Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Review not 2014

We often look back on the year that's just passed and reflect on what we've done. But I thought I'd do something different and look back on what I didn't do.

I did not learn to speak Russian in spite of this snazzy outfit.


I did not jump off the Eiffel Tower.

April (in Paris)

I didn't get a part in a burlesque act because I am too shy and retiring, and easily embarrassed.


I did not botch Operation Spygirl.


I did not eat a goldfish (he was hiding from me).

May again

I did not blog much for several months.

I did not spend every day in color.


And I did not let fame and outrageous wealth corrupt me after my appearance in  VOGOFF.

I also did not forget how lovely my blogging friends are, even though I have been AWOL and less active in the blogosphere. I hope 2015 brings us all good fortune and grace, happiness and joy, and maybe a blogger meet-up or two!

Happy New Year!!!


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dust in the Fridge, Sparkles on the Bag

I went on a big ol' cleaning spree yesterday - kitchen, bathroom, cabinets, floors, roof, chimney, subconscious. Today my back is very sore. That should teach me to just hire a maid and then sit back and drink gimlets.

I cleaned out the fridge - not fanatically, but I did wipe all the shelves in the fridge and the freezer. I even wiped the lower shelves on the door, which don't see much use, and therefore, they had collected dust. Dust! INSIDE the fridge!? How does that happen? I was so disgusted I threw in the towel. But it landed in the butter, and then I had to wash the towel - and all the other laundry - so my work was far from finished.

Today I'm doing nothing physical. I'm spending a day on the computer researching how to put watermarks on my photos (done), how to set up a web page in WordPress (for a project Mr. S and I will be working on soon), and how to put one of Mr. S's books in CreateSpace for print-on-demand. I think his children's book might sell a bit more in hard copy.

And I'm also taking snaps of my sparkly purse to link up with SpyGirl's 52 Pick-me-up - Bejeweled.

This gorgeous bag of bling was a gift from my lovely stepdaughter a few years ago, and I don't use it often enough. I worry that the sequins and beads will start to fall off, but so what? I should use it and enjoy it, and resew when necessary.

The bag has two faces.

It's my Janus bag, which is perfect for the end of the year, looking to the future and to the past.

Happy Sparkly Days to you all!


PS added on Dec. 29 - I'm linking up with the lovely goddess Patti at Visible Monday!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

New Glasses - New Face - New Hair

I got my new glasses from Firmoo, and I'll give you the full review in a mo'.

New glasses mean a whole new face, and a whole new face requires a new haircut. So I channeled my inner beatnik (and made good on my vow to copy Becky's hair) and did blunt cut bangs.

Now, about the glasses, which were supplied by Firmoo in exchange for my review. You've probably seen reviews on other blogs - good reviews. I was skeptical because I wear progressive lenses and wasn't sure how they could get that right. Well, they did! I wore these right out of the case. I might go to my optometrist to get a tiny adjustment on one side to fit my crooked ears, but the lenses are absolutely correct.

The trick is in the pupils. When you enter your prescription on Firmoo's site, you also enter your pupillary distance (PD - if it's not written on your prescription, get a ruler with millimeters and have someone measure it for you).

How did I select my frames? That was fun! I uploaded a photo of myself without glasses, and then I could "try on" various frames virtually to see how they look.

There were other frames I liked better than the ones I got, but for progressive lenses they need to be a certain height. The specifications for each frame will tell you if they'll work with progressives or not.

Since the offer from Firmoo was for single-vision lenses, I paid for the progressives myself. It was only $36.95. I can't remember the price listed for the frame, but single-vision eyeglasses range from $19 to $56. The lenses are processed with anti-radiation and UV coatings, and the thin grind for thick lenses was free (for my Coke-bottle lenses, this makes a difference). I could buy three pairs of Firmoo glasses for what I spent last time I bought specs!

The cheap prices got me wondering about human rights and corporate responsibility. Firmoo is based in China, and I searched online to see if there was any information about the working conditions of their employees or the company's impact on the environment. I didn't find anything, either good or bad.

This is what they came with - a hard case, soft pouch, cleaning cloth, and teensy screwdriver on a keychain - and they were here in less than two weeks.

The frames are very lightweight - I don't know if they're all like this or just this style, but they don't have a metal bar in the temple arms like my other glasses. If you're not usually careful with your specs, these might not hold up well. But for a spare pair at this price, I will definitely buy from Firmoo again - and I'll get snazzier glasses next time. I could have a whole wardrobe of glasses!

But you don't have to take my word for it - get your first pair free and do your own review!


Monday, December 15, 2014

High Tea

Hello, again! And no, my title isn't a play on my last post about the mini opium den.

On Saturday I volunteered to help serve tea at a local historic house, the Shelton-McMurphey-Johnson House (their website seems to be down, but here's a picture of the outside from Wiki Commons).


They do high tea there during the holidays and for some other events as well, and I volunteered to help for a couple of them. Here I am just before our clientele came in.

See the little teacups on the tree? Squee!

Each table setting has a unique, beautiful teacup (I had about three, no four, no five favorites), and no two teapots are alike. We served three courses on tiered trays - first, savory bites and sandwiches, then scones with Devonshire cream and jam, and then dessert with mini cupcakes and cheesecake and truffles, with a different tea for each course. It's a lot of work being a serving wench, but it was fun, and they make extras of everything so we could stuff ourselves in the kitchen.

It's shocking that my ankles are visible, so I'm linking up with Visible Monday before I apply for a job at Downton Abbey.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Come into my smoky little den

Before you get the wrong idea, let me put your mind at ease. I'm talking about an opium den.

Oh, that doesn't put your mind at ease? It might if you pick up the pipe on the table and take a puff...

not a very good photo - too smoky in here

This is a little special order opium den I sent off last week - a little opium den with reading material.

I made the books and the blue jar. The scrolls are made from thin paper that was in a box of Japanese candy.

These are the things on the shelves - books and scrolls, with some real characters and some fake. And I can see now that I probably put the label on the jar upside-down, like I did last time.

Here's the exterior -

chasing the dragon, or is the dragon chasing you?

I've relaunched my Facebook page that used to be called Sparkle Park Designs - now it's Muse Fondue. You can find me and Like me here, if you're so inclined.

And I'm on Pinterest now, too (here) because I needed still more things to do online. I warn you, my Pinterest boards are heavy on altered Altoid tins.

Anyone know how to put the FB and Pinterest buttons on my blog?


Friday, December 5, 2014


I've been thinking of writing about this for a while - my name.

I use Val and Valerie fairly equally, and I don't mind either one. I sometimes think I should be more consistent, though. I used to always introduce myself as Valerie, and I always wrote Valerie, then I would let others decide what they wanted to call me.

My husband ALWAYS refers to me as Val, and introduces me as Val. Friends usually call me Val, and with emails I usually just use Val because it's quicker to type.

But for business I tend to use Valerie, at least initially. This has confused people, though, when they think of me Valerie and then I call them on the phone and say, "This is Val."

So should I always introduce myself as the more formal Valerie?

 Or the casual Val?

Or just keep being arbitrarily schizo?

Another part of my identity is my glasses, which I've worn since I was nine years old (not the same ones, of course, although my first ones were cat-eye, also). 

So I was pleased to be approached by Firmoo, who have worked with many bloggers, to do a review for them. I just ordered my glasses today, and I can't wait to share my new look with you in a couple weeks!

Val, or Valerie