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.
video
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!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Crystal Bridges, here we come!

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
It's like I always say, half the fun of a trip is the happy anticipation of it. And, since it's a sad 21 degrees outside, I've decided to start looking forward to our weekend in Bentonville, Arkansas, two weeks early. From all reports, Bentonville is a hip and happenin' town thanks, in large part, to its jewel, the three-years-old-this-month Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art,  located in a holler (yes, a holler) in the Ozark hills.  Read all about it here. Our plan is to stay at the hip and whimsical 21c Hotel because penguins are my favorite.
A candid borrowed from TripAdvisor.
There are, apparently, lots of green penquins standing around the hotel. The staff has fun moving them around to surprise their guests. Yes, it will be December. And, yes, that might not be the prettiest time to visit Arkansas, unless it snows. (Oh, and I hope it does!) But, the way I figure it, winter is penguin season. And I want to see them in their element.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Out with the old

I realized I need to accelerate the distribution of my stuff if I'm going to have enough space to accommodate Mom's stuff at the end of the year. I hadn't planned to take much of her stuff but, darn it, I'm doing it for the kids. It's possible they might want some of her stuff - or my stuff - someday. My attic is full and, since we have no basement and a storage unit is out of the question according to the hubs, I'm in full-out, blinders-on purge mode. Some of the things I'm getting rid of are unusual, if not downright strange...
 like this antique saddle makers bench, for instance. I decided to put it on Craig's List. 
This is a German World War I-II ammunition carrier. I gave it to a guy who sells things on eBay for people. His 30% cut seems worth it to me.
This is the challenge. According to my research, it's a vintage Japanese ceramic gofun geisha doll in a glass case...worth anywhere from $150 to $350+ online. The eBay guy doesn't want it (too hard to ship) and, in her 18" box, she's taking up way too much space. I'll give her a run on Craigslist. And that's just the tip of the iceberg! Most of the stuff will end up going to Goodwill, I imagine. (I've already made three trips to shelters in the last two days.)  It's true what they say, "The stuff that you own soon starts to own you."

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Moving Mom via Memory Lane

I spent an afternoon last week with Mom, expunging one of the many closets in my childhood home. The move to her new apartment is getting closer (2nd week in January) and a sense of urgency is setting in to get things distributed before the holidays. I left with two boxes of stuff for Goodwill and a box of "keepers," such as art pottery, copper pieces and an album of my baby pictures.
Oh, to have that little bottom again.
As the first-born, there are a LOT of pictures of me, much to the dismay of my baby sister, Number 5. (Photos of her as a child are almost non-existent, poor thing.) When I was an infant, my dad was stationed at an Air Force base in Sacramento. My mom had a camera and a LOT of time on her hands.
Babies, both of us.
I am thrilled to have the pictures, although after I scan and catalog them, I doubt I'll even look at them again...
Check out Dad's death grip on my little arm. Classic.





until I have grandchildren, of course!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Hermann highlights

Wine tasting in Missouri offers different scenery than in California.  Different grapes, too, which weren't so much to our liking with a few exceptions. Still, a fun and scenic adventure. Great weekend getaway.
The view of the Missouri River from Oakglenn Winery. The scenery was the best part about this place. Otherwise, a little too touristy and kitschy.
Trying my iPhone's panorama feature
This is a popular spot downtown that offers every kind of sausage you can think of...and then some.
They give you just enough samples to make you stay for lunch...and take home five 1-pound packages. (Or, we were just exceptionally malleable customers.)
The dining room at the Wurst Haus.  I can't recommend the German potato salad and red cabbage enough. The real deal.
A giant sycamore shades the patio at Hermannhoff Winery.
A little sitting niche by the Hermannhoff patio. 
The wine cellar at Hermannhoff.  The wines there were just okay, but there were drier (which, to our palates, means better) California wines next door.
Our favorite stop, Bommarito. Not on the official wine trail map, so you have to ask.
This is where we actually purchased wine to bring home. Delicious. Award-winning. And, with a female winemaker/sommelier, to boot.  Highly recommended.
The scenery at Bommarito isn't bad either.
This is the Adam Puchta winery. A trolley full of red hat ladies forced us to wander away from the main tasting room. What a stroke of luck! We strayed into the gift shop and found the premium tasting room - excellent samples of port and sherry. We brought home a bottle of to-die-for port which we'll attempt to save for Christmas Eve.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Hermann MO: Willkommen

We checked into the Alsace Suite at Schiller Guest Suites in Hermann around 3 o'clock yesterday. I took these photos before we messed the place up...
Huge suite. Living room opens to kitchen. Bedroom beyond.
The kitchen with its fabulous old sink. This is a bed-and-do-it-yourself-breakfast.

Pull out sofa. Great colors. Fantastic light.
Lovely bedroom in the French provincial style.
The view from the bed. Fireplace even put out a little bit of heat, which is good since it's 29 degrees as I write.
Sampling hard cider at a tasting in The Bank Bar downstairs.
There are grapes everywhere in this valley. Even on our windows.
Our kitchen table. The owners left a freshly baked Quiche Lorraine, eggs, fruit, yogurt, OJ, cream, muffins and pumpkin bread and, of course, coffee for us to fix ourselves, at our leisure.
And now, for a little wine and beer tasting, because when in Hermann....

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

The hubs and I are heading for Hermann to celebrate Halloween with a bunch of German wine, beer and sausage makers in "the prettiest town in Missouri."  There's a hard cider tasting tonight at the bar in our inn (right under our room, we hear, although the bar allegedly closes at 11...we'll see).  Costumes are recommended, so we're going all out....
as Sister Mary Catherine and Monsignor Hamilton.  (He wouldn't settle for being a mere priest. "Too pedestrian.") As you can see, we were pretty pleased with ourselves posing for this dress rehearsal photo. "We'll kill!"  I said, ignoring the sixth commandment. Then, I got a load of this guy on the Facebook last night....
my friend and former co-worker who, after laboring through all those World Series games and countless gawd-awful Rob Lowe commercials, is going as "Creepy Marlins Man." (You'd have to have seen the series to get the joke.) Okay, my friend, you're gonna kill!! And where on earth did you get those giant (get it?) binoculars!?!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

All baseball. All. The. Time.

We do have the cutest players, though.
It's been a while since I blogged. How long? I have no idea. Days? Weeks? Seriously, I would have to do extensive research to tell you. Why is my mind in a deep blue haze? Because of baseball. Baseball - specifically, the World Series featuring the Kansas City Royals - is all-consuming. Sure, life goes on. But, not life as we know it. Everyone is preoccupied. Baseball is all we talk about, plan for, (each game starts at 7:07) work and play around. We end every conversation, every email or text with "Go Royals!" We stay up late every night, watching until long after the last pitch. We operate on precious little sleep. Monday was the hubs' and my 35th wedding anniversary. Fortunately, it was an 'off' night for the Series as the teams were traveling back to Kansas City for Game 6. So, we went out, had a nice dinner and talked about baseball, albeit in the context of our so-long-term-the-details-get-fuzzy relationship: "Which game did we get to go to in '85, anyway? And, if it wasn't Game 6, where were we when we won and how did we celebrate?" Tonight is Game 7.  I'm excited and nervous and very, very tired. Tomorrow, we'll mourn or be joyful. And I, for one, will be relieved. On Friday, the hubs and I will go to Hermann, Missouri, for a proper anniversary celebration. We've booked a suite in a funky, old inn with a four-poster bed and no TV.  There will be wine and beer and bratwurst and weird German names to pronounce. But, no baseball.  Let the games begin!!!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Two more days till Tuesday!

Tuesday is going to be a banner day. The Kansas City Royals play in their first World Series game since 1985. (I had just had my second child and was living in a KC suburb, at the time.) That's exciting enough because, if you're a loyal baseball fan (and I was, back in the day,) 29 years is a long time to wait for post-season payoffs. This time around, however, I've been a loyal fan for three weeks, which is exactly how long I've been waiting for this....
my new, silver iPhone 6, which is finally scheduled to arrive by FedEx - you guessed it - on Tuesday! Finally, I'll be able to return my tortoise-slow iPhone 4 for a $200 credit and experience real legibility and speed again. The hubs said, "You'll be spending so much time fooling around on your new toy, you won't even know the Series is on." Which may be true, but that's the beauty of the World Series. There is so much more baseball to play after Game 1. Gooooo, FedEx!!