Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Fashion Challenge

I have no sense of style.

You know that TV show, “What Not to Wear”? I would love to be a contestant (is that the word?) on that show! To have someone give me a pile of money and personalized fashion advice, not to mention the hair and make-up — I just swoon whenever I think about it.

My personal style can best by described as “casual”. I wear jeans and T-shirts (topped by a sweatshirt if seasonally appropriate; substitute shorts for jeans if the seasons go the other way). On my feet I wear sneakers, or my new favorite shoe, the Merrell Encore Chill. Comfy as all heck, but not exactly fashionable. My friend and I joke that we are shoe challenged – we wear what feels good and have no idea what looks good. I am allergic to heels over an inch or so.

Last night I watched the documentary, “Shut Up & Sing“, which is about the Dixie Chicks and the fallout from their 2003 eve-of-the-war comment about President Bush. I highly recommend this movie. While I’ve always been a fan of the Dixie Chicks,  I think the movie would appeal to anyone who cares about independence, free speech and integrity. I came away feeling incredibly impressed with the maturity and thoughtfulness of the three women who make up the group. What to them was a throw-away comment turned into a boycott of their music by country radio stations and impacted record and ticket sales. It would have been so easy for them to “make nice” and make it all go away, bringing their music back to country radio and resurrecting ticket sales. But they were firm in the conviction they had done nothing wrong (I personally agree with this) and refused to compromise musically. If country music wouldn’t take them, they’d find another audience. And they did!

But to bring this back to the topic of fashion, I absolutely loved the clothes Natalie, Emily and Martie (the Dixie Chicks) wear when they are on stage. Being fashion-challenged, I’m not really sure how to describe it. Funky comes to mind. Lots of color, different materials and layers. I really just thought it all looked cool. I fear I’m too old to pull off such a look now (unless I make it big in rock or country sometime soon), but if I get the chance to do it again, I’m going to find a more exciting personal style when I’m younger. My high school and college days were spent mostly in preppy clothes – alligators and chinos were pretty big in my wardrobe. Snore.

Do you have a personal style? How did it develop? How long have you had it? What do you wish were different?

This Day in History

Today is March 11th.

My grandmother died on this day in 1997. She was either 83 or 88. I think. Which would make her 96 or 101 today, I guess. Or somewhere in between.

It’s also the birthday of a former boyfriend, who was much older than I. He’s either turning 59 or 60 today. Sixty! I hope it’s 59 – I’m not sure I’m ready to have a former boyfriend in his sixties. Not that it matters since I haven’t been in touch with him in years. But now that I think harder, I’m pretty sure it’s his sixtieth birthday. Egads!

Another key date in my personal family history is May 23rd. We’ll see if I remember to post about it then.

How much trash?

We are fortunate (?) to live in a town with weekly trash pickup. Each house is provided one of those big wheeled trash bins that we put out on the curb once a week and the big trash truck comes and the automated arms lifts it up and dumps it into the trash area of the truck and it motors away to wherever trash goes once we leave it out there and forget about it.

Today is our trash day. The house across the street from us has a very similar family living in it: single mom with two kids. Every week they have trash bags literally overflowing the town provided bin. In contrast, there are some weeks I almost feel like not putting our trash out to be picked up because there is so little in there. (But I always do because I worry about the smell.)

I don’t know why we generate so much less trash than our neighbors (for the record, the neighbor kids are 10 and 13, not diaper-wearing kids in case you might have thought that). I don’t do anything special to keep our waste low. We do participate in the town recycling program, but that only gets picked up every other week and the volume is relatively small. I could easily put our recyclables in with our regular trash and not increase the amount by very much.

How much trash do you generate? Is it more or less than families of a similar size? Have you done anything to reduce your waste output? Aside from recycling, what can you do to generate less waste?

Tree Troubles

What to do about our Christmas Tree this year?

I’m in the “two weeks before Christmas” camp as far as Christmas trees go. While not morally (or otherwise) opposed to artificial trees, we’ve always had a real tree and frankly, I have no appetite for purchasing an artificial tree this time of year. With my two week time frame, next weekend would be the perfect time to get our tree.

Except for one teensy little problem.

We are going away from Thursday – Monday as our big family Christmas gift this year.

We won’t be back till mid-afternoon on December 14th, and then work and school will take over the rest of the week. Yes, we could get our tree the weekend after we get back (in this case Dec 19-20), but we are actually going away to visit friends the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I’m not comfortable leaving a live tree up for more than a day without someone being home.

Anyone got a spare artificial tree we can borrow this year?

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are enjoying a lazy day at home before heading over to friends’ for a dinner hour Thanksgiving meal. We are bringing two pies, the recipes for which were offered up by Facebook friends when I posted a status looking for new recipes to try. They are both setting in the frig right now, and were easy to make. I hope they taste as good!

Today I am thankful for my two beautiful and healthy children, my own good health, our two dogs, my job and all our friends and family.

Musings on Toilet Paper

I am a toilet paper snob.


I will, and do, buy store brand milk, spaghetti sauce, crackers, cheese, napkins, trash bags and bagels (actually, we like the store brand bagels best!), but I have always splurged on so-called “premium” toilet paper.

What can I say? I really like the feel of something thick and soft on my bottom, rather than thin and rough (Git yer minds out of the gutter people!). I have always told my kids they only need “2 squares” after finishing a “typical” jaunt in the bathroom, but that rule is relaxed when out in public, since we typically need 5 times that to do the job. I have even wondered how much money people actually do save using the cheap stuff, considering you have to use so  much more of it per task, not to mention the lack of comfort factor during the process.

But recently I came across an article that has me second guessing myself. Apparently to make the really soft toilet paper (and tissues, paper towels, napkins and virtually any other product we prefer soft) they have to use old trees, since the fibers are longer. Recycled paper cannot be soft – only standing trees, the older the better, can do that. How awful to think of beautiful old trees being grown only to end up wiping you-know-what and being flushed away.

I like this quote at the end of the article and hope it’s true: “If they can put a man on the moon, they can create soft toilet paper without cutting down trees.”

For the record, I am an “over” person.


To Do

We have friends visiting this weekend! We usually visit them, but this time they are coming to us, which is going to be really fun. I’m not so good at “entertaining” so meal planning for this weekend is stressing me out a bit. I just don’t know how to plan for more people than our usual three, and what they will/won’t eat. And little things like decluttering  – they will sleep in the “pink room” which is where my kids have their dressers, and there is no flat surface for them to put anything on. Plus, the bathrooms need to be cleaned. However, I have stocked up on plenty of adult beverages for us to indulge in – the mangoes are ripening on the counter for the mango margaritas, and the avocados for guacamole are almost ripe enough. They’ll be here in about 24 hours – I’ll probably technically still be working but hopefully I’ll have the bulk of my “must dos” done so I can visit.

Have I mentioned how much in love I am with our little Ruby?? She is such a sweet little dog!


What’s that other dog’s name again?

Here’s Ruby sleeping in my desk chair. Where I’m supposed to be sitting and working. Usually she sleeps on my lap while I’m sitting here, but I had to get up and plopped her down. She made herself comfortable.


Human versus Machine

I am not a “shopper”, but I love gadgets.

I’m good with directions, but don’t always plan ahead.

Yesterday I needed to make a trip to the Apple store. The closest Apple store to us is, well, not very close. While we live about equidistant from two big malls, neither has been blessed with the mecca that is the Apple store. (Oh, and now might be a good time to say that my love of gadgets is really testing my self-control as I am lusting for every version of iPod Apple is currently selling – they keep making them better and better!) Phew. Anyway, the closest one is to the east of us, to a part of the state I rarely travel to, and don’t know very well.

So, when it was time to go, I pulled out another gadget in the form of my GPS unit and pulled up the POI (Points of Interest) in the town the mall is in and started on my way.

I faithfully followed Samantha’s directions (that’s the name assigned to the GPS voice). Now, I had an actual appointment at the Apple store. To discuss a problem with my old iPod shuffle. An appointment, meaning they were expecting me at a certain time. Samantha was projecting we’d be there with plenty of time left over, and I was relaxed and enjoying the beautiful day. Krystal was playing at a friend’s and it was just Belle and me. Ah, glorious day!

The “miles to destination” was getting lower and lower and the time was getting close to appointment time. We got stuck behind a few slow lights and our big time cushion started to slip away.

I started getting tense. And I tried to tell myself not to, since, really, who cares? It’s not life or death. It’s an appointment at a store, for crying out loud. Still, my Type A, always follow directions self was getting uptight!

Suddenly Samantha announced “You have reached your destination.” Except……I was still driving down a road and there was no mall, or any other discernible “destination” in sight!

Now, I’m freaking out. I’m po’d that my GPS doesn’t know where the hell a huge mall is, having angst over my appointment which I’m very nearly late for, and still have no idea where this freaking mall is.

Belle was shouting what she thought were helpful suggestions from the back seat, but in my agitated mood they were annoying and not helpful, or cute (sorry, honey!). I did what any reasonable person would do in 1999 – I pulled into a gas station and asked directions.

A few minutes later we pulled in to the mall. It was about 10 minutes past my appointment time, and I had no idea where in the mall the Apple store might be.

But we found it.

And all was well.

When we returned to the car I made sure to let Samantha know that this location is the mall, and I hope, if I ever need to go again, she will remember.

And if Samantha doesn’t remember, at least I should.

It’s Label Day

Happy Label Day! Errr, make that Happy Labor Day! Krystal has trouble with her “r” sounds and has been calling it Label Day all weekend -it’s been an interesting lesson in speech!

Let me ask you something – do you know what the origin of Labor Day is? I’ll tell you what I thought. I thought it was a day set aside to honor the American worker. Although even as a child I wondered how the hospital workers, police, fire and convenience store workers celebrated since, let’s face it, someone is always working. Even more so in this day and age when we don’t seem to be able to turn it off. Still, isn’t it nice that there is a holiday set aside to not work?

Is that what you thought too? If so, we’re both wrong!

This article was in the Boston Globe yesterday and it was a revelation to me. In case you don’t want to read the whole thing, I’ll summarize.

When President Grover Cleveland signed the bill establishing a Labor Day holiday in 1884, it was intended not as a day of leisure, but as a day to promote the American work ethic. The day was supposed to be a reminder for us all to renew our commitment to work, the highest calling, and get back to it. It was placed at the end of summer to mark the end of “indolence”.

The article is quite long, and very interesting from a historical standpoint about the evolution of our culture.

I like knowing the history, but this holiday still works out to be a long, work-free weekend for me. Some labels I’m OK with – on this one, feel free to label me a hedonist.

An Olfactory Mystery

Ah spring!

Spring deserves celebration because of warmer weather, outdoor activities, green grass, buds on trees, and all the beautiful flowers it brings!

I’ve been doing some regular running, which is through the streets near our house, all of which are residential. In the winter sometimes I run through a warm pocket, just a little blip where it doesn’t feel quite so cold for a few strides. In the spring I get a whiff of what smells like marshmallows to me.

I noticed that same marshmallow smell in our yard, so I decided to take a picture. I have three flowering plants in the “garden” (term used extremely loosely) in the side yard, but when I sniff them up close, I do not detect any particular smell. I am including a photo of the plant I think is the source, but I’m not entirely sure. One of the other flowering plants is an azalea bush, but I’m not sure on the other. Still, does anyone know what this plant is?


And a close up:


Whether you can identify this plant or not, does anyone know what type of plant might smell like marshmallows?

In other news — I think I am done watching American Idol. It takes up so much time during the season, and I was really disappointed with the way this year’s eliminations went. Some of my faves were eliminated early on, and I could not be more underwhelmed (b-o-r-e-d) with the winner. Can I complain since I don’t vote? Well, with their current voting system, you better believe it, because if I did vote, I’d call in one time, not set up banks of automated dialers/texters the way some do it.

Anyway, moving on…..