Monday, March 31, 2014

Inn of the Governors

I'm starting the 6-day solo portion of my New Mexican adventure at the Inn of the Governors on West Alameda. This is where my maternal grandparents used to stay in the '60s and '70s when they'd visit Santa Fe, which was often. There is a cozy, homey ambiance here. You feel it as soon as you enter the lobby, where they have a lovely sherry and tea hour every afternoon from 4 to 5.
Three kinds of sherry, dry, medium and sweet. I tried them all.
Sunlight floods the lobby at sherry time.
My "superior king" room (with balcony) is ultra-spacious and airy, and the rustic decor features wrought iron fixtures and handsome black and tan carpet.
There are thoughtful little touches throughout....
They had me at "magnifying makeup mirror"
Large dispensers of Gilchrist and Soames shampoo, conditioner and body wash in the shower.
(No little bars to unwrap or bottles to drop.)
Nightlights. It's the little things, people.
The Inn enjoys high Trip Advisor ratings because of its ideal location and relatively affordable rates (which include a hot breakfast) and Del Charro, their lively (and cheap) bar and restaurant that's a favorite among the locals. 
The house margarita, with shaker, equals about 2-1/2 margaritas. Proceed with caution.

On the house at The Old House

I was thrilled when The Eldorado offered to treat us to dinner at The Old House one night during our stay. I chose Sunday because it was Carol's last night in town and many of the other restaurants in the area are closed on Sundays. What I love to do in these glorious "on the house" situations is leave the ordering up to the restaurant staff. So, at our waiter and maitre d's suggestions, we ordered the "Rocket" Tuna (rare seared tuna, arugula, macadamia, crisp wonton and chipotle sesame drizzle)...
Perfect on every level.
 Lump crab cake with saffron corn cream and tequila splashed jicama slaw....
The jicama slaw with fresh cilantro was a symphony.
 Carol had the pan-seared ruby trout with blue corn cake, calabacitas and red chile pesto...
The Short Jewish Gal gave it two enthusiastic thumbs up.
And, because I thought I should experience the "specialty of the house" (for journalistic reasons, mind you) I allowed them to bring me The Old House signature 28-day dry-aged ribeye, medium rare, with crispy salt roasted potatoes, romesco dip and herbed compound butter.
This hunk of beef was the size of Carol's head. (I'd say my head but I have a real melon and I hate to exaggerate.) Needless to say, half of it is in my mini-fridge as I type. Where are those three little dogs when you need them?
Oh, but it wasn't over yet! For dessert, they brought out this outrageously decadent chocolate pyramid thingy...
AND a killer creme brulee that I'm not going to show you because this is getting embarrassing.(And, yes, I will be hitting the gym today.) Many thanks to the chef and entire staff at The Old House. It was a gastronomic extravaganza we won't soon forget. Highly recommended. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Santa Fe....all the way!

My traveling companion (until tomorrow, sadly) has posted a hilarious account of our Saturday together. Rather than recreate it, I suggest you go to her blog and read it. She did an excellent job telling the story and why reinvent the wheel? I would just like to add that while I admired her free spirit, "Commando" Winnie's high-high kick will remain burned in my visual memory bank forever, which isn't necessarily a good thing.
Today, we took in the gorgeous Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and the Georgia O'Keefe Museum. 
Black Hollyhock Blue Larkspur, 1930 (Oil on canvas)
Then, I got a serious vicarious thrill watching my very deserving friend shop for lovely souvenirs in one of my favorite Santa Fe shops, Street Feet.
She was so thrilled, she was positively daffy.
New scarf, new shoes, new bracelet. And I didn't spend a dime!
It's so much fun to see Santa Fe through the eyes of the Short Jewish Gal from L.A.  I will miss her when she leaves tomorrow. And, just in case I get bored all by myself for six days until my college friends arrive, I bought this at the museum shop....

Saturday, March 29, 2014

My hotel has gone to the dogs

The Eldorado Hotel and Spa in Santa Fe is a lovely, luxury hotel with a great location, super-friendly staff and charming, comfortable rooms. (They are also giving me a heckuva media rate for which I thank them profusely.) The Eldorado is known as a "dog-friendly" hotel which, on principle, is admirably humane and, conceptually, fun.
Not my dog, but the bed is similar to mine.
The Short Jewish Gal and I are here (more from her perspective over on her blog)) and we got a kick out of all the dogs parading with their look-alike owners as we checked in. There are little bowls of water for the canine guests scattered about and they even write the dogs' names on a little board in the lobby to welcome them. (Apparently, dogs sophisticated enough to travel can also read.)
I was loving the whole idea of sharing my digs with dogs until I saw a couple from Texas checking in right next door to me with not one, but three, tiny pooches whose names I could only guess were Yippy, Yappy and Ruff-Ruff.  I greeted them warmly but I was panicked inside. Omigod, I thought, I have enough trouble sleeping in strange places. How am I going to sleep with all that barking going on? The good news is, while they made a little ruckus going out for their 11 p.m walkie, I didn't hear a peep out of them the rest of the night.  I am bushy-tailed, if not bright-eyed, and ready to take on the day in Santa Fe. And to Lucy, the canine I left at home, you're still the cutest dog in the world. But, if you can't read my blog, you really should learn.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

First stop: Tucumcari

As excited as I was about this trip, I was a little worried about the first, heavy driving day. How would I fare with no back-up driver? Could I make it all the way to Tucumcari without falling asleep at the wheel, having my back lock up or hallucinating? Surprisingly, the nine-hour drive wasn't bad at all thanks to prophylactic ibuprofen and the audio books I checked out of the library on a friend's suggestions. (Why are audio books completely off my radar? They're fantastic!) With Tina Fey (Bossypants) and Nora Ephron (I Remember Nothing) as traveling companions, the miles flew by... all except the last leg from Dalhart, TX, when my foot got a little heavy and I grew increasingly annoyed by tumbling tumbleweeds. (Yes, they actually tumble across the road in front of you. You think they're going to screw up your car but they're actually so fragile, they're almost dust. When you're road weary, this logic escapes you.) But, I made it and am hunkered down at a classic Route 66 motel. Tonight, it's dinner at the historic Pow Wow Restaurant and Lizard Lounge (where it's also karaoke night...I doubt if I'll sing, but you never know) with my 10% off coupon from the motel!
Real Route 66 Retro
Old ad painted on patio wall. Owners have a sense of humor.
Clean, cool and cheap....just $54.95!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Travelin' solo and all that implies

     On Thursday, I hit the road all by myself for a 16-day working vacation to New Mexico, or as I prefer to call it:  Eat. Play. Spa. (Except there really will be work involved.)  While I have two sets of gal pals joining me for parts of my stay, I'll be going solo for a good percentage of the time.
     This is a significant life event because a) while I've traveled alone on business, those trips averaged about 3 days each; and b) I've relied on my husband for most of the navigational and organizational details on every vacation for the last 32 years. To ensure a successful journey, I am borrowing a page from the hub's book. Actually, I'm borrowing the whole book....otherwise known as "the binder":
The images on the cover were my idea. It's a girl thing. His binder is always sans art.
The binder contains my itineraries (two versions - complete and condensed), hotel confirmation numbers, mapped routes and written directions of every anticipated journey, large and small, and other documents (like photo releases) necessary for the work portion of my trip. Did I mention every page has been three-hole punched by moi? There are even blank, three-hole punched pages in the back.
Oh, I'm organized, alright. I'm even packing my shoes in a laundry basket so I can use the basket at the Spin and Sparkle laundromat in Taos before the second leg of my trip. There's actually a map that shows the route from the Santa Fe Trader Joe's to the Spin and Sparkle in Taos. I'm leaving nothing to chance, people!
Heck, I may even throw a humidifier in there. Because, why not?
Of course, the fact that the hubs won't be there to schlep luggage should (I said should) motivate me to pack light. But, the beauty of a road trip is being able to take everything if you want to. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Do you have a signature scent?

Apparently, it's National Fragrance Day. (It's also First Round of the NCAA Tournament Day, too, but I'm too nervous to talk about that.) I don't have a signature scent and I wonder if that's a bad thing. I was wearing Origins Ginger Essence for a long time. Then, I switched to Blue by Ralph Lauren. These days, I tend not to wear anything at all, unless it's a very special occasion. I think, where fragrance is concerned, it's hard to get it right.  Less is more. Still, I remember how my mother nailed it by wearing just the right amount of Chanel No. 5 (naturally) and I wonder if I should put more effort into the whole olfactory thing. Taking suggestions.... what do you wear, if anything?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Five minutes, Ms. Hamilton!

When I decided to retire from the 9 to 5 last July, I casually said to my husband, "Maybe I'll become an actor." After all, I would be free - at last! -  to go on auditions and under no contractual obligation to be the exclusive spokesperson for one company. I was lucky enough to find a hungry new agent who signed me in November. She told me from the get-go that jobs for women in their 50s were the most difficult to come by. "You're too old to play a mom and too young to be elderly." Seems she was right since I have gone on just two 'go see' auditions since December (not including half a dozen voice-over auditions). Fortunately, the second 'go see' was the charm because I got the booking yesterday! I will play a "mature" mom sitting with her "young professional" daughter waiting for test results from the hospital in a TV commercial and print ad.  I will get paid handsomely for one day's work (if sitting there saying nothing and looking anxious could be considered work....for me, it's just another day) and, more importantly, have something new for the old - and I mean OLD - resume. Looks like my second career is finally beginning. I'm not the spokesperson for Depends, yet....but a girl can dream.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bench by the BoomShop

The latest addition to my home gym/office/guest room.
When the folks at offered me a tempting discount to try out their new online store geared to baby boomers, I was in one of those rare "I really don't need anything" moods.  (I know. It doesn't happen often, but it happens.)  I went to the site, anyway, and was impressed by the clean, stylish design and slogan: Enhancing life thoughtfully and beautifully for baby boomers. Okay, I thought. I can probably stand to enhance my life a little more. I perused, price-shopped and purchased the exercise bench above, something I've wanted to add to my little home gym for quite some time. The site is extremely easy to navigate, elegant even. And, while the product selection might seem small to some, I think it's just right. Too many items and the BoomerGirl gets overwhelmed. As for price points, they are all over the map. At $79, my adjustable bench was only five bucks more than one 25-pound "speed weight" (whatever that is), but I have all the weights I'm ever going to use....or not use, depending on my procrastination level. Anyway, if you would like to give it a try, the BoomShop folks are offering BoomerGirl readers a discount, too. Simply put in discount code 43116  and get 15% off any one order. Happy shopping! Or, should I say, happy enhancing?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I'm trying to stay calm. I really am. But my first attempt at a corned beef recipe - which called for not one, but two 8-hour rounds in the crock pot - has rendered the former 3 lb. Irish brisket into a hunk of meat the size of a small shoe.  I've got 5 more hours to go and I fear the beef will simply disappear in the slow cooker. I hope the hubs remembers the Guinness.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Just call me Polyp-anna

Like Pollyanna playing the "glad game," I always try to look on the bright side. So, when the doctor told me he found - and removed - a polyp during my colonoscopy yesterday, I didn't flinch. (Truth is, I was too doped up to do anything. Love that Demerol-Versed cocktail.) The good news is: The polyp didn't look cancerous. The bad news: If it is not cancerous, I am officially on the five-year colonoscopy plan for the rest of my life. I was hoping for a clean test to put me on the ten-year plan but oh well. I'm glad I didn't procrastinate having the procedure...and glad it's behind me (sorry), at least for now.
"Before" and a"after" from the souvenir photo album they sent home with me.
Giving thought to having a colonscopy? Here is some additional information for you.  Really, it isn't that bad.  And, the nap you'll take after the procedure is the best you'll ever have. I promise.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Colonoscopy tips Katie didn't tell us about

Who needs Skinny Girl? My margarita mix.
      Tomorrow will be my third colonoscopy. I had my first one at 50 (as recommended by my doctor and Katie Couric) and, because they found a couple of polyps (which proved to be benign), I had another one at 53. That test was negative, so I was told to come back in 5 years for a follow-up. (Now, you're completely up to speed on my private medical history, HIPAA be damned.)
     As a colonoscopy veteran, I am not nervous about the procedure. I'll be knocked out thanks to that drug that killed Michael Jackson (hmm, maybe I should be a tad nervous) and the nap I'll take afterward will be glorious. It's getting through today that I'm worried about. First, there's the fasting. Nothing but clear liquids all damn day. Popsicles aside, I'm going to be one cranky camper by this afternoon. Then the, er, housecleaning, will begin. This is where the tips come in:
     1) A nurse told me that as long as I'm not working, I can begin the cleaning at 3 p.m., not at 5 or 6, as the instructions call for. "Those are for working people," she said. "The sooner you get it going (I silently pardoned her pun), the earlier you can go to sleep." Chalk another one up for semi-retirement.
     2) A doctor I know mixes the lemon flavored laxative in a margarita. Clear liquids, yes? That, my friends, is a game changer.  Because housecleaning tends to go a little better when you're relaxed.
    I'll spare you the details after the prep begins in earnest, but the question is: Are you having your colonoscopies on schedule? 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The remains of the day

The hubs turned 60 yesterday and we celebrated by throwing a brunch/watch party for 22 people. Appetizers for the 10:30 a.m. affair were mini cinnamon rolls from our favorite bakery and an assortment of deviled eggs (spicy, honey mustard and guacamole) along with mimosas and a Bloody Mary bar using Zing Zang, my favorite mix (and I've tried them all). Lunch at half-time included brisket, cheesy potatoes (the b'day boy's favorite), fruit salad and boozy Irish-inspired cupcakes from this amazing recipe.
I was so busy cooking all day Friday and hosting on Saturday (when do I get to "just call a caterer" like one of my wealthy friends suggested?) I took no photos until this morning. I am still exhausted from head to toe. It's shocking how tired I am.
The extent of the decorations.
The classy necklace I made him wear.
Except for the unfortunate outcome of the game, a good time was had by all. Every time I turned around, the hubs was passing around the x-ray of his new hip. (I can remember when he used to pass around illegal herbs. Oh, how our parties have changed over the years.)
Afterward, we both took a two-hour nap. This morning, the old man asked what I wanted to do for my 60th birthday (which is more than a year-and-a-half away, mind you). I replied, "Ignore it and go away, preferably to Mexico."

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Oil pulling. Yep, I did it.

One teaspoon of unfiltered, organic coconut oil.
I've been reading a lot about the ancient Ayurvedic practice of oil pulling and finally tried it this morning. Enticed by the promise of whiter teeth, reduced sinus congestion, better sleep and a myriad of other health benefits, I put a teaspoon of solid coconut oil in my mouth and held it there, swirling and swishing it over teeth and tongue, for twenty minutes. The one problem I hope to correct tomorrow morning? The solid bit. Not the greatest sensation. In fact, kind of gross. In the future, I will melt it before swishing. But, over all, not too bad. My teeth feel great and the twenty minutes went by quickly as I got ready for my day. I will continue this for a couple of weeks and report back on my progress. Meanwhile, I'm suddenly craving a pina colada.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ode to the Internet

I just noticed it's been almost a week since I last posted, which is odd because I've spent so much time thinking about the Internet and how it has changed my life for the better. The World Wide Web is responsible for rekindling some of the best relationships of my life, including childhood friends and neighbors, high school pals and long-lost co-workers from previous careers.  If the Internet didn't exist, this would simply not have happened. This week, several events brought the wonders of the Web to the forefront of my mind. To wit:
My first FaceTime meeting with my friend and writing partner, Carol, who lives in L.A. (We met on the Internet via email years ago. And, while we have gotten together in person a few times, ours is largely a "pen pal" relationship.) We finally figured out we could talk on our iPads while writing on our laptops...simul-freaking-taneously! We were both exceedingly happy about this, as you can see, and it made our "process" easy and fun.
Kathleen with her new bangs. Wowzers!
My brand new friend, Kathleen from New Jersey, who contacted me on Friday after reading the account of my Efudex adventure which you can see here, here and here. Kathleen is 44, works at a big PR firm in New York City and has a case of solar keratosis on her forehead, just like I had. She sent me a thank you note for giving her the courage to go through with the treatment, as well as a few tips I shared about bangs for camouflage and products for comfort on the blog. I can't tell you how wonderful that made me feel, and I know she's going to do handle it like a champ.
Donna and her three kids vacationing in Greece
Tomorrow night, if the blankety-blank snow ever stops. I will drive into Kansas City and pick up my old high school friend, Donna, who is visiting from Italy where she has lived most of her adult life. I hadn't seen her since graduation until -- you guess it - I contacted her via Facebook about our 40th reunion. Bada bing, bada boom, I'm finding out her daughter attends the university up the street and we're planning a night out with old classmates.
 There will still be days when I feel like this, but I am forever grateful for my wifi connections.
I am not, however, feeling one ounce of gratitude for this damn snow.

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 ...