Friday, February 12, 2016

It's Not About Me At All

I needed some new nightgowns, so today I stopped in my local Goodwill to see if they had any lightweight cotton knit, short sleeved, knee length models.  After digging through the lingerie rack I found a couple of likely prospects, and took them into the dressing room to try them on.

The two women's fitting rooms in this store are on the right hand side, close to the back. In keeping with the thrift store look, they're made out of metal bathroom stall panels.  The top is about a foot taller than I am, and there's a large open gap on the bottom.

 had taken off my shirt and was getting ready to try on the first gown when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a store associate on a ladder changing out a light bulb in the ceiling fixture. It felt like he was looking right into my dressing room!  However, a couple of seconds later he turned his head back to his job, and I was able to complete my trying on without an issue.

Five years ago today: Contemporary

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Not Just For Christmas

Sorry for the screen...

At the beginning of January I saw this sweet ornament in the Christmas section of a store, marked down to 75 percent off the original price.  I was in the middle of putting Christmas away at the house, but I still bought it, figuring the pop of red would look good in the winter gloom.

What do you think?

Five years ago today: Different Is Good

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Here For The Food

Today, of course, is The NFL's Super Bowl 50.  I'm not much of a football fan, but I enjoy watching the commercials. And eating the food that goes along with the special event.

Sunday is Hubby Tony's day to cook dinner, but this weekend (since I knew he'd be putting out a larger than usual spread) I offered my help as a sous chef. He took me up on the offer. His eating-in-front-of-the-TV meal drew heavily from recipes he found on Forks Over Knives, one of my new favorite websites for healthy recipes.  All of the dishes he chose were good, but in my opinion the highlight was the Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf that we had for dessert.  The only fat in the dense cake came from nut butter, and applesauce and pumpkin puree made it moist.  Cocoa powder and chocolate chips (I used bittersweet) gave it a delicious chocolate taste.

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN LOAF (Isa Chandra Moskowitz)
Makes one 8x4-inch loaf

¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup pumpkin puree (about ½ of a 15-ounce can)
1 cup dry sweetener
3 tablespoons almond butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Have ready an 8 x 4-inch nonstick or silicone baking pan. Also, boil some water in a tea kettle (no need to measure yet).

2. Combine the applesauce and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, baking soda, and salt.

3. Measure out ⅓ cup of the boiling water and pour it into the bowl with the chocolate mixture, mixing quickly to make a smooth chocolate sauce. Add the pumpkin, sweetener, almond butter, and vanilla and mix well.

4. Dump about half of the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture and gently stir just to incorporate, then measure out 1 tablespoon of the boiling water, add it to the mixture, and stir again. Add the rest of the flour mixture, and another tablespoon of boiling water, and stir just until smooth (do not overmix). Fold in the chocolate chips.

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. It will be good and thick. You can smooth out the top with a spatula.
6. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. Stick a steak knife into the center of the loaf to check for doneness. A little bit of wetness is okay, since it could be from a chocolate chip, but the knife should come out mostly dry.

7. Remove the loaf from the oven. Let it cool for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and carefully invert the loaf onto a cooling rack to cool most of the way. It’s yummy a little bit warm or thoroughly cooled. Slice and serve!
Five years ago today: Saints Alive!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Errands And Exercise

At the beginning of February my calendar reminds me to take my wedding ring to the jewelry store for a twice-yearly check to keep it under warranty.  I scheduled the task for today.  The store is a half hour away from the house, so I always try to find other things to do in that area to maximize my mileage and my time.  When I had the opportunity to accept a restaurant evaluation in Clayton (a city about ten miles further away) I jumped on it. 

Clayton is the county seat and has a large business district; I didn't stop to think about how stores in an urban area of government and office buildings don't usually have lots.  A quick call to the restaurant confirmed my suspicions that my parking choices were to hope to find a parking meter or pay to park in a lot.  Neither option appealed to me, so I decided that since I'd need exercise anyway I could park eight blocks away,  just outside the business district, and walk to my destination.

Just before I left the house this morning I checked the weather and based on the temperature I wore my heavy coat but did not bring anything for my head.  That was a big mistake.  There was a brisk wind that made things feel colder than they actually were.  I pulled my coat's hood up, which blocked my peripheral vision and made for some interesting street crossings.  I had to stop at many of the street corners, and it took me longer to reach the restaurant than if I was walking in my neighborhood, but I still reached my destination ten minutes too early.  Rather than stand outside in the cold I decided to keep moving and walk around the block. When I returned to the open restaurant it felt so good to go into the warmth!

After a nice meal it was time to bundle up again and head to my car.  This time the wind had died down somewhat, but it was still brisk.  Fortunately I made most of the lights this time. By the time I got done and returned to my car I had a full stomach and was halfway to my goal of 10,000 steps for the day.

Five years ago today: Hop To It

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Monday, February 1, 2016

Easy Come, Easy Go.

My basement cleaning is moving along nicely.  At the end of last week I switched my focus to getting rid of the large items that were cluttering up the floor area. I'm happy to say that the office chair, coffee table, and child-size kitchen table have been washed, loaded into the car, and taken to the thrift shop for someone else to enjoy.

There have been some surprises along the way.  In a far corner of the room next to the freezer, sandwiched between two large pieces of cardboard and leaning against the wall, I found a mirror that Hubby Tony received from his great aunt several years ago.  The oval mirror has a wood and gesso frame.  It was beautiful, but there was nowhere to hang it.  We kept it thinking that 'someday' that would change, but now I decided it was going to go.  I brought it upstairs and put it in the thrift store pile.  Later in the day I wondered if it was nice enough to take to a nearby consignment store.  After I cleaned it up I emailed a photo of the mirror to the store.  They replied that yes, they wanted it.

I had an appointment this morning to take the mirror in.  Last night I moved it out of the spare bedroom that's become the staging area for things leaving the house and leaned it against the stair railing outside my bedroom (mirrored side facing in).  This morning I brought it downstairs, cleaned off a little more dirt, and carried it out to the car.

When I arrived at the store I set the mirror on a table where the owner could appraise it.  She was all smiles, but her smile faded as she pointed out where a large chip had broken off the bottom.   Of course, I had no idea it was there.  Of course, she couldn't take it in that condition.

Because I had to know, I asked the owner how much she could have sold the mirror for.  She said she would have priced it somewhere between $150-$175.  And my cut of that would have been 40%.  Oh, well.  Easy come, easy go.

I left and drove to the nearest thrift store, where I dropped the mirror off for donation.  As I pulled away I thought that if someone had the skills to fix the chip they'd be able to have a very nice mirror without paying a lot of money.

Before the chip
Five years ago today: Scratcher

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Make a Snowflake

I used the fun, easy to use website Paper Snowflake Maker to create this virtual snowflake.

To "cut" the paper you use the mouse to draw polygons (closed shapes) that represent scissor cuts. After a polygon is closed, you can edit it by dragging any of the vertices, and there's an Undo button in case you make a mistake.  There are options for multiple background colors, and you can choose if you want the result shaded or not.

When you're done you can download your snowflake or share it on Facebook.

Five years ago today: Weather Armageddon?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Kale, Yeah!

A while back I bought this from my local Aldi:

The salad kit had chopped kale with slivers of red cabbage and carrots.  There was a small bag of sunflower seeds, and a pouch of tangy dressing.   I added a couple of handfuls of dried cranberries, mixed everything together, and called it a meal for Hubby Tony and me.

Five years ago today: Handsfree

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Chair Massage Like No Other

I often have problems with a creaky lower back, so yesterday I popped into a shop that specializes in products for back support.  When I walked into the small store I was amazed at their large selection of merchandise big and small--office furniture, chairs, bedding, and a nice selection of small healthy living accessories

I explained to the friendly salesperson what I was looking for, and he gave me a couple of suggestions. They were interesting, but not in my price range.  As I was turning to leave, he asked if I had time to experience what he called "the world's best massage chair".  I didn't have anywhere to be, so I agreed.  I expected something like a masseuse would use to give a chair massage, so I was intrigued when he lead me over to a large, hulking piece that looked more like a machine than a chair.

After I took my shoes off and sat down the salesperson showed me the slots for my arms and legs, and made sure my feet were snugly nestled in the foot holders.  He adjusted the headrest, pushed the start button, and told me to enjoy.

First I heard a series of beeps, which I later learned was the chair's sensors scanning my body to find out where the pressure points were.  Then for the next fifteen minutes I was treated to various combinations of a roller moving up and down my spine, something that felt like fingers poking at my back, airbags that inflated and deflated around my upper and lower arms, thighs, and legs,  a nice manipulation of the soles of my feet from a small roller, and a comfortable neck stretch from the headrest.

 When the session was over I felt completely refreshed.  I asked the salesperson just how much the slice of heaven was, and wasn't surprised to learn that I'd drop almost $10,000 if I decided to bring one into my home.  That's not going to happen, so on my way out of the store I joking asked the salesperson if I could  come back next week for another demonstration.

Five years ago today: Have Paint, Will Redecorate