Thursday, June 30, 2011

WarbyParker delivers!

Two days after I placed my order, my five "try-on" pairs of specs arrived. How cool is that? I quickly eliminated the bright blue pair...
What the heck was I thinking?!?
in favor of the Wiloughby model in Tennessee Whiskey...
Geek chic, but within reason. Sold!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My 'toast' loss is your 'toast' gain: A giveaway!!

The officials at "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" have offered me - and one of you - an exciting consolation prize because my "Welsh Rarebit: Kansas Style" did not make the cut for the "toast off" in New York City. It's a prize package including an I Can't Believe It's Not Butter VIP coupon, a KitchenAid 2-slice toaster, ceramic serving basket (to keep your baked goods warm at the table), 4 clamp-top spice herb jars and toast tongs (something I didn't even know existed.) All you have to do is leave a comment below explaining how you like your toast (no recipe required).  I will put all the entries into a hat and choose one. If you don't want to leave a comment online, simply email your comment to cathy@boomergirl.com.  (Note: The drawing will be totally random and I will be blindfolded.) The winner will be announced right here on July 6th. Good luck!

Called on account of poop

My 6:30 am Water Warriors class was cut short by an uninvited visitor to the pool. It's not what you're thinking. No "Caddy Shack" scene here. It was bird 'do' that forced my class and the entire Lawrence Aquahawks swim team to evacuate the water. We'd already gotten 45 minutes in, so I wasn't that disappointed. And I guess I should be thankful the, uh, deposit came from an avian source. Could have been worse. Still, it made me think back to "the day" before e. coli scares when lifeguards would simply scoop up, or ignore, unpleasant ploppings from the sky while we played Marco Polo, blissfully unaware.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Spanking the basil

My favorite - and only - mixologist friend, Kim Haasarud, is now blogging at mommymixologist.com so, of course, I checked it out. Her most recent post, Spank Me Like a Sprig of Mint, suggests that one punish one's herbs before adding them to one's cocktails. I tried this last night before dunking some fresh basil into to my Citron vodka and Crystal Light lemonade concoction. I spanked it so hard, my hand literally started to sting. But, mmmm, was it ever worth the effort! And, oh my, you should have heard the double entendres fly! The cocktail hour was never quite so fun.

Awaiting my eyewear from Warby


Oh, that's the "nerd" look, alright!

After using the Virtual Try-On feature (see mug shot above), I discovered the "Home Try-On" option on my new favorite company's website. In just 2-3 days, WarbyParker will send me five pairs of glasses (including these Roosevelt specs in Bondi Blue) to try on at my leisure (as long as my 'leisure' takes no longer than five days). At the end of the trial, I simply send back the glasses I don't want (no shipping costs) and keep the ones I do. That's when my credit card will be charged. No wonder they call them the Netflix of Eyewear! I will be so disappointed if this deal is too good to be true. But, you never know until you try, right?

Monday, June 27, 2011

"Service Above Self"

If you had told me five years - heck, even five months - ago, that I would be a Rotarian one day, I would not have called you crazy. I would have simply explained that I've never been much of a joiner (which is putting it mildly).  I dropped out of the Girl Scouts, my college sorority and the Junior League all after one year. Nevertheless, I was inducted into a local Rotary Club today - painlessly and without incident - and welcomed warmly into the fold. I have to say, it feels pretty good to be a member of a club again. And, as long as they don't make me sew a sit-upon or remember a secret handshake, I might even last longer than 12 months.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Now THIS is how a business should be run!

Check out this revolutionary eyewear company, as seen on CBS Sunday today. I'm on WarbyParker.com right now, ordering a pair of Winston's in Lunar Fade. My dream of owning a wardrobe of specs just came true. Bravo, boys! No doubt your boomer parents are proud...and grateful!

Hasta luego, Fiesta!

One of my favorite things to do in Lawrence, Kansas, is the annual St. John's Mexican Fiesta, a true community event that brings people from all parts of town and all walks of life together. This year's party did not disappoint, and we didn't even try the tamales (but Bud Light "Lime" is surprisingly refreshing.)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kitchen shower + cooking class = genius!

The bride (wearing her practice wedding 'up-do') learns how to make Cava punch.
My photos aren't the best, but the idea sure was. This afternoon's wedding shower for a good friend of my son was held at Culinaria Catering, combining hands-on instruction with delicious food and drink. 
Getting ready to make Homemade Garlic Naan

Mini whisks and cruets as party favors; fresh herbs in clay pots for centerpieces.
     Guests were asked to bring an apron to wear and their favorite recipe to share with the bride. (We also brought gifts, of course.) So much better than those tired wedding showers with the goofy games.

A new day in New York!

Last night, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that allows gay people to marry in the state of New York. The tea partiers are flipping out, naturally. Me? I'm thinking of moving to Manhattan and starting a new career as a wedding planner! Fabulous.

Now, that's what I need in my kitchen!

   The Blender Bike made its debut at our downtown farmers' market this morning with this darling little girl on the pedals. (Dig that stylish ensemble!) This might be a great way to put the old exercise bike gathering dust in my attic to use....get my daily workout in while making my morning smoothie....
    Yeah. Or not.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Brisket time!

We had the first brisket of the summer last Sunday and just polished off the leftovers today. Here's my favorite recipe, simple and (relatively) quick:  I add enough water to an entire jar of Penzey's BBQ 3000 seasoning to make a paste, (you can probably use any brand of BBQ seasonings or a combo of garlic powder, salt and paprika) and rub it over the meat, top and bottom. Double-wrap it in foil, fat side down, and place on a baking sheet or in roasting pan. Bake at 425 for one hour, then 375 for two hours. Trim fat after cooking. I served it with steamed corn on the cob with basil butter, roasted new potatoes with fresh-cut garden herbs, green salad with avocado vinaigrette dressing and lemon sorbet with blueberry sauce for dessert. Summery goodness!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

For sale: 'Father of the Bride' house

The setting for one of my favorite movies is on the market for $1.35 million. This might sound crazy - and I know it's still a recession and all - but doesn't that price seem a tad low for this 4,000+ s/f spread, located 7 miles from Los Angeles?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The day I caught Dad with his pants down...sort of.

My Father's Day column isn't sentimental, as in years passed. But, it still makes me miss him.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A musical blast from 1973!


I'm going to an engagement party tonight at a classic college bar, one that I haunted intermittently from '73 to '76 (before I turned 21; it was a beer-only bar for the 18+ set). Here's one of my favorite songs that was probably playing on the jukebox in those days. (Did anyone else think this song was sung by a black group, or is it just me?)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rx: Effing Efudex

    The day I've been dreading has finally arrived. My annual dermatologist appointment resulted in a prescription for chemotherapy cream to remove all the pre-cancer spots on my face. This means at least three weeks of swelling, scaling, scabbing, scarlet skin and other unpleasant 'S' words I haven't thought of yet. I won't post them here, but if you Google 'efudex' images you'll see what I'm in for. The trick is, the doc said, to come up with 3-4 weeks when my contact with the public will be minimal. I said, "I'm a merchants association director, not a freaking grizzly bear!!"
   There is a silver lining: A scientific study showed most people who go through this horror wind up with smoother skin and fewer wrinkles. So, there's that.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Can't Believe I'm Not Going to the Toast-Off!

Well, you can't win 'em all. I thought my entry in the "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" toast contest was a bona fide contender, but the absence of congratulatory emails in my inbox tells me otherwise. In retrospect, my recipe may have lost points on several counts: I should have done more with the product and featured toasted bread more prominently. My other downfall might have been using beer as a major ingredient. And, let's be honest, Welsh Rarebit, however delightful, is not exactly nutritious or new, even though I still think it's retro, unexpected and cool. Oh, well. If I can't be the ambassador of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter," maybe I can shill for a more appropriate product - like Dove, Depends or Dewar's. (Are you listening, Madison Avenue? Have your mad men call my mad men!)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My new "signature" summer look

I've finally grown my hair long enough to wear a ponytail. This is a not-so-grand experiment to see which hairstyle stays cooler in the dog days of summer: my previous chin-length bob or the new look. (The pixie is not an option. Been there, cut that. Never again.) The problem with the ponytail is the rubber band. No umph! No pizzazz! Scrunchies seem so last decade and too teenybopper. What's a BoomerGirl to do? My brilliant-if-I-do-say-so-myself solution: Beaded stretchy bracelets salvaged from my mother-in-law's cache of junk jewelry. Twist them onto the top of the rubber band and - voila - a tail with flair!
Doesn't exactly complement my gardening ensemble, but you get the idea.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Is it 5 o'clock yet?

    Look what just arrived in the mail! A review copy of "Mojitos and other muddled drinks" by Kim Haasarud. Kim has concocted a career coveted by cocktail lovers everywhere. (Or, at least, by me.) She's a professional mixologist, best-selling author and frequent TV beverage expert. Check out her website: Liquid Architecture. (And, for local readers, she went to high school in Kansas City and K.U. for one year. How small is this world?)
   The first cocktail I'm going to try is the Lemon-Basil Julep (p. 115) using my favorite sugar-free simple syrup:

Friday, June 10, 2011

The lights are much brighter there.

    A power outage in downtown Lawrence forced me to come home early today. 'Seems the lights are always blinking off and on in my fair little city. Nobody knows why.
    As I was driving home, I hoped the power would come back by dinnertime, then started thinking about the "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" toast contest I entered (see entry below) and how the judging will likely take place this weekend. Five finalists will be chosen to fly to New York for a "toast off" later this month in the Unilever kitchens. (The Food Network is involved....it's kind of a big deal.)
That started me thinking about how much I *heart* New York City at night. I'll never forget how that incredible skyline with all the lights came into view as I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge in a taxi for the first time in 1997.  And THAT started me thinking about this song from one of my favorite classic Broadway musicals:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

AAADD: The Video

I've read lots of jokes along these lines, but have never seen the syndrome actually dramatized. The video is meant to be funny, but it's really quite charming, in a lovely British way. Maybe this explains why it always takes me two hours to get to work.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Raise a toast to toast!


I was invited by the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” folks to participate in a toast-themed recipe contest. (Little did they know, I mastered the art of cooking toast 50 years ago.) What follows is my entry. Wish me luck….
The ingredients
    Toast! Is there a more satisfying, instantly gratifying, totally tranquilizing comfort food on the planet? Forget chicken soup, friends. Toast is the cure for what ails you:
    Cough due to cold? Take toast with gobs of honey and call me in the morning. Touch of the tummy flu? A slice of lightly buttered toast will fix you right up. Jilted by the man of your dreams? I’ll be right over with plenty of toast, tea and sympathy.
     I savor toast in every form: French toast with cinnamon raisin bread, BLT’s on toasted sour dough, grilled cheese on, well, anything… even PBJ’s on toasted wheat. (I adore the way the warm toast melts the peanut butter into the jelly.)
     But, to a nostalgic baby boomer raised in the late 50s/early 60s, there is one dish that says toast like no other: Welsh Rarebit, the comfort food of my childhood and, arguably, the ultimate ode to toast.
     For years, I called it “Welsh Rabbit,” because no one bothered to set me straight (so much for “Parents as Teachers.”) The thought that I might be eating bunny meat (aka Thumper) gave me pause, but not enough to dissuade me from gobbling down the cheesy goodness at every opportunity.
     Of course, there’s no rabbit in rarebit. It’s simply toast smothered in a velvety, tangy sauce made from cheddar, dark beer, mustard powder and seasonings. Like fondue without the scary little pitchforks.
     My maternal grandmother introduced me to the dish. Weekends at Kiki’s would often feature luncheons of Welsh Rarebit and bottomless glasses of ice cold Pepsi-Cola (her weakness, along with Camel cigarettes.)
     Mom would occasionally make Welsh Rarebit for our family of seven as Sunday night supper, with a tossed salad or vegetable on the side. Her rarebit was the frozen kind, heated in the oven and served over toasted white bread. (Yes, children. Back in the day, we didn’t even know what whole grain was!)
     For some reason, Welsh Rarebit slipped off my culinary radar for decades. I am sad to report that my kids – now in their twenties – never had it for Saturday lunch or Sunday dinner.  I brought it back to my table – with a personal twist – after seeing a recipe in an old cookbook that was stored away during our recent kitchen remodel.
     The dish originated in Wales but, with apologies to Welshmen (especially you, Tom Jones), my version uses local ingredients from the Sunflower State. You can use cheese, beer and bread from wherever you live and it will be just as delicious. My recipe also includes an easy strawberry-rhubarb sauce on the side for a hint of sweetness and a surprisingly tasty complement to the sharp cheddar.
The finished product
Welsh Rarebit: Kansas style
Serves 4
Ingredients:
8 strips applewood-smoked bacon (optional)
Cheese sauce:
2 T. flour
2 T. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter
1 T. mustard powder
½ t. cayenne pepper powder
¾ c. Free State Brewing Co. Oatmeal Stout (or other dark, strong beer)
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
Sauce on the side:
3 T. local strawberry-rhubarb jam (or plain strawberry jam)
1 T. balsamic vinegar (I used violet-infused balsamic)
Instructions:
    Fry bacon strips on griddle until moderately crisp. Drain on paper towels. Set aside.
    Mix strawberry-rhubarb jam with balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Store covered in refrigerator until fifteen minutes before serving.
    Melt ICBINB in a saucepan over medium heat. As it melts, stir in flour. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in mustard and cayenne, then whisk in beer and Worcestershire sauce until smooth.
    When combined and heated through, turn heat to the lowest setting and gradually add cheese, again, stirring until smooth, about 5 to 15 minutes, depending on stove. (Do not get impatient and turn up heat or cheese will curdle....believe me.) Remove from heat.
     Toast bread at medium to medium-high setting in toaster. Lightly smear with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.  Pour warm mixture over 1 or 2 slices of toast. Top with bacon strips and add dollop of strawberry-rhubard sauce on the side.  Serve immediately with vegetable, fruit or green salad. 
    Bon appetit!

Orazyme: The cure for cotton mouth?

    Dry mouth is a common byproduct of middle age, caused by a variety of medications, dehydration, diabetes, smoking, snoring and other contributing factors. It's the reason I wake up coughing in the night, in my air-conditioned room with ceiling fan running at full speed. (I'm a mouth-breather. Unattractive, but true.)
   Orazyme is a mouth wash developed to combat dry mouth. According to company literature, it "moistens the mouth on contact....soothes irritated oral tissue and promotes healing of cracks and sores due to dry mouth conditions. Its unique moisturizing film-forming capabilities coupled with 7 bio-active enzymes help restore moisture and create healthy microflora for long-lasting relief."
    I've tried Orazyme twice a day for about a week now. It has a filmy, slightly-oily texture, which bothered my sensitive palate in the beginning. But, the taste is pleasant and I have gotten relief from 2 a.m. cotton mouth. The best part is, after using it at bedtime, you'll wake up minus that dreaded morning breath. Now, if only I could convince my husband to give it a try. Recommended.

    This product was sent to me free of charge, with no monetary compensation or incentive to offer a favorable review. Results may vary from person to person.

Monday, June 6, 2011

At least, my feet feel good. Thanks, Aetrex!

It's hot and the BG is cranky. In fact, I'm hardly fit for human interaction. But, my tootsies are comfy and cool thanks to these new Aetrex "Sandalistas" I bought over the weekend. After a few weeks of running around in my flip-flops, my arches started screaming for support. "Do something! We're falling fast!" they cried. "Didn't your foot tour around Italy teach you anything?!?" So, after an exhaustive search, I plopped down a bunch of money on these orthopedic-shoes-pretending-to-be-fashion-sandals and - voila! - no more complaints from my tired dogs. Worth every penny. Highly recommended.

BoomerGirl: Water warrior!

Photo courtesy Aqua Jogger (and you thought it was me, didn't you?)
    My first 6:30 am "Water Warriors" class is officially in the books.  It wasn't half as bad as I thought. 'Just rolled out of bed, threw on my swim suit, chugged a cup of coffee and off I went to the outdoor pool, five minutes away. Fortunately, the Aqua Jogger company had sent me some equipment, like the set shown above, to review a couple weeks ago. It was exactly what I needed for my deep water aerobics class. The belt kept me upright with my head out of water (most of the time) and the shoes provided some extra resistance during the underwater running parts. (Now, if I could just master standing up on the dreaded water noodle.)
    Water exercise is ideal for anyone who has been injured (like me after my tragic hip adductor machine mishap) since it's no-impact and - huge bonus for menopausal gals - you never break a sweat. Still, I can tell my muscles have definitely been worked out and the cardio effect is significant, too.
   Splish splash!!
   The fine, italicized print: I do not receive any monetary compensation for the reviews I write. This review is of a product sent to me free of charge, with no incentive to offer a favorable review. The only compensation is the product that was being reviewed. I offer my readers objective reviews of boomer-related products, so you can make an informed decision before buying. Thanks.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

How could I hate him? Easily.

My column today was therapeutic to write. I am, however, worried my readers will take my rabbit rage seriously. What am I talking about? It IS serious!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Lock up your Xanax

It's a hard pill to swallow (sorry), but some of our precious little angels do drugs. In fact, a new study surveyed 2,500 high schoolers and reported that one in four admitted to abusing Rx drugs. (I'm guessing that number's a little low.) If you plan to spend more time with your kids or grandkids this summer, the National Family Partnership urges you to safeguard your medicines by monitoring quantities and controlling access.  They say 70% of teens who abuse Rx drugs get them from family and friends. 68% of households do not properly secure their Rx medications. For more information, see NFP's website.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Must-see TV: The Bee

I won a classroom spelling bee in elementary school once. It was in second or third grade, before anyone became seriously multi-syllabic. I've always fancied myself a good speller. But, not compared to these kids. The final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is tonight on ESPN. I will be glued to the set, holding my breath, Merriam-Webster in hand, thanking God I'm not one of the young brainiacs' parents.

Hats off to The Vatican!

Matt Lauer and the Today show are in Rome today. It's been fun reliving the papal blessing in St. Peter's Square and soon I'll get to see inside the Sistine Chapel (something we, unfortunately, missed on our trip). The best part was seeing Matt and Archbishop Dolan in Italian hats just like the one BoomerBoy bought in Monterroso: