Thursday, May 28, 2015

When They Said Seven Days They Meant It!

For Mother's Day this year I received a bouquet of flowers from ProFlowers. The arrangement of pink tulips and blue iris was beautiful, and guaranteed to last for seven days.  I cared for them according to the directions, but in the middle of the week the iris looked past their prime and the tulip petals were falling off left and right.  I threw the stalks into the compost pile, then sent an email to the company letting them know.

The next day I was pleasantly surprised to receive a response from their Customer Care department, which indicated I could get a replacement for the original order, a different item of equal or lessor value, or a coupon to use at one of their related brands.  It took me a couple of days to decide what I wanted. The original bouquet was no longer featured on their website, so I decided to go with a arrangement of 20 multi-colored tulips.

My new order was delivered yesterday.  When I opened the long, skinny box I found all of the tulips were in bud form (just like they were the first time). I placed the the bouquet in a vase with water and waited. This is what they looked like today:

The pastel colors look great on my kitchen table. I hope this arrangement lasts as long as it's supposed to.

Five years ago today: If The Shoe Fits

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Gutters, Gutters, Who's Got The Gutters?

It was the first week of April when our area had a massive hail storm, and a month later when we received a check from our insurance company for some minor house damage from that storm.  Since that time I've been looking for gutter, painting/staining, and carpentry contractors to do the repair work.

For each type of work I contacted several companies that had good reviews on Angie's List, then waited for them to get back to me with estimates.  It's the busy season for outdoor home repair and many of our jobs were small, so it was a challenge to find someone who was willing.  Finally I got a gutter company, and when one of the painters agreed to take care of the carpentry, too I jumped on his offer.  Last week I signed both contracts. Each company told me the jobs would be scheduled around the weather; on average May is the wettest month in our area, and in the past week days without any chance of rain have been hard to come by. None of the work was critical, though, so I was in no particular hurry.

This afternoon the doorbell rang.  When I answered it I saw a man, wearing a t-shirt with the logo of the gutter company, who told me they were here to do the work.  I was pleasantly surprised, but also annoyed that the main office hadn't called in advance.  Fortunately I'd already done all my errands for the day and had the afternoon free to stay at home.

The installers parked their large truck right in front of my driveway, set up their equipment behind it, and got to work.  Three hours later the old gutters were gone and the new ones were pretty much installed.  Unfortunately, they'd discovered a rotten board on one of the front eaves and couldn't hang that portion of the gutter. They'll have to make another trip to replace the board and finish the job.  However, there's a 50 percent chance of rain tomorrow and a 60 percent chance on Friday so I don't know just when that trip will happen.

Five years ago today: Handy Laundry Guide

Monday, May 25, 2015

One Project, Two Hacks

I love reading about household tips or hacks that let you do things easier.  Today I came across the post 21“Sweet” (Non-Food) Uses for Sugar at One Good Thing by Jillee. Some of the uses I already knew, but others were new to me. For example, I learned that you could clean a coffee or spice grinder by grinding sugar in it.  The theory is that the sugar will absorb and clean out the oil that has built up in the machine.

Hubby Tony got a new coffee grinder last Christmas. We only treat ourselves to bean coffee on the weekend, so the grinder doesn't get heavy use, but as far as I knew it hadn't ever been thoroughly cleaned. I decided to give the sugar treatment a try.  It only took a couple of minutes to run a scoopful of sugar through the grinder, but in the interest of getting the innards really clean I disassembled the grinder and used an old toothbrush on the crevices.

When I was done I had a container of dirty sugar that smelled just like coffee:

Clean grinder - dirty sugar
Instead of just throwing it away, I decided to incorporate the sugar into a scrub and use it on my cracked heels. I decided to do the exfoliation outside to cut down on the mess, so after I carried everything to the back patio I mixed a little olive oil into the sugar, massaged it all over my heels, then rinsed it off with water. It made my heels feel and smell great.

Ready to go!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

'How To Make Mistakes And Miss The Voice Within'

This afternoon I was tidying up my Inbox, getting rid of some emails and moving others into folders.  Tucked way back on the third page I found a message that contained words of wisdom from Sacred Threshold: Crossing the Inner Barrier to a Deeper Love by the spiritual writer Paula D’Arcy.  The words were so inspiring I thought I'd share them with you:
Guaranteed Ways to Miss the Hidden God (or, How to Make Mistakes and Miss the Voice Within)
  1. LIVE your life at high speed. No exceptions. Run hard.
  2. STAY scattered and distracted. The more clutter and activity, the better.
  3. TAKE everything personally. Never evaluate. Agree.
  4. USE blame liberally. It's so invigorating. I wasn't responsible, you were. Everything's your fault.
  5. DON'T laugh, especially at yourself.
  6. STAY tied to your past. Elevate it to greatness. Live remembering and longing. Or missing. Why do it halfway? Go for it.
  7. USE the word 'because.' 'I can't change, because.' Because is so little appreciated as a solvent for responsibility. Try using because. This will work.
  8. NEVER question or think for yourself. Just keep moving and accepting. (Refer to #1 and #3.)
  9. CONTINUE to think of God as invisible and distant. Surely not present in this room. At this moment. Not while I'm reading a book.
  10. REINFORCE the belief that your life is going to happen soon. This is not it, not yet. But one day. Maybe when I finish reading.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Howdy! Welcome!

A friend of mine is on the planning committee for a convention this weekend.  Her schedule is jam-packed with last minute details, so she asked me to pick up one of the convention speakers at the airport today.

I have no idea what the woman looks like, so I'll be standing just outside the secure area holding up a sign with her name on it.  I see that all the time when I'm in airports, so it must work.

Five years ago today: All Done

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


After breakfast I was supposed to be gearing up for today's house-window-washing extravaganza, but instead I was getting distracted by all the new things waiting for me online.  (Ten new emails in my inbox!  Eighteen new blog posts in my reader!  Thirty one new status updates on Facebook!)  I justified my preoccupation by telling myself I was just waiting for the angle of the sun to change so the kitchen windows didn't get all streaky when I clean them, but I knew that really wasn't true.  I was just having trouble getting motivated.

As I scrolled through all those new Facebook updates I saw that several friends had posted their results from a test called Which Side Of Your Brain Is More Dominant?.  I decided it couldn't hurt for me to see what it was about, too. (All in the interest of knowing more about myself, right?  Definitely not to waste more time!) The quiz had questions about a turning figure, choosing colors, picking out the most appealing picture from an array, which picture was similar to another, which direction I crossed my hands and legs, and which eye was dominant.

Based on the quick test, I found out that neither side of my brain is more dominant; I use both sides equally.

The information interesting but try as I might I couldn't figure out how to apply the results to my cleaning task for the day, so I reluctantly moved away from the computer and got to work.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

How Do They Know?

The weather's finally warmed up here and there's no more danger of frost, so today I planted the canna bulbs I'd dug up last fall.

Ever since a co-worker gave me a couple of bulbs from her garden seven years ago I've been following the same routine.  After the first fall frost kills the plant leaves, I cut the dead foliage off just above the soil level, dig the bulbs up, shake off as much dirt as possible, then put the bulbs in an old recycling bin. I carry the bin down to the basement (which is the coolest and darkest place in the house), where I stash it on top of the freezer.

During the winter I do nothing to or for the bulbs.  Every spring when I bring them outside I find out that somehow they knew it was time to get growing:

See the sprouts?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fences, Sewers, and Dog Doo

In the far southeast corner of our back yard where four properties come together there's a large storm sewer. The two houses to the south have cedar fences which skirt the sewer's cover, leaving about two feet on each side.  The neighbor behind us does not have a fence, nor do we.  Because of the position of the sewer and fences we maintain one exposed side by running our mower in between the sewer and a fence, and our neighbors does the same thing on their side.  Once of twice a year I cut down the weeds and tree sprouts that grow between the sewer and the fences.  The system works pretty well.

Earlier in the year when I did my first grass cutting I noticed a large pile of old dog feces that had been piled next to my neighbor's side of the sewer.  I could tell by its color and consistency that it had been there for quite some time. I didn't know who put it there, but our house is the only one of the four that doesn't have a dog so Hubby Tony and I shouldn't be the ones cleaning it up!

I only thought about the mess when I was in that part of the yard once a week or so.   Last week we had a lot of rain, and when I cut the grass on Tuesday I noticed the moisture had re-hydrated the excrement and it was pretty smelly back by the sewer.  Without knowing who put the pile there I didn't know which neighbor to approach about removing the mess, but yesterday I saw my back yard neighbor mowing  I went outside and greeted him when he stopped the mower, then mentioned the pile of poop by the sewer.  He took a look at it, decided that perhaps his son had piled it there last time he cleaned up the yard, and said he'd take care of it.  Later that night when I went outside to pull some weeds it was gone.

Thank goodness.

Five years ago today: Chocolate Heaven

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Just For Me!

On Sunday Son Tony called me from Phoenix to wish me a happy Mother's Day. As we were chatting about different things he mentioned he was experimenting with roasting his own coffee beans.

Today there was a box waiting for me on the front porch when I went to get the mail.  Inside the box was a Mason jar filled with coffee.  The bag wrapped around the jar told me Tony had roasted the Ethiopian Agaro beans from the Nano Challa Cooperative on Mother's Day.

I can't wait to try them!

Five years ago today: Blow Baby Blow

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

One Person's Trash is Another Person's Treasure

Back in March when I was cleaning out the office I ended up with a substantial stack of used CDs. I hate to throw things away, so I investigated places that could reuse or recycle them.  After a little research I discovered that the St. Louis Teacher's Recycle Center at Chesterfield Mall about twenty minutes away from my house would take them, so I put the stack where I'd remember to take them the next time work or errands took me that way.

There was only one small problem--the center's only open on Tuesday (afternoons) and Saturday.  It took until today for my schedule to align with theirs, but after I fed the cats their afternoon meal I jumped in the car and headed towards the mall.  The center is located on the lower level, around the corner from Sears and right next to a mall exit.  I was happy to see that it was indeed open when I walked towards it.

The small store is packed to the gills with all types of interesting items.  One section holds dry goods such as fabric, ribbon, and yarn, and related sewing notions.  The 'hardware department' has a selection of nuts, bolts, washers, wire, and tiles.  In the paper goods area there are stacks of foam core, scrapbooking papers and supplies, white and colored paper, and card stock.  The office supplies section contains all types of school art and teacher supplies.  There are also several racks holding books, magazines new and vintage, and promotional materials.  Then there are the multitude of miscellaneous things that don't fit into categories -- containers of corks, juice lids, puzzle pieces, shells,  jewelry, baby food jars, metal coffee cans, and juice lids.  And more.  I enjoy browsing through it because you never know exactly what you're going to find.

I thought the store was doing me a favor by taking my discards, but it turns out they benefited from my junk donation, too.  The store associate told me she'd just had a request for CDs and had to turn the person down because they didn't have any in stock. 

I love win-win situations!