Thursday, November 17, 2011

Multi-Post: TV, Complaining, Book Review and Saturday Night in the Kitchen

 Why You Should Not Watch StampTV when in a Weakened Condition 
by The Pleasant Times' Craft Editor Miss Paste

I have been down with a "bug." I mean down-- as in in bed or on the couch for two weeks. I do not have a TV, and there would hardly be anything worth watching on one (except for craft shows on a Saturday); but it was nice to have the Internet on a laptop and instant movies to watch while trying to pass the time away. After trying many times to find a movie on netflix that is not morally bankrupt in some way, I gave up and started to look for something else to watch. That is when I discovered StampTV.

First of all, it is decent. When there might be little people who may be passing by to look over your shoulder, you want to be watching something with no swearing or immodesty.
Secondly, it is calm. When you are sick, you really do not feel like a rip-roarin' gun-shootin' western (though those aforementioned little people would be delighted if you would watch ten episodes of The Lone Ranger). I like something soothing and quiet.
Thirdly, it gets the "creative juices" flowing. Even if you cannot get out of bed and pull out all your crafting supplies out of storage, you can make things in your mind and mail them to people through your mental post office. It's the thought that counts.
Fourth, it is always nice to learn new techniques for a favorite hobby. I had no idea you could paint with bleach, or how easy it was to do resist embossing.

 There was a danger to watching someone make cards, however, that I was not aware of. Even in my weakened condition, I thought I could resist any temptation to buy new products. Sure, GinaK puts in a word for her own products, but she was using some items that she did not sell as well. It has been a long, long while since I had paid much attention to the newest stamping and paper crafting items on the market. I no longer make cards to sell, and most of my stamps went into a semi-retirement while I did other things with my time. I have resisted the hype over die-cutting machines and computerized cutters. I thought they were mostly for scrapbooking; they were too expensive anyway. Since I was not an artistic scrap-booker (I just paste things in where they fit-- the old style) I had no need of letter cutting templates or anything fancy like that, and I really thought the items were too big for cards. So I considered myself safe from buying anything new.

I watched GinaK make dozens of cards, and noticed she kept using this thing called the "Cuttlebug." It is a manual machine, compact in size, that embosses papers and cuts shapes. I had never seen it before. At first I thought it was kind of neat, and oh well. Then after more episodes where the Cuttlebug made a guest appearance, I started to think it was rather nice. Then a few more episodes made it Really nice. Then I started to think about how nice it would be to use one. Then I started to think about how nice it would be to have one.

Now I do not think GinaK was advertising the Cuttlebug, but she sure did look happy when she used it. In some episodes, she seemed to have a contented smile when she pulled it out and cranked the paper through it, as if to say "My life is so wonderful with my Cuttlebug." Her cards using the Cuttlebug elements were perfect. I did not think "maybe I would be happy if I had one, too," instead I knew I would be happy if I had one, too.

I like to think that I am not an impulse shopper. Surely, I reasoned, it would not hurt to go and look at the Cuttlebug. Also, I was curious about what other people thought of the Cuttlebug, and did some research online. It could not hurt to see what the competition had to offer, either. Using my creative thinking, I wondered whether I could just use my marble rolling pin and achieve the same effect, maybe even buying an inexpensive Cuttlebug Embossing folder to try it out.

Then I happened to see that the Cuttlebug was on sale at the craft store. I knew I also had an extra percent-off coupon for sale items at the particular store I was looking at.

After one nearly-sleepless night, in which I traced out math problems with my finger on the sheet to calculate discounts, I decided it was no use: I would break down and ask Santa Claus for the Cuttlebug for Christmas.

Would Santa understand, though, about getting to the store before the sale ended? And did he have an extra discount coupon? I have a feeling that Santa is too busy this time of year to check sale ads and use coupons. If I sent Santa to go and get the Cuttlebug, I was sure he would not even think of a coupon. Obviously, he was going to need some help.

I pulled myself up off of my sickbed to go to my local craft chain store, only to find that the Cuttlebug was not in stock! But the friendly clerk told me if I ordered it in the store, I would not have to pay postage. Not only that, but there was an extra discount on it for some reason, and I got to use my coupon. All in all, I saved $51 on the Cuttlebug, and I am sure Santa Claus appreciated it. After all that excitement, I went home and back to bed.

I continue to watch StampTV videos to see what else the Cuttlebug can do, while I wait for the store to call and tell me my Christmas Present is waiting for me, upon which call I will again arise from my sickbed to go and get it.

Of course I'm going to wrap it! It would not be a proper Christmas present if I didn't wrap it!

Do you have a feeling, though, that Christmas will come a bit early this year?

 From the Editor:

Check Complaints
There are many things in this life of which we are grateful for, but we still like to complain about. I was having a conversation with someone who was saying how she was grateful to see the red tail-lights of cars in the rain in town. To her, that meant that all was right with our society. There are still people that have good jobs they are driving to and from. Some people in other countries do not have cars to get around so easily with; some do not have the choices available that we do, so that we can take our cars and go and find the best prices available to us at the shops. Car lights are a little thing, to be sure, to connect to thoughts of gratefulness; and still we do want to complain about traffic, or the cars themselves.

Commercialism is a big complaint of the Holiday season, and yet isn't it nice to be able to go and buy something? Even if you make all of your own gifts for Christmas, at least you have stores to go to and buy the supplies. Those who enjoy going to a store and seeing the items in person may complain about the prevalence of Internet shopping, and yet isn't it convenient to have a choice? I hope to enjoy the season, and the colors and lights in these dark days, and not see commercialism in it, but to enjoy the excitement. Yet it has been long a goal for me to never shop in December! At least I live in a place and time where I can choose when and where I go shopping, or not.

I was looking at a picture of earth from space, at night. The electric lights all over the world can be seen from space. Someone mentioned to me how sad that was, but I do not think it is sad. It rather makes me happy to see those lights. It means that we have lights to  guide our way at night. It means that we have electricity to power those lights. I am just as keen as anyone to mourn the loss of star shine at night, thanks to the big city lights near us, but I am happy that the stars can see our lights! And when on these "earth at night" pictures, I find places like South Korea all lit up, but North Korea dark, I am grateful that we live in a free country.

As our thoughts turn towards Thanksgiving, we might check our complaints and see if we are really just complaining for the sake of talking, without seeing the good in what we are talking about.


Book Review: Home Birth Stories by Mrs. Graham
Reviewed By Lillibeth, Reporter

A "sweete" blog friend, Mrs. Graham, graciously sent me a free copy of her latest E-Book on Home Birth Stories to review. The booklet is easy to read, and relates the stories of Mrs. Graham's journeys through pregnancies, miscarriages, and births.  The majority of Mrs. Graham's babies were born without professional assistance, which in my opinion takes a person with a Pioneer woman's spirit to do! I have known one other lady who had a birth on her own, and it always impressed me that she was also of pioneer stock.

There are many mothers who have chosen home birth, and are discouraged by those who think only the hospital can bring a baby into the world. Those who may not be brave enough to try an unassisted birth, would certainly, after reading the book, be confident in the excellent services of midwives at home-births; for if Mrs. Graham can do it "alone" and have healthy children, than those who choose home birth with a midwife are in good hands.

Mrs. Graham has been educated on the use of herbs, and writes about what she used and why in each situation. The book is also about her journey in discovering herbs and their uses. There is a disclaimer in the book that this information is for educational purposes only; if you are curious about particular herbs and their uses you can ask your midwife or N.D.


Using Saturday Night to Prepare for Sunday
by The Pleasant Times' food editor, Bessie Baker Cook. 

I recently watched my mother on a Saturday evening, after she had washed up the supper dishes and cleaned the kitchen, start pulling pans out and making another meal. In the quiet of the evening, while the family was off with their own interests, she started to prepare for Sunday Dinner, doing as many steps as she could ahead to make the next day easier on her. I thought our readers may like to hear how she did it.

First of all, she had gone shopping that afternoon for all the ingredients she needed.
Then, after the kitchen was all clean, she had room to get out her equipment. She pulled out the roasting pan, arranged and seasoned a beef roast in it, put the lid on and stuck it in the refrigerator.

Then she made a salad in a nice bowl, and put plastic wrap over it before putting it in the refrigerator.

Then she made some mini bread loaves, and put a cloth over them to let the rise overnight.

Afterwards, she took some dishes, and silverware and cups, and stacked them on the dining room table, along with some oranges. These were the breakfast dishes, and a serving of fruit.

The next morning, she had the table set for breakfast, with an orange for everyone, and had the bread in the oven while she made eggs and sausage to go with it.

Then she peeled potatoes and carrots and put them in the roasting pan, and placed it in the oven to start cooking. Before going to church, she lowered the temperature.

When she got home, she only had to set the table, pull the salad out, and serve the roast up.

As the days get darker, she says we must keep cheerful. She sets out china with gold rims, and uses candles in the middle of the table to make the gold shine. She takes time out to have tea an honey, or hot spiced cider, in pretty cups, to ward off chills. The fancy china dishes are not confined to the hutch for company, but are used for family meals to make life special when the days are shorter and it is too rainy to go out.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hooray! How to get your Share feature back in Google Reader

I have been wanting to rant about the cruel changes to Google Reader for days now. However, since this is The Pleasant Times I am a bit restricted from spreading gloom here! Which is all for the best.

Since using Google Reader, I was so happy to find out I could share interesting and inspiring articles from blogs and websites very easily on my sidebar. No signing up for facebook, or twitter, to share things with my readers. It was a great time-saver for me. The wonderful one-click "share" button was one of the features that was "axed" when the new Google Reader appeared, but there is a way to get it back!

Using the Google Chrome browser, go the the Chrome store and download this free feature:

I tried it out and indeed, the item I shared today has appeared in my "Shared Items" box on the sidebar. I am not sure how long this will last before "they" take my box away, but I hope it is a permanent solution.

-The Editor