Monday, May 22, 2017

Boomer Girl Review: Ultimate Oriole Feeder

I've still got a way to go before I'm feeding pigeons on the steps of St. Paul's (which I never thought was a bad thing to do in your old age, especially if Mary Poppins was your friend.) Nevertheless, my life is slowly but surely going to the birds. This year, I've decided to become one with the orioles which is a different game than the cardinals and hummingbirds. Orioles like oranges and grape jelly and nectar that's not as sweet as hummingbird nectar. (I assume, because they need to wash down the sugar in that sticky grape jelly.)  They also like the color orange, which makes sense since they themselves are orange in color. And, you know what they say about birds of a feather. Or, something like that. I was assured by the old man at the feed and seed store that the "orioles are going crazy" this year so I invested 20 bucks in a bright orange feeder, guaranteed to bring 'em in from all over.
Now, when you put "Ultimate" in your brand name, you create high exceptions. But, this baby delivered on the morning of Day 2 in my backyard!
My first visitor!!
Hey. When you're a work-at-home freelancer, you get pretty excited when anyone drops by: human, canine or avian.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Brooklyn. baby.

This is the first of three trips I will make to Brooklyn/NYC this year. My first grandchild is pending delivery in May and what better reason to visit the Big Apple? Of course, I couldn't miss my once-in-a-lifetime chance to attend a baby shower on a New York City rooftop. So, I arrived prematurely, which is permissible for grandmothers-to-be if they're invited, which I was.
Tye-dyeing burp cloths on a roof in the Flatiron District.
My daughter and I flew non-stop on Southwest into LaGuardia uneventfully UNTIL we hit the taxi queue which looks a lot like Disneyland on any given Saturday due to construction at LGA's Terminal B. Note to self: Try Delta next time.
Happy to finally arrive at our hotel, The Henry Norman.
We stayed at our go-to hotel in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint, The Henry Norman - on the intersection of, you guessed it, Henry and Norman.
We love, love, love this place, as do an eclectic collection of guests including the stars of TV shows shooting on sound stages in the neighborhood. In the lobby the next morning, my daughter and I chatted up an actor from a certain Netflix series that shall remain nameless because he swore us to secrecy. 

Then, it was off to Eataly in the Flatiron District, Mario Batali's Italian superstore and multi-level food court. This is Birreria on the roof, kind of a casual apres-ski cafe in the Italian Alps concept. Phenomenal polenta bar.
Unwrapping gifts inside the recording studio. 
The shower was at a very cool recording studio in the Gramercy Park Media Arts Building, an indoor/outdoor setting that took full advantage of the perfect "Springtime in New York" day.  Afterward, it was back to Greenpoint for the aunt to-be's first tattoo...

Because, when in Brooklyn....

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Boomer Girl Review: The Original Sleep Sound Machine

The unassuming little device, in black, in its bedroom nook. 
While the college kids in town were away on spring break last week, the wildlife in our yard was getting down with a raucous ritual of their own. That's right, gentle readers. It's mating season in BoomerGirl's wild kingdom, a noisy affair that goes on night after night, week after week until - voila! - adorable babies arrive in May.

In March, it's the owls. Barred owls, to be specific, which sound something like this when they're, as the kids in Cancun say, hooking up:

Kind of charming and natural, in a way, right? In the daylight, yes. But, not if you have sleep issues. Because these owls go at it all. Night. Looooong!

I'm beginning to understand how important sleep is to one's longevity, not to mention sanity. So, I took the advice of a formerly sleep-deprived friend and purchased myself a device that wouldn't keep me up at night (unlike my iPhone and iPad, but that's another issue. One problem at a time.)  It's called the Original Sleep Sound machine and it is truly a game changer.

Elegantly simple, the machine has just two speeds, low and high, and allows you to adjust the sound at each level slightly by a dial on the top. The white noise it emits is soothing and full, yet somehow subtle even at the higher volume. Those owls can party all night long and I'm blissfully unaware.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Boomer Girl Review: Lea & Perrins Marinade for Chicken

My secret's not so secret anymore.
If you're looking for a terrific way to give your turkey gravy some zip, this is the condiment for you, my friends. My secret weapon, which is always on hand in the fridge to jazz up fish and chicken dishes, was formerly sold as White Wine Worcestershire Sauce. (I'm guessing the Lea & Perrins people couldn't pronounce 'Worcestershire' just like the rest of us.) With its delectable blend of herbs, spices and white wine, you can even deglaze a roaster pan with it, although I recommend adding more white wine to do the job.

And, yes, I am making my gravy a full day early this year. Nobody wants to relive my panic attack from last year when the gravy refused to thicken while I whisked frantically - sweat pouring from my brow - as my extended family looked on in horror.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Boomer Girl Review: Simply Christmas by Leslie Odom, Jr.

I have a hard and fast rule about not playing holiday music until we start decorating the tree on Thanksgiving weekend. This year, I made an exception. For Leslie. Because I love him. There. Now you know.

Leslie Odom, Jr., one of the stars of Broadway's "Hamilton" (which I was fortunate enough to see in New York on my 60th birthday last year) has a voice that could melt the coldest heart.  Just as melted-buttery-good as Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis and all the greats. This delightfully under-produced album (as Christmas albums go) has only 9 songs, but each one is a gem. Oh, but don't take my word for it. Listen for yourself and, then, just for grins, watch Leslie himself singing "Autumn Leaves" as a special Thanksgiving treat....

Now, do you see why I love him? Why I'm so thankful he's in my life?

Happy Thanksgiving, Leslie! And happy Thanksgiving to you, friends!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Post-election Productivity Syndrome (PPS)

Well, here it is almost a month since I last posted. Where does the time go? Into pre- and post-election obsession, that's where. I had been so preoccupied with the presidential race, it was all I could do to perform my part-time job and the most basic personal hygiene thanks to the non-stop storylines and spin. I'm a self-confessed news junkie, but it felt less heaven and more hell. Still, I couldn't cut it off.

Then, something happened on Election Night that was nothing short of an ah-ha moment. As I sat there Tuesday evening, clutching a Bota Box of Redvolution (highly recommended) between my legs, I said to myself, "BoomerGirl, you need to go to bed before they call this thing. Your eyes are puffy enough without the ugly cry. Then, get up in the morning, make yourself a pot of coffee and redecorate the freaking family room."

And that's what I did, dammit.

While they marched the streets in New York....
And in my hometown...

I painted...and painted... and painted. I don't have pictures because I was too busy painting. (And, ok, stress-eating. I did a lot of stress-eating.) I love to paint. I don't know why. It's a mystery. Then, I persuaded the hubs to put down a hardwood floor. You know, because he needed to stay busy, too. I felt it.
Nine days later, all we need to do is hang some stuff back on the walls....

Including a mirror I'm staining as we speak....
Not sure if you can stain over red paint but I'm giving it a shot.
and load the rug and furniture back in. Meanwhile, I'm already stressing over what my next project will be... and the one after that....and the one after that.... for the next four years.  My dog is concerned, too.
We fear there's not enough paint in the world.  But, at least, while waiting for the revolution, we've got the next best thing.

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.

Boomer Girl Review: Ultimate Oriole Feeder

I've still got a way to go before I'm feeding pigeons on the steps of St. Paul's (which I never thought was a bad thing to do ...