Friday, April 29, 2016

Rootbound No More

Yesterday was repotting day for the plants that overwintered in the window seat area in the kitchen.

I started with the two hanging baskets of spider plants, which have to be done every spring.  They were so rootbound that even the baby plants were starting to produce their own plantlets.  I carried both baskets out to the grass behind the garage (so I didn't have to clean up the dirty mess) and dumped the first pot into an old recycling bin.  As I suspected, the bottom of the soil was covered with a tangle of tuberous roots.

Spider plants are almost impossible to kill, so after removing the tiny bit of extra soil with my hands I used a steak knife I cut the bottom roots off, then cut between each plant and pulled them apart.  When I was done my two stuffed pots had turned into three pots, and there were still two plants left over.

I didn't have any more pots of the proper size, so I decided to stick the extras directly in the ground next to the compost pile.  They'll either grow or not, and either way won't survive the winder


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Oops!

You may remember that for the past few months I've been in charge of maintaining an organization's website.  I've had a little bit of a learning curve, but on the whole I've been pleasantly surprised with how easy it is.  Members of the organization email me things they want added to the site and I take care of it.  I've been able to complete most requests within a day or so. 

Today I received the organization's newsletter in the mail.  I opened it up and started reading. On the first page a representative was reporting on some upcoming business.  Then (when I was least expecting it) in the middle of the third paragraph the representative mentioned me by name, indicating she'd asked me to add some forms to the website.  She had, but that was weeks ago, and just a general question  about if it was possible to do.  There was no follow up on the topic.  I guess in her mind the task was done.

Needless to say, the task had NOT been done, so I immediately hustled over to my computer and tried to find her email that included the forms. There was almost a dozen messages on several different topics (and double that if you included the responses that had gone back and forth).  I felt pressured to get the things uploaded ASAP in case someone was looking for them.   It took almost five minutes to find the correct email and download her attachments.  Then another five minutes to save them to my computer, upload them to the organization website, and double check to make sure I'd linked the correct files before I hit the Publish button.

I hope I was the only one who noticed the error.  I'm still trying to make a good impression in this job.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Radiant And Red-Faced

This morning after breakfast I trimmed some bushes in the front yard, then did some weeding in the back.  I knew a storm front was coming in this afternoon (and a chance of rain every day for the next week), so even though the grass was mowed last Friday I decided to cut it again.  The temperature was about 80 degrees, but the humidity in the air made it feel hotter than that. I had to do the lawn in two sessions with a water break in between.

When I got done my clothes were sweat-soaked, and I was badly in need of a shower. Then lunch.  After all my needs were taken care of I decided to treat myself to a little pampering. Yesterday I received a box from a virtual acquaintance.  The box was filled with samples from Plush Luxe, an all-natural skin care line. I pulled out a sample of the masque, mixed it with water per the directions, and applied it to my face and neck. Based on the masque's smell it included oatmeal, so I knew that fifteen minutes later my skin would feel great.

I was just spreading on the last of the masque when I heard a polite knock at the front door. Too late, I realized the garage door was still open from my grass cutting so the person had to know someone was home.  I opened the door just enough to peek out and saw a technician for the lawn care company standing on the porch. He did a double-take when he saw me, but quickly recovered and told me he was there to apply the latest round of fertilizer to the grass. Thinking quickly, I fibbed and told him I might have come into contact with some poison ivy and was using the oatmeal as an antidote.  He said he knew what poison ivy felt like and wished me good luck.

After I closed the door I set a timer and relaxed while the masque worked its magic.  When the time was up and I rinsed it off with warm water my face and neck felt clean and refreshed.  I was ready to move on with the rest of my day.

Five years ago today: Wildwood Walk

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Undoing

Ever have one of those days where you just can't motivate yourself?  Today was like that for me.  I woke up groggy, and muddled through my morning obligations.  Mid-afternoon I decided to take a short nap. It didn't help; if anything it left me even groggier.  I decided to take that as a sign and spend the rest of the day recharging my batteries.  I  puttered in the yard until it got too dark, then came inside and made myself comfortable on the couch with my computer.  I have an email folder that's filled with random activities to try some day.  When I looked through it tonight one of the ideas jumped out and said " Pick Me!" 

How did it know that the other day I cleaned out a drawer and found a couple of cable ties, which I set on the kitchen island for the cats to play with?  The cats had a lot of fun pushing the ties off the island and batting them all over the kitchen. Now it was time for me to have some fun with them.  Thanks to the information on Wikihow, I learned how to How to Open A Cable Tie.

I'm not sure when I'd ever use the skill in real life, but as an experiment it was pretty interesting. The steps (as borrowed directly from the website):
  • Pick up the cable tie and look into the little white box. You will see a plastic tongue inside there that hooks into the rack and prevents it from pulling loose. 
  • Take the needle and stick it in between the tongue and the rack. This separates the tongue from the rack.
  • Pull the end of the cable tie back with your one hand whilst keeping the needle in place with your other. In other words, you're widening the loop while overriding the cable ties closing system at the same time.
  • Pull the end completely out of the little white box and pull the needle out as well. Now, don't get it accidentally stuck in there again!
      I closed and opened one of the ties twice.  When I was done I put the back on the island for the cats again.  Why should I be the only one having fun?

      Friday, April 22, 2016

      Don't Criticize The Competition!

      My assignment for the past several days was to have some home improvement companies come and give me estimates to have some work done around the house, then compare and contrast the bids. It was an interesting project, although now that it's done my head is reeling from all the variables. Which materials and installation procedures were the best? Which company had the most effective sales presentation and the best warranty?

      During each estimate the representative would ask me who else I was getting information from. Just for fun I'd throw out a name and then watch what would happen. Of course each told me they were the best on the market, then go on to say "I don't want to say bad things about a competitor, but..." Then they'd do just that. Either the competition's product was poorly-made and/or expensive, or their installers wouldn't work as efficiently.

      They all sounded like a bunch of playground bullies. I didn't have the heart to tell them I was tuning them out as soon as they started. Eventually they'd wind down and get back to business and get me the information I was looking for. 

      Five years ago today: "The Green Thing"

      Wednesday, April 20, 2016

      Spring Clean Your Life

      I'd go out on a limb and guess that everyone is familiar with the concept of spring cleaning your house. Today during my Internet wanderings I learned about the concept of spring cleaning your life.  The idea intrigued me, and as I did more research I found out that spring cleaning your life is a Thing.   You can spruce up your body, mind, career, workout, schedule, love life, and relationships.  You name it, it can be neatened up.

      As I went about my day I pondered what areas of my life could use some freshening up, and came up with a Life Spring Cleaning Plan. I'm going to work on:

      --Tackling the projects (each represented by a pile of papers) that are scattered across the kitchen island

      --Unsubscribing to all the junk messages that clutter up my email

      --Saying no to some of the requests for my time

      --Organizing my computer files and email folders

      --Contacting a couple of friends I haven't talked to in a while

      --Shaking up some of my routines and being less predictable

      Care to join me in a good deep life cleaning?

      Sunday, April 17, 2016

      In Fashion? Me?

      I stopped following fashion trends a couple of decades ago. When I'm at the mall I might ooh and aah over each new season's shop windows, but more than likely when I'm looking at those new styles I'm wearing a pair of comfortable boot cut jeans (which look better on my middle-aged body than the current "it" style of straight and skinny) and a t-shirt or polo (long or short sleeved, depending on the weather). Dressing up means swapping out the jeans for a pair of corduroys or khakis or a very casual skirt.  The only exception are my gym clothes, which tend to be unfashionable loose fitting capris and t-shirts.

      Last week when I was in Target I walked by a display in the women's department, then stopped and did a double take. The mannequin was sporting shorts with a normal rise.  What a novel idea!  I've lost track of how many years I've tried on (and put back on the rack) low rise bottoms that did not flatter my midsection.  Could it be possible that fashion trends were coming my way? 

      The temperature warmed up today.  After lunch I opened up my bottom dresser drawer and chose one of my collection of basic cotton and denim shorts.  I would have worn them anyway, but I'd like to think I got fashion brownie points for having something I could buy in the store.


      Five years ago today: Yard Work-As Viewed From Heaven

      Friday, April 15, 2016

      Pop Goes The Egg

      This morning I was making a spinach salad to take with me in the car for lunch. After adding mushrooms, celery, and colored peppers to the spinach I decided that an egg would be taste good in there, too. The problem was that I didn't have any hard cooked eggs.

      Because I have low standards, I decided to cook a scrambled an egg in the microwave and chop it up for the salad. After spraying a custard cup with Pam, I slid an egg into the cup, mixed it well, and set it in the microwave to cook. Because I was in a hurry, I forgot to cover the cup like I usually do. Once it was cooking I turned my attention back to chopping vegetables until I heard a loud 'pop'.

      The egg had exploded, sending pieces all over the oven interior. It also threw itself out of the custard cup and onto the oven turntable..

      Time for a microwave cleanup

      Wednesday, April 13, 2016

      Out With The Bad

      Over the past 18 months Hubby Tony and I have gradually improved our diets at home, replacing many of the convenience foods in our pantry, refrigerator, and freezer with more minimally processed foods.  At this point the kitchen isn't completely prepackaged food free, but it's much better than it used to be.

      Tonight for dinner I was making a shepherd's pie topped with sweet potatoes. However, when I saw that half of one of the two sweet potatoes was moldy I had to think about other options.  I rooted around and found a bag of tater tots way in the back of the freezer.  Weighing the options, I decided to modify my recipe.  Instead of a layered dish, I decided to dice and boil the sweet potatoes, mix them in with the other ingredients, then bulk up the whole thing with some crumbled tots. 

      I don't remember when I bought the bag, but when I opened it up many of the little chunks of processed potatoes were covered with ice.  Forging ahead anyway, I dumped about a third of the bag in a colander, gave them a quick rinse to melt the ice, and rolled them in a towel to dry them off.  When I got done the towel, the colander, and my hands were all covered with grease.  That's what made them taste so good!

      The tots thawed on the counter while I chopped and cooked the sweet potatoes. When I tried to crumble them I found out that most had a bad case of freezer burn and were completely solid.  I tossed them, along with the rest of the bag.  Good riddance. 

      Five years ago today: Poem In Your Pocket

      Monday, April 11, 2016

      Zen Masters (In honor of National Pet Day)


      “I have lived with several Zen masters -- all of them cats.”
      Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

      Five years ago today: Pay It Forward