Thursday, May 30, 2013

Prancercize


I don't know why this didn't catch on in '89 (well, yes I do), but it is remarkably close to what I do in my fitness routine, albeit on the treadmill in the privacy of my own home without the galloping or cheesy music (see Rolling Stones playlist post below).  Shoulder pads notwithstanding, this Jane Fonda wannabe has a smokin' body. Don't knock it 'till you've tried it, I guess. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Jalapeno infused tequila

In my ongoing pursuit of skinny cocktails that offer as much flavor as the "real" things, I've discovered the joy of infusing tequila. The trick for instant gratification lovers like me: Small batches and big peppers.  First, get a good 100% agave tequila. I like Camarena because it's moderately priced and it goes on sale a lot, making it almost bottom shelf cheap.  Next, slice a jalapeno in half, remove seeds and ribs. (Wash your hands, the knife and cutting board immediately!) Place jalapeno in pint jar, fill with tequila and give it a good shake.  A few hours later, you've got tequila with a kick. Hint: Keep tasting as the hours go by to get it to the perfect level of hotness, then pitch the pepper.  (You can do this with a habanero in even less time.) I am currently mixing mine with diet tonic and lots of lime juice or Fresca.  Muy bueno!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Moves like Mick

Nobody but Mick can move like Mick, but I'm coming close with my new treadmill playlist featuring all Stones all the time for 40.5 minutes. It's just what I needed after going way too long with hits from (warning: nerd alert!!) "Glee" and "Rent."  In order, from warm up to cool down:  Start Me Up, Honky Tonk Women, Gimme Shelter, Satisfaction, Brown Sugar, Tumbling Dice, It's Only Rock 'n' Roll, Ain't Too Proud to Beg, Happy, Harlem Shuffle, Beast of Burden.  Now, that's a rockin' workout!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

All rugs on deck!

In a flash of inspiration, I decided to move the plastic rug, purchased from Fab Habitat last year for the screened porch, to the deck in order to cover up the off-color wood that was under the hot tub.  That allowed me to buy these outdoor poufs (God, I love that word) from Target (currently on sale for a very reasonable price) for the porch, which will go rug-less until I figured out how I want to repaint the floor. (That's one of many home projects on my retirement to-do list.)
Then, when winter returns, I can move the poufs inside for additional seating for basketball watch parties. (Poufs are perfect for that.)  I'm not sure how that plastic rug will fare out in the elements, but I love the way it perks up that old deck.  Of course, the irony is that by the time I get my outdoor spaces looking the way I want them, it will be so hot and humid, I'll have shut myself in the A/C until September.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

School supply score

Yeah, yeah.  I know I don't have kids in school anymore. But, that didn't stop me from rushing like a bat out of hell (I may have run a red light) to Best Buy where all school and office supplies were marked down to .49 each! (It was a Facebook friend who tipped me off. Thank you, Facebook friend!) Six dollar packets of pens...huge rolls of duct tape in white and black...jumbo packs of Post-Its....colored pencils....sketch pads... glue... SHARPIES!!...file folders....tape dispenser refills....my heart palpitates just looking at it all.  The bounty you see in the picture cost me only $24.01! Seems our Best Buy is discontinuing their office/school supply department. (The staff wasn't sure if other BB stores were following suit.) Did I mention I had a massage today, too? This holiday weekend is off to stellar start. Have an equally great one, friends!

Friday, May 24, 2013

To market, to market to buy an umbrella

    We put the old hot tub on Craig's List under "Free" and you can't believe the number of people who volunteered to take it off of our hands. In the end, it took four burly men (one of them, my husband) to haul it off of our deck forever, leaving a nice area for the old patio table and chairs which I hope to spray paint this weekend.  In the meantime, I couldn't resist this sweet 9' market umbrella, on sale at World Market. I got an additional $10 off thanks to a coupon I happened to have in an email on my phone and - voila! - another deal I couldn't refuse.
  My next shopping quest:  Two inexpensive outdoor poufs for the screened porch.  I'm thinking a pair of these might fit the bill....


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Swimsuit season: Don't freak, HydroChic!



   When the sweet people at HydroChic sent me samples of their "sun protective activewear" to test drive on my trip to Mexico in March, I was eager to give them a go. The line of tops and bottoms offered my skin cancer-prone skin UV protection on the UPF 50 level, and significantly more coverage than my go-to bathing suit. "Sporty modest swimwear" is what they call it, illustrating the concept in this tongue-in-cheek video depicting a woman's day at the beach....

   I have felt that gal's pain, but I've let go of most of my modesty as the decades have passed, especially when I'm on a beach with a bunch of people I'll never see again.  (Who cares if they see my dimply thighs? Another margarita, please!) But, the skin cancer thing. That's serious.  So, I wore the top seen in the above picture along with a regular bottom when I swam in the ocean.  The hubs said I looked just like those Size 2 surfer girls. (Clearly, he'd had one margarita too many. And, no, I don't have a picture. You'll have to take my word for it.)
   My favorite piece, however, was this "fitness skirt" which I wore on a 3-mile hike through the jungle...
then into the ocean to cool off.  The skirt dried in twenty minutes, just in time for me to hike back to the hotel for another margarita, I mean, nap. I expect to wear that skirt everywhere this summer, especially for travel.
    You may not want to actually swim in a skirt that long (the company offers shorter and still-longer lengths) and there is some 'getting used to' swimming in sleeves. But, if you're beyond the 'baring all' stage - for whatever reason - check out HydroChic. It may get you back in the swim.

Monday, May 20, 2013

And the winner is...

I loved everyone's breakfast ideas. So, in the end, I put the comments in a hat and picked the ICBINB "Breakfast After Dark" Giveaway winner at random. And that person was - drum roll, please - Jo Hardesty! (I swear, it was a totally blind drawing. It had nothing to do her Bloody Mary suggestion.)  Jo, message me with your contact info and I'll forward to the "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" folks.  Congrats.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Embarrassing moment No. 568

The following is a true story:
I dashed to the grocery store today at the perfect time - after KU Commencement traffic had cleared and before the tornadoes were to scheduled to move in (any minute now).  I'm making another cauliflower-crusted pizza tonight. This time, with Brussels sprouts, asparagus, bacon, carmelized onions and cheese.  Eager to get home, I picked up some deli bacon, then dashed through the produce aisles for the rest. I wanted to buy some slivered almonds for a salad, but I couldn't locate the fresh nut display THAT'S ALWAYS RIGHT THERE. I looked and looked, making several laps around the entire department.  But, the slivered almonds were nowhere to be found.  I approached a store employee who was busily applying stickers to oranges.  "Excuse me, sir," I said, apologetically. "But, I can't seem to locate your nuts." That's right.  Not, "the nuts" or "your slivered almonds." I said, "I can't seem to locate your nuts." He paused, and I thought later that he must have been trying very hard not to say, "That's what she said." But, he simply pointed me in the direction of an out-of-the-way end cap and went back to work. That's when, instead of saying 'thank you', I burst into a raging fit of hysterical laughter.  Like the kind you get in a crowded elevator or in the middle of a somber funeral. Or, maybe that's just me. Shoulders heaving up and down, this fifth grader in a 57-year-old woman's body took refuge in the "seasonal merchandise" aisle until she collected herself enough to check out.  I was still laughing all the way home.  Truth be told, I'm giggling a little right now.

You lose some, you win some.

OK, so the jackpot went to a lucky schmuck in Zephyrhills, Florida. My year-long trip around the world - the "Eat, Shop, Spa" tour - will have to wait. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying a steady rain in Kansas from my screened porch after a wonderful evening out with friends, still feeling like a winner... and only mildly regretting that $40 I put down on an impossible dream.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Buy bike basket. Insert cat.

My extravagant payday purchase of the month was this charming Nantucket bike basket for my bicycle.  (For local readers, you can find them at Cindy's Simple Life, a great new retro gift shop on E. 8th Street downtown.) It's all part of my retirement plan in which I pedal to my coffee shop of choice every morning, laptop in tow, then onto the market to pick up fresh veggies for dinner....after yoga class, of course. True, the basket isn't quite big enough for the computer, groceries and a yoga mat. (Who am I kidding? I'll probably drive all those places, anyway.) But, it sure is cute. Especially as a Kiki the kitty carrier.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A commencement speech for all of us


This one's already reached critical mass, but I'm posting just in case you haven't seen it. What a perfect message for 20-somethings who tend to think they are the center of the universe. And what a great reminder for the rest of us who - when given the perfect storm of tedium, inconvenience and disappointment - tend to think we're the only ones with problems. Ain't perspective grand?

"Cheese and Beer" = Cheers!

I've been on a real cheese kick, of late. And, the hubs is a craft beer fan of the highest order.  So, when Andrews McMeel Publishing came out with "Cheese and Beer" by Janet Fletcher, I shamelessly begged for a review copy.  It takes a lot to get me excited about a new food book.  I have an extensive cookbook collection...
(which I recently pared down, by the way) including several on wine and food pairings. But, "Cheese and Beer" is the bible I've been waiting for. Want to know what pairs best with that hoppy IPA? Try a young goat cheese or an English-style Cheddar. Fancy a nibble with your Doppelbock? A buttery blue cheese or Gouda will make your taste buds dance.
   And, here's a little tip to save money on good cheese, which can be astonishingly pricey.  Either go to Trader Joe's (best cheese prices I've found) or search the gourmet cheese case at your grocery store for mark-downs. Mine calls them "manager's specials" and they're always 50% off the original price. The catch is they're usually close to their 'sell by' date, so check the label and eat your cheese without delay, preferably with a fine craft beer chaser. 
 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cats. What's not to love?

I've never been a cat person. It's been dogs all the way for me for 57 years. The canines of my life, in chronological order: Candy the English Setter, Lulu the Beagle, Guinevere the Old English Sheepdog (my parents had just seen "Camelot"), Sam the Peekapoo, Luke the Golden Retriever, Bubba the Huskie mix, Spike the Some Kind of Terrier and, now, Lucy the Cocker Spaniel. So, when my son asked if we'd be willing to cat-sit his Kiki (named for my maternal grandmother) for ten days while he explored greener pastures in New York, I hesitated. A cat? 10 days?! Cats are aloof and sneaky, detached and unresponsive, I thought. I need to be loved! Well, I'm not ashamed to admit I was totally, tragically wrong. Cats are great. They engage with you...when they're in the mood (much like many humans) and the sneak attacks are really very entertaining.  I will not, however, sleep in the same room with her again since she seems to enjoy nocturnal games of footsie. But, yeah, cats are cool.
Lucy thinks so, too.

Monday, May 13, 2013

I think it's so groovy now


When this little gem by Friend and Lover (who?) faded in at the end of "Mad Men" last night, it took me back to the roller rink when I was 12. Such a jaunty little ditty. I may add it to my workout playlist.  So, what do you think? Will Don reach out in the darkness (and, let's face it, Don's getting pretty darned dark) and finally find a friend? I can't wait till next Sunday night to find out.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day. Meh?

I've been reminiscing with the Ghost of Mother's Days Past and have realized that mine have been more cursed than blessed...starting in 1983 when my toddler son dove head-first into a coffee table. We spent that frantic evening in the emergency room having his face stitched up. And who can forget the less-than-glorious Sundays in May, years later, when my kids were too hung-over from the prom or other spring flings to get up before noon. Breakfast in bed? Of course! I took them Gatorade and saltines on a silver platter. Then, there was the time my husband found pot in my 17-year-old son's car and grounded him as he planted the traditional Mother's Day impatiens for me. That was relaxing. This year, said son - now 31 - is in New York having the time of his life with his girlfriend. We are babysitting his cat. My husband and daughter - and 16 additional relatives - will gather in my kitchen at six to eat lasagna, honor my mother - the matriarch of our crazy, imperfect family - and enjoy a beautiful spring day. If it doesn't rain. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I Can't Believe It's Another Giveaway!

OK, you lovelies. Let's have some fun. This fab prize package is courtesy of the I Can't Believe It's Not Butter people with whom I have worked before.  The campaign this time is "Breakfast After Dark" which promotes the concept of cooking breakfast for dinner, something I've enjoyed since I was a kid.  ICBINB is putting a sexy spin on it, providing a pink shortie robe to wear while you're preparing your honey a nice champagne breakfast-dinner with your pink spatula and mirrored tray. Don't forget the coupon for a FREE ICBINB product. They have provided some recipes which I will try out later this week. For now, simply post your favorite breakfast meal to have after dark in the comments (let's say by next Saturday), and I'll pick a winner and post it next Sunday.  The I Can't Believe It's Not Butter peeps will send you your own kit. The one in the picture is mine to keep....and the robe is really cute on!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Hey, Mr. Jeffries. We're exclusionary, too.

   It was a jubilant day in my life when the local Abercrombie and Fitch closed in August, 2007.  The store stood between the newsroom and my favorite coffee shop. I had no choice but to pass it in order to get my morning caffeine fix. The problem wasn't just the offensive 12-foot high posters of naked models in the windows or the bad disco music pulsing at top volume through the open doors. It was the smell. The overpoweringly thick fragrance of the house cologne, "Fierce," which wafted into the air and hung over the sidewalks. Apparently, the staff was trained to spray the stuff over the merchandise several times a day to create "a sexy shopping experience." Believe me, Fierce had staying power! Mix in a dose of sultry Kansas summer air and you had a recipe for nausea.
    That was a year-and-a-half after Salon published this story about Michael Jeffries, the freakish and deluded owner of A&F, in which he made the infamous statements that are making the rounds on Facebook again this week:
  Let's take a look at Michael Jeffries who is now 68 years old....
For a blond surfer boy type, not a wrinkle on him. Cool, huh?
He was 61 when this shot was taken....
Bleached blond and sprayed tan. Even cooler!
    Not convinced the guy's a shallow hot mess?  Read this.
    I guess my poor little town didn't have enough cool kids to keep A&F in business back in 2007. Or, maybe people over Size 10 kept insisting on shopping there, who knows? Some mourned the loss of the store as a huge loss for Downtown Lawrence. Not me. I was glad to see it go. 
   The old adage always seems to prove true, especially with studied coolness: Less is more.

Finally. A workout I can stick with.

First class commences immediately.  TGIF,  everybody.  Cheers!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Single male toad seeks female for spring fling


I'm exhausted today. Why? Because a horny American toad - just like the one seen in this video - kept me up all night with his high decibel mating calls.  (By 'horny' I mean like a dirty old man, not the species of amphibian.) The guy was relentless, hanging out in the pond right below my bedroom window. Now, I'm all for finding love, but he'd better get a hook-up soon or I'll have to move back downstairs with my husband who snores at only half the volume.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Best obit ever

You find the best stuff on Facebook sometimes....
This is a real obituary for a beloved woman who obviously bestowed a tremendous sense of humor onto her progeny.  After reading it twice, I find myself wondering if she wrote it herself.  What a fabulous tribute. Rest in peace, Ms. Larroux. You're absolutely divine.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Spice: The variety of life

In light of yesterday's post about the psychological importance of breaking one's routine, I realized how much I'm always trying to change things up in little ways - from the color of my bed sheets to the scented soap in my shower. I rarely take the same route to work twice in a row. I'd love to be a food blogger, but couldn't bear the thought of sticking to one topic. And let's not even discuss hairstyles. What can I say? I bore easily. It's a Sagittarius thing. This might explain why I'm a complete and utter sucker for a Penzey's spice store. Consider what I hauled home with me after a 20-minute visit yesterday.  (Berbere? What the heck is that?)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Great advice for business and retirement

This list of the most highlighted passages in famous business books holds astute truisms and nuggets of sage advice for working folk. One, in particular, resonates with me in light of my impending retirement (2-1/2 months to go). In fact, it's one of the main reasons I'm retiring as soon as I'm able, although I've not used these exact words to describe it before: To lengthen the perception of my life.

Monotony collapses time; novelty unfolds it. You can exercise daily and eat healthily and live a long life, while experiencing a short one. If you spend your life sitting in a cubicle and passing papers, one day is bound to blend unmemorably into the next—and disappear. That’s why it’s important to change routines regularly, and take vacations to exotic locales, and have as many new experiences as possible that can serve to anchor our memories. Creating new memories stretches out psychological time, and lengthens our perception of our lives.