Thursday, January 22, 2015

Barack Obama slept here

Air Force One's arrival last night in Topeka
Last night, the POTUS slept just 1.4 miles from my house. (I will refrain from commenting on the Holiday Inn's Holidome as the Secret Service's presidential lodging choice.) Today, he is speaking a half-mile away on the campus of Kansas University. The town is abuzz and, although I am not attending the event, I will be glued to the TV and computer, watching Barack Obama address many of my friends and former colleagues. Rumors have it that Obama - college basketball fan that he is - will meet the Jayhawk basketball team(s?) before or after his speech at Allen Fieldhouse. Meanwhile, enterprising downtown merchants are printing t-shirts and creating Obama burgers, in hopes of attracting attention.
Since I live so close to campus, I plan to keep my eyes peeled for the presidential motorcade - and take a morning walk to see how close I can get to the action - but keep my car off the streets until POTUS is winging his way back to the White House. I've never been a big fan of gridlock.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Love, discretion and social media

My son got engaged this past weekend to the woman of his dreams....and our dreams, too. (Cue fanfare and heavenly angel chorus.) I would have told you sooner, but I was bound by a promise not to blab until the happy couple announced it to the world via Instragram.  Here's how they did it (emoji not pictured)....
That's the happy couple standing in the ocean off the coast of Puerto Rico.  My son took a knee in (the shallow part of) the sea to pop the question because there were people on the beach and he wanted total privacy.  Evidently, he took his great-great-great grandmother's ring (engraved with the date '1875') into the drink with him, along with a beer.  This is a miracle on many levels, the least of which is that he did not lose the family heirloom in the freaking Atlantic!
Later that evening...on land.
Now, I prepare for my new role as MOG, realizing that in the big scheme of things, the mother of the groom is a character part, at best.  But, what the heck? I'm a character! And I've been rehearsing for this for 33 years. Wedding to be sometime in October.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dames in the desert: Part Deux

On Sunday, we treated our hostess to a spa day as thanks for putting us up and schlepping us around all weekend. I picked The Spa at Camelback Inn, simply because my parents used to stay there and I knew it was good.  It was. That said, I've had better massages for one-third the price here at home.
Site of the most intense massage I've ever received. I have bruises on my back. Seriously!
The obligatory feet by the pool shot. Still a little cool to swim, but not to hot tub. 
I love a fanciful succulent, don't you?
I was jump-up-and-down thrilled to obtain TSA pre-approved status on the flight home. I was the only one without it on the flight out and, let me tell you, it makes all the difference in the world. The other girls were almost on board before I got through the line and had my picture taken by the naked x-ray machine.  They told me it was because they were over 60 and I wasn't. I didn't buy that for a second.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Dames in the desert

I'm re-posting the recap from Phoenix due to poor quality photos from my iPad Blogger app. It's warmed up to a balmy 18 degrees here in Kansas and I'm already missing those highs around 70.
Hiking by Red Mountain
This trail was just two blocks from our friend's house
The backyard pool we never swam in. A little too cool for lightweights. But lovely.
Saturday's trip to Singh Farms was a highlight. Agri-tourism at its best, this is a working farm with vendors, tons of creative natural seating areas and horticulture galore. Check it out here.  So cool...

The canopy I want to duplicate in my backyard.

Lemons like grapefruits.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tea and strawberries

It's currently ten degrees outside, but I have no business complaining. In about 48 hours, I'll be in sunny (I hope) Phoenix, Arizona, having myself a girls' weekend. Still, it's a struggle keeping warm until then. Hot tea helps. Lots of hot tea. But, sometimes, the tea is just too hot. You want to drink it right away but, when you do, you burn your tongue (witness the blister on the tip of mine) which tends to ruin the Zen of the tea experience.  To solve this annoying albeit first world problem, I've come up with a solution. After brewing a cuppa, I drop one extra-large frozen strawberry into the drink. Voila! It quickly chills the beverage down to sipping temperature and provides a lovely natural sweetness, to boot! This is particularly tasty in lemon and mint-flavored teas. You're welcome.

Friday, January 2, 2015

By the time I get to Phoenix, I'll be warmer!

Not way warm, by anyone's standards, but warmer than I am here in Kansas...which is why I'm counting the days (7) to my upcoming girls' weekend in Mesa, Arizona.  Is 70 warm enough to enjoy swimming in my friend's backyard pool? Probably not. But, who cares? I can deal with 70 and sunshine. I can deal with mid 40s at night. These are my ideal climate conditions, people. And no Happy Light for 4 whole days!
Phoenix AZ long-range forecast

And, the greatest thing is, I don't have to pack my shorts and other skin-baring garb I wasn't mentally prepared to revisit so soon, anyway.
Lawrence KS long-range forecast
The only challenge in this embarrassingly fortunate scenario is paring down my shoes so I don't have to check my bag. But, it's a new year, dammit, and I am up to the task! 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Go-go, Gadget...Boxing Day!

After the FitBit fiasco on my birthday, (which I don't believe I wrote about...suffice it to say my highly coveted new FitBit failed to count steps on the treadmill... apparently, you must have forward motion - who knew?) the hubs decided to make up for it two times over. Not only did he give me a fancy clip-on New Balance pedometer, he also gifted me an iPod Nano which - omigod - has a built-in pedometer and is cute as a bug's ear.  (My recently replaced iPhone in the larger '6' size was proving a little too large for my workout pants pocket.) I'm sure the NB pedometer cost considerably less, but you'd never know it by the epic operating instructions.
You can't be serious, pedometer people!
The little Nano, on the other hand, is elegantly easy to set up and is so light and small, it fits inside my exercise bra where the only problem will be keeping it dry. (For this reason, I may have to purchase a clip for it.)
I am giving them both a simultaneous test run to determine which device is the better step counter, on and off the treadmill.  (And, by 'better', I mean higher, of course.) Blissfully, that is all I have to do today besides detoxify myself and watch TV.  Here's to busy-less Boxing Day!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My favorite day and night of the year

Of course, I am running behind. How far behind, you ask? Well, no gifts have been wrapped...that's right, like zero! I still have a couple more presents to pick up. There's grocery shopping left to do.  A beef tenderloin to make for tonight. Multiple dishes to make for tomorrow. And yet, I love Christmas Eve! My family is here, all snug and cozy under one roof. Tomorrow, we'll venture to Mom's house one last time for Christmas dinner with the ever-extending family. (Who knows where we'll be in 2015?) Plus, the forecast calls for light snow today!  If there's a happier kind of stress, I'd like to feel it!  Happy holidays to all.... and to all a great night!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Done!! Well, almost done!! But, happy!

Christmas smiley face
Wowzers! Where has the time gone? I haven't been here in a while, I see. On the blog, that is. It just goes to prove that you really can't do it all, no matter how much time you have on your hands.  What have I done, you ask? Well, not to brag, but I got Christmas done, thank you very much...and in record time, too!  Okay, not completely done. My mother's gift still eludes me. I have a very specific thing in mind for her new apartment door, and I can't seem to find it online or in shops. But, my goal is to get it all done before my son arrives tomorrow and, snow or no snow (we got three inches last night), I will succeed! 
In other news, I would like to heartily endorse the Verilux Happy Light as the best invention ever, next to the lighted magnifying make-up mirror. This year, I was hit with a horrible (and unexpected) case of the blues, which started around the end of daylight savings time and worsened in the last couple of dreary weeks. I don't know who turned off the sun in Kansas (our evil governor, I'm guessing), but I was in a dark funk, people. Four days on the Happy Light and I'm a changed woman. Sleeping better at night and a lot more fun to be with during the day.  Highly recommended. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bentonville, Crystal Bridges and 21c Hotel

The weather wasn't the best, but Bentonville, Arkansas (aka Walmart World Headquarters), did not disappoint. We checked in at the oh-so-hip 21c Museum+Hotel Friday afternoon and got a preview of the artgasmic experience we would have on Saturday at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. 
The lobby. 
The view from our room. Note signature green penguins on roof. 

Penguins magically and randomly appear anywhere, anytime. They were my favorite.
Luxury King room. A black light behind the huge bathroom mirror made for a trippy night light.
Someone found a new friend in the elevator
After a short power nap, we drove to Crystal Bridges (because it was cold and raining; you can easily walk or bike from the hotel) for "Culture Hour." $5 glasses of really good wine and cheap but delicious apps plus a jazz duo to enjoy while you take in the amazing view.
Culture Hour at Eleven, Crystal Bridges
The view through the window across the lagoon into another wing.
We had a nice dinner at The Hive in the hotel and enjoyed a stroll around the Bentonville town square. It's a sleepy town, but we found a fun bar down the street where we could watch the Kansas basketball game with a bunch of friendly Arkansans. Fortunately, the game ended well.
The store that is still lit behind the trees is the Walton Museum located in an old Five & Ten.
Dreamworks has an office here. Really. They must have some exclusive deals in the making with Walmart because, otherwise, this makes no sense at all.
The next day, we walked the 1.5 mile Crystal Bridges Trail from downtown to the museum where we spent the first two hours at a demo/talk with Bob Trotman, a sculptor from North Carolina, whom we would befriend in earnest later over wine and Italian food. Very talented and personable guy whose work depicting men and women navigating the corporate world is beautifully provocative.
One of Bob's pieces at Crystal Bridges. Second piece in video below.
More tomorrow from Crystal Bridges - and a word about the surprises of Walmartville - as soon as I sort through all my pics and do a little laundry.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Buying and selling, selling and buying.

Anyone want a sewing room to go?
I've not been on the blog much because I have become obsessed with guerrilla retailing. The goal was to clear out the old stuff in the attic to make room for new old stuff from my mom's house. To that end, I've been selling stuff on eBay, Craigslist and, by occasional Facebook posting. This week, I sold an old saddle maker's bench to a young saddle maker (that was cool) and a lot of seven old wooden spools to a guy via a double-parked hook-up with his sister downtown. ("I've got the stuff. You got the cash?") Last night, I got way too excited about an inquiry on my lightly-used office chair and almost fell off my new brand new office chair. So far, I've earned $190 for two items which I turned around and spent, almost to the penny, on a flat-screen TV with wall mount for the guest room because the Brooklyn kids are coming to stay and the room needed a technology upgrade, especially because it doubles as my home gym. We'll probably put the old tube TV out by the curb with a FREE/WORKS! sign on it. That's the way to get rid of stuff fast around here. That, and a daily trip to Goodwill.  Next on the block, an antique sewing machine stand, a 1930's Singer machine, and that delightful canoe coffee table with the glass top I purchased in the early '90's when, as my husband says, "they were passing out free samples of crack at the furniture mart."

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The last Thanksgiving at Mom's

Today, my extended family will gather to celebrate one last Thanksgiving around the big table in my childhood home. (Mom and her hubs are moving to a retirement facility in January.) It's a bittersweet day, especially since my son stayed in Brooklyn in lieu of a 10-day visit over Christmas. Life is a trade-off.  To overcompensate, as I am wont to do, I am cooking up a small storm. The pre-brined Trader Joe's turkey will go in at noon "stuffed" with fresh sage, thyme and a cup of white wine if I can figure out how to get it in there.

I'm dressing up my cornbread dressing by cooking the mirepoix in rosemary-infused olive oil and soaking my dried cranberries in Marsala. Chopped toasted pecans are a given. Later, I'll do a roasted Brussels sprouts, fennel and bacon dish topped with pumpkin-spiced pumpkin seeds from TJ's. Isn't cooking just the best therapy? Happy Thanksgiving to all... and don't forget the Tums!