Martha Thinks

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

just another monsoon tuesday

this rain cycle never seems to end. i know it rains every tuesday because every tuesday is ro's hip-hop class and for the past 3 tuesdays i have needed my umbrella. blaahhhh.
good thing I've got my party hat on.
for entertainment I watch the neighbor's yard flood.
i am kidding, she said.
there's nothing funny about that.
'specially when i am up to my very own ankles in basement water.

a blurry view
with bitter dreams of spring I have no choice but to make brownies and get back to the "my life on the d-list" marathon. thank you kathy griffin. there is no one funnier than you ~ girlfriend!
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Oh Say Do You Twirl?

Welcome to the land of Color Guard. I have had some of this loveliness absorb into me by seeing the girls practice and perform with my band boys but this was the first group competition I had seen.
Yesterday we hosted the NESBA (New England Scholastic Band Association)Winter Guard Finals and it was a sight to see. NESBA supports all things musical in high school, Jazz Band, Winter Percussion and Color Guard. 34 teams of up to 20 girls and guys each each took their turn ballet dancing, twirling and swirling and dancing and throwing their rifles high in the air catching them with a flourish -- and the crowd loved it. I worked as the Judges' Hostess, helping with food, special requests, etc. but from where I sat on the upper level of the Field House, I had a spectacular view for all the performances.
What a happy event to see these kids working together, looking beautiful in their costumes and cheered on by other teams and family. It's perhaps a smaller known branch of the cheering/dance/marching band world, but you wouldn't know it by the standing room only attendance.
Posted by Picasa And like everything else that looks effortless, it is only by months of practice that we got to see the beautiful result.

While awaiting the judges' results, all the groups took to the floor in a communal, happy dance.
Marines waiting for the final ceremony. An interesting contrast to the madness.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Hand-Painted Garden

Today I spent the day helping Tova Speter, a wonderful artist and muralist, complete a wonderful hallway mural in our elementary school. Over the past month she had all the kids draw either a caterpillar or use their own hands as templates for flowers or butterflies. She has worked with 500+ kids from kindergarten through 5th grade. The patience!
Here she is giving the kids' instruction before they begin painting. She did this to about 6 or 7 different groups today alone. And they all listened!
Hmm, this inspires me to do this at home. Have teenagers outgrown making handprints? Nah, they'll just put skull and crossbones, guitars or the likeness of the Union Jack in them. That's ok, art is art.
The artist's jeans. The little ones were allowed to wipe their paint-y hands on them.
A beautiful garden, each one different, each one unique, each one special. Oh, hello Mr. Deer. Didn't see you hiding back there.
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Favorite Idol

Although I can't say this year's group of American Idol contestants are the most exciting I have seen, if it takes a few sessions to find someone like Carrie Underwood, I'm happy to weather the rocky seasons. Considering her immediate success and her connection with her audience, I often wonder how it was that she was ever an unknown.

I picked up "Temporary Home" in the middle of the song the other day driving around doing errands. She is amazing, her voice, clarity, light, truth, connection, gulp, where's my tissue box? Carrie, Jesus has indeed taken your wheel...

"This is my temporary home, it's not where I belong
Windows and rooms that I'm passing through
This was just a stop on the way to where I'm going
I'm not afraid because I know this was my temporary home."

Carrie Underwood
Luke Laird
Zac Maloy

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sophomore Semi

It's that time of year, bunnies and painted eggs and green grass and proms! All week we have been fitting the suit, getting the tie right, trying on shoes,
and making sure the corsage matched the date's dress perfectly. (well, the "perfectly" part was all my doing, admittedly, a 15 year old boy does not care whether or not to choose a sheer silver ribbon over a solid one) It does make me laugh that while their mother never had a date until her Senior Prom, my sons are quite the social butterflies.
All for the Sophomore Semi-formal, our high school's introduction to all things "pagentry".
A gearing up if you will for the Junior Prom and the big sister of them all, the High School Senior Prom. The girls were adorable, the boys so handsome.

Of course, I thought mine was the cutest!
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

American Pickers

I like to think I am on top of all of the new and interesting shows. I watch far too much television, but often just bits and pieces of things which are completely unsatisfying. So when my brother told me about this show he was watching called "American Pickers" on the History Channel...I was hooked. It featured two funny and charming "pickers" Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, friends since childhood, who together drive around the great American South looking for junk. They sometimes just drive on down a long driveway with big rusty things in the yard, approach the homeowner and ask if they can go "picking". They find good old junk, signs, bikes, ephemera, stuff that in many cases has been sitting around for decades, purchase it, clean it up and sell it in the most modern of ways - on ebay.

The cast of characters they meet along the way are great. Most interesting to me is the delicate balance of asking to see barnfuls of stuff, getting permission, then trying to see if the homeowner will sell any of it. They had one old-timer's interest in selling some of his possessions until they left him sitting on his John Deere tractor for an hour while they poured through his barn. By the time they came back out into the sunlight, the man was tired, bored and feeling used. He was no longer interested in doing business. All sales were off.
While I am not an official "picker" I have gained a great appreciation for old stuff, workmanship and patina. I have high ceilings in "this old house" so I enjoy having things over the doorways. Here is pretty piece of victorian design made from brass. I purchased it at Todd Farm in Rowley for $25.00. Now that's a bargain.
These pretty pieces were purchased in Brimfield for $5. and $15.
This was bought at an indoor auction held 2 or 3 times a year at the Sons of Italy in Woburn. The auctioneer has a wonderful eclectic collection of items and the sale usually runs from 6-10 pm. After 9pm - they are practically giving the stuff away, so you can lift your number with glee. This old Irish chest was $200.00.
This pretty leaded glass panel was probably used vertically but I loved it so much for the kitchen, this is where it fit best. It was a gift from my sister-in-law for my new kitchen. There were too many wires in the wall to actually cut into it and fit it in the wall, so I just had it secured above the pretty wooden shelf I also bought at Todd Farm, for about $25.00, I think. The swans were collected at craft shows, most done by the same man.
This is a real close to home "picker" treasure. When we dug a big hole in the ground to expand our foundation, this old charmer was stuck beween the walls. It was so dirty, but I love it rips and all. Now it's over our back door.

Maybe I'll bump into you at
Todd Farm in Rowley,
the week-long sale in Brimfield
or the forever favorite Flukes, Finds and Friends at 70 State Street in Newburyport.
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Top O' The Morning'

Wishing you a rainbow
For sunlight after showers -
Miles and miles of Irish smiles
For golden happy hours
Shamrocks at your doorway
For luck and laughter, too
And a host of friends that never ends
Each day your whole life through!

All are Irish on St. Patty's. Off to buy some scones from "Bread and Bits of Ireland" in Melrose Square. You haven't had a scone until you've eaten one of theirs.
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Cake Decorating Class

For the past 5 Tuesday's I've been taking a really fun adult-ed class, cake decorating. It's probably been about 5 years that I had put a big circle around the class when the catalogs come but this time, I just said "yes" and I was so glad I did.
We didn't bake cakes every week, but purchased 8" styrofoam rounds and frosted, scraped off and re-frosted until we got it looking pretty good.

Then it was the fondant class. It's like sweet play-doh that you can form into shapes. The tough part is that it dries out very fast, so you have to keep it moist and work quickly! Here are fondant roses. Each petal is made individually, hence the huge price tags on wedding cakes if you want these kinds of flowers.
Rolling out the fondant like pie dough.

Putting the rolled out sheet of fondant over the frosted cake gives it a very smooth look.
We also made some little critters. Here is my version of "Meeko" a recreation of my niece's dog for her 13th birthday.
Mom's just want to have fun.
Our last class, the cake decorating finals! Hey, there was a bottle of wine in it, so we all wanted to win!

Furrowed brow, high concentration.

The results! A sweet as can be bunny cake.

This is mine. I am proud of it the results. Even the "pearls" on the side of the cake are hard to make because you don't want them to have little points on them so you have to "round" them off when finishing the little tiny baby swirl, all while bending over sideways.
A whipped cream delight with pretty swirls of frosting.

This is my teacher, Margot. Ok, she's a 24 year old cutie, Johnson & Wales grad, applying to work on a Vineyard in Napa for the next 6 months. I can tell you at 24 I would not have had the self-esteem to teach an adult-ed class. I wish her all the best. Her parents did good! If the boys' ever bring home a girl like this, I am all in!
Upon returning home, the forks were already in hand, plates ready...and they did take a moment to tell me I did a great job before jumping right into the cake.

Monday, March 8, 2010

1928 Jewelry

I just wanted to give a shout out to the 1928 Jewelry Company for making some of their pieces in the USA! It's very rare to find
American-made jewelry in a department store ~ usually only in very high end speciality shops or at craft shows. The prices are great and often on sale. I found these at Sears over the weekend but also I have found them at JC Penney. I can attest to the quality, I've had several pieces for 10 years or more and they still look new.

Update: I emailed the company to tell them I thought it was cool they were making stuff here and...the President wrote back to me. Now that is cool.
Hi Martha.
Thank you for taking the time to let us know your feelings. We are very happy to still be able to make product in the USA. Even though we don't make it all here we try and make as much as we can.
I hope you enjoy what you bought at Sears and that you come back again when you need more 1928 Jewelry.
Mel Bernie

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copyright infringement?

I don't think Jeff Kinney will mind an 8 year old's tribute to his "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series. This was Ronan's entry in this year's Pine Wood Derby. His momma helped with the art work. He got two 2nd place runs so we are very proud of our Scout.
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I Love You More Than Rainbows, Baby

I am such a sucker for the Academy Awards. I guess it's having won Best Novice as a freshman in high school. I got called up on stage to receive my award and ever since then I dream of stardom...well, ever since then I love the movies and especially Oscar night. I make sure I have enough snacks and champagne and settle in for the 4 hour telecast.

Jeff took home the statue for Crazy Heart. Although I am not a voting member of the Academy, he had my pick-up truck ridin', guitar pickin', beer drinkin', love song writin' vote all along.

But how, can I love two at the same time? How could I ever turn my affections from Colin to another man? Jeff is ruggedly handsome and wears his boots well. But truly, madly, deeply
Mr. Darcy has my heart and always shall.
But, wait, George. Not so fast. That sly grin, those mischievous eyes, Mr. Suave and Debonair and that home on Lake Como. Let me not make a decision in haste.

The winner of best original song, Ryan Bingham, for "The Weary Kind" from my movie of the season, "Crazy Heart" - most romantic acceptance speech of the night, thanking his wife....
i love you more than rainbows, baby.
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