Monday, April 30, 2018

Pop Up Pallet

Spring has finally sprung. Our weather the past few days have been beautiful...a light jacket in the morning and evening and shirtsleeves in the middle of the day. The flowering trees are a riot of color, and garden centers are doing a booming business.

When the weather warms up I start thinking about spring cleaning. Yesterday I removed the flannel sheets from my bed, and today I tackled the spare bedrooms. I scrubbed the soap scum off the glass shower doors. I put the first of the house plants outside in a sheltered place to acclimate them before they move to a place on the deck. I also went through an accumulation of photos I had emailed to myself. I must have thought they were worthwhile months ago, but today, not so much. However, there were a few keepers. Down near the bottom of the folder I found evidence of one of my recent redecoratings.

The upper level of our house has four bedrooms. The master bedroom is the biggest, but the two in the front of the house are both large enough for a full sized bed. The fourth isn't, and has always had a twin sized bed. Son Donald, being the youngest, got stuck with that small room. However, as soon as Son Tony left for college in 2003 Donald immediately moved his things into the empty space.

I did some redecorating in the vacated room, pushing the metal frame bed against the wall and adding a spread and bolsters to turn it into a day bed. Last fall when Donald went back to school he needed a bed for the house he was renting with some friends. With my permission he took the metal one with him, and it was time to find another option.

The family continues to expand and we needed more beds, so I decided that a trundle bed would best suit the space. I religiously checked Craigslist and the Facebook marketplace looking for one. It took several weeks, but one day I saw a post offering a basic frame along with pop-up trundle and two mattresses. Hubby Tony and I went to look at them, and after a little haggling purchased everything.

Ironically, I was able to use the same bedding, which looks even better on the new set. Last Christmas the entire family was here, and the first trial for the trundle. When both beds are in use the room is pretty cramped, but it does the trick.

Bed closed and opened up

Five years ago today: Tuesday Archive Link Up

Friday, April 27, 2018

25 Signs That You Have Grown Up

Clip Art Mag
  • Your potted plants are alive. And you can't smoke one of them.
  • Having sex in a twin-sized bed is absurd.
  • You keep more food than beer in the fridge.
  • 6:00 AM is when you get up, not when you go to sleep.
  • You hear your favorite song on an elevator.
  • You watch the Weather Channel and carry an umbrella.
  • Your friends marry and divorce instead of hookup and breakup.
  • You go from 130 days of vacation time to 7.
  • Jeans and a sweater no longer qualify as 'dressed up.'
  • You're the one calling the police because those darn kids next door don't know how to turn down the stereo.
  • Older relatives feel comfortable telling sex jokes around you.
  • You don't know what time Taco Bell closes anymore.
  • Your car insurance goes down and your car payments go up.
  • You feed your dog Science Diet instead of McDonald's.
  • Sleeping on the couch makes your back hurt.
  • You no longer take naps from noon to 6 p.m.
  • Dinner and a movie - The whole date instead of the beginning of one.
  • Eating a basket of chicken wings at 3 a.m. would severely upset, rather than settle, your stomach.
  • You go to the drugstore for Ibuprofen and antacids, not condoms and pregnancy test kits.
  • A $4.00 bottle of wine is no longer 'pretty good stuff.'
  • You actually eat breakfast foods at breakfast time.
  • "I just can't drink the way I used to," replaces "I'm never going to drink that much again."
  • Over 90% of the time you spend in front of a computer is for real work.
  • You don't drink at home to save money before going to a bar.
  • You read this entire list looking for one sign that doesn't apply to you.

Five years ago today: The Coffee Forecast

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

In The Zone

I belong to a gym that has a couple of dozen locations in the metropolitan area. A little over a week ago I was shocked to find signs on the front door of the one I go to saying it would be closing in June. (Word on the street is that the strip mall the gym is located in is doing a big renovation and that section of the building is being torn down.) 

Hubby Tony and I have been going to that location for about ten years. It's convenient to our house, has a nice selection of cardio equipment, resistance training equipment, and free weights, and offers group classes in the mornings and evenings. Some other branches of the gym have extras like smoothie bars, massage studios, and tanning beds. Mine doesn't, and while I might take advantage of the extras I don't need them.

My membership will be transferred to the next closest location, which would take twice as long to get to. I may very well decide to stay with  this chain, but during the next six weeks I'm going to be looking around for a new exercise home.

Today I had the opportunity to attend a class at a heart-rate based studio. It was intense, but fun. At this studio you wear a heart rate monitor to track how efficient your workout is.  The workouts are HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) based, which means bring your heart rate up, then let it fall back before you tax it again.

I had to show up at the studio a half hour early.  After going over my exercise goals and physical issues with the front desk person I signed a waiver, then I received a heart rate monitor to strap on directly on my skin underneath the bottom elastic of my sports bra. 

Since this was my first time the instructor gave me a quick tour of the class room before everyone else came in.  There were sections for treadmills, rowing machines, and weight room exercises. I got a quick lesson and pointers about the use of each and learned how to find my name on the large screens in the exercise room that would show my heart rate and exertion levels.  After all that the instructor asked if I had any questions.  I confessed I felt pretty overwhelmed, but the instructor said I would do great.

I went back out to the lobby to wait with the other people who had arrived for the class.  There were approximately 30 fit-looking women, most substantially younger than me.  I wondered how well I would manage compared to them.  It turns out I was too busy huffing, puffing, and sweating to notice.

 During the class we rotated through each of the areas. The rowers and exercisers moved back and forth between those stations as directed, and the treadmill users stayed with those until it was time to move to the other machines.  The instructor did a great job of calling out instructions and keeping people on track.  He checked in with me several times to see how I was doing, and gave me a couple of pointers to make my workout more efficient.

At the end of the hour we had a quick stretching session, and then the trainer explained my results to me.  The front desk person gave me information about joining, but wasn't hard pressure when I said I'd have to think about it. 

The class was a great workout, but I can already tell that I'm going to have some very sore muscles tomorrow.

Five years ago today: Unknown Familiar

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Floral Design On The Cheap

Son Donald was in a friend's wedding last night. This morning I came down to the kitchen and noticed a mass of flowers above one of the kitchen cabinets. When Donald woke up he told me that the bride and groom were tossing some of the flowers at the end of the night. He and a friend each decided to take some.  (Once home, he put them up high so the cats couldn't get them.)

The long, low arrangement was a beautiful combination of ranunculus, iris, delphinium, babies breath, and greenery that had been a table centerpiece. Donald was right; the flowers were too pretty to be trashed. I decided to disassemble the arrangement and see if I could reuse it (like I did here and here).

Knowing the flowers had been around for a while and wouldn't last a long time I didn't put a whole lot of work into the task, but I like the way they turned out. Many of the stems had been cut short, so I arranged them in canning jars. The taller stems went in a glass vase. Everything got set on the fireplace mantel to keep the cats away. Those darn cats!

Five years ago today: Shared Responsibility

Saturday, April 21, 2018

I Never Thought About It That Way

I was sending a thank you text to someone tonight and wanted to fancy it up with a GIF. Tucked among the cascading hearts, dancing animals, and animated characters was this one:


So creative!

Five years ago today: How Heavy Is Your Glass?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Have A Ball

Yesterday I was at the post office to mail a package for work. After I took care of that I decided to buy some stamps. I like non-traditional ones, so when I looked at the poster of commemoratives the cute collection of sports balls stood out.  Not only were they colorful, but the shape was really unique. I decided to get them.


The clerk asked if I had seen them before.  When I told her I had not, she pointed out the that they were textured and invited me to feel them.  Sure enough, the baseball stitching, tennis ball and basketball seams, soccer ball and volleyball panels were raised, and the and golf ball, football, and kickball were nubby.

I'm going to have fun putting these stamps on my envelopes.

Five years ago today: No Grow

Monday, April 16, 2018

33 Ways To Stay Creative

      Break The Rules

Five years ago today: In Honor Of Tax Day...

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Unfamiliar No More

Several months ago a large Asian grocery store opened near my house. I'm a sucker for exotic ingredients, so I had to go in and look around. However, while I was there I discovered that their produce section had some great prices, so now I stop in there once a week to see what they have. My price point is 99 cents a pound or less. That way if I don't like an item I'm not out a lot of money.

I often get some type of bok choy (which I learned comes in all different sizes and shapes) or eggplant (again with a wide variety of styles). For a couple of weeks they had grapefruit for a really good price, and Hubby Tony and I enjoyed it each day until the season ran out. Then there was asparagus for much cheaper than the other stores in town. We ate a lot of that for a couple of weeks. Sometimes I take a chance on other assorted other fruits and vegetables (like yuca).

Today's exotic find was yellow papaya. I've eaten the fruit dried and in salads, but I'd never seen them whole. Unsure if they needed a lot of work to process I put a smallish one into my bag and brought it home.
Papaya cross section / Wikipedia
Thanks to the Internet I found out that you process a papaya just like a cantaloupe (not surprising, as it's also known as a tree melon). You cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, section it, then cut the skin off. I was surprised to learn, though, that the seeds were also edible and can be used in a variety of ways.

This afternoon I cut up the papaya, but didn't have time to do anything about the seeds. I put them in a small container and placed the container in the refrigerator until tomorrow.  Another culinary adventure awaits!

Five years ago today: Saucy

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Don't Do It

My Facebook wall is filled with opportunities to answer surveys and take quizzes.  If you use the social media site I bet you've seen questions like these:
  • What was your first car?
  • What was your first job?
  • What was your high school mascot?
The queries always have thousands of answers. I rarely respond, but after reading an article called Don’t Give Away Historic Details About Yourself I'm going to completely stop. I learned that when you answer those quizzes, you could be giving away an answer to a website security question.  If someone has the answers to your questions they could get access to your accounts or online identity.

And then who knows what would happen?

Five years ago today: Doing A Good Deed From The Comfort Of My Couch

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

'Willow' It Grow?

When I picked up some donated flowers from a funeral home a couple of weeks ago one of the arrangements was a large vase containing a colorful mix of flowers, greenery, and curly willow branches. I broke down the arrangement, put all the stems in water, and took them with me the next day. At the end of the weekend I offered the flowers to the people who had attended the retreat. As I was carrying around the container I noticed that the branches were now studded with tiny green leaves!

I brought the remainder of the vegetation home. At this point the donated flowers were close to a week old and looked pretty rough. They went into the green waste can. The flowers I had bought for the occasion were still fresh. I put them in a vase along with the branches and some leatherleaf  fern stems. The only place that's safe from the cats is the family room fireplace mantel so I placed the arrangement there.

As the stems of flowers faded I took them out of the vase. Eventually I was left with nothing but greenery and branches.  The leaves on the branches kept getting bigger, though, so I wondered if they would grow if I planted them.  Google told me that yes, they would but that willows are vigorous growers with soft wood and invasive root systems.  I decided to put the stems into a pot.

The only appropriate size container I could find in the garage was an unattractive looking nursery pot, but I filled it with good potting soil and stuck the stems in. If they thrive I can slide the nursery pot into a decorative one. It's still cold at night, so for now the whole thing is back on the fireplace mantel.

Five years ago today: Thanks, I'm Just Doing My Job

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Good Baked Good Deed

Several times each year men from our church are part of an ecumenical Kairos Inside retreat team. "Inside" refers to the fact that the retreat takes part in a prison (in this case, one that houses maximum and high-medium security males). Each time the men go, they put out an appeal for cookies to take with them...because each team member is asked to provide 40 dozen homemade cookies to provide a "bottomless bowl" for the weekend. 

Hubby Tony has several friends on the current team. He wanted to support their efforts, so he asked me if I would like to bake with him. Instead of going somewhere last night after our traditional restaurant dinner, we went to the grocery store for ingredients, then came home and made a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

Tony is a beginning baker, but he did the vast majority of the work. I provided expertise and advice and manned the mixer. When the batter was ready Tony scooped it onto the trays he'd prepared, put the trays in the oven, and moved the baked cookies to cooling trays. I did the clean up. After the cookies were cooled Tony packaged them according to the requirements, one dozen to each quart-sized Ziploc bag, then put them into the freezer until the Thursday delivery date.

Five years ago: Baseball Is Back! 2013

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Spring, Where Are You?

The 11 Seasons of Midwestern States:
Fool's Spring
Second Winter
Spring of Deception
Third Winter
Mud Season
Actual Spring
False Fall
Second Summer (1 week)
Actual Fall

Our area seems to be stuck in the Third Winter season. The high temperatures should be in the 60s. That's happened two times in the past week, but the other days the mercury got stuck in the 40s. And the low temperatures were way below freezing!

Last Saturday when Hubby Tony and I were doing some pre-Easter shopping he asked if I wanted some cut flowers for the table. I declined (because the cats tend to eat them), but said pansy plants from the garden store would provide a nice pop of color and could be planted outside afterwards. We decided on a pack with small yellow blooms. On Sunday I nestled the black plastic container in a basket where looked very nice.

After dinner it was too cold to put the flowers outside, so they stayed in the garage until Tuesday. The day was sunny and warm, and it was a joy to dig in the dirt in the front porch planter. Wednesday was cloudy and brisk. Thursday started out nice, but a cold front came through and by bedtime the temperature was back in the 30s. Each night since that time the lows were in the high 20s.

This morning when I looked outside the tiny yellow flowers were shriveled and drooping down to the ground. The leaves looked sickly and wilted. However, the day might have been brisk but it was sunny. By the afternoon the plants had amazingly perked up.

According to the forecast if the plants can hang on for three more days they should be rewarded with normal spring-like weather. Since that will be a third of the way through April I certainly hope the meteorologists are right.

Five years ago today: One Of The Mysteries Of The Universe

Thursday, April 5, 2018

"Dog" Detox

Recently I was introduced to the idea of a home version of a foot soak detox. Supporters of the procedure say it pulls the toxins out of your body through your feet. I was skeptical, but my tootsies love a good soak. If I could improve my health at the same time all the better, so in the interest of science I decided to try a detox out.

The soak didn't work for me, but your mileage may vary
The theory behind detoxing is that an alkaline body is crucial to a person’s health. Ingredients in the foot soak are predominantly alkaline. They also contain elements to remove impurities and add necessary trace minerals to your body.

Following the directions I received, I put Epsom salt, baking soda, sea salt, and a few drops of lemongrass essential oil in a large container, then added water as hot as I could stand. After mixing everything together the water was slightly cloudy from the additives. I put my feet in. At the end of 20 minutes I took them out and patted them with a towel to dry.

The detoxification process is supposed to be proven by the discolored water in the bath at the end of the treatment. My foot soak was very relaxing, but when I was done the water was still the same slightly cloudy color.

However, my experiment wasn't a complete waste of time. After the nice soak I gave myself a mini-pedicure, using a loofah to remove the dead skin and giving the cuticles some much-needed attention. As an added bonus, all afternoon a pleasant smell of lemongrass followed me around.

Five years ago today: Starting From Seed

Monday, April 2, 2018

Eye Drop Adventures

Last Wednesday I noticed that the outer corner of my left eye was cracked and red. I carefully dabbed some cream on the crack, and the redness went away. The next day the same eye felt irritated, like there was something in it. I also had a film over my vision that came and went. At bed time my eye was red and watery, and the right one didn't look so great either.

I called the optician's office right after they opened on Friday and got in for a visit a couple of hours later. After listening to my symptoms and looking in my eyes he diagnosed me with an infection that was probably viral, but since it was almost the weekend (when the office would be closed), he suggested prescribing antibiotic drops to cover all of the bases.

I left the office with a prescription and several sample bottles of lubricating eye drops. My instructions were to use the medicine four times a day and the drops once an hour.

I've been amazed how fast those hours fly by! Every time I turn around it's time to pull out the tiny sample bottle and squirt away. My eye immediately started feeling better, but I have to keep up the regimen for an entire week.  I'm always glad when Friday arrives, but this week I'll be doubly grateful.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Is It April Or December?

Happy Easter! It's been a very un-spring like one here.

Last night Hubby Tony and I attended the Easter Vigil at our church. When we walked out it felt like winter. This morning it was sunny, but my phone app told me it was only 32 degrees. After breakfast Tony and I bundled up to take a walk. It was really brisk.

Shortly after lunch the sun disappeared behind the clouds, and all afternoon it got darker. We had our Easter meal mid-afternoon, then Son Donald (who has been home for the last week for Spring Break) started packing up his car to go back to school. As he took out the next to last load it started raining. After a minute that turned to freezing rain. Then sleet. Then wet, sloppy snow. The precipitation stopped after 15 minutes, but since that time it's restarted and stopped again several times.

Depending on which forecast you believe the winter weather is already done, will stop around bedtime, or keep going until after midnight. It will be interesting to see what's waiting when I wake up in the morning.

Five years ago today: April Fools'