Saturday, July 30, 2016

When Does "Done" Mean Done?

The carpenter finished up the last of the hall bathroom work on Thursday, and I wrote the contractor a check.  When Hubby Tony got home he 'christened' the room.  That night Son Donald went to Target with me to pick out a curtain rod, shower curtain, rug, and hand towels and yesterday he helped me install the rod and curtain.

Here's a peek at the room before the work started. (From this angle you can't see how each of the elements was past their prime.)

And and an 'after' photo showing off the new floor, tub, tile surround, vanity, and sink.  The mirror and light fixture over the vanity aren't showing.

With the construction work over, does that mean we're ready to jump in and start all the features of the room? Not hardly; there's still a lot of little tasks to finish up first.  Today I sealed the grout lines in the shower , which needs three days to completely cure.  Tonight or tomorrow the new baseboards will get a first coat of paint.  While I'm at it, I'll TSP the door and put a fresh coat on it, too.  Next to all the new things it looks really shabby. 

Then there's the matter of decorating.  The room is crying out for some color.  I'll be on the hunt for some artwork, which will provide the inspiration for towel colors.  I also have some ideas for embellishing the plain shower curtain. 

Five years ago today: Rocky

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


We're in the middle of the hot, humid dog days of summer. No matter what I put on, it's hard for me to look nice when I leave the house, because after just a couple of minutes I'm covered in sweat. However, I've discovered a fashion hack that I think helps a little bit. Golf skirts!

I first discovered the power of golf skirts and skorts last year when I found some at a thrift store.  They're designed to be easy to move in and adhere to the modest dress code at many courses. I think those traits make them perfect for active activities and errands.

The skirts are easy to put on, but much dressier than shorts.  The ones I own fall just above my knees and have a flattering true waist cut that makes it easy to look pulled together.  They also have nice large pockets that hold my cell phone.

Any type of shirt pairs well with the basic skirts--tees, polos, or button downs.  I can still look acceptable while wearing my favorite flip flops, but a nice pair of sandals or canvas shoes helps dress the outfit up even more.  When I'm wearing one of my skirts I feel acceptably dressed both in the city and the suburbs.

Now that I think about it, I may have to start shopping more in the golf section of the department store.

Five years ago today: Barrel Bob

Monday, July 25, 2016

Hall Bathroom Redo (Part Deux)

Yesterday I told you about the beginning of our hall bathroom renovation.  You may remember that because of the humidity on Friday afternoon the drywall mud wasn't drying properly, so the carpenter had to finish up the last coat and sanding today.

The next step was to paint the room, which i chose to do myself to save money.   The good news is that I got to paint the room with nothing but the bath tub installed.  The bad news is that I had less than 24 hours to prime and paint the ceiling and walls, because as he left at 10:30 the carpenter announced he'd be back at 8 AM tomorrow to continue his work.

Right after he left I set up my supplies, poured primer into the roller pan, and got started. The priming was done about two hours after I started. I washed out the brushes, changed out of my paint clothes, ate lunch, and chilled out until things were dry enough to recoat. 

Round Two was to paint the ceiling.  I HATE painting ceilings, because it's hard to tell what parts you've already done and I inevitably miss a spot.  Several years ago I had good success with color changing ceiling paint, but I found out that the humidity in a bathroom can cause the color to get "reactivated" so this time I was stuck with traditional white.  

The ceiling took about an hour. Even though I loaded the roller with lots of paint and (thought) I went over each section several times, when the paint dried there were still a couple of small areas to touch up.  I washed out the brushes again and took a quick shower. 

After dinner I put on my paint clothes yet again, got my gallon of Swiss Coffee satin finish, and started on Round Three. The pale tan paint made a nice contrast against the primed white wall and I was able to finish up the job in about 90 minutes. When I was done I cleaned up everything yet again and called the day done. I've got my fingers crossed I did a good job, but I won't know for sure until the paint finishes drying. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Hall Bathroom Redo

 A little less than two years ago Hubby Tony and I had our master bathroom redone.  I knew then that the next room to get a re-do would be the upstairs hall bathroom, which they boys used when they were home.  Years ago the acrylic bathtub with attached shower surround got chipped; I fixed it with a repair kit from the hardware store, but eventually the patch turned an unattractive dirty grey.  The builder grade vanity was past its prime, and the integral sink in the cultured marble vanity top was cracked.  It wasn't until the toilet started leaking, though, that the job made it to the top of the project list.

Several months ago a Facebook friend posted photos of her completed bathroom renovation, and I got the contractor's name from her.  We got several estimates, but I was really rooting for the company my friend had used.  I was happy when he gave us the best deal, and a couple of days later we signed a contract.   Originally the job was scheduled for September, but two weeks ago I got an email asking if he could move it up.

Tony and I had to scramble around to find all the materials, and I was still selecting faucets, light fixtures, and towel bars just before the work started last Tuesday.  In the next four days the room was disassembled. The electrical outlet and shower plumbing was brought up to code.  A bathtub was installed, then drywall hung and taped.

The carpenter's plan was to finish up the mudding and sanding last Friday.  However,  it was so humid that things weren't drying quickly enough, and he called it a day a couple of hours early.  The last of the job would have to wait.  And then it was my turn to do a part. (To be continued)...

Five years ago today: Flutterby Butterfly

Friday, July 22, 2016

Yet Another Thing I've Just Learned

I have dozens of files stored on my Apple iBooks app. Most of them have easy to figure out names, but a handful of them have titles that are random strings of letters and numbers. (Like 5137Dec2014. What the heck is the subject of THAT one?)  Today I spent ten minutes opening random files before I found the one I needed and figured there had to be a better way.

There is. On the Apple Support page I learned how easy it is:
  • Step 1: In iBooks tap Select button on the upper right
  • Step 2: Tap the circle in front of the document title to select it.  Tap on the title you want to change to bring up the keyboard, and type in the new name.
  • Step 3: Tap the Done button on the upper right to save the new title.
Twenty minutes later the task was done.  And as an added bonus, while I was taking the time to re-title files I also took the opportunity to purge a couple I didn't need any more.

Five years ago today: Baked Kale Frittata

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Grass Isn't Going To Cut Itself

Our yard got mowed last Friday, and (as grass tends to do) it has continued to grow since then.  Yesterday Hubby Tony and I both noticed it needed attention again. However, right now Mother Nature isn't making it pleasant to do outdoor work.  Today the high was forecast to hit 95 degrees, and tomorrow it's supposed to be over 100. Add in a heat index, and we're talking serious heat. 

I know there are a lot of people who have conditioned themselves to work in the heat, but neither Tony and I are one of them.  However, I have the more flexible schedule so this time the job fell to me.  That doesn't mean I was looking forward to it, though.  After lunch I washed the dishes, put away the laundry, and cleaned up the day's cat hair tumble weeds, but eventually I ran out of excuses. It was time to implement a Keep Cool Outside plan and get outside.

There were three parts to the plan.  First I dumped ice in a pitcher and filled it with water.  Then I did the same thing with a bucket. Finally I found a hat from Hubby Tony's stash I was confident he didn't care about.

Goodbye and good riddance St. Louis Rams!

When I was ready I put on my grass cutting shoes and carried everything outside.  Just before I started up the mower I dunked the hat in the bucket of water and put it on my head.  The ice water streaming down my back felt really good!  As I cut I repeated the dunking process several times, then followed that up with a swig of water from the pitcher. 

When I was finished cutting I dumped the rest of the bucket water onto a plant, and carried the pitcher of water inside.  Fifteen minutes of sitting under the ceiling fan in the family room and drinking water cooled me off and gave me the energy to go upstairs and take a shower.

Five years ago today: On The Spot

Monday, July 18, 2016

Good Grief!

It the past two days I've gone through more bandages since the last time there was a toddler in the house.

Yesterday I was using a vegetable peeler on a butternut squash. The job was almost done when the peeler slipped and took off the right side of my thumb nail, then continued down the finger leaving a half-inch long nick. Grumbling at my stupidness, I grabbed a rag and wrapped it around the finger until the bleeding stopped, then put a Band-Aid on.

The problem was that I was doing a lot of cooking and cleaning and didn't have any rubber gloves. Over the course of the afternoon and evening I had to change the bandage four times when it got wet or I bumped the cut and it opened again. Fortunately, this morning things looked pretty good so I switched over to a layer of clear nail polish (which I use as a substitute for liquid bandage).

This afternoon I had to stop for gas. As I pulled the trigger on the pump handle somehow my thumb got caught in the hinge. The result was a puncture about a quarter of an inch long, which immediately started bleeding profusely. I grabbed a paper towel to apply pressure with my index finger and finished up the pumping.

It was a very minor cut, but I figured that a pump handle would be pretty germy, and just in case something didn't heal right I wanted the station to know what had happened. I walked inside, explained the situation, and asked if they had a Band-Aid. The associate went to the back of the counter area and came back with a large box. I selected one, thanked him, and wrapped it around my thumb when I got back in the car.

The cut was still bleeding a little bit and soon I could see a red splotch on the gauze pad from the outside of the bandage. I continued to apply pressure by pressing my thumb against the steering wheel. When I got home I washed my finger, doused the area with hydrogen peroxide, then spread on a layer of triple antibiotic ointment before applying a new bandage. It was only an hour later, while I was working on dinner, that the bandage got wet and fell off.  This time I didn't bother getting a new one until I sat down to eat.

Do you think I should be extra careful tomorrow?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Moving To Music

After dinner I realized I was only halfway to my 10,000 step goal for the day. According to the app on my phone the heat index was still close to 100 degrees, so I did not want to go outside. Instead, I went downstairs to the "gym", which is an area with Son Donald's weight bench and a TV with a selection of exercise DVDs. I selected a walking DVD, but when it loaded up I turned the volume off, and turned on the radio.

I mimicked the movements of the people on the TV, but walked to the beat of the music. Sometimes I went faster then them and sometimes I went slower. After a few minutes I added a pair of two pound weights for a little additional aerobic work. The music distracted me, and before I knew it the steps added up and I was done.

It felt good to turn off the DVD and put it away until the next time.  Based on the forecast for the next couple of weeks I don't think that will be too long.

Five years ago today: Where To Live When You Retire

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Nap For A Cat

Pepper the Cat has decided that his favorite place to snooze is on my kitchen desk.  I'm not sure if he wants to be close to me when I'm working on the computer or he likes the feel of the cool marble top.

Tonight he plopped himself down and used his paws to push the keyboard out of the way. He gave me the stink eye when I moved it back into place, then went right back to sleep.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Sometimes my mind works in mysterious ways.

For example, last night I was on my way down to the freezer to take out a container of pinto beans for dinner tonight and saw three ripe mangoes sitting on the counter.  Somehow I became conscious of the fact that pinto and mango both ended with the letter O and my mind took off, thinking how many 'O' ingredients I could fit into a bowl.

Presenting tonight's dinner:

Along with a little chopped onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, and a lime-cilantro-chili powder dressing, the ingredients for the cold main dish salad were:
  • PintO
  • MangO
  • TomatO
  • JalapenO
  • CilantrO
(I think an avocadO would have been good in there, too, but couldn't find any ripe ones in the grocery store today.)

Five years ago today: Please Don't Eat The Tomatoes

Monday, July 11, 2016


If you're a woman I bet you've gone into a restroom with your purse, only to discover there's nowhere to put it.  It happens to me all the time. That's why I was so excited when I saw this on the back of a stall door the other day:

Wouldn't it be nice if all bathrooms provided places to hang your important things like this one does?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

(Temporarily) Off The Grid

Last night shortly after 9 Hubby Tony and I were in the family room. He was watching a movie and I was catching up on all things Internet.  All of a sudden everything that used electricity flashed off, back on, and off again.  The last time it stayed off.  We had ourselves a power outage. 

Tony went to find a flashlight.  I used the flashlight app on my cell phone to find candles and matches, then set up an arrangement of votive candles on the kitchen island.  Illumination taken care of, I went to Google the electric company's phone number to report the outage, forgetting that my home Wi-Fi network wouldn't work without electricity.  Forced to go old school, I pulled out the phone book we haven't used for years.  Fortunately, the outage report number hadn't changed. Tony made the call and reported back that more than a thousand other residences in the area were also out.  The predicted time for repair was about midnight.

We opened up some windows downstairs and upstairs in the bedroom, then turned off the air conditioner so it wouldn't come on with the windows open and cool the entire backyard.  All of our moving around got the cats excited; they figured it was time for their before-bed meal. Indeed, it was close enough to time, and with nothing else to do we figured 'why not'.  I took a couple of votive candles with me up to the master bathroom, where Pepper's food station is.  (I may or may not have tried to turn on the bathroom light on my way into the room.)  I took a quick shower by candlelight and got ready for bed.

Thankfully, even without the ceiling fan it was surprisingly comfortable in the bedroom.  As I fell asleep I was treated to the sounds of crickets and a fireworks display that had been rained out last weekend.  

The electricity came on about midnight as promised.  When the cats demanded their way-too-early-for-me breakfast, Tony took care of them, then turned on the ceiling fan to circulate the air.  We got an automated phone call at 7AM from the electric company, wanting to know if everything was working.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

I Scream

For the past week I've been seeing ads on TV for Sonic's Ice Cream Cone Day, which touted half price cones on July 7th.  That was, of course, today.

 After dinner tonight Hubby Tony and I walked the long way up to the location that's at the intersection of the two largest roads near us (because you've got to get the exercise before you get the reward). We both ordered waffle cone sundaes.  His had strawberry and chocolate candies, and mine was topped with chocolate syrup and peanut butter cups.  We also asked for a cup of water.

The lot was only half full, with a couple of cars in the drive through line, so our cones came out  The car hop had a hard time digging my change out of her pouch, and by the time she was done the ice cream was already starting to melt.

This has the potential to be messy!

The cone was great, but with all the dripping ice creamI had to scarf it down quickly.  The water came in handy for washing the stickiness off my hands.

Five years ago today: Chocolate!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Get Crackin'

This afternoon I was waiting around the house for an email I needed to complete a job report. Since I was stuck at home anyway, I started a pot of kidney beans. I got the bag out of the pantry and noticed that the shelf could use a little straightening.  As the beans simmered on the stove, I straightened out the honey, salsa, relish, and soy sauce.  Behind them I found a jar of pecans in the shell. They must have been a gift (because I don't buy unshelled nuts), and I had no idea how long they'd been there.

When I opened the jar I noticed a strip of paper on top, which said:

Of course I had to try out the tip.  I cracked two nuts together, opened one of them, and tasted the meat. It was OK, so I continued the cracking process two nuts at a time.  I had trouble cracking them with just one hand, but found it helped to also use my other hand to apply extra pressure.  When I was done I had about six ounces of shelled nuts.  There were more chunks of pecans than whole ones, but since I'll be using them for cooking it doesn't matter.

Five years ago today: Fold, Shape, Stellate

Monday, July 4, 2016

A Song For Independence Day

Happy Fourth of July to all my American readers. In honor of the day here's a little Ray Charles for your listening pleasure.

Five years ago today: Mall Observations

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Chasing Dragons On A Bike

Because the forecast for today called for rain, rain, and more rain, Hubby Tony and I were forced to exercise at the gym. It was a good thing I had Tony to keep me on track, because it was time to go I realized I wasn't motivated (but I couldn't back out).  On the way there I tried to figure out what type of aerobic activity I wanted to do, and figured out it would be a good day to chase dragons on a bike.

Our gym has four Expresso Internet connected bikes.  The bikes have virtual tours of various difficulty (and you can ride against a virtual pace rider), but when I'm unmotivated I have the most success with the Proving Ground mode.  It's like a video game on wheels.  You ride around collecting coins and chasing dragons of the corresponding color. If you catch the dragon you get points.

Months ago I created an Expresso account.  If I would sign in every time I used the bike I'd be able to keep track of my progress.  However, I can never remember my login information so I just ride for the exercise component.  When I start out I tell myself that this time I'll ride at a leisurely pace, but before I know it I'm caught up in chasing after dragons.   It's a fun diversion, and made the 30 minutes pass by quickly.

At the end I was sweaty and the bike display told me my heart rate had made it into an acceptable aerobic range.  Time to stop chasing dragons until the next time.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Smooth Riding

Hubby Tony and I enjoy getting out on our bicycles for exercise. However, the neighborhoods around our house have quite a few rolling hills and (speaking for myself) I prefer nice flat trails. That means putting the bikes in the car and driving to another part of the metropolitan area. Fortunately, there are quite a few routes that meet my specifications. Today we tried the River Des Peres Greenway, a new-to-us trail in South St. Louis.

St. Louis MO Gov
The Greenway is located right on the St. Louis City/St. Louis County border.  It follows the River des Peres, a tributary of the Mississippi which is now more of a channelized storm drain.  As it followed the river, the trail passed by nice looking neighborhoods and crossed several major streets.  Just before Interstate 55 we turned onto the Carondelet Connector trail, which followed the Interstate and emptied out into Carondelet Park.  We veered onto the bike path that wound through the park.   Because we missed our turn we made a complete loop around the park and half of a second, then left the park and rode on surface streets until we got back to the river.

There were only a couple of slight inclines during the trip, and I was able to complete the leisurely 12-mile using just my bike's middle gears.  That's my kind of ride!

Five years ago today: Bar None