Friday, December 30, 2011

Bytox? Yes, please.

That's not a typo. The BoomerGirl hasn't changed her anti-Botox stance. Bytox is the oh-so cleverly named hangover remedy prevention patch, sent to me for review just in the nick of time by Bytox, Inc. The idea is you apply the patch - containing a cocktail of vitamins (especially the Bs) and lots of folic acid - 45 minutes before consuming alcohol, and continue wearing it 8 hours after your last drink. Voila! Your "morning after"will be pain-free. Or, at least, pain-reduced. I seem to recall feeling not-so great after last year's 5-hour NYE fete. And Lord knows the older I get, the less I can tolerate the drink. It's worth a try. Want to try it, too? Check out Bytox.com.

It's the end of the year: Let's get stewed!

I'm making this 5-Hour Beef Stew for our annual NYE dinner and games party tomorrow night. I've wanted to make it ever since I wrote the story, in my former life as a newspaper reporter.  It's the perfect recipe if you don't like to be cooking after guests arrive. I'm going to use sweet vermouth (instead of red wine) and pearl onions - just to make it fancier - and maybe some fresh tarragon. Heat up a few baguettes, toss a green salad (supplied by a guest) and - voila! - a hearty, satisfying and easy-to-serve meal. (I only hope none of our friends decided to go vegan since last year.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

That's irony, folks. Wocka, wocka!

While looking for something to take a picture of using my new Camera+ app, I found this ticket stub in my purse. This is how my husband and I spent the Monday holiday - as the oldest people (by far) in a theater crowded with little kids (not our own, mind you) watching "The Muppets." (What can I say? We have a thing for Miss Piggy.) Despite some hilarious celebrity cameos, we thought the flick was just okay. But, hey. At least, we got the senior discount.

Monday, December 26, 2011

My first iPhone video!

My husband can't decide which is his favorite Christmas present: those dazzling pajama pants in Jayhawk crimson and blue plaid or his new wine aerating and decanting system. (I know which one I'm drawn to.)

Siri, remind me I need toilet paper.

    That was my first command to the super-efficient and oh-so exclusive personal assistant that lives inside my new iPhone GS. Yeah, yeah. I know Siri isn't exclusively at my beck and call. If my Facebook feed is any indication, lots of good little boys and girls got her under their tree this year. I've been testing Siri's limits all day and she's great at reminding me of things, finding directions and even looking things up on the Internet. But when I asked, "Siri, how old am I?" she replied" "I don't know. I've wondered that myself." So, there you have it. If Siri can forget my age, then so can I.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

And I only sliced my finger a teensy-tiny bit

    It took me until Christmas to use my new mandolin slicer, a birthday present from my sister who works part-time at Williams-Sonoma to support her kitchen gadget habit. Wow! It cut the prep time in half for my rosemary carrots recipe!  I got a little carried away and almost took off a piece of my pointer, but it was nothing a little BandAid couldn't fix.
   The best part? I took the photo with my new iPhone S4. (Imagine that, I buried the lead!) I'm still figuring it out, but I plan to be unstoppable in 2012 thanks to Siri, my new personal assistant.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My wish for you....

   
Peace on Earth. Goodwill to men. And to all a good night.

Dessert in a hurry

I wasn't going to do dessert tonight because I'm off wheat and cutting way back on sugar. Then, I realized how selfish that was since I have three family members who haven't taken such drastic measures. Still, I didn't want to invest a whole lot of time making something I couldn't even nibble on. So, I settled on this - Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Rum Sauce.
I cubed a large loaf of store-bought pumpkin bread and used Splenda "blend" to ease the glycemic load just a tad. It couldn't have been easier but when I poured the sugar, Half & Half and vanilla mixture over the bread, it was clear I needed more. So I made another mixture, halving the ingredients, and added it, so it covered the bread to the top of the pan.
The recipe says you can pop it right in the oven at this point, but I'm putting this baby in the frig to let the goodness soak in all day. (And, yes, I have addressed the possibility that I might have to taste-test my creation while it's warm, right out of the oven with a little caramel rum sauce on top. One little sin. Who cares?! I've already had my audience with the Pope. He assured me I was not and would never be considered for sainthood.)

Friday, December 23, 2011

2 weeks wheat-free and feeling fantastic!

    It's rare that I make it two weeks on any diet. At least, in the strict no-little-cheats-here-or-there kind of way. Especially at holiday time. But, I have done it! I have been 100% wheat-free (OK, I'll be honest and say 97% wheat-free - I've had scotch) since Dec. 9 and I feel like a thousand dollars. My energy level is up, bloating and swelling are way down (my wedding ring actually feels loose in the morning), five pounds are gone, and my face is missing those unsightly puff pockets under the eyes. Even the vague little aches and pains I always attributed to age are AWOL. The best thing about the Wheat Belly diet is how easy it is to simply put down the fork. Without the appetite stimulants in wheat, it's easier to know when to say when. I've turned away or ignored restaurant bread baskets four times in the past 14 days!
   The biggest challenge will be getting through the next three days without falling off the no-wheat wagon, which could be difficult given our traditional Beef Wellington Christmas Eve dinner. But hey, nobody said you have to EAT the flaky golden puff pastry enveloping the beef tenderloin, right?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My baby blues love the "See It Bigger" 2012 planner

Next year (the one that arrives in only 9 days), I'm "super-sizing" my deskwear with this just-what-the-eye-doctor-ordered "See it Bigger" planner.  With nice big spaces to note your appointments in nice big print, it's just the thing for people, like me, who are tired of squinting (causes wrinkles) or popping on the "cheaters" every time you want to check your calendar.
(For the record, I just bit the bullet and set the font size on my Blackberry one size larger, too.  Try it, you'll like it!)

Monday, December 19, 2011

I'm in... but I've no idea what I'm doing

After a week or so of waiting, I have finally been invited to join Pinterest. And, I've already gotten one follower! Trouble is, I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I think it's about "pinning" on my "board" and looking at other people's "boards" and maybe "re-pinning" their stuff.  I'm just not sure. Still, it's a cool site and worth checking out, I think. As long as you can survive another giant time suck!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The next Ethel Merman?

Thanks to my friend, Sue, for passing this along. Oh man, the kid reminds me of someone I know all too well:

A final (formal) remembrance

My column today is a tribute to my mother-in-law and her love of bling. I've been wearing a lot of it lately, especially the rhinestones. I think she would be pleased.
Two glitzy watches we just unearthed last night. (At what point did my hands become my grandmother's?)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

White elephant score!

I was the clear winner at last night's White Elephant gift exchange party with friends. These are my new Foot Chargers by Clairol Research (I'm guessing circa 1975).  Not only do they warm my tootsies, they vibrate, too!  I don't know which is funnier looking - the gold vinyl moon boots - or those legs. Someone once called my skin 'alabaster.' I'm thinking it's closer to lavender.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wheat Belly: I'm a believer!

Dr. William Davis has an extremely hard sell with his book's thesis that wheat - not just gluten - is bad for us. In fact, he says, as the single largest contributor to the obesity epidemic, it may be killing us. Regardless of whether you buy the argument, "Wheat Belly" is well worth reading, if only to examine Davis' provocative expose of "the harmful effects of what is actually a product of genetic tinkering and agribusiness being sold to the American public as 'wheat.'" Yes, the "wheat" we eat today is nowhere near the wheat we boomers ate as little kids. It is four times more fattening, addicting and sickening than the Wonder Bread of old. The argument was compelling enough to make me give up wheat altogether for the past three days and, I have to admit, I feel really good. Thank goodness I'm no longer working in an office with crazy Christmas cookie-baking colleagues. Can I make it through next weekend's holiday parties? That remains to be seen.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Monster Moisture Machine Steam-off

Today is the annual humidifier round-up, where we bring all moisture-infusing appliances into the kitchen for cleaning and a test run. (And, they say the Kardashias lead exciting lives.) I wish we would have done this a few weeks ago as my sinuses and skin are already showing signs of dry air distress. The good news is, all machines seem to be working after the warm weather hiatus.
Pictured above is the Carefree Humidifier Plus by Hunter. As you can see, it has a nifty nightlight built-in to prevent toe stubs during the night. Unfortunately, the Carefree sounds a lot like Niagara Falls and, thus, isn't the best choice for the BoomerGirl's bedroom. (I wee-wee enough in the wee hours. I don't need extra encouragement.) This one will probably go in the kitchen/family room.
This is the Holmes from Sears, classic and functional with a little gauge that tells you when to change the filter. This one makes a consistent white noise - low on the annoying scale - but doesn't seem to put a lot of moisture into the air.  Holmes will go into the TV room for now, but might not last the season.
This little engine that could is the Robitussin Baby's Breath humidifier. I'm sure it was the least expensive of the bunch, but just look at all that steam! I'll be sleeping next to this little guy from now until spring. I only hope I don't get burned.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A crimson tide?

I didn't think to mention it was my birthday yesterday, mainly because it was just No. 56 and didn't seem much of a landmark. (Besides, it was all over Facebook like white on rice.) Noteworthy, though, was the coincidental confluence of the gifts I received last night before an intimate family dinner celebration:
First, was this cute, funky little dress (Kintamani by Wind River) and scarf that my husband bought me. The fact that he actually purchased something a) all by himself, b) that I love and c) fits me perfectly was strange enough. But, I rarely, if ever wear red. (I'm strictly a blue, black or gray and sometimes brown kind of gal.) Then, my daughter comes up with the red necklace (seen above), not knowing the red dress and scarf had been selected. Mildly weird, right? Then, I open the gift sent from my sister....
 and my mind was officially blown. (Scarf from Gap.) You think they're trying to tell me to put a little pizazz into my wardrobe? Yeah, I think so, too. Point taken, family.

A tree of tomes!

Here's a great idea from an Anthropologie store in New York City. I am so doing this next year! Will someone please remind me?

The hunt for ugly is on

The week's been so hectic, I haven't had time to shop for the ugly Xmas sweater party we're going to tonight. Unfortunately, I bid farewell to my tacky holiday garb (and I had some doozies) years ago. Now, it's time to hit the thrift shops, hoping and praying I can nab a couple of winners like the ones in the photo. And, do some Christmas shopping while I'm at it. Happy Saturday!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Closure for the collection

The collection
I've written previously about my mother-in-law's extensive costume jewelry collection, one that I've been storing in our spare bedroom in six storage boxes for over a year.  You can imagine then, how happy I was when the female relatives who came to town for her funeral, divvied everything up and took much of the bling home with them.  (Can you imagine the scene at the airport metal detector?)
Of course, I did keep several dozen pieces for my daughter and me. There's the "formal" stuff in the photo above.

But my favorite part is the box of lapel pins she collected throughout her life, from countless cities and states she visited. I have no idea what we're going to do with them, but they're really fun to look through.

The geometry of sin

I didn't have a column in the paper today but I did find this on Facebook, which seemed somehow fitting for Sunday reading. (I love this kind of stuff. Does that make me weird?)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rest in peace, sweet Ellin

Xmas 2010: Festive Ellin with her devoted son (I don't know why he was barefoot) and favorite canine, who is keeping Ellin's foot warm.
My dear mother-in-law passed away yesterday. She was 94. It was an exquisitely gentle death thanks to merciful natural causes and compassionate hospice care. I helped compose her obituary and was again impressed that she rode a horse to her first job - teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in her early twenties, and was still traveling (by planes, trains and automobiles) until she was 90. We were privileged to be with her - including Lucy the dog who frequented her nursing home - almost every day of her life over the past year. She was always ready with a smile and a compliment, and not once did she complain. Godspeed, MawMaw.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Room with a view

     The hubs and I wisely decided to get a room after a big party in downtown Kansas City last night. We did our Priceline bidding and scored the 4-star Hotel Phillips for just $60. (That's a 55% savings according to William Shatner, dontcha know?) PLUS, our lovely check-in girl, Megan, granted us an upgrade to a corner executive suite on the 18th floor! (Always compliment your check-in girl's earrings.) It's a gracious hotel, Art Deco cool and stately, with fine amenities and a symphony of old hotel sounds, including kids screaming down the hall at 8 a.m. and a maid knocking on the door by mistake at 8:20. But, hey, the price was right.

Friday, November 25, 2011

I've got Santa on speed dial

Your humble BoomerGirl is responsible for the arrival of Kris Kringle tonight in downtown Lawrence. It's a truly charming tradition whereby the townsfolk gather at 9th & Massachusetts for the lighting ceremony and Santa's rescue from the roof of Weaver's Department Store by fire truck. Talk about job stress.  It's like a fine-tuned military operation with every city department involved plus entertainers, city officials, Salvation Army, and assorted players. Everybody synchronizes their watches, communicates by cell phone and, well, just hopes for the best, I guess. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Savoring Thanksgiving Day traditions

       One of the nice things about my side of the family is that we don't start our Thanksgiving party until the cocktail hour, as opposed to my husband's people who ring the dinner bell promptly at noon. I like having all day to cook, hang out in my jammies and watch TV - Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, Phillie kennel club dog show, football, in that order.
      The other nice things are the cocktails themselves, which come in handy when five women are trying to work in my mom's kitchen, simultaneously.  Wild Turkey, anyone? Cheers!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ah, so my striatum's to blame!

This may explain why it took me so long to decide between Stove Top and Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing mix at the store today. I picked PF. But it took For. Ev. Er!!!

Thankful for time-release melatonin

Half an Ambien wasn't working and I didn't want to take a whole. One Advil PM wasn't doing the trick and, besides, they made me too thirsty. I tried 3 mg Melatonin the last several nights, but was wide awake at 3:30 - 4 a.m. So annoying. Last night, I popped a time-release 5 mg Melatonin and - voila! -  a blissful, 8-hour night's sleep. I came to semi-consciousness around 3 or 4 (didn't look at the clock, deliberately) but drifted back to sleep after ten minutes or so, no problem. And, there was no drowsy, foggy hangover this morning. Let the productivity begin! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

In the wee small hours of the morning

Insomnia is a recurring theme in my life, and in my writing. (Write what you know, and all that rot.) Today's column revists the weirdness of the wee hours, especially when you share them with your dog.

Decorating Day



    After spending a cold morning decorating my work space (OK, I didn't exactly help; but I supervised 30 fabulous volunteers provided by Just Food), I decided I might as well get the house dolled up, too. If only I'd thought to invite those volunteers over for coffee cake and a little tinsel tossing.
   By the way, if you're a local reader, please give generously to Just Food this holiday season. They're feeding hungry Douglas County families every day.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My scarf theme continues

(Sorry. 'Couldn't resist. Stole this off Facebook. After a long day, this made me surprisingly happy.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Look, I'm a stick!

I took a five-minute break from my hectic day today and slayed a dragon on DrawAStickman.com. It was really fun, although a bit challenging with those short little arms of mine.

I feel (a little) better about my neck

I love my black cotton cowl neck sweater, but it had two problems: 1) The black was starting to look harsh against my aging face (it's a wicked color-zapper); and 2) it showed too much of my neck. Thanks to that oh-so-instructive scarf video I discovered (see below), I found the solution by tying a blue scarf turtleneck-style under the cowl neck. Voila!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Scarf tying on steroids

Now that I've un-boxed all of my winter scarves, I need a few more ways to wear them. Here, in one video, are 25 different ways. Overkill? Maybe, but the video is exceptionally well done and entertaining. Plus, after you watch it, you can click on an individual 'knot' for a repeat tutorial. I think I'll return to this one several times during the long months ahead. Enjoy....

Friday, November 11, 2011

Soft Surroundings, I Heart You!

How in Retail Heaven's name have I made it this far without raving about Soft Surroundings, my new favorite (online) store? I discovered it a few months ago and found it to be the best source for clothes for women my age  - not too dowdy like Coldwater Creek can be, not too embellished like Chico's....like the perfect bowl of porridge, SS is just right. It reminds me of J. Jill in the early years before they apparently decided to mute all of their colors. And they're long on tunics right now, which is a bonus.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tied up in knots

Despite having not one but two Eagle Scouts in the family, I'm all thumbs when it comes to knots. Thanks to this adorable young woman who demonstrates not once but three times, I now know a new way to tie my scarves this winter. Thank you, adorable young woman!

And, just to prove I did it, here's me (looking rather severe) wearing the new look. All it took was two tries!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

That stork must be exhausted

The indefatigable Duggar family, stars of a TLC reality show I've never seen - was back on the Today show this morning with - surprise, surprise! - another birth announcement: 45-year-old Michelle Dugar, mother of 19 and grandmother of 2, is pregnant and due in April...with Number 20. My only question is...
is that the look of love or desperation on the poor woman's face? That smiling sap she's held captive by married to needs to be fixed right now... on the Today show.

I can't feel a thing!

Last night and early this morning, my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been burning up with friends claiming to have felt the Oklahoma earthquakes here in town. I'm not feeling it, dammit, and it's so frustrating! The hubs says it's because our home is built on a quarry and there's nothing like a little bedrock to stop a land tremor in its tracks. Still, it would be cool to feel the earth move under my feet...if only to cue one of my favorite songs of all time, which I'll do, regardless:

My best grade ever

The hubs and I are refinancing the house to take advantage of historically low rates (3-3/8% on a 10-year fixed) and to buy that luxurious, used "conveyance" I talked about last week. (What can I say? It was a deal he couldn't refuse, our daughter needed to get out of her death trap and I detest car loans.) I cringed at getting into a loan with a term that was almost four years longer than our current mortgage but, in the end, the numbers made sense and we can pay it down (or off, completely) early without penalty. The process has been fairly painless. The appraiser came yesterday, and it will be interesting (if not a little heartbreaking) to see how much our home is worth on today's market. The best part was seeing my credit score: A whopping 811, the equivalent of an A-plus! I've been hearing about credit scores for years now (thanks to adorable money nerd, Clark Howard) and always wondered what mine was. It turns out, despite my woeful beginnings as a single and financially clueless person, I am now a really good risk. Age has its advantages, I suppose.

Monday, November 7, 2011

DASH away, DASH away all.

I forgot to provide a link to my column yesterday. Must've been because I wasn't very fond of it. Just wasn't salty enough.

My new routine

Yes, I did that this morning. The plank and the push-ups took a couple tries, but I got 'em done. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a protein shake and a couple of ibuprofens with my name on them.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Newsflash: You are not crazy and neither am I

This a really thought-provoking piece about the "epidemic that defines women as crazy, irrational, overly sensitive and unhinged." I think it's important reading for women, men and, especially, girls.
    The writer - male, for the record - blames men, mostly, but I'd argue that women are guilty of perpetuating the myth, too. I've been hearing "calm down, you're over-reacting" my whole life, starting from my parents (mostly my dad, but Mom, too) and, now, even my kids get into the act once in a while. (I confess that I have accused my daughter of the same 'offense," especially at that time of the month.)
    What's more troubling are the people in our lives who - intentionally or unknowingly - practice 'gaslighting', which means "creating a reaction -- whether it's anger, frustration, sadness -- in the person they are dealing with. Then, when that person reacts, the gaslighter makes them feel uncomfortable and insecure by behaving as if their feelings aren't rational or normal." I am fortunate not to live with a gaslighter, but I have been 'gaslighted' in the past, and it can be damaging to your sense of self. 
   My take-away: Our reactions are simply our reactions. Our sensitivity levels are neither over or under. They just are. From now on, let's stop apologizing for being normal.

Falling back, but falling softly

    In an effort to soften the blow of daylight savings time coming to an end, I took two 3 mg Melatonin tabs last night at 10 and slept soundly until 8 a.m. which, of course, was 7 a.m. on my self-adjusting timepieces this morning.  Melatonin (see link above) is my new alternative to the half-Ambien I've been taking every other night to combat my - for lack of a sexier term - post-menopausal insomnia. (Let's face it, insomnia at any age isn't sexy. Unless you're a hooker. In that case, it might be a somewhat attractive asset.)
   The only thing I really like about standard time is leaving the office in the dark. It gives you that sense of accomplishment, staying until the streetlights come on. As if you've burned the midnight oil, albeit seven hours earlier.
   Otherwise - with an apologetic nod to my farmer friends - it kind of sucks.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday night special

Our first Saturday night at home in ages and I celebrated by cooking one of those random, whatever's-about-to-go-bad dinners: Swedish meatballs, roasted butternut squash with cinnamon pear balsamic vinegar, tossed salad with avocado and steamed leaves from a lone artichoke I found in my crisper drawer. Heavenly. Now, if I can just get the old man from switching between three football games every two minutes, I may not have to kill him.

Amazing Grace: The story

I've been to three funerals this fall, all for middle-aged white people. (Hasn't been the happiest of seasons this year.) At two out of three services, they played "Amazing Grace." That little factoid makes this video all the more informative and inspirational. It's definitely worth 8 minutes of your time.

Video from KarmaTube

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why not me?

   With tonight's jackpot of $245 mill, it's time to play "What would I do if I won the lottery?' a fantasy I indulge far too often, despite the fact that I buy lottery tickets once in a blue moon. But, here's the plan:
    First, I won't even check my ticket until tomorrow morning. I'll need all the sleep I can get if I'm going to hit that jackpot. (And I WILL hit that jackpot!) After triple-checking my numbers, followed by the obligatory leaping and screaming, I'd go straight to the bank and put the ticket in my safe deposit box. Next, I'd plan a series of vacations, starting with another Oceania cruise, if not an extended stay at a European spa...to begin immediately following the prize-claiming ceremony. There, I would de-stress - with the hubs and kids (yes, they can come, too) - and start planning the disbursement of funds to family, friends and charitable causes, along with a few modest home purchases - an apartment in New York City, a chalet in the Rockies and a villa in Sayulita, Mexico. I'd come home just in time for the holidays, so I could do that anonymous Santa thing and hand out out multiple $100 bills to unsuspecting needy people. Stressful? You bet. But, I'd have myself one helluva Christmas.
   What would YOU do?

Monday, October 31, 2011

I never looked well under flourescent lights.

After being mistaken for a battered wife, I ramped up the make-up.
True story: I just walked a block to Kinko's and stopped in a boutique where I sometimes buy clothes. The woman behind the desk looked deeply concerned. "What happened to you?" she asked. "Nothing. It's Halloween. I'm a fright." "Oh, I am so happy to hear that!"  Weird thing was, she was dressed for Halloween, too. I guess when it comes to costumes, more is more.

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 ...