Friday, December 30, 2011

Landed safely in Texas

Life on the road makes you aware of several things - like how quickly your body functions will dictate your standards.  We were cruising along the interstate and wishing for a nice restaurant to show up for lunch.  After driving along and finding nothing, our goals shifted to anything showing up.  Finally we came across a McDonald's and were thrilled to see it.  It's amazing when your bladder is full and your gas tank is empty how your values will shift.

At the motel last night there were several large stray dogs wandering about.  The one looked very much like a dingo to me - a bit spooky. Normally I'm not fearful of dogs, but when you have a large black and white cat sitting on your shoulders going into the's a bit disconcerting.

It inspired a strange dream for Left Brain, not unusual for him, but this one had consequences...for me.  Apparently (at least this is his story) he was dreaming that he was walking across the parking lot with She Devil and was attacked by a large lion wearing a harness.  Okay, we did go past a billboard advertising exotic animals at one place that served as a tiger sanctuary, so that may have inspired part of that dream. In protecting our fluffy bundle of joy he found it necessary to punch out the aforementioned lion.  I woke with a start as he punched me in the shoulder.  Thank goodness I wasn't facing him.  Maybe we should have opted for the double beds.

I think it was retaliation for the night previous to that when we "had words" shall we say about where to park for the night.  He became very frustrated and asked me "Well, where do you WANT me to go?".  I'm sorry.  But if a man is going to leave himself wide open like that, what's a girl supposed to say?

My Facebook comments have been talking about 1 - 3 inches of snow in our home area.  I've already forgotten what that looks like.  I had to switch from my sweats to a light weight t-shirt because it's too warm down here.

We finally managed to find a Best Western for the night, and even though they have a no pet policy when I explained how absolutely well behaved She Devil is she allowed us to stay.  Perhaps she was afraid I would start crying right there in the lobby...and it was a possibility.  I tend to go numb after several hours of wearing the heavy furry neck pillow named She Devil.

So, we're in for the night and after a lovely meal (gag) at the Huddle Inn next door with lakes of brown gravy covering everything we're snuggled in for the night.

Long Live the Queen of the Road

We will get into our RV park tomorrow, one day ahead of schedule. I called to see how to handle this ( we spend the night in another motel or Wal-Mart?).  They said it was no problem and to just come on own.  So, tomorrow should be a four - five hour drive and we'll be able to start setting up the canned ham for our stay.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day two

The day began with a belligerent She Devil, but what's new about that?

I've always dreaded the day I might find a dead cat but my worst fear was having to fish around under a bed in a motel for one.  Actually, I have a general rule never to look under a motel bed at all, but she made me do it today.  She decided the high road was not the life for her and sequestered herself under the bed.  Sigh.  Thankfully she was reachable by laying on the floor (another thing I don't normally do in a motel) and retrieving her by grabbing the scruff of her neck and sliding her out, along with various dust bunnies.  Yuck.

She then serenaded us most of the way through Missouri and into Kansas.  No amount of holding and attempts to feed and provide water seemed to soothe her.  Finally she just got bored with the spoiled brat routine and crawled into her bed in the back for a good long nap.

She does seem to like this motel room better - maybe she just likes Oklahoma better.  Okay, maybe it's just having a belly full of tuna and a good drink of water.  I guess tonight we'll have to let her pick what channel to watch.

We spotted an Indian cafe truck stop while gassing up, so headed over there.  At first I thought it said something about Indian roadkill cafe, but I'm sure I misread that.  I got the chicken curry and selected Tandoori for Left Brain.  Let's say it was not a big hit with him.  She Devil couldn't get the Tandoori fast enough and I liked my curry chicken, although after the first bite I lost feeling in my tongue so it's hard to really say if it was good or not.

Good night y'all.
It's now time for bed to prepare for another fun filled (hopefully quieter) drive tomorrow, which should take us into Texas.  We're getting closer and closer.

Long Live the (burp) Queen of Curry

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day one

Okay, this has nothing to do with the blog, but it was too cute not to post.
We headed out this morning with a minor detour into La Crosse to pick up some more meds for She Devil.  We had been paying $95 a vial for her pain med but the vet (Thank you Dr Havlik!) found that the Prescription Center could make it for under $40.  Woohoo!

We arrived for our first night's stay at Bethany MO and after feeding She Devil and giving her the shots we walked over to a nearby restaurant for supper.  The sign used to say Mexican Food and is missing some bulbs and now proclaim Mex Food - but that was close enough for me.  And they had a $1.00 margarita special.

For some reason my "s" key requires heavy hitting, so if I miss some, please overlook it.  I never realized how often one needs an "s".

The weather has been good and hopefully tomorrow will be another uneventful day.

Long Live the Queen of Missouri

Monday, December 26, 2011

Holiday delays

I had hoped to arrange the mail today and pay the property taxes, but it seems that the Monday after Christmas is a holiday.  Oh well, I will try it again tomorrow.

The spa is cleaned, laundry done.  Just a couple of last minute things to wrap up tomorrow and then we can hook up the car and prepare for blast off!

She Devil looks very nervous - I think she figures we're leaving and she'll end up being boarded again.  She will be so pleased!  Her seat is all ready with blankets to nap on.

Long Live the Queen of The Travel Bug

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to all

It was a quiet Christmas here in our mixed household.  

This is an old photo of She Devil when she was but a wee little kitten.  She loved to climb up into the tree.  Much like the animated cartoon of Simon's Cats doing this.

We had lunch at the Bamboo House with our neighbors (another mixed couple).
They surprised me with a wonderful Christmas gift - the matzoh cover that had come from his mother.  Now I will have to have a Seder and invite them over - that will be fun.

Left Brain and I had planned to shop at Wal-Mart while waiting until 4:00 for our next movie, Mission Impossible...but it was actually closed.  This made me feel good - it really shouldn't be open, but it was still surprising to see it shut down.  So we went home and I got more laundry and chores done.

The movie was okay, it provided the entertainment and was pretty non-stop action, but I tend to get lost in these kinds of things.  It seemed like an opportunity for Tom Cruise to show off his muscles and run a lot.

The Packers have just won their game and I'm tired of cleaning out old photos from my hard drive, so off to bed we go.

Long Live the (yawn) Tired Queen

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

We had a great time at the birthday bash recently, it's always good to see the family and enjoy the granddaughters.  They are a fun bunch.  I attempted to get some photos with my camera on the phone to practice more with it, but having a hard time trying to figure out how to get them from the camera to the computer.

It's so frustrating!  This is a photo of an Icelantic cat from Rosemary - but it shows how I feel.

The other odd sensation I received was while on the way home when I noticed a man walking down the inside of an overpass.  As I turned to look more closely I could see his supplies and shelter he created under the bridge.  That brought many disturbing feelings as I thought about the unseen population that live like animals on the fringe of society.  There's that wanting to help but being afraid to approach them and the realization that some prefer this to living in a conventional style.

Left Brain and I went to see "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" today.  It stayed very close to the book and we both enjoyed it a great deal.  Not hard to understand why it has an R rating.

We're having a quiet Christmas eve doing nothing and will join our neighbors tomorrow for Chinese lunch and then off to see Mission Impossible.

The laundry has been started and the packing is increasing in frenzy with all the last minute things that need to be done before take off.

Now if I can just figure out how to get to those photos!  There's so much to learn and so few brain cells to work with.

Long Live the Queen of Impending Departure

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Off we go

No, not for Texas just yet.

Our little one's ninth birthday is today and we are off to celebrate with the family.  It's hard to believe she's nine years old already.

I love that she was born on the Winter Solstice and shares a birthday with my beloved Rabbi.  She's one very special young person.

I understand a trip to Dave & Busters is on the agenda as part of the party.  Long gone are those days of Chuck E Cheese...and it's okay with me.

Then we'll have an early Christmas/Channukah celebration before returning home again.  

That's when we will start to pack in earnest for the trip south, although I have a pretty good start on it already anyway. 

It's beginning to look a lot like winter here and I'm ready to move on.

Long Live the Queen Grandmother

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A quiet Sunday at home

Left Brain rolled in about 5PM last night from Russia and was babbling incoherently for about an hour before I needed to leave to attend a bar mitzvah party.  Whenever my people join together in celebration you know there's going to be some good food and dancing going on.

I actually stayed until a little after 10PM before heading back home to unwind a bit in the hot tub and admiring the stars.  What a beautiful night it was - lots of stars in the sky.

So today I goofed off while LB slept in until about noon.  It's amazing that he woke up just in time for the Packer kickoff.  I went off to see Chip-wrecked and get some groceries.  When the Packers are playing you can get in and out of stores very nicely.

Then I went home and had a sudden frenzy of wanting to see what was in the canned ham and what needed doing before we head for Texas.  I ended up packing everything in the garage that was ready to be packed and started lists and setting out boxes and suitcases to prepare.

Our youngest granddaughter is celebrating her ninth birth on the 21st so we'll head up that way to share the event with the family and then start preparing in earnest for our trip south for the winter.

The year is winding down and I'm looking forward to a fabulous 2012.

Long Live the Queen of the Packers - camper packers that is

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Simon and the fly

I just love this cat!  Anyone who has cats will agree that this is very true to life.  Scary...but true.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Restroom Door Said Gentlemen

A friend of mine recently shared her Christmas music with me and now I can't get it out of my head. the spirit of the holidays I want to share it with you also.   Enjoy!

Lyrics | Bob Rivers - The restroom door said gentleman lyrics

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Photos from the home show

The home show was a blast, albeit more work than I want to tackle again for a long time. 

Here are some photos from the show.

This is Alexa with Tony, her new love.

She seems to have been taken by him and has developed some animalist habits....not good.

I'm sure her mother will have words with me about this new romance.

But then again, she is a teenager, so who knows what prompts these hissy fits.

But now they seem to be quite in love again.

Although she does look at bit startled by his sudden kiss.

You just never know when a tiger is going to pounce.

This is a photo of some of Jolene's wonderful glass dishes that she makes.  She was great fun to add to our mix of artists and her husband baked the most incredible pasties for us to enjoy.  I think we were supposed to be sharing with the customers, but....

There were some slow moments during the show - but these were enjoyed by the artists as well.  Here we have Linda and Jolene sharing a beading lesson. I'm not sure who's teaching who but it did give me some little flashbacks from Kindergarden. 

But nobody ran with scissors and all played well, so it was okay.

Rick came by to help with the set up and take down, but disappeared during the show.  Smart man.  Here he is with his buddy, Little Ricky. 
The similarity is uncanny. 

 I'm never sure which one is the dummy.

Long Live the Queen of the Exhausted

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Enjoying a meal with Left Brain

I love sharing my meals with my husband, and we've been some interesting places together.  But today was a first for both of us.

I was snuggled into my chair with the computer on my lap trying to capture all the ideas I woke up with for an entire new line of dolls.  This never ends for me - it's exciting but can be exhausting.  While I'm typing away and munching on my Cheerios and Coke Zero I got a Skype call from Left Brain.

While I was having breakfast at 8:00 am he was sitting down to eat supper at 6:00pm in Russia.  We we conversed as we ate several thousands of miles apart.  He said it stays dark over there until about 9:30 am and starts to get dark again at 5:30 pm.  I guess I can't complain about the darkness here anymore.

When he said he wanted to be as far away from the home show as possible, he wasn't kidding. He flew out to Russia at 5:00 am the morning of the show.  He was starting to worry about me when he hadn't seen any blogs or received any emails from me.

I assured him all is well and the house is almost back to normal...somewhat.  I do have a set of wire grids in the living room that I need to complete the toppers to go with the new set up I've designed.  But most of it has been tucked back into their respective areas again.

I swear I will never understand people who say they are bored.  I just don't know how that is possible.

Long Live the Queen of International Dining

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

So much to little time

I've been neglecting my posts lately due to the art/craft show I held in my home over the weekend.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Pushing all the furniture around and stashing a good deal of it in the bedrooms seemed like such fun as I transformed a basic Midwestern home into an art gallery.

I enjoyed the show, especially visiting with the artists and customers but there were some challenges.  And her name is She Devil.

To make this event possible it was necessary to sequester her in one of the bedrooms during the day to prevent her from hissing at and biting the customers...definitely not good for business.  I see it as a little vacation get away...she saw it as jail time. 

Now mind you she had her running water fountain, her two favorite dry cat foods, her wool rug and comfy pillow and as much tuna and lunch meat as she desired.  But, it wasn't her idea and she wasn't happy.

I knew she was not pleased with me when right before her jail term...I mean, vacation get away she would use the litter box and leave an extremely foul odor in the room.  This was done in the living room box, of course...not in the one in her room.  To add insult to injury she managed to work up a cling-on that dropped in the middle of the floor.

While in her little bungalow for the day she managed to "miss" the huge over-sized litter box the size of Montana and pee right in front of it.  But, I'm wise to these tricks and have puppy pads there for this purpose.  So, she managed to get revenge on me.

Wait a minute!  I'm an indoor is this happening?
I got my revenge the next Monday with a trip to the vet for blood work to check on her diabetes and to express her anal glands.  Later that night we learned how to frame a photo on Photoshop and so I put her into a blinding snowstorm with a nice frame.  Take THAT She Devil!

Long Live the Queen of Feline Sanitation Services

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

New stuff

My newest creation is a smaller version of my original pattern.  I usually keep the first of any new creation, but this was made for a special young man who has admired my dolls.

We learned another new technique in our Photoshop Elements class called the Orton Effect.  It's a subtle effect that produces a glow to the photo.

The first image posted here is a scene from Arizona taken on an earlier visit. I've done some color correction and the like, but no special touch-ups.

The dessert has it's own special kind of beauty.
This is the image after going through the steps necessary to create the Orton Effect.

It's not a big jump, but it does make for an interesting image.

Right now I've been pushing around furniture to create spaces for several other artists to join me for my first home show on Friday and Saturday.  I think it's a lot of fun and Left Brain thinks it's crazy.  He wants to be sure to be outta here so will leave that morning for Russia.  It's a long story.

Long Live the Queen of Fairies

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cooking adventures with the electric pressure cooker

This has certainly become my new favorite way to good, but there are a couple of glitches to overcome.  With me...not it.

I prepared stifado for supper and modified the recipe a bit.  It called for veal and I just can't use that due to the cruel abuse of the animals to provide this meat, so I used beef stew pieces.  In hindsight I realize now I should have cooked it a little longer as it's tougher than veal might be, but...oh well.  Life and learn.

This recipe was thrilling for me on many levels.  First of all, it required more than my usual two spices...salt and pepper.  Then it needed dry vermouth and red wine vinegar.  I've not cooked with booze before, I generally prefer to sip on a drink while cooking...not put it into the recipe.

The first step went smoothly as I used the browning cycle to start the meat, then the saute cycle to cook the chopped onions and all those herbs.

Then I added the tomato, bay leaf and cinnamon stick with the meat for the high pressure cooking and went to watch TV while supper was being prepared.

After a while I realized I had not remembered to push the start button. I have to do everything?  So I started the process again to cook for the required nine minutes.  After this part was done I added the one pound of tiny whole onions (I didn't even know you could buy this in the freezer section) and set for one more minute.

I usually use the quick release method, which is great fun because it sends a blast of steam up into the air.  However, this time it asked for the natural release method that takes about 15 - 20 minutes for it to reduce steam slowly.  So supper got a little delayed that night, but when the lid released (which it will only do when it's safe), the aroma was incredible.

With some orzo I prepared in the steamer, I scooped it up and served Left Brain a wonderful supper.  Yum!  I love stifado!

Long Live the Queen under High Pressure

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Queen has been cooking

I never thought I'd declare that cooking is fun.  I guess that's a lesson in never say never.  You just need the right gadgets.

Actually, I've had many of the gadgets for a long time, they just sat on the counter top so it looked more like a kitchen.  Now I'm plugging them in and turning them on!

My newest gadget is the Cuisinart electric pressure cooker - what fun.  After conquering my fear of blowing myself up (they don't allow that anymore with all the safety features) I have learned to really love this little puppy.

Last night I made tomato soup in it and then used my blender to puree it.  Great tasting soup!  Who would have believed I could produce this kind of food!

Long Live the Queen of the Kitchen

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I just can't eat this pear

I really do want to try new fruits and vegetables, so I purchased this pear earlier.

It's ripe now and ready to be sliced, but when I took out my knife and looked closely I could see it looked upset.

It just looks too much like Left Brain to cut up.

Actually it IS him in the pear.  Oh the magic of Photoshop!

Long Live the Queen of Pears

Friday, December 2, 2011

More textures

This is another example of texture overlay.

This is an orange flower closeup I liked and found it very fun when adding a red and white checkered tablecloth over the top of it.

I then used the eraser to remove the tablecloth effect from the center of the flower and some of the petals for added effect.

This is what the photo looked like before any manipulation.

I realize it's not a look you'd want to do very often, but it was fun to see what could happen when applying the texture.

Long Live the Queen of Manipulation (oh on so many levels!)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

New photoshop skills

One of the coolest things I've learned so far in my Photoshop class is how to make snow.  Much more fun on a computer screen than in the yard.  This snow I can remove with a touch of the heavy shoveling required.

The photo above is of one of the round barns of Vernon County with my very own woman made snow storm.  This is what the barn looked like before the snow.  It actually was a nicer day and there was a building nearby that I removed before putting the new sky in place.

Then I just got crazy and started to add textures - a lesson from our last class.  This is the barn with a chrome texture overlay.

It's a very subtle effect and gives it the appearance of hammered metal....very fun.

Then I tried taking the same photo and adding another photo of an old barn with peeling paint on it.  I just love to shoot old stuff and am fascinated with the rural decay all around us.

That's it for the barn and it's manipulations for tonight.  I can't wait to see what the next week's lessons begin!

Long Live the Queen of Texture

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Salvation Army - facts and fiction

This article was started by a posting on Facebook that the Salvation Army denied housing to gay couples and that religious involvement was mandated. That got my attention and for a brief period of time I was hesitant to donate to any of the bell ringers found in all our areas at this time.  Like any statement on social media, you must come to your own conclusion, so I decided to check it out on a personal level.

I made arrangements to meet with the manager of our local shelter and tour the facility.  I've been to parts of this building in the past dropping off bedding and food as needs are made known, but had no first hand experience with the sleeping areas. And I thank my lucky stars for that.

I learned a lot about this facility in my one hour tour and discussion. It's more than just a bed for the night, although I'm sure that is a welcome sight for anyone faced with the prospect of sleeping under the bridge.  It is a hand up, not a hand out, and designed to help people get back on track.  There are many services provided as needed.

Nursing students from Viterbo go to the shelter to administer health screening and medical services within their scope as part of their training.  This is a definite plus for the homeless population staying there who would not have access to even rudimentary medical care. 

A child care room has been set up by a former resident and is run by volunteers to care for children while the parent goes to job interviews, looks for housing, attends to their medical needs or any other host of reasons.  If not for this brief respite, the parent(s) are with their children 24-7 with no break at all, in shared space with many others.  I know personally that I would become certifiably insane in a short period of time under these circumstances!  It's hard enough to keep kids entertained within your own comfortable home and having the means to attend a movie or outing.

The large open area off the kitchen has tables and benches set up during the day where three meals are provided to residents and anyone in the community who needs a questions asked.  At night the tables are folded up and the cots stored in the lockers on the side of the wall come out and are set up bedtime.  This area is for the men to sleep in.  There is another area for women and children that is separate.  Couples (married or not) coming in with children must be split up with the men sleeping in the general area and the mother and the children in their area.  

All sounding pretty normal at this point?  Here is where the kicker comes in.  Our shelter can house 95 people.  They are experiencing a much larger amount of children and families than ever before.  This creates some challenges for where they sleep.

There is a small area available for handicapped persons as well as "odd couples" that can't be housed in the general areas.  This may be a man coming in with a small daughter.  You really can't comfortably separate them, but neither can go into the others area.  The same situation applies with a woman coming in with a teenage son.  These situations cause some difficult choices.  Add to that the issue of someone who is transgender.  If they are not far enough in the process to have actually become the opposite sex, where do you safely house them?

In some situations such as these, they may be sent to a hotel with a voucher for a one night stay or longer.  This obviously puts a great strain on an already strained budget.

There is very limited storage for possessions, which doesn't cause too much of a concern as most have only a few meager items with them.  As I was asked by the lady providing the tour, "How many coats do you have?"   I flinched to think of the spring coats, and dress coats and long wool dress coat, etc that are in my closet.  "How many do you absolutely need?" she added.  One.  I made a mental note to go through the closets again and weed out items that people could use now as the weather gets colder.

There are showers provided as well as washing machines and cleanliness is stressed not only out of necessity but to raise morale.

There are psychiatrists available for mentally ill residents, another growing population.  There is spiritual guidance provided for those who want this.  Sometimes this is the missing piece to someone putting their life back together during a very dark time.  But NEVER is it mandated to attend the church services or bible study.  This was further enforced by reviewing both the Staff Intake forms and the Resident Orientation booklet with the policies and procedures.  On page three of the orientation packed it states (and I quote) "I understand that I am not required to participate in any of the religious activities offered by the La Crosse Salvation Army, and my stay at the shelter or eligibility for other social service programs is not determined by or contingent upon my participation in these activities".  This would of course be the case as they receive government funded grants.

When I asked specifically about the statement of gay couples being denied housing I was told it was nothing ever asked on any form and was not an issue.

Do they have strict rules there?  You bet.  They have to in order to provide safety and comfort for a general population that is in a tight space.  Some of these are obvious - no smoking in the building, you must be 25' away from the entry to smoke.  No drugs or alcohol - that's a no-brainer.  This is enforced by giving a nightly breathalyzer in the evening.  No inappropriate materials such as pornography.  No abusive behavior of any kind, physical, mental, emotional, sexual, or verbal.  No cursing or profane language.  No weapons.
There are many mundane lesser rules I won't go into such as use of the TV, telephone, food, etc.  No short shorts or revealing tank tops. T-shirts with inappropriate wording such as swear words, gang sayings or references to drugs or alcohol are unacceptable attire.

No fraternization with other residents or staff members.  This means no relationships, no public displays of affection, and no pairing off among residents.  Unmarried couples won't be assigned to the same dorm room.  Certainly anyone with common sense can see the logic here.  Everyone must pull together to serve a great good for the community.  This is something I fear we are losing as we become more and more focused on our rights without remembering our responsibilities. 

It may sound strict and perhaps harsh, but they really do try to create a safe and welcoming area to those in a desperate situation.  If clothing is needed a voucher is provided to go to the Salvation Army Thrift Store to pick out what is needed.

Just think about the season we are at right now and the family we may have staying overnight or for a few days...maybe longer in some situations.  You can "get through" a short visit, but if you knew they were going to be staying with you for an extended length of time you'd need to set up some rules so everyone knows what is expected to help each other stay sane.

I count myself blessed to have never needed the haven this shelter provides.  I have personally received help earlier in my life when my grandmother purchased work clothes for me from the Thrift Shop when I returned home after my divorce.  I was able to do job interviews and get back on track.  With our economy the way it is these days these people are not just deadbeats and ne'er-do-wells...they are families who had one too many things go wrong, a medical emergency, a car breaking down, downsized out of a job...the list goes on.  Many people today are just one step from losing everything.  It can happen to anyone.

It felt good to have checked into this false statement and be able to know for myself what the truth is.  It also felt good to hand them the check for my donation towards the good they are doing and I will resume putting change in each and every kettle I pass by.

I apologize for the length of this post - I generally try to keep my funny little blogs short and sweet, but this was an important topic to me and I had to get it all out there.

Long Live the Queen of her own castle

Busy busy busy

I have been remiss in blogging lately - not that there's been any shortage of things to talk about...just a lack of time in which to do so.

One of the new things lately is starting classes in Photoshop Elements at the Technical college.  It's only four sessions...but what sessions they are!  It's amazing how much I've learned in just two classes and I promise I will post some photos soon of before and after to demonstrate the techniques learned.

The other activity involved a Facebook post about the Salvation Army that bothered me.  It stated that they denied gay couples access to their shelter and forced Muslims to attend bible study as a requirement for staying there.  At first I took this at face value being it was out there for everyone to see and must be true..right?  Then I decided to check into it further.  This is where the Queen Jester became Lois Lane and went directly to the source for the scoop.  But that's a subject for an entire blog that will be coming in the next day or two.

I've been creating nonstop and designing a new pattern for a smaller version of my dolls, as well as some flying fairies and angels.  One was inspired by a request for a custom designed fairy to give as a Christmas gift and it was so much fun I've started a new line of them.  I love the designing aspect of my art, but it does soak up a ton of time.  It's kind of like playing computer games and finding after "just one more" that it's 3:00 in the morning.

All this activity, plus recovering from family and friends over for Thanksgiving has made me a bit distracted.  I've gathered up a pile of items left by my family to mail back to them.  So far we have one book, a bag of knitting, a wishbone and one white sock.

It must have been during this distraction that I made my error last night.  I was watching TV, playing computer games and reading...yes, all at the same time - I don't know why but when I get tired I imagine I can take multitasking to extreme levels.  I can't...but I imagine I can.'s my little fantasy world and who are you to shoot it down!  Anyway...I digress.  This was where I reached for my little container of oven roasted almonds.  I love munching on nuts while I read.  I noticed they tasted a bit funny, almost fishy but figured it must be some kickback from all the fish oil tablets the eye doctor has me on.  Although I've never noticed that effect before.

After the second handfull I decided they must have gone bad, they just didn't taste right.  Any why is She Devil dancing around like that?  Then I looked at the container.  Same height as my almond.  Same blue lid.  Only this one says Whisker Lickin's.  Yup.  I was eating She Devils crunch lover tuna flavored kitty treats.  They really aren't all that bad...but I think I'll stick to the almonds from now on.

Love Live the Queen of the Crunch Lovers

Saturday, November 26, 2011

So many little time!

It's been like Christmas lately with all the UPS deliveries.  My new camera has arrived and I've got the batteries charged up and ready to go.  My electric pressure cooker is here and has been washed and is ready for service.  The new HDR software has arrived but has not yet been downloaded.  I'm still dealing with the newness of the Photoshop Elements 10 that I have on my PC.

With my frenzy of trying to finish projects before family arrived for Thanksgiving, not to mention the cleaning and preparing of food for that holiday, I just haven't had time to play with anything new.

My last shipment arrived and will be put to immediate tiny turners for those smaller fingers.

The Chef doll was shipped out today to her new home and the fairy for a young girls Christmas gift is done.  So I'm down to just the traditional German kitchen witch and then I can explore new venues.

After visiting the Holiday Fair right here in my area it was clear in my mind that I need to get into this show in 2012.

Now I need to recover from the Thanksgiving visit and start to play!

Long Live the Queen of Too Much Going On

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Eve

After cleaning and cooking all day I'm sitting down to post my blog and check out Facebook.  To me Facebook is like the old party line when I was a kid ... you can listen in on conversations without anyone knowing you're there.

I guess I'm feeling nostalgic today as while remembering some past Thanksgivings, both good and bad.

When my grandmother was alive and in command we had lovely dinners, with everyone getting along and playing cards during the day.  After her death, things deteriorated as booze became the prime ingredient and the food didn't always materialize.  I had come to associate holidays with bowling alleys and movie theaters because that's where my cousins and I would escape to when things got too rough.

Now that that's behind me I feel as if I'm back in those "good old days" of my memory and my heart is filled with joy as I prepare for the gathering of my family and friends.  I'm thankful for not having to wonder which way the day will go and being free to just enjoy it.

I used my new Cuisinart electric pressure cooker for the first time to cook the potatoes.  Even though it doesn't make the same sounds as Grandma's, I still felt a connection.  And I don't have to worry about the new improved models blowing up.

Much of my efforts today were achieved with a small red helicopter buzzing my head.  Left Brain likes to do some fly-by's while I work. When I threatened to snap it out the air with my kitchen towel it made a quick landing in the other room.

Have a great day tomorrow and enjoy those around you!

Long live the Queen of the Kitchen

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cat in the box

This is a series of cat antics that I just adore called Simon's cat.  
Since I've been cleaning and preparing for Thanksgiving and haven't  been posting regularly...I had to just share this with you.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Long Live the Queen of Cats

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Container Store

It was a day of shopping with friends at a location I did not know existed.  We traveled to the cities to explore The Container Store.  This is a large store that sells containers for, well...everything.

There were items I had never heard of and didn't realize I needed until seeing them.  Some truly innovative tools and some gadgets that have no need to have been developed.  Many had some comic least in my tiny mind.

Take for instance the tiny acrylic boxes, with a lid to store your golf ball.  Yup.  Ball.  Not plural.  One golf ball.  After laughing about this product and commenting on what kind of nut would buy a box for one golf ball I noticed my friend, Ms M, had one in her cart.  She is deaf in that ear and my mockery went unnoticed. So, of course, I had to repeat it for her benefit.

She explained that her husband had hit a hole in one and she wanted to put the ball in a little display case.  This led to a series of jokes about her storing her husband's balls in boxes and that she has taken her anal organizational habits to a new level.

My other friend, who is also an artist, admired several items that could be used to store her broken glass.  Most people throw out broken glass, but she breaks it on purpose.  And then she reassembles the glass into incredible masterpieces for the window.  We both kept finding items that would work as display options in our booths.

But my favorite item was a set of cutlery (in a box, naturally) that had a handle and attachments to screw on to create a fork, spoon, knife....and chopsticks.

There were many containers with displays showing possible uses and some that just bewildered the imagination as to what in the devil would you do with that.

It was an interesting experience and we had a great lunch followed by some more shopping until all three of us stopped dead in the middle of the hallway and we all pronounced we were too tired to continue.

So we packed back into the car and started home.  There was an emergency stop at Cold Stone Creamery on the way home to renew our energy.  I do believe ice cream improves my night vision, so I blew off my Weight Watcher regime for the day in the interest of safety for my friends.

Long Live Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Veggie Dolls

I've been having too much fun with potato mashers lately.  First I created a bunch of angels for the upcoming holiday shows and then I went into a vegetative to speak.

I had all these artificial veggies sitting around and just had to do something with them.  They looked like perfect heads to me, so off I went!

They have lots of spunk and attitude, just like their creator.

It was really fun decorating the faces with all kinds of odds and ends and trying to see how silly I could be...and I've got lots of practice with that.

The arms and abnormally long fingers are wired so they can be fully posed.  

I hate to just have something sitting around the kitchen and not being busy with their hands.  Why does Left Brain come to mind right now...hmmmm?

This one is a really hot tomato!

They really make the perfect dolls as they stand up on their own and well...I don't know.  I just like them.  It's part of that constant "what could I do with that?" that runs through my head.

This one has a potato for a head and an old potato chip bag for her clothes.  Oh the things I must do for my art...eating potato chips to get their clothes!

Her hat is a wire scrubby for those hard to clean pots and pans.  I wasn't using it because, well...I don't dirty a lot of pots and pans.  When you don't cook the kitchen stays pretty clean.

Well, that's enough for now.  I need to see what She Devil is's too quiet in there.

Long Live the Queen of Potato Mashers

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I did not know that!
Part of my clean up for winter is to remove the pump and filters, clean them for storage and put in the water heater to keep the ice from closing off the pond.

The fish winter over just fine in the pond provided they have an open hole to release the gases from their waste.  The same reason you never  keep the covers over your head if you pass gas in bed.  I apologize for that mental image.

Anyway, I digress.  When I tried to plug in the said heater there were a few sparks and a zap sound and the clicking of the reset button.  Hmmm.  Perhaps the plug was a bit wet I wondered as I stood there in my slippers and towel having just gotten out of the hot tub.  Maybe doing this while still wet was not the smartest thing, but I've never been accused of being a brainiac.

I tried it again four or five more times.  I am nothing if not determined.  Harumpf.  I give up.  Left Brain can deal with this I muttered as I shuffled into the house.

He dutifully went out and assessed the problem and came in to tell me what I did wrong.  He seems to take great joy in that and I give him no end of things to comment on.  This is where I learned you can't have the end of the plug that connects with the heater IN the water.

But it's an outdoor cord I argued, and then he pointed out that's not the same as being under water.  I suppose he has a point there.

I'm so glad we have a ground fault circuit for these kinds of situations or there'd be lots of goldfish floating on the top of the well as a towel clad Queen Jester laid out on the patio.

Long Live the Queen of Underwater Electricity

Monday, November 14, 2011


Left Brain and I went out to lunch recently at the Hungry Peddler and enjoyed great fish and scallops - yum.  I had set this up to meet with a friend who asked me for a donation for a charity event coming up soon.  As we were leaving the restaurant we ran into Santa Claus.  He consented to having his photo taken with me and I was as thrilled as any Jewish kid could be.

I wanted to create something larger and in a holiday season theme for this and came up with Mrs Tannenbaum. 

She is about 20" tall and rests on a square base with holiday decorations and gifts at her feet.

I hope she helps to bring in some money at the event.

After passing off the doll we headed over to the movie theater and watched "Tower Heist".  Very fun movie - lots of action and humor with a great cast.

Long Live the Queen 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Photoshop fun

I've started to get familiar with my new software, Adobe Photoshop Elements 10.

The first thing I did was use a photo of Left Brain from our Arizona trip in 2010 and alter it.

It was pretty funny to start with, but with the use of the distort tool I was able to alter his facial features a good deal.

Then I changed his big beautiful brown eyes to blue.  Sing along with me now....don't it make my brown eyes blue....

Then I added some hair with the brush tool and used a smudge tool to make it look more normal and applied a posterization filter.  Maybe it's just me but he looks a little like Alfred E Neuman from MAD magazine.

Here is what the photo looked like before any retouching at all.  

It wasn't a great photo to start with, but when he puts himself in these kind of compromising situations, well...I just have to use it somehow.

Long Live the Queen of Distortions...and her loyal subject, Left Brain

Friday, November 11, 2011


I've never understood the ad for ED products.  First I can't understand WHY they are so popular.  It bothers me that people run to a pill to fix everything when maybe what they need to do is change their lifestyle or diet to achieve the results on a more natural level.

The ad with two seniors sitting in matching bathtubs as they gaze out on their lovely surroundings is the strangest to me.  Isn't the idea of this product to bring you together?  It's like ending a very romantic evening by slipping into twin beds and saying good night.  What's the point?

So you can understand my amusement when I saw this take off of that add with a gingerbread couple sitting in coffee cups of cocoa...I'm not sure.  And then there's the caption of Make Merry to go with it.  Yikes.

Long Live the Queen of Confusion

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Camera club results

Once a month we have a competition in the local camera club and sometimes I do better than others.

This photo of the old house in the rain was entered in our challenge of "rural decay" and took second place.

I loved the comments of how impressed people were that I captured both the sun and the rain at the same time.  Those who know me understand that I am a fair weather photographer who doesn't do early mornings or inclement weather.  The rain was strictly compliments of Photoshop.

The barred owl was my entry in Open - I couldn't place it in Nature as it was taken in a captive setting and not in the natural elements required for that category.  Some were impressed that I was able to get so close to it and how difficult it was.  The main difficulty was in  blurring the chain link fencing in front of it.

My entry into the People category was this lovely young girl in Alaska in all her beautiful costuming.  

She was stunning as well as the outfit but I could have used a little more light in her eyes.

I didn't place but did receive an Honorable Mention from the judges.

And lastly, this image of a rusty old wheel was entered in N4C competition which is on a national level in the contemporary category.

I believe I added a posterization effect to this of my favorites.

We do this once a month in our club and I enjoy it very much as I feel it pushes me to find new and creative ways to see things.

I've just installed Photoshop Elements 10 on my laptop and ordered the Nik HDR Efex Pro software to add all kinds of creativity to my work.  I'm ready to order the camera I desire to finally use up my prize money as I'd like to have it before Thanksgiving so I can shoot the family and be able to have some video capability.

Long Live the Queen of the Camera

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Angel dolls

To prepare for the Bling art show at the Pump House the first weekend of December I have come up with several new creations.

I was determined to make "angels" this year....but not the kind you might think of.

This is my line of "Angels We Have Heard Were High" created from antique potato mashers.

They come in a variety of colors and all are sporting nice big wings.

The arms are wired and can be posed to show some "attitude", which my dolls never seem to have a shortage of.

Some are holding harps, gifts or pine cones.

Who ever knew potato mashers could be so much fun!

Long Live the Queen of Old Stuff