Outside the Box


I have always been pretty good at thinking outside the box. I am famous around my house for ‘gerry rigging’ and fixing things. My nickname is McGiver Sandy.

The joke used to be, give Sandy some thumbtacks and scotch tape and she can fix anything. Well I have evolved. Now I use a hot glue gun and duct tape. Times they are a changing.

So yesterday when my bedroom curtains fell off the wall, rod and all, I couldn’t figure out what to do. First of all, I don’t know how I got them up at celing height in the first place, and second place, there didn’t seem to be any hardware to hold the curtain rod up.

I must have wedged one of those spring loaded curtain rods between two edges of the window. Except now that rod is broken and missing an end piece.

Another problem is that the wall where I would have to attach the curtain rod is concrete. And all the window moldings are bronze metal.

I thought and thought and then Voila! I have three beautiful sheer silk embroidered long coats. They are very similar style and trim, but the colors are purple, red and fuschia. If I hung them on hangers, and hung the hangers from the ledge just under the ceiling they would be beautiful ‘curtains’.

My silk coat ‘curtains’

There isn’t really a black space between the coats. That is where the coats and the long sleeves overlap one another.

Just because something is something doesn’t mean it can’t be something else. Originally I was going to go to Walmart and buy a new curtain rod and hardware and also some new curtains to fit.

These silk floral coats are beautiful. They were in my closet just sitting there. One day I bought one, loved it so much, I went back and got one in every color.

Now I know why. They have been hanging in my closet mostly unworn for over five years. Now they are beautifully decorating my bedroom.

How did I get them up there? First I dragged my ladder from the storage closet, then I stayed up till three a.m. trying to think of how to attach them to the ledge.

The key word is ladder. Be sure you own a good ladder. Don’t use a chair. A friend of mine fell off a chair while changing a light bulb and broke his leg. A ladder is a lot cheaper than a broken leg.

My ladder is the Cosco brand. It is yellow and black and has lots of good safety features, handlebars and three wide non slip steps. I think it was around $50 at City Mill at least seven years ago.

My favorite ladder even has a great ‘painter’s shelf’ perfect for tape, scissors measuring tape, etc. Plus a nifty ‘press here to fold’ tab.

Lots of people say, ‘I don’t need a ladder’ and I don’t have anywhere to store it and blah, blah, blah.  (It folds and doesn’t take any more space than a folded ironing board).

Even if you only use it once a year, just knowing it is there gives you ‘peace of mind’. I keep mine at the side of my storage closet, however you could slide it under your bed.

I also have a two step ladder, which is handy for reaching something mid height. And I have a great step stool which is round. It is called a Kik Step.

When you step on it, it locks in place and it is easy to kick around the kitchen. I think I bought this at an office supply store like Staples.

Kik Step

As for how to put the curtain rod up, first I thought of hooks and hot glue. But I couldn’t visualize me doing this without dripping hot glue on my hand. Or worse on my face, which would be directly below the ledge. (and me on a ladder). OK, forget the hot glue.

Then I thought of buying a curtain rod and taping it to the ledge with duct tape. Finally it hit me. Just hang each coat on one of my thin grey velvet hangers and duct tape the curved metal part of the hanger to the ledge.

Perfect! And the width is exactly right. I am so proud of myself for thinking of this and carrying it out. Next time you need fabric for something, be it curtains or a party tablecloth, look in your closet.

And duct tape is so much easier to use than hammer and nails or an electric drill and screwdriver. Especially when what you are working on is three feet above your head.

By the way, duct tape comes in many colors and patterns. You don’t have to settle for battleship grey. Longs drug store, Lowe’s and Home Depot have at least ten colors and Michael’s has a whole slew of patterns, including my favorite, black and white checks.

Now, you probably don’t have three embroidered silk coats on hand, just the size to fit your bedroom window, but this story (and it is a true story) is just to get you thinking ‘outside the box’.


Lumosity.com to Improve Your Brain Function

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Yesterday I wrote about a web site called Cognifit.com. This is a free site with tests and games that are supposed to improve your brain function.

Then I checked out the other one, Lumosity.com. There really is no comparison. While this site isn’t free, I think it is much better in every way. First of all the games and instructions are much more clear. Second it isn’t at all boring. And third you do get a three day free trial to see if you like it.

The first ‘game’ (and no, it’s not so easy)

This email just came through: ‘You’ve just joined a brilliant community of 19 million brain trainers committed to improving their future through stimulating and scientifically proven brain games and exercises. Ready to live smart?’

I jumped right in and subscribed at once. They have many different plans, including by the month, by the year, and lifetime. I chose the one year plan.

Supposedly their price is $79.95 for a year but they have discounts for this and that. I found a promotion code that worked for me. The code is IWANTTOPLAY and it saved me $19.99. $59.96 for a year (or $4.99 a month).

After you subscribe you get a nice welcome email from the company telling you that if you wish to gift a membership to someone it will be 50% off for the next two days.

So if you and a friend want to both join, one gets it for only $40 a year. I figure that if I can improve my name recognition alone that will be worth it. I have never been good at remembering people’s names right after I have met them.

I plan to ‘train’ every day. They will send you email reminders each day that you choose. I want to be reminded seven days a week.

I have been wanting to take a class but I really don’t like the driving to school, parking, and committing to a certain time each day. This is perfect.

I can spend fifteen minutes a day improving my brain. It will be fun to see the progress.

I think I will check out Barnes and Nobel for their puzzle books. I think if I do some written puzzles too, that should speed my improvement.

Don’t get me wrong. I really don’t think there is anything ‘wrong’ with my brain. I have always been very good at taking tests and passing with flying colors.

Sometimes it has even been embarrassing. I have taken several Real Estate License exams and while you are given four hours to complete the test, I am always done in half the time or less.

When you get up to leave the testing room, all the other applicants stare and give you dirty looks. I can’t help it. I study the material and it just comes to me in a flash. I never ever change the answer to a question once I have written it down.

I have almost total recall of events that took place fifty or sixty years ago. But I can’t always find my car keys. And where did I put my iPhone?

Improve Your Brain

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Today I learned of several websites that have games to help improve the way your brain works. The one I clicked onto today is called Cognifit.com.

This is a free site and it starts off by asking you your name, age, email etc. Then you take a series of tests to see where you stand in the brain department.

This is called an assessment and evidently the games you are later given are tailored to your personal weaknesses, so you can improve in these areas.

There are memory tests with numbers, a couple of mazes, some tests where you follow a roving ball with your cursor, and some picture/word games. After each set, you are told what your score is and what that means.

One I didn’t do so hot on was to follow the white ball with your cursor, while at the same time words are flashing in a box. The words are colors and if the word is written in the same color as the word says, you click the space bar. So if the word GREEN is written in green, you click the space bar. All while you are following the white ball with your cursor.

This is probably good to improve on, if you are driving a car with children in the back seat yelling and screaming. Or, if you are trying to do two or more things at once. (Although I have always been pretty good at that).

You can see where your strengths and weaknesses are. Then you are shown a world score of people who are your age. You can see if you are above or below the average score for your age.

I was a little below average on most things but a little above on others. If you continue to do the games, mazes, and memory tests, your score is supposed to improve.

I think I will do this every day for a month and see what happens. However, this site is a little boring. There is another website that got a very good review. It is called Lumosity.com. This was dreamed up by researchers at Stanford University and the University of San Francisco and now has 19 million subscribers.

There are more than 35 games, all designed to improve your brain’s function. I think this sounds like something I would enjoy doing. And  you can track your progress as you go along.

This does not claim to keep you from getting Alzheimer’s, but I really do think that doing puzzles and keeping your brain working is very important. My mother died at 88 and was sharp as a tack until the day she died. She did a crossword puzzle every single day for over fifty years.

To join Lumosity.com costs $14.95 a month or $80 a year for a one year subscription. Tomorrow when my brain isn’t so tired, I think I will try that one.

Look for a review on Lumosity.com in my next blog.

Magazines Aren’t Just for Reading

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I love to read. I always have one or two books ‘going’. But for relaxation I enjoy reading magazines. I subscribe to quite a few. Various interests from fashion and travel to cooking and miniatures.

I have subscribed to Vogue for over forty years. I love to read the ads and of course see the latest trends in clothes, shoes and makeup. Most of the clothes are ridiculously expensive. Sometimes they will feature a ‘deal of the month’, which is something like a white shirt that is only $295.

There are usually some good articles about famous people and their homes. A Vogue subscription costs around $20 a year and the fashion issue in September with close to 1000 pages is worth at least half of that.

Another fashion magazine is ‘W’. This is an oversize magazine loaded with gorgeous artwork, excellent photography, beautiful models, and good articles, all on very high quality paper. The pages make beautiful gift wrap for small presents. And you can cut a strip of a pretty border for a ‘ribbon’.

You can also make ‘beads’ out of strips of magazine pages and covers. Just cut narrow strips, spread with white glue and roll tightly. Let dry and Voila! Make the strips a little wider at one end, sort of like a very long triangle. Roll wide end to narrow end. That way all the pretty colors will show on the edges.

I like to decoupage things. I usually use the Mac Kenzie Child’s catalogs, cut them up and use the black/white check patterns. But you can decoupage a shoe box with magazine cutouts and it looks like an expensive storage box. Several stacked up make a good storage system for old check book stubs, recipes, makeup, or whatever.

To decoupage, just smear white glue all over box, cut out pretty things, overlap, and cover all over with more white glue. Let dry.

Just be sure to label your boxes so you can remember what you put in each one. You can take a photo of the contents and glue it on the end instead of a written label.

Usually you can get a one year subscription to ‘W’ for $12. Sometimes ‘W’ and Vogue have a combo deal that is pretty reasonable.

On the other hand, I also like Cosmopolitan. This is the other end of the fashion scale. This magazine is  aimed at the young working woman who is probably single. Lately the articles on Sex have been very explicit. ‘The ten things mean enjoy in bed’ and ‘How to …’

I enjoy the frivolity of it all and can usually read this whole magazine in one sitting. (Don’t buy this magazine if sexual articles offend you). Just got a ‘good deal’ on my renewal. $15 for two years. That is only 63 cents an issue.

Not a magazine, but more of a newspaper is the National Enquirer. I have subscribed for over thirty years and while it is sort of an expensive addiction, I look forward to reading the latest gossip each week. On the news stand the cost is $2.95 an issue. By subscription, $2.

Peter got me a subscription to Miniatures and Woman’s Health. Miniatures is lots of fun, and I always learn something new and inspirational to either make or just dream about for my never ending doll house.

I haven’t started getting Woman’s Health yet. I’m sure I will enjoy that one and hopefully it will lead to a healthier lifestyle.

I have also gotten a couple of ‘free’ subscriptions for taking online surveys. One that’s pretty good is Entertainment. This keeps you up to date on movies, TV, books and music. It is a weekly so the issues tend to pile up rather fast. Best to read the day it comes.

Another freebie is Lucky magazine, the magazine for shoppers. As I am a shopper, I ordered it, but again, it is really aimed at the young working woman and most of the clothes are really not ‘me’.

Articles tend to feature clothes you can wear to the office and then with a few slight changes, be ready for that hot date. These changes usually include taking off the blazer you wore to work, changing into some dangling jewelry and slipping into a pair of four inch high heels. Out of the question.

When I was growing up, my mother subscribed to lots of magazines also. The ones I remember were Readers Digest, The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal and Good Housekeeping. (My father liked Life and Esquire). These were the magazines I read from the time I was twelve to about sixteen.

Then I discovered Seventeen. And then I found True Confessions. I used to have to sneak this one into the house so my parents wouldn’t see it.

No Tip

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Today I did something I have never done in my whole life. I went to a restaurant and didn’t leave a tip.

It all started when P. F. Chang’s ran an ad celebrating Chinese New Year. The ad said that there would be a free appetizer with the order of an entree during the month of January.

I was going to go the other night but then decided not to. So I had the coupon in my purse. My sister and I wanted to go out for a Chinese lunch today and I immediately thought of P.F. Chang’s.

We sat down and the waitress asked if she could bring us something to drink. I said water and some tea, please.

She said, “The tea isn’t free here”. To which I replied, “Just water, then.”

We ordered cashew chicken and egg flower soup and for our free appetizer, I ordered the chicken lettuce wraps.

The food came quickly and was tasty. But the waitress never brought over the bill. The restaurant was empty except for us and one other couple. There was no waitress in sight.

About ten minutes went by and I was getting antsy.

Oh, there she is, at the front desk, talking to the hostess. We walked over to the hostess station and I asked for my check.

“Oh, the manager is approving your discount”.  A few minutes later the bill arrived. On the credit card voucher where it says Tip, I put Zero with a big line drawn through it.

This is very unusual for me. I am a fairly generous tipper. Usually 15-20% depending on the service. Even when the service isn’t so hot, I still leave a tip. But this girl just rubbed me the wrong way.

From the first comment about the tea, to the last comment about the ‘manager having to approve the discount’. Big discount. It was their ad, their coupon, and I followed all their criteria.

After paying the bill we also said we would never come back to this restaurant again. There are so many terrific Chinese restaurants in Honolulu, this won’t be any hardship on me.

I have lived in places where there was only one Chinese restaurant in town and then I would have a problem. In Bullhead City, Arizona the restaurant was Pongs. The service and food were both good, but even if there were a problem, I never would have pulled a stunt like that.

Modern Family-TV Series

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I must be one of the few people in the United States that never watched Modern Family on TV. I don’t know how I missed it. I used to like Married With Children (the Bundy family). And I loved All in the Family. (Archie and Edith Bunker).

Anyway after seeing it win so many awards at the recent Golden Globes, I decided to order Season One from Netflix. I am glad I did.

For those of you not familiar with the show, here are the various parts of the family. First there is the father/grandfather. He is around sixty and he is sort of an opionated bigot. He has two children. One is a married daughter and one is a gay son who has been with his partner for five years.

The father is married to a hot Columbian woman who is half his age. She has an eleven year old little boy who is very Columbian.

The married daughter has three children and a husband, who is like her fourth child. The two girls are fifteen and twelve and the boy is a little younger. Hubby tries to be cool, but the whole family knows he just ‘doesn’t get it’.

The gay son and his partner have just adopted a baby girl from Vietnam. The son is very uptight and organized. The partner is very flamboyant and fun.

This bizarre group of people each have their own issues and then interact as a Modern Family. It is entertaining and very funny. Highly recommended.

It reminds me of how changed the ‘family’ is from when I was a little girl. Now that the divorce rate is 50%, it is not at all unusual for a child to have four grandmothers and four grandfathers.

Not to mention all the step mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. Holidays are a real problem. Who do you spend what with?

When I was ten, I was forbidden to play with Mary Lou, one of the neighbor children, because her parents were divorced. This was in 1948 and being a single mother had a real stigma.

I played with her anyway and when my mother asked where I had been that day, I made up something. I used to love to go to her house. There were no rules. You could jump on the furniture and play hide and seek in the closets. The mother was there, but she didn’t seem to care what we did.

Families have really changed over the years. Now you have men who stay home and take care of the children and women who earn more money than their husbands. There are women who are doctors and men who are nurses.

When I was a child, it was very clear that the little ‘doctor’ kits were black and the ‘nurse’ kits were white. Little girls didn’t even get to play with a ‘black doctor kit’.

In 1961 when my son was three years old, we bought him trucks and guns and toy soldiers. He liked playing with the little girl next door. She had baby dolls and little dishes. One day my husband came home and found him next door playing with the dolls and the dishes. He hit the ceiling.

Also lots of people don’t seem to think it is all that important to get married before you have children. Since the average wedding these days costs over $20,000, it seems like such a waste, to think that half of these marriages will end in divorce.

I try to be liberal and live and let live, but I grew up in a whole different era, when our Bible was Dick and Jane and Baby Sally. There was a mother, father, grandmother, grandfather and there were no divorces, step parents, or non married couples at all.

When I got married at nineteen, I had been engaged for over a year and pinned before that. That was the college thing to do. If you were in a sorority and your ‘intended’ was in a fraternity, he gave you his fraternity pin to wear.

Then the whole fraternity came over to the girl’s sorority house and made a circle around the happy couple. The boys sang songs and it was very special. It was more than ‘going steady’. It was engaged to be engaged.

I don’t know if this is done any more. Probably not. Maybe they just post this news on Facebook.

The children of today are growing up in much different times. They are accustomed to divorce, having two or more sets of parents, and multiple grandparents. Or just two sets of grandparents who live in four different places (and have boyfriends and girlfriends).

Such a Deal!

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I just got an email from Neiman Marcus. It seems they are having a four hour only sale on some of their ‘winter’ items. This is called the Mid Day Dash sale and only while these items are still in stock.

Up to 65% off. Of course I had to take a look. Lucky for me there was nothing I wanted. But some of the items were actually ‘funny’ so here you go. This is a typical shoe markdown. There were a few marked down from $1695 to $1101.

Gee nearly $600 off, that is impressive!

But do you really think that someone would order these online? I guess if you had tried them on in the store and loved them, and now they were over $300 off??

It’s hard for me to get excited about shoes in this price range. I am a sale shopper and I do pretty well at Ross and Nordstrom’s Rack. Even Macy’s when they have shoes at 50% off plus a bonus coupon for an additonal 15%, isn’t bad.

The best shopping deals at Macy’s are when there is a $10 coupon on a $25 clearance item. That brings the cost of a $50-$60 item down to $15.

Or, if you were buying shoes at $50 a pair, you could buy a dozen pair for the cost of one pair of the Louboutin’s. (on sale)

  Pretty snappy!

These are pretty cute, and if I was about fifty years younger, I would be tempted.

Christian Louboutin

Houndstooth-Heel Slingback

Original: $895.00
Midday Dash: $581.00

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