Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Isn't It Ironic?

This afternoon one of the blog posts that showed up in my reader was titled Three Tips to Help Fight Procrastination

The beginning of the post talked about how busy life is, and how hard it is to complete all the things we've committed to. I was nodding my head in agreement with the ideas as I paged down. Then the first sentence of the sixth paragraph made me stop and laugh out loud. It said "September 6th is Fight Procrastination Day".

After that I couldn't take the rest of the post seriously. Since this is January, there is some serious delaying going on with that author!

Five years ago today: How You Like It (Part 1)

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Field Trip Day

Two years ago when Hubby Tony and I were browsing in St. Charles we happened upon the studio of a leather artist. Tony purchased a brown belt, which he says has held up better than any other belt he's ever had. 

Fast forward to last December, when Tony decided he needed a new black belt. I told him I would buy it for his Christmas present. We went back to the same place but the artist was no longer there. In a nearby studio we talked to an artist who remembered the leather worker's name, and the hunt was on.

Thanks to Google Tony found out that the artist had a studio in Illinois. Tony sent the gentleman an email and learned that he was in the middle of moving to yet another location (in Alton) and all of his supplies were boxed up. After a series of messages, they decided that a Saturday in January would be a good time to meet up. For Christmas Tony got a box that contained a package of socks and a card that said:

Today was our field trip. When I woke up it was gloomy and chilly, but by the time we left mid-morning the sun was shining brightly and it had warmed up enough that I only needed my lightweight winter coat.   We packed some bags of vegetables for a snack and jumped in Tony's car. The trip to Alton takes about 45 minutes. After leaving the interstate you take a state highway north and cross both the Missouri and the Mississippi Rivers. Immediately after the second bridge is the historical downtown shopping district.

The studio was in an arts center on the immediate left, well marked, and easy to find. Tony ended up getting two belts--the black one he came for and a more casual brown that will go nicely with jeans. After putting his belts in the car we began to explore. We walked around, popping into gift shops, antique shops, a pottery shop, and a bookstore. When we got to an oil and vinegar store we went in and found balsamic vinegars that were even better than what we bought a couple of weeks ago. (Yes, we are becoming quite the vinegar snobs.)

We asked some people in the store if they had any lunch suggestions. Based on their recommendation we chose Mac's.   Tony ordered a grilled tilapia platter and I had a Gyro burger, an hamburger patty with strips of gyro meat, feta cheese, tzatziki sauce, and a deep fried cucumber on top. On the way out we had to use the bathroom and found ourselves walking through the off-track betting parlor that was on the other side of the building.

After leaving the restaurant we spent some time walking along some residential streets, then started back towards the car. Before we got there, though, we detoured through a microbrewery and a butcher shop. Just to get ideas for our next adventure to the area.

Five years ago today: Words Of Wisdom

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


One of the free birthday items I got earlier in the month came from Ulta, the beauty retail store. The small box I received held a tube of Juice Infused lip oil and a Cranberry and Pomegranate lip mask.

My lips get very dry during the winter, so I started using the lip oil right away. However, the mask intimidated me. The huge, red, lip-shaped sheet of gel came in a flat silver Mylar package, and had a little bit of liquid bubbling around it:

The mask sat on my vanity for several days, then I moved it to the drawer when I cleaned. I took it out a couple of times, but in the end always put it back away. The other day I took a close look at the back of the package and read that the mask was enriched with vitamin E to moisturize and nourish my lips. Right now my lips need all the moisturizing they could get, so I decided to try the mask out.

The directions sounded easy enough...remove mask from pouch / apply to lips / let set for 10-15 minutes / remove from lips / discard. My adventure didn't start out smoothly, though. When I opened the package the extra liquid dumped all over the countertop, and I had to stop and clean it up before I continued. Once everything was shipshape I picked the lips up and slapped them on my mouth.

I expected the mask to cling on, but within seconds it started falling off. I had to continually press it down to keep it in place, which got easier when I laid down on the couch. The mask was much larger than my mouth, and felt like a piece of wet seaweed on my lips. I didn't dare to look at myself, but I suspect the view was pretty foolish. There was a slit in the middle of the lips, which let me more my own lips around a little bit, but it also made me feel like the lip surface closest to my mouth wasn't getting the attention and moisturizing it deserved. I spent the whole time fiddling with the mask, and was happy when the ten minutes was up.

After I threw the mask away I examined my lips in the bathroom mirror. They looked the same, but felt a lot smoother. That smooth feeling lasted for a couple of hours, then I was back to applying lip balm on a regular basis.

Five years ago today: Unwelcome Guest

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Time For Some Updates

When it was time to get ready for church this morning I went up to my closet to pick out something to wear. It was a nice day so Hubby Tony and I were planning on walking, so in addition to putting on somewhat fashionable clothes I had to make sure that my shoes were comfortable and easy to walk in.

My first choice was a pair of navy blue dress pants that I hadn't worn yet this season. When I put them on I decided that I didn't like the way they looked on me. I folded the pants neatly and put them in the donation box.

Next, I decided to use my old reliable good black pants and pair them with a black and white shirt. The pants were perfect the last time I had them on. However, today the slide jammed two inches from the top. I removed the pants and looked at the zipper, noticing that there was a half inch section of the zipper teeth pulling away from the tape. After taking a good look at the pant's construction I concluded that removing and replacing the zipper was more work than I was willing to do, so I folded up the second pair of pants and put them in the donation box.

I didn't have any other pants that would work with the shirt, so I started the picking out process again. This time I decided on a pair of light tan slacks, which I decided would look nice with a cream colored dressy tee shirt. After I was dressed I put on my old reliable brown leather slip-ons and realized that the right one felt funny (which wasn't the case when I wore them earlier in the week). I removed the shoes and examined the bottom. The molded rubber sole was falling apart.  It had a large hole in the side, which extended all the way to the center. I took off the shoes and put them next to the donation box.

I don't have a large selection of dress clothes, and I was running out both options and time. Rooting around in the closet again, I found a pair of grey pull on pants that I had decided were a tad too short the last time I wore them. However, today they would have to do. I slipped them on, decided the same cream tee made an acceptable outfit, and added my comfortable black mary janes.

As I walked out of the bedroom I made a mental note to add clothes and shoe shopping to my To Do list.

Five years ago today: Pressing Matters

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Wrong Remark

Hubby Tony and I are both signed up with a local market research company. Every month I get a couple of emails about focus groups they think I might be interested in (or hard-to-fill studies where they hope I know someone who would qualify). Tony gets a similar amount of emails for different studies. If I'm not interested in an opportunity I forward the message to Tony, and vice versa.&

For the past five years the only group either of us have qualified for focused on cat litter. I had to go by the company's office and pick up four gallon jugs of litter identified only by a piece of paper with a letter taped on the side, use it in place of our regular brand, and let them know what I (and the cats) thought of it. The pay wasn't much, but at least I didn't have to purchase litter that month.

Last week Tony got a message from the company regarding employment issues. He was too busy to answer the online qualifying questions, but he sent it my way in case I was interested. I went ahead and clicked on the link to fill out the form, sent it off, and promptly forgot all about it. When my phone rang on Monday I was surprised when the caller identified herself as an employee of the research company. She told me she wanted to review the answers I'd given online, and when my verbal answers jived with the written ones she offered me a chance to come in for a focus group. For two hours of my time they would pay me $100, a nice hourly fee.

I put the appointment on my calendar and was looking forward to my adventure. Last night I got another call from the company, who said they had one additional question from their client they needed to ask me. It was a very easy yes or no question, and I didn't give them the answer they were looking for. Based on my response they needed to rescind my invitation. They apologized, and said I will be getting a lesser fee of $25 for my trouble. They'll also keep me in mind for anything else that will come up. I'm not holding my breath.

Five years ago today: A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Dying Mall And The Freezing Mall

When I woke up this morning the thermometer said it was 2° Fahrenheit. The forecast called for a whopping high of 10°. (For comparison, the average high temperature is 36°). Some areas are used to extremely cold temperatures in the winter. Ours isn't one of them. It seems like no matter how many layers I wear I'm still chilly.

I really wanted to hunker down and hibernate, but I had stuff to do.

Last week I accepted a small job at a nearby mall. The assignment didn't pay as well as some, but I have a hard time motivating myself to exercise in the winter and figured I could get there early and get some steps in before things opened. And, I also had some coupons for a department store that I could redeem while I was there. Shortly before I left the house I realized that going to this mall would get me halfway to a nearby outlet mall where I could redeem a few more coupons, so I made sure I had the entire pile of swag with me when I left the house. Gotta take advantage of those birthday offers!

The first stop mall is dying; three fourths of the storefronts are empty, with a new vacancy each time I go there. I pulled into the mall parking lot and was surprised at how many cars were there, but when I got inside I saw that there were a whole lot of people doing the same thing I was. There were single walkers, couples, and a few larger groups. There was even a group of new mothers doing organized exercises in one of the corridors.

I did three laps, and passed by the department store just as it opened. After browsing for a few minutes, I discovered the store had mattress protectors on sale. The one on my bed has been falling apart, and between the sale price and my coupon anew one would cost me less than 15 dollars. There seemed to only be two associates working on the entire lower level, but when I found them and said I wanted to buy something I got great service.

Carrying the large plastic bag, I exited the store and moved to my next stop. I was glad to see that this store had other customers besides me. I actually had to wait for someone else to finish checking out before it was my turn! This time I received my items in a small paper bag. By the time I walked back to my car I was halfway to my step goal for the day.

It was a ten minute drive to my second stop, and I almost changed my mind on the way. Did I tell you that this was an outdoor mall? I checked the weather app on my phone, which told me it was still way too cold. Of course the stores I wanted to go to were on opposite ends, so after I parked my car I wrapped a scarf around my neck, zipped my coat up all the way, and made sure my gloves were handy.

The first mall was pretty empty, but the second one was like a ghost town! I saw more security guards than customers. However, if I walked close to the buildings the temperature was manageable (and it helped that I popped into different stores along the way to browse).  At one store I found a nice sweater from the clearance rack, that, combined with my coupon, cost me less than ten dollars. However, at the next stop (a shoe store) I couldn't find anything. Instead of leaving empty-handed I used my coupon to get a pack of free-to-me socks that will go in the donation box. 

Five years ago today: Call Me

Monday, January 15, 2018

Adventure Is Where You Find It

Today Hubby Tony had the day off in honor of the Martin Luther King holiday.  In the morning we both did paperwork, but while we ate lunch we agreed we needed to get out of the house for an adventure.  The problem was that the weather was awful, 21 degrees Fahrenheit and falling.  A dusting of snow that we had received overnight was being blown around by a gusty wind, which made things feel even colder.  No big outside adventures for us!

Instead, we ran some errands, and ended up in Maplewood, which has a nice historic downtown area with some unique shops. Many of them are closed on Monday, but there were enough stores open to make browsing worthwhile.  At the midpoint of the shopping area we stopped into Vom Fass, a specialty store for oils, vinegars, and spirits. The walls are lined with small casks, and you can sample everything before you buy it.

Tony and I have been experimenting with drizzling nothing but balsamic vinegar on our salads.  I think the Kirkland brand we buy at Costco is pretty good, but Tony suggested that another flavor might be a nice change of pace.  We sampled several, and we had one picked out, when I saw they had a small display of discounted items left over from the holidays. The bottles had colorful raffia ties around their necks, and the name of each was carefully written in gold ink.  We chose a bottle of apple balsamic vinegar from the selection . 

The clerk carefully wrapped the bottle in tissue paper before placing it in a small bag. He included a card which explained the product's origin (from Germany), composition (made from apple vinegar and concentrated apple juice), taste (fruity, dark amber-colored balsamic which was ripened in an oak barrel), uses (salad dressings, marinades, sauces, and poultry dishes), and pairings (any extra virgin olive oil).

Tonight I made some steamed green beans for dinner, and drizzled a little of the new vinegar over them.  It was great!  There was a definite apple essence mixed in with the sour vinegar taste.  I'm looking forward to seeing what else it goes with.

Five years ago today: Just Perfect

Saturday, January 13, 2018

On the Money

My five-star "wow" horoscope for today:
You can do only so much. The time has come to slow down and use this Saturday to rest up. You might be uncomfortable with changing plans, but making an accommodation for yourself is necessary. Do something to restore your energy. Tonight: Let a friend call the shots.

I'm only a casual believer in horoscopes, but this one was spot-on.  I didn't really have any plans for today, but last night I went to bed feeling like I was coming down with a cold. I vowed to do what I needed to shake it off, which included sleeping in, eating healthy food, and generally taking care of myself.   Thanks to my horoscope I had permission to take good care of myself!

As the day wore on I felt better, so Hubby Tony and I went to church and then out to dinner, using one of my birthday coupons.  After dinner we ran an errand, then drove to the mall to get some leisurely steps in.  We ended the night using another coupon, this one for ice cream.

Five years ago today: Oh, What A Beautiful Day!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Here's To Many More

Today is my ten year blogging anniversary! How did that happen?

If you're new here, the backstory is that shortly before my 49th birthday in 1998 I heard a radio story that made me want to celebrate entering the next decade of my life. I started a "new thing a day" project, and instead of being apprehensive about turning the big 5-0 I embraced it. And had a lot of fun along the way.

Since then I have posted 2,419 times (373 on the original blog and 2046 here). Thanks to blogging I have virtual friends in several countries. While documenting my life I've greatly improved my computer skills and learned a little bit about innumerable random topics.

It's been a lot of fun, and I look forward to many more years.

Five years ago today: Where Does The Time Go?

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Sound Off

I've been playing Words With Friends (a Scrabble-like game) on my phone for years. I always have a game going with Hubby Tony, and occasionally additional matches with one of several friends. Late last year I got a notification that the the company had released a sequel, unimaginatively titled Words With Friends 2. I downloaded the new game and started using it.

For the most part I like the changes, although I ignore most of the new features. One thing was driving me crazy, though. The sounds! Each time I opened the app it played a little jingle. Shuffling the tiles made a sound. Successfully sending a word caused another noise.

My first thought was to turn off the sounds in the phone's settings, but there was no option there. I started disabling the phone volume before I opened the app, but then I'd forget to turn it back on and miss a call or text. Finally I researched the issue and found out the answer was simple, but unintuitive. At the top left of my phone screen in the app was a small profile photo. When tapped it brought up the Settings screen, where there was a toggle button to turn the sounds off.

Now I can shuffle the letters to my heart's content without anyone knowing what I'm doing.

Five years ago today: Strengthening and Flexibility

Saturday, January 6, 2018

A Perfect Date For Cuddling

Did you know that today was Cuddle Up Day?

The information was news to me, but the day couldn't come at a more perfect time.  The top headline in today's newspaper mentioned that we're having our longest cold spell in 35 years, with the temperatures staying below freezing for 13 days.  A few of the days were substantially below.  Now, when I get dressed in the morning I put on the usual jeans, shirt, and socks, then add an additional fleece jacket and sometimes even a scarf around my neck to help me stay warm.

Today I had already planned on leaving the house as little as possible, but now I had an official excuse.  I knew that Pepper the Cat is the master of all cuddlers.  It didn't take long to convince him to join me in the celebration.

Five years ago today: All Dried Up

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Magical Multi Purpose Cooker

On their way out of town last week, Son Brian and DIL Nicole gave me an early birthday present. The large wrapped box they presented me held an Instant Pot. Brian said he'd bought one for himself and really enjoyed using it. They were guessing I would like it too. The funny thing was that I almost put the item on my Christmas list, but it was a little more expensive than we'd agreed to spend on each other.Great minds must think alike.

(What is an Instant Pot, you ask? It's the latest "it" small kitchen appliance, which combines the functions of a pressure cooker, sauté pan, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, and food warmer.)

In the flurry of goodbyes the box got put on the dining room table, where it sat for a few days. Every time I walked past I'd take a look inside, but frankly I was a little intimidated. On New Year's Day I pulled out the instructions and read them, but that's as far as I went.

A couple of days ago I needed to make some brown rice, which seemed like an easy way to ease into the Instant Pot world. The element on my rice cooker must be going bad, because it's been taking more than an hour to cook a batch. The Instant Pot recipe for "Perfect Brown Rice" took closer to a standard 45 minutes, although my learning curve made the time closer to 50 minutes. The grains cooked more evenly than in the rice cooker, and the finished product was fluffy and properly al dente.

I transferred the rice to a bowl and put it into the refrigerator. Son Donald must have found it to his liking, too, because when I pulled out the bowl for dinner tonight there were only two small servings left. After the dishes were cleaned up I made another batch. This time there was less of a learning curve.

My next foray into Instant Pot cooking is going to be pinto beans, but after that there are over two million search results on Google for "Instant Pot recipes". I think I'm going to have fun trying some of them.

Five years ago today: What's Your Type?

Monday, January 1, 2018

An A-Cute Cough (Not)

Hubby Tony has been chair of the group organizing a New Year's Eve dance at our church since August.  That meant that even though I still had a hacking cough from a bronchitis diagnosis the show had to go on.

For a while I was afraid I would have to pass on the entire event.  Instead, I let Tony do both his share and my share of the room setup and decoration while I stayed home and rested.  Last night I showed up shortly before the doors opened to do my registration shift, checking in attendees at the door, then spent the rest of the night as a participant. 

Over the course of the night I talked too much, which aggravated my cough.  One of the people at my table mentioned the old wife's tale of going to bed with Vicks VapoRub on the bottom of your feet to clear up congestion, and I decided that it might be worth a try.The last thing I did before going to bed was get out the jar of store brand Vicks, rub large globs of it on my soles, then put on a pair of athletic socks before I toddled off for a good night's sleep.

I'd like to say that the Vicks was a miracle treatment that completely cured me of my hacking cough, but that would be an untruth.  However, I did feel incrementally better when I rolled out of bed, the hack replaced by just a tickle in my throat.  I'm still giving more credit to the antibiotics and time than anything else.

Five years ago today: Happy New Year 2013