Saturday, October 22, 2016

Do you swear to tell the truth...?

I survived my annual physical last week which, in itself, is no small victory. This was the first year I didn't "cram for the test," as my son would say. The 35-year-old man-of-sudden-wisdom recently challenged me, saying: "Mom. How will you know what's really going on with you if you act like someone else for a month before your exam?"

Hard to argue with logic like that. And, okay, it's probably not the best idea to curtail all of one's bad habits (drinking booze, eating carbs and couch-surfing) weeks before the "well person visit" in hopes of ace-ing the lab work and avoiding bad news.

But it was working for me so well, dammit!

This year, I changed nothing about my lifestyle (which is, admittedly, a lot healthier than it used to be, Shiraz and carbs notwithstanding,) bit the bullet and had my blood drawn. I answered all of my doctor's questions truthfully and took my lumps when applicable. ("You know wine has calories, right?" "Yes, doc, I'm aware.")

And, you know what? I still aced the test! Sure, my weight's not where it should be and I have a long way to go at the gym, but my numbers are all within normal ranges! And, at 60, that's reason to celebrate.

And celebrate I did....  over a big order of shrimp risotto and a huge glass of wine.

Here's to your health, friends! And, remember to always tell the truth.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Going GF OR Thank God for TJ's Oatmeal

     I've officially - and finally - declared myself 100% gluten free. I've been in d'Nile for months (it's a long river, doncha know) but reality literally gut-punched me for the last time this past weekend when I ate a negligible amount of breading on fish and felt like a miserable, gassy presidential candidate for two days. I'm 60. Life's too short for avoidable pain. Which is why I really should stop obsessing about the miserable gassy groper. Besides, I'm determined to keep my blog apolitical. (How am I doing?)
     Now, I'm coming to terms with my new life "without." Without pasta, whiskey, hot-out-of-the-oven popovers on Christmas Eve, cake, fried chicken....the list is depressingly long. But, hey, I'm a creative and resourceful person. A former reporter, for crying out loud. I can find the restaurants that accommodate the gluten-less and research the best GF recipes ever created. (They'll be the BEST, believe me! My recipe file is YUGE!)
  So, from time to time, I will be sharing a gluten-free recipe that meets my Trump-like criteria (oops) starting with the wonderful thing that has replaced my toast and saved my mornings: Magical Blender Muffins made with oatmeal. 

from Cooking Light

    Caution: Not all oatmeal is gluten free. Nor Greek yogurt, for that matter. I buy GF rolled oats from Trader Joe's and Fage Greek yogurt. Here's a list of other gluten-free Greek yogurts, fyi. 
     I've made the blueberry and coconut varieties, so far, adding my own tweaks to the batter including a scoop of vanilla protein powder, shredded coconut and coconut nectar. It's important to store them in a ziplock bag in the fridge, not out on the counter. So simple to make with easy clean up! Delicious with coffee and dense enough to hold you until lunch.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

YouTube and the curse of beginner's luck

    Long before I heard George W. Bush discuss how painting had changed his life, I bought several stretched canvases at Michael's for 70% off.  I already had a basic starting kit of acrylic paints and decent brushes, sponges and stuff. So, I set everything up in my son's old room last week and decided to give the visual arts a try. (I had taken an all-day watercolor class last year and had learned many tips, including watercolor is probably not the best medium for a beginner.)
    This time, I decided to attend the YouTube School of Painting, dialed up this instructional video on how to paint birch trees with a palette knife and basically did the old monkey-see-monkey-do routine.  Five hours later, give or take, I had a painting good enough to hang my daughter's apartment, that is. 
My first painting.
   Motivated by her willingness to accept it and my husband's raves at my obvious God-given talent, I eagerly choose the next piece to, well, copy. This one, found on Pinterest....

  I don't need no stinking video, I thought. So, last Thursday, I went to my makeshift studio, turned on some soothing tunes, brought up the photo on my iPad and fearlessly applied paint to canvas. An hour later, I ran screaming to the kitchen for a heaping helping of comfort carbs, leaving this behind upstairs.... 
I couldn't even get the sky right!
I shall return to it some day this week, hopefully, with a huge jar of gesso and a new YouTube video. 

Did I mention George W. Bush had a private teacher? 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Friday in the Hall with George

The hubs and I took the day off last Friday to attend a convention put on by our wealth management firm.

Let me just say here that "wealth" is a relative term and of the approximate 2000 people in attendance, we were obviously in a lower tier of clientele - wealth-wise, wardrobe-wise and age-wise.  But, we thought we could learn something from the big players, maybe score some free food. And while we've never been fans, we didn't want to miss hearing what former president and keynote speaker, George W. Bush, had to say about the upcoming election.

Helicopters hovered overhead as we walked back to the convention hall after lunch. A formidable police presence surrounded the building.  It was easy to spot the Secret Service agents in the crowd because they skewed so much younger than the civilians.

And, then there was George. It was a laid-back Q & A session with the expected questions. No, he does not regret the decision to go to war in Iraq. Yes, he regrets the way he handled Katrina. And while he refused to say who he was voting for in November, it was crystal clear it wouldn't be Donald Trump.

Then, he started talking about painting, the retirement hobby that changed his life. His latest project is a series of portraits, men and women soldiers who were wounded in battle in Iraq "because of my order." They can be seen here and in a new book called "Portraits of Courage."
It was obviously an emotional endeavor for a war-time president who is still wrestling with some demons. He said he got to know each one of his subjects personally, "their stories of recovery or lack of recovery" and their families. I gotta say I was impressed.

We were told they'll invite a Democrat to next year's event.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Planet Fitness and the Beauty Angel

It reminds me of something out of an old Woody Allen movie.
When Planet Fitness opened up five minutes from my house, I dusted off the old jogging bra and sprinted over to sign up. Why wouldn't I? It was $10/month to join with no initiation fee (at the time) and, besides, I'm a champ at signing up for fitness centers. There isn't a gym in town I haven't tried, at least for two or three days.

Planet Fitness has a 'big tent' marketing approach that discourages obnoxious gym rats and encourages couch potatoes and everyone in-between. Signs placed around the facility say: You Belong, No Judgment and No Gymtimidation. As a result - or maybe because the price is so low - members run the gamut in all shapes, sizes, ages, colors and fashion sense. I love that about the place.

At first, I couldn't figure out why it was so cheap. The place is huge and well staffed, the equipment seems top-of-the-line and what they spend in cleaning products could break the bank. This is a sparkling facility with comfy rubber flooring (bonus!) and it's not bare bones. But, they don't have classes or fancy stuff like a pool, hot tub and towel service. And, I guess they're counting on volume.

I'm happy to report that, six weeks later, I am still going to Planet Fitness just about every day. I upgraded to the "Black Card" membership for another $10/month which gives me "spa" privileges including unlimited guests, access to HydroLoungers and tanning beds which I will not be using as I  firmly believe they should be banned from the planet...and the Planet.

My favorite perk of the upgrade is unlimited use of the Beauty Angel, a sci-fi "total body enhancement" booth with walls of red light and a vibrating floor. The infrared light (no UV rays) is supposed to boost collagen production and ease pain while the vibrating floor - builds muscle, increases circulation and strengthens your core. What's not to love? It felt awkward and silly at first, especially since you go in there naked (the room is locked) if you want to get the full effect. I couldn't stop laughing the first time but now those good vibrations just zen me out.

It's hard to know if the firming I've noticed is due to the Angel or the exercise or both, but my skin is much, much softer. The vibration is doing my joints and lower back a world of good and the occasional numbness in my legs is completely gone. That's worth a lot more than $20 a month.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The day that will live in infamy, if only he can remember it.

Photo from the same year as my husband's up close and personal encounter with Angie.
Pictured are the infamous vials of blood worn by her and Billy Bob.

Yesterday, I promised to share this story in light of the YUGE news of the Brangelina break-up. (Is it still news today? I haven't checked.) I knew I had told it before and, in fact, it appears I told it twice: Once in 2009 before this blog existed and again in 2011 when my husband inexplicably forgot he went swimming with a topless movie star while swapping stories on a boys' weekend. (This is so typical of him, I can't tell you.) The versions are slightly different, as one would expect as the years pass, but the truth remains. Someone will no doubt tell this story at his funeral someday (decades from now, I hope) because it is so uniquely him: Refreshingly unassuming and far more impressed by female nakedness than celebrity.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

One more time with feeling

As Elton John once famously said, the bitch's blog is back. Not that anyone will read it with the hot Brangelina divorce news breaking. Stunning! Tragic! So unexpected! I'm reeling, dear readers!

(Did I ever tell you the story of my husband swimming alone with a topless Angelina Jolie at the Sunset Marquis Hotel shortly after she won her Oscar for "Girl Interrupted?" I'm sure I did. It's one of my best stories. And it's 100% true, unlike some of my other best stories. I'll have to dig that little nugget up again for tomorrow's post.)

My extended hiatus was necessary to allow me time to complete a big project (a play) and to regain my enthusiasm for the whole blogging experience which, after so many years, was becoming a bit of a self-absorbing drag. The truth is, I didn't think I had much more to say.

But, shit happened and now I do.

In the past several months, I have become a mental health advocate, a dedicated practitioner of net-zero-injury exercise (a term I made up where the goal isn't miles or steps or losing weight but not getting hurt), a FODMAP-restricted dieter and, yes, still a seeker of boomer-friendly products, services and travel.

Also, I've recently embraced the idea of finding comfort in ritual, something that's eluded me my entire life. These days, my daily rituals are limited to coffee drinking and teeth brushing. I don't even make my bed on a regular basis. This may be why I tend to be.... let's call it scattered. I prefer that word to the others. It reminds me of baby bunnies scampering in all directions when the dog goes out to poop. Scattered = Adorable!

When done consistently, blogging can be a satisfying ritual much like journaling at the end of one's day. It's important to keep writing when you're a writer. Especially at my age. Which is only 8 years older than Brad Pitt and totally within the realm of possibility. I'm just sayin'.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, November 13, 2015

I'll be back after these messages

Boy, I thought I'd never see the old blog again after the whirlwind of life I've had - and am still having - this fall.  Thanks for not giving up on me.
The beautiful bride and man-bunned groom at their sunset ceremony.
First, the wedding in late October came off with only one hitch. (Don't get me started on over-extended wedding planners.) I ended up cobbling an outfit together from Chico's in taupe (my spin on the mother-of-the-groom mandate: Wear beige and keep your mouth shut), threw on a bunch of pearls and an autumnal pashmina, and did my own hair. Boom! Done. The beautiful Sunday evening wedding in the country culminated a week-long string of activities I have come to call Burning Man East due to the predominance of bonfires at various celebrations. Big fun, big exhaustion.
Three days after the newlyweds returned to Brooklyn, my son summoned the hubs to Game 5 of the World Series in Queens (in which the home team was playing the Mets.) The kid flew his old man to NYC,  bought tickets for themselves and two others, and put him up in their apartment for three nights on an air mattress. And, wouldn't you know, the KC Royals won the whole damn thing at that game? Amazeballs! I didn't go, but was exhausted just texting them about it!
Me, our director and the Short Jewish Gal
Last weekend, my writing partner (Short Jewish Gal) came to town from L.A. to attend auditions for our first play, which is opening in Kansas City in April at H&R Block City Stage in Union Station. Callbacks are tomorrow. So, much more exhausting fun and excitement! Here is the link to our website and our Facebook page. We are even getting a reading in New York on December 13, which will be one helluva way to celebrate my 60th birthday.
And that, in a nutshell, is what's been going on. For my encore, I have decided to return to the original format of my aging, pro-aging blog because I suspect I'll have things to say about facing the big 6-0 next month. There will still be reviews under the headings of travel, cool products/services,  food/libation, and - God willing - maybe "gifts for the grandkids"... someday! I am one lucky, exhausted gal.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Eureka... fingers crossed!

   I won't say I've been too busy to blog because I was searching day and night for the perfect MOG (Mother of the Groom) dress. That would be exaggerating. The truth is, I've got a part-time job that requires blogging (and other editing duties) that often leaves me with little motivation to post my own stuff.  Plus, it's ragweed season which is always the low energy point of my year, anyway.
   BUT, I am pleased to announce that I have found what I hope to be THE dress for my son's upcoming nuptials on Oct. 25 and it is this...
providing it fits, that is.  I ordered it by mail today from Dillards. It's got the flow-y Bohemian feel my future daughter-in-law is going for without screaming: "You're too OLD for Boho!"  I had purchased another navy blue cocktail number (below) that was kind of early "Mad Men" retro but it didn't seem to fit the overall vibe, as the kids say, of the rest of the bridal party.

     Still, that one fits like a glove so I have a back-up if the new one doesn't.  It's a process, people!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Scaia: Buy this wine!

Kudos and many thanks to my sister, Wendy, who highly recommended this delicious dry rose' while liquor shopping for my son's bridal shower two weekends ago. Finally got around to cracking one bottle open and - oh, boy - such quality for only $13.99 (sale price).  For bonus coolness, each bottle is capped with a glass cork/stopper. Cheers!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Stress Less Coloring: Paisley Patterns

I'm totally into adult coloring books. There, I said it. But, hey. 'Better than being totally into adult diapers... or adult films... or adult beverages. (Wait. I'm into them, too. The beverages, I mean.) Anyway, count me among the throngs of people discovering the stress-reducing value in coloring and the fun assortment of coloring books available to calm-seeking adults. Here's my current favorite:
Colored with watercolor pencils.
Page after page of nothin' but paisleys. The only potential pitfall in my new hobby? There are well over 1,000 coloring books to be purchased and I have about 20 I'd like to buy right now. I guess Santa won't have to do much guessing this year.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Behr-y, Behr-y good paint

Watching paint dry is vastly underrated.
The home improvement continues at a frenetic pace in advance of a couples' shower hosted by my three darling sisters, coming up on Aug. 9th, here at Chez MOG (Mother of the Groom). I'm finally getting around to painting our little "gallery hall" adjacent to the powder room. This is where our guests can view pictures of us and our relatives, going back four generations, as they wait to use the john.  I am the designated interior painter of the family and, as such, I highly recommend Behr Ultra, paint AND primer in one can. (Would you believe this hallway used to be a deep cranberry red?!) The color is French Silver.