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.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Go Away, Summer!

The hot weather has really overstayed its welcome this year. Instead of the balmy 78°F average high we should have, today it got up to 90°.  In addition, the humidity added another eight degrees to the "feels like" temperature.

It was nice enough over the weekend that we opened up the house, but since then the highs have been inching up a little bit every day.  This morning after breakfast I closed everything up and turned the air conditioner back on. (UGH!) The first day of autumn on Thursday won't feel like it because the above-average temperatures are supposed to hang on through the weekend.

I'm really looking forward to next week, when it's forecast to get back to normal

Five years ago today: On The Air

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Not My Duck

Words of wisdom from a friend:
A man went to a yogi in search of enlightenment saying, "I heard you have the key to serenity. Please teach me your secret."

The yogi smiled and offered the man a large bottle with a duck swimming in it.  He told the man, "If you want to learn the secret to serenity, figure out how to get the duck out of the bottle without breaking it." The man was confused but he took the bottle, vowing to come back in two weeks with a solution to the puzzle.

In two weeks, the man returned, looking tense and frazzled. “This is impossible!" he said."I’ve tried everything. There has to be some trick.”

The yogi simply smiled, then told him to come back in two more weeks.

The next time the man returned he had a crazed look in his eyes.  He told the yogi, “I am going to smash this bottle if you don’t tell me how to get the duck out!”

The yogi simply smiled, and told him once more to come back in two weeks.

After another two weeks the man returned. This time, he was the picture of calm.  “I figured out the secret to serenity,” he told the yogi. He handed the intact bottle to the yogi, with the duck still swimming inside, saying “It’s not my bottle. And it’s not my duck.”
Five years ago today: See This Big Smile On My Face?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Scrub Away

I usually wash the ceramic-tiled kitchen floor with a solution of vinegar water, but the past few times I've done it it still hasn't looked clean. I told myself 'in the fall' I would give it the thorough cleaning it deserved.  Yesterday wasn't exactly fall-like (with temperatures in the mid-80s we're still running the air conditioner) but I couldn't stand it any more and declared it was Tile Cleaning Day.

Last week when I was at the hardware store I looked into buying commercial tile cleaner, but they cost more than I wanted to spend. After a little internet research I made my own solution, which worked great.  It used 1/2 cup of washing soda (a new-to-me ingredient, which wikipedia told me could be used to remove grease, oil, and wine stains), 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1 tablespoon of liquid dish detergent, and 2 gallons of water.
Dirty vs clean.  What a difference!

Because we have a large kitchen with attached laundry room, the job took me most of the afternoon. I sloshed the solution on one small section of floor at a time, let it set for a few minutes, then came back and rubbed each tile vigorously with a rag. I rinsed the section, and rinsed it again.  Since the floor was so dirty there was a lot of crud to rinse off, and the water quickly got dirty. I changed the water in the bucket on a regular basis, but not often enough; when the tile dried there was still a film of soap. After dinner Hubby Tony helped out and mopped the floor with vinegar water, which took care of it.

Five years ago today: Without A Paddle

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Four Weeks And Counting

Grandbaby G is on track to enter the world in a little under four weeks.  Based on this picture I received, I'm sure Mama is more than ready:

Five years ago today: Get To The Root Of It

Monday, September 12, 2016

Tending Not To Remember

Menopause.  Fun stuff.
My Sweaty hot flashes started about four and a half years ago.  Since then they've ebbed and flowed in intensity, but for the most part they've been a constant.  Because I wake up hot multiple times each night, of course I'm Sleepy (and, occasionally, maybe a little Bitchy).

I was doing a good job of dealing with those symptoms, but now Forgetful's shown up and throwing me for a loop.  Yesterday I was supposed to prepare four sets of handouts for a couple's meeting.  I forgot about two of the handouts until a half hour before the meeting, and had to scramble to get them done.  Then, somehow I forgot that 'couple' implied two people and only made half the needed amount of everything.

Another example.  Today I was making roasted chickpeas. The Alton Brown recipe I use couldn't be easier: 
Drain the chickpeas, dry them, and put them on a baking sheet. (He uses oil. I leave it out.)  Put the pan in the oven.  Turn on the oven.  Bake the chickpeas for 30 minutes.  Turn off the oven and keep the pan in for an additional hour.

When the first 30 minutes of cooking were up the oven timer went off, and I reset it.  Then 45 minutes later I smelled something burning.  Guess who forgot to turn off the oven?  The tray of way-too-toasted chickpeas went straight into the compost pile and I started over.

At the rate I'm going I'm afraid to think about what's going to happen the rest of the week.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Under My Umbrella

Last Saturday the Tailgate Open dashboard light on my car came on. After opening and closing the door multiple times had no effect I decided to ignore the light.  Bad idea.  Monday I went to start the car and nothing happened; the battery was completely dead.  I called AAA.  After the driver jumped the car he determined it was probably a bad switch, which the cargo area light to be on the entire time, which drained the battery.  The temporary solution was to turn the light completely off.

I called the garage and made an appointment for today to get the problem fixed, and last night I dropped my car off.  Knowing I would be car-less, I didn't make any plans for the day.  Since I couldn't leave the house I took the opportunity to catch up with paperwork and computer projects. It felt good to cross them off my list, but that meant I spent too much time sitting around.

A call came in from the garage telling me the car was ready to be picked up as I was eating lunch. I knew that if I asked they would send a shuttle to pick me up. However, my plan was to use my two feet to get there.  I needed to burn off some energy, and the garage only a couple of miles from the house; I've walked there (and home from there) quite a few times.  However, when I looked out the window I realized that Mother Nature might have other plans for me.

There's a cold front coming through that will ultimately take away the summer humidity and lead to fall-like weather over the weekend, but first we have to put up with a couple of days of rain. The precipitation was supposed to start last night, but it got delayed and the first drops didn't start until 10 AM. After that it alternated between a light drizzle and a steady rain, punctuated by periods of nothing.  But right that minute there was no rain.  My phone app indicated we were in the middle of a slight precipitation lull.

However, in the period of time it took me to put on my shoes and gather my charge card and driver's license a light rain had started again.  The temperature was too warm to put on a plastic rain poncho, so I grabbed a large golf umbrella out of the closet and got ready to walk.  I figured that most of the route was through neighborhoods, and if the rain turned into a deluge I could stand on someone's porch until it died down.

I rarely use an umbrella, so it felt a little peculiar to be carrying one down the subdivision street.  Within the first six blocks I sensed that all the moisture in the air had sent my hair barometer into the red zone. Then I noticed that even though the umbrella was large, a few drops still managed to find my back.  I tried to keep my feet dry, but it only took a few blocks until the toes of my shoes started getting soggy.  After I stepped in an unnoticed stream of water headed towards the sewer I gave up and accepted the inevitable.  Besides, the weather was warm enough that it felt pretty good.

By the time I reached the garage my shoes were sloshing, my back was quite wet, and my hair was an unruly mess.  Even though I enjoyed my walk in the rain it felt really good to drive home in the dry car!

Five years ago today: A Great Recipe for Life!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Formerly Mine

Yesterday Hubby Tony and I were out running errands and we stopped in a nearby thrift store.  He went to the clothes side to see if he could find some khakis for work. I headed for the non-clothing side to browse, and did a double take when I turned a corner and saw this nicely-merchandised display:

The artwork used to be in my hall bathroom!

After its renovation was finished I boxed up all the accessories and donated them to the store.   Obviously some of them have now made their way to the selling floor.  I wonder how long it will be before they find a new home.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Twin Trails Teaser

This morning Tony and I put our bikes in he car and drove to Forest Park (the area's largest urban park) for a ride before we went out to lunch. The park has a nice set of parallel trails (paved for 'wheels' and unpaved for 'heels') that loop around the outer edges. Despite the dual trails, we still had to dodge innumerable people walking and jogging in the bike lanes.

WHY do they do that?!?

I'm far from a professional bicyclist, preferring to putter along at 10-12 miles per hour (and slightly less than that on hills). Even at that speed, though, I'm much faster than anyone on their feet. At first I offered a polite “Passing on your left” every time I went by someone, but I soon I noticed that most walkers had their music going and couldn't hear what I said, anyway.  The issue was particularly tricky when there was a cyclist coming from the other direction.  Then it was like trying to navigate a two-lane road and deciding when to pass the slow-moving vehicle in front of you. 

If I was in charge, the mom running next to her looked-to-be-about-6-years-old daughter riding on her bike would be allowed on paved trail, as would the people pushing strollers (because it's hard to push those small wheels on gravel). Everyone else would be shoo'd off and told to go to their own side.

Five years ago today: I'm Dreaming Of Some Cool Weather

Friday, September 2, 2016

Real Staying Power

Last Friday when Hubby Tony met me at the train station he was holding a plastic box tied with red ribbon. The box contained a single tightly-closed, long-stemmed red rose and a small sprig of baby's breath. (I was beyond shocked. He's never done anything like that before.) I was surprised and touched, then practicality set in. Without water the flower wouldn't stand a chance! Tony pointed out the small water tube at the bottom of the stem and said the florist had told him it would be OK.

The rose
The rose stayed in the hot car all afternoon.  It was cloudy, so I didn't have to worry about keeping it out of the sun. When we got to the hotel room I opened up the box and added some more water to the tube. The next morning I closed the box back up, and the rose rode for almost eight hours with me.  This day was sunny, so I kept it on the floor of the passenger seat.

When we got home I couldn't find a small enough vase, so after I cut the stem I placed the rose in plastic water bottle.  To class it up I tied the ribbon around the bottle.  The cats love roses, too, so I set the makeshift vase on the fireplace mantel in the family room where they couldn't get to it.  I admired it every time I went into the family room, and a couple of nights I remembered to bring it into the kitchen at and set it on the table at dinner time.

A week later it's still going strong.

Didn't it open beautifully?