Thursday, December 4, 2014

Where in the World is Your Fat?

Apparently, mine is in Myanmar. What's really depressing is that, if everyone had a BMI like mine, it would add 10 million tonnes to the world. How to make me feel fat, much?

Take this quiz to find out where your fat is!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Other Side of the Story

Title: The Other Side of the Story
Author: Marian Keyes
Blurb: Jojo Harvey is a dead ringer for Jessica Rabbit and the most ferocious literary agent in town. A former NYPD cop, she now lives in London making million-dollar book deals while trying to make partner at her firm . . . all the while sleeping with the boss man.

Lily Wright is an author who believes in karma, and is waiting for the sky to fall after stealing her former best friend's man. Though her first book failed to sell, her life turns upside down when her most recent book becomes a huge bestseller.

Gemma Hogan is an event designer extraordinaire, but her personal life is nonexistent after losing the love of her life and her best friend in one fell swoop. To make matters worse, her father has just left her mother. While taking care of her mother, she e-mails a close colleague about her frustrations, who in turn forwards the hilarious e-mails to a famous literary agent named Jojo Harvey, who just happens to represent her former friend, now enemy, Lily Wright. . . .

Written in the charming and chatty voice that has become Marian Keyes's signature style, this hilarious and heartwarming novel proves there are three sides to every story . . . especially in the world of publishing!

Review: I was surprised, reading the blurb, to discover that the book is written from the perspective of each of the three women it features, switching between the three at an ever-increasing pace as the action peaks. It was somewhat disorienting at first, but I got used to it, and then it was quite fun!

I'd thought that the actions of the women would impact more upon Jojo, the literary agent, but in fact, each women operates fairly independently of the other and the connections are far more tenuous than the blurb implies. That being said, the connection is solid and the decisions of each woman do eventually have consequences that spill over into the lives of the others. 

Not a particularly brain-straining read, it is a pleasant by-the-fireside contemporary novel that should please all but the most exacting reader. It will keep you absorbed, if not engrossed, and is feel good enough to satisfy the romantic, but gritty enough to not annoy the realists. 

A great job, I would not mind finding another Keyes novel to see what else she produces. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Gobble 'Til You Wobble

SO. MUCH. FOOD! Thanksgiving is definitely a Gobble 'Til You Wobble affair and it's really uncomfortable if you're trying to eat healthy meals - meaning healthy in quality AND quantity.  Of course, I didn't really do so well on the quality side, having produced these Pumpkin Pan Bars as my dessert contribution!

They did look good though, especially packaged up in special Fall decorated napkins! I was given these a few years ago by a dear friend, and have a few left that I pull out on special occasions.

I did make a Paleo stuffing though; all nuts, fruit, vegetables and meat. It was really good, but I think it would make a better meatloaf than stuffing. 

Getting to Thanksgiving dinner was great fun ~ I got to drive on the second fastest highway in the United States! 80mph/128kmh. And no, it's not a flat, straight road, it's a windy, hilly one; although the bends are gradual. The fastest highway is rated at 85mph/138kmh and is south of Austin. So Texas has the fastest roads in the West! LOL

And here's a gratuitous scenery shot of the old bridge on the edge of Junction town. It was just so pretty, I had to share!

How was your Thanksgiving?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Wheelchair is a Lousy Goal!

I dreamed I was helping a man in a wheelchair go to the bathroom (yes, I have weird dreams!) 

When I got him to the bathroom and had prepared everything for him, he got up and walked in to do his ablutions. As I watched him walk, I realised he was deformed because he was in the wheelchair, not in the wheelchair because he was deformed. 

When I woke, I thought about the dream and wondered if my subconcious is trying to tell me I'm crippling myself somehow. That got me thinking how often we choose to put ourselves in a "wheelchair". Each time we're too lazy to make a healthy meal, or do some exercise, or work on our self-improvement, we're choosing to step into a wheelchair and become helpless. Then we watch others who can run and play, envious of their freedom. 

A wheelchair is a lousy goal. I'm going to put a picture of a wheelchair on my fridge to keep me motivated to stay out of one!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Whether you are at home, going home, or away from home, I wish you all much joy, love, and gratitude for your many blessings.

For my many blessings, I am indeed grateful, but I'd like to especially say a huge thank you to Himself for being my wonderful man. I love you and miss you enormously.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Porch Revamp


While the apartments are lovely, the porches are pitiful. Cold, hard concrete. Dull, boring, almost ugly. And check out the poop stains that even oxy and wire brushes will not scrub out!

Now, I have posted previously about my painted rug, but I've held off on posting an update of the porch as I'd not yet found a picture for the wall and it looked odd and empty. However, I found this glorious painting at a thrift store and hauled it home. So now, the big reveal!

Huge improvement, right? It is so welcoming and pretty now, I'm sitting out there enjoying it even in the cold. I had my breakfast out there this morning! The cats think I'm nuts, but it's so happy on our little porch that I just can't resist. Ok, I admit that my sojourns are fairly brief; there's only sooo much cold one can handle, but they're delightful little visits.

 And aren't these chairs just darling? They're very heavy, solid iron with wooden saddle seats, which makes them very comfy to sit on. With my cute little sunflower table keeping them company.

Here's a close up of the painting. While it's perfect for Thanksgiving, I don't feel like it's a seasonal painting, so it's staying up there even after the holidays.

Here's the side view. No more bird poop to assault the senses, just pretty and comfy and fun! The flower display was a gift from Mom G. She found it in a thrift store. The little hexagonal table was given to me for free. It looks okay in these photos, but it is in need of a revamp and I have quite an ambitious idea for it!

Total cost for the overhaul:
Rug: $30 (canvas drop cloth plus paint)
Chairs: $90 for two
Side table: free
Sunflower table: $6
Flowers and vase: gift
Painting: $20
Garland: $2
Total spent: $148


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Everything you own in a box!

To the left
To the left
Everything you own in the box to the left
"Irreplaceable" by Beyonce

Yeah, so our stuff has arrived. Everything we own, packed up in boxes and piled in a storage unit. We thought we'd need two units, but the delivery guys played Tetris with the boxes and everything squeezed into just one large one.

And I brought a stack of them home too, so the house looks like a construction site! I'm glad Himself is away as I sort this all out. It would drive him nuts! LOL

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Complete Photo Guide to Window Treatments

Title: The Complete Photo Guide to Window Treatments: Do-It-Yourself Draperies, Curtains, Valances, Swags, and Shades
Edited By: Linda Neubauer
BlurbThe most comprehensive DIY window book on the market. The Complete Photo Guide to Window Treatments makes it easy to choose and construct today's most popular window treatments - 20 styles of valances, swags, and cornices; 20 styles of curtains and draperies; plus 10 types of window shades. Room photographs show each style in a variety of decorating styles, fabrics, and hardware. Each project has step-by-step instructions from beginning to end: measuring the window, cutting the fabric with confidence, sewing or constructing the project, and installing the treatment the professional way. Over 500 how-to photographs and diagrams make it easy to have professional results. This is the big book of DIY window treatments!

Review: This book, a library borrow, impressed me so much I bought it on Amazon. I got an used copy for $5 with shipping, but it honestly would be worth the "new" price if it were ever stocked new again. 

Now, I'm going to do something slightly unusual for a book review, but this book is worth the extra effort. Behold... pictures!

Ok, firstly, this book has amazing photos.  Every new chapter begins with a full page photo that is beautifully styled with drop dead gorgeous rooms.

Look at this bedroom! I would love that room! I want to make those curtains and swags and the bedding and everything!

The photos are backed up by extensive, detailed instructions on how to make each window treatment. Many of the pages have step by step photos included.

Some have more detail with fewer photos, probably because the steps being discussed are not so complicated or difficult that they need so much illustration. 

Some pages have no photos at all, but the information included is excellent. I don't feel that any pictures are necessary, but she does include drawings if she feels that a 1,000 words would be too many. (Geddit? Picture is worth 1,000 words. Huh? Huh? Sigh... moving on.) 

But any time there is a lot of explaining to do, she goes right back to as many photos or drawings as you might wish for, to help ensure you fully understand each step of the process. 

It's not all sewing either. She is not afraid to wield a screwdriver or stapler when necessary. 

There are 304 pages in this old-fashioned-phone-book-sized guide, and each one is packed to the brim with interesting, useful information, instructions, and photos. You may have noticed in some of the pics above that there are different colors heading the pages. The book is color coded by section. 

In the Top Treatments section, she covers swags, jabots, toppers, valances and cornices. 

In the Curtains and Draperies section you get flat panel, grommet, tab, scalloped, tape, and rod pocket curtains; curtains with cuffs, fancy headings, and attached valances, and style information for stretch, hourglass, tent-flap, pleats, banded and interlined treatments. She also goes over types of tiebacks - and there's a gorgeous braided one I'd love to try!

Moving on to Shades, did you know you get Hobbled Roman Shades? Me neither, but this is one of the ten types of shades you'll learn to DIY with this nifty companion. 

The book closes with a discussion on window treatment basics. I would not have thought there'd be much in this section, but was surprised to discover there is a LOT to consider! Not only is hardware covered, but there is also a comprehensive review of installation methods.

Overall, a sterling book that I can see myself using a lot in the future. I own several curtain/window dressing books. I think I shall donate the others to the thrift store, because this one replaces them all!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cookies in the Grill

 So, I made myself a big pot of beef curry - when I was already hungry. -.-" With at minimum one hour to wait for it to be edible, I wondered what I could do for a quick snack. Hey... cookies!

Yeah, I know, not very healthy, blah blah, but I was ravenous, and I had a batch of ready-mixed GF cookies in the freezer. Now, turning on the oven and waiting 10 minutes for it to heat up then waiting 20 more minutes for the cookies to bake wasn't appealing either...

Then I noticed the grill, just sitting there...

Faster than you could say "Eat your heart out, George Foreman!" I whipped out the pancake butter spray, tossed in some pre-made batter balls, plopped down the lid - and prayed!

10 minutes later...


Monday, November 17, 2014

House of the Star

It's been WAY too long since I posted a book review!

Title: House of the Star
Author: Caitlin Brennan
BlurbElen is a princess of the kingdom of Ymbria. Her greatest wish is to become a rider of worldrunners: the magical horses that are the only safe way to travel the roads through the worlds of Faerie. Now Elen has the chance to fulfill her dream at last, but the price is much too high.
To become a worldrider, Elen must journey to the House of the Star on Earth, the Arizona ranch where the worldrunners live and breed. There, she must try to forge a peace with her people’s worst enemy—a traitor from the world of Caledon—and end the war that has been tearing their worlds apart for centuries. If Elen doesn’t succeed, the Master of the House of the Star will close both Ymbria and Caledon off from the worldroads forever. Can the wisdom of a worldrunner named Blanca help Elen in her quest to save her world?

Review: A young reader's book is a refreshing change once in a while, when it is well written. This was well written, paced well and with a rising cadence that draws the reader in subtly and increasingly until you have to get to the end to find out how it ends. It's not the crescendo that an adult can handle, more gently paced for younger readers, but entrancing all the same. 

While I've long had a love for and admiration of horses, I'm not as horse-mad as the author or the heroines in this book. Nevertheless, I found them very easy to relate to, my empathy for their love of horses felt natural and unforced. Ms Brennan has done an excellent of job of weaving the hearts of the readers into the song of the tale. 

It is definitely aimed at young readers and has the requisite good and evil, magic and reality, warriors and villains to satisfy all children (and quite a few adults) and if I wasn't entirely enthralled, the fault lies in my seared soul. I can entirely see my young grandson mesmerized at bed time by the next exciting chapter.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, a wonderful couple hours of fantasy that made me smile in the end. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Computer desk and hutch

My sewing machine arrived! Woo-hoo! It went from the container straight into my car and then directly to Grome's for a much-needed service! While it was there, it occurred to me that I had nowhere to sew! Well, I considered a folding table, but Himself thought it was ugly and found me a gorgeous sewing table on Amazon. Nearly $200 with shipping. He's a wonderful man, so thoughtful, but I'm not about to drop two Benjamins on a desk!


So off I trotted to the Humane Society Thrift Store. I figured I'd find myself a desk that I could use for sewing instead. It wouldn't have all the cubby holes and such that the real sewing table did, but it would be cheaper. Well, it would have worked out great, if they'd had any desks, but nary a one to be found. They did, however, have an old computer desk and hutch going dirt cheap. I mean, seriously dirt cheap. $37.50 cheap!

I forgot to get a before photo, but that will give you an idea. The problem is that the hutch is in the way of the sewing, but I liked the idea of using the desk, especially as it had the holes in the top for computer cables. Works great for sewing machine cables too! So I decided to take the hutch off and use the desk on its own as a sewing table.  But what to do with the hutch? It was lopsided off the desk, and incredibly heavy! So a trip to Home Depot and $52 later, I had a base and six castor wheels - the special no-mark kind that can roll over hardwood floors and carpets without damaging either. 

Ain't she pretty? The top slides up into the crevice to provide a storage area, and the bottom is open for use for stacking or stocking. I can add shelves later, if I choose. The base is MDF that I brushed over a quick coat of paint (remember the background of my rug? Yup, that paint. Freeeeee!)

With the lid closed, for your viewing pleasure. Please note that the only cable under the desk is the foot pedal. The power cables are all fed through the clever little holes in the desk out the back to the wall power sockets. Brilliant!

So now I have a gorgeous sewing desk and matching accessory unit for less than half the fancy sewing table. I think I'm so smart! LOL

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Making Do!

Himself asked a colleague to get him some roasted peanuts, and he didn't have anything to put them in. This was his solution.

Brilliant! :)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Masterpiece #2: Painted Drop Cloth

Our porch is a tiny patch of cold, bare concrete with three walls, an iron balustrade, and a door. It's cold and unwelcoming and desperately in need of some decor lovin'! Two gorgeous chairs were on sale in the local thrift shop, but that floor! It's a rental, so I couldn't paint/stain/cover the floor with anything permanent, which left me the only option, really, of buying an outdoor rug. $$$$$$$$$ later!!! Er... no. As my mom used to say: "I'm not Rockefeller, I'm the other feller!" Explore other options.

Okay, so I can't install anything, I can't buy anything, perhaps I can make something? As this porch does get rained on (in?) it had to be something weather-resistant, so knitting, crochet, rag rugging, and other readily-crafted ideas were out. Then I discovered painted drop cloths. (I love you, Google!) Merely $14.99 for a canvas drop cloth, 9' x 6' size, at Home Depot. The selection of paints in the reject section were a gallon of pink and a quart of ... um.. reddy-brown stuff. Add a sample of yellow, violet, and red for color mixing, and a quart of white, because you can always use white, and I was ready to paint! Sort of.

The only space I have available is my dining area, so while the drop cloth went through a wash and dry, I hefted the table out the way, laid out a "carpet" of old newspaper, topped that with plastic, and discovered that curious kitties are annoyingly persistent.

Really annoyingly persistent. I'm also really annoyingly stubborn, so I shooed the kitties, sketched in my design, shooed the kitties, positioned the drop cloth, shooed the kitties, painted the outline, chased down the kitties and wiped paint off paws, shooed the kitties.... GAAAAAAAAAAH!

 Kitties 792; Toni 0; and blood-pressure rising, I built a barrier of guaranteed-annoying-to-kitties items. The place looked like a bomb shelter after it's been used and vacated. I traipsed around the house digging out anything I could find that would possibly irritate the cats too much to cross; sheets of paper or plastic, boxes, bags of items, cat beds they don't use much. It worked pretty well, and I was able to get some painting done. One layer per day, allowed to dry overnight.

While my barrier was indeed effective, the cats would circle it like sharks at a baiting station, staring at me with disconcerting intensity. It was like I'd broken some cosmic cat rule and they were waiting for the bolt of lightning to strike me asunder, blow up the barrier, and allow them access to painted-paws heaven!

Fortunately for me, and for them, as mine are the opposable thumbs that keep them in kitty kibble and Fancy Feast, no lightning bolt flashed and my painted rug was completed. Voila! I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. I'm debating whether or not to varnish it to seal the paint, but for now, it's going out on the porch. :)

And yes, you will notice a distinct resemblance to Masterpiece #1!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Masterpiece #1

While in Winchester, VA, I popped into a little shop where they do ceramic painting and such. Not wanting to wait three weeks for my ceramic to be fired (nor pay the postage, to be honest), I opted to do an acrylic painting instead. It would be done in the day and I took it home immediately.

Voila, my masterpiece!

Unfortunately, this photo is the only record I have, taken with my phone on the airport shuttle bus.

Yup, less than 36 hours after making it, I forgot it on the bus!

Is this not public humiliation, you ask? Well, yes, I guess it would be... if I weren't such a scatter brain that this is not an unusual experience. I generally have to almost tie my belongings to myself in order not to forget them. However, the purpose of this post is neither to humiliate myself, nor to brag.


Watch this space!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Luxury Living

You know what they say about finding stuff on the internet, right? Well, here is proof that "they" are not always right. We found this "luxury apartment" online and it has turned out to be luxury indeed. They're beautiful apartments and the folks here are wonderful.

There are six buildings in this apartment complex, our building is only two stories, with a mirror-image upstairs and downstairs apartment; one on each corner and two in the middle. The gently winding pathways to each door are set between lush grass and manicured flower beds. The design is very Southwestern, with stone and stucco-like finishes.

Our apartment building

While the apartments are, obviously, apartments and therefore butt right up to each other, the layout leaves a very spacious impression. It's not hard to imagine you're in a townhouse, rather than an apartment. It is in no way, as the British put it, a pokey little flat!

Very open layout

Our unit is the last one on the ground floor, you can see it is the last pathway leading into our door on the right of the above photo, before the pathway curves around behind the building towards the parking area.

Our front entry

Here is our front door, and you can just make out Trix watching me through the window on the right. Due to a long list of rules and regulations, the cats are not allowed outside, so I give them a "breath of fresh air" every morning by opening the window for them. They get to smell all the smells and watch all the fun, but not go outside. Invisible in these photos is the mosquito mesh that screens each window. It is sufficient to keep them inside, but I do not trust it to withstand a concerted effort, so I never leave the windows open when I'm not home. I don't forget to close it either, thanks to a small post it note on the door!

Fascinated by Cat TV!

The cats find this an excellent solution, especially when a bird or lizard comes past. Then they become totally fascinated by Cat TV. It's really funny when they go into "hunting" mode. I've learned to only open the sash halfway, so that when they jump up to catch the bird/lizard/bug, they "catch" the window glass and not the mesh!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cornflour Made from Wheat.

For all those who suffer the trials and tribulations of sourcing gluten-free food, I am sorry to add to your woes. Behold, and gnash your teeth! Or gasp in disbelief, whichever works for you. I did the "gasp, wtF??" version myself...

Now, is it just me, or is expecting cornflour to be made from corn just unreasonable?

Have you discovered any previously-safe GF food now frankensteined?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Miss Bossy Patterns Selection

Well, I'm STILL stuck on my February Challenge: Pants, and it's time to get my March Challenge on the board. Does anybody else see anything wrong with this picture? Gaaaaaaaaaaah!

Anyway, March is Miss Bossy Patterns. We have to choose three patterns from our pattern stash and post for folks to choose which one we are to make. Posting a photo of the suggested fabric is an optional extra. We can use tissue patterns, or books or magazines. I have an astounding selection of BurdaStyle magazines for somebody who can't sew, so it's about time I went for one of them. LOL.

In true Toni style, however, I've gone with a slight twist. Yeah!

Below, please find my pattern selections.

Option 1: The BurdaStyle Folded Yoke Blouse 10/2012
If you have a look at the web page here and scroll down to the bottom under "Completed Projects" you will see a couple of very nice examples in a printed version. The white version in the magazine is lovely, but I especially like Maska's version, and think Merche's is pretty too. I shall shorten the sleeves, it will be more useful to me that way. I'm also considering something different with the buttons, but haven't decided yet. 

Option 2: The BurdaStyle Wrapped Blouse 04/2013
The web page is here for your viewing pleasure. No changes in mind, this is just so pretty as it is.

Option 3: McCall's M6354
While I have the tissue copy of this pattern, for ease of reference of viewers, I found McCall's online page here for your perusal. Now on this one, I'd like to add sleeves, but I don't know if the style would support it. I'm hoping to wear this blouse to work, so sleeves is a must. Our office had the polar vortex LONG before it made it Stateside! 

As you can see, I'm all about tops this month. It's something I'm sorely lacking in my wardrobe, so I've decided to focus on creating a larger selection this year. 

Now, here's my twist. 

Instead of finding fabric to match each pattern, I'm planning to use one particular fabric for whichever pattern wins. Purchased from Nancy's Notions, but Nancy is uncooperative enough to not have it on her website any more, requiring me to do the entire photograph-download-cut-and-paste thing (are you reading this Nancy? Very unhelpful of you!) to get it up here for you, my dear voters. 

And here it is. Isn't it glorious?

(Nancy, you're forgiven - your fabrics are such fun, I can't stay mad at you at all!) Grin!

There is a lot of blue in my wardrobe and a fair amount of red. I have a couple of green items and a smidgeon of yellow. Lots for mix-and-match versatility. I originally thought I'd make this fabric into a dress, but I have a dozen dresses hanging unused in my closet, so I figured that would be a total waste. At least I will get to wear this several times over in a top or tunic.

So, what's it to be folks? What will I be wearing come end March?

Boss me to make the free polls