Saturday, July 28, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

How To Hang Pictures

First: Decide what your consistent statement will be: frames or pictures. If you are mixing up different styles of frames, choose pictures with a consistent visual thread. Same photographer. Or all black and white. Or all color. Or, choose the same style of frame and mix up the content. 
 Second: Pick your spot. For a jaw-droppingly chic conversation starter, take one area and make it a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall pictures. Not up to creating a bonanza of imagery? Fine. A careful arrangement of pictures will do quite nicely. 
 So, Next: Prepare you jigsaw-puzzle pieces. What? You thought I was going to send you waving a hammer willy-nilly? No, this is a precision operation, my friend. Do not rush it. This will be the only moment when the phrase "get crafty" applies. First, trace the shape of your frames onto kraft paper. Cut the various shapes out. Then tape them onto your wall-using low stick tape-in your proposed arrangement. Step way back and have a look. Do the corners line up? Does the design scream clever symmetry?
 You May Proceed: What's great about having the paper pictures up is you can nail through the paper with confidence. No Juggling the heavy Mapplethorpe nude in one hand, sharp objects in the other. Once you've got it nailed, simply tear the paper away, replace it with your masterpiece, and repeat. Don't restrict your hangings to paintings and photos. Add mirrors or textiles to the mix. What goes up can come down, so take a risk already!
 Here are a few Ideas of groupings for frames, mirrors, objects, etc. Enjoy, and get creative!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How To Arrange Flowers In A Vase

Before we begin, I want to stress an important point:  Always be kind to your flowers.   When you get them home or gather them from your yard, cut the stems at an angle.   This allows them to absorb more water, a flower’s best friend, which makes them happy. It’s also important to trim off any leaves below the water's surface as these promote bacteria.   Put your floral materials in a bucket or sink of room temperature water that’s been treated with flower food or a teaspoon or two of chlorine bleach and a teaspoon of sugar.   This should be added to the vase as well.

 First take your vase (flared vases work best) and using your florist's or cellophane tape make a grid across the top, which acts as a support structure for your materials. I'll refer to this many times as "the taped grid method."
 Layer 1- line foliage. I'm using leather leaf fern. Your first stem should be about one and a half times the height of your vase and placed into the center of your grid. The next two stems should be slightly shorter and inserted on either side of your first stem to create a triangle, as in the photo. Remember, no leaves or foliage below the water's surface. All of your stems should look like they originate from an imaginary X in the center of your vase.
 Now fill in with a few more stems of line foliage, turning your vase and filling in gaps, but don't go outside of your initial triangle.
 Layer 2 - round foliage. Next add your round foliage. Here I've used camelia, pointing each stem toward the imaginary X in the center and making sure no leaves fall below the water's surface. Spraying your foliage with a leaf shine really helps to make your arrangement look even more professional.
 Layer 3 - line flowers. Insert your line flowers almost like you did your line foliage. I've used three stems of luscious, purple larkspur and three stems of white stock.
 Layer 4 - mass flowers. Add your mass flowers all around your design, cutting them to different lengths, but don't go outside the triangle. Turn your vase and fill in gaps. I've used three lilac scabiosa, one stem of a white daisy mum, and a few golden dahlias, but you could use whatever you want, even use just one type, such as roses.
 Layer 5 - focal flowers. Notice how the brilliant orange sunflowers capture your immediate attention. A few have been placed more toward the base of the design. You could also use sunny, Gerber daisies.
 Layer 6 - filler material. Just a few stems of yellow solidaster inserted throughout the arrangement give it the almost-final touch.
 A small, inexpensive remnant of burlap secured with a rubber band covers the stems and gives the bouquet an added touch of country charm! Try experimenting with different types of flowers and foliage (and even fabric), now that YOU know The Secrets! 


You don't need a lot of expensive supplies to arrange flowers, and you should be able to find everything at your local craft or floral supply store or major discount department store. I would also encourage you to visit your local library and check out books on flower arranging.

Floral scissors or cutting shears.   Yes, professional florists use floral knives but that skill takes a little practice and I don’t want you to bleed. Whatever you use, make sure it’s clean.   Flowers' worst enemy is bacteria.
Florist’s or Bowl tape. This is a waterproof tape specifically designed for floral work.   You could also use cellophane, masking or other narrow tape, but bowl tape is your best bet.   It comes in green or clear.
Floral foam. Get several blocks of this as we use it in a number of designs. Make sure to get the foam designed for fresh flowers, not artificial!
Containers. You can start with some simple vases, the likes of which you probably have under your kitchen sink. And start saving your recyclables - frozen food trays, styrofoam trays, deli containers and even two liter soda bottles.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Shopping Short Takes

Treating employees with respect and interacting courteously with other customers are things shoppers should do as a matter of course, and the following tips will make a shopping excursion more enjoyable:

In Department Stores: If a salesperson is nowhere to be found, go to the nearest available register and politely ask where you might find one. If the cashier doesn't know, you could go to the manager. If, at the other extreme, a salesperson latches onto you and hovers as you browse the merchandise, shake him as politely as possible. So that he won't be concerned about losing a commission on a sale, just say, "Thanks, but I'd rather just look on my own right now. If I decide to buy something I'll find you before I take my things to the register."

In Clothing Stores: Make an effort to get in and out of a fitting room as quickly as possible, especially if other customers are waiting. If a salesperson tells you a particular garment "looks fabulous" on you and you're not sure you agree, thank her for her help and go your way with "Thanks so much! I'll let you know if I decide to buy something." When you're finished in the dressing room, put clothing back on the hangers, not in a heap on the floor. Then, depending on the store policy, either leave the clothes inside or just outside the dressing room or put them back on the sales rack.

In Drugstores: If your prescription medicine is expensive, your copayment has increased, or you didn't realize that your deductible has yet to be met, don't take out your frustration on the person serving you; all of these decisions are made by the drug and insurance companies, not by the pharmacist or the sales clerk. Unless you're prepared to wait, call in or drop off a prescription in advance, also if you know that your insurance has changed please bring in all the new information. Pharmacist/techs also have to deal with incoming calls from doctors and patients while giving prescription-filling the attention it deserves, and that takes time. 

At Beauty Salons: Be sure to arrive on time for a beauty salon appointment; being late can slow things down for other customers for the rest of the day. If you want to cancel, calling ten minutes before an appointment may well cost your hairdresser money. If you're not happy with your cut or color, let you stylist or the salon know as quickly as possible, since it could possibly be fixed the next day. A thornier problem comes when you decide to switch stylists (especially one you've had for a long time), whether at the same salon or elsewhere. The solution is to be benevolently honest. Most stylists say they want to know why a client leaves, but try your best not to make them feel insulted. Tell your stylist that you appreciate all her efforts to please you and that you've enjoyed getting to know her (if true), but you just want to try someone else. What you should never do is simply disappear.

At Spas: A spa is by nature a relaxed place, but that doesn't mean you can be late for your appointment. Beyond that, it's fine to talk quietly while having a massage or other treatment., but it's equally okay to remain silent. Do, however, give the therapist feedback on you comfort and any trouble areas she should know about. Remember that spas should remain child-free, since quiet and relaxation are essential to the experience. 

At Yard Sales: Comply with any requests for "no early birds!" Don't arrive while the seller is setting up just to make sure you get the best bargains-considered "dirty pool" in yard-sale circles. Though a sale may start as early as 7:00 AM, the neighbors may not yet be awake-so forgo loud conversation or laughter. Don't block a neighbor's driveway with your car. Leave the displays as you found them, not is disarray. A little bargaining is often expected, but don't haggle aggressively over prices. Carry small bills and plenty of change. The seller doesn't have the resources of a regular store, so don't be surprised or annoyed if he can't change a $20 bill when your paying for a $1 item.    

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Theater

Attending live theater is one of the few activities that separate human beings from the other primates. And unfortunately, most people haven't a clue how to behave when seeing a show. My Seven Cardinal Rules for Broadway, Off-Broadway, the opera, the ballet, and touring groups:

  1. Wear something nice. Your fellow theatergoers are paying for the entire experience, which includes being surrounded by fabulous people.
  2. When entering a row in which people are already sitting, shimmy in facing the stage. It's better to put you buttocks in someone's face than your reproductive organs.
  3. Don't be a hair-hopper. The legitimate theater is no place for a leftover Whitesnake groupie. The person behind your purchased a view also.
  4. Keep you head fairly still. I had to get snippy with a woman in front of me recently because her head was bopping like a metronome, and I hate having to get snippy.
  5. Turn your cell phone OFF, not on vibrate. Vibrate makes noise, ya dope.
  6. Unwrap your candy before the show. And don't crunch it.
  7. Don't watch the entire show, then leave right before or during curtain call just so you can be the first one to catch a cab. How incredibly rude to deprive the cast of their applause! The next time I see you do this, I might "accidentally" stick my foot in the aisle and trip you. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tipping Pointers

I have a general rule, never tip anyone less than a buck. I don't care if it's a bartender who poured you a soda, and Albuquerque cab driver, or the kid that delivers your Sunday paper. Two shiny quarters may have been generous back in 1952, but today they won't even buy your a cup of coffee. Many people in the service industry make less than minimum wage because they rely on tips. Hook 'em up!
  With that said, I don't think it's necessary to give a dollar every time your get a venti-triple-half-caff-nonfat-sugar-free-vanilla-cappu-latte. Tip jars are optional and should be used when you've received exceptional service.

Here are some general rules of thumb:

Waitstaff:  15% for average service; 18% for very good service; 20% for exceptional.

Bartenders: $1 a drink for sodas, beer, and basic drinks; $2 for more elaborate concoctions.

Coat Check: $1 per item.

Hairstylist: 15% for a good job; 20% if you love your new 'do.

Manicurist/pedicurist: 15%

Massage Therapist/Facialist: 15% for a good massage; 20% for a great one.

Driver (taxi or car service): 15% for good service; 20% if driver helped with bags, opened doors, etc.

Valet Parking: $3 upon retrieval of your car-slip him at least $5 when handing over your car if you want to make sure your Porsche doesn't get scratched.  

If you have an IPhone here is an App that you can download to calculate your tips for you!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

What Is Wrong With Hollywood? These Movies Stink!!

So yesterday I decided after work I was going to have a "movie day", and I decided to watch 3 movies at the local theater. First I watched Magic Mike, which I was really looking forward to. But to be honest I was really disappointed in the movie. It was really slow, even though there were good looking men in it, it just didn't do it for me. 
 Then I watched Ted, which I had heard was pretty funny. I actually caught myself checking Facebook instead of watching the movie. Yeah it had it's funny parts to it, but all around I just didn't like it.
 My third and final film of the day was Abraham Lincoln Vampire Killer. I should have realized from the get go, just by the name of the film that I was going to be a doozie, but I gave it a shot. I did like some parts of the film, but near the end I just really wanted to call it a night and go home. 
Maybe I was just in a bad mood or something, have you seen any of these films? If so, what did you think of them? Were you as disappointed as I was, or did you like them? Sorry about not having any posts this past week, it was a really crazy at work!