Saturday, December 31, 2011
Current Mood : Hopeful and reminiscent
McRib Count : 10 (I think I forgot to list a few)
Had a really nice New Year's Eve. Had a nice, hot shower (Beloved Hubby had to fix the bathroom plumbing again), read for a while, played for a while, and finished up the Monster High storage solution. Freed up two 'My Scene' director's chairs I've been meaning to spray-paint to a less pink color, but heck. They look fine with DracuLaura and Ghoulia, so I may leave them as-is. I have the 'name' part of the back turned around, so I might replace the plastic seat and back later. When you put a plastic doll wearing synthetic fabric in a vinyl chair, the slide is almost Teflon-ish.
Found a Herrschner's catalog in the living room, and asked to borrow it. (sigh) I remember getting those in the mail when I was a kid. Once it entered my mother's bedroom, it was gone. Until the next new one came out, then I got the old one to dream over. I loved to dream over all the projects and kits - it was like Hobby Lobby in magazine form.
I saw one a couple years ago, and sighed over it, too, thinking back to when I used to do all those crafts - hand embroidery, cross-stitch, latch hook. Back then, I was filled with regret that I didn't have time for those arts anymore. Today, I leafed through it, noting that Herrschner's is more into puzzles than gluing sequins to felt calendars, although that particular craft is still represented - but without regrets. Cross stitch and latch hook were fun...when I was a kid. Now, they're tedious, make my hand ache, and nobody knows what to do with the creation when it's complete ! I've given away almost everything I've ever done from those days - and it was kind of hard to justify a $10. kit and weeks of work to give to anyone who might want the thing. Thinking on it now, I'm glad I dropped 'em when I did. If I have endless hours in front of me again - and I hope 2012 is better for me, health-wise ! - then I might get bored enough for cross-stitch again. Thing is, do I have enough people to give stuff away to these days ? (grin)
We went out to dinner in a nearly silent town. We were too early for the partiers, and in the wrong section of town. Then we came back, watched Cars 2 from the RedBox, and relaxed the night away. I had a sewing project ready for a few minutes 'til midnight, for the old superstition 'What you're doing at midnight on New Year's, you'll do all year !'. Here's hoping I sew a lot of doll clothes this next year !
Speaking of superstitions, I can't wait for tomorrow. I get to take down the Christmas decorations ! If I had my way, they'd be down late on the 25th - I'm not big on cluttery holiday stuff - but I've had this dumb superstition as part of my spine from birth. Taking down Christmas decorations before Jan. 01 portends bad luck for the new year...and while I know in every fiber that makes bonus-sized me that it's a silly thing to believe, I am just not willing to take the chance !
Hope you have a really thoughtful and calm evening - see ya next year !
Friday, December 30, 2011
Current Mood : Hopeful
Ready to go to the library ! I've read Mercedes Lackey's Winds of Fate, Winds of Change and Winds of Fury, all in a week. I read her Queen's Own series before Dearest Son was born, but never read this sort-of sequel, because I didn't care much for the lead character. But, since the local library seems to have darn near all her books, I gave them a shot. And really enjoyed them ! It's funny, but when I knew of the Winds books, that was pretty much it for that series. Turns out, there's at least one more trilogy afterwards, possibly two before, and several other 'stand alone' books featuring characters from the first series. Whew ! I got a lotta reading ahead of me ! And Beloved Hubby boggled at me a bit when I got five books from our last visit !
I also finished Pretty Little Purses & Pouches, most of which were just too...fiddly for me. I was looking for more general shapes and ideas, but this book gives instructions on how to make exactly that purse in the photos. Nice if you want a quilted metallic bowling ball bag purse, but you have to take a leap on your own if you just want that shape, without the fiddly bits and quilting. I may use one of the simpler designs, though, for a bag to show off some embroidery.
I'm nearly done with 1,000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts and Tips - having read most of them on the source, PatternReview. com. I found two of mine that got used, but I'm embarrassed at how beginner-basic they are. Still, it was kind of a shock to see them there. And I'm skipping quite a bit, since I don't have a serger. Should be done with it sometime tomorrow.
I feel better, but I still fall asleep like a computer - no input for ten minutes, and I'm gone. But I think I'm on the high side of whatever-this-was. Here's hoping !
I'm nearly done with 1,000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts and Tips - having read most of them on the source, PatternReview. com. I found two of mine that got used, but I'm embarrassed at how beginner-basic they are. Still, it was kind of a shock to see them there. And I'm skipping quite a bit, since I don't have a serger. Should be done with it sometime tomorrow.
I feel better, but I still fall asleep like a computer - no input for ten minutes, and I'm gone. But I think I'm on the high side of whatever-this-was. Here's hoping !
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Current Mood : Better...at least it's not 'better getta bucket' !
Still in a rather weird place, health-wise. I'm not really sick, but I'm not anywhere near the top of my game either. So I'm riding it out. Watched a buncha movies, ate a lot of rice, read all but one library book, and that one'll be done tomorrow night at the latest, if I feel the same way then.
Since I wasn't moving around much, I figured I may as well do some sorting. I've been meaning to do something about the underbed box o' Monster High delights for a while, no time like the present. And I needed a distraction. The underbed box was stuffed full - too full ! - of darn near everything. DracuLaura's coffin bed, Lagoona's Hydration Station, a box of props, a Sailor Moon softside lunchbag of shoes, and *all* the clothes. And we all know that anytime anything is packed that tight, ya can't find anything. Clearly, something needed to be done.
I played with several ideas, while I played with the clothes and props, and got the ComicCon MH totebag down, sorted through all the random bits it contained. Hmm...How was I gonna do this...? In the end, I decided to keep the bed and hydration station, along with the box of props. all the stands, and all the paper bits (diaries, leaflets, booklets, etc.) in the underbed box. All the clothes and the lunchbag of shoes went into the MH totebag, and lemme tell ya, it's getting close to full already ! Still to come : sewing a Velcro (tm) closure on it, soon.
I stored the damaged DLaura in the underbed box, too, after slipping her into the 'hospital gown' dress. It was bad enough I was semi-abandoning her, I didn't need to leave her naked, too. The green of it made me think of one of the first things I ever made for the ghouls, a floral blouse and denim skirt edged in green thread to match. The hem on that blouse was so horrible, I'd covered it with green ribbon, which amazingly looks like a design choice instead of a cover-up. Since Abbey still needed something new to wear, I found that and put it on her, with some matching green sandals. It wasn't until later that I realized that she was wearing strappy sandals with what looked like a cold-weather outfit, but I adapted the story to mention they were her first experience with such a shoe type, and she didn't quite see the fashion faux pas, so darn it, she was gonna wear what she really, really liked ! I can rationalize anything.
So, aside from the day - possibly this weekend - when I dump everything out of the tote bag to sew a closure, everything's put away for now. And I gotta confess this : even when I had all of Barbie's clothes arranged in the cubby set Beloved Hubby made me, I still really loved to dump it all on the floor and sort through the wealth of clothes until something - or some doll ! - spoke to me. So I think the totebag is gonna work out just fine. Plus, with the way it was, I wasn't using any of it at all, so the totebag is an improvement.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Current Mood : Brack.
Ecch. Not sure what 'it' is, but the whole house has it now, yours truly included. I'm tired, all I wanna do is sleep, everything is irritating, I have zero interest in food, and I've only been on the computer for maybe an hour total, all day. Clearly, I'm ill.
But I did take a nice photo of my just-deboxed-today Clawd - thanks again to Parareality for making that happen ! And to Beloved Hubby, for funding (grin) ! - and his beloved DracuLaura. Thought ya might like to see what she looks like with both hands ! Still not sure what I'm gonna do with her hair. Contrary to others' experiences, mine is still a shaggy mess, and I've boiled it twice and washed it three times. All it did was make her bangs stand up at a straight angle that would make the horizon jealous. It's soft, but doesn't do anything. Doesn't flow, doesn't brush... just kinda sits there. I wonder what wigs fit Monster High dolls...
Anyway. Clawd is wicked awesome. His ankles and wrists are jointed, just like Gil's, so most of us are hoping that's a trend that continues with the male dolls. Heck, most of us'll end up re-buying the guys just to get the bend-wrists ! They help a lot in posing, even though today's photo was too hampered by the stand to show it. Dead Tired DLaura is wearing the dress and necklace that came with him, and I fully admit that the dress was a good chunk of the draw ! It'll look good on any ghoul, and I hope to replicate the ribbon 'lacing' on one of my outfits soon.
Back to Clawd. It's hard to tell, but on the left lapel of his super-cool jacket is a tiny gold button. It's a circle with the 'Skullette' logo ! It occurs to me that, since you can barely tell it's there anyway, it would make a good ring for a ghoul, possibly even a guy. So mine may get snipped off sometime. Still, it's the little details like that...that makes me think someone cares about this line. Something I've not sensed in Barbie playline in years.
I think my first Clawd (Forbitten Romance) was flawed, as it was impossible to get his head to look down. That's one of the reasons most of my photos of him look weird - I can't move his head past where it always is in the pictures. His chin is always up, like he's being a snob or just got hit. This is completely wrong for the character, especially since his ghoulfriend barely comes up to his shoulder in the webisodes. New Clawd still doesn't really look 'down', but his head angles much better than FR's did.
OK. I'm now so tired, I don't even want the pudding cup I snagged. Goin' back to bed. On the plus side, I'm nearly done with all my library books !
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Current Mood : Very tired, for some reason...
Finally broke open the DracuLaura 'Newspaper Club' outfit Beloved Hubby got me for Christmas, and put it on...DracuLaura ! I was gonna skip the 'newsprint' hosiery, because...well, even when kid-me lived, played, and dreamed Barbie, it was long past the days when nearly every piece of her sold-separately wardrobe was accompanied by stockings. By the time I got my first Malibu in '71 or '72, I never knew she'd ever had them. I can sew 'em, and have, thanks to old Barbie Bazaar patterns, but they were always hard to put on Babs' semi-sticky legs, and with legs that perfect, why does she need stockings ?
Even with Monster High, their hose is normally the first thing to get removed and not worn again. Once the green ones came off Dawn of the Dance Clawdeen, and the awful yellow with pink polka dots set came off Forbitten Romance DLaura, they got banished to the bottom of the MH clothes bin, just out of sheer non-use. But now...I kinda like how these look on her. May have to pull out those patterns again - these ghouls can't have enough black or fishnet tights !
The suspenders are black elastic, which is great. Ribbon or fabric just wouldn't fit as well or go on as easily. The cute little fedora also attaches with black elastic, which blends invisibly with her hair. A very nice touch. It's hard to tell in the in-box photo, but at the top left side of the box, you can see a tiny roll of film. Yes, the back of the camera opens up, and the film goes inside. It's not fitted in, but who cares ? It goes in and the camera fits the dolls' hands without any support or clear elastics, so it's perfect and adorable, far as I'm concerned ! Ordinarily, I'd want to paint the shoes all black, or maybe white where they're pink now, but there's plenty of pink in their wardrobes already, these shoes'll get used as-is, just fine.
I also made good my promise to Dearest Son - he got my Forbitten Romance Clawd, since I got the 'new, improved' model. There's some slight regret there, but I'm sure there'll be more guys later...or, I'll end up 'reverse-inheriting' his dolls once he outgrows them. He's in the Jem 'Rockin' Roadster' with DracuLaura, which is sweet.
And I've been made aware that Cleo's vanity is only $20. at Mal-Wart, and in some, it's the only Monster High they have in stock. Shoulda known TRU was busy gouging again. I thought Angelic Dreamz was bad... Also the black parts to a C. A. Cupid are paint, except for the hands, which are cast in black plastic. But the arms and legs can be cleared of black paint, although, according to the person who did it, it's a task and a half. Totally shorn of paint and hair, Cupid looks even more like Ghoulia, so I still think I'll let someone else have 'mine' !
Monday, December 26, 2011
Current Mood : Relaxed
Beloved Hubby's jokingly calling it a Christmas miracle, but it's nowhere near that dramatic ! All I said was, after seeing lots of photos of the new C. A. Cupid Monster High doll, I've decided I don't want her after all. Much as I hate to admit it, Spectra Vondergeist's doll showed me that the 'fade from one color to another' style simply doesn't appeal much to me, and knowing Cupid's legs and arms will always have that 'etched lace' design on 'em...well...it's just not really my thing. While her clothes and accessories bear the delightful attention to detail and cleverness that's always hallmarked MH, I can't help but see them as 'too cupid' to appeal to me as potential new goodies for the other dolls. Even though her dress is very pretty, I'm really getting tired of the 'drip' motif. Hope it goes with Sweet 1600 when it gets bumped by the next theme.
When I really look at her, there isn't much I do like about the actual physical doll. I realize she's supposed to have 'cupid's bow' lips, but I don't really like how hers look - like she just Frenched a lemon. And the bone wings kind of icked me a bit, which is surprising. She's lovely, true, but just not something that screams 'must have NOW !' to me. I like her character traits more than her look, and that means $30. to $40. goes back into the pocket. I realize that, around here, she'd just stand around in her original clothes, which is boring.
Plus, the numerous side-by-side photos reveal she's pretty much a repaint of Ghoulia, and I already have lots of her, since she's my fave. You'd think that'd make me want Cupid more, but instead, it just turned the tap to 'off', definitively. I mean, I already feel that other new characters are nibbling at what I liked about Ghoulia - Operetta has that same sort of retro-vibe, Toralei has grabbed the red/black color scheme, stuff like that - so when another noob appropriates Ghoulia's actual mold...um, nope. Not as appealing as I thought.
Besides, it's more fun to imagine Ghoulia as the lunchtime DJ/Misery Maven at school. The idea of offering love advice in a series of moans makes me laugh. And heck, thanks to My Scene, I already have several pairs of suitable headphones - just need to paint some microphone stands and find the Barbie camcorder and stand, and I could easily make my own 'comic' strip with photos. Hmmm.... I rather like that idea !
Which is good, using what I have, because it may be that I soon can't afford new Monster High anymore. With Sweet 1600 getting close to forty bucks per doll, I'm a bit concerned. Cleo's vanity, another piece too character-specific for my tastes, was over thirty bucks. And DracuLaura's car is listed (but of course not yet available) on the TRU website for $35. ! For a pretty much nothin' car. It's free-wheeling (not remote control) and while the steering wheel and turn signal lever move, they don't control anything, as there are no functioning turn signals, and no suspension. It's like most $15. Barbie cars...but it's over twice as much. The one free-wheeling over thirty bucks Barbie car TRU has listed on their site includes two dolls with it. The other one is a remote controlled one. DLaura's car includes...DLaura's car. True, it is bigger than yer standard pink convertible, but it's nowhere near as huge as the Jem Rockin' Roadster - which was $30. in 1986. It'd cost $60. today, but at least it was huge and had a radio in the trunk.
So I'm a little concerned about costs. How much will basic dolls that cost $19. now sell for next year ? Is there even an MSRP anymore ? Will there ever be the equivalent of a '$5. Swimsuit Barbie' in MH ? Or should I be glad that the dolls are getting more expensive...and still selling ? Ah, well. Nothing I need to worry about right this second, as I have everything I want right now. It'd do our finances some good if I took an 'independent study' year off of Monster High.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Current Mood : Strap in, guys - I'm loquacious !
Learned something interesting today. 'My Favorite Doll', a long-time mail-order doll seller before online ordering changed the way we buy toys, is no longer carrying Barbie. Seriously. Even if you never ordered from MFD, you saw their ads in doll magazines, I promise you. They almost always had a full or half-page in Barbie Bazaar, and I thought they got the National Convention 'Barbie's Best Friend' award, but I can't find evidence of it, so probably not.
They're actually based in Canada, with a good rep and closeness to Mattel Canada...which, for some reason, stopped carrying the full Barbie catalog about three years ago. MFD was supplementing with outside contacts, but they're either tired of it, their source is out of the circuit, or it's simply too expensive these days, so MFD's out of the current Collector Barbie game, and sale-selling what they got left.
They started with vintage Barbie, so they're keeping that, though. Can't say I blame 'em - the 'previously loved' game is probably more stable than the current Collector one ! Here's a direct quote off their site, "This is a sad decision, but a definite sign of the times as to how Mattel is managing the Collector business." Is it just me, or is that a definite 'oh, snap' to anyone else ?
To be honest, I'm kinda surprised it's taken this long. While Barbie is Mattel's flagship, they seem determined to steer it into an iceberg. When a doll comes out with much fanfare as a super-rare ultra-dilithium gift set at $130., then ends up at sales outlets like Tuesday Morning six months later for $30., you're not making many friends. When distribution is still screwed up after over sixty years in business to the point where I never saw most of the Fashion Avenue outfits and still have trouble finding new items, due to unstated 'specials' to some retailers (and didn't you get fined for that in the late 80s ? I'm lookin' at you, TRU and Mattel !), and other little tricks, you have to wonder what drunk monkey is in charge.
While it's been outta the frying pan and into the fire with Monster High, I ended up with MH because Barbie'd simply become too annoying. And boring. I thought we (Mattel and us adults) were headed in the right direction - less fantasy princess, more real person. Furniture that wasn't pink. Houses you could display your dolls in without cringing. Clothes that looked like something an actual person might truly wear and feel attractive in...not 'print on one side only' cheap cop-outs and 'polyester princess' continuing waaaay past the time when double-knits were cool.
But, no, tour down a Barbie aisle these days. It's half the size - if not less - than it was, because no one cares. It's back to pink princess everything, and when Doll A looks just like Doll C except for the clothes, why bother ? The collector stuff still uses cheap bodies and crap fabrics, and you're either swimming in them (waiting for markdowns) or you're trawling eBay because they've never been seen in your state. Even kids don't care anymore, they're jaded because there hasn't been anything truly new in ages. All their dolls and all their clothes look alike - and parents aren't as willing to buy more of the same in a tougher economy. Except possibly real divergences like Monster High, which is so far removed from Barbie, they can't even wear the same clothes.
That was something I couldn't figure out last year. Why exactly were MH dolls so different ? Mattel could have just used green ingredients in an older head mold on a standard Barbie body and probably got some interest. I've actually heard parents complain that DracuLaura can't wear Barbie clothes, but MH can barely be found this Christmas, while Babs is gathering dust. At first, I thought that Mattel was, once again, protecting their flagship - if MH bombed, they had no connection at all to Barbie, so it was less of a loss. Kind of like when they changed My Scene Barbie's name to Kennedy, they could cut the whole line loose if sales didn't improve, and the Barbie name would carry on, unconnected to the failed experiment.
Now I think MH was different for a reason beyond that. I still think it was part of it, but not all. I think the people in charge of the project knew this line had to be completely different, or it'd be met with yawns. "Oh," the toy-buying public would sigh, "Freaky Barbie", and move along to something unique. In some ways, MH is reflective of new trends in toys and dolls - articulation is changing and scale is evolving while the latest thing in Barbie - Stardolls - have actually gone backwards. If my information is correct, Stardolls are only jointed at the neck and shoulders. I gotta take someone else's word for it because, thanks to those fun distribution issues again, I've never seen one. I have it on good authority (Hi, Parareality !) that MH dolls fit their shoes, so that's about all I'd want one for - to accessory steal for dolls I like better ! Pretty sad, when you think about it.
I know Mattel says they're having record sales in Barbie this year. I remember one year they cooked the books to say that, too...but I think they learned their lesson on that one. All I know is, as MH looks forward to its third year, the dolls are as hard - if not harder - to find than ever. Barbie aisles are still packed and faced, with some items overstocked. Some days, I have to wait to get into the MH section - it's fulla people, while the baby and regular fashion doll aisles could host cricket conventions.
I just don't know. It may be that Barbie Collectables - something I rarely bought anyway - has lost so much in sales to Tonner, Fashion Royalty, and a cruddy economy, that they're just not interested anymore. I wonder if they'll still be around for more than a dozen dolls in ten years.
But ya'll know me, I've always held that collector dolls are about as useful as Kleenex raincoats - I wanna play and create and enjoy in a way that doesn't include a perfect box.
I'm the 99%. I'm Playline.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Current Mood : Excited !
Turns out, I had my own holiday surprise - my friend mailed Sweet 1600 Clawd even before I had her PayPal address, so I had a package today ! Yippeee ! Thanks so much, Parareality ! Beloved Hubby's asked me to wait 'til Christmas, so I will - but I'm still thrilled !
We got the Lego Black Pearl into our closet successfully, and I still don't think Dearest Son knows. I'm really glad he doesn't read this ! It just occurred to me this morning that, when I was a kid, not only did other kids stay off your lawn, but there were no licensed Lego products. Just Lego brand blocks that didn't come in green (Lego corporate, based in Denmark, didn't want kids making tanks, or concluding that war is kids' play). A hundred bucks worth of Lego would have gotten a kid about ankle-deep in red, white, yellow, and blue bricks.
Seriously. I did the math. Based on the $12.99 for 1047 brick special (shown in the 1972 Sears Christmas catalog on WishbookWeb.com), a hundred bucks would snag you almost eight thousand, one hundred bricks, wheels, and windows - enough to keep the whole family hopping and cursing Lego products for decades. Of course, I'm not keeping the scales parallel - adjusted for inflation, I could probably get enough Lego to get a kid's room knee-deep in bricks, but it's just a bit of a thought exercise.
We did some grocery shopping, too - and the ham is ready for the oven Sunday. Mmmmm ! Hope your plans (and your shopping !) are humming along and have gone well, so you can rest tonight !
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Current Mood : All giddy !
Squee ! So happy. Beloved Hubby got a bit of a holiday bonus, so we bought Dearest Son something he's wanted soo much, and he has no clue we got it. It was expensive, but I shopped around a bit and found it a little cheaper....I'm so excited ! I was worried about him having not much of a Christmas, but this big bombshell should thrill him big-time. It wasn't even on his wish list, but he's been talking about it for the last week and a half.
So he's getting...the Lego Pirates of the Caribbean "Black Pearl" ! He's been all, 'I don't want it, it's too expensive' ever since he saw it, and I have to say, when I saw TRU's price ($120.), I didn't tell him, "Hope anyway". Found it for twenny bucks less at Mal-Wart's website, and arranged an in-store pickup. He's gonna love it - it comes with six mini-figures, including a Captain Jack Sparrow !
And I'll be able to send fundage to my friend for Sweet 1600 Clawde Wolf anytime - yippee ! We even got something Beloved Hubby's been needing, so holidays are pretty much 'wrapped up' around here. I'm thinking of making everyone my silly slippers, just because. Even though we've agreed to no gift exchanges, I already have enough of everything to make slippers...long as no one minds that they're all the same color.
Speaking of Mal-Wart, somewhere in New Jersey...Wardah Ahmar found the Monster High "Cupid" doll in one. I wasn't much interested until I read her bio and saw the box art. (sigh) Darn you, Mattel ! (shakes fist at uncaring sky) The new owner did a very shaky video I couldn't watch, and also posted a photo of the box back and the usual 'Freaky Flaw', 'Monster Parent' and 'BFF' list that's been part of every MH doll. Nice how they dodged her not having a pet - the list says she can't pick just one !
One thing - if I decide to get Cupid, it probably won't be from TRU. Can you believe they upped the price on the Sweet 1600 dolls...again ?! This is not a repeat from last Friday, they raised the price once more. From $28. when they first posted 'em on the site - but didn't have 'em in stock for another month or so - to $35. today. Just two or three bucks at a time, and they seem to be the only store with any availability at all. Ended up at two Mal-Warts today, and at one, I got to see an upset mom pick through the MH section, telling whoever was on the other end of her phone that all they had were art sketch books, and it was nearly true. Under some dress-up sets and two wigs, I found DracuLaura's 'newspaper' club outfit ! I just kind of shrugged, but Beloved reached over my shoulder and snagged it. Guess what I'm getting for Christmas ? Wheee !
I'd show you what it looks like on a doll, but Beloved says I gotta wait 'til Christmas ! Grinch ! (grin)
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Current Mood : Very, very tired.
Current Image Notes : I have a tip in this book somewhere - they even paid me ten bucks for it. Now, thanks to the library, I can have fun trying to find it !
Not sure what I got into yesterday, but it followed me into today. Too bad for whatever it was, I had work to do ! Dearest Son's education picks up right after his January birthday, so if I wanna establish a working routine, it was now or never. Gonna try the 'one major task a day' thing again, it was working fairly well until I got uber-sick.
Decided on bedroom cleaning Monday, dishes Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, laundry on Wednesday, and Bathroom and dining / Arena area Friday. Since I was out of it yesterday, I had dishes and laundry today - or I could hold off and have dishes and laundry tomorrow. Bleh. Got the dishes done before lunch, and got the laundry going before I got nauseous again. I couldn't make m'self eat for nothin'. Still, with laundry, I have about an hour between loads to rest, so I did, and still got it all done. It helped that there were only three loads ! It's all washed, dried, and put away, hooray !
You may be wondering if we've moved, and the sad thing is, we haven't. But DMIL does no housework at all - I mean, none ! I'm almost jealous, except for the fact that she barely moves more than thirty feet in a day - and DFIL is frequently tired and hurting, so he doesn't do much. And frankly, half the time he does dishes, I end up redoing some. I'm not perfect, but I actually wash knife blades and the backs of plates. It's far easier on me to see what he does as a bonus, instead of getting upset when his 'share' isn't done. It's much quicker for me to improve my 'tude than it is for me to change anybody else's...well, anything !
So I'm fairly tired still, especially after we went to the library and out to eat tonight. But the good news is, Beloved Hubby's off for the rest of the week ! We can sleep in, watch movies, and relax tomorrow. And I have lots of new reading ! In fact, I think I'll go lie down now...so sleepy.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Current Mood : Fat & Happy
Woke up in that rarest of moods - one that made me wanna clean stuff ! While Beloved Hubby was still yawning and stretching, I was repurposing half a Whitman's Sampler box as a windowsill catch-all, for all the little things - semi-decent scissors, a couple Monster High doll hairbrushes, a bolt from something-or-other, some pencils - that tend to accumulate. From there, I redid shoe storage and picked up some floor detritus, dumped it in the can. Been meaning to do that...
Evidently it was going around, because when we stumbled into the kitchen for breakfast, DFIL was already there, doing dishes. We're gonna have a clean house at this rate soon ! I sorted the usual accumulation of papers that tend to pile up at any flat surface, especially desks, and got everything filed. Moved some dolls back to their home, stuffed some doll clothes into the big MH bag I use as a catch-all for their stuff, until I can get it placed. That tends to take some time, as, like a miser, I always love casting through my treasures for a while !
Sorted out the pantry a bit - for some reason, there's tons of empty food boxes and carriers in there. Danishes are long gone, paper tray wrapped in plastic's still there. It's hard to find and identify food in there, there's no light and it's really deep, so I went through it all, tossed out a whole bag of useless trash. It may not look as full, but at least now, we can see what's in there. Then I did the same to the fridge. I don't know why empty stuff doesn't get tossed - and ya'll know my frugal nature will make sure it's truly used up - but if I gotta do it, fine. I prefer space to waste !
I then cleaned our room, right down to sorting the piles of receipts, and swept twice. Got the last of the laundry put away, and found a place for Beloved's combat boots. He only uses them for Airsoft, so he needs 'em nearby, but I keep tripping over 'em. No longer a problem ! I was glad to finally get our room back in order...because I had a movie date this afternoon with Dearest Son !
I'd suggested watching our DVD of A Christmas Story this weekend, but Beloved is still in 'seen it too many times to enjoy it' mode. So I arranged a time to watch it today with our boy, lounging on our bed with cheese and crackers, since there's only one chair in there. And I wanted our room to look its best ! Took a little longer than I thought, but it was worth the effort, and I really enjoyed watching a much-loved movie my way - with one of my two favorite guys, reclined shoulder-deep in pillows, with American cheese slices tucked into crackers arranged on my belly, with root beer in my favorite cup at my elbow. Heavenly ! The belching contests are an added feature...
Dearest said that he'd love to do that again soon. I'll make sure of it. Beloved was glad to hear we'd had fun - and he wouldn't have to see Christmas Story this year, either. He's enjoying Green Zone with DFIL - AT&T UVerse made an error on his account, so there's free HBO and Cinemax to enjoy for three months. Wonder if there's anything good coming up...
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Current Mood : Happy 'cause I made something out of nothin' ! I needed that...
I got a special little present today. 'D', one of the more stand-offish cats here has recently become enamored of my Everything Arena chair. This is the same cat who, when I met him at a 15 foot distance three years ago, hissed at me. I've never laid a hand on him - until last night. He really wanted some attention, it was kinda late (I'd had an afternoon nap, so I was awake), and I was the only possible provider. So, when he let me scritch behind his ears, I petted his long, soft neck, and when that didn't get me eviscerated, I went head-to-tail down his back. He really liked that - I got my hand head-butted and everything.
This morning, he was curled up in the chair, happy as clams at high tide. He let me pet him some more, then decided it was time to head out. The cat door is about four feet away. So he jumped down, and I saw that he'd been saving a gift for me - a dark, long shed of claw. He hadn't 'marked' the chair - the cover would have shown claw marks easily - he just wanted me to have a little of himself.
You can probably almost hear me purr. But why any creature would choose to spend any time where my butt is parked for several hours a day sincerely kooks me out ! Every time I've been out of the chair for longer than a quick errand, he's jumped in. Not that I mind. He's behaving himself, and I admit, it was nice to have a warmed chair this morning !
Another quiet evening - almost everyone fell asleep ! Beloved Hubby's uncle (yes, the one from The Move From Hades !) found out he's a grandfather today - his son's girlfriend had a little girl, and both mom and babe are well. Whew ! Looking forward to photos soon.
I decided to sew, since my one try at a nap simply didn't work - Beloved and I kept talking instead - and saw something that jump-started me in the trash. Some out-of-state relatives sent a generous fruit basket to DMIL, who graciously shared it with us. Yumm, pears ! We emptied it before the fruit went bad (and looong before the dried fruit and almonds did !) and the neat basket got put away. The 'Harry & David' ribbon, in a luscious shade of aubergine, along with a more nondescript thin brown one, got trashed.
Ya'll know me - I'll ignore $500. worth of brand-new fabric to play with 29c worth of trashed goods, and today was no exception. I decided what I wanted to try, kinda kited it from Doll Shop Deluxe, and went after it. Too bad my first attempt at a strapless minidress didn't work. It became a top instead, but it may as well have been just a tube, it's not nearly as fitted as it should be. Decided to do the skirt part as a separate instead, and proceeded to muck that up, too. So I salvaged it the only way I could, and used about half the ribbon. Betcha can't guess who got the new outfit ! You'll see it tomorrow. It involves more black ribbon and probably almost a half-pint of Fray-Check. Grosgrain ribbon frays like a cheap sateen !
I'll probably try the strapless pattern again, in a less stiff, lighter fabric. But I'm quite proud of how it turned out - can't wait to show it to you !
As for now, I'm sleepy and warm. I hope your Sunday gave you some fun, too !
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Current Mood : Joyful !
I couldn't resist taking this photo today. Dead Tired DracuLaura looks so sweet in the light of the day, but it looks like Sweet Fang has gotten into some trouble, and is searching for cover. Hope he didn't take a swipe at Sir Hoots A Lot !
People are so sweet. I was reminded of that today when a darling member of the LiveJournal Monster High group offered to send me her spare 'Sweet 1600' Clawd for what she paid for it - much, much less than TRU's current rip-off price. Unfortunately, I couldn't take her up on it (we're about broke for the rest of the month), but I've felt special and honored all day. Thanks again, Parareality - your kindness warms my heart, and makes me proud to know how amazing the wonderful people I've been fortunate to meet truly are.
We had a nice day together - even took sandwiches and fountain sodas to a nearby park and ate in the sun. When the weather's near 60 degrees in mid-December, it's time to enjoy ! We'll have to arrange 'December picnics' more often.
I meant to sew today. Even have a special project in mind, but once we got home, I fell asleep ! So did Dearest Son and Beloved Hubby. Must be something about that winter sun...
Picked up a few much-needed groceries, and I fell asleep reading NotAlwaysRight.com. (sigh) Can't fight it, I'm sleepy right now. My sleep apnea test, rescheduled for February, is gonna be interesting.
UPDATE : Parareality offered to hold Clawd for me 'til January ! Beloved says we can make that happen, so, yaaay ! I don't have to drive m'self crazy looking and worrying that he's somehow eluded me. And it's the one Clawd I most want in all the world. Thank you so much !
Friday, December 16, 2011
Current Mood : Retaining 'ticked off' from the other day.
Current Image Notes : This is the free e-card offerred by Dover Publications this week. They also have a free weekly 'sampler' of images from their books. At least once a month, I snag something good - you can sign up at http://www.doverpublications.com/ds014/index.html?s1=Dover-Yahoo%20Store&s2=Nav%20Bar%20Text%20Link&s5=sampler4 , too, if you're curious.
Wow. I may have to rein in my interest in Sweet 1600 Clawd Wolf - I just checked for inventory at TRU's website, and discovered he's now $32.99 ! And here I was, thinking $29.99 was ridiculous, and $27. had been a bit much, especially for just one doll. We're used to getting two at that price ! I'm either just gonna say 'forget this', or either find a cheaper one, at Mal-Wart (about $20., I've been told) or at Justice with their now-'til-Christmas-Eve '40% off the whole store' sale. All else fails, about mid-January, I get a $10. rebate from TRU, and might use it, if I can find him then.
Anyway...not a big exciting day. As promised, it was Laundry day, with all the excitement that normally comes with it. At least we now have clean socks and sheets ! Just have a little more to put away, and it's all done for another week or so.
I also reboiled Dead Tired DracuLaura's hair, since her bangs sprung back up sometime in the last few days. Might have been during all the handling while I was installing her new hand. Dearest Son said she looks very nice with two hands, and he hopes she isn't sad anymore. My getting-so-big sweetie... Anyway, I should have a new photo of her tomorrow. Don't wanna take off her rubber bands until her hair's completely dry this time.
Other than that, it was another quiet day. Beloved Hubby's nearly done with his client's doll beds, and they look great. They get delivered Monday. I have a couple of surveys to do - yaay ! Six bucks ! - so I'm happy.
Hope you had a happy Friday, too !
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Current Mood : Sleepy again
Super-quiet day, no med appointments, no real work done. I was still kinda tired, and read for a while, did some dishes - tomorrow's Laundry Day, wheee.
So about all I really have to yammer on about is an article on how there's no 'must-have' toy of 2011. According to the New York Times article, retailers are so scared of getting stuck with stock, they haven't bought much beyond classics like board games, and even those are more expensive than before. While some things are hard to find, nothing's a 'must have'. A similar Time article parrotted most of the NY Times one, going on to wail that they almost miss the Tickle Me Elmo / Cabbage Patch Kids crazes. I'm sure the author of that article misses chariot races, too - didn't people get hurt trying to get those things, not too long ago ?
On the plus side, the 'Dead Tired' MH dolls did get listed on the Time 'Top Toys of 2011' article - we're number 6 !
http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2101344_2100678_2100672,00.html . Of course, I'm wondering where Time was in 2010 - shoot, half their 'top toys' list from that list, I've never seen. Oh, I saw those nightmarish Sing-A-Ma-Jigs...(shuddder) For some reason, their mouths creep me out !
Plus, there's also today's webisode, featured in tonight's image ! It really was cute, and I now have a peek at what to make for Abbey's nightwear. Those slippers are gonna be a pain, though.
One thing that's funny about it. I used to study cartoons and animation as a hobby, so I'm used to seeing things flicker from frame to frame. Just as Abbey tells Cleo that she's lost, Abbey blinks - and her eyes get bigger and darker, for a fraction of a second. Like her eyes dilated ! Just like what happens to most humans when they see a baby or kitten - or win a game ! So funny...
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Current Mood : Happy for Dearest
Another medical appointment today, but for once, it wasn't mine. Dearest Son has been having headaches so bad, he asked us to schedule it for him. I think they're migraines. Today's appointment is mostly to get a referral, and move on from there.
In the meanwhile... Even though Hoarders is on hiatus until January, I decided to watch an old episode anyway. And I got to see a K-Mart ad featuring a little girl opening a Dead Tired Ghoulia doll, then beamingly holding it up to show whoever else is on set. So cute.
Most of the LiveJournal group defended Angelic Dreamz, saying they were just going above and beyond for their customers. Of course, they didn't care about everyone else AZ just wrecked Christmas for, guess they don't matter.
Maybe it's not Mattel and AZ I'm upset with - it's the fans ! (shakes head)
Moving on...we got the video card to replace Dearest's burned out one. He's happy as anyone can be, since he really missed his computer. We'll be able to do a few things for him for Christmas, but not very much. I'm not worried. Dearest knows this is a difficult time of year for everyone, and he's really easygoing and unselfish. He's a good kid. Don't know how, with his mother the way she is !
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Current Mood : Sad
(sigh) Not feeling too good today - so it was a good day to do something I was not one bit eager to do.
Dearest Son has a stable of Monster High dolls now, but it all started with a $5. bashed-box DracuLaura, from GoodWill. She had a weak arm that had serious trouble staying together at the elbow, but Dearest didn't care. Once he had her, and a Frankie, he was happy...until he, like me, wanted more. I think it's hereditary.
Somewhere between GWill and our last move, poor DLaura got two splotches of ink on her face. Dearest told me she'd gotten that in his toybox, it wasn't from the move, but he played with her still, driving the Barbie cars around, even as I occasionally tried to fix her arm again. And redid her hair.
Zip forward a few months, and I'm holding my own GoodWill DracuLaura, the Dead Tired one, still stapled and twist-tied into her box liner. She's missing a hand, but I couldn't leave her there ! Once I got her hair down, I saw how different her face was from my other DLauras, and wanted to keep her...but what was I gonna do about that hand ? While I debated, she sat on the shelf patiently, a quiet figure of doll tragedy that saddened me every time I saw her.
I decided that I'd try to sell/trade my 'Fearleader' DLaura and sacrifice my 'Forbitten Romance' one, since she looked so much like all the others. I thought further that I could offer Dearest a straight-out trade for his damaged doll, or just replace his doll's arm, since I was gonna steal FR's hand. Same arm, too. It was up to him.
He spent a day thinking about it. He'd miss his first DLaura, but he really liked the new one... At day's end, he decided on an even swap, and was happy with his better-armed, fresh-faced doll. I just feel so bad for the old one ! I'm not sure what to do with her, so I have her tucked away. I decided to be happy that two dolls are being enjoyed, and hope that one day, I can find use for the third.
Hmm...which of the 'Create A Monster' sets are light pink...?
Monday, December 12, 2011
Current Mood : Annoyed
Didn't do much today either, but truthfully, I was kind of sick all day. Not really ill, just worn down and weary.
Could be the mess that Mattel's once again started and Angelic Dreamz has rolled around in, and shook off crap that's gone everywhere. (sigh) It's nearly enough to put me off Monster High dolls, it's that bad. I'm getting most of my intel from a letter sent to Angelic Dreamz's pre-order 'Sweet 1600' customers, reposted on the LiveJournal MH page, so let's dig in to another toy disaster together, shall we ?
A quick aside. Many doll fans praise AZ to the stars for customer service and expert packing. Personally, I look at the Gil doll I paid $14. for (tax and all) at Mal-Wart, and know I would have paid $35. (shipping and all) for the same doll from AZ. To me, $21. is a lot of difference, and I really can't believe it's all for bubble wrap. To me, AZ is just shy of scalping, and I won't deal with them. Especially when they cop to driving to every TRU store in a hundred miles and cleaning them out of '1600' stock for their customers, then whine about the cost. (more later) Ummm... anyway. I don't have a dog in this fight, so to speak, but I did want to mention that others seem to not mind so much, but these things really ticked me off.
OK. So. Angelic Dreamz, based in NY, took pre-orders for the upcoming 'Sweet 1600' line of MH dolls, under the assurance that Mattel would ship on Dec. 12th. Unfortunately, many other retail outlets, from Justice to Mal-Wart, started getting them early, leading many AZ customers to wonder why they'd bothered with a pre-order, especially considering AZ's prices and pre-order cancellation policies.
Anyway, as you may have guessed, when those who pre-ordered started seeing the dolls on eBay and in TRU, they began to wonder why they'd paid so much and were still waiting for their pre-orders. AZ called Mattel daily, and finally got someone to admit that they'd agreed to give TRU a first / early release of the dolls, something they hadn't told AZ about earlier, or AZ wouldn't have mucked with pre-orders in the first place.
So AZ, as mentioned earlier, drove around to every TRU within a hundred miles of them and scooped up all the '1600' dolls they could find off TRU's retail shelves. They even met a TRU manager who offered to go into their inventory system, check the numbers, and order for AZ, as many as AZ wanted. This kinda feels wrong to me, like AZ is going behind my back, and Mattel's back, but it's all good as long as AZ gets what they want. And I should praise AZ for going above and beyond for 'their' customers. Too bad if I can't get any dolls, I should have pre-ordered and paid an extra $10. or $15. for each of them.
Further down in the letter, AZ mentions that they know not everyone has access to a brick-and-bathroom TRU, and that the online site doesn't show any in stock, they know because they've tried to order that way, too. Plus many retail stores are also sold out. Umm...'cause you bought all the ones you could find, ya finks !
Still, they realize folks could be upset, so they offer a $10. AZ credit for each doll that pre-orders don't cancel, and further offer something else they can't promise - the Skull Shores greyscale Frankie, free to anyone who doesn't cancel their pre-order. If Mattel ships them any. They don't know when, or even if, but if they do miraculously get any, they'll ship a free one to everyone who doesn't cancel.
Gee, thanks, AZ. You scoop 'em off retail shelves so people - possibly parents shopping for Christmas ! - can't buy them at retail prices. You then go behind everyone's back and try to order using TRU's system, and when that doesn't work, you try to order online...but it gets cancelled when the numbers of dolls you want exceed their inventory. No wonder TRU jacked up their prices $3. on the '1600' line this week - they already know the demand is higher than ever !
(sigh) You can correct me if you wish, and say how wonderful AZ has been to you, since you've been their delighted customer in the past. And I'll smile and be happy for you. But for me, I'm having to really re-think about being any part of this mess, not to mention three companies - Mattel, TRU, and AZ - at all.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Current Mood : Bleh.
Found another computer 'paper doll' website with Monster High characters. Some repeat from yesterday's link, but ya got Nefera, Abbey, Operetta, and Spectra dolls on this site -http://www.starsue.net/etikett/Monster+High.html. It's in German, but Google Chrome will translate if you like. You probably won't need it, though, it's pretty simple stuff.
Kind of another boring, quiet day. Played with giving my broken-arm Ghoulia more of a smile with a red Sharpie - then realized it probably wasn't a good idea, the ink would most likely seep into the plastic and spread, but taking it off would smear it everywhere. So for now, it's on, and that's what she looks like. I kind of like it - just wish I knew what 'real' paint was safe to use with her head vinyl.
It was time to change the filters and air tubes on my air machine, so I did that - then played with the usually-trashed old plastic tubing for a while. Made a couple bracelets from the slider that adjusts the hose's 'fit', but the other pieces didn't work as jewelry. But they do work wrapped around clothes ! You'll probably see it on some Monster High fashions soon, I've always been rather partial to those 'futuristic' tubes on clothes in Futurama, and I have yards of this stuff to play with. I've even come up with a way to attach it, just need to sew up some new dresses to play with.
And I don't know why I'm not doing that now. I'm being really lazy, for no reason.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Current Mood : Giggly
Didn't get to sew today - instead, Beloved Hubby gave me the option of going with him while he did some work, or staying home. Since I already know he'll be home about half of next week, I decided to go with him, as I needed some time away for a bit.
His job was making three doll beds for a long-term client of his ! Her nieces each have American Girl (or clone) dolls, and none of them have beds yet. So he prototyped a really neat one, and the client happily approved. Sincerely, even the prototype looks really nice, I wasn't surprised she gave the design the nod. I kinda wished I still had the one I used to have - or a brand-new Molly ! It was fairly easy, but took some time and skill, and a woodshop we don't have anymore. Luckily, a friend of his has one, and kindly let us borrow it for an hour.
Said client won't be back in town until Wednesday night, so I asked if he could cut everything and get it all ready, and do the assembly at home. I was being a bit selfish, as the shop was very cold and without a bathroom. But he agreed, so we weren't gone long at all. I used the mileage funds from my appointments for lunch, and we got to stop by Hobby Lobby.
Turns out, you don't need to print off a copy of their coupon, if you have a web-enabled 'smart' phone. You can just go to Hobby Lobby's website, find the coupon, and bring it up on your screen big enough for the cashier to see the Coupon Code, a four-digit number. He or she can then type it into the register for the discount. Yaay !
We'd actually gone to Mal-Wart first, but the only sewing machine light bulb they had was in a useless-to-me 'Maintenance Kit', with an ugly plastic cover, screwdrivers and oil I already have several times over, and a combination Cracker Jack prize magnifying glass / needle threader that was already bent. Eight bucks, too. Forget it ! With my silly digital coupon, I got the bulb I needed for $1.61. Yess ! My meager efforts are once again illuminated !
Came back and snuggled in bed with a movie and Dearest Son, and all three of us fell asleep. If not for my medicine, I'd probably be in there still !
Beloved was joking with me a bit, saying he hadn't heard me wanting any other Monster High stuff since I got Gil. Well, since he brought it up...I'm probably gonna start savin' my pennies for 'Sweet 1600 Clawd' next. Those dolls are rather expensive - about $28. ! - so I hope they don't make sudden apperances around here while we're broke. Dearest has already laid claim to my original Clawd if I get the new one.
Thing is, while I like Clawd's new wrists and clothes, I'm not sure about his hair and face. I already know that, the more they look like their animated versions, the better I like them, and this new dude doesn't look a lot like him. But on the other hand, he doesn't have those bald spots in front of his ears, and with all that hair, new Clawde's ears look more 'right' to me. Arrrgh ! I really hate buying a second doll of a character I already have, and I'm trying to fight the Want, but it's here, all right. Darn it.
I'm curious about the Create A Monster sets, but not as much as I thought. Since the torso piece only matches one doll, it's not as appealing. And I certainly don't need more cats, werewolves, or vampires. Of course, I do want the not-yet-seen Gargoyle and Vampire Boy set - I always want more guys ! But aside from a now-removed TRU listing, I haven't heard or seen a thing about them. (sigh)
But, now that I think of it, Gil more or less appeared out of nowhere, I was truly surprised they made him a doll. While he is short-packed, (probably because traditionally, male dolls don't sell as well) he's the one who tends to sell out first. I've yet to hear anyone completely reject him, although I'm sure there are those of us who just don't like the guys. Still, Gil is amazing.
And...it's confession time. I gave my second Jackson Jekyll doll to Dearest. I never found the right paint to change his skin to Slow Moe grey, and I saw several justifiably abandoned attempts at repainting other MH dolls, and knew I'd do no better. So while I was considering finding Jackson's receipt, Dearest asked if he could have him, since he didn't have any of the guys at all. He's been deboxed and driving around a cherry-red My Scene convertible the last two times I saw him, so I think everyone's happiest this way. But if Mattel doesn't get off their duffs and make me a Slow Moe, I will take matters into my own claws again !
Oh, and today 's image comes from the Ghoulia dress-up game on http://www.dressupgamesite.com/dress/monster%20high . You'll find eight more characters and games on that page, including a 'Simon'-like one that's harder to follow than you might think. Hope you enjoy !
Friday, December 9, 2011
Current Mood : Whiny and annoyed.
Boy, what a day ! I thought my appointment was for a few more images of 'the girls', and I'd be in and outta there like lightning. Instead, the tech took so. many. images. My legs got tired from standing, not to mention the ridiculous poses I had to assume to keep my arms and head away from the device - and after a while, it hurt, getting shmooshed and flattened in every conceivable axis.
About 3/4 of the way in, the tech let me rest, and called a doctor - they could see something-or-other this way, but not that way. That led to a lengthy consult with unfamiliar terms over the phone, then she took a few more images, and led me to an ultrasound room.
Whaaa...? I wasn't scheduled for an ultrasound. Now I was starting to worry. Had they seen something ? What was wrong, for all this to be going on ? Oh, heavens, this is all I needed right now !
A few minutes later, the doctor came in - turned out there are some odd images, but it's nothing to be frightened of. For some reason, when I told the last folks about the 2001 cysts, they didn't write it down. Once I described where they were, bingo ! Right where they were seeing some anomaly. They want to have a look again in six months, but really, there was nothing to worry about. I was dressed and on the way to Starlight (with a very relieved Beloved Hubby) ten minutes later. And we got our mileage allowance, too !
I was happy, but was so strained, once we made lunch and Beloved left for work, I zonked right out. It felt sooo good. Got up, played with Abbey for a while, and did dishes. Stretched out a bit for some DVD before dinner - which I'd promised to make - and cuddled with Dearest Son for as long as he'd let me.
No time for sewing, and I'm simply not in a mood for it, either. Since Beloved's working tomorrow, I'll probably try that baby-doll dress, View C, to complete Abbey's new outfit. I'll have sunlight to help ! I'm hoping to find a replacement bulb this weekend.