Monday, February 27, 2017

Positive Penances

I recently read an interesting article entitled 19 things to give up for Lent that aren't chocolate.  It had some great ideas for focusing on negative ideas and attitudes you can 'give up' during the season of Lent (and even hopefully beyond).  I'm making these the cornerstone of the season this year.
Fear: God is on my side. In Him I am more than a conqueror.

The need to please everyone: I can’t please everyone anyway. There is only one I need to strive to please.

Envy: I am blessed. My value is not found in my possessions, but in my relationship with my Heavenly Father.

Impatience: God’s timing is the perfect timing.

Sense of entitlement: The world does not owe me anything. God does not owe me anything. I live in humility and grace.

Bitterness and Resentment: The only person I am hurting by holding onto these is myself.

Blame: I am not going to pass the buck. I will take responsibility for my actions.

Gossip and Negativity: I will put the best construction on everything when it comes to other people. I will also minimize my contact with people who are negative and toxic and bring other people down.

Comparison: I have my own unique contribution to make and there is no one else like me.

Fear of failure: You don’t succeed without experiencing failure. Just make sure you fall forward.

A spirit of poverty: Believe with God that there is always more than enough and never a lack.

Feelings of unworthiness: You are fearfully and wonderfully made by your creator.

Doubt: Believe God has a plan for you that is beyond anything you could imagine. The future is brighter than you could ever realize.

Self-pity: God comforts us in our sorrow so that we can comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

Retirement: As long as you are still breathing, you are here for a reason. You have a purpose to influence others for Christ. That does not come to an end until the day we die.

Excuses: A wise man once said, if you need an excuse, any excuse will do.

Lack of counsel: Wise decisions are rarely made in a vacuum.

Pride: Blessed are the humble.

Worry: God is in control and worrying will not help.
Five years ago today: Let There Be Light

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Cats Everywhere

Mauhaus Cat Cafe and Lounge opened back in November.  Last night Hubby Tony and I made a visit.

The adventure was actually part of Tony's Valentine present.  In doing research, I found out that the cafe accepts walk-in visitors, but strongly suggests making a reservation.  The $10 per person reservation fee gets you an hour in the lounge, and when you arrive that fee turns into a credit towards food and beverages from the cafe.

The cafe is situated on a street corner in Maplewood, and I'm guessing that in a past life it was a store. When we arrived we walked through the entrance door into the small cafe area.  The lounge was off to the left, separated from the cafe by a glass walls and a set of doors. Before we went in we signed a waiver and ordered some coffee and pastries.  Then, it was time for kitty fun.

The lounge space has been definitely been designed with cats in mind, with shelves, cubbies, cat trees, tunnels, and even a catwalk around the perimeter.  There were a couple of standard size tables, several low cube tables, and bench seating along two sides of the room.  Cushions were scattered on the floor, and a couple were being used (both by people sitting on the floor and cats taking a nap). 

We found out that there were eight cats in the cafe. Some were residents, and some were available for adoption.  All of them were adorable.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Reform(er) School

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a demo class at a Pilates-only gym.  It was a lot of fun!

At my gym I regularly take a Piyoga class, which combines elements of Pilates and yoga.  I already knew that Pilates is all about precise moves and specific breathing techniques.  Normally I do the movements on a mat on the floor.  Doing the exercises with equipment has always sounded intimidating, starting with the piece called the reformer:

During my session, I figured out the equipment wasn't so intimidating, and actually made some of the exercises easier.  The free demo class was about half the length of a regular one, so the instructor led us through a condensed set of exercises to give us a taste of the real thing.

After I arrived and signed a waiver the instructor showed me where to get a mat and some hand weights, then told me to pick out a spot.  The low to the ground reformer looked a little bit like a wooden bed frame with a moveable seat area (which I learned was called a carriage). The head rest and shoulder pads were at one end, along with straps (long for leg exercises and short for arm and shoulder work).  At the other end was a foot bar.  Near the bottom edge of the carriage were five springs with different-colored hooks. Over the course of the class we used different combinations of springs to provide different levels of resistance.  Attached to the wall next to each reformer was another piece of equipment I learned was a springboard. We used the foot straps on these (laying on a mat on the floor) for leg exercises during the last section of the class. 

The thirty minutes went by quickly.  At the end I wasn't sweaty, but my muscles were telling me they'd had a good workout.  The instructor reminded us to clean off our machines and mats and put everything away.  As I walked past the front desk the associate standing there tried to sell me a membership to the gym. I passed. The classes were a little pricey, and, as much as I liked using the equipment, this location was just far enough away from my house that I would use the driving time as an excuse. 

Five years ago today: Clean It Or Leave It?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Still Stuck In My Head

The other day this song came on the radio. I hadn't heard in a long time, but found I still knew all the words. (I've always said that if I could get rid of all the unnecessary junk that's still lodged in my brain I could be really smart.)

Five years ago today: That Darn Cat (Part 2)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wrong-Really Wrong

The other day I had an appointment to meet with a woman to learn more about her business. When I arrived at the office, the person was on the phone, but she acknowledged me and indicated where I could sit down. While I waited for her to finish her call, I noticed the big sign on her desk that welcomed "Karen". Of course, my name is "Kathy".  Other than the two of us, the office was completely dead, so I was pretty sure the sign was meant for me. And, not only did she get my first name wrong, she also misspelled my last name (using an incorrect vowel in the middle).

When the woman got off the phone, she stood and greeted me by the incorrect name.  I corrected her,  and she fell all over herself apologizing.  The whole thing could have been awkward, but the mistake turned into a nice icebreaker. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

How Dirty Is Your Mat?

Today when I did the first down dog of the day during a Piyoga class at the gym I realized that my mat was smelly.  I couldn't remember the last time I cleaned it, so I figured it was due.  After dinner tonight I turned to my friend wikiHow to figure out the best way to do that.  The article started out by telling me that I should wash my mat at least every couple of months.  Oops!  I had barely started, and already I'd failed in their eyes.  But I pressed on.

The first step was to soak the mat in a soapy water solution.  I carried the mat up to the master bathroom tub.  I haven't taken a bath lately, so before I could start I had to dust it out.  Then I turned on the faucets, squirted in some soap, and waited until there were a couple of inches of water in the tub.  I had to fold the mat in half to make it fit, so I swished it around so that all the surfaces were wet.

Ten minutes later I came back for the second step, which was to wash both sides of the mat with a wash cloth. When I was done I could not believe how dirty the water was! I took the mat out, emptied out the dirty water, and went through the process a second time to make sure the mat was really clean. 

The next step was to rinse the mat until all the soap was gone.  This was the most difficult part; the mat was so long it was hard to get to all of it.  I ended up folding it in half again, rinsing each half from the top down, then folding the mat the other way to rinse the second side.

After I was sure the mat was clean I shook it to get rid of the excess water (and shook much of the water onto my shirt).  I spread a beach towel out on the floor, laid the mat on top of it, and rolled them together to remove the excess moisture.  Then I had to figure out where to put the mat until it was completely dry.  In the end I laid it on a closet shelf in one of the unused bedrooms.  I don't need the mat again until next week, so it will have plenty of time to dry.

Five years ago today: Puzzling

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Slurp, Slurp, Slurp

I saw this truck waiting to turn into a gas station this afternoon. Even though I knew it was really filled with gas, but for some reason, it made me wish I had a really long straw.

Five years ago today: Work Out

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Just The Right Size

Last month I gave a bag of restaurant tortilla chips to a stranger to avoid eating the whole thing.  Not too long after that I learned that at least at some fast casual Mexican restaurants you can order a kid's size bag of chips.

Today when I went through the line at Chipotle I ordered an adult-sized entree.  When I got to the cashier,  she asked if  I wanted a drink or chips.  It felt really funny to ask for a child's bag, but the cashier didn't blink an eye.  She just reached around, pulled a small bag off the display, and put it on my tray.

Standard bag and kids bag
According to the Chipotle website a regular bag of chips contains four ounces, and the kid's size bag is a quarter of that.  Price-wise the large bag is a much better deal, but when I left the restaurant (after eating everything on my tray) I didn't feel stuffed.  There's something to this portion control stuff!

Five years ago today: My Sentiments Exactly

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


For the past week I've been working on a project which involves comparing and contrasting five local business organizations.  Each portion of the project involves a visit to a specific location, where I get to see what they do and hear what they offer.  That takes about an hour.  Then, when I get home I organize my notes (which takes approximately another hour) and fill out a report (which takes another 30-45 minutes). 

It's been a interesting but challenging activity that hasn't left me with a whole lot of extra time to do things like blogging or random internet surfing.  Today was the last of the visits, and I was looking forward to some serious sitting around and doing nothing.  However, right after I arrived back home I heard from the project organizer telling me that there was a second assignment available to do if I was interested.

After a bit of thought I decided to accept the second project.  The person is offering a fair rate of pay for the work involved and my bank account could always use some padding.  My lazing around will have to wait.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

It's A Winner!

Tonight Hubby Tony and I had our own private Super Bowl watching party. He put together a menu that included Veggie Quesadillas, a Napa/Tomato/Avocado Salad, Roasted Butternut Squash and Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Bites. Everything was good, but I'm a sucker for anything with Buffalo sauce; in my mind the cauliflower was definitely the highlight!

I didn't have brown rice  or almond flours in the house, but I was able to make both by grinding both whole ingredients in a coffee grinder.  The recipe notes indicated that the bites soften up once they are coated, so we waited until just before dinnertime to toss them with the sauce.  However, I can report that it took me about fifteen minutes to polish off my entire plate of food, and the last crumbs of cauliflower I ate were still plenty crispy.
Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Bites (By Darshana Thacker)
Makes 6 cups

2/3 cup brown rice flour
2 tablespoons almond flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 head cauliflower, cut into 2-inch florets
1/3 cup Frank’s hot sauce or barbecue sauce

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (I used a Silpat silicone sheet).

2. Combine the brown rice flour, almond flour, tomato paste, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, parsley, and ⅔ cup of water in a blender. Puree until the batter is smooth and thick. Transfer to a bowl and add the cauliflower florets; toss until the florets are well coated with the batter.

3. Arrange the cauliflower in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets, making sure that the florets do not touch one another. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp on the edges. They will not get crispy all over while still in the oven.

4. Remove from the heat and let stand for 3 minutes to crisp up a bit more. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with the sauce. Serve immediately.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Thought Provoking

For the third year in a row the local office of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADA) has produced Public Service Announcements that will premiere during the local broadcast of the Super Bowl. They released the ads a couple of days ago, and after watching them I think they're really powerful.


Smart Phone:

Five years ago today: Possible Confusion

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Finding Out Something New Every Day

Today I had business to do first in Webster Groves (a suburb about 12 miles to the east of me) and then Valley Park (a city which is basically to the south of my house). The fastest, most efficient route to get to Webster is the Interstate, but as I was organizing my day after breakfast I wondered if I could justify making a detour to go to an international food store in Kirkwood (halfway between my house and Webster Groves, but several miles from the highway).

I used Mapquest to plan out a route, and was pleasantly surprised to find out I could be almost as productive by taking surface streets to get from my house to Kirkwood and Webster, then getting on the highway to head to Valley Park before I made it back home.  However, I've lived in this area for 30 years and thought I knew the best way to get to Kirkwood.  Today Mapquest gave me a route to get there that I've never used before that ended up being even better.

Instead of heading east for 15 minutes than turning and heading northeast (which involves a lot of neighborhood driving, and a lot of stop signs) Mapquest told me to turn north at a street ten minutes from my house, stay on  that street for five minutes, then turn right on a third street.  In addition to fewer turns, this course involved fewer stop signs.

Sounded like a good idea to me.

Going in a big circle

Five years ago today: Walk With Me