended.

The Butler, 2013. Forest Whittaker, Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding Jr, Clarence Williams III, Robin Williams, John Cucack, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Mariah Carey. Based on a  true story. Movie blurb: "As Cecil Gaines serves eight presidents during his tenure as a butler at the White House, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and other major events affect this man's life, family, and American society."

Incredible acting, dramatic history, yet despite the thirty year sweep of a most turbulent time in America, a deeply emotional, personal, haunting movie. Nothing objectional, if you discount the racism and actual historical scenes of KKK firebombing kids on a bus...anyway, no terrible language, no nudity. N-word used in historical accuracy. Intimation of rape (off screen), drinking, smoking.

How To Steal A Million, 1966. Audrey Hepburn, Peter O'Toole. Movie blurb: "Romantic comedy about a woman who must steal a statue from a Paris museum to help conceal her father's art forgeries, and the man who helps her."

Two hours, two minutes long. Set in Paris the scenery couldn't be better, except the scenery fades into the background every time Audrey Hepburn appears. Luminous and compelling the woman simply was gorgeous. Her clothes are given by Givenchy, the cars are classic and incredible, and Peter O'Toole couldn't be more handsome and commanding. The story drags a bit in the third act, I skipped ahead 20 minutes with no loss. The Butler is actually ten minutes longer but feels 40 minutes shorter. Needless to say, there is nothing objectionable in the movie with regard to profanity, nudity, or adult situations, discounting the movie's premise, which is a life of crime.

Despicable Me, 2010. Animated. Voices of  Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews. Movie Blurb: "When a criminal mastermind uses a trio of orphan girls as pawns for a grand scheme, he finds their love is profoundly changing him for the better."

Yes it is funny and good and clean. Not even any double entendres that some animated filmmakers put in to keep the adults happy.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents, 1955, black and white. (TV anthology show). TV was clean in 1955. The FCC prohibited "obscene and indecent" material. It still does, but definitions have changed. In one of the early episodes in the 1955 season 1 of AHP, a married couple was depicted as sleeping in separate beds. The wife was later attacked in the episode but there were not even any bruises showing. The angle of the camera, music, and acting had to do the work of what today would simply be a garish visual.

Movie blurb: "Series of unrelated short stories covering elements of crime, horror, drama and comedy about people of different species committing murders, suicides, thefts and other sorts of crime caused by certain motivations; perceived or not."

Hitchcock was intelligent, and the language of his introductions and closing was brilliant. The writing in each episode is also brilliant. And I love the twists. It's an enjoyable 26 minutes.

It's the weekend for all of you who are not on vacation or don't work in education. So...happy weekend!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Movie reviews: Chef's Table, On the Way to School, A Princess for Christmas

Since summer started and I'm not working at school, I have been watching some movies and television shows. It's admittedly hard to find anything good. By good I mean well-produced, written, and acted, (quality); and good in the sense of nothing offensive, gory, profane or blasphemous (morality).

I would like to recommend three items. The first is called Chef's Table and it's on Netflix and Youtube. The blurb says-
Chef's Table goes inside the lives and kitchens of six of the world's most renowned international chefs. Each episode focuses on a single chef and their unique look at their lives, talents and passion from their piece of culinary heaven.
The chefs are: Ben Shewry, Niki Nakayama, Francis Mallmann, Dan Barber, Massimo Bottura, and Magnus Nilsson.

It has a 9.0 rating on Internet Movie Database (

I haven't seen all 6 segments, only 5. I'm looking forward to that sixth one, it is about Magnus Nillson. You will know him from Chopped and other cooking shows. I enjoyed them OK but the first one I watched, the one about Massimo Bottura of Modena Italy, astounded and moved me. Maybe because I connect with Italian food, or that I enjoyed the scenes in Italy, or just that his personality and that of his wife fit together so well and I loved seeing their marriage, but the segment was brilliant.

Probably it was because of Massimo's creativity on the food. Italians are very traditional and do not like change in their foods or designs. I remember when we were treated to a personal tour of Ubaldo Grazia's pottery (majolica) factory in Deruta (Perugia), he said his family had been in that location developing artistic dishware for 500 years. There are traditional patterns that the Italians like and they do not like deviating from them. He had hired some art students from the Rhode Island School of Design to paint some variations of the old patterns and he was encountering a lot of resistance.
Traditional Grazia designs on left, modern on right

Bottura said the same thing in the segment. Tortellini soup is tortellini soup- it's supposed to have a broth and a ratio of ten tortellinis per bowl. Italians always want pasta and more of it. Instead, he envisioned tortellini soup this way
His own tortellini evolved provocatively with a version he served at Francescana in 1998. Six dumplings were arranged on broth set with agar gelatin. A pour of hot broth melted the gelatin, so the tortellini actually moved, “walking on broth ... "
I tried to find a photo of it but could not. The concept for the dish is funny, it's witty and a pointed joke toward the Modenese as well. For all the world it looks like a solemn lineup of soldiers proudly marching to their death. Bottura's cuisine is inventive and witty. In one part, he explained that everyone likes the crunchy-burned corner of the lasagna dish. So he made an entire dish called
... La Dame et son Chevalier (The Crunchy Part of the Lasagna). It is made of four triangles -- two Parmigiano-Reggiano wafers, two of spinach pasta (first boiled and then baked until crisp) -- perched over spoonfuls of ragu and bechamel, with a long stripe of tomato terrine running down the side.
It looks nothing like traditional lasagna but evokes all the heart and love one remembers from Nonnie's lasagna pan, and hoping that you'd be the one this time to get the crunch corner. It's essence of lasagna. I don't know how he does it. But I'm totally with Massimo on all his dishes.

The second item I recommend is a movie, also on Netflix. It is called "On the Way to School" and it is a 2013 film. I mention this because there is another movie with the same title, issued in 2008. They are not the same thing. The blurb says
Jackson, the Kenyan; Carlito, the Argentinian; Zahira, the Moroccan; Samuel, the Indian... four children who live light years away from each other and who have never met but who have a common point : they have to cover tremendously long distances to reach their school. On foot, on horseback or in a wheelchair, but all with an extraordinary determination...
The documentary is filmed in National Geographic style, with sweeping vistas which include the landscape itself as a character. The film trails each child as they make their way over harsh terrain each day (or in the case of the Moroccan girls, each week to boarding school) walking, jogging, in one case, hiding from a growling lion, traipsing over the Atlas Mountains or scurrying across elephant infested African bush. The kids walk for hours, cheerfully, so they can have an opportunity to advance from their little village and make something of themselves. The children have dreams and hopes, and the movie in its quiet way, presents those to us, and completes it with interviews at the end.

These children are not high school seniors aged 18, or 20 year old youths attending a higher education- these are kids, 6 years old or 9 or 10. Maybe I gravitated to the film because I work in education and know the entitlement some American children or their parents feel. It was poignant when the teacher in the African segment started the school day by looking at his large class, asking if anyone was absent, and noting all present, thanked God that they all made it "with no accidents." Meaning, no one got trampled by elephants, eaten by a lion, or fell down a ravine.

Watch it to be inspired, to see some of the world's harshest and most beautiful terrain, or to show your surly, entitled tween or teen. It's all good.

The third movie is a change of pace from the previous two. It's mindless, sappy, beautiful to look at (because, castle) and a total chick flick. If you want to watch something just plain nice, here it is.

A Princess for Christmas, on Netflix.

See? TOTAL chick flick. From Hallmark.
This is a fantasy, fairy tale story of two orphaned kids and their struggling young aunt who now takes care of them. It turns out that her dead brother-in-law was son of a Duke in fictitious Castlebury (actually filmed in Romania) whom the Duke cut off when he married a gal from Buffalo. Turns out, the Duke is older now and regrets not seeing his dukelings, and sends his butler, Paisley Winterbottom, to fetch them. Turns out, the aunt (Jules) just lost her antique store job and is at a loss with what to do with her shoplifting nephew who is about to turn bad if something isn't done. Turns out, the Duke has another son....

It has a happy ending. With a rose-laden carriage.
I'm not giving anything away here. You knew where this was going the minute
Paisley Winterbottom showed up in Buffalo.
And for all you naysayers, hey, it can happen. As a matter of fact, it just did:

I should also mention that I finally watched 2010's Despicable Me. I waited all this time to see it free but it never was free nor was it ever on my streaming Netflix, so I caved and rented it it streaming from Amazon. I liked it very much! It ranks with Cars, Toy Story and Up as my animated favorites.

I hope you enjoy these. Please feel free to share your favorites as well. I'm always looking for GOOD entertainment.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cat naps

My cats are great cats. Bert and Murray are sweet and never give me trouble and Luke is actually perfect. They are funny too, with their different little personalities. I'm grateful the introduction of young Murray to the house with two older brother already settled went so smoothly. They never fought and they actually get along very well.

We have a routine here in the summer. We have one during the school year too, but I'm home all day in the summer so the routine of us all being together is longer. I do the same thing at the same time every day. Cats love that so they're happy. They all have their "spots" where they nap or hang out at different times of the day.

Here's Bert's perch.

Let's move a little closer to Bert...Don't mind me, Bert, Just checking you out. No need to panic.

 I need to get just a liiiittle closer. I can see the anxiety in you, Bert. Please, calm down.

Where's Murray? In his hideaway under the covers. He goes there from around 10-3 every day.

Lift up the covers, what do I see? Sleepy kitty!

Luke isn't fooled. He knows Murray is under there. When Luke jumps to the bathroom sink to take some sips and then wants to jump down, Murray is always there to attack Luke when he leaps. There is no other way down and the bathroom is so small Murray can block Luke totally. It aggravates the heck out of Luke. So when Murray is under the's payback time!

"Hmmm, I think I'll casually sit on this mysterious lump that I don't notice AT ALL!"

BANG BANG BANG the boxing commences

 "Who, me?"

I love my cats very much. They are super company for me. I'm blessed with good animals.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Digital collages and Will Thomas books

Pixlr posted a video on making a digital collage using a multiple layering effect. They consider Even Brown a master at creating them, which Pixlr called "beautiful." I don't think they are so beautiful, but they are interesting. Brown uses scary images like jesters and skulls quite frequently, which in my opinion mars the result, but I was interested in learning the technique. It was advised to use lots of images but to maintain use of three or so strong images throughout. I chose teapots.

Here is another. Sheep & bus.

There is a new item at my local grocery store. It's Greek Yogurt & cream cheese. I don't like Greek yogurt by itself but combined with half cream cheese it is really good! It's put put by Green Mountain Farms and claims to have 4X the amount of protein. Kudos to that little market continuing to offer a wide range of foods to their customers.
 I'm enjoying the new book "Fatal Enquiry" by Will Thomas. It is the 6th installment of the Victorian era detective novels subtitled "Barker and Llewelyn mystery". I waited 5 years between number 5 and number 6, sadly, but it has been worth it so far. Number 7 is already out in hardcover so I won't have to wait too long until it's available in softbound. The books are atmospheric, historical, well-written, clean, and interesting. A great combination if you can find it!