Category: Musings

Background Noise

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Music

For some of us, having music in the background adds a level of relaxation, warmth, energy to any project we are working on. 

For others, music – or anything – playing in the background is an unnecessary distraction.

Me?  I prefer the music.  Most of the time.

I have pretty eclectic taste in music.  It evolved over years of exposure to soundtracks, television orchestras, radio and the generosity of other music lovers.

For many years I cultivated quite a collection of vinyl, cassette and compact disc.  The move away from a dedicated stereo system was jarring.  I admit I’m a bit old school, but there is nothing – nothing – like the sound of good music.  Streaming just doesn’t always cut it.  I like to feel the music.

Soundtracks

There is a richness to a good soundtrack.  Its purpose is to create a mood, provide information to the viewer and set a tone for the film or television show.

Gunsmoke’s radio show had an amazing theme that is iconic.  For a western, it is particularly relaxing and easy going.

On the other hand, listen to the soundtrack for any of Eastwood’s Spaghetti Westerns and feel your heart rate go up and the tension rise.  Ennio Morricone created seriously iconic music for those films.

I’m a long time fan of John Williams.  His catalog is as impressive as is the breadth of his artistry.  From Star Wars to Indiana Jones to Harry Potter and more, his work is both recognizable and unique.

Han Zimmer is another composer who brings his own stamp of originality to his work.  Crockett’s Theme from Miami Vice is just wow.

Classics

Classics for me covers a wide territory.  I grew up in the 1960’s when rock and roll was figuring out its identity.  As such, I love the Beatles, Bee Gees and groups of that ilk, along with folk artists and the big bands.  Glenn Miller, Lawrence Welk, and the like.  I really miss the Boston Pops.  We used listen to them every weekend.

Show Tunes

My love of theater and musicals came about due to the exposure to Broadway recordings and the soundtracks of films made from those productions.

When I was in school, I cleaned house to earn money.  One of my regulars was a fan of show tunes and we spent many a Saturday cleaning to Hello Dolly, Fiddler on the Roof and South Pacific.

Years later I was able to actually see the plays on stage.  What a thrill!

Disney and Peanuts

I love the Disney soundtrack – not just the individual films, but the sounds you hear in the parks that accompany the rides.  There is nothing like hearing the background to Main Street or listening to the Tiki Room show to make me feel as if I am at the park enjoying the ride.

Peanuts has always been a part of my life – the Christmas special debuted in 1965.  I am pretty certain that this was my first real introduction to jazz thanks to Vince Guaraldi’s beautiful music.

Classical and Opera

As for classical music, it took a while before I got a good taste of that genre.  While I had a slight exposure to pieces growing up, it wasn’t until Cosmos that I had something that I could sink my teeth into.  Classical music used as a soundtrack.  Beautiful.

Opera came as a bit of a surprise.  I worked with someone who loved listening to it as she worked on her projects.  Then along came Phantom of the Opera and the chandelier dropped.  Almost literally.

At one point I worked in a soundproof room due to the noise of some of the printers we used.  Being in there by myself, I was allowed to play my music as I wished – as long as it was not a distraction.

One day the Big Boss walked in at just the point where the chandelier fell in Phantom of the Opera. 

He almost had a heart attack.  🙂

These days I find myself browsing online playlists, playing my Disney soundtracks or catching up with a local radio station that plays oldies from the 1980’s.  🙂

I’m exploring the Amazon playlists and am amazed at what I have found.  I’m enjoying headphones that allow me to actually hear the layers of sound.  And I’m wondering how I can create a playlist or two for the car.  Hooray!

So, tell me, what are you listening to lately?

Categories: Music Musings

Taking a Breath

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The Return of Fall

I don’t know for certain, but I am pretty sure that school is once again back in session.  It is in my area.  For me, this is not a major issue other than outrageous traffic during certain times of the day.  For others, schedules are changing, work load is possibly increasing, calendars are filling up and the new daily grind begins.

Here’s hoping your new year is a great one!

I thought I would take a few minutes to ponder a bit.  A breather, as you will.

Wallpaper?

We were advised today of the passing of the amazing Aretha Franklin.  The news was not unexpected, but sad none the less.  As I thought about the lady and her music, it occurred to me that like many people, she was one of those pieces of what I call wallpaper.  The folks that are always a part of our lives even thought we may not be aware of them.

The term could mean the drapes on the living room windows or the color of the paint in the kitchen.  In other words, the backdrop that we most likely never really pay attention to because it is always there.

Aretha, like so many others, could be found playing on the radio, television or on our playlists.  The sounds that come to mind when you think of ‘Murphy Brown’ — and are you one of those people who remember Murphy attempting to sing one of Aretha’s songs?  Murph had a lousy singing voice but loads of passion.  🙂

You might also recall Steve Perry, formerly of Journey.  I heard today that he is releasing a new album.  Actually, the comment was along the lines of, “…for a guy pushing 70…”

In one moment I went from hearing that incredible voice to ‘egads I feel old!’

Storage Stuff

I recently put up a new set of storage drawers in my library/craft room.  While I’m enjoying the space, I am dealing with the organization part.  Which drawer has the envelopes?  Where did I put the velum?  Are all the extra adhesives in the same drawer? 

The beauty of the new set of drawers is that it matches the old set, so all I have to do is move the drawers around where I want them.  Hooray!

A couple of weeks ago I actually found a set of wire shelves that would fit in places I needed them.  Well, truthfully, I needed a shelf in the bathroom cabinet and the only way I could purchase it was in a set of three various sized shelves.  <shrug> 

The other two have sat waiting for me to find a place for them to be used.

My workspace in the library/craft room is pretty <cough> tight.  Snug is a better word.  For a long time my laptop lived on top of two old telephone directories in front of my printer.  Why?  I like my screen at a certain height and it was the only place and way to accomplish this goal.

The problem with that set up is that it blocks the out feed from my printer.  There is nothing more annoying than having to move the stack so I can feed the paper drawer and remove documents from the exit tray.  We won’t discuss having to unload the stuff on top of the printer to get to the scanner.  I said it was snug, right?

I had a light bulb moment this afternoon as I once again browsed Amazon for a laptop stand.  I knew what I needed – something high enough to allow the tray to work without interfering with actually using the laptop.

All of a sudden the idea struck that I had a potential solution waiting in the other room.  Sure enough, the smaller of the two remaining shelves fits and the old telephone directories will soon be heading off to the recycle bin.  Hooray!

Which leads me to a question.  Does anyone actually use the paper telephone directory? 

Speaking of the telephone, I have to wonder about the ebb and flow of calls to my home phone.  They go in spits and spurts, usually around the same time of day, so I know that they are most likely trying to sell me something.  I wonder about those callers who go the distance to stick around until the answering machine picks up only to leave a couple of minutes of dead silence and hang up.

I would think robo callers would hang up before the machine picked up or just as the machine picked up.  But that is me.  🙂

Annie

I have had the pleasure of seeing Miss Annie perk up a bit in the last couple of days.  For a while she was looking like she was feeling her age.  Today, however, I found her sitting in the window watching the world outside and looking quite content.  I don’t know if she was seeing the kids go off to school or watching the trash trucks pick up or just enjoying the birds and squirrels. 

Here’s to the return of Fall.  Sort of. 

Categories: Musings

Cast Iron Cookery

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I’ve long been a fan of cooking with cast iron.  The pans heat well retaining an even heat for long periods.  Usable in most, but not all, appliances, the cookware is sturdy and long wearing.  It is one of those things you pass on to your kids.

Unfortunately, for those of us with arthritis, the heavy weight of the cookware can be a negative.

When I bought my new stove a couple of years ago, I purchased a smooth top electric range.  It ticked all the boxes I wanted and needed, but did not allow me to use my cast iron on the stove top.  I gave it away.  🙁

During a recent bout of at home world exploration, I found myself watching a series of British shows which featured local homes.  I was fascinated by the reaction of visitors to the home kitchen.  Most, when they saw a particular appliance, were thrilled.  Said appliance was an AGA cooker.

I was so curious, I looked up the AGA on Google.  Imagine my surprise to learn that this cooker is a cast iron range that is able to use electricity, coal, or gas or a combination. 

I was fascinated to learn the history of this appliance and how it has become the true center of many homes.  Check out AGALiving.com to learn more yourself.  This article is also worth reading:  Is An AGA Cooker Worth The Investment?

These things are not inexpensive, either.  As with the cast iron cookware, it is something to be passed down to the next generation.

I will always suggest the use of cast iron to cook with.  The end results are often high quality, and with a minimum amount of care, the pans become non stick easily and over time. 

I would love to own – or at least have the opportunity to use – an AGA cooker.  From what little I’ve seen and learned, it is an appliance that is a true work horse in the home.

Categories: Cooking Food Musings

Magic Journeys

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I am a relatively new fan of YouTube’s personal content. By that I mean those folks who create content for non-commercial viewers. I got my first taste looking for walk throughs of the Disney parks and discovered Justin Scarred and Randomland. Then, because I love food, I looked to see what else I could find, and came across Magic Journeys – a foodie vlog focusing on foods found in the Disney parks, Knotts Berry Farm and Universal Studios.

A Different World

Food vlogs cover a wide variety of topics and ideas, but Magic Journeys has always aimed to give the viewer an armchair view of the foods, restaurants and possibilities that can be found in the parks.

I love that hosts/presenters Mig Vee and Janell both love to eat and love to share what they discover.  They are honest about their experiences, so the viewer gets an honest opinion.  Mig Vee is not much into fruits and veg, while Janell loves a good salad or fruit plate.  Janell loves (and I mean LOVES) chocolate.  Neither is a fan of old or stale bread.  While neither can be considered a gourmet, both know what they do or don’t like.

I love when they explore the Food Festivals!  These have really taken off in the past couple of years expanding to cover both Florida and Anaheim parks.  The offerings are varied and almost always unusual. 

Not Like Other Food Vlogs

Lots of food vlogs seem to approach the same types of content with an air of expertise that is fine, but just doesn’t do it for me.  Kind of like reading Gourmet magazine when I really just want to skim through Taste of Home.

I do watch some food vlogs that focus on food preparation, but that is not what I look for when I aim to watch Magic Journeys.  I want the experience of walking through the parks, picking up a great snack or sitting down for a nice meal.

Check Them Out – Explore

You can find Magic Journeys by going to YouTube.com and searching for Magic Journeys in the search box.  Don’t forget to subscribe and click the bell to get notification of their newest videos – and don’t forget to click the “LIKE” button if you like what they’ve offered.

Go back and see their earlier work – the Knotts Berry Farm Chicken Dinner vlog is amazing!

Categories: Musings Vlogs

Grok Nation Turns Three!

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Happy Anniversary!

I love to find good discussions carried on by people who have a sincere desire to learn, share and grow.  The ones who don’t know everything now.

I love to learn about different cultures, mindsets, backgrounds, beliefs and points of view.

Three years ago Dr. Mayim Bialik, whom you may know from The Big Bang Theory or Blossom, took a huge step and started an online community around the desire to learn more, discuss more deeply, understand and share on a variety of topics.  Grok Nation (groknation.com) is the result of that step.

Not Your Typical Forum

Grok Nation is a place that endeavors to travel roads less likely traveled.  A place that encourages conversation about topics that might not be discussed in an open forum.  While the age range tends to be younger, with young children, I’ve seen a lot of people my age, with no kids, who feel that they are welcome with their own experience and points of view.

I also enjoy Mayim’s YouTube channel where she talks about topics that are on her mind.  It also opens discussion and thought in ways I find unusual.

If you are interested in expanding your horizons, or just looking for some thoughtful commentary, I suggest you stop by and see what the topic of the week is or what articles have been added. 

Categories: Musings

Checking Out The Stash

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For quilters, a stash is a collection of material and thread.  For paper crafters, it is usually paper and embellishments.  For cooks, the pantry and the freezer hold the stash.  For readers or fans of TV/Film, a stash can be either the bookshelf, electronic storage or the place where the accumulated stuff resides. 

Part of my end of Summer (Gasp!) Going into School Year phase is looking at what I already have and what I want to do with it.  I’m looking for recipes, checking out old books, and pretty much looking around to see what has been hiding for a while.  🙂

I’ve uncovered some surprises.  How about you?

Categories: Musings

Craftsy.com – Maker’s Black Friday is TODAY!

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Save Up To 70% On Supplies (8/3-8/6) Save Up To 70% On Supplies (8/3-8/6)

Save Up To 70% On Supplies
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Coupon Code: No code needed

Black Friday ends 8/6/2018

Categories: Musings

Annie Tales

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I have a Helper Cat.  Her name is Annie.  As you can see, she is in her supervisory mode.

Annie is a senior kitty – or as we say in our house, a Cat of A Certain Age.  Technically we are both pretty much the same age.  Seniorish.  We don’t particularly like the term ‘elderly’.  Probably because in our minds at least, we are still kids.  Or, in Annie’s case, kittens.

When Annie first came to live with me, I was told she was about 8 years old.  That was about seven years ago.  I hate doing the math.  I would prefer it to be along the lines of her being about a year or two old and going from there.

Honestly, in many ways she does not behave like I would expect a cat her age to behave.  Mostly.

I’ve had cats for over twenty years and most of them could not care less about toys.  Annie has a few she is particularly fond of and loves to play.

Most cats I’ve lived with had a fondness for windows and surveying the outside (with absolutely no interest in actually going outside).  Annie is in that group.  She is fascinated watching the kids in the neighborhood play and finds the local squirrel population interesting.  We had one member of that group who seemed to have problems understanding that in order to climb up to the roof, one had to turn one’s head in that direction and actually climb on something one could get one’s claws into.  Annie tried her best to teach him.

She is also particularly fond of cardboard boxes.  Any cardboard box.  Even those that are way too small for her.

I recently ordered a couple of replacements for her well loved kitty cubes.  They came, along with the rest of the order, in two large boxes.  She investigated one of the new cubes, and then dove into the new kitty toy (box) with relish.  I put one on its side and she promptly tested it out with a round of Kitty Aerobics with a touch of Kitty Boxing (no pun intended).

This morning I came into the living room to find her happily curled up in the bigger of the two boxes.  She will do that, off and on, until I want my floor back, or the box becomes too battered to stay in the house.

As Annie and I have aged, I’ve watched her deal with stiff and sore joints, the aches and pains that come with weather – other than the weather itself – and the day to day trials of not being as young as she used to be.  It has been an interesting study.

She takes her days in stride, never letting any issues get in her way.  She does, however, take her time and find the places and people she needs to be near.  If I am not well, she comes to sit beside me, or makes sure to check on me every couple of hours or so.

We have monumental games of Catch My Tail where I reach out to grab her tail and she retracts it.  Depending upon mood, this can go on for almost an hour.

One thing she particularly looks forward to is the First Cuddle Of The Day.  This can include the aforementioned Catch My Tail game, but also fur fuzzling, tummy rubs, cuddles and a few kisses.  I’ve learned not to ignore this important time of the day or put it off.  Annie is very sensitive and I’ve seen her feelings get hurt when this time together is overlooked or shortchanged.

I know some folks will read this and wonder why anyone should care about a cat’s feelings.  Why shouldn’t I?  She is my friend, companion, confidant.  She takes care of me when I’m ill, comforts me when I’m sad and loves me even when I’m not so lovable.

The simple act of paying attention to her and her needs is good for both of us.

The Helper Cat is currently curled up in her window seat waiting for the trash truck to come by.  We’ve had our first rounds of cuddles at the keyboard and all is well with the world.

We hope your day is a good one!

Categories: Annie Cat Musings Pets

Cash Back!!!

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Okay, I apologize if I’m a little loud but I just got my August Cash Back Statement from Ebates.  WOW!

And it was EASY!  If you shop online, more than likely the places you shop are already signed with Ebates.  With Back To School revving up, why not live dangerously and sign up.  It is free.  The money you save could go toward an amazing Christmas present.  Or two.  🙂

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Categories: Musings

Food! Recipes! Overload!

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I love to eat.  I also love to cook.  Two things that – in my mind at least – go together, but I’ve had to come to terms with the reality that for some folks, don’t.

I get that cooking may not be everyone’s idea of fun.  Personally, I appreciate a good cook.  Cooking is an art form.  Good meals don’t just magically arrive on the table with the flick of a wand.

That being said, I understand why some folks are frustrated with the process of putting a meal on the table.  Different cooking times.  Juggling tasks.  Dealing with interruptions.  I get it.  I also get the boredom of the same set of recipes for the same set of meals for the same time frame that inevitably make the worst take out food taste like a 5 star Michelin restaurant fare.

All that being said, I find myself digging around on the internet looking for new recipes, new ideas, new things to try.  I have also been a fan of PBS’ cooking shows.  I’ve learned a lot from chefs found there.

I recently discovered Anna Olson on both YouTube and Amazon.  She is an excellent teacher of both baking and meal preparation.  Her food looks delicious and is pretty easy to prepare.

My YouTube feed often provides fare from FoodWishes.com – aka Chef John from Allrecipes.com.  For the most part, his fare is pretty straight forward and he will alert you in advance if you might be getting yourself into something a bit complicated.

Allrecipes.com has been a great resource for good home cooking.  They have some amazing features that are designed to help the home cook with both meal prep and shopping.

In a recent post I suggested that you check out your favorite food companies for recipes.  Betty Crocker has some great sites which not only include information on products and specials, but recipes.  Tons of recipes.

Duncan Hines, LandO’Lakes, Bisquick, Hershey – the list is as long as what can be found in your local grocery store.  And don’t forget the manufacturers of cooking equipment.  You’ll find recipes there, too.  The company who made my rice cooker has an interesting collection of recipes I would never have considered making in that machine.

You don’t have to go through overload – find the sources that make food that you like to eat.  Pinterest, food blogs, recipes sites, they are all out there for you to dip a toe into a new recipe.  Or not.  🙂

As Chef Jacques Pepin says, “Happy Cooking!”

Categories: Musings

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