Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thought for the day

“Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you'll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others.” Source unknown.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Family resemblances

The Sweeney sisters. Don't let their demure poses fool you. They were wild and crazy.
I took my mom out for a belated Mother's Day lunch yesterday and she rewarded me with these pictures from the past. There is her mother, my "Kiki," third from left, standing with her five sisters, including my godmother, Maddy, on the far left. I can't decide whether I look more like one or the other.

Here's Kiki again with my grandfather, whom we called Rydi. He was the quiet type, but Kiki was the kind of woman who would play with me in my playpen. And, by that, I mean she would climb IN THERE with me. Hey, I think I saw those specs of Rydi's on Warby Parker!

The 50-something Diet

Frequent small meals, lots of water, a bimonthly fast....oh, and enzyme and gymnema supplements. Sounds like a good plan to me.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

What's in my wallet?

Just discovered US Bank charges a 3% fee on all foreign transactions and AmEx charges 2.7%. My Capital One Venture Rewards Card? No fee. Zip. Zero. Guess we know which card I'll be using on vacay. 

A royal welcome, indeed!

From today's Londonist comes news of Heathrow's preparations for Jubilee Week, including the painting of this flag on one of the runways. That will be fun to see, of course, but I particularly like the touch of rolling out red carpets in all of the arrival terminals and inviting visitors to sign a guest book for the Queen. How charming. What shall I write, I wonder: "Dear Lizzie, you rule! Here's to 60 more, old girl!" Too much?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I wept.

Covering the bases

One week from today, we'll be setting off on our journey to the motherland via planes, trains, automobiles and boats. Lots of travel, lots of opportunities for motion sickness. On last year's Mediterranean cruise, the seas were calm. This year, on the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean? We can't be too careful. Thus, the array of products above. Oh, and the earplugs are for me. Back in bed with the snorer after a blissful month and half in my own room? I can't be too careful there, either!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Well, here's to being forgetful.

I can never remember to take my calcium because we keep the big Costco bottle in my husband's medicine cabinet. (Mine's overflowing.) Turns out, that may be a good thing according to the latest study linking calcium supplements with an increased risk for heart attacks and stroke. Good Lord, can't they make up their freaking minds??!?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Farewell, pink stove.

It seems fitting, somehow, that my husband will close the sale - at long last - on his mother's house tomorrow, as Memorial Day weekend begins. My MIL loved pink and, despite being the only woman in a household of four men, she used the color liberally in her home, even down to the kitchen appliances. The new owner will likely tear them out and that's a shame. Because they just don't make 'em like that anymore, and they probably never will again.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dressing up in ocean blue

Note: This is my first attempt at posting from my iPad via the Blogpress app. (I am getting so app-y, lately.) I have no idea what it will look like or if it will even work.

I finally broke down and bought something dressy for the cruise. Oceania doesn't believe in formal nights, thank God, but there are certain specialty restaurants that make you want to put on the dog. The Indian number on the left should do the trick, although I'll probably live in the long cardi on the right. Both from Soft Surroundings, my new favorite store.

How doctors should treat patients

I love Mary Elizabeth Williams' stuff in Salon, and today's piece on doctor behavior was especially good.

Monday, May 21, 2012

I'm going to see the Stones

Standing stones, that is, in Orkney, Scotland. I hope the sheep will be there, too. (I seriously love sheep.)

Mad Men: Best scene ever!

That was the scene I'd been waiting for all season. (Wish I could say the same for the entire episode.) Don and Joan playing hooky at a bar, Rosemary Clooney (?) on the jukebox. Brilliant dialogue, beautifully acted. Oh, they must never, ever hook up. But, omigod, if they do, my head will explode and my eyes will pop out of my head. What do you think, Mad Men fans: Will they or won't they?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Can good customer service be bad (or am I a true, blue bitch?)

We took a trip to my husband's hometown yesterday. His mom's house finally sold - knock wood till closing day - after three frustrating years on the market. While he dealt with business, I did a little shopping at the local mall, which is a depressing half-vacant shadow of its former self, but still has a Bath & Body Works. I was once a fan of B&BW but, nowadays, it's an assault on my mature senses. Too many crazy colors and patterns and fruity smells. That said, I do like their True Blue spa line, especially the margarita scented body scrub. (When it comes to fruit, I make exceptions for liquor-soaked limes.)
Unfortunately, they keep these products way in the back and, yesterday - being the only person in the store - I had to negotiate not one, but three, overly enthusiastic salespeople who really wanted to chat me up. I was not in the mood to talk, so I smiled and said my usual: "Just looking, thanks." Well! It's as if I had thrown down the gauntlet. They huddled at the cash register, then proceeded to tag-team me for the next five minutes: "It's Buy 2 Get the 3rd Free' today, one said when I paused to look at lotion. "Have you tried Malibu, the new fragrance? It's my favorite," said another. A few minutes later, the third popped around an end cap and made me gasp in fright: "These lip balms are so amazing. Buy 2, get 1 free!" That was it. I grabbed what I needed from the back corner, presented my credit card and declined to give my zip code or email address. As I high-tailed it out of there, I heard one of them say, "Whatever, ma'm."
     Call me an old fuddy-duddy, but when did "Just looking, thanks," stop working? And what do you say now to make them leave you alone when all you want to do is shop in peace?

"Look out. The dame's packin'."

They say you should start packing as many days early as you plan to be gone. And, so it began this week. As today's column indicates, carrying baggage can be an expensive proposition.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Comfiest shoes ever!

My new Arcopedico shoes came today! I just discovered this Portugal brand recently and knew I had to have them. So light yet impossibly sturdy, the cutest walking shoes I've ever seen. Can't wait to give them a test run over hill and dale.

What to do in Dublin

I have yet to crack my Rick Steve's guide to Ireland, but found this little gem on Dublin, where we'll be for two days. Would welcome any recommendations from readers who have visited.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hi-ho, hi-ho! To the highlands we go!

Inverlochy Castle
The hubs and I have always wanted to see the Scottish Highlands, but didn't want to be confined to a tour bus all day on our stop in Inverness. So, for the reasonable-sounding price of 55GPB, we hired a car for the day (just the car, not a driver) to do our own tour including the Inverlochy Castle and the Falls of Shin.
This will be our second experience driving on the "wrong" side of the road, the first being in Grand Cayman three years ago. Suffice it to say, the first 24 hours was a dizzying adventure. Note to self: Skip the whiskey tastings that day.

Pealing the bells

Last year, in my rush to get ripped - or, rather, less ripply - before vacation, I took to the gym with a vengeance, tearing my hip adductor and groin muscles in the process. This year, I've been much smarter, choosing a safer workout routine suited to a weekend warrior of my advancing age. The goal: Create a little extra room in my clothes to accommodate inevitable cruise ship consumption. (Sure, there's a gym, but we're talking 12 days of fabulous cuisine.) This new book, "Kettlebells for 50+," and my new 5-pound bells (purchased for $10 at Tuesday Morning) have been a big help. You can workout virtually any body part with kettlebells, but I've been using them primarily for arm/shoulder exercises and squats while watching BBC America.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

iPad for 2

In an effort to whittle down our electronics for the big trip, the hubs and I decided to pack the iPad and one iPod only, in addition to our phones, of course. Enter this nifty little audio splitter that will allow us to watch movies or listen to audio books simultaneously, without disturbing our fellow travelers. I didn't know this little item existed! If only we'd had it on those car rides with the kids.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Morning iPhoneTown

True confession: I sleep with my phone. Not so I can check emails in the middle of the night (although I won't deny doing it - what else are you supposed to do while going pee at 4 am?), but because - in my new room of my own - my phone has become the alarm clock. Last night, I programmed my Nightstand Central app to wake me up with a lovely, slow-to-fade-in Joni Mitchell song, "Morning Morgantown." Ahhh. So much better than the brutal buzzer of old.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lovely in love then; lovely in love now.

This is my mom's engagement picture, circa 1954, taken a few months before she married my dad. 
This shot was taken early last year, two months before she married the second love of her life. I think it's perfectly clear: Love's the best anti-aging secret out there. Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Next must-buy: Sleep Mask

I just discovered that on the day we arrive in Kirkwall, U.K., the northernmost port of our cruise, sunrise will be at 4:01 a.m. and sunset at 10:30 pm. That's as close to the Land of the Midnight Sun as I've come.Very cool, yet concerning for this sometime insomniac. I'm sure to be packing this deluxe sleep mask (which comes with earplugs - bonus!) and a couple of those chip bag clips to keep our stateroom drapes closed. (I read that handy tip somewhere. Miraculously, it just came back to me.)

Let the vacation shopping commence!

And the discontinued color means I got $80 off. Wee!
My travel partner and I spent the day shopping for suitable gear for the British Isles, where high temperatures in June typically hover in the low 60s (F) and even colder in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Not to mention, the inevitable rain. (I don't mind. It really is my preferred kind of weather.) I scored this Marmot "Minimalist" rain jacket in a pretty cardinal red and waterproof hiking shoes by Ahnu, which are so incredibly comfortable and light, I may leave my humongous white gym shoes at home and hit the on-board gym in them instead. Three weeks and counting!
Ahnu Montara II
Still looking for a proper fascinator for the Queen's Jubilee. Not a lot of millinery in my neck of the woods, sadly.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Bravo, Mr. President. 

Same-sex marriage is a tough one for a lot of people, even non-evangelicals. My dad, for instance, just couldn't wrap his head around it. I believe it wasn't so much homophobia as "old school" upbringing and a complete lack of knowledge and, thus, comfort, with regards to gay relationships. Unlike me, Dad never had a gay friend or relative (that he was aware of), never heard a "coming out" story over a cocktail, never had any personal exposure to, or honest experience with, a gay human being. That's why I thought President Obama's comments today to ABC News resonated in such an authentic way, even if it did take him longer to make the statement than some would have liked:
"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Where I'll be four weeks from Thursday

OK, I may be getting too carried away....
Somewhere in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Where I'll be four weeks from today

I've not allowed myself to get too excited until now, but the countdown is officially on!
The garden at the K + K Hotel George in London. I can feel my blood pressure dropping already.

Hotel George at night. Stately!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

An Alpha-Mother's Day gift guide

I've written countless warm and fuzzy mother's day columns. This year, I decided to tell it like it is.  I may come off as an ingrate, but I'd like to believe most Moms out there will secretly thank me.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mint julep or margarita? Cocktail compromise.

Derby Day meets Cinco de Mayo in this delicious cocktail from Emeril with mint, basil and cilantro. I'm making the simply syrup with Splenda so as not to go completely off the low-carb tracks. Cheers!  Update: You gotta love a long-shot horse named "I'll Have Another" ridden by a young Mexican jockey winning at Churchill Downs on Cinco de Mayo.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sink with a view

My wild roses - and I mean WILD (look how high they climb) - are blooming three weeks early, providing a lovely view out the kitchen window (our ugly raised tomato bed notwithstanding). 'Almost makes me happy to do the dishes. Freaky side note: Those are real yellow flowers in the limoncello bottle on the sill, still going strong since the day before Easter. Incredible!

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 ...