Sunday, June 30, 2013


When I was a kid I remember my dad lathering his face with a brush and shaving soap, then shaving with a double-edged safety razor. After I started to shave my legs I inherited one of his razors. I used that razor for decades. When Son Donald was old enough to shave he borrowed it and it got misplaced. For the past decade I've made do with disposable razors.

Two years ago Son Tony announced he'd discovered a "new" way to shave, and had bought himself a safety razor with all the accessories. He liked that it the blades gave him a smoother shave and cost much less than the multi-bladed cartridges he'd been using.  His enthusiasm convinced his dad, and that Christmas Hubby Tony had a shaving package under the tree.

I was now the only one using disposables.  Every couple of months I'd buy a large bag of the cheapest twin blade razors I could find, which did an acceptable job of removing the hair from my legs. However, when I got an Amazon gift certificate for Mother's Day this year I decided to treat myself and purchase a real razor of my own.

I chose a traditional butterfly (twist to open) design just I used to have.  Today I used it for the first time. After so many years the double edged razor took some getting used to; it takes a lot less pressure to get a close shave. I took my time, though, and am pleased to report I completed the job without any nicks.

Five years ago today: New Thing #171--Flapping in the Breeze

Friday, June 28, 2013

No (New) Shirt Needed

In the past week two friends have lost their fathers. Both men had been quite ill, so their passing, although anticipated, was bittersweet.

Hubby Tony and I will be going to both visitations. My dark-colored suit was looking a little shabby, so last night I decided to go shopping for a new outfit. I had the store hours wrong, though, and was in the dressing room when they announced the store was closing in ten minutes.  The only thing that fit well in the batch of clothes I got to try on was a black and white print skirt. I bought it, figuring I could do more shopping today.

I thought the skirt would look good with a short-sleeved blouse, either white or a bright solid for a pop of color. When I left the house for a meeting this morning I brought the skirt with me. After the meeting I headed for the closest strip mall that had a clothes store.

I browsed through all the racks and took an armful of shirts into the dressing room, but after trying them on I put everything back; they were all too tight, too faddy, or too low-cut. A second store yielded the same results, although I did find an azure blue t-shirt that made a cute informal outfit with the skirt. Nothing nice enough to wear to a funeral parlor, though.

I hung all the shirts on hangers.  As I was putting my clothes back on, I noticed the t-shirt I was wearing was new and crisp.  It was plain, but I suspected I could dress it up with jewelry.  When I got home I started a load of laundry that included the shirt.  Problem solved.

Five years ago today: New Thing #169--Can You Read It?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bowls Of Morning Goodness

We have three containers of oatmeal on the bottom shelf of the pantry:
  • Quick oats, which cook in one minute,. If I want a hot breakfast this is usually what I turn to, but I mainly use them for baking.
  • Old fashioned oatmeal that takes five minutes to prepare.  In our house, though, its usually not eaten in a bowl, but toasted as the main ingredient in granola.
  • Steel cut oats, which have to simmer for 30 minutes before they're ready to eat.  Because they take so long they're a rare treat.
Recently I was intrigued to learn there's a way to make steel cut oatmeal overnight. I've been in a breakfast rut, settling for quick menu items, and this sounded like a good and easy way to expand my morning meal repertoire.  It was.
Pour 4 cups water into a medium saucepan. Put the pan on the stove, turn the heat to high, and bring the water to a rapid boil. When the water boils stir in 1 cup steel cut oats and a pinch of salt. Let the oats cook for 1 minute. Turn off the heat, cover, and let the pot sit overnight.

In the morning reheat the oats. Stir in your favorite toppings, then eat. 
 Hubby Tony and I were eating at different times, so we nuked our individual servings in the microwave, which worked well.  The first day I topped mine with brown sugar and raisins, and the second day mashed a ripe banana into the bowl.

Five years ago today: New Thing #167--Quilt It

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sweet Feet

Betsy at My Five Men is hosting a Pedicure Party today.  Anyone who wants to give their toes some colorful attention can join in and link up.

In honor of the event I took the old polish off my toenails, gave them some much-needed maintenance, then put on a fresh coat:

Wiggling my toes in the clover might have been the best part of it!

Five years ago today: New Thing #164--Patchwork

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Are You Open?

I don't know how many artists are working in our area but there are at least 170. That's how many opened their studios to the public this weekend for Open Studios STL.  This afternoon Hubby Tony and visited some of them.

There were artists all over the city and county participating, but only half of the studios (in the eastern part of the area) were open today, and the others were open tomorrow.  We decided to head downtown, where there were about 20 artists located in seven different buildings.  Over the course of three hours we saw paintings, prints, and photographs.  Mixed media, sculpture, and jewelry.  We made it to most of the locations before we ran out of steam.

Many of the studios were in former warehouse buildings, and quite a few of them were in live/work lofts. It was interesting to see the artists' studios and talk with them in a relaxed atmosphere. Many of them had work for sale, and we did end up purchasing a print.

Now I just have to get it framed and figure out where to hang it in the house.

Five years ago today: New Thing #163--Dream House

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Song For The First Day Of Summer...

...if you live in the Northern Hemisphere.  If you're in the Southern Hemisphere, it's just a great song for a Friday.

Five years ago today: New Thing #162--The Road Untraveled

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Butter Me Up

Yesterday I went into Whole Foods to get a jar of their store label almond butter, but there was none on the shelf.  An associate told me it was on back order and he didn't know when it would be in.  That frustrated me; since I bought almond butter for the first time last year it's become a kitchen staple. There were other brands I could have bought, but they cost substantially more, so I left the store empty-handed.

Since I had some time to kill before I went to work, I decided to go to a nearby Trader Joe's store and see what they had.  They did indeed have almond butter, but right next to it was a spread new to me--sunflower seed butter.

I like sunflower seeds (and Hubby Tony will try just about anything), so I changed my plans and bought it.

This morning I took a good look at the label.  The almond butter I usually buy has just one ingredient--almonds.  The sesame seed butter Nutritional Facts indicated it contained seeds, evaporated cane syrup, and salt.  No preservatives, though.  When I opened the jar there was some seperated oil on top.  I stirred it in with a knife, then  used my finger to scoop up a small sample.

The sunflower seed butter tasted just like sunflower seeds.  Imagine that!  I spread some on a piece of toast, sprinkled it with ground flax seed, and laid a quartered banana on top.  Even with all the other ingredients the sunflower seed taste came through.

Five years ago today: New Thing #160--More Than Coffee

Monday, June 17, 2013

It's Hard To See In The Rain

When I got off work this afternoon it was pouring. My car was parked on the top level of the parking garage; I only had to run about 50 feet to reach it, but by time I opened the door and got in I was drenched.  On the way home I listened to the radio, and heard that some areas had received two inches of rain in an hour. I had errands to do, but didn't relish getting in and out of the car in a deluge, so I decided to go straight home and venture out after dinner when (hopefully) the rain had lessened.

Sure enough, two hours later the rain had slowed to a heavy drizzle. I gathered my things and headed out to a strip mall that had two places I needed to go--the grocery store and the gym.  I parked close to the grocery, bought the two things I needed, then put my bag in the car and walked past three other storefronts to the gym.

When I left after my workout it was still raining. I trotted across the parking lot to my blue Honda CR-V and put my key in the door lock. It didn't work. I tried again with the same result. Feeling frustrated, I moved around to the passenger door. No luck there, either.

By this point I was really irritated. I looked at the things laying on the passenger seat. There was a set of Mapquest directions on top of the pile and realized this wasn't my car!  Thank goodness the owner didn't have an alarm set.  I sheepishly looked around and saw an identical blue CR-V parked four spots away. Not surprisingly, my key worked perfectly in its door.

Five years ago today: New Thing #158--Dark Eyes

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Life is Like a Cup of Coffee

On the third Sunday of each month at our church, the deacons give the homily.  Today Dan Donnelly
began his with this story:
A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor.  Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life. 
Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite. He told them to help themselves to the coffee.  When everyone had a cup of coffee, the professor said: 
"If you noticed, all the nice looking and expensive cups have been taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

“Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was the coffee, not the cup, but you subconsciously went for the best cups... and then you began eyeing each other's cups to see who had the best one. 
“Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee. Savor the coffee, not the cups!
"The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything."

Five years ago today: New Thing #157--Big Meal of the Day

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Mums The Word

Several years ago I rescued some potted mums from the sale rack at a big box hardware store.  I brought them home and planted them in the yard.  Only one survived, but it's come up every year since then.  I've divided it a couple of times, and now I get to admire the beautiful flowers in several locations.

Each spring I can count on the plants being one of the first to sprout. Soon they're tiny green bushes. Left to their own devices, in the fall they would put out a few flowers (half of which would sag because of the blooms' weight).  The drooping stems would leave an unattractive hole in the middle of the plant. After a couple of years of putting up with ugly plants I've learned how to prevent that.  I just have to pinch them back.

The process starts in the spring.  When the stems get about five inches tall I get out the pruning shears and cut half of them off.  I repeat the process every two weeks until the middle of July.  Cutting back the stems encourages lateral branches to develop. The buds develop at the ends of the branches, so by the time the plants bloom in fall they're a mass of short, sturdy stems loaded with flowers.

The task takes about five minutes each time I do it.  That's a small price to pay for the beautiful fall blossoms.

Five years ago today: New Thing #156--Birthday Bash

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


In the April/May 2013 issue of the AARP Magazine there was an article about David Murdock, who says that "anyone who wants to live past 100 can do it".  He thinks that healthy eating is the key.

Halfway through the article I learned that he consumes every bit of a fruit or vegetable--he eats celery leaves and cucumber skins, and throws banana peels and pineapple leaves into the blender for smoothies.

HOLD. THE. PHONE.   Banana peels?!?  Pineapple leaves?!?   Monkeys might eat the entire banana, but not people.

But I have to admit that after I read the article, every time I ate a banana the thought crossed my mind.  Yesterday I was making a smoothie for breakfast.  I poured yogurt into a container, added a large handful of greens on top, and grabbed a ripe banana from the rack on the counter.  On a whim I cut the banana's ends off, chunked it up skin and all and added it to the container, then used my stick blender to puree everything together.

My blender isn't powerful enough to pulverize everything; there were still green specks scattered throughout the drink, but no signs of banana peel.  I couldn't taste anything different, either. Twenty-four hours have now passed without any ill effects from my unusual smoothie add-in..  I don't think I'm ready to start consuming my banana peels on a regular basis, though, and I'll certainly be holding off on those pineapple leaves.  For now.

Five years ago today: New Thing #154--From Point A to Point B

Sunday, June 9, 2013

C. O. L.

This happens to me all the time:

If the cat is curled up on my lap and I need something that's not within arm distance, I'll ask someone to get it for me...then tell them the cat says thank you!

Five years ago today: New Thing #150--It's in the Stars

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Opening Excitement

I usually don't work at the mall Customer Service desk on Fridays, but there was a lot going on yesterday, and everyone was assigned a shift.  Mine was the opening.

There was a new store opening, which had been publicized in and outside the mall for several weeks. The new store was having some big giveaways, which brought out a crowd. When I arrived a half hour before the mall opened there were already several hundred people waiting in line. Once I opened the desk I wasn't able to leave, but one of the security guards told me the line had gotten MUCH longer by time the opening ceremonies started.

My area was almost directly beneath the new store. If I stood at the right spot and craned my neck at the right angle I could see it. There were large speakers outside the store pumping out music. Loudly. Instead of being at work, I almost felt like I was in a nightclub.

When the music was turned off to signal the start of the grand opening ceremonies the pumped-up crowd squealed and cheered. The ceremonies went on for almost 15 minutes--speeches by the store manager, a corporate person, and a politician. Then there was a countdown and the drape covering the store was pulled down; the store was open!

There were too many people to enter the store all at once, so the line stopped and started.  Every once in a while the crowd whooped, and I assume someone from the store was pumping them up again. It took about a half hour for everyone to get in. By noon I could see the people outside the store packing things up, with no sign outside the store of the excitement that had happened.

Five years ago today: New Thing #149--Puppy Eyes

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Slow But Sure

Last spring I dabbled with riding my bike for exercise.  Then summer hit (2012 was the fourth-hottest on record) and the bike stayed in the garage.  When the weather cooled off in the fall Hubby Tony and I were gearing up to walk a 10k race that took place at the end of September.  Fall was followed by winter, which overstayed its welcome; it seemed like spring would never come.  Then we went on vacation.

That's a long-winded way of saying I haven't biked for a long time!

It was time to change that.  For the last few days the weather's been open-the-windows nice; who knows how long that will last?  This morning after breakfast I got my trusty bicycle down from the hook in the garage, strapped my helmet on, and got ready to roll.

Since it's been a while since I've done any biking, today's plan was to stick to traffic-free subdivision streets. That plan worked pretty well, but close to the end of the ride I got distracted and missed a turn that led to a cut-through to another subdivision.  Too late, I realized I'd have to double back to the turn or ride for a half mile on a busy three-lane collector road with an uphill slope to get back home.  I didn't want to double back, so I decided to try the direct route.

My 10-year old bike has equally aged gears which have to think for a while before they make a change.   As I began peddling up the slope I shifted into a lower gear.  The gears growled, then thought, then moved.  Not enough, though.  I tried again.  This time the gears growled, then thought, then did what they were supposed to do, allowing me to make it up the incline without having to get off and walk the bike.

Five years ago today: New Thing #146--Chalk It Up

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Any Reason Will Do...

Two of my Facebook friends posted on their wall that today was Hug Your Cat Day. So I did.

Five years ago today: New Thing #145--Bittersweet

Monday, June 3, 2013


I was doing some blog maintenance the other day and stopped to read the About Me section which said, in part:
"Our three boys are all grown and out of the house."
Wait!  That can't be right.  I must have forgotten to update it after I told you that we had a child back in the house.  I searched through all the posts and discovered I HADN'T mentioned that Son Donald had moved back in.  Silly me!

Donald left home about five years ago.  His main roommate was a friend from elementary school, but others came and went.  Most recently he was renting a small house with two other people.  One of them  had previously moved out, which left Donald with one roommate. A few months later that roommate gave him a couple of weeks notice, then left too.  Donald was trying to juggle all the costs by himself, which wasn't working.

One Sunday Donald came for one of his normal dinner/hangouts and asked us if we'd mind having him back until he could regain his financial footing.  Hubby Tony and I asked him some questions, which led to a good discussion of rules/responsibilities (for all of us, not just Donald). A week later, he moved his things into one of the empty bedrooms and we had our new roomie.

Donald's been here for several months and so far it's been good.  I'm gone during the day; Donald works evenings, so other than Sundays (when we were seeing him anyway) I only connect with him once or twice a week.  Some days the only indication I have that another person is living here is when I open the refrigerator and see he's stocked his shelf with food, see his clothes hamper in the laundry room, or find his freshly-washed pile of dishes next to the sink. 

The cats especially like having him here.  Donald feeds them before he leaves for work, provides a lap to sit on during the day, and an additional bed to sleep on at night.

Five years ago today: New Thing #144--Tropical

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Predictably Unpredictable (Big Apple Chronicles-Day 7)

A spring vacation can be hard to pack for.  A couple of days before Hubby Tony and I left for New York City, the forecast showed daytime temperatures in the 70s, with a slight chance of rain the first couple of days.  I chose tops that could be layered: wrinkle-free t-shirts, a polyester button down shirt, a silk sweater, and a nice top for evening events.  To cover the bottom half of my body (in addition to the jeans I wore to the airport) I brought cropped jeans, khaki pants, black dress pants and one pair of shorts.  I also brought a travel rain jacket that folds into a pouch.

Our first day in New York was a perfect temperature, but we caught in a sudden heavy rain.  (The sun was shining when we left the hotel, so we didn't bring rain gear.)  After the rain the temperature dropped.  The next few days were in the high 50s and low 60s, with nighttime lows in the 40s.  Then it warmed up again.

The cool weather threw me for a loop.  In the morning I put on a clean t-shirt, then had to add my sweater on the way out of the hotel.  When I look at the photos, more than half of them show me wearing the same plain black pullover!

Getting ready to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge

Highlights of Vacation Day 7:
  • Ate breakfast in room
  • Went to McDonalds for coffee and Internet surfing
  • Packed suitcases
  • Checked out of hotel and had bags held at bellhop station
  • Took subway to Union Square.  
  • Walked around farmers market 
  • Rode subway to Harlem
  • Ate soul food for lunch at Sylvia’s Restaurant
  • Back to hotel to pick up bags
  • Took shuttle to airport
Five years ago today: New Thing #142--Can You Read This?