Friday, December 30, 2016

Words Of Wisdom For 2017

I've run across these suggestions in several different places over the past few weeks. After the third sighting I thought perhaps it wasn't a coincidence, and I'd better take them to heart.

So, now you know what I'll be focusing on in the new year.  What about you?  Do you have any goals for self-improvement?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


As I suspected, with all the out of town family at the house for Christmas the past week went by in a whirlwind of excitement.  Because of two-month old Grandbaby Jay we didn't do as many structured activities as we have in the past, but I cherished each chance I got to hold him close.

Slowly, the number of house guests has dwindled.  Brian, Nicole, and Jay left on Monday to drive to Columbia Missouri to visit with friends and family there.  (They'll be back sometime after New Year's Day for a short while before they depart for California.) This morning we took Son Tony and his friend Ie to the airport and watched them walk through the terminal door into the airport.

When I got back it was time to start tackling all the projects I let pile up while we had a houseful.  I waded through a backlog of emails and read a large collection of blog posts.  Washed bath towels and sheets.  Put away a pile of Christmas bags and boxes that didn't get put away in the first sweep a couple of days ago.  Then, most importantly, I bought a new dishwasher.

Sadly, the dishwasher that has been working inefficiently for the past few months conked out on Christmas Day--right as I was putting the finishing touches on dinner for 25 people.  The problem started with a small water leak, which quickly turned into a small flood.  I turned it off and stuffed beach towels under the door to sop up the mess. Later in the evening when I tried running the dishwasher again we smelled a burning odor coming from the interior.  Not a good sign.

Because the dishwasher was so dilapidated Tony and I didn't even consider repairing it.  This afternoon I went to the library for some Consumer Reports research, then came home and found out which local stores sold our target brand and model.  Tony and I drove to the store, talked to the salesperson, and fifteen minutes after we walked in we walked out with the purchase receipt.

A week from Friday the new dishwasher will be installed.  I can't wait.

Some of the presents for our family Rob Your Neighbor game on Christmas Day
Five years ago today: Draw Your Own Adventure

Thursday, December 22, 2016

All Will Be Complete

Son Donald finished his college finals and got home a week ago.  On Monday half of our out-of-town children arrived.  This morning the rest will be here.  Son Tony and his friend Ie woke up very early to get on a plane that arrives about 8:30 AM.  Hubby Tony will pick them up from the airport.  For the next five days it will be a good kind of crazy.

Our four bedroom house, which seems so large for just Tony and I, will be filled to the brim.  As a matter of fact, we don't have enough bed space, so one of the larger bedrooms (currently occupied by Donald) will have "maid service"...clean sheets, straightening, and an air mattress laid on the floor before Tony and Ie take up residence there.

I love having everyone here.  It's good to be able to interact with everyone in person, something that doesn't happen often enough. The refrigerator is stuffed to the brim with extra food.  The dishwasher will go into overdrive to keep up with the larger amount of cups and dishes.  There will be extra loads of laundry going (and it won't be mine to keep on top of!)

Five years ago today: (Not) The Shortest Day Of The Year!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Pile O' Packages

So far there are only a couple of boxes and bags under the Christmas tree, but that's OK; I know that in the next couple of days things will take care of themselves. Right now I'm more interested in this pile:

Baby supplies and presents?
This afternoon I'm picking up Son Brian, Daughter-In-Law Nicole, and Baby Jay at the airport. In between the baby supplies I've purchased and the packages Nicole has had delivered to the house there's quite a stack of things waiting for them in their bedroom.  I wonder how long it will take them to get through it all?

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Pitch The Prescription

Several weeks ago our cat Pepper had oral surgery. He came home from the vet with two medicines, one of which was for pain. This medicine was pre-measured in small syringes, and the directions said to apply the liquid to Pepper's gums twice a day. However, Pepper was having none of it.  I tried to reason with him that the medicine would make him feel better as I was yanking him out from under the bed, but after the first day I gave up and didn't administer it.

The bag laid on the kitchen countertop, where it eventually started to blend in.  However, yesterday I started cleaning the house for Christmas and decided I should get rid of it.  How, though?  A little research revealed I had a supply of buprenorphine, a synthetic opiate drug that's approximately 30 times more powerful at relieving pain than morphine.

Fortunately, my friend Google told me that the closest prescription drug drop off site was just a couple of miles from the house at my city's police station.  I called and found out the collection bin was in the lobby, which is open 24/7.  Today when Hubby Tony and I were out running errands we stopped at the station.  There was a large secure receptacle right inside the door.  I dropped the bag in, made sure it had fallen in all the way, and we left.  It's good to know that those drugs can't get into any wrong hands (or paws).

Friday, December 16, 2016

Not Again!

You may have heard about yet another Yahoo security breach, which was announced on Wednesday.  That's the type of email I use for blogging purposes, so even though I just changed my password back in September it's probably time to do it again.  On the radio yesterday they were talking about the website Have I Been Pawnd?, which lets you check to see if you have an account that has been compromised in a data breach.  I decided to check it out.

All you have to do is type in your email, hit the 'pawnd' button, and wait for the results.  I put in my Yahoo address and found out that although it was pwned on 1 breached site it was NOT through Yahoo.  Instead, back in 2013 the information (including the email address) was compromised through Adobe.  I also learned that there had been no 'pastes' of that data, which is where stolen data is published on a hacker website.

Now I was curious, and decided to perform the same test on a Hotmail address I use.  I learned that this address was breached through LinkedIn in May 2016, and Modern Business Solutions (a company that provides data storage and database hosting solutions) in October 2016.

I guess it's time to change ALL my passwords again.  OY!

Five years ago today: Can You Hear Me?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Good Hair Day

Today I had the opportunity to have my hair washed and styled at a fancy hair salon. I immediately agreed.
(I don't spend a lot of money or time on my hair and its upkeep.  I get cuts at chain salons where you don't need an appointment and can get in and out quickly.  Each morning I wash my hair when I shower, then (usually) use a little styling lotion before I comb through it, then (usually) come downstairs and get busy, forgetting all about my hair until it's dried. And then I wonder why it doesn't look good. Left to its own devices my hair is pretty frizzy, which has only gotten worse as more and more grey creeps in. The right side usually turns under nicely, but on the left there's a strange cowlick that makes the ends poof out.)
My salon appointment was for 10:00. When I walked up to the front desk one of the women standing there asked my name, then introduced herself as the stylist's assistant. She walked me back to a station, asked if I'd like a drink, and offered to hang up my coat. When she returned we went back to the shampoo area, where I received a first-class wash and scalp rub, followed by an application of conditioner and aromatherapy oil and an additional scalp massage. Everything got rinsed out, my hair was towel dried, and we walked back to the station where the stylist greeted me.

The stylist applied a hair primer and a strengthener, then used a big blow dryer to remove most of the moisture from my hair. Next she used a round brush to style everything. After the styling was completed she used three different hair sprays (one for shine, one for volume, and one to hold everything in place). At the end she handed me a mirror and asked what I thought.  My first thought was WOW! I barely recognized the sleek strands that framed my face. The stylist walked me to the front desk where I took care of the payment part. Before she left she thanked me for coming and and said she hoped I'd come back again.

For the rest of the day I did a double take every time I saw my reflection.  My hair looked so good I didn't want to waste it.  Instead of reheating of last night's leftovers I took Hubby Tony out for dinner at a nearby restaurant.  I have no desire to spend the money, time, and effort to recreate the hairstyle, so tomorrow it will go back to normal. It's nice to know that I could have good hair if I wanted to, though.

Sunday, December 11, 2016


Yesterday was a busy day at the mall. In addition to listening to an awesome tuba concert, Hubby Tony and I got a nice Virtual Reality demonstration.

As we walked by a large, clear-sided display in the mall's center court we were hailed by two people wearing Facebook shirts.  They asked us if we'd like to try out their new technology.  We agreed it might be fun.  After signing waivers, we were taken to separate stations in the display. My associate quickly told me about the headset and headphones I'd be wearing, pointed out the hand rails I could hold if needed, and suggested that I make sure to look in front of, above, and behind me.

I had to take off my glasses to wear the headset. There was a dial to adjust the screen, but it couldn't completely accommodate my bad eyesight; the pictures were all a little fuzzy. (I would think most people would be able to see things perfectly.) After I put the headset on, adjusted it to my face, and placed the headphones over my ears the associate asked what I saw in the screen. She seemed to be satisfied with the answer, because she told me to have fun.

And it WAS fun! For several minutes I was right behind a woman rowing a boat, next to a huge, friendly-looking dinosaur, in the room with an Asian family in traditional dress interacting over food, floating through a meteor shower in outer space, and in the middle of a basketball game. The graphics were so amazing that I was reaching out to touch things that weren't really there, which I'm sure was quite entertaining to the people walking by.

At the end of the demonstration I took off the equipment and took a short survey about my experience. On the way out of the display an associate handed me a large Facebook thumbs up magnet.

Five years ago today: Who's Got The Button?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Tubas Playing Christmas Carols

Today Hubby Tony and I hung out an area mall, where we heard dozens of tubas perform Christmas music in concert.

The local event is coordinated by the Tuba Christmas organization, which has been sponsoring concerts since 1974.  It's a big deal at the mall and people really look forward to it.  When I worked at the Customer Service desk people would start asking about the concert weeks in advance.

Tony and I nabbed a spot upstairs against the rail about fifteen minutes before the concert started.  While we waited we chatted with a nice couple who were standing next to us.  When the music began there was a large crowd gathered, and many more people gave the players a couple seconds of their time as they went down the escalator.  Some of the tubas were decked out with lights or Christmas decorations, and the musicians wore festive clothes or hats. 

Most of the songs were familiar carols, and on some we were invited to sing along.  The concert lasted more than an hour.  As Tony and I left we decided it had been a great way to spend part of an afternoon.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Walk And Work Out

Today I had three work assignments to complete.  The first one took longer than it should, because I had to wait around for fifteen minutes before I was assisted.  I was in and out of the second one in ten minutes.  Then I relied on Mapquest directions to get me to the third; the directions turned out to be inaccurate, and I drove almost five miles in the wrong direction before I realized the mistake.  Once I arrived at the location, though, everything went according to plan.

As I was driving home I realized I really wanted to get some fresh air and exercise.  The temperature was brisk, but doable with gloves and ear protection.  While I drove I tried to figure out where I wanted to go.  Eventually I realized that with only a slight detour I could hit a small county park just a couple of miles from my house.  I hadn't been there for many years, and it would be a nice change of pace from my usual walking places.

Ohlendorf West Park has been there since we moved to the area 30 years ago. It had a Metro (bus) park and ride lot, one athletic field, and green space.  Much of the green space was taken away several years ago when the county built an Emergency Communications Center, but I was betting there was still some type of walking trail.  When I pulled into the parking lot I saw a sidewalk and small playground over to the left.  I parked the car and walked north on the sidewalk, which paralleled the main street.  Several minutes later I reached a wood-chipped trail that turned off to the right through the trees, with an official sign indicating the trail was .81 miles long.  I decided to take it.

I wasn't too far down the path when I saw a large green metal structure.  A little farther down was another.  As a matter of fact, there were 11 of them in total.  Looking closer, I realized that each structure was a piece of exercise equipment!  When I got back to the start of the trail, I noticed a sign that indicated the stations I passed were part of a HealthBeat Outdoor Fitness System.  I didn't stop to use any of the machines, but looking at the title of each station I realized that if you did each of them you'd have a complete body workout.  (Something to remember for down the line.) 

I had the area completely to myself, except for a couple of squirrels and a deer I saw as its white rump disappeared into the trees. Eventually the trail split off into two directions, but it was a large loop that cut across an electrical line right of way before it went through more trees.  There were plenty of benches to sit on if you needed a break, but I thought it was too cold to stop.  When I made it back to the parking lot I was pleased to see I was almost at 5,000 steps--half of my goal for the day.

Five years ago today: It's Beginning To Sound A Lot Like Christmas

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Silver And Dollars

When I left the house today I had a long list of stops to make.  One of them was going to a local coin dealer and picking up two 1-ounce silver coins in commemorative "Welcome Baby" holders that Hubby Tony and I will gift to two newborns.  The coins are usually relatively cheap--you pay that day's price for silver plus a small surcharge, and the new parents seem to really appreciate them.

One of the two gifts

While I waited for the clerk to print out my receipt on the far side of the store I watched the man standing at the counter 12 feet to my right. He must have been selling something big, because his clerk walked away, came back with a stack of $100 bills, and started counting them out in a voice loud enough for me to hear. When the whole pile had been counted there were 52 bills!

The man was still standing there talking to the clerk when I walked out of the store.  I would have liked to see if all his money actually fit into his wallet (or if not, exactly how he was going to carry it).

Five years ago today: Skipping Christmas

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Dining Room For A Crowd

Last night Hubby Tony and I hosted a dinner for the members (and spouses) of a group he's involved in.  Including us, there were 17 people. We provided the drinks and main dish, and everyone else brought a side dish or a dessert.

A couple of weeks before the event Tony and I started talking about where everyone would sit.  With both leaves pulled out our dining room table comfortably seats 10, but we can squeeze 12 around it if we have to. For extended family dinners we move the long table so it's on a diagonal in the room and set up a card table in the corner. However, for this event not even that would be enough seats.

Using some creative thinking, Tony and I figured out that by moving the credenza around to an adjacent wall we could add an extra folding table at the far end of the room to make a T-shaped seating area. We borrowed a table and chairs from one of the people who would be attending the dinner.

I didn't want to spend a lot of money on decorating the tables, so I went with an eclectic look.  Both tablecloths were white, but two different patterns. I hit up multiple thrift stores to find napkins, deciding on a color scheme of blues, golds, and creams. At one of the stores I found a dark blue shower curtain which I turned into table runners. On top of the runners I set a mismatched collection of votive candle holders interspaced with small gold ball ornaments.

The result (minus the napkins, which I rolled around the silverware and set on the buffet table):

Five years ago today: Zen Litterbox

Thursday, December 1, 2016

I Won The Bagel Lottery

This morning I got an email from Panera with the subject line that got my attention:

Kathy, get a free bagel every day this month.

Alexander Klink via Wikimedia
I didn't need to read the body of the message to know what it said, because I already knew about the promotion (which is open to anyone who has a MyPanera card). DIL Nicole had been the lucky recipient of the same email in October, and when we were visiting late that month I walked with her to pick up her daily bagel several times.

I don't know how many days I'll remember to take advantage of the offer, but I started the month off right.  Today when I drove right by a Saint Louis Bread Company (the name for the chain in this area) my car smoothly turned into the strip mall parking lot and found a convenient parking space.  It was getting close to lunch time, but I didn't have to wait long to be served.  I chose my bagel, had it sliced in half and bagged, and was back out in my car in less than five minutes.

Come to think of it, it wouldn't be too much of a hassle to make sure I drive by a Bread Company tomorrow, too.  After that, we'll see.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Feline Oral Hygene

At Pepper the Cat's last vet visit the doctor said that his teeth needed some maintenance.  The first openings they had were this week, so we scheduled the procedure for today.

Cat dental work is done under general anesthesia.  The instructions are the same as for humans having a procedure done, including no food or drink after midnight.  Since it would be too hard to explain to Pepper why he wasn't getting his first meal today, last night after dinner Hubby Tony dropped him off at the vet's office.  This morning I kept looking around for him, then remembering he wasn't here.  Jackson Cat couldn't decide if he was concerned that his brother was gone, or happy that he didn't have to share the patches of sun.

I got a call from the vet about 11:30.  She told me that Pepper had two teeth that needed to be extracted and asked for my permission to do the work.  After I gave the OK, the vet said they'd complete the job, give the rest of the teeth a good cleaning, and call me when the job was done.  A little after 2:00 I learned that Pepper was recuperating nicely and we could pick him up any time after 4:00.

Tony stopped and got the cat on his way home from work.  He came into the house with the cat carrier in one hand.  In the other hand he had a bag holding pain medicine, an antibiotic, and a discharge instruction sheet.  Pepper looked pitiful.  He had one leg bandaged where the IV had been, and when Tony set him down he couldn't walk in a straight line.  It took him five minutes, but he managed to climb upstairs to his water bowl (but was unable to jump up on the counter to reach it). I put the bowl on the floor.  In addition to drinking out of the bowl, he also stood in it.  He was so funny that Tony and I spread a blanket on the bedroom floor and had a picnic dinner there while we watched.

Starting tomorrow, we have to give him the two medicines each day until they're gone.  Fortunately, both are liquid, which I find easier to administer.  For the next ten days Pepper will switch over to a canned food diet.  The sutures in his mouth will dissolve on his own.  At the bottom of the instructions the vet mentioned that Pepper could start a regular home tooth cleaning program in two weeks.  

He's never had that done; can you teach an old cat new tricks?

Five years ago today: You Can Count On It

Monday, November 28, 2016

Pretty Poinsettias

Around here, we like to deck the halls for Christmas in a leisurely manner. It usually gets done by the middle of December.  However, next Saturday night Hubby Tony and I are hosting dinner for the members of a group he's involved in.  We decided it would be a good idea to have the house looking festive for the event.

I put the lights on the deck before the weather turned cold.  On Thanksgiving Day I plugged them into the timer that turns them on at dusk and off six hours later.   Before Son Donald left to go back to college last night his dad pressed him into service to help with the outside lights (on Saturday) and the tree lights yesterday. Tony and I finished the rest of the tree, and did some of the house decorating before my back decided it was time to call it a day.

Today I tackled the rest of the job, removing the regular items in the family room and above the kitchen cabinets and replacing them with holiday decorations.  I was patting myself on the back for finishing until I saw the large plastic bag setting on the floor in the dining room.  The bag held the 20 silk poinsettia bushes (laying flat, flowers outward, with their stems covered with swaths of plaid material) that go on the plant shelf above the front door in our two story foyer. For the past few years Donald's taken care of the task. But Donald was gone, so the job fell back to me.

I carried the eight foot tall stepladder up from the basement and opened it next to the front door, then grabbed a handful of bushes, climbed up to the next-to-top step of the ladder, and laid the plants out on the shelf. I had to move the ladder multiple times, then repeat the process with the material.

To see if things were arranged correctly I had to climb up the steps to the second floor.  It took a couple of tries, but I finally got it right.
The result

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Leftover Reinvention

I knew several weeks ago that the extended family wouldn't be getting together for Thanksgiving.  Our Thanksgiving dinner ended up being four people--me, Hubby Tony, Son Donald, and a friend of Donald's from college that didn't have any relatives in the area.

Because I didn't have a large crowd to feed, I felt like I didn't have to cook a tradition-bound meal. Turkey was a given, but everything else was open to suggestions.  The Monday before Thanksgiving I asked everyone for one 'must have' dish.  On Thursday, in addition to turkey and gravy, we had mashed sweet potatoes, our family's time-honored cranberry jello salad, green bean casserole topped with french fried onions, roasted Brussels sprouts, and crusty bread.  Dessert was pumpkin-cranberry cookies and an apple crisp with vanilla ice cream. 

Donald put in a shift at the grocery he used to work at, and came home with more bread and some pastries, and his friend contributed some chocolate truffles.  All in all it was a great feast.

Of course I made enough food for leftovers.  When everything was put away the refrigerator was stuffed.  It didn't help that immediately after the turkey was carved I broke down the carcass and started a pot of broth, which when completed took up almost an entire shelf.  Yesterday and today I tasked everyone with eating out of the refrigerator. That's led to some interesting (but surprisingly good) meal combinations.  In the past 48 hours I've had:
  • A bed of mashed sweet potatoes topped with a fried egg
  • A spinach salad with turkey breast, mushrooms that needed to be used, leftover Brussels sprouts, and a spoonful of green bean casserole
  • Steamed butternut squash mixed with apple crisp
  • Shredded red cabbage cooked with onions, garlic, and a couple of spoonfuls of turkey gravy
After two days of dedicated refrigerator eating things are clearing out nicely.  Good thing; after tomorrow it will be just me and Tony in the house again. 

Five years ago today: Small Business Saturday

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Groaners

While You're Waiting For Dinner...
  • What kind of music did the Pilgrims like? Plymouth Rock
  • Why can't you take a turkey to church? They use fowl language.
  • What happened when the turkey got into a fight? He got the stuffing knocked out of him!
  • What do you get when you cross a turkey with a banjo? A turkey that can pluck itself!
  • Why did they let the turkey join the band? Because he had the drumsticks.
  • Which side of the turkey has the most feathers? The outside
  • Why did the police arrest the turkey? They suspected it of fowl play.
  • What did the turkey say before it was roasted? Boy! I'm stuffed!
  • What's the best dance to do on Thanksgiving? The Turkey Trot
  • What do you get when you cross a turkey with an octopus? Enough drumsticks for Thanksgiving
  • What do you call the age of a pilgrim? Pilgrimage.
  • If the pilgrims came on the Mayflower than what does the teacher come on? The scholar ships.
  • What would you get if you crossed a turkey with an evil spirit? A poultrygeist!
  • Who is not hungry at Thanksgiving? The turkey because he's already stuffed!
  • If you call a large turkey a gobbler what do you call a small one? Goblet.
  • What is a pumpkin's favorite sport? Squash
  • Asked to write a composition entitled, "What I'm thankful for on Thanksgiving," Little Johnny wrote, "I am thankful that I'm not a turkey.”

Five years ago today: 'Twas The Night Of Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Gift Of Not Giving A Thing

Tonight I picked Hubby Tony up from work so he could help me with a work assignment. As a reward, I treated him to dinner. While we were in the restaurant it started raining, so instead of going straight home we decided to go to the mall and walk.

While I was there I saw this wonderful poem in the window of Play Your Art Out studio. What a wonderful sentiment!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Killing Leaves

Today's view of the back yard from the garage:

There's a lot of fallen leaves there, don't you think?

Of course, I could rake them up, but I prefer to use the lawn mower to run over them, letting everything mulch into small pieces.  Easier for me, better for the yard.  And, very satisfying to see clear strips of the yard where I've been.

Five years ago today: Candlelighting

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas

You may remember that this week I'm avoiding all grain products.  Much to my surprise, the project is going well.  I'm surprised how full and satisfied I am, but it's been a challenge to change my thinking about what to put on the table for each meal.  For dinner tonight, I made a Guy Fieri recipe for Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas.  In order to have leftovers I doubled the recipe, but because I freeze my beans in three cup batches my version was heavier on the chickpeas than the original. 

The dish was SO good! I only used a quarter of the oil that Guy called for (and substituted bean liquid for the rest), but next time I think I could even get away with no oil at all.  At dinner time, I realized the dish was dying for a bit of creaminess, so I added a dollop of yogurt (which wasn't part of the diet plan, but sometimes you just gotta splurge).

Finished product

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

It's A Real Challenge

On November 1st I started a virtual three week Nutrition and Fitness challenge (that has the cute name of the Pre-Turkey Trim Down Challenge).  It's moderated by a young woman who is also a personal trainer.  Each week she posts a series of diet goals and exercises to a private Facebook group, and provides background information to help us meet our goals.

Since I was out of town four out of the first seven days of the first week, this probably wasn't the best time to tackle something like this.  I got off on the wrong foot with the exercise challenges, but have managed to get somewhat on track.  The diet goals have gone better.  Mainly because I already eat pretty clean.

The first week's diet goal was easy, and had three parts.  I had to figure out how many calories I should be consuming per day, and figure out how to track them. I was supposed to eliminate fast food (which I only eat once or twice a month anyway), and eliminate caloric drinks (which I gave up years ago)

The second week eliminated diet sodas and flavored waters.  (I only rarely drink either of them). I also had to give up processed snacks--including dried fruit (my daily handful of raisins had to go), fried foods (which I only have when I eat out, and then not every time), and white carbs--including milk and yogurt (plain lowfat yogurt is one of my regular breakfast items).  I was to substitute whole wheat bread, brown rice, vegetables and fruits for the excluded items.

This week the elimination list included the remaining milk based products, all grains and all pre-made condiments.  

Say what?!? This could be a challenge.

The diet that I've followed for several years includes six carefully chosen servings of complex carbohydrates each day...brown rice, barley, homemade whole grain muffins, or other quality whole grain bakery items.  I learned about the newest diet restrictions over the weekend, and they took effect today. Good thing I had some lead time, because it gave me time to process things.

I'm proud to say that I made it through the first day without my beloved grains.  For breakfast I made a smoothie with banana, spinach, cocoa powder, and flax seed.  It felt strange to not set a muffin on the table, too, but I got over it.  My lunch always includes raw vegetables.  Today I increased the amount, added a serving of beans, and munched on an apple for dessert.  My afternoon snack was a carefully-measured portion of almonds.  For dinner I made an oven fritatta with roasted butternut squash, and followed that up with a serving with a handful of grapes.

One day down, six more to go. Think I can do it?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Good Luck And A Lush Lawn

It's been quite the amphibian party around our house lately.

At the beginning of October I found a frog in the compost bin. A couple of weeks later there was one in a plant I was repotting.  Last night Hubby Tony stopped to pick up what he thought was a rock on the kitchen floor.  The rock came to life and hopped away.  We had another small frog!  It tried to hide in the pantry, but Tony captured it in a plastic cup and tossed it outside.  The last we saw of the frog it was hanging on to one of the holly bushes next to the front porch. This time we did not get a photo.

What could all the frogs mean?  I turned to the National Wildlife Federation's blog, which said:
"Frogs have been a symbol of prosperity, wealth, friendship and abundance in many cultures and a symbol of fertility in others. For the Romans, the frog was a mascot believed to bring good luck to one’s home. The native Aborigines of Australia believed that frogs brought the thunder and rain, to help the plants to grow."
So, since my fertility days are over, I assume we're going to be rich, with good luck, many friends, and a lush lawn. 

Five years ago today: For Cat Lovers...

Friday, November 11, 2016

Display Anew

When I came down to the kitchen Wednesday morning, I noticed that the monitor on our main computer was displaying nothing but a blank white screen. After a moment of panic I had breakfast and a cup of coffee, then started researching the issue. It didn't take me long to realize that my old, hand-me-down monitor was probably toast, and mentally changed my plans for the day to put 'buy a new monitor' at the top of the list.

My first To Do of the day was a chiropractor appointment. While I was getting adjusted I laid out my monitor woes. The chiropractor suggested I check at a small independent computer store, where their office buys all their peripherals. The store was located in a strip mall a couple of miles to the west, so after I had my session on the traction table (in my opinion, the best part of the chiropractor visit) I headed towards the store he recommended.

When I got there the door was locked and the lights were turned off. I was disappointed, because according to the business hours posted on the door there should have been someone there. However, I remembered another small computer store not too far away that had done some repair work for Hubby Tony.  I decided to go there and see if they could help me. If I came up short there, too, at least I was almost all of the way to Best Buy.

At Store #2 I talked to a friendly woman who showed me their selection of refurbished monitors, all priced at $79.99. She explained they came with a 30 day warranty, so I chose the one that was closest to me and asked her to ring it up. Ten minutes later I was walking out the door carrying my new monitor. When I got home it only took me twenty minutes to hook it up to the kitchen computer and I was back in business.

Five years ago today: Eleven Eleven Eleven

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I Voted Today!

Is there anyone who doesn't know that here in the United States we're having an election today?

The marquee races were for President and Vice President, but in my area there were also many others. On the national level we were electing a U.S Senator and Representative. At the state level candidates were vying for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, State Senator, and State Representative.  On top of that, there were also seven amendments and propositions, and 13 retention votes for judges of various levels.  Some municipalities and school districts also had additional issues.

For each election, Hubby Tony and I get a notification mailed to the house about a week ahead of time.  Usually the information comes on a simple post card. This time it was the outside page of a sample ballot, which was really helpful.  Ballot in hand, I went to the League of Women Voters website, researched the candidates and issues, and marked my sample with my choices. That made it faster when I was in the booth.

I got to our polling place (the local high school) a little after 9 this morning.  Usually its parking lots are filled up with teacher and student cars, and I wondered how they'd handle all the extra voter vehicles. There were plenty of spaces, because the district had cancelled classes for the day.  There were about a dozen people ahead of me in line, but they had a lot of stations available and the whole process only took me 15 minutes.

There were two options for voting: touch screen or paper ballot The touch screen line was longer, so I chose paper. After I got my ballot I filled in the little circles with a black pen, then carried it over to an optical scanner and fed it into the slot. On the way out I got a sticker.  As I ran my errands today it was interesting to see how many other people were advertising the fact that they had cast ballots, too.

Five years ago today: Reteaching Loveliness

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Talking Cuckoo Clock

Yet another funny from a friend:
A woman got invited out for a night with the girls. She promised her husband that she would be home by midnight. Well, the hours passed and the wine went down way too easy. Around 3:00 AM she finally headed for home.

Just as the woman got in the door, the cuckoo clock in the hall started and cuckooed three times. Quickly realizing her husband would probably wake up, she cuckooed another nine times before coming to bed. Everything seemed fine. The next morning, when the husband asked what time she got in, she said, "Midnight."

The husband simply shrugged and said, "We need a new cuckoo clock."

"Why?" the woman asked.

"Well, last night the clock cuckooed three times, then said, 'Oh shit'. It cuckooed four more times, farted, cuckooed another three times, cleared its throat, cuckooed twice more, giggled, and then tripped over the coffee table."

Friday, November 4, 2016

Leaving Home, Coming Home, And Leaving Home Again

Wednesday I arrived home from a trip to the San Francisco Bay area of California.  Today I'm leaving home again, this time for a weekend meeting halfway across the state at the Lake of the Ozarks.

The transition from one jaunt to the other isn't as seamless as it should have been, and it's all an airline's fault.  Shortly after Hubby Tony and I got to the airport Wednesday morning we found out that, because of a mechanical issue, our flight was going to take off two hours late.  What should have been a mid-afternoon arrival back into St. Louis didn't happen until after 5:00.  By time we took the shuttle to the parking lot, retrieved the car, and drove home in traffic it was almost dark.  I was hungry and jet lagged.  The nice meal I thought I was going to have time to cook turned into pork burgers and beans, which gave me indigestion.  Then, for the rest of the evening every task I worked on took twice as long as it should have.

Yesterday I was moving slowly, but I kept plugging along because there was so much to commitments, grocery shopping, and tasks around the house.  I tried to take the easy way out whenever possible.  For example, instead of unpacking my suitcase, I left it on the floor of my bedroom and restocked it with the freshly washed vacation clothes I took out of the dryer.

Sunday night I'll worry about putting everything away in the correct place. Then work on recovering all over again.

Five years ago today: Jumbo!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

I Have A New Crush

Hubby Tony and I just got back from a magical week in California getting acquainted with this guy:

Unlike our other trips to the area, this time we didn't do any big sightseeing or go on any adventures.  We didn't need to...this time was the best trip ever.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights hast thirty one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,

(Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I)

Five years ago today: Trick Or Treat... Smell My Feet...

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Starbucks Has No Coffee

Hubby Tony and were out running errands and decided we needed a mid-afternoon jolt of caffeine. We knew that a nearby Target store had a Starbucks cafe inside, and my Starbucks card Was loaded with plenty of money, so we popped in to get a cup to share. There were five people ahead of us in line, and I had to use the bathroom, so I gave my card to Tony and went to take care of business.

When I came back he was still waiting with two people ahead of him. (There was only one barista visible and she was doing it all.) We waited patiently until it was our turn, then asked for a Grande black coffee. The barista smiled, then with an apologetic tone to her voice she explained she couldn't help us; their coffee machine was out of order.

Five years ago today: WHAT?

Friday, October 28, 2016

Fajitas For Two

The other day Hubby Tony and I went to a new-to-us Mexican restaurant. After looking over the menu, we decided to order the Veggie Fajitas for Two.  It took less than ten minutes for the waiter to return with this:

In addition to the humongous platter of grilled vegetables, we each received a plate holding rice, beans, and a small salad of lettuce and  chopped tomatoes topped with guacamole, and a package of foil-wrapped tortillas. Tony and I are both big vegetable eaters, but even we couldn't finish everything.

Needless to say, we passed on dessert.

Five years ago today: Gathering Ginger

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Froggy In A Flowerpot

Today was Bring in the Houseplants Day here at the house.

Every spring I take my plants outside and let them enjoy the summer. They're all indigenous to tropical areas, so they grow well in our hot, humid temperatures.  However, that means that before the first frost I have to get them back inside.  The pots are large, and it's a messy job to soak everything (15 minutes per pot) in a sinkful of mildly soapy water to remove any potential bugs, and even messier when I transfer the pots to a pan to drain.  Then I have to find spots for all of the plants, taking into account which ones the cats like to munch on. After everything is put away the countertop and floor are a sloppy combination of water puddles and plant debris.

Plants lined up after soaking and draining
When I repotted the spider plants last spring I divided the plants among three baskets.  I only have hooks for two of them, so I decided to offer the third as a raffle prize at an event I'm going to next weekend. As I picked that one up from its draining location I noticed the pot was cracked on the bottom. Fortunately, I had an extra pot so it was easy to fix.

Spider plants don't produce babies until the pots are root bound, so I knew what I was in for.  When I dumped the plant out I noticed the roots had completely encircled the piece of plastic that covered the bottom drain holes.  I started pulling away the plastic, and this guy fell out:

Does he get around or what?

The frog wasn't moving too fast. I'm not sure if it was from the shock of being discovered, the chilly weather, or from his 15-minute soak in the sink.  I felt bad for disturbing his hiding place, so after I finished repotting the plant I encouraged him to hop into a cup, put another cup on top, and moved him to a big planter box of pansies on the front porch.  When I checked ten minutes later he was gone.

Wonder if I'll see any more frogs this season?

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pumpkin Juice

This afternoon, I came inside from doing yard work and poured myself a big glass of pumpkin juice.  Not the Harry Potter kind,  but the actual juice of a pumpkin.  It was quite tasty.

The backstory: On Thursday I made a batch of pumpkin puree.  I like my puree thick, so when it was done I dumped it into a coffee-filter lined colander to drain for several hours. I poured the resulting six cups of liquid into three containers. Two containers went into the downstairs freezer to use for cooking. I got busy and put the last one in the refrigerator, telling myself I'd get around to taking it down later.

Now that I finished off the container I don't have to worry about it.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Finding An Easier Way

Sometimes I figure out ways to make things around the house easier. Two recent examples:
  • In the spring and fall I open up a bedroom window in the front of the house and climb out onto the porch roof to clean out the gutters. When I'm done I climb back inside, then repeat the process using the master bathroom window to reach another gutter on the north side of the house. A couple of weeks ago I realized all I had to do is walk on the roof to the north end of the porch, walk over the gable, and then I'm on the back section.  (We've lived in our house for 25 years. I can't believe this hasn't occurred to me before now.)
Down the roof and over the gable
  • The early part of this week was record-setting hot (upper 80s Fahrenheit).  However, a cold front came through and today there was a nice nip in the air.  To celebrate the change I decided to buy a pumpkin, cook it, and process it into puree.  While I was out running errands today I picked up one that weighed approximately 15 pounds.  Back at the house I cut the pumpkin into quarters, removed the seeds, placed the pieces into a large roasting pan, and put the pan into the oven.  While the pumpkin cooked I started a pot of broth from the vegetable peelings in the freezer, then busied myself with paperwork.  Both items were done cooking at the same time.  I took the pan of pumpkin out of the oven and set it on the stove to cool, then poured the cooked broth into a colander placed inside a large bowl to strain. 
At this point the kitchen was looking pretty messy.  I usually puree pumpkin with the food processor, but I did not want to add to the mess nor wash up the multiple processor pieces in addition to everything else.  So, thinking creatively, when I took the rind off the pumpkin I tossed the pieces of flesh in the stock pot, then used my immersion blender to get it smooth.  There was a lot of pumpkin to puree, so I probably didn't save much time, but the easier clean up was so worth it.
Five years ago today: Apple-On-A-Stick

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Berry's Birthday

I get daily tidbits of St Louis history delivered to my Facebook wall from Vintage St. Louis.  Although I suspect many of them are interesting only to people from the area, others (like this one) have a wider audience:
"1926-Charles Edward Anderson “Chuck” Berry was born. His family lived on Goode Street, which is one reason his autobiographical song was called "Johnny B. Goode." Goode Street is now known as Annie Malone Drive. Berry learned to play guitar while attending Sumner High School. After serving time for armed robbery, he worked at the Fisher Body Plant and trained as a hairdresser at the Poro Beauty School before scoring his first hit with "Maybelline" in 1955. In 1986, Berry was among the first performers to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."
Of course Chuck Berry has recorded many iconic songs, but in honor of his 90 birthday, here's the only one to become a number-one single on the U.S. pop charts.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Yea! House Guests!

Sons Donald and Tony came into town last weekend for their cousin's wedding. Although Donald left the day after the wedding, one of Tony's friends was getting married yesterday and Tony decided to stay here for the week in between. His friend Ie, who had never been to St. Louis, accompanied him.

Although both Tony and Ie had to log into the office and do some work during the week, we also had time to play tour guide.  As a family we hit a few of the top city attractions, like the Gateway Arch, the Zoo in Forest Park, and Laumeier Sculpture Park.  Tony also took her in the car to show her other areas.  As the week wore on, their spare time was taken up with Tony's friends and wedding activities, but we still managed watch a few movies and play games. 

As you might expect, we've also done a lot of eating, including a lot of St Louis cuisine like toasted ravioli (breaded and deep fried), St. Louis style pizza (which has a very thin crust, Provel cheese, and is cut into squares), barbecued pork steaks (sliced from the butt) with Maull's sauce (an important ingredient in St. Louis style barbecue), and gooey butter cake (flat, dense, and dusted with powdered sugar).

All too soon the week was over. This morning Tony and Ie packed up their things and one of Tony's friends came to take them out to lunch and to the airport.  The house is quiet again, and I'm already looking forward to their next time we get to host someone.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Browsing The Browsers

Do you check your blog statistics?

I admit I probably don't do it as often as I should, but the other day I stopped by the Blogger Overview page before I a started a new post. There were some interesting traffic sources and I clicked over onto the detail page, which breaks out page views by country, operating systems, and browsers.

I wasn't surprised to see that the vast majority of my readers come from the United States, but a large handful of people in Spain also stopped by for a visit.  Russia, Canada, France China, Germany, Vietnam, and Australia also dropped in.

All the big operating systems were represented, but I saw that most of the readers here tend to use Windows (63%), followed by Macintosh (14%), Linux, Android, iPad, iPhone, and Unix each had six percent or less.

The biggest surprise was the variety of browsers, including a couple I had never heard of.  Remember when Internet Explorer was the only thing going?  Now, at 8% it matched Safari use, but was behind Chrome (41%) and Firefox (31%) in popularity.   Bringing up the rear with 2% or less each were Mobile, Maxthon, Opera, and Silk.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

This Happened The Other Day....

Baby Jay (AKA the world's cutest grandbaby) arrived last weekend. Hubby Tony and I are, of course, thrilled (and have plane tickets to visit him in California soon)!

Five years ago today: Withdraw

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Efficient And Easy

A while back Hubby Tony's iPhone began charging slowly, and after a couple of days stopped charging completely. He was getting ready to call the Apple store and set up an appointment to have the phone looked at, but I told him I'd see what the Internet said about the problem first before he took it in.

It turns out the issue was a very easy fix. All it took was a toothpick.

Charging port
My inspiration was the CNET article Use a toothpick to clean out your iPhone.  It suggested that when you carry your phone around in your pocket (like Tony does) lint can get stuck in the port, building up so the charger can't make good contact.  The cleaning steps were easy:
  • Back up the phone
  • Turn it off and use a normal toothpick to gently remove any debris inside the port 
  • Turn the phone back on, connect the charger, and see if it works
  • If it doesn't, use a can of compressed air and repeat the process
When I first started moving the toothpick around in the slot, nothing came out.  I kept at it, though, and eventually removed the equivalent of a large pinch of dust.  Tony connected the charger, and it worked like a charm.  Problem solved.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

What A Deal!

Two weeks ago I spent some money at Macy's and was rewarded with a gift card containing forty dollars worth of Macy's Money. The card had to be redeemed within seven days, so later in the week I made another trip back to the mall, looking to find a dress for my niece's wedding.

At the store I wandered through the dress department, picking out things that struck me (and would go with a pair of black sandals I already had in the closet). After I'd gathered an armful of items I headed to the dressing room, where I tried everything on and chose the dress that fit the best. When I looked at its price tag I was amazed to find out the dress was heavily discounted and on sale for eighteen dollars!  It was sleeveless, but I knew I had a black pashmina in the closet to cover my shoulders if I needed to.

After I purchased the dress I had about half of my original gift card amount. I headed for the jewelry department to find a pair of earrings to go with the dress. There was nothing that matched the blue of the dress, but I did find a statement bracelet for fifteen dollars.  As a bonus, it had little rhinestones that would coordinate with earrings I already had.

Even after making both purchases I still had a few dollars left on the card. I wasn't going to leave without spending all my money, so I found a casual shirt for the balance and ten dollars of my own money.

What I bought and what I had

Five years ago today: Nature is the Art of God--Sir Thomas Browne

Friday, October 7, 2016

This Gives New Meaning To The Pose 'Cat And Cow'

I'm a big fan of Tenth Life Cat Rescue.  One of their outreach programs is a monthly fundraiser called Cats & Mats Yoga Night.  Last night I was there.

Tenth Life is located in a converted storefront in South St. Louis. The instructions said we could show up 30 minutes before the class started to claim a spot on the floor and hang out with the cats.  When I arrived at 5:32 I rang the bell (they have the door locked so the cats don't accidentally escape) and waited for someone to let me in.  That took a minute, because first some cats had to be shoo'd away.

A couple of other women had arrived before me and were already trying to get some quality cat time.  I learned that although there can be as many as 15 cats and kittens there at a time right now there were only five. A couple of them were completely oblivious to all the commotion, but others were more interested. 

In many ways this was just like any other yoga class.  We warmed up, stretched every part of our bodies, and ended with savasana.  However, the cats wandering around gave this class a very unique touch. At the beginning, the instructor mentioned we could take photos as long as we could reach over to our phone without hurting ourselves or a cat.  Every once in a while during the class someone would snicker, a sign that one of the cats was doing something cute. 

All  too soon the hour ended.  Everyone rolled up their mats and got ready to leave, but I noticed I wasn't the only one who tried to get one last bit of cat attention before I headed out the door.

Five years ago today: Mobility Tour

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Frog Leap

For the past three weeks I've been trying to get around to some compost bin maintenance. Because of the weight of the material inside the plastic bin the sliding panel at the bottom is starting to come off; I need to scoop out some of the decayed humus to spread on the flower beds.  However, up until a week ago it was still hot and I didn't feel like getting all sweaty doing the job.  Then, it cooled off but the heat was replaced with rain and gloom. Yesterday was nice, but I spent the whole day working. 

Today I finally got around to the job.  After lunch I changed into old clothes and headed to the back yard, stopping in the garage to pick up the compost fork and shovels.

The bin
Our plastic compost bin is three feet tall and a little less than two feet long on each side.  Right now it's approximately 2/3 full of fruit and vegetable remains, coffee grounds, and yard debris. As you might imagine, the bin is a haven for worms and other decomposers. 

When I opened the lid there was a large grey blob on the rim I hadn't seen before.

This is where the blob was
Then the blob moved and jumped right at me!  I let out a small shriek and jumped back.  The blob landed on the rocks next to the bin where I could take a good look at it.  I discovered it was a small frog.

Froggy Friend
I guess the frog was as startled as I was, because it sat on the rocks without moving while I pulled out my phone and took photos.  Then, since I was afraid I'd step on it while I was working, I shoo'd it over into the day lilies next to the bin.  When I started digging in the bin I realized the compost was too wet to work with, but I turned it with the spade and put the lid back on, propping it open with a stick so it would dry out.

After dinner I went to throw some more items in the bin.  There was a rustle, and I noticed the frog was still perched on the leaf of a day lily plant.  I wonder if it's strategizing its return inside.

Five years ago today: Songful

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Want Some Carbs With Those Carbs?

Hubby Tony and I were part of the planning team for a retreat that took place this weekend in Illinois, just on the other side of the Mississippi River.  The retreat program and subsequent cleanup was done a little before noon.  As we drove away I asked Tony if he wanted to stop for lunch at a good Chinese carry-out place we've discovered, which is located in a strip mall just down the road from the retreat center.  He agreed.

In my experience, Chinese carry-out places always have a lunch special, consisting of a smaller portion of an entree and usually includes some type of appetizer and/or soup.  This one was no different.  Their lunch selection was larger than some I've seen, consisting of about three dozen items.  The menu stated that each meal came with white or fried rice and either an egg roll, Crab Rangoon, or a bowl of soup.

Tony ordered Sauteed Mixed Vegetables. The woman taking his order asked him about the accompaniments and he said he wanted white rice and hot and sour soup. I asked for Beef Lo Mein and the same soup.  We picked out a table in the dining area and waited for the food to arrive. 

When the waitress set the container of Lo Mein in front of me, I was impressed at the amount of noodles it contained.  I dug into it with my fork, and was surprised to find out that the healthy serving of noodles were actually served on top of a bed of fried rice (as the menu promised)!

I finished the soup, ate half of the starchy food, and put a lid on the rest to bring it home.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Peppermint Patty In A Cup

According to Checkiday, there are 11 different holidays you could celebrate today.   However, the one that got all the press around here is National Coffee Day.

The news stories that I read or heard said that both Krispy Kreme and Dunkin' Donuts had some type of deal on a cup of coffee, several local coffee shops also had promotions, and Starbucks was donating a coffee tree for every cup of Mexico Chiapas coffee it sold. 

Although the idea of a free or cheap drink was appealing, I decided to pass on the inevitable lines in those stores and commemorate the day in my own way.  After dinner I mixed cocoa, milk powder, peppermint extract, and a little sugar in a mug and poured hot decaf coffee over it. The resulting brew tasted like a peppermint patty in a cup

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Price Of Service Was Twenty Dollars

Last Saturday Hubby Tony and I got a series of text from Son Donald telling us know he was going to a career fair on campus Tuesday and a networking dinner Wednesday.  The texts went on to say that he was trying to figure out how to get the needed clothes for both events.  His college town doesn't have much in the way of shopping options for suits and business casual clothes, so I suggested he come home for a shopping trip.

We didn't hear anything more until Sunday at noon, when we got a text telling us he was on the way.  Two hours later when Donald walked into the house he said hello to us and sought out the cats for some pets.  We chatted for a couple of minutes, then piled in the car.  I can't remember ever shopping for clothes as a family before, but time was short (a lot of the stores closed at 6 PM) and we needed to get a lot done quickly. 

Our first stop was Kohl's, where you can always find something on sale and Tony had an 'extra 30% off' coupon.  With his event just a couple of days away (and no time to get things tailored), the only option for Donald was suit separates.  Donald started trying on coats with his dad's help while I browsed through the racks for the other pieces. Several trips to the dressing room later Donald had found everything but the suit. Part of the problem was that there was no one on the sales floor to answer questions. I suggested we go to the mall.

We started at J. C. Penney.  Tony purchased his last suit there, and the service and selection had been pretty good.  Not this time.  They had plenty of suit coats and plenty of pants but Donald couldn't find two matching pieces in his size.  The store was busy and all the associates were checking out customers, so there was no one that could assist us.  We headed to Macy's at the opposite end of the mall. There Donald found a sales associate who actually knew what he was talking about. The associate took some measurements, then helped Donald find the perfect pieces.

I figured something from a fancy department store men's suit department would come with a fancy price. I was wrong. The suit ended up costing $20 more than it would have at either of the other two stores.  And we got a "Macy's Money" card that I can use as a nice down payment on a dress for a wedding I'm going to next weekend.

Five years ago today: Mall Walking With A Twist

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Defenders Of The Door

I was going to go into the master bathroom to brush my teeth, but then I discovered there were two cats guarding the door into the bedroom.  I decided to come back later.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Password Pain

You may have heard that as many as 500 million Yahoo accounts had their security breached. According to the company, the stolen information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, and some security questions and answers.

Because I have a Yahoo email account, today I changed the password. That involved coming up with a new strong randomized phrase that I will be able to remember. Then, because I have multiple email accounts, when I change one of them I change them all. (Each account has a similar, but different password to help me keep everything straight.)  Then, in addition to the email sites themselves, there's the additional websites that are tied into one of the email accounts and need to have their passwords updated, too. 

In the end I updated my password in five different places. When you also count the cell phone and tablet apps, I did it a total of fifteen times. The good news is that after entering new passwords so many times I've committed them to memory.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

World Gratitude Day

I recently learned that today is World Gratitude Day, which has been observed on September 21st every year since 1977.

Coincidentally, Hubby Tony and I are preparing to give a talk on gratitude at a retreat we're attending at the end of the month. In rooting around the internet for inspiration a couple of weeks ago, I found a list at Tiny Buddha called 50 Ways to Show Gratitude for the People in Your Life. In honor of the day, I'm sharing it with you.

50 Ways to Show Gratitude for the People in Your Life

Show Gratitude to People Who Love You
1. Share a specific example of something they did for you and how it made a difference in your life.

2. Do something little but thoughtful for them—like clean up after Thanksgiving dinner!

3. Give a long, intimate hug; or if you know they don’t like hugs, stick out your hand for a handshake to cater to their preferences and make them smile.

4. Tell them you’re there if they have anything they want to talk about—and let them know they have your full attention.

5. Give them something of yours that you think they would enjoy, and let them know specifically why you want them to have it.

6. Invite them to do something you know they’ve always wanted to do.

7. Encourage them to try something you know they want to try, but haven’t yet because they’re scared.

8. Offer to do something you know they don’t enjoy doing, like organizing their closet or mowing their lawn.

9. Compliment them on a talent, skill, or strength that you admire.

10. Look them straight in the eyes and say, “You make the world a better place.”
Show Gratitude to People Who Challenge You

11. Fully listen to what they have to say, instead of forming your rebuttal in your head and waiting to speak.

12. Thank them for introducing you to a new way to look at things, even if you still don’t agree.

13. Pinpoint something you admire about their commitment to their beliefs—even if you don’t hold them, as well.

14. Resist the urge to tell them they’re wrong.

15. Challenge them right back to be the best they can be, with love and positive intentions.

16. If they inspired you to push outside your comfort zone, thank them for inspiring you to take a risk, and let them know how it paid off.

17. Write a blog post about how they helped you see things differently and dedicate it to them.

18. Use the lesson this person teaches you through your interactions, whether it’s patience, compassion, or courage.

19. Introduce them to someone who may challenge them and help them grow, as they’ve done for you.

20. Let them know how you appreciate when they challenge you in a loving, non-confrontational way—and if they don’t do that, be calm and kind when you ask them to do that going forward.
Show Gratitude to People Who Serve You
21. Give a larger tip than usual.

22. If they have a tip jar, include a thoughtful note of appreciation along with your coins or bills.

23. Smile when you order or enlist their assistance. Smiles are contagious, so give one away!

24. If they serve you regularly, acknowledge something they always do well—like work efficiently or stay calm under pressure.

25. Exhibit patience, even if you’re in a hurry.

26. Let their superior know they do an outstanding job.

27. Keep their workplace clean—for example, at a coffee shop, clean up after yourself at the sugar stand.

28. Offer to get a coffee for them, if it’s someone working in or outside your home.

29. If you have their contact information, send an email of appreciation—and let them know you just wanted to express your gratitude, so they don’t need to write back.

30. Praise them in a review on Yelp and/or recommend them to people you know.
Show Gratitude to People Who Work with You
31. Write a hand-written thank you note, acknowledging things you value about them and their work.

32. Offer to lighten their workload in some way if you are able.

33. Bring back lunch for them if you know they’re working hard and likely haven’t had a chance to grab something.

34. If you’re running a meeting, keep it short to show them you appreciate and respect their time.

35. Ask them about their lives instead of always being all business. This doesn’t mean you need to pry into personal matters; it just means showing an interest in who they are as people.

36. Be the calm, light voice in a stressful situation.

37. Give them flowers to brighten their desk.

38. Let their boss know how they’re doing a great job and contributing to the company.

39. Listen fully if they’re having a difficult day, and recognize if they need space to figure things out on their own, not advice or help.

40. Remember the little things can make a big difference!
Show Gratitude for Yourself
41. Make a list of ways you’ve impressed yourself lately.

42. Treat yourself to something you enjoy, like a pedicure or a massage.

43. If someone compliments you, thank them and let them know you’re proud of that skill, talent, or accomplishment.

44. Compliment yourself—say it while looking in the mirror, write it in a journal, or jot it on a sticky note and put it on your refrigerator.

45. Give yourself time to enjoy a passion you’re sometimes too busy to fit in.

46. Take an inventory of all the good things you’ve done for other people and the world.

47. Write yourself a love letter. Seriously, start with “Dear Lori” (but insert your own name) and describe all the things you admire about yourself.

48. Let go of any conditions you have for being kind to yourself—meaning you appreciate even if you didn’t accomplish or do anything specific.

49. Schedule a date with yourself—an afternoon or evening that’s all about you.

50. Share the beauty that is you with the people around you, knowing they’re fortunate to have you in their lives.