Sunday Seven: Getting Back on the Wagon

How am I doing with the plan to get my home in order?  I’ve made some progress, but hit a plateau in the last couple weeks.  The home appraisal came back (it rose slightly in value, which is nice; but also means higher taxes) and closed on the mortgage refinance.  Now that I’m not distracted by all the paperwork a refinance entails, I can get back on track.

I "bought" a Shark upright vacuum with points from my credit card.
My new vacuum, which I got for free with credit card points*

Like most people, I do much better when I have a plan.  So let’s take the time to plan things to do for the upcoming week, and let’s do it in the form of a Sunday Seven (since I don’t have anything else to write about).

Seven Tasks for the Week

  1. Reschedule the couple to help remove heavy items from my living room. A plethora of problems prevented them from coming when originally scheduled.
  2. The couple will remove the items, but they won’t haul them to the junk yard.  So I need to make arrangements with our trash disposal company to make a special pick up—if they do such a thing.  If not, I need to find a junk hauling company.
  3. I wanted a Shark vacuum with swivel steering, but would have had to pay for it.
    The vacuum I wanted, which would have cost real money.

    Our property manager mentioned his cousin started hauling metal items.  The televisions aren’t metal, but I do have a few things that are.  And he doesn’t charge!  (Apparently there’s good money to be had in scrap metal.)

  4. Finish sorting through the extraneous items in the living room.  If I take one section of the room at a time, it’s not so overwhelming.
  5. Wash my bed’s quilt at the laundromat.  It’s not really part of the decluttering plan, but it takes time and I have to do it.  My own  washer and dryer, although they claim to be “heavy duty,” don’t do such a great job.  A bonus: the laundromat is near my favorite pizza place.  (They also make delicious gyros and baked spaghetti.)
  6. Give my new vacuum a tryout.
  7. Take my sweet 19-year-old cat Gigi to the vet.  It’ll be stressful for both of us.

*The credit card is from Navy Federal Credit Union, one of the perks of being a Navy vet—now open to all military services and Department of Defense employees.  Their redemption program also had a Bose iPod sound dock I coveted, but it’s no longer available.  Damn my procrastination!

Another Cleaning Sunday Seven

I survived the home appraisal! To celebrate, I took a break from the decluttering schedule for most of the week.  But I did make a date for a couple to help me remove some of the larger, heavy items from my living room.

Yesterday I jumped back into my schedule of cleaning two rooms for 15 minutes each twice a week. You know what that means? More found surprises!

Seven More Items Found While Decluttering

  1. A pasta bowl set from Crate and Barrel, the kind that consists of a serving bowl and four pasta dishes. I don’t remember buying it and I’m not sure why I would. I already have a pasta set I love which I bought in Italy. Maybe I bought it for a wedding gift?
  2. More old Mary Kay cosmetics. I think I’ve now thrown out all of them.  It only took five or six large trash bags!
  3. A package of scrapbooking paper. Since I’ve decided to create some memory books of my parents, I’m going to see if anything might be useable.  If not, out it goes.
  4. A nearly full box of high-quality paper for resumes and cover letters. I’ve had the paper, and the matching envelopes, for over 20 years at least, possibly as long as 33 years—that’s ⅓ of a century!  They’re going out for recycling pickup.
  5. The board game Clue. I think I tried giving it to Goodwill once, but they wouldn’t take open board games. Since Clue is my favorite game, I’ve decided to keep it.  (For now.)
  6. A bag of yarn with a partially knit sweater on a broken needle, along with a book of sweater patterns.  Sorry, organization gurus, it’s staying.  I’ll reuse the yarn.  And I love knitting patterns—something I have in common with Albus Dumbledore.  😉
  7. A picture of me watching the sunset on a beach in Carmel, CA. My best friend took another picture with me facing the camera. It was a lovely photo, especially since I’m not particularly photogenic. I gave it to my parents who kept it by their telephone for many years.  After their deaths, I retrieved it and eventually gave it to a guy I thought might be “The One.” Turns out he wasn’t, and the creep didn’t return the photo.

And the list doesn’t include the several large cardboard boxes I broke down for recycling. I thought about keeping them to us for hauling things to Goodwill.  But I’d prefer to just get them out of the house.

Sunday “Surprise” Seven

Decluttering uncovers loads of surprises.  Most are trash, some are treasures, and some (almost) defy description.  And all within 15 minutes!

Seven Interesting Things I Found in My Den

  1. A picture of the Nautical Notes, a select offshoot of the Newport Navy Choristers, a choral group I sang with during my Newport days.  I’m the only woman in uniform (Mess Dress Blues).
  2. A cassette tape titled “Sigel Overholt: the First 100 Years,” a biography my Uncle Rod put together for Grandpa‘s 100th birthday party.  It definitely needs to be transfer it to digital.
  3. My father’s trinket box, which I remember from childhood.  In it I found enough items for another Sunday Seven.  🙂
  4. Four USB cords to various small electronic devices (camera, GPS, etc.) and a synchronizing cable for a Palm organizer.  A Palm!  Are they even still around?
  5. A USB mouse, highly valuable for when the batteries in the wireless mouse die—which seems to happen much too often.
  6. A Motorola flip phone, pre-Razr. Geez, how many iterations ago was that?
  7. Two 8×10 photos of Benjamin Bratt, from the Web 1.0 days when I ran a fan site for him.  One is from After the Storm and the other from Piñero (autographed).  I have no idea where I got them.

And that list doesn’t include the boring things!

Sunday Seven—Let’s Blog!

Lorelle of Lorelle on WordPress is posting a year of Blog Exercises in 2013  Although she’s my favorite weblog guru, I  haven’t been reading her lately.  She recently wrote a roundup of her Blog Exercise to date, so perhaps it’s time to do a little catching-up.  These are (just) seven topics I plan to take a closer look at.

(Just) Seven (of Many) Blog Exercises to Further Explore

(I’m not linking to each article because I’d have to open the post, and I might get sidetracked.)

  1. Scheduling Blogging Time—something I definitely need to improve.
  2. The IKEA Effect for Bloggers—I have absolutely no idea what this is (yet)
  3. Fall in Love with Words—how can you not love this?
  4. Making Lists— 😀 considering Sunday Seven is a list
  5. Footnotes—I’m intrigued.  I wonder if they’re similar to anchors within a page (which I’m proud to say I taught myself).
  6. The Editorial Calendar—indispensable for web site maintenance
  7. Under the Hood Spring Cleaning—perhaps I can call it Under the Hood Back-to-School Cleaning?  😉

 

Another Dragons Sunday Seven: John Powell Was Robbed!

The composer of the How to Train Your Dragon soundtrack was nominated for an Oscar in 2010.  He should have won.  Yes, we all know the lovely waltz that played when Hiccup and Toothless took Astrid into the clouds, but there’s so much more.  I never grow tired of listening to it.

Seven Favorite Songs from How to Train Your Dragon
(in chronological order)

  1. “This Is Berk.”  It could be called “Overture.” It has many movements and themes that run throughout the movie.
  2. “Forbidden Friendship.” Hiccup feeds the (as yet unnamed) dragon a fish and… you know the rest.  In their DVD commentary the directors and producer said this was a 5 minute scene without dialog.  That’s extremely hard to do!  But the music and the action are so wonderful, you don’t notice.
  3. “See You Tomorrow.”  The “Scottish jig” played during the montage of Hiccup and Toothless trying out various flying apparatuses (apparati?), where we learn about dragon nip, chin scratches, and light chasing.
  4. “Test Drive.”  The song associated with the movie.  When Hiccup and Toothless go for their first long flight, Hiccup loses his cheat sheet, but it turns out dragon and boy are in total synch.
  5. “Romantic Flight.”  When Astrid says she’s sorry, Toothless takes her and Hiccup into and above the clouds to see the Northern lights and a view of Berk no one’s ever seen before.
  6. “The Cove.” After returning from the dragon’s den, Astrid agrees to keep Hiccup’s secret and gives him a kiss.  The moonlight on the water and an accordion (yes, an accordion!) give the feel of a romantic cafe.
  7. “Where’s Hiccup?”  As the debris clears, a distraught Stoick searches for Hiccup.  The song continues into the scene of Hiccup waking up, and swells when we realize Hiccup and Toothless are now even closer than ever.

For the record, I’m not alone in my love for the movie and its music.  Tom  says, “God dammit I love this film way more than is healthy,” and The Platypus Agent notes “Best. Movie soundtrack. EVER.”  I agree 2000%!

A Super Sunday Seven

Let’s continue with July’s Sunday Seven Couch Critic theme with a list of episodes from my other favorite television show, Supernatural.

Supernatural‘s season 8 was one of its best.  Here’s a list of my favorite episodes from this past season—although  I had a hard time narrowing it down to seven.

Seven Favorite Supernatural Season 8 Episodes

  1. What’s Up, Tiger Mommy (802).  Kevin Tran, the teenage prophet who can interpret the mysterious tablet introduced in season 7, wants to see his mother.  When we meet Mrs. Tran, she proves to be totally hip and ready to join the fight.  The second episode of the season included an auction of supernatural artifacts, Thor’s hammer, heaven’s most adorable angel, and a falling out between Kevin and the Winchesters.
  2. Hunteri Heroici (808).  Cartoon physics come to the real world; well, the “real” world of Supernatural.  Painted black holes become tunnels, falling anvils crush humans, birthday cakes explode, Castiel interrogates a cat who calls the angel a “dumb ass.” Mike Farrell (B.J. Hunnicut of M*A*S*H) guest stars as Fred, an old Winchester friend with psychokinetic powers.  Although I hate the show’s extreme ageist mentality, I love the humorous episodes, especially with guest stars I recognize and remember fondly.
  3. As Time Goes By (812).  The best Supernatural episodes are often the ones involving family, and this is one of them.  Henry Winchester, Sam and Dean’s grandfather, falls out of a closet into the 21 century, searching for John Winchester.  Instead of being the deadbeat dad John  thought he was, Henry turns out to be an earnest young man who teaches the brothers there’s more to the supernatural world than just “saving people, hunting things.”
  4. Trial and Error (814).  Kevin has translated the first of three trials needed to close the gates of hell.  The first trial leads the Winchesters to the ranch of a dysfunctional family in Idaho.  Dean is adamant that he perform the trial alone in order to keep Sam safe.  But things go awry and Sam ends up completing the deed.  In addition to numerous twists and turns, and some delightful characters, we got not one, but two patented heartfelt Winchester brotherly pep talks.
  5. Pac Man Fever (820).  Computer whiz/hacker extraordinaire Charlie Bradbury shows up in Kansas (home of the fabulous Men of Letters bunker the boys now call home), and serves as Dean’s FBI partner while Sam recuperates from the second trial.  Although there’s a monster-of-the-week, the episode is really about Charlie, her back-story and psyche, and her fear of letting her mother die.  It’s funny, touching, and heartbreaking.
  6. The Great Escapist (821).  Castiel is captured by Naomi and tortured for the whereabouts of the angel tablet; then by Crowley, who knows where it is.  Sam and Dean head off to Colorado in search of Metatron, the scribe of God—the angel who wrote the tablets.  And Kevin outwits Crowley, although it takes an angel to save him from Crowley’s wrath.  All three stories are intense and showcase some of the best characteristics of characters we’ve come to love.
  7. Sacrifice (823).  Although Sam has been given the trial to complete, it’s Dean who makes the ultimate decision.  Detractors (aka Dean/Jensen Ackles fans) complained that all the “mytharc” stories go to Sam, relegating Dean to nursemaid status.  But Dean had the final say in this one, and if that’s not mytharc-related, what is?  Jared Padalecki was superb, we have a great set up for season 9, and the Men of Letter abode was not destroyed.  (Phew!)

It bears repeating:  Thank you, Jeremy Carver, for an excellent season!

Sunday Seven: Fun with Photos

(and Photo Editing Software)

It’s a lazy, rainy Sunday.  Emphasis on lazy.  I’m not motivated to write a Sunday Seven, so how about some pictures?

I’ve been playing with Paint Shop Pro X5’s photo filters (plus one Photoshop filter—#7).  Nothing fancy; just experimenting.  All the effects are basically 1-step filters (with possibly minor adjustments).  I was planning to go into more detail about the effects, but that’s too much writing for today, which, as I said before I’m trying to avoid.  We’ll discuss them another day.

Can you tell I love bare tree branches?

Sunday Seven: Game Off

Tywin Lannister is a formidable presence.
Worst. Father. Ever. Happy Father’s Day!

Game of Thrones is over for another season, and millions of epic fantasy geeks are counting down the days ’til season 4.  I have a like-hate relationship with the show; watching mostly because I want to know what people are talking about.  But I don’t think it deserves as many accolades as it receives.  Here’s why…

Seven Reasons Why (I Think) Game of Thrones Is Overrated
(ok, maybe just this season)
  1. Too many story lines.  What started as basically two separate but related tales (Stark/Lannister/Baratheon vs. Targaryen) has exploded into… I’ve lost count.  New families have been thrown into the mix, the Starks now have four separate story lines (well, maybe just 3 now).  With the Greyjoys and the Brotherhood Without Banners thrown in for good measure.  And I’m sure I’ve missed some.  Oh yeah, the Night’s Watch.  And there was more than one story line for them this year.
  2. The good guys never win.  Or, as someone on the message boards said, “It sucks to be a Stark.”
  3. Lack of forward plot movement #1:  No one’s closer to the throne. Daenerys Targaryen has raised an army, razed some cities, and freed some slaves.  But she’s made no move towards Kings Landing.  (Ok, maybe she’s waiting for the dragons to mature.)  Stannis Baratheon may be physically closer to the throne, but he’s still an “also ran.”  And Robb Stark?  Well, it sucks to be him.
  4. Lack of forward plot movement #2:   Joffrey is still alive.
  5. Torture is not entertainment.
  6. S-l-o-w (or no) progress.  The Night’s Watch spent two seasons north of the Wall.  Jaime and Brienne spent 1½ seasons getting to Kings Landing.  Bran Stark spent all season to get to the Wall.  And Arya Stark spent all season getting… nowhere.
  7. Because it can’t be said enough, torture is NOT entertainment.

Disagree?  I’d like to hear what you love about the series!

How to Train Your Dragon: Sunday Seven, Part 1

The dragon places  his nose in Hiccup's hand.
All together now—”Aww.”   [Photo credit: DreamWorks]
I’m a huge fan of all things How to Train Your Dragon:  the books, the movie, the soundtrack, the television series, all of it.  There are so many things to love, I could write seven separate Sunday Seven Dragon lists.  But that’s just overkill.  Let’s start with the movie.

When I first watched it, there were moments I was totally awed, by either the story or the animation. (And I haven’t even seen it in 3D yet!)  These are some of those moments.  (The list actually started with 11; these seven are the best of the best.)

Danger, danger!  If you’ve not seen the movie, stop reading now.  Besides possibly ruining the surprise, it might not make sense.  And also, what are you waiting for?

Seven Amazing (1st Viewing) Moments
from  How to Train Your Dragon (the movie)
  1. Hiccup’s first encounter with the downed dragon:  As the camera pans across its wing, its eye opens.  (According to the the DVD commentary this was unintentional.  But what a great mistake!)
  2. As Hiccup steps through the dragon’s maze, he looks as if he’s dancing.  He turns his body rhythmically, and his hair waves with the movement.
  3. When the dragon puts his head in Hiccup’s hand, Hiccup gasps.  It’s such a realistic moment, and we feel his thrill.
  4. As Toothless returns to the cove after his first flight with his tail fin (and Hiccup hanging on to his tail), the dragon’s body is reflected in the water. Gorgeous!
  5. On the way to the dragons’ island, the number of dragons flying alongside Toothless is slowly revealed.  The numbers just keep growing until dragons have completely filled the screen.
  6. Having been trapped under water while the Vikings are fighting the Green Death (sometimes erroneously called the Red Death), Toothless suddenly resurfaces carrying Stoic.  Not only is it a surprise, Toothless’s arched back and curved wings make a powerful yet graceful image.
  7. When Hiccup regains consciousness, he makes his way outside leaning on Toothless.  Toothless’s tail sweeps across screen, and we see how interrelated these two are.  (Oh yeah, I’ve heard this scene produces audible gasps from theater audiences. )

So those are some of my favorite scenes.  What about you?  Do you love the movie?  What are some of your favorite moments?

The Power of Seven

Seven is my lucky number.  Or maybe it’s just a lucky number in general.  Whichever, it has personal significance for me.  Plus, it has nice alliteration when combined with “Sunday.”  I therefore present the return of …

The Sunday Seven

I started Sunday Seven nearly three years ago in an effort to blog more regularly.  Yeah, that didn’t happen.  But since time is no longer a problem and I’m Starting Fresh All Over Again, it’s time for a reboot.

I wrote about my shop-oholic tendencies recently, so let’s restart with…

Seven Things Not Bought (and Money Saved)
  1. Those cute jeweled sandals at HSN:  They were on sale for $70, now they’re $80.  And blue is no longer available.
  2. Pearl & aquamarine necklace at Jewelry Television (JTV):  “Special Offer” at $88.  I’m not sure what’s “special” about the offer.
  3. Keshi pearl necklace, also at JTV:  Another “Special Offer” at $80.  In my defense, pearls are my birthstone.
  4. Vipre anti-virus software at HSN (licenses for 5 computers for the life of the computers):  $50, which is  the best price I’ve ever seen.
  5. Two MyPillow pillows from QVC:  $89 yesterday, $98 today.  Reading negative reviews saved me.
  6. Deni ice cream maker from QVC:  $30.  My pocketbook and waistline are grateful it sold out.
  7. Swim suit from Lands End:  $36 for tankini top (regularly $59), $30  for bottoms (regularly $49).  Great savings, but  by the time my shopping embargo is lifted, the suits will likely be sold out.

Grand total savings:  $474 – $492, not including shipping costs, which would take the total over $500.  Woohoo!