Drawing a Sunflower Freestyle

So I previously got a Walmart scrapbooking kit, and the kit comes with this unicorn scrapbook… apparently unicorns are the big thing for tweens now. Anyway, I have no use for the scrapbook, but my daughter isn’t much of a crafter… so I decided to use it as a scrapbook for her 4th grade school year. It’s a milestone one because she will turn 10 during this school year. I decided to draw a sunflower (because it’s my favorite flower) to have something to put on the first page — she’s a kid, so she doesn’t have much of a life at the moment to scrapbook about yet.

[Review] I Love Lucy: the Complete Series Boxset

I Love Lucy: the Complete Series boxset is currently available at Walmart and Amazon for about $40. However, Amazon has it on backorder currently, while Walmart has it available at its stores (FYI, it cost like $5 more at the Walmart store than it does on Walmart.com, so I recommend buying it on the website and choosing the Pickup option instead).

The first thing I love right away is that finally they released a complete series boxset! I’ve been waiting years for this to come out, and the great part is that it’s the affordable price of only $40… which leads me to believe that I was right, eventually they will colorize the whole series (but not before they milk it for all it’s worth).

See, years ago (like 15 years ago), I bought the whole series as individual seasons when they first came out. It was expensive too! The first season was a boxset that had like 7 DVD cases in it, and cost around $100. Eventually the other seasons came out too, but they were packaged differently, in a more compact way, and cost a lot less too. They repackaged season 1 so that it was uniformed with the other seasons, but there was never anything like this current boxset that was available though.

I had the whole series, and I actually resold most of the seasons on Amazon, but each year the DVDs got less and less costly. I eventually started seeing the individual seasons at Walmart and Amazon for like $29.99, $19.99, $14.99… and the individual seasons now retails around $10 each. A huge difference from when it used to cost about $500 to own the whole series. I’m sure collectors and I Love Lucy fans are probably pissed at having wasted so much money instead of waiting for this boxset to finally be released. I’m glad I resisted re-buying the whole series each time I saw the price drops, because now I own the whole thing for $40.

It comes with 2 DVD cases inside of the box. One case is really thick, and that case holds all the discs from season 1-5, and the second case holds all the disc from season 6-9 (which includes the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour episodes). It’s also in its original format, which is the stick-figure cartoon of Lucy and Ricky (instead of the syndicated heart on a stain background). I absolutely LOVE it!

This is the ultimate DVD release for I Love Lucy fans. Obviously if you already have all of the seasons and completed the series, there’s no reason to buy this — but if you don’t, then definitely buy this! One of the reasons why this is so affordable now is because DVD isn’t what it used to be (even like 10 years ago)… soon, DVDs will be as old news and historical as beepers, VHS, and cassette tapes.

A lot of people rather stream videos now instead — it’s instant, and you don’t have to worry about it getting lost, stolen, or damaged like you do with discs. One thing I do have to mention is that the discs are overlapping each other in the two cases, and I find this to be prone to scratching.

Hulu, Amazon Prime, and the CBS app has episodes of I Love Lucy available for streaming, but it is NOT the complete series (there are a lot of episodes missing, and it’s labeled as “The Best of I Love Lucy Season…”). So while you can watch a lot of the most popular episodes of the show whenever you want as part of those streaming apps, you don’t get every episode. This is definitely worth it if you’re a fan of the show, as the whole series is very affordable right now. I really think that this will sell out by Christmas time (if not before), and you’ll have to buy it on eBay or from a third-party seller on Amazon for like $150 or something.

As an after-thought, I probably should have not gotten the colorized “collection” DVD. It cost $20 and you get 16 episodes… but I have a feeling that CBS is probably going to keep releasing these colorized collections in volumes, then releasing individual colorized seasons, and eventually about 5 or 10 years from now they’ll have the whole series colorized that is available in a box set that cost about $35 (that is, if DVDs are still around 10 years from now). As a huge fan of the show though, the temptation is too great to not buy it whenever something like that comes out though… the worse part is that I know better.

The first release of anything is always more expensive and not as great as later releases. I’m sure if I wait a few more years, the series will be digitally enhanced or remastered, and the coloring process much better quality… and the price more affordable, with the availability to buy the whole series in color in like a compact boxset. As the saying goes, good things are worth waiting for.

[Patterns] How to Crochet Ft. Campbell Club ♣️

I actually made a few varieties of these (including a Notre Dame one as a Christmas ornament). Anyway, my first YouTube tutorial (how exciting), I’m not much of a vlogger — hence why I am an established blogger instead!

The pattern is essentially just a set of 5 double treble (or triple) crochets done 3x — yes, I know I kept calling them “quadtriple“… but I figured if Trump can be all covfefe, so can I, ha!

Pattern:

Magic circle

*ch 3, 5 dtr into the ring, ch 3, sl st into ring — repeat the whole set two more times (or three more times for a 4-leaf clover/shamrock)

Ch 5, sc into second st from hook (4 sc total), sl st back into center of ring, fasten off — attach a thin ribbon to hang as an ornament (or use it as an embellishment to attach to something else)

[Review] I Love Lucy: the Colorized Collection

Today I received my I Love Lucy: the Colorized Collection. Available on Walmart.com and Amazon.com for $19.99 (FYI, Walmart will ship it right away for 2-day delivery, while Amazon has in bold that it takes 1-2 months to ship.)

It comes with two discs. There is only bonus features on the second disc, and it’s just the colorized episodes that have already aired on CBS during their Lucy specials. Also, it is not done in its original opening and closing credits (with the cartoons of Lucy and Ricky), instead it’s the syndicated heart on a satin background. It’s not a bad price for $20 (there’s 16 colorized episodes).

The episodes that are colorized are: Pioneer Women, Lucy Does a TV Commercial, Job Switching, The Million Dollar Idea, Bonus Bucks, L.A. at Last, Lucy Gets in Pictures, The Fashion Show, The Dancing Star, Harpo Marx, Lucy Visits Grauman’s, Lucy and John Wayne, Lucy Goes to Scotland, Lucy’s Italian Movie, Christmas Show, and Lucy and Superman.

Okay, first, the format kills me. I hate it. You have to use whatever zoom mode is available on your TV to get it to full screen, otherwise you get the box-cut screen. Not a big deal, except that when you zoom to fill the screen, it cuts out some of the picture (including cutting out parts of a person’s head even!), and zooming makes the picture very noticeably flawed. As for the coloration… well, it’s better than when Ted Turner did it back in the 1980’s, but it’s still not the same as it would have been if the show was originally produced in color.

It’s not the same as watching the seasons of The Lucy Show, Bewitched, or I Dream of Jeannie when they switched to color production in later seasons. The best way I can try to describe it is an Andy Warhol-looking design. The colors definitely do pop, but it’s very unrealistic — it’s definitely not the same “pop” that you get with Technicolor (I’m a huge fan of Technicolor)… instead, it looks like Andy Warhol’s pop art paintings, even the colorized blonde hair on the show looks like the blonde hair of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe painting.

Also, certain frames the picture is not steady and seems shaky. I’m not sure if that was caused during the coloring process, or if it was always like that and I just didn’t noticed it because it was in black and white. The colors also seem overly aggressive, like you’re in Willy Wonka’s world or something — like green, fuchsia, orange, yellow, pink — the colors are very bold and loud (and I can’t help but wonder if they got the colors wrong when they were processing it). When they finally arrive in Hollywood, their hotel room was a ridiculous color, and it just seems like such a stark contrast because in the colored seasons of The Lucy Show, all the furniture and clothes looked normal.

However, you can own the whole series in its original version for $40. That’s a great price, because about 15 years ago, I spent about $300 buying the series; and I remember the first season was over $100 and there were like 9 discs or something in a box (a few years later it was $30 and they repackaged it to look like the other seasons). Prime instant video and Hulu have I Love Lucy available to stream, but it’s not the complete series, and a lot of the best episodes are missing, but now each season is only around $10 and very compact (I guess prices don’t always go up after all).

Anyway, if you’re a fan of Lucy, you’ll enjoy this. I hope they’ll eventually colorized the whole series… and technology is always advancing, so maybe the next process will make it digitally better.

PSA: Beware of Reviewer Scams

Another PSA for those out there…

So I usually write these PSA posts on my blog because so many people are just naive when it comes to the internet, and hopefully I help someone out there who is using Google — like inheriting $1.5 million dollars from a Nigerian prince, but I digress!

A lot of unsophisticated people who regularly shop at Amazon (who doesn’t?) are falling for scams to “review” products from so-called third-party sellers, with a promise of a full refund back into their PayPal account. (You have no idea how many emails of that sort that I get each day… they’re definitely having tea with a Nigerian prince somewhere!)

First, I usually don’t even bother replying back as soon as I see anything with “refund” written in it (and you shouldn’t either). These scammers are hoping for the same unaware adults who believe in those telephone scams from spoof numbers where the IRS is coming to arrest them by calling them up about supposed unpaid taxes, or that the Social Security Administration has suspended their social security number because of suspicious activity… but again, I digress! (They’re also hoping for the inexperienced young adult who ignores common sense because there’s a possibility of receiving free products.)

Second, Amazon.com is partially to blame for this. To explain, Amazon does have an invitation-only program for people to review products for free. It’s called the Amazon Vine Program (and it’s invitation only) — basically Amazon gives certain products for free in exchange for a review. The people who are part of the Vine Program are top contributors who have written lots of reviews by initially buying a lot of products throughout the years, and their reviews have been voted helpful by others. However, there are also legit third-party sellers out there who will give products for free in exchange for a review — and this is how these other disgusting rats try to scam people.

So how can you tell if it’s legit or not?

Well, you should NEVER give out any banking info, especially PayPal account information, as this seems to be the preferred method of stealing by these nasty rodents. The most laughable emails I get are the ones that write to give them my PayPal account info and they’ll refund my money right away after my review. Laughable because one, I don’t even have a PayPal account (so they’re definitely barking up the wrong tree); and two, I’m no sucker… and you shouldn’t be either.

A legit seller is not going to exchange “refunds” for reviews. (Also, don’t fall for those that claim they need it so that it shows up as a verified purchase on Amazon either.) Most importantly, you should always be wary of a complete stranger asking you for your PayPal account info — I mean, would you email back the Nigerian prince with your social security number and banking info? (If you did or ever have, then I just can’t help someone like you — a sucker is born every second.)

[Book Review] Cryptocurrencies…

Cryptocurrencies: An Essential Beginner’s Guide to Blockchain Technology, Cryptocurrency Investing, Mastering Bitcoin Basics Including Mining, Ethereum Smart Contracts, Trading and Some Info on Programming (by Herbert Jones)… like, seriously, that’s the title! (Well, I finally got around to it — I’m reviewing book requests from 2018, people!)

Anyway, to be frank, this is not something that I would sought out on my own, or even have a remote interest in. Also, as a Social Studies teacher, the bit of “history” in the first chapter was lacking and not informative; also as a Social Studies teacher, having a book used as a guide by quoting sources like Wikipedia to me is the equivalent of quoting “news” articles from InfoWars… and if you don’t understand why InfoWars is as legit as The Onion, then I just can’t explain it to you, but as a teacher, I’m telling you it’s not a legit source.

However, if you’re someone interested in this sort of thing, it might be worth a read to you. It’s easy to understand, but this might also feel like the sort of reading that your finance class is required to read. It’s always hard to read these types of books unless you’re specifically looking for something to be explained to you.

[Book Review] The Smart Couple Quote Book

THE SMART COUPLE QUOTE BOOK: Radically Simple Ways to Avoid Pointless Fights, Have Better Sex, and Build an Indestructible Partnership (by JAYSON GADDIS)… okay, first, that title is a mouthful! I got a request to review this in February 2018, and I finally got around to it almost 2 years later — sorry!

The first part of the title basically tells you what the book is all about. It’s a book of insightful quotes, from the author himself, I assume. It’s like when military commanders quote Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and uses that as their mantra on leadership. This is the sort of book that would best be suited for the gift section of Barnes & Noble, or the kind of books that you’d find at the Hallmark Store — you know, it’s not quite a self-help book, but it’s like one of those “Chicken soup for the…” books, or one of those books that you’d buy as a gift to a newlywed.

It’s challenging to review something like this because it’s just random thoughts on love and marriage. This is translated to random memes on social media that your friends post and some of which you like, and some you don’t (that’s the best way I can describe it, I guess). Through the years, I’ve received many books like these — usually long rectangular shaped, hardcover, and with birds or flowers (or both) printed throughout the pages as background, with each page containing an inspiration of something or another.

This would make a great gift for a bridal shower or engagement party.

[Book Review] True Grandeur

So, I actually received this book review request in the beginning of 2018, and finally got around to reading it almost two years later… but I digress. I basically rewrote the same review on Amazon.com, but it was rushed, so the grammar is probably sloppy and I didn’t devote as much attention as I did on my blog review.

TRUE GRANDEUR reminds me of the Young Adult fictions I used to read as a teenager. The book is easy to follow with no complicated plots or intricate summaries to follow (it’s definitely not a Dostoevsky novel, and I mean that in a good way!).

It’s the tale of Conrad Arlington, a young man in his early 20’s in LA, who’s trying to become a great script writer in Hollywood. He falls for a woman named Gracie, and that’s what the plot of the novel focuses on.

The dialogue is easy to follow, but it feels a bit cheesy though at certain points, especially with Gracie — and especially for people in their 20s. See, this dialogue would be okay if it was in the Roaring 20’s like The Great Gatsby (and parts of it did remind me of that book), or if it was during the Golden Age of Hollywood like Sunset Boulevard (a favorite movie of mine that the author also mentions besides from Fitzgerald)… but I’m imagining this as a modern era book, so it didn’t seem believable to me the way Gracie spoke the way that she did — because the way the author describes her, I imagined her as Paris Hilton, actually.

This is a coming-of-age novel that would be great for the Young Adult genre, and possibly even as a movie based on the book… it has elements that reminds me of the movies I used to watch in the 1990’s that were originally novels, like the novel/movie Beautiful Girls. It also reminded me a bit of the teen flicks from the 1980’s and 1990’s, like Breakfast Club. The author will find great success if this book is targeted towards teenagers.

Lightning and Thunder

Last night there was a thunderstorm.

I should have gotten Oscar out of the yard and into his outside enclosure (one that I specifically made for thunderstorms and heavy rainstorms). By the time the thunderstorm came, it was already dark outside and Oscar had hidden somewhere to sleep. I’m hoping he hid under the garden pallet, as that seems to be his favorite spot to hide under, and it is a really good size too.

I changed the water in my whiskey barrel today, and I accidentally dropped one of the rosy minnows on the lawn, but I think it’s okay. It swam as soon as I put it back into the water. My one surviving snail slithered away while I was changing the water, lucky for it, I found it in time (as the other two snails died from drying out when they slithered off during water changes too). Amazingly, the same fishes and snail are alive after all this time.

If you’re wondering why I’m concerned about Oscar, it’s because I’m worried that he’s in a burrow. I know he’s dug a burrow in the garden to stay cool, but I hope he doesn’t sleep in one because there’s always a chance of it collapsing (especially if it’s in the garden). The dirt in the rest of the yard is compacted and clay soil, so it’s harder for it to collapse, even in heavy rain; but the soil in the garden is a year’s worth of compost, top soil, potting soil, and mulch. I’ve put so many bags of that stuff into the garden, so the soil is very fertile… however, the good thing is that it’ll drain better though and he’ll just be really muddy.

I’m worried that he’s going to drown if he’s in one of his burrows. I tried looking for him, out in the pouring rain, using the flashlight option on my phone to search for him in the darkness, but I couldn’t find him. He’s very camouflaged to the yard. I’m hoping the sun will be out tomorrow, as he’s usually very active in the morning time, and that’s usually when I find him anyway.

Even if he’s under the pallet, it’s not good for him to be in the rain, cold and wet; he could end up with all sorts of health problems, as these are primarily desert type tortoises… they’re not found in the desert, but their natural habitat is very dry.

I finally found him in the morning. He had camouflaged himself very well amongst the grass and weeds near the fencing. It’s supposed to rain tonight as well, so around 6:30PM I found him under the pallet (I think he was sleeping), and I moved him into his outdoor enclosure. He went into his cave I made for him out of a planter pot, and he’s been asleep since. It’ll keep him warm and dry too (definitely warmer and drier than the pallet, I think).

Also, our little birdhouse broke. The bottom came undone. The nest was empty though, the fledglings had already grown and flew from the nest. It was one of those craft activities to do on a cold or rainy day, and I’m surprised it even held up as well as it did, considering the whole thing was held together with glue.

I found a rotting log that I had thought I wanted, so I rolled the heavy log back into my yard… but then decided that I didn’t want it, and rolled it outside of my fence into my front yard. What a waste!

Another DIY Project: Tortoise Table

A tortoise table will cost you about $100 (which was how much my tortoise actually cost me at the local Pet Land). The $100 tortoise table is 2×3 feet (so a nice decent size for a Horsefield tortoise, which is actually a small tortoise species anyway). It’s definitely a good investment. Amazon has good prices within that range.

However, I personally downgraded my mini patio pond into my whiskey barrel and used the $30 Beckett preformed pond liner as Oscar’s outside enclosure for thunderstorms and prolonged rainfalls… it’s basically been sitting empty and just taking up space at the moment.

It’s way too big to bring indoors. I also didn’t feel that a plastic storage container was very aesthetic looking either. Mainly, I didn’t want anything on the ground because of my baby… plus, I don’t want to always be scooping over either. In all honesty, I would have probably ended up buying that $100 tortoise table… but then I went to my local Walmart.

So the Walmart by me, for some unknown reason, is already clearing out their garden center and getting ready to stock autumn/Halloween stuff — like, it’s still summer and 98° out, but okay! The good thing about that is that I still get to enjoy summer, and all their summer items are on clearance.

The CedarCraft elevated wooden planter is a good size, and its visually appealing. It’s not the sturdiest thing though, and I do recommend reinforcing it with either a metal brace underneath or a wooden bar… but I got it for $35! It was originally sold at Walmart for $115, and it retails for $170. Even on Amazon, it’ll cost you about $75.

It’s untreated, so besides from reinforcing the underside, you should also stain it to make it last longer. Wood definitely rots and goes through wear and tear from the weather. No tools required, and super easy assembly. There are wooden slats that you lay down horizontally so that there are gaps in between the slats for drainage. It comes with a thin black soil fabric that is included.

The problem with using a wooden garden planter is that most have the slats, which is not ideal because of the gaps. You can fix this by using a pond liner and stapling the liner down, since the gaps are not wide enough to cause any sinking of the liner. It’ll also prevent any substrate from leaking out. This will be the most easiest, fastest, and inexpensive way to fix it.

What I did was use a piece of matching wood that I had, and put that extra slat in to fill any gaps. See, if you push all the slats together, it’ll leave you with a space that is roughly 2.25 inches. Home Depot will not cut anything less than 2.5 inches though (and I wasted about two hours yesterday, not knowing that).

Fortunately for me, this morning, my daughter asked her friend’s dad if he would cut my piece of wood for me to the size I wanted. He cut the wood and then he pushed it into place (I didn’t have the muscles to make the slat go into the narrow, tight space). So now, my planter has no slots in between the slats. (I would still recommend a pond liner though).

However, if you’re going to end up buying a lot of tools and materials, just buy the $100 tortoise table (some seller have it for a few dollars less than that on Amazon). Thankfully, I did not need to buy any extra stuff for it because I had a lot of handy “junk” lying around. Also for me, this is just Oscar’s “winter home” if he doesn’t go through brumation.

The wood is also not the greatest, as with light pressure, I can already see splintering. However, I love gardening, and I can always use it for it’s actual intended purpose if I feel it’s not something that’s working for me… besides, it only cost me $35.