Monday, April 29, 2013

Screened porch simplified

In my continuing effort to downsize and declutter, I sold all the old Pier One furniture which was crowding the screened porch....
and replaced it with two rattan easy chairs from my soon-to-be-old-office.  Now, we've got a cozy place for two to enjoy a cocktail and the view beyond the screen.  If only we could get someone to come and haul away the old hot tub. 

Low country boil

Inspired by three pounds of fresh Gulf shrimp purchased from the truck on Saturday, I treated the nuclear family-plus-two to a down-home low country boil last night before Mad Men. This traditional southern feast (originating somewhere in the Carolinas) is the easiest, entertaining meal ever with almost zero clean-up.  All you need is a big pot and a can of Old Bay, some new potatoes, corn on the cob, smoked link sausage (I used andouille) and shrimp. Boil them all together (there are some timing issues to be aware of), strain and dump it all onto newspapers in the middle of your table and - voila! - a crowd-pleasing Sunday suppah.  Here's a good video from Miz Deen on how to do it.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

"I am way beyond letting octogenarian men tell us how to live our lives."

Hip, hip, hooray for Kentucky's Rosemarie Smead who defied the Vatican yesterday and was ordained a Catholic priest at the age of 70. Loved her quote above, but would delete the word octogenarian, especially for those of us living in Kansas right now.

Red snapper: Fresh from the Gulf

The good ol' boys from Fabian Seafood Co. in Galveston drove their big truck to town yesterday and we arrived early enough to score this 2-pound red snapper for last night's dinner. It had been gutted but not boned, so I Google'd to find out how to prep this sad little guy (I refuse to think it's a 'her') for grilling....stuffed his cavity with lemon, garlic and fresh rosemary, then made three cuts into his sides for more lemon and garlic.  I smeared him all over with oil, salt and pepper, then sent him out to the grill.
If only he didn't look so pitiful.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Springtime on the sill

Inspired by a friend - and a 'can't fail' promise from my nursery guy - I started these little pots of wheatgrass a week ago. Now look at them! I was going to cut them to add to my daily smoothie, but I like the looks of them so much, I think I'll leave them alone.  (Besides, I don't eat wheat so I shouldn't eat wheatgrass, right?)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My not-so-naughty nooner

Microdermabrasion: Results not mine.
I'm sneaking away at noon today. Not for a lunchtime tryst (although if tongues want to wag, so be it), but for another microdermabrasion from my soon-to-be esthetician daughter. She's closing in on the end of her training and I want to get as many discounted treatments as I can before graduation. (Tip: If your community college has an esthetics program, check out their clinic for half-price procedures that are every bit as effective as those high-priced salons.) A microdermabrasion feels a little like having your face sandblasted (thank God my daughter and I get along) and does wonders in removing lines and sun damage. At least, that's what she tells me. I've only had one, so far, and it typically takes four to see major results. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

BoomerGirl's Guide to Retirement: The Prequel

Here's the advice nobody gives you about announcing your retirement: Prepare to be peppered with incredulous questions. It's been three weeks since I made my decision official and I've fielded approximately 100 such questions: Are you OK? What happened? Is everything alright at home? You're not sick, are you? You're not really retiring, right? What are you going to do? What now? Now what?  My standard answer to the last three has been: Whatever the hell I want, which I rather enjoyed saying until I realized it might be translating to: None of your damn business, and I never want to be rude. The people who ask the questions are probably just surprised because a) I am a little young to be retiring; and b) I've been in the public eye almost as long as I've been living in this town. Won't you miss it? No! I am looking forward to voluntary seclusion. Of going days, maybe weeks, with absolutely no sense of purpose. Or, taking an exercise class at 9:30 in the morning, followed by a trip to the grocery store - sweaty and stinky, yes! - when the aisles are blissfully empty and the parking lots clear. I think many people are afraid of having a clear schedule, although I'm under no illusions that will be the case for me every day. Still, it occurs to me that I need a better answer to the Now what? question. Since it's William Shakespeare's birthday today, I think I'll quote the Bard: To be or not to be, that is the question. That'll give 'em something to think about.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Barefooters: My new backyard best friends

     Full disclosure: I received this pair of "review shoes," at no cost, from the PR rep in New York who works for the manufacturer.  The rep happens to have graduated from the university up the street and is a huge Jayhawk fan. So, of course, I wanted to love Barefooters for those reasons. I didn't. I mean, I loved them, but not because they were sent free-of-charge from a fellow KU alum.  I loved them because I felt freaking great yesterday as I ran all over the rough terrain of my half-acre yard doing my spring gardening thing.  In fact, the only aspect I don't love is the "Feel Great" slogan stamped on the strap (although "Feel Freaking Great" would be fun!)

     At first glance, the shoes remind me a little of Crocs, which isn't necessarily a good thing from a fashion or health standpoint. I once interviewed a podiatrist who said Crocs were horrible for one's feet - providing no support or stability - and she couldn't understand why they were worn by so many hospital workers, etc.
    Barefooters are made from silicone and cork and are breathable and washable (a bonus for gardening and hiking.) The sole provides just enough thickness for good shock absorption, but you can still "feel" the ground (unlike Crocs) so there's kind of an organic stability to them.  I wasn't keenly aware that I was getting a "reflexology massage with every step," but by the end of a long day, which included lots of errands on pavement and other surfaces, my feet and legs weren't tired at all. In fact, I wore them as I cooked dinner last night on my kitchen's hard, tiled floor and my dogs still felt good by the time I sat down for Mad Men.
   The cost isn't cheap - $100 per pair - and I can't attest to Barefooters' durability after one long day. But, I can recommend them for comfort, support and outdoor practicality. By the end of gardening season, I'll have more to say about bang for the buck.
  Retirement idea: Become a professional shoe reviewer.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The "helpers" of Boston and NYC

It's taken me 48 hours to come to grips with the events that unfolded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, a mere two blocks  from where my daughter used to live when she attended college there. We spent many a wonderful weekend strolling down Boylston, touring the Old South Church and the JFK Library. We talked about how fun it would be to go back to see the Marathon someday. I knew someone who ran the marathon on Monday, one of five from my town. She turned in a fast personal time and missed the explosion by a few minutes, thank God, then walked 2-1/2 hours (after running 26 miles, mind you) to get her college-aged daughter out of harm's way and back to her apartment. As the heart-wrenching stories of death and amputation continue to be told, I am grateful for what Mr. Rogers' mom called "the helpers," the hundreds of first-responders, runners and observers who stepped up to assist the wounded and, by doing so, saved countless lives. Then, there was this classy show of solidarity at Yankee Stadium last night which proved that indeed, there are "so many caring people in this world."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Egg salad. Like Augusta's, but better.

This is the famous egg salad sandwich they serve at The Masters for $1.50 a pop. Egg and mayo on white bread. Really, Augusta? Where's the pickle? Where's the mustard or celery? How 'bout a spice or two? Fortunately, egg salad doesn't have to be like that. So plain. So traditional. So bland.  Here's a link to five great 'gourmet' variations on the deviled egg theme.  Every recipe can be transitioned easily to egg salad.  Simply chop the whole egg versus pureeing the yolk. I'll be trying the Bollywood version for today's viewing of the Masters final round.

Yes, they do 'do windows'!

It's was a hard, messy week at work, so I was more than ready for four, bright and enthusiastic KU students to clean all of my first floor windows, inside and out....for free! It was part of the University's "Big Event" yesterday in which an estimated 3,000 kids volunteered to perform menial tasks for anyone in the community who turned in a work order. I almost didn't sign up. I can wash my own windows, after all. Let the kids work for someone who really needs the help. But the student coordinator told me it was not based on need. "It's our way of thanking you for putting up with us all year."  Then, I thought of all the things we'd lost to college hijinks in the past two decades - yard art, flags, 1,000 Christmas lights stolen from the trees...not to mention the kids that crashed into our redbud tree on Stop Day a few years back. "Giddyup!" I said. Man, oh, man, am I glad I did!  I can see clearly now! Thank you, Claire, Cathy, Chi and Beth!   The least we could do was buy your lunch.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Deliciousness!

I guess we switched over to HBO just in time...

Mr. Peterman! What took you so long?

Imagine my surprise when I came home from work (15 Mondays to go and counting) to find my first J. Peterman catalog in the mailbox!  "Omigod!!" I squealed, jumping up and down. "It really DOES exist!" A Seinfeld junkie from way back (I must be on my 23rd cycle of reruns by now), I was absolutely elated and immediately started thumbing through the pages to enjoy that annoyingly precious copywriting. But, wait! Why now? Why have I just been added to their mailing list? The questions swirled around in my brain until I came to Page 9 and the St. Martin Peasant Blouse that I thought would be cool and cute over a little pencil skirt for a daytime wedding this summer....
The copy read:
"This crochet cotton blouse is just like the one you found on the Dutch side 17 years ago, and these linen cargo pants (that you bought on the French side) were what you were wearing that day.
Who says you can't go back?

"It was just a moment ago to me."

And then there was this....

In the summerhouse, eleven beautiful women drink cardamom tea.
Chilled mangoes and papayas are served in silver bowls.
Fans whirl overhead.
I am hypnotized by the evening heat and slow, charming whispers of Hindi and polite Oxonian English. The woman, whose smile is incandescent, not merely practiced, finally meets my eyes. I wish to hurl myself across the room and land on my feet, calmly, perfectly, in front of her.
"Beautiful tunic," I would say (hopefully embarrassed at my nervous lack of wit).

Omigod. Where is that credit card?!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

R.I.P., Lilly Pulitzer.

I didn't buy your label much, but I always thought they were the happiest of clothes.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sh*t my deaf husband says: Final Four Edition

After watching Wichita State lose (boo hoo!) to Louisville in the semi-final...

Me:  That Rick Pitino has had work done. I'm thinking Botox, collagen, a face lift...
Hubs: Oh, he's had more 'work done' than that.
Me: What do you mean?
Hubs: Didn't you hear about him and the waitress having sex in that restaurant?
Me: Is that when he went to college party afterward and had his picture taken with some drunk coeds?
Hubs: You're thinking of Larry Eustachy.  He was Iowa State's coach. Now, he's at Colorado State in Fort Collins.
Me: I guess I'm getting my scandals mixed up.
Hubs: You got your sandals mixed up?

I'm following Nancy's lead!

I'm going to use this as a template for my retirement. Hey, the woman's 101. She must know something we don't know!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Two more days!

This season's Mad Men poster poses all kinds of questions: Whose hand is Don holding? And why is he walking in the opposite direction from the other Don holding the briefcase? Against one way traffic, no less? And, what's up with those three cops? Is that why Don in the dark suit is looking over his shoulder, all paranoid-like? Is assuming a dead man's identity criminal enough to warrant three arms of the law? Or, or would it be three pairs of arms of the law?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

R.I.P., Roger. I admired the heck out of you.

 
"I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out." 
- Roger Ebert

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

It's official: Early retirement

When the local paper publishes the news, you know there's no turning back. I am retiring. It won't be for a few months, mind you, but retirement is definitely on the summer horizon. "Is it surreal?" my good friend, the Short Jewish Gal, asked. Surreal, indeed. I've worked since I was 15 when I lied about my age for the privilege of cutting cheese at Hickory Farms. I've been a waitress (restaurant, country club, Minnesota and Arizona resorts), restaurant hostess, hospital information clerk, activities director at three retirement centers, clown (although my balloon animal skills were lacking,) singing telegram performer, yard art creator, TV reporter, home and garden show host, Boyfriend in-a-Box inventor, author, marketing manager, website publisher, newspaper reporter and columnist, and business association director. That's a lot of sundry jobs in 42 years. I've been lucky enough to enjoy them all.  And now.... the next act. Whatever that might be.