Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Martha Stewart Witch Silhouette for the Yard

New Martha Stewart Holidays Yard Decor.

Grandin Road's new line of Halloween decor and decorations inspired by ideas and products featured on the pages of Martha Stewart Living is now available. I picked up the witch and cat silhouettes for the yard. They are from October 2005 issue of Living. I had thought about making them but never came back to the idea. However, they look creepy perfect with a hint of sophistication. The witch comes in several pieces and the broom and lantern, which she wields, come in a separate shipper. The cats (three, sold as set) each arrive in two pieces with detachable tails.

The construction is mostly superior. A few pre-drilled screw holes were missing on the back of the witch but I easily took care of the problem. There is a hinged slot that connects to a support on the back to keep the tall witch from blowing over. The hing is not the best quality but is doing the job so far. She has four ground stakes the keep her upright. All screws, blots and a tiny Phillips screw driver are included. I will post photos of her in a few days. Sadie barked at the cats the first couple of times she encountered their arched backs and frightened tails.

Product Details:
Constructed from heavy-duty plywood
Painted with a rich, black, water-resistant finish
Sturdy ground stakes keep each piece secure and steady
Easy to assemble with just a screwdriver (included)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Unlikely Animal BFF on NGC

Unlikely Animal Friends on National Geographic Channel

Animals have the most interesting, entertaining lives ever.

Retailers deck the halls while calendar says early fall - The Boston Globe

Retailers deck the halls while calendar says early fall - The Boston Globe

Posted using ShareThis

Article explains the rationale to early holiday merchandise sightings. Someone is actually buying the stuff now. However, I agree - as much as I like the holidays - Christmas tree displays leave me a little empty as I begin to enjoy fall apples and pumpkins. Target has some holiday decorations out adjacent to Halloween candy and skulls. The holly and the ivy don't mix so well and are more off putting than the bare, distressed skulls.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gearing Up for Halloween / Opperation Create Faux Tombstones

I begin decorating for Halloween this weekend and wish to have some photos to show soon. My biggest goal is to make fake tombstones for the yard based on ones from New England cemeteries. The earliest ones from the 1600s are very Edger Allen Poe-ish with sculls and images of the angel of death. Speaking of Poe, I do have some "Nevermore" ravens to festoon the house with.

Here is the tombstone idea I hope to accomplish this frightful season. I took a quick field trip to a Salem, MA cemetery this past Saturday and took a few quick inspiring refrence photos.

Gym Workout

Sadly, was sidetracked by a lingering cold. I told myself I was being kind by not going to gym coughing and sneezing on everyone. Still felt guilt.

focused on:
chest, back, abs, Swiss ball

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sadie as a Puppy

Puppies always seem to lighten the mood. With anger rising up even through the most esteemed ranks, sharing a puppy photo on TGIF seemed the thing to do. She loved her crate as a puppy. She no longer loves the crate and prefers my bed. The expression is misleading. One can read it as discontent of living life behind bars. This is actually the way she looks when she is contented. Big soulful brown puppy eyes are very persuasive.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The OH Lantern Family / 80s Halloween Fun

Six of the eight family members make a creepy, fun display on top of the wardrobe.

Image from the original hang tag that identifies each ghoulish family member.

Released in the fall of 1987, the OH Lantern family, created by special effects wizard Todd Masters, quickly flew off the shelves and racked up $6-million in national sales. They were only sold in gift shops and specialty stores for $9.95 each. The original release consisted of eight family members. In 1988, they also released a baby line of pumpkins that were less detailed and not as successful. The patriarch of the family - of course - is Jack OH Lantern. All members have individual names and biographies printed on their hang tags.

The pumpkins are made of a nerf type of foam that was injected into individual molds. The material allows for numerous details and wrinkles. Mold line clean up varies from pumpkin to pumpkin. They must be stored with care to keep them from being crushed by long term storage. I wrap mine in acid free tissue paper and do not crush them to preserve every toothless grin.

Spanish and other types of moss create a nice base for the spooky pumpkin patch display. Build up the area underneath the moss with blocks of floral foam or boxes to create depth and height. The decade old invasion of faux crows, ravens and buzzards onto the Halloween decorating scene provide additional creepy pumpkin patch props. Fake spiderwebs drape easily acroos the crowns of dead cone flowers inserted into the floral foam. They continue to provide seasonal fun 22 years latter.

Draining the color from the photo produces a sinister effect.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fitness Training

Meanwhile back at the gym...

time: one hour
workout: legs, back, abs and squats.

Civility can be Worth the Effort

Recently there has been much chatter about the good manners and the respect one should share with both the opposition and the home team. My posts sometimes have a snarky (blogger dictionary does not recognize the word) quality despite the fact I genuinely wish to keep to an "accentuate the positive" and "eliminate the negative" frame of mind.

Some that criticize the public for becoming too snarky or angry do not recommend an antidote for the ailment. The same critics are also known for being snarky when they speak of the irascible behavior of public figures or the public at large. Others blame the Internet and blogs for creating a culture of disrespect. Posts in a flash deliver knife wielding, hurtful words with a quick click that is preceded by an accurate spell check, of course.

I don't have a solution either. An idea I do have. Positive actions and work is the ideal way to keep from being reduced to a rude blob by cable news and inhuman capitalists. A careful plan for action may include the following: be a careful listener, offer a thoughtful critique, act without rabid zeal if the other party chooses to dis you. Humor is also a good remedy and it does not have to be snarky to make a powerful point. Now, let's see if I can follow these suggestions and make things a bit more warm and fuzzy. Johnny Mercer also suggested "latch on to the affirmative."

I was not 100% certain of the definition of the words bellow. Enjoy recalling the days when one had to look up definitions in a big red bound book.

Merriam- Webster

Snarky / Pronunciation: \ˈsnär-kē\
Function: adjective
Etymology: dialect snark to annoy, perhaps alteration of nark to irritate
Date: 1906
1 : crotchety, snappish
2 : sarcastic, impertinent, or irreverent in tone or manner

Irascible / Pronunciation: \i-ˈra-sə-bəl\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle French, from Late Latin irascibilis, from Latin irasci to become angry, be angry, from ira
Date: circa 1530
: marked by hot temper and easily provoked anger

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Keeping My Fitness Routine Honest

Today, I decided that my best intention to keep a paper journal of my exercise and fitness progress had failed. The journal is in my gym bag and I simply do not use it to record the days I go to the gym or the activities that I do to maintain my fitness level. Lately I have realized that I have to increase my frequency of working out. I eat well but my weakness for sweats definitely requires an activity to counter any unsightly gains from the indulgence of baked goods and sugar. The format of these posts relating to my fitness goals may change or be incomprehensible to those not privy to the organized chaos swirling around in my own head. But I must start with something and let my pride or disappointment be on display to keep me focused on the goal of bodily maintenance and improvements. A public record may motivate me to do better than my current best.

We don't get a spare body but can develop a spare tire if not careful by remaining too sedentary.
Sometimes it is best to keep phrases such as the above out of sight by quickly banishing such talk from one's mind.

Today's Workout
BU Gym
Arms, shoulders, chest, abs, squats.
Activity time: one hour

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bye Bye Martha Stewart Blog

I have officially removed Martha's blog from the list of ones that I follow. Perhaps, soon I will recover my interest and visit her again. It is very obvious that her blog is increasingly used only as a tool to increase time on her site to generate advertising dollars. There is noting wrong with Martha trying to rake in the bucks but I have drawn a line in the sand. Originally, the blog featured thumbnail previews of the photos and one could look at them all at once as a gallery and enlarge the ones they choose. The blog, now, requires that you click through each photo without the option of a gallery view. Today's post featured 64 photos. I'm not making the time to click through 64 photos to see what her private helicopter ride was like over the lavender fields of France. Had I not skipped breakfast this morning I would have been asking for an air sickness bag just to survive the pretentiousness of a post like this.

PS: Forget about posting a comment that offers a suggestion or a slight critique of her exploits. The only ones that will post are the ones that unequivocally offer support and undying love. My post regarding the change in photo options did not make it past the moderator. But my post were I used the word "wonderful" five times to describe Martha did. Martha's blog is her castle and she appears to be the Queen of Hearts type. "Off with their posts." Indeed!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Urban Scarecrow Called Jack

I created this gourd-headed scarecrow a few years back in my urban Cambridge postage-stamp sized yard. The Scarecrow is based on a modified version featured a few years ago in MS Living as the Frightfully Fun Scarecrow. They suggested using a Funkin instead of a real pumpkin for the head. They look more realistic that faux pumpkins sold at Michael's craft stores and are easier to carve since they are made of a firm foam. The molds are taken directly from real pumpkins and are not perfectly round. Some years they are more realistically painted than other years. I bought one that was way to neon orange to be perceived as a real pumpkin. A. C. More, Jo-Ann Stores are a couple of chain stores you can find a selection of them available. Funkins are not indestructible but will last year after year when stored with care.

Jack wears a vintage L.L. Bean plaid shirt. Excessive rains caused the shirt to do the opposite of shrink. The weight of the wet hay caused him to "fill out" even more. I also choose a classic expression that would not be perceived as trendy. I wanted Jack to last as many spooky seasons as possible. His head and shirt were reused several times but hay was bought new each year.

Wal-Mart Moves to Crush Competition

Walmart\'s Latest Move to Crush the Competition

They smell bleeding prey on the retail Sahara and they are closing in for the kill once again. Article suggests they are going after K Mart, Toys R Us and Rite Aid. The company rapildly changed shopping in the 1980s and 1990s. Is it their turn again?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Summer Movie Season Ends

Up is number one summer movie on my list.

The noisy summer movie season had a good run this year. I ended up seeing nine of the big popcorn releases. After recalling what I viewed, I found I did not venture even close to an independent film release this summer. Of the films I rank, the first six I received the entertainment I was expecting or more. Seven through nine represent slight or major disappointments. Public Enemies and Angels & Demons should have been much better since both films were helmed by an excellent director and stared an excellent cast.

The movie musical lacked representation this summer in theaters. For the previous two summers (2008, 2007), the genre was represented by an energetic release from a major studio. Last year's Mama Mia and the previous year's Hair Spray provided ample tunes to fill a summer's worth of dance cards.
Obviously, I am not the targeted audience for either District 9 or Inglorious Bastards. The previews presented before the films rolled were full of relentless violence or grossness for grossness sake. Quick flashing, quick cutting and excessively loud trailers warn me to proceed with caution. Entertainment should be more than just mind numbing escapism. One should be able to escape and still have a thought left worth sharing.
Pixar proves again that some of the best writing being done in Hollywood now is for animated 3D characters and not traditional flesh and blood actors.

1. Up
2. District 9
3. Inglorious Bastards
4. Julie & Julia
5. Star Trek
6. The Proposal
7. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
8. Public Enemies
9. Angels & Demons