Sunday, January 24, 2016

Storage items at the deflecto Booth - CHA 2016

 


deflecto was a great stop at CHA 2016. The award nominated 3-tier dessert stand was a winner in my book. 
You'll see this item in the photos above my comments, itself and with displays of cupcakes and cake pops.
Their tiered cylinder storage is an excellent container. Not only can you determine the length of the cylinder by adding or removing the dividers, but if you choose not to use the dividers they stack as the lid. No lost dividers and ready for reconfiguration. 
Stackable storage, rail mounted storage, tilt bins are all fantastic. You should not use the stackable storage with filled supplies at the height as is demonstrated here with empty containers. Still, filled containers can be stacked, the height dependent on what items one stores. I could use this in my craft room. Love the portability and visibility of contents of this product, too.



Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Impressions of CHA 75th Anniversary Mega Show and Conference

It may be a bit early to synthesize what lasting impressions this show experience made.
My initial response is the subject of the keynote speaker - trends. The craft industry is not usually at the forefront of trends. In fact, too quick adoption of some trends can be financially ill-fated if the customer is not on board. Fashion is one place where trends show up promptly in the market; home accessories is another. Major pieces of furniture and items that require an investment of time as a sewing or knitting project traditionally do mean the customer has to have a level of confidence about the trend to embrace it. It is clear that younger consumers are desiring to be more on the edge, even to feeling the need to be an individual trendsetter. The craft industry sees that movement in the young market and so is acutely sensitive to what are current trends. The concept of quick adaptation works for a group where DIY, recycling and ecologically sound products mean that moving in a new direction will not make current purchases seem like terrible choices as the styles change.
Markets for different manufacturers vary, and this affects the adoption of trends. In my favorite craft, scrapbooking, Studio Calico has been one brand that has been on the leading edge of trends. One example is whitewashed looks. These are quite familiar now, but we saw this trend quite a while ago at Studio Calico. Scrapbooking, itself, is decreasing as a contemporary craft trend. Fortunately, it has not been forgotten completely, and the products we crafters use in our hobby are part of currently popular activities like mixed media art and art journaling and in card making, that is holding its own.
In reflecting on the trends I heard discussed and saw illustrated at the show, texture, dimension, layering and depth were apparent. I've mentioned in my past discussions on this topic the idea of perforation and translucency where one sees past the top layer. Lace, wire, watercolor, and sheer photo-printed fabrics are some examples of this trend. Texture and dimension appear in ribbon detail, knits, quilting, pleats, gathers, fringe, ruffles, wrapped details, folded origami-like treatments, cork, and inflated objects. Surface treatments like the photo-printing of materials, marbling, and glow-in-the-dark fibers are trending, too. Look for these ideas in new products.
3-D printing is still in its infancy, but the interest is there and we may see more with this process in the not too distant future.
With my recent study of printmaking, I was very interested in the demonstration of a process where a piece of original art was scanned and cut into acrylic then a molding material applied and then peeled away to form a print block. Very cool!
I have yet to download and edit my photos, and there are a few products I want to report about in a bit more detail so look for at least one more blog post about the show. We will be talking about CHA 2016 in a future Digiscrap Geek podcast. Please join me there for that discussion.
It was a delightful and interesting show and the ideas and innovations should keep crafters and makers very happy.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve at our house 2015


 It's a quiet Xmas eve. All the decorating is done, and presents are wrapped though several still need gift tags. Time for that in the morning. I made New York slice bars, but no other cooking though may make some shortbread and an Ohio lemon pie before New Years Eve. With Cal recovering and school, it has just been an unambitious Christmas season. No concerts nor special events. Cal and I do not plan to exchange gifts; we pretty much leave that for birthdays only. If it were not for son, Joseph Charles Heffernan Jr., nothing Xmas would have been done at all. Thanks, Joe! It's so delightful to have the decorated house looking so much like Christmas. Joe was here helping with some last minute things this afternoon and stayed for a nice steak dinner with us. Later, Joe and I made some cards with Christmas music in the background, and the football game was playing. Just simple designs with supplies from my stash much is years old!). I'll grab some photos of mine in the am for this post (as above), just too tired now. Cal is recovering quickly from the knee replacement. He even helped cook the steaks tonight. Our other Joe will be here with his family tomorrow am, and they said they are bringing ingredients and will be making a bacon and egg breakfast and Mimosas! The grandkids are apparently going to clean up. Sounds delightful. I got sandwich fixings, cookies and chocolates for the holiday weekend. Cooking is not my thing! OK, you know I do fix the occasional dish; but, I'm not a regular chef. I'm looking forward to a nice quiet holiday weekend at home with family.
Wishes for Peace on Earth as I say good night tonight.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Getting ready for the holidays - decorating the house










Joe and I are still decorating for the holidays. We have a lot done. Joe started outdoors with a wreath on the door and some lights. Simple but nice. The indoor decor is also much as always. There is a  heavenly host of Barbie dolls; stockings hung near the fireplace represent all the family members, and Joe put those 500 ornaments on the tree and wrapped several presents.  The 3 French Hens sit on the buffet in the dining room. The table needs to be cleared to lay out the rest of the 12 days of Christmas tableware. It's slow but steady work. Nonetheless, I love how it all comes together. 

2015, coming to a close and an essay on resiliency




Nice to have Cal come home from rehab. He had his right knee replaced a week ago. He is doing well. I hope it makes as much difference for him as it did for me. I got more active than I had been, so I lost more weight. Best of all was how the operation reduced the pain in my life, too. Amazing, how we let things get so bad before fixing them. Of course, modern knee surgery is excellent. Cal and I had the same rock star surgeon, too. Still, having operative procedures is very emotionally tough. I'm not sure I'd repeat the operations done this year even though I'm delighted with the results. Cal says much the same thing.
I am fortunate to have a stalwart life partner in Cal. He is kind, forgiving and a dear friend, too. On the other hand, he does try my patience at times. I was upset with him about his attitude about life and was going to complain; but, have edited this paragraph. Today he was much more hopeful about life; and, I realized that the statements he was making before surgery and since had more to do with facing the procedure and the pain and not with giving up. He seems hopeful; so, I think he is on the road to recovery. I look forward to some fun times and fun travels ahead!
Also, thank goodness school is out. Straight A's! Well, I did withdraw from one class, four was just too much, or I might not have had those straight A's. I have several things planned for this week, not the least of which is getting ready for Christmas. The kids all have busy schedules and will be dropping by at different times. So, we will have a perpetual holiday open house it seems! Lots of food ordered. We will not be hungry.
I've been reflecting on this past year. Lots of ups and downs. I did not realize the impact of becoming a senior citizen would have on my life. It changed my perspective on so much! I wish I had suddenly become wiser and more at peace; but, it is not so, sigh! 
I have been doing a lot of philosophical thinking lately about some topics, such as friendship, disappointments, getting older and resiliency. Writing my thoughts down has helped me sort through some things.  

An Essay on Resiliency

I know my strengths; yet, at times, know that I am fragile and wonder how I have not broken into a million pieces. Nevertheless, bits of Karen are not scattered everywhere. I remain whole. My surface has taken on a fine network of cracks, a craze (ironically, situations like I will describe can lead to some temporary insanity) and over time, that exterior has developed a well-worn and rich patina. Some people say that pain and tribulation shape us and good experience adds to our form. Deep in our core, loving ourselves, we develop the substrate that holds our parts together. Sometimes, we find something or someone outside ourselves which prop us up and help bind the broken bits. Regrettably, that external fix can leave us with a weak and vulnerable spot. I had a friend, who lives across the country (Penfield, New York; I live in Sacramento, California), to whom I revealed a significant break and hurt. My friend said I did not deserve such pain. However, I discovered that those words of comfort meant, to the speaker, that "only they" were free to inflict more of that same pain. Why our existence, like a Roy Lichtenstein painting, is full of comic melodrama seems weird. Life can be that, very bizarre. When I reacted with hurt, frustration and anger to a broken promise, I revealed a secret story of even more betrayal. It was an over-reaction, true. Telling the truth, revealing a secret though it was my secret, too, made me the villain. I admit, I was ugly about it. Betraying a confidence was out of character for me, too. Then again, I had never let myself feel free to be so hurt and angry before. I knew that the result was too often "kill the messenger.” I understand that reaction. It does serve to move attention from the bigger deeper problem to one more immediate and solvable. My friend informed me there were fatal consequences to my actions; my response meant the loss of everything. (The story about losing the dog in particular really got to me.) I am a woman, and of a generation where we learned, and we are expected, to take our hurts and keep them quiet. Speaking up makes us, not the perpetrator, evil. Of course, this conditioning also made me worried; I tried to learn if I truly had caused my friend grief. Those efforts solidified me as "the bad guy". However, it helped me discover that much of the story was indeed melodrama; solely, to cause me anguish. I have felt pain; but, am not shattered. There are a lot of rough and jagged bits; there are regrets. Sadly, while my friend has a life philosophy predicated on seeking mercy (“It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.”), I doubt my friend's philosophy extends to granting forgiveness to others. I recently attended a talk about regret and medical personnel. It got me thinking yet again about the topic of resiliency. How do we go on after an unfortunate occurrence? The primary and most efficient system to avoid problems and to mend them is talking things over - communicating. It works well when situations are prone to mistakes: medical management, flying airplanes, and everyday life.  There is not always the opportunity to discuss things and situations do run awry. Systems shut off communication and errors are often the result. Forgiving ourselves, no matter the situation, is an important part of resiliency. There are some life situations when avoidance does seem to work and appears to be an approach recommended by most contemporary therapists. I think our huge population and mobility of society make this way possible. My niece is one of those who just swears, says forget it, and puts things behind her - avoiding the turmoil altogether. I think she has developed a protective coating. It is an approach many contemporary young women have learned. My generation has an approach that has failed to be effective and I think may account for this generation's response. Helen Mirren says, "At 70 years old if I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to use the words ‘fuck off’ much more frequently,” If only I could have carried through on that! Helen Mirren also said, "Unfortunately, at least for my generation, growing up (we didn’t say that) and I love the fact that girls are so much more confident and outspoken than my generation were. We were sort of brought up to be polite and sometimes politeness, in certain circumstances, is not what’s required, you’ve got to have the courage to stand up for yourself occasionally when it's needed.” Oh, to have the confidence to know you were right, to be righteously angry and not have regrets! I know I was right to be angry. Nonetheless, I do miss my friend, do have regrets, and, for the moment, I cry a lot. Will a tough outer coating wear as well over the years as my more exposed surface? Young women, like my niece, will likely, over time, have a form with more original shape and definition. Me? I'm not sure I want all those sharp and prickly bits. Whatever the final form of our lives, we are beautiful, we love ourselves, we are resilient. (I know my audience all too well; you need an animal report. You will be happy to learn the dog is well, not lost, and living comfortably with a human caretaker, Mike Kerwin.)




Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A recipe gift for you on my Birthday



I do not cook. Well, almost never. I tried a goat cheese scalloped potato dish for Thanksgiving but it did not work out as well as I’d liked. I tried it again; but, I modified the recipe and the results were amazingly good. It is definitely for special occasions only because it is high in fat!
So here is my recipe version for 

Lactose free chèvre potato gratin. 
(Full dairy and a vegan (for my niece, Danielle) option also listed.)
Serves 8-12

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare casserole dish (9.5 x 14 x 2.5 inches) by coating interior with olive oil or butter.

Ingredients:
5 lb russet potatoes
1 medium to large white onion
1-2 cloves garlic (1 teaspoon)
1-2 cups of crumbled goat cheese or vegan chèvre (1 cup minimum to 2 cups maximum should work, just depends on how cheesy you want the dish. I use closer to 1 cup.)
kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste and ground nutmeg (less than 1/4 teaspoon total of the nutmeg)
2 cups lactose-free whole milk and 1 cup olive oil (OR 3 cups heavy cream for full dairy version OR 2 cups soy milk and 1 cup olive oil for vegan alternative)

Peel and slice one medium size white onion to 1/4 inch slices
Heat skillet with vegetable oil or butter to medium heat and add onion slices to caramelize.
Mince 1-2 cloves of garlic, about 1 teaspoon) and add to onions when almost done caramelization. Remove onions from heat when lightly caramelized.
Peel the russet potatoes and slice to 1/4 inch slices .
Divide potatoes in three parts and layer one portion in casserole. Sprinkle with a third of goat cheese (or vegan chèvre) spread a third of prepared onion/garlic over top of layer.
Season with sprinkled kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and very fine dust of nutmeg (I used a barely visible amount).
Repeat layers and seasoning for two more layers.
Pour two cups lactose-free milk and one cup of olive oil over ingredients. (Substitute 3 cups of heavy cream OR two cups of soy milk and one cup olive oil, if full dairy or vegan alternatives desired)
Bake for 90 minutes.
Enjoy!

If you make this, please let me know how it turned out, if you liked it and if you have any suggestions for improvement.



Saturday, November 28, 2015

Healing



One thing I have learned from having surgery is how weepy and vulnerable I feel after a procedure. I cry for no reason, and my emotions are near the surface. Still, I am happy I have done these. My knee has been the most wonderful story. I am still a bit bruised and swollen (and not wearing makeup yet); so, the plastic procedures are hard to be enthusiastic about; though, even now they look good and I know in a few months will even be better. I am glad the eye surgery is over, and I think no more procedures.) I feel more myself. However, my husband has been the most patient of men as I work on the emotional stuff.
Obviously, one procedure after another has had its toll on the blog. It's been hard to do more than Facebook recently. I am getting enthusiastic about scrapbooking again, and I am looking forward to completing school for the semester. I am producing a few interesting prints. I plan to post those when I have more done. My French has improved even though I have not devoted the time I should have to my lessons. Art history has been fun. I think I like studio classes best, though.
I had some wonderful travels in October and hoped to pull things together into some scrapbook pages. I did try to keep up on Facebook, as I took the trips; but, looking back is a lot of fun, and I get to use my DSLR pictures!
Here are a few layouts from the past few months that I made for "Get It Scrapped" at http://www.DebbieHodge.com. It's been fun creating a variety of digital, paper and pocket pages. 

Supplies: papers and elements: Traci Martin Designs Missing You, Mommyish All A Flutter button, Amanda Yi The Darndest Things alpha, fonts: Pastiche Brush Regular, Avenir LT 45 Book Italic, template: GIS Template Scrapbook Coach 19 Double Wide lesson 3

Supplies: Papers - American crafts “Do IT Yourself”, epoxies - Me and My Big Ideas “mambi Sticks”, brads & baker’s twine - stash, wood veneers - Studio Calico, Basic Grey

Supplies: Paper - American Crafts; Pebbles, JenHadfield, Home Made; Studio Calico, Wanderlust; stash, paperclip, wood veneer -stash, 3x4 cards- WeRMemoryKeepers, confetti and cork stars - Studio Calico, die cuts and puffy sticker - stash

Supplies: TDF79_kimeric_summertimeblues, ProductPlay_DHodge_sketch2_template

Supplies:TLP_kwiniecki_freezefactor, TLP_ForeverJoy-COZY-UP, ClubScrapDigital_inkededges, file: MSD_201403_PhotoPlay_EPitts_Template

Supplies: One Little Bird - Crazy for You kit, Mommyish - I'm So Fancy kit, A Pennington - Honey kit, staple, Fonts: Heart and Soul, Trend Rough Sans One, Bohemian Typewriter, Traveling Typewriter, Styles: Mommyish, Distress Brush: Karla Dudley. Template: Debbie Hodge, Packed 2-Pagers| Layout 4 

Thank goodness for the Creative Team projects! They've kept me creating even when I've been challenged by the wear and tear of surgical procedures. The fact that I've been making art, too, has me reflecting that I have been busy! Just not blogging much. I've always found it a challenge to keep up even in the best of times, but I do save it for a personal record and like to look back. So, I am sure I'll keep at this.