Saturday, May 28, 2016

Half Baked

This photo has got me all excited:


Hubby Tony and I are going to be grandparents! As of this week the baby is half baked-20 weeks down. 20 weeks to go!

Five years ago today: Ordination

Thursday, May 26, 2016

There's One In Every Crowd

The other day I noticed something strange sticking out from the pot of pansies on the front porch. Can you see it?


There's a tomato plant growing among the flowers!

I didn't put the seed there.  I suspect a bird or critter ate a fruit from one of my plants last year and 'deposited' the remains in the pot, where the seed overwintered.  Now that the days are getting longer and the weather's warming up it decided it was time to sprout.

For some reason, seeing the larger, completely different greenery in the pot reminded me of an old Sesame Street song that I haven't thought about  for decades.



Pansies are cool weather plants, so I'll be replacing them in the box just as soon as I can get to the garden center to pick out some blooms that like our hot, humid summer weather.  When I do, I'll transplant the tomato plant in the back garden plot...where it belongs.

Five years ago today: Thirteen is Lucky...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Fight For Your Right To Be Fee Free

Yesterday I got the statement for my business checking account in the mail. After dinner I sat down to reconcile it, and was shocked to notice that underneath the Deposit and Withdrawals categories there was a new section, called Fees. The only item in the category was an $8.00 Monthly Fee.

That's not supposed to happen. Almost six years ago I converted a checking account to one for "Seniors".

I went to the bank's website to try to figure out what went wrong, and couldn't even find my account (for people 50+) listed.  However, there was one for 65+.  To waive a monthly fee in that account you'd need to maintain a hefty balance, or have a hefty amount automatic deposited each month.  Even if the bank would let me qualify for that account I couldn't meet either the balance or deposit requirements.  I researched other banks in the area, and found out that I might have to resign myself to paying a fee.

I'm signed up for direct deposits with more than a dozen different companies.  It would be a pain to change the information with each of them, so I wasn't going to go down without a fight.  This morning I was at the bank shortly after it opened.  I talked to a banker, who pulled my information up on the computer and determined that there had, indeed, been a mistake made.  She reversed the fee and told me that since I'm grandfathered into the now-obsolete account type it shouldn't happen again.

I'm going to check every month, though, just to be sure.  And start investigating other options.

Five years ago today: Are You Suitable?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

One Dessert, Two Events

Hubby Tony and I rarely entertain, but this weekend we hosted not one, but two events.

Today was a meeting of a group of couples planning a retreat for this fall.  Each couple takes a turn, and serves dinner after the business is done.  Last weekend, when I was still unsure what the main course was going to be, I had a sample of key lime pie at Costco.  It was really good, and when the sampler mentioned it froze well a whole pie jumped into my basket.  The large package contained 16 servings (and we only needed 10), but I figured I could always freeze the rest again.

Wednesday I was looking at the calendar and noticed that Hubby Tony had a guys poker event on the schedule for Saturday night.  And it said he was hosting.  I sent him a text to see if that was indeed happening.  He responded with a "Wow, thanks!  I forgot."  The next night he put together his menu for five (crockpot pulled pork, deli slaw and potato salad, and a veggie tray).  It occurred to me that since I had too much key lime pie in the freezer Tony might like to use some of it.  He didn't think it would be strange to serve the same dessert at two different events, and thanked me for the offer.

Yesterday I took the pie out of the freezer to thaw.  When it was time to cut it, I carefully followed the  scored lines on top and ended up with perfectly-sized pieces.  Each of the poker players had a slice and pronounced it good.  After they left I carefully wrapped the extras and put the pan into the refrigerator.  This afternoon Son Donald helped me spread out those pieces nicely in the pan so it was less obvious it wasn't whole.  I didn't want it to look like this:

Michelle Obama's Mirror
Five years ago today: Signs of the Season

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Outlet Treasure Hunting

I think just about everyone is familiar with Goodwill donation centers and retail stores, but have you ever heard of a Goodwill Outlet store? We've had one in our area for years, and I see it every time I drive east on Interstate 64 to go downtown. It's always intrigued me, but I never made the time to stop in. Until today.

I had a work commitment that got me close to the area, and decided I was also going to fit in an adventure. After I finished what I had to do I got back in my car and went east on the highway.  I should have gotten off one exit earlier than I did, but after several turns I saw the building's sign and parking lot.  The huge building used to be a warehouse for Famous-Barr (a department store that was purchased by Macy's about a decade ago), but the entrance to the store portion was easy to find.

Blue bins in the store
The Goodwill Outlet serves as a liquidation center for the retail stores.  In the outlet store they price it to sell.  Books cost 15 cents an inch. Glassware is 29 cents a pound, and everything else is 89 cents a pound. Items are piled in large blue bins, and every twenty minutes they take away a few of the bins and roll out new ones.  Except for books (which were housed in their own area) there wasn't much sorting done. Breakable items were placed in their own bins, but other bins were a mish-mash of clothes, soft goods, and wares.

The store wouldn't win any awards for cleanliness.  Based on my online research I brought a pair of gloves with me, but I ended up not using them. However, I wasn't digging down to the bottom of the bins. Several people were wearing work or rubber gloves, and I even saw one couple sporting disposable dust masks.  There are no dressing rooms, so I had to guess if things would fit me or Hubby Tony.  I wasn't too concerned, though, figuring that if I guessed wrong I'd just turn around and put the item back in our donation box.

There were all types of people there...well-dressed suburbanites, young people dressed in vintage styles, and others who looked like all they could afford were the items in the building.  I heard some people talking about how they were looking for things to turn around and sell on eBay.  I browsed for a half hour, then realized I should have eaten lunch before I came and decided to check out.  My six clothing items (which had labels from Banana Republic, Express, Talbots, Ann Taylor, and Nike) cost $3.91, and a Fiestaware bread plate and small bowl was only 55 cents!

I don't think I'll make shopping at the Goodwill Outlet store part of my regular routine, but I'm glad I was able to experience it.

Five years ago today: Play Your Cards Right

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

From Lazy To Crazy

As a self-employed person, I get to choose all of my work commitments.  Most of the time I do it by going to a company's website and looking at the job board.  I also get emails telling me about opportunities.  This week I'm concentrating on doing projects around the house, but yesterday after lunch when I was checking my Inbox I came across a message with the intriguing subject of "Emergency Assignment for Today".

The body of the message indicated that the person who completed this task would go to the assigned location, engage with the associates, and take some photos.  There was one special requirement- you'd need to install an app on your phone that would time stamp the photos. The place was about twenty minutes from my house, and they were offering a nice chunk of change for someone who could be flexible.

All of my house projects could wait, so I decided to respond.  Usually when I get emails like this they're going to multiple people, and someone else has managed to jump on it first.  However, this time I was the quickest on the trigger, and after a couple of messages back and forth I found out I had the job.

Just like that my afternoon went from lazy to crazy.

I quickly downloaded the assignment instructions, changed my clothes, and left the house.  An hour later I was back.  Then I spent another twenty minutes completing a report and sending it off to the company.  Then it was time to start on dinner. 

It took me a while to wind down from my whirlwind of an afternoon.

Five years ago today: Vim And Vinegar

Monday, May 16, 2016

Where Is Spring?

As usual in this area, this year May has once again been a weather seesaw.  We have a couple of days of nice warm weather, then the cold comes back in and scares it away.  Today is the worst so far, though.  Instead of the mid-70 degree Fahrenheit it should be, the high was in the mid-50s, and a steady rain made it feel even chillier.

The wild fluctuations have made it hard to figure out what to wear.  Yesterday I changed my clothes multiple times--long sleeves in the morning, short sleeves after lunch, and back again to long sleeves at the end of the day. This morning I put on clothes to go to the gym, but it was so chilly I dug in the back of my closet for a fleece jacket. At the beginning of the month I washed the winter coats and put them away for the winter, and I was NOT going to get them out again!   Nor am I going to turn on the furnace.  When I came home from the gym I changed into jeans and added another layer on over my long-sleeved shirt.

Even the plants are being affected by the weather.  The pansies in the pot on the front porch are loving the chill,  but the house plants I'd moved to the deck aren't.  This morning I moved them all to a more sheltered location.   As I passed by the place I grow my tomatoes and peppers I decided I was glad I haven't had time to put in those warm-season vegetables yet.

At this time of the year sunset is a little after 8 p.m., but today when I was putting dinner together three hours before that it was already gloomy in the kitchen, and I had to turn on some lights in the room.   It was completely dark by 7:00.  The fall-like feel inspired me to make a batch of pumpkin muffins.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a carbon copy of today, then the rain should stop for a couple of days and it should start warming up.  According to the forecast it will be back to normal by this time next week.  We'll see.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Cats Celebrating Birthdays

We got our cats just after they were weaned in the summer of 2002.  We counted back from that and arbitrarily decreed their birthday was May 15th. 

Kitten besties
Some years we made a big deal out of the day.  Some years we forget all about it. But this year, since it fell on the weekend, everyone made sure to give both Jackson and Pepper extra attention (and extra lap time for Pepper, who's into that type of stuff).  Jackson prefers to nap alone, so I folded his favorite blanket  on top of the couch to get it ready for his early evening nap

Still hanging out together
Five years ago today: A Day of Adventure

Friday, May 13, 2016

Polished

Last summer when Hubby Tony and I were on our Mediterranean cruise, we tried to purchase an easy to pack souvenir from each of our ports. In Florence, that turned out to be a cute bookmark with a cat dressed in Renaissance clothing (which only cost one Euro). The store put my purchase inside a bag just a little larger than the item, and when I got back to the boat I slipped an additional piece of card stock inside the bag so it wouldn't bend.

When we got home, somehow the small flat bag holding the book mark ended up on top of my dresser.  It blended in nicely, and I soon stopped noticing it was there until I did my Spring bedroom redecorating.  For several weeks I carried the bag around to different stores with me trying to find a frame that didn't cost too much.

It wasn't until I stopped actively looking for a frame that I found one in my local Goodwill.  The long, skinny frame was perfect, except for the plexiglass had a scratch down the center.  It was only two dollars, though, so I took a chance that I could buff the scratch out.

After I removed the plexiglass from the frame I turned to the article "Plexiglass Scratch Removal" on eHow, which recommended I use a dab of toothpaste.  I squeezed out a blob, then smeared it around in a circular motion and wiped it off with a clean cloth.  After the first pass the scratch was better, so I repeated the process.  Sadly, the scratch never came completely out but I decided I could live with the results.  One day I may get around to replacing the plexiglass.  Or not.

Black frame on top of marble countertop

Five years ago today: War On Wabbits

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

My Brain Is Always Lit Up With New Ideas. Who Knew?

I'm not much of an ice hockey fan, but our hometown St. Louis Blues are in the middle of one of their best playoff runs ever.  Tonight when Hubby Tony turned the TV on to watch the last game of their series against the Dallas Stars, I wandered into the family room and fired up my laptop for some random Internet surfing.  My email 'projects' folder has a collection of interesting website links.  One of them is Horoscope.com, which has a wide range of options.  Tonight I had fun learning about my destiny from a Mayan perspective.

I entered my birth date, and learned that my Mayan sign was Earth.  After one more click the site told me that:
"Earth (or Earthquake), the seventeenth Day Sign of Mayan astrology, is your sign. Earth natives are very thoughtful, clever, and philosophical. They are well-controlled and good at moderating potentially harmful behaviors and attitudes. You are or have the potential to be very well-educated, and your brain is always lit up with bright new ideas. Where you need some work is taking into account the emotional, imaginative part of life. Not everything has to make practical sense, and failing to accept this can lead to stress and confusion. You also don't want to come across as condescending to others. That said, you know how to have a good laugh, you're well-liked, and a progressive leader"
It went on to pinpoint some of my Earth Characteristics:
Alternative Name: Earthquake
Mayan Name: Caban
Significance: Action
Direction: East
Gemstone: Agate
Color: Red
Friend: Knife
Foe: Deer
I don't know how accurate the information was, but it was generic enough that it could apply to me.  I'll take it.

Five years ago today: Leaving the Nest