Longaberger Condition – What’s Acceptable

Basket - 2006 Heartwood Bread close upWhen I first started to collect my Longaberger baskets, I found myself closely examining them and wondering about things like tiny cracks and other blemishes. After buying the Longaberger Collectors guides, I learned that many of these things are common and should not be considered as damage or a defect.

On page 193 of the 2009 Edition (the last one published) of the Longaberger Collectors Guide, is an explanation of what is acceptable and what is not for the condition of Longaberger baskets. The following is what it says.

What should you look for when you are evaluating the quality or condition of a Longaberger basket? It is first helpful to determine what is considered to be “normal” for these handmade baskets. The Company has offered the following to explain what to accept as “normal and acceptable.”

It is normal for there to be some room between splints. This is a natural occurrence as the splints dry and slightly shrink, therefore it is normal to be able to adjust the weaves up and down.

If you basket has colored accent weaving, there will often be a small amount of dye on the upsplints where they touch. The dye is not completely colorfast, therefore this “bleeding” is very common.

Small hairline cracks around the tacks are a natural occurrence as the wood dries.

Some wood has natural swirls or “beauty spots” in the grain that will absorb stain differently. This may cause the stain to appear darker in some areas.

A trademark of Longaberger baskets is the wrapping of the trim strip around the band for a cleaner finish. This “turn-under” may fray or crack as the wood dries. Because it is very difficult to bend wood at this angle, this fraying is very common.

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Scan & Touch-up Old Photos

People don’t always realize that the free software that comes with some scanners can help a great deal with fixing up old photos. I haven’t written in this blog for a while because I’ve spent the last few months scanning hundreds of old photos.

I have an Epson WorkForce 545 all-in-one. It has a scanner in its top. That scanner came with software that has some really nice features. What some people are not aware of is that the software has more than one mode, and if you want a lot more features, you have to set it to “professional mode”.

Professional mode allows you to adjust color, contrast, brightness and much more. If you are scanning a magazine or newspaper, you can tick the descreening feature and all those little dots and blur will disappear.

Photo help - scanner color restoration exampleOne of the features that I love in this software is “color restoration”. Just tick the box and scan your old photos that have turned reddish over the years.  It does an amazing job of restoring to the original color (see above).

After a few adjustments on my scanner software, I then go to my Windows Gallery program where I store my photos and I can further adjust contrast, brightness, shadows, highlights and best of all there is a histogram that will do wonders for photos that need help. And if photos have scratches, tears, spots and other unsightly areas, you can help them a great deal by using the “retouch” feature in Windows Gallery (see below). By the way, Windows Gallery works on Windows 10.

Photo Help - Windows Gallery retouch

Most features take no time at all to use. If the photo is in bad shape, retouching can take must longer. And some photos that were taken with a shaky hand are sometimes beyond help.  But out of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, that I have scanned and touched up, I have found very few that I couldn’t greatly improve.  And many of them took less than a minute!

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Posted in Daily Life

Mineral Sizes

2016-04 Plano Storage $53 on AmazonI’ve collected rocks (minerals) since I was very small. They would range in size from very tiny like small seeds to very large like bowling balls.  But when I got older and began getting more serious about my collection, I began to notice that rock & mineral dealers would categorize their specimens by sizes.

The sizes included Cabinet, Miniature, and Thumbnail. I’ve also heard of Micromounts or Toenails.  Some people have said there are no official sizes, and that dealers often use their own personal rules for size.  Others suggest using the sizes that are specified for exhibitors at large mineral shows.

I’ve seen Cabinet size spoken of as being able to fit into a 5 inch cube, but I have also seen it listed as 2 to 4 inches with “Large Cabinet” as greater than 4 inches. Miniatures have been listed as being able to fit into a 2 inch cube or 1-1/8 inch to 2.5 inch.  Thumbnails have been listed as being able to fit into a 1 inch cube or a 16th inch to 1-1/8 inch.  And it is said that Micromounts should fit into a 1×1.5×1 inch cube.

I ran across a person who had many years experience in show competitions and had been involved in mineral judging. He mentioned that sometimes there is a size category called Toenail, which will fit into a 1.5 inch cube. This person listed formal definitions as follows: Thumbnail: Must fit into a 1″ cube Miniature: Must fin into a 2″ cube Small Cabinet: Must fit into a 5″ cube Cabinet: Too large to fit in a 5″ cube

My personal size preference usually ends up being Miniature to Small Cabinet. I prefer my minerals to be around the 2” to 4” size, but I do sometimes go for ones that are larger or smaller.  I find that the 2 to 4 inch range gives a nice size that often does not need magnification and also doesn’t take up a large amount of space for my collection.

I have a nice wall cabinet where I display some of my favorites. The rest are stored in Plano Rack System storage cases.  I love these sturdy cases with adjustable divided trays and large top cavities where I can put my larger specimens.

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Posted in Minerals & Gems

Store Photos Safely & Inexpensively

I’m so glad we have digital cameras these days. I love the clarity, size, and the ease of cropping and corrections.  I find myself wishing all my photos were digital.  Unfortunately the majority of my life was spent during the years prior to the digital age.

I’ve scanned many of my photos, but no matter how much I work with them, they never look quite as good as the digital ones. Not that all digital photos are good; some people just don’t know how to take pictures. Sterilite Containers

But the point I want to bring up today is, what would I do with my photos after I scanned them? I certainly didn’t want to throw them out.  After all, scanners may improve and might want to re-scan them.  The problem was how to preserve them without spending a fortune.

I can’t tell you how many hours I spent reading about how to preserve photos. I began learning about acid, lenin and more. I hadn’t realized the damage that acid was doing to my photos until I started scanning some of them in large sizes.  What a mess.  I couldn’t see it until they were enlarged.

However, I didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on acid free, lignin-free, etc, etc. In the end I decided to store my photos in Sterilite containers that I bought at my local Walmart for just a few dollars each.

Sterilite containers are made of polypropylene and polyethylene. They have no PVCs, Latex, Teflon, Phthalates chemicals, fungicides, Bishphenol A (BPAs), or antibacterial chemicals. These clear containers are safe for storing photos according to the Sterilite website. They come in several sizes, they are stackable and inexpensive. I’m glad I found them.

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More Miniature Creations

2017-07-04 Spice Rack with Cake Decor BottlesI started a couple new miniature projects recently. One is a diorama with a baking theme and the other is a diorama with sort of a dressing room theme.

The baking diorama is mostly dollhouse size, which is smaller than I usually do. But I found so many cute items to go into it that I decided to go ahead with the smaller size. Several items were purchased, but several are my own creations.  I’m working on some cookbooks at the moment.  And my husband made a tiny spice rack and a cute Jelly stand for me.

The dressing room theme is my usual playscale or 6th scale size and is appropriate for my 8” Madame Alexander dolls.  I used my desk and easel from my past creations to make a dressing table with large round mirror, and my husband built a new and larger bookcase for displaying the toiletries, towels and more.

Once I get them finished, I’ll be adding photos under my “Doll Creations” tab. I’ve enjoyed doing these little dioramas. My biggest problem is that I’m running out of room!

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I Don’t Have A Cell Phone

old phoneI don’t have a cell phone. A friend once said I was “the last hold-out”, but I know there are at least a few others out there who don’t have them.  I don’t find the cost of them to be worth the few times I’d use one.  Since I work from home, a land line works just fine and I love that landlines never cut out, drop the line or have other such problems. I guess I see my landline the same way I see my “hard wired” computer.  I never have to worry about a weak signal.

There’s been a few times while I’ve been out shopping that I would have liked a cell phone. It could have saved a little time. But for the few times I’d use it, I can’t see spending the money.

I heard that iPhones can cost a thousand dollars. Wow, I can think of hundreds of other things I’d rather do with a thousand dollars.  I’ve also heard that most plans run at least $40 a month.  My landline runs about $35 even with all the taxes added in, and I don’t have to worry about viruses or updates.

Young people probably don’t even remember a time when there weren’t cell phones. I’m old enough to remember rotary dials and party lines.

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Remembering Childhood Toys & Games

2011 Ginger MinifigI’ve always had a bad habit of living in the future. Looking ahead weeks and months, even years, and never living in the day.  But as I’ve gotten older I find myself often looking at the distant past of my early childhood. Maybe because I have so many great memories of those days.

I was recently thinking about toys I used to have. I wonder how many people remember the Easy-Bake Oven?  I had one. It actually baked little cakes.  It was fun, briefly. But being the type that never liked cooking, I lost interest fairly fast.

I also remember Hula Hoops, Slinkys and those ugly Troll Dolls. I can’t believe I actually liked those Troll Dolls for a while. I also fell in love with Liddle Kiddle dolls. They were little miniature dolls; some were only an inch tall. They had oversized faces, I Dream of Jeannie eyes, and wild hair colors. I mostly liked the ones that came encased in plastic perfume bottles. Oh, they smelled good!

I enjoyed the Etch-a-Sketch and the Spirograph, but I was never any good at them. My drawings were never as good-looking at pictures on the packaging. Then there was Play-Doh, another creative medium for children that’s still popular today.

Games were also a part of my childhood and Monopoly was probably my favorite. I still remember the night my uncle and I stayed up late playing the game and how he’d always turn all his money into the smallest currency denominations to make it look like he had lots of money.

I also enjoyed Go to the Head of the Class, but I don’t remember having the game myself. It had a board that looked like a classroom and it was a trivia type game. I’ve always loved trivia games, but have a hard time finding others who like them. And speaking of school, I always loved the games we played in the early years of grade school like Seven-Up. I liked spelling bees, too. I still remember how happy I was when I spelled Ferdinand Magellan correctly!

Colorforms, Silly Putty and the View Master were some other fun toys from my childhood. View Masters can been around since the 1939 New York World’s Fair, but they continue to be popular even today.

One other toy that I remember enjoying was the Whee-Lo. It was a wheel with a magnetized axle that rolled up and down a handheld metal track. The toy was first introduced in 1953 under the name Magnetic Walking Wheel.

But the one thing that stayed with me all these years and is still in my household today are Lego building blocks. They were first introduced to me in grade school, and although I never had any of my own as a child, they were of the first toys purchased for my children, and I’ve had them in my home ever since. Be sure to see my Lego creations on the “Custom Legos” menu tab above.

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