Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pretty in Pastel

I think need a break from all the bright, florescent colours! Bright red and hot pink were eye-catchers especially during CNY, right?
I think we shall head towards soft and subtle approach with pastels! I mean just looking at these colors just... melts my heart.

Furthermore, pastels just matches with anything? Be it another pastel color, earthy colors, jeans or even just black! As for me, my favorite combination would be a pastel color and white. *hearts*
Cute granny, a Singapore-based vintage store has quite a selection on pastel colored clothes.
The prices are pretty reasonable and I must say the blog layout is very nice!

New arrivals at Doublewoot! And all sold out?!? Thank goodness it's restockable and delivery on the very next day!~ Double yeay! =P



p.s. I can't wait till pastel colored tights sells hahahaha!

Photo Albums - Done

Last year in January I decided to organize all of the photos I had in different albums. I would put together separate albums for each son, one of my youth, one of our adult family, and travel albums.  I figured that it was worthwhile after a cousin had died and his children were talking about going through old photos and trying to figure out who everyone was.  Since I had time on my hands after retirement, I decided to put all my photos in order now.

I was doing really well up until I needed the dining room table for Easter dinner of 2009.  I had finished albums for each of the boys, another with vacation pics, but still had boxes of pictures to go through.  So, I boxed everything up and put it in the spare room.  And there they sat until today.

All day sorting and I think I now have everything together.  I need to pick up one more album for those large sized baby pictures.  I worked with seven different albums with pictures going back to the 1800's.

The one thing missing is labels on all the pictures.  I do not even want to think about trying to label everyone of them.  I'm not even sure I know who everyone is in some really old photos.  But my sons were delighted when I gave them their pictures and I think they would like to know who all these family members are.

So, tomorrow, a trip to the store to find labels.  I've left everything on the table so I have some incentive to finish this time.  At least before Easter.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Earthquakes and Such

Wow.  No sooner had I written about natural disasters yesterday, than I get up this morning to hear about a powerful earthquake in Chile. 

One of the first season episodes of 'How the Earth was Made' is titled 'The Driest Place on Earth'.  That location is the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.  It is fascinating to see how the Pacific plate colliding with the continent created this area.  And absolutely nothing mankind can do to change what happens there.

Check here for an interesting article on the quake and tectonic movement

The Movies

Since this is the month before the Oscars, TCM is playing Oscar nominated pics from the past.  I checked the schedule yesterday and one of the films was 'The Merry Widow'.  The info for the movie says that it is a remake of the Lehar opera adapted to Lana Turner's abilities

I got a chuckle out of that.  The movie was nominated for Best Set Direction and Best Costumes.  Let's see.  Put up a beautiful set and put Lana in a gorgeous gown and 'Bingo', 'Voila', 'Hubba, Hubba'. 


I watched a few moments of it.  Saw Lana going up a staircase in a stunning evening gown.  Then there was Fernando Lamas at a Paris police station reporting that he 'lost a woman named Fifi'.  The gendarme asked lots of questions and then asked, 'Is the woman your wife?'  Lamas said 'no', and the gendarme said, 'Oh, no wonder you are so upset'.  You have to love the French for their affair with 'amour.'

If you are looking to see Ms. Turner in a classic, try 'The Postman Always Rings Twice' with John Garfield.  Certainly my favorite of all her films.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I think I need a Bigger Shovel

It's February.  I live in Michigan.  It's snowing.  Again.  Or still. Get used to it.

I have 14 inches of snow on my deck.  (Yes, I actually measured it.)  The path I made to my mailbox this morning at seven is already buried in snow.  While the new stuff coming down is very light, winds are blowing snow all over the place. 

My original plans for today were to go to the DSO for the morning concert.  Not wanting to drive home in snow, I have postponed that to Sunday afternoon.  Maybe.  Depends on the weather.

The History Channel has a series entitled "How the Earth was Made".  The introductory two-hour program goes back 4.5 billion years to the formation of the earth.  It also tells us that 40,000 years from now the earth will experience another ice age.

The individual chapters from the first season of the series are fascinating.  We live on a molten planet with uncontollable forces beneath us and in the universe around us.  Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, asteroids, plate tectonics, and 'pangaea' becomes the world we know today. 

Short of watching the videos, here is a short synopsis of climate change on earth:  Global Warming

Me, I'm gonna go turn up the heat and do some 'house-warming'.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Marketing 101

Yes, I am STILL reading 'An Echo in the Bone'.  I took it out of our local library before Christmas and barely made it to page 50 after three weeks.  I was busy making cookies.  And other stuff.  So, I had to return it and figured I would read it when I had more time.

Here's the deal:  This book is the seventh in a series.  The books, known as 'the Outlander Series', tell the story of a 20th century woman who travels to 18th century Scotland.  She gets pregnant there, has her baby in the 20th century, and then travels back to the 18th century to be with the man who got her pregnant.  Oh, and lots of other stuff happens.

Anyway, it has been three years since the last novel.  Guess I don't have to mention that at my age trying to remember all the details after three years and countless other books is no easy feat.  Now, since it takes the author three years to write the book, she makes it worth your while to spend $30 and get your money's worth.  (I bought mine used for $5 a couple of weeks ago.)

Here's the issue:  The book is 814 pages (I'm up to page 159).  In small type, no less.  If this author had taken a marketing class, she might have learned that she could have written three novels, one a year, 300 pages each, and sold each for $25.  That's $75 instead of $30.  And I could more easily remember what happened last year than three years ago.

I will share this tidbit with you, free of charge.  Time travel always happens in roughly two-hundred year jumps.  Of course, if you are a fan of 'Dr. Who', you know that is not true.  If you are looking for some stones to use as a portal, I saw some up in British Columbia.  They were just as Diana Gabaldon describes them in her novels.  Have fun.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Believe What You Hear, Period

Yesterday, Tim Skubik's Blog was about a poll showing that a majority of Michigan's voters think the President is doing a good job.  The point made in the blog was that it is not indicative of what the majority of the nation thinks.

I've thought about why this is so and I believe that it is because so many in this state believe that only their political party is interested in their welfare.  The other party is evil.  And it doesn't matter which side you are on.

Back when I was in public office we had an opening on our Parks Board and had to make an appointment.  One gentleman being interviewed stated that he had never voted for a Republican and would never do so.  This was said to a Board of Republican majority.  I asked him why I would vote for him if had had never voted for me.  Obviously, he was not chosen.

When I confided to a Republican friend that I had voted for the Democrat (several actually, over the years) in a certain national election, he went crazy.  How could I do such a thing?  Maybe because I did not like the Republican candidate?

Living in a state with a high concentration of blue-collar, labor union oriented workers, I have known many folks who have told me that they vote with their union leaders.  If they say it is good for me, it must be so. 

I can't help wonder if these same people who so eagerly agree with whatever is told to them by someone they deem to be in authority are not the same people who believe that all this snow is due to 'global warming'.

Monday, February 22, 2010

My Love Affair with Pasta

My mother was Italian.  Her family came here in 1920 from a small town north of Venice, Italy, called Cordenons.  (No, I did not make an error and mean Pordenone.)  She was a good cook and baker.  Everyone in her family was, some being professional caterers and bakers. 

Being Italian, we ate a lot of pasta and risotto.  I mean a LOT of pasta, at least once a week.  My mother would spend all day making her own sauce.  We even made own pasta, ravioli, and noodles along with both Polish and Italian sausage when the holidays came. 

My mother's tomato sauce was thin in consistency and slightly acidic, meant to complement, not overwhelm, the spaghetti.  Not my favorite.  Our neighbors were from Sicily and made a very sweet sauce they called 'sugu'.  And yes, it tasted like sugared tomatoes.  Less liked by me than my mother's was.

One night I was at my cousin's house and she made spaghetti for dinner.  I was really impressed with her sauce.  I asked her how she did it and she whipped out an empty jar of Prego.  No slaving all day over the stove for her!  (Her mother, my mother's older sister, was a fabulous cook.)

Once I left home I swore to never eat pasta again.  And I did not for well over a year.  But pasta can be quick and easy to fix, so why not.  Over the years I grew to enjoy more varieties of sauces and noodles and it was like I could not get enough. 

Last summer I inadvertantly bought a tomato plant that produced yellow plum tomatoes.  It was obviously mismarked at the grower's.  So, I had these rather mealy tomatoes and had no idea what to use them for.  I ended up making a sausage tomato sauce that is one of the best I've ever tasted.  My first ever attempt at tomato sauce.  I was on a roll.

Last fall I took a class in pasta making.  This was fun.  How come it always seemed like so much work when I was growing up?  Oh right.  We were making pasta for 30 people in a small kitchen and I was just a kid then.  Gee, I could do this at home now.  Of course, I do not have the equipment.  When my sister asked if I wanted any of my mother's stuff, I had said 'no'.

Williams-Sonoma to the rescue.  With pasta machine in hand, my son and I made pasta and butternut squash raviolis.  Quick.  Easy.  And the raviolis only needed a butter, brown sugar and sage sauce to be delicious.

I think I could eat pasta and bread for every meal.  I have cookbooks devoted to each subject.  Several in fact.  Amazing that with so few simple ingredients, one can create something so wonderful.  Lunch today is penne with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, sweet potato and pine nuts with a sprinkling of parmesan.  Sauce is simply olive oil, garlic, red pepper.  Mmmmmm.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Name That Tune

Ever get a tune in your head and know that you heard it someplace before, but can't place it?  Of course you have.  It happened to me the other night and eventually led to me to clean out my music collection, or at least part of it.

I watched the 1999 German/Hungarian film "Gloomy Sunday".  It was recommended to me by Netflix based on my love of foreign films.  The melody was haunting.  I knew I'd heard the instrumental version before, but where?  And then over the closing credits, an English lyric version, but I seemed to remember a male singer, not a female. 

Back to the computer and the good old internet.  I googled "Gloomy Sunday" and went to the Wikipedia site.  Wow!  What a history for this song. 

So, there at the bottom of the page is a list of everyone who has recorded the number.  A reference to the use of the song in "Schindler's List" solves the question of the instrumental version.  But who did I remember singing it?

Billie Holliday is mentioned.  So, while I cannot remember it being her, off I go to check my CDs of hers.  Nope.  Not on any of the ones I have.

Next up, Mel Torme.  Yes.  That is the voice I remember.  Off to check the Torme CDs.  Nope, not there either.  How can this be?  I know I have heard it more than once, so it must be on someone's disc.  Sarah Vaughan?  Carmen McRae?  Billy Eckstein?  NO, no, nada.

The result of this is CDs all mixed up.  So, drag out all of them to the dining room table and organize.  Family room, bedroom, guest room.  No rhyme or reason to how I sorted.  And no "Gloomy Sunday".

Amazon.com to the rescue.  There is the soundtrack for sale.  But what is this 'ships in one to two months?'  I know it is a foreign CD, but are they walking it across Europe and swimming the Atlantic Ocean?  Anyway, sometime in early April I will be able to listen to several versions of this melody.

Whaddaya bet I find a recording on an old vinyl LP or cassette tape after it arrives.  Those are all stored in boxes around here and not checked.

UPDATE:  Less than thirty minutes after posting the above, I decided to check a CD compilation titled 'When Loves Goes Wrong'.  There on the last track:  "Gloomy Sunday" by Mel Torme.  Mystery solved.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Books into Movies

There is a section in our Friendshop bookstore in our local library called 'Books into Movies'.  There you can find books that have been made into movies, recently or in the distant past. 

Experience has shown that many times the movie does not resemble the book other than for the title and names of characters.  Most folks will say that the book is better.  It is like something, sometimes everything, is 'lost in translation'.  (A movie also which I absolutely Hated!)

Anyway, opening at theatres today is "Shutter Island".  I love novels that have a good mystery going, especially one that I cannot figure out.  This book was excellent in that regard.  It had me guessing right to the end.  And I still didn't get it. 

I read two reviews this morning and both reviewers gave it excellent marks.  A friend of mine went to a screening last night and I am waiting to hear what she has to say about it. 

I tend to watch most of my movies on DVD as I have little patience for some theatre-goers who treat the theatre like their personal living room.  (Shut up already).  But this time I may make an exception.  I just have to find a time when I think the theatre will be near empty.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Eats, Shoots, and Leaves

If you have not read the above titled book "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves", you will not know that it refers to a definition of a panda.  Obviously, the punctuation is wrong.  No commas needed.

Yesterday, while reading the newspaper online, I came across a sentence with 44 words and 6 commas.  There was no list in the sentence, just a bunch of commas separating phrases and making it difficult to read and understand.  One comma did not even belong there.

I thought that copy editors were supposed to correct these mistakes in sentence construction.  A large part of the GMAT exam for graduate business school acceptance is a series of questions involving grammar and construction.  Any copy editor worth his salt (old school for 'salary') should have rewritten the sentence into two wholly understandable sentences with NO commas.

Lately it seems that everybody feels the need to place commas wherever and whenever they please in a sentence.  With a seeming inability to spell and write among our younger generation, I wonder what do English teachers actually teach nowadays?

For an online story about this, check this out:  Click here.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

You gotta Love It

Yesterday I had to drive to the east side (that's where my dealer is) to have some warranty work done on my car.  While on the freeway I saw a sign that said 'Bridge may be icy'.  I was like 'What?'  I am driving under the bridge.  Does the sign mean I should look out for cars falling off the bridge?  Who puts up this stuff?

It calls to mind one of my favorite pet peeves.  When my internet service goes out, I have to call my cable provider.  After listening to an annoying greeting from 'Shaq 'n Stein', I am reminded that I can find solutions to my problems by logging on to Comcast online.  DUH!  My internet is out.  I cannot log on.  When I get to a representative and remind them how stupid their message is, they agree.  And the next time I call, I get the same stupid message.

It is like the suggestion I heard several years ago regarding notifying residents of emergency procedures when there is an electrical outage due to storms or general blackouts and when to expect the return of service.  Someone actually suggested we post the information on the community website.

A friend was telling me about calling her phone company to report a phone outage.  She was asked by the auto-operator if she was calling from the phone that has the problem.

Ya gotta love it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's Just me Writing This

Newsflash:  "Did Alexandre Dumas use a ghostwriter for 'The Three Musketeers'?"

Do people really care about this?  Are they really making a movie about "The Other Dumas"?  (yes)

Just to set the record straight - I AM THE AUTHOR OF THIS BLOG.  I doubt that anyone will ever question otherwise.  They will probably recognize my sarcasm and say 'Yup.  That's Denise.'

I suppose literary scholars have to have something to be scholarly about.  Did Shakespeare really write his plays?  Well, if you like the plays, does it really matter?

I hated literature classes in high school and college.  I just wanted to read a book for the pure enjoyment of reading and not have to disect it like some corpse (that I did in my anatomy classes).  I did not really care what the author was trying to say.  I wanted to make my own interpretation.  If I didn't get it, so what.  It's probably why I was a math and science major. 

And speaking of reading books, last night I finished "The Piano Teacher".  I removed it from my list this morning lest someone else spend their precious time reading it on my recommendation.  Nuf said.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Take me Away

Well, there is nothing like seeing a huge mass of white on Doppler radar to make one want to get away.  So, this morning I made plans to do just that.  Get away.  In June.

OK.  I admit that is a bit of a wait.  Since I do not have to leave my house until Thursday though, watching the snow come down makes the wait bearable - unless I can't get out Thursday either.

I have booked a trip to see the National Parks of Arizona and Utah.  I decided to leave the driving to someone else so I can actually enjoy the view. 

Several years ago I drove around Lake Tahoe.  Couldn't tell you much more than that it was a long way down.  It seemed as though everyone on the road coming from the opposite direction was driving a behemoth motor home.  No time for looking over the edge or even out the window at the scenery while driving.  On the highway back to Sacramento, a car had gone off the highway and down the embankment into the east bound lanes.  Not a comforting sight.

So, come mid-June, I will be looking at what I have always called a 'bunch of big holes in the ground'.  Two trips to Arizona, two to Vegas,  and I never went to Grand Canyon.  So I guess the fifth time is the charm.  And the beautiful photograph of Bryce Canyon in my entry will now be something I have seen first-hand.  In June.

Dear Abby

My local paper, the Oakland Press, has Dear Abby at the top of the page with the New York Times crossword.  If the column wasn't there, I probably would not read it.  But it is; so I do.

Awhile back a woman about to turn 50 wrote in about being depressed over the event and not wanting to celebrate it, but remain 'holding' at 49.  (Do not even ask why she wrote Abby about this!   It never makes any sense why half the people write Abby about any of this stuff, but it makes for non-stress reading after the front section of the paper.)

I laughed when I read it, because I had remained at 24 until my 40th birthday.  It just seemed like a good place to stop counting.  As I approached 50, I let my staff at the office know that there was to be no 'traditional' 50th party or they would be fired.  (Yes, I actually said that.)

My rant had nothing to do with 50, but rather the silly way those dates were celebrated at work.  On the long drive up to our building, employees would erect tombstones and then decorate the office in black.  As though 50 years marked the end on one's life!  I found it insensitive and crude and not in the least bit funny. 

Perhaps the losses of my father at age 56, a step-daughter at age 17, and a cousin at age 16 colored my feelings.  But for me, 50 was just another year and the start of a new decade for who knew what adventures to come.

To the credit of my secretary, they had a small celebration in the office.  My sister was contacted and she provided old photos of me growing up.  It was wonderful.  Two of my good friends took me out that night for dinner and had the requisite birthday cake and candle brought to the table while everyone sang 'Happy Birthday'.  That was a first for me!

Turning the big 5-0 it no big deal really, so why do your so-called 'friends' think they need to treat the birthday as some kind of 'end of your life' event?  The replies to Abby today talked about all the reasons the woman should be glad she is turning 50.  And so she should.  Not just at 50, but at whatever age you have achieved.  As Abby said, 'It sure beats the alternative.'

Thursday, February 4, 2010

flymas.mobi as easy as a touch

Hi, sorry but today i'm going to branch out slightly from our typical shopping posts. Aside from being a shopping addict, i love online competitions (i mean who can say no to freebies) and traveling. So, when you put MAS + online contest + free tickets (to JAPAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), you get a very excited me!

So, for those of you who have yet to hear about it, MAS recently launched their mobile site, http://flymas.mobi. And, as part of their promotions for the site, they're organizing a video contest. The premise is simple, create a video with the theme "flymas.mobi as easy as ........"

Being slightly video shy (ok. for those who know me, slightly is an understatement), i told a couple of friends about the contest and they were pretty interested as well. So, yea, i was just there as the kepoh person, not doing much but just laughing at them. Hoho.

kk. I think most of you are probably sick of my long narrating. So, on to the video:

Aren't they completely adorable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks Kristy for being such a good sport! And Anthony and Nigel as well!! And if you look closely you'll see a surprise cameo appearance from ME!!! ahahaha. I tried my best to stay out of frame but somehow appeared in one of the scenes. oh well. at least no one can tell it's me anyway. But yea, had a lot of fun during the shoot and we had the chance to enjoy the sunset. LOL. a bit of an inside joke there. Those who were there would probably get what i'm referring to.

So, yes, flymas.mobi as easy as a touch. It really is!!! Just a couple of touches and you can book a flight, check in, manage your bookings, and check your flight status among others. And, more importantly, you can do it anywhere, as long as you have a phone that can go online. I'm oh so excited to start booking flights and planning my next holiday. But yes, of course first i have to figure out the tiny tiny issue of money. SOB SOB. In a perfect world, I'll be really rich and can just travel freely without a single worry in the world. Ok, sorry, i'm deviating slightly from the point. Ahhh. but i can practically hear the sakura blossoms in japan calling out to me!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Watchdogs

I don't want to write a blog about politics.  I have had enough of that.  I do want to mention 'watchdogs' of politics and politicians.  No, we are never going to agree with all of what individual commentators and critics have to say.  See my post about 'opinions'.

But there is another group out there who truly are 'watchdogs' and often benefit the public trust (and also themselves by winning Pulitzers for doing a good job).  Think Watergate and Kwame Kilpatrick scandals. 

Not that I am in that category for sure.  I do know a few things about government.  Recently I criticized what I called an inapproriate, and perhaps illegal, expenditure of public funds.   I made my case at a meeting and went home.  A local paper covered the story.

Then I went off on a short trip.  I came home to find a rather nasty note telling me to 'find a new cause and ...work positively to achieve it.'  Too bad the fellow feels that my cause wasn't worthy.

Last night the local TV station came to my door for a quote.  I missed the airing as I was busy watching CSI:Miami (I tried but the item was over when I switched channels).

My reason for keeping an eye on my local community is the same as was posed to Batman who wondered if he should keep up the fight for good vs evil:  'If not you, who?'

As another friend put it so eloquently yesterday:  The ascension to power does not equate to possessing unquestioned authority!