Archive for June, 2009

Now that my parents’ birthday celebrations are safely past, I can add two more Econsiderate gift ideas to the list: address stickers with a personal image or emblem, and plants.


In our family’s most recent Annual Easter Egg Decorating Contest (we have rules, categories and ribbons), my Dad painted this great Picasso-like image of a hummingbird.  I took a pic and flattened it in Photoshop, as the original was distorted by being painted on, er, a egg.  Superior Labels let me upload the image easily and had a good range of formats and typefaces; the address labels came out just as pictured, and shipped fast. Cost was $20 for a roll (I think the quantity was 300 labels), plus $3.75 shipping and handling.  Easy peasy, and my parents (said they) really liked them.  If it’s as I hope, these will give the folks a little smile every time they mail out an envelope — plus, as with the best Econsiderate gifts, it’s both small and consumable, so won’t junk up their house forever. If they really do like them, Superior makes reordering easy.

Burpee photo used by permission.

Burpee photo used by permission.

Now, the other idea turned out better in conception than in execution, for me, at least: I ordered seeds of a somewhat hard-to-find plant and planned to raise them to give to my Mom. The first part went fine: Burpee sells seeds of these lovely double petunias for $4.95; they have many other gorgeous flowers, tasty veggies, gourmet herbs, etc. Many gardening centers will give away plastic growers’ pots, and in fact I already had some old four-pack pots to raise them in. And Mom is an avid, accomplished gardener, so adding baby plants to her menagerie isn’t a burden. All fine. Except I do tend toward the sepia-toned thumb, and the seedlings did not actually sprout. But even full-grown plants are a bargain (viewed in terms of pennies per drachm of beauty, how can you beat six violas for $2.99?) and I found a big lush pot of lavender double petunias to give her instead. She loved ’em.

Read Full Post »

Super-heavy element 112 was created a decade ago in a particle accelerator, and only four atoms of it have ever been observed.  Yet high school science classes will still have to memorize it, no doubt. They temporarily named it ununbium, but are still searching for a real name.

Read Full Post »

Glad to have discovered the Economist’s weekly “The week ahead” podcast, a civilized way to get your news. They also offer a series of “Tea with The Economist” videos, in which they very literally have tea and a chat with interesting and relevant people.

Also, I am in love with Galwaybayfm.ie, where you can listen live to a popular radio station from the lovely university town of Galway on the west coast of Ireland. Sports, news, commentary and music all jumbled together, with a real feeling of community and of course absolutely great accents. At last I know how to pronounce Taoiseach.

My husband and I were tickled once to hear the hosts of a travel talk show discussing how to get the most authentic experience of the American West. A caller asked them which city she should spend the most time visiting and got the answer, “Well, how long is a piece of string?” — appearing to mean, “It all depends.”

During the daylight hours they seem to spin a lot of American pop and country from randomly shuffled decades, as if it all sounds the same to them, which it well might. At night there is dance/Britpop and other cutting-edge music for the younguns, complete with dedications (“Best of luck to Daragh and Sheila on their engagement!”)

Just now they were interviewing the winning candidates in Friday’s Galway County Council elections as the final returns came in. Then they went to the “Air Guitar Song of the Week,” Meatloaf’s “Dead Ringer for Love.”

Read Full Post »

If you’re crafty, this could make a lovely gift, and right now it’s 50% off.  To change the appearance, you could possibly dye the leather dark brown (though I’d call Tandy first to make sure this leather accepts dye, and whether it’d need to be sealed).*  Once I got the kit in my hands and could see how the watch case and buckle attach to the band, I’d be tempted to prowl antique stores for a unique and interesting case.

Image copyright Tandy Leather Co.

It’s pretty as is, but a dark brown leather with silver case and buckle would be pretty too.

* Update, Aug. 9: This just in!  I’ve now done a Tandy Leather kit and I can confidently say that the tooling leather in their kits can be dyed dark brown.  You will want to seal it, though.  So after you buy the watch kit, which is $7 now that it’s not on sale anymore, then you’d need to buy dye and clear sealant … and if you aren’t up to leather carving yet and just want to stamp it, you’ll need at least one stamp … and perhaps a mallet if you don’t already have one (hammers won’t do) … so by then you’re up to like $30 or $40.  So much for an inexpensive gift 🙂

The good news, though, if you do decide you want to personalize a watch band this way — or if you use the kit as is — is that I found many beautiful new watch faces in all sorts of metals and styles at Artbeads.com, for about $6 or so each, with free shipping.

Read Full Post »

The teahouse illustrations on the Gmail page change with the times of day too! Here the kitsune is tidying up in her house. It looks like she is a reader, as well.

Read Full Post »