Saturday, February 26, 2011

One more "Last Word" on my Superfocus glasses

I recently was asked by someone who left a comment on one of my Trufocals/Superfocus posts (yes, even though the posts are over a year old, I'm notified when a new comment has been posted and is awaiting approval, so if you have questions, feel free to post in any of the Trufocals/Superfocus posts):


I came upon your blog while doing research on the superfocus glasses. For the first time I am about to get some sort of "real" glasses (as opposed to drug-store readers) and I am intrigued by these.I do not think I will like bifocals or progressives from the sound of them.

You & I have a few things in common, I read a lot, use the computer a lot, and I knit (not as much as I want!).

So, it is now the end of Feb. 2011 and I am wondering how you (and the other posters that have them) are liking the superfocus after these few months? Can you update pretty please?

And here is what I answered:

Hi Alicia!

Okay, here's an update. I've now owned my Trufocals/Superfocus glasses for well over one year. My prescription needs a renewal (I can tell this for close-up). Will I renew with Superfocus eyewear? Probably not, but here are my very personal reasons:

1)The frames hug me too tightly at the temples and leave semi-permanent grooves at the sides of my face.

2)The focus, at least for me, needs changing a lot, and it's difficult to do this when you're doing something that takes both hands, or your hands are mucky with dough, wet yarn, soil, and the list goes infinitely on.

3)I still struggle with the way they look. I've actually been laughed at when I've put them on before in front of some people. And lots of times I felt like they needed introducing before I donned them so that I wouldn't get strange stares or reactions.

I wish I had enough money to buy Superfocus eyewear AND bifocals AND prescription reading glasses, because I definitely like the clear focus of the Superfocus glasses, especially when reading and doing close work, like knitting.

I may regret going back to a bifocal/prescription reading glasses combo, but my prescriptions usually need upping almost every year, so I can always try again!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Book Giveaway!!

I'm doing a book giveaway through Goodreads! I'll be giving away five copies of my book, Rose of Par Kluhnd: A Fairy Tale, which has just become available in paperback.

Go to Goodreads and enter for your chance to win a copy. The contest ends March 31st. Goodreads will randomly select the winners at that time, notify me, and then I'll send the books to the winners!

It's available as an ebook, too, at all major ebook retailers. Click here for ebook details.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Reunion Weekend - 31 years felt like no time at all!

I made a trip to Maryland over the weekend to attend my 31 year high school reunion (my class couldn't get it together in time for the 30 year). A few of us went on a tour of the old high school which has been remodeled and expanded. Here we are gathered around the bulldog in the new entryway of Winston Churchill High School - go Bulldogs! (I'm in the green jacket):

It was a blast seeing people I haven't seen for a few decades. Believe it or not, lots of people looked exactly the same. Well, yes, we've all changed a bit and grown older, obviously, but it was a hoot to see that everyone has the same mannerisms, same voice, same face. I could picture them all with books in their arms plowing through the crowded halls of high school on their way to class.

At first I was ambivalent about going, but then my close friend, Melissa, said that I had to come because she had booked a room in the hotel for us to share. And that was that. Thanks, Melis! I had a great time and I'm so glad I didn't miss it!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Summer's end meets winter's middle

During the summer I'm busy with trying to tame parts of my yard into vegetable and herb gardens. They are always usually partly wild and would turn on me in a twinkling if I left them to their own devices for too long. It was a challenge to find spots in our tree-lined lawn that gather enough sun during the day to support a garden. But I did find a few, and let me tell you, these spots prefer sprawling weeds over neat plots of specifically-intended plants.

Anyhoo, I digress. What I wanted to say, was that I turn the herbs I grow into salves and teas and whatnot. There is one particular weed which I don't mind, and I encourage its growth right next to a little rosebush where it decided to show itself. This weed is plantain. It is the best thing in the whole world for poison ivy. The only problem is, I haven't been able to make a plantain salve that works on poison ivy the same way a freshly picked and smooshed-up leaf rubbed on the rash works. So as summer waned, I decided to try making a tincture with plantain.

Making salve involves heating fresh or dried herbs gently in a carrier oil, thereby infusing the oil with whatever good things the herb possesses. Tincturing, on the other hand, involves a food processor, vodka, and a dark closet. The herb is chopped up into a pulpy glop, vodka is added, and the vodka-glop mix is left in a dark closet for a couple of weeks - shaken now and then - so that the herb can release all of its goodness into the alcohol. When done, the mixture is strained and pressed, the vodka tincture is saved, and the left-over herb mash is composted.

At the end of last summer, I made a tincture with plantain. I've been intending to make a lotion with it to see if the lotion will work to sooth poison ivy. But fall came, and then winter, and I was busy with other things, and all of the poison ivy in the area dropped its leaves and went to sleep.

The tincture has been sitting in my dark closet all this time, unused - until last night. Yesterday, a spot on the back of my thumb became suddenly itchy. The itchiness progressed as the day wore on, and in the evening, when I snuggled down with a book, the itchiness began to drive me nuts. I looked at my thumb and it was red, irritated, a little swollen, and had a little spot which looked suspiciously like maybe it was a spider bite.

I seriously needed something to soothe whatever was happening there, just below the knuckle, and it was just then that I remembered my plantain tincture. I dashed to the closet and undid the lid. The dark-green tincture smelled like summer, somehow. All herby and plant-like. I rubbed some on my thumb and the itchiness faded. The area was still sensitive, but the urge to itch disappeared. I put some more on before I went to bed, and again this morning.

The itch is gone as long as I don't accidentally wash the tincture off. If I do, more goes on again. I don't like spider bites, but I love my plantain tincture. I'm really glad I made it all those months ago and it was ready for me to use now, in the dead of winter with snow deep on all of the places where my wonderful plants are waiting for spring.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pounding into felt

I spent yesterday morning leaning over my tub and pounding wool fiber into felt.

When you comb wool fiber with wool combs, there is some that gets left behind in the combs during the process. The really bad stuff is usually thrown away, while the better stuff can be saved and carded if you have carding combs or a drum carder.

I decided to keep even the really bad stuff. I've been carding it and saving it. A stray cat lives near my daughter's boyfriend's apartment. Someone converted an old recyling bin into a little house for it so that it has someplace to go out of the weather. It's been really cold here and I thought I would save this fiber and try to make a felted cat bed for this kitty.

I began the process yesterday, deciding to go the pounding route instead of the spinning into yarn, knitting, and then felting in the washing machine route.

My pounding muscles are sore, but I made a nice piece of thick felt. It wasn't really enough for a bed with cozy walls, so I found some scraps of fleece fabric and ended up making a bed with walls stuffed with poly stuffing and the felt as the floor of the bed.

One of my own cats wanted to use it right away when it was finished.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cakes and Brownies to Die For

I went to my library when local cookbook author, Bev Shaffer, came to talk about her book, Brownies to Die For!. She talked about chocolate and writing the book, and we tasted fair trade chocolates and helped ourselves to treats made from recipes in the book. It was a fabulous evening.

She has a new book out now, Cakes to Die For!.

I used a combination of two recipes from the cake book along with  my own frosting recipe to make my son's birthday cake. It had a lot of chocolate in it.

Two more birthdays are coming up in March. I'll have to keep that cake book handy.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Why don't you prove it?

In the Harry Potter movie, Chamber of Secrets, when Harry accuses Malfoy's father of slipping Riddle's diary into Ginny's possesions, Mr. Malfoy says, "Why don't you prove it?" but he delivers the line exceptionally well.

My daughter and I sometimes use that line in banter:

Me: "You ate the last piece of chocolate!"

Daughter: "Why don't you prove it?"

Well, now I have proof!

This is my proof copy of Rose of Par Kluhnd. I'm going over it now, getting ready for the print version to become available. I laughed when I saw this on the very last page. I showed it to my daughter the first time she said, "Prove it!" after I'd gotten it in the mail.

She said, "Gaaah!" in frustration, claiming it wasn't fair.

Mwah ha ha! Too bad! Now I have proof.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Here's what I made with my first batch of handspun/hand-dyed yarn from my Christmas Fleece

This is what I made with the first batch of yarn I made from my Christmas Fleece:

It's a scarf for my mom:

I used a pattern I found on Ravelry, called Easy Drop Stitch Scarf Pattern. It is easy, and it adds texture and pattern to the scarf: