Taking a Break

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I will be taking a break from this blog for a while. For those of you following my ongoing activities, I may have mentioned that my back ‘went out’ while I was on my recent trip to Las Vegas.

It also locked completely after I got home. Several trips to the chiropractor and I was feeling better. (At least I could walk without a cane).

Then I got a terrible pain in my lower back that would not go away, despite various pain killers including heavy duty narcotic ones.

My doctor ordered some back x-rays and when she phoned me within a couple of hours, I just knew it couldn’t be good news.

Right. I have a fractured pars, which is something to do with the vertebrae and it is not supposed to have a crack in it. I have an appointment with the Sports Medicine doctor and I think the treatment involves bracing and rest.

I plan to do a lot of reading and TV watching over the next several weeks. Luckily I have quite a few new books, a ‘loaded’ Kindle, Netflix streaming and lots of pillows.

Getting in and out of bed is hard to do without twisting and so today I ordered a bed rail contraption that fits under the mattress and extends to the floor and above the surface so I will have something to hold onto.

They sell these at Amazon on the internet, but I ordered this one locally. Not only will Hawaiian Islands Medical Supply deliver this today, the delivery man will also assemble and install this for me.

This is very sturdy and extends under the mattress three feet. I feel much safer going from a lying to standing position. It also helps to have something to hold onto, if you are rolling from left to right.

I’m just sorry I didn’t get one of these gadgets a whole lot sooner. I have seen them in many catalogs, but was never compelled to order one. Now this will be a must for the rest of my life.

There are a couple of different types. Some have legs that extend to the floor and some just slide under the mattress. The one I ordered has legs and an attached pouch, which should be handy for my phone and glasses.

I read a few things about the L5 fracture on the internet and I will try not to guess just what will happen next. Evidently it takes between 6 and 12 weeks for this to heal.

Meanwhile my biggest problem is how to fill and empty the dishwasher without twisting or bending. (Picking up the morning newspaper in front of my door is not so easy either).

I don’t know exactly what the treatment for this will be, but I do know that sitting at a computer for any length of time is not good for what ails me.

In fact, for now, I will close and go lie down. I’ll be back writing, when this is resolved. Adios, Aloha, Etc.

Photostamps and Greeting Cards

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Here is a reprint of one of my first posts. Way back from October 2010. One correction to bring it up to date: The cost of a box of 30 assorted greeting cards from Costco is now $17.99. Still a bargain at less than $1 a card, even with two 45 cent stamps.

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I like to use interesting stamps on letters and cards. There is a sheet called The Hawaiian Rain Forest which is actually ten various size postage stamps.

The one of me and Pierot is a Photo stamp

and the comic strip is just a sheet of 44 cent stamps. (now 45)

The Christmas stamps just came out and I will get a sheet of those next time I go to the post office.

All you have to do is ask the postal clerk to let you see the book of available stamps as there are lots of different ones. I wish I had saved one from each batch over the years. It would be fun to look back on the various styles and prices. I remember when it was three cents for regular mail and seven cents for airmail.

Have you discovered Photostamps?

You can order these online with any photo you like and they are real postage stamps. I always have some of these on hand for special greeting cards. They are expensive, about $1.00 each for a 44 cent stamp. (now 45) These make a wonderful present for that person who has everything. So for that difficult person, here you go. (About $20 for a sheet of 20 (with shipping)

I know with email and ecards and evites, it seems like we don’t send many cards through the snail mail. But just think how nice it is to go to the mailbox and get a handwritten envelope with a pretty stamp, instead of  just junk mail that comes every day.

To make that greeting card special, you can either make one yourself, or doctor up a simple card. Write the persons name in glue and sprinkle glitter on it. (Or buy a glitter pen). Glue pens and glue sticks are very handy. You can stick on trinkets, feathers, coins, little mirrors, rhinestones, and such.

If you don’t want to go to all that trouble, just get a set of colored marking pens and use these for your salutation, signature and address. I have a Martha Stewart set but a silver or gold marking pen is just fine.

Next time you are at Walmart check out their sticker department. You will be amazed at all the various themes. How nice to put a group of golf stickers on that card for a golfer or something special that says you care.

If you want to start doing this, use a special box for all your supplies.  You can use a shoe box, but if you get one of those plastic see through shoe boxes, you can see what’s what, cards, glue, pens, stickers and stamps, plus return address labels and an address book. You will be much more inclined if everything is in one place.

And don’t wait till you need a card. Buy a box of assorted cards to have on hand. Costco has a great box of 30 handmade cards for $15.99. Do the math. If you go buy one card at a time, it is about $3 or $4 a card. At $3 each that would be $90. There, you just ‘saved’ $75.

So even if you don’t use all those baby cards, you are still way ahead. And it is so nice to have just the right card on hand when you need it. Plus every time you go to the store you use gas and time (and you have to find a parking place).

One thing I learned from being a Girl Scout: ‘Be Prepared’.

Since I wrote this blog, I have discovered a new ‘trick’. I type up my addresses for the envelope on my computer. I type my return address in a size 12 font and the person’s address in a 24 font.

I make the font special and try to match the style to the card and same with the ink color. Then I just cut out the address with my trusty paper cutter for a nice clean edge, rubber cement it on the envelope and Voila!

My Cat Collection

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My current curio cabinet with my collection of cats (get out that magnifying glass)

This is a repeat of one of my first posts. I was trying to get my readers to ‘know’ me and this sort of sums up some of my traits. (I like to shop, get a bargain, make something out of nothing, fix things and be original.

I am a collector of many things. (Three is a collection). But my cat collection is huge.

Gift from Peter…guess he ‘knows’ me

Here are four of my crystal cats. The two on the right are Baccarat and the one on the left is the Swarovski cutie in the previous photo.

I have been collecting cat figurines for over forty years. Some were found on trips and in flea markets. Many were received as gifts from family and friends. I try to find small ones to fit in my curio case, but if there is a larger one I like, it goes on a bookshelf or coffee table.

This is a bank I am jeweling.

If you don’t have a collection of something, I highly recommend it as a fun hobby. Mine started many years ago, when I went to a garage sale. There was a little girl with her own table of toys and dolls and in the midst of the Barbies was a tiny ceramic cat with a missing ear. “How much?” “Twenty five cents.” I gave her one dollar and made her day.

I took my adopted cat home and replaced his ear with a mixture of spackle and glue. Then I painted it to match with some craft paint and a coat of nail polish. Even tho’ I have more than a hundred cats now, it has always been my favorite.

I have met many interesting people through my collecting hobby. While on a Mediterranean cruise I mentioned to a woman that at our next stop, Nice, France, I wanted to find a cat for my collection. She asked if she could go with me. I said, “What do you collect”. She said “Nothing”. So I started her on her new hobby. She couldn’t decide what to collect, but when we got to the curio shop, they had hundreds of angels and so I recommended she collect angels. It took her more than an hour to select one. Meanwhile I found a beautiful Lalique cat.

You can choose whatever you want. Cats, dogs, pigs, cows, angels, butterflies, owls. Once you decide, you will be amazed at how many different ones you will find. Sometimes your figurine might have a little flaw, but it is fun to repair them and makes  you feel very accomplished. My best “deal” was a Herend cat from a fine shop. It was $120, but the tip of the tail was broken, so it was marked down to $10. It was white porcelain and very easy to fix with a little spackle and white nail polish.

This is the top of my curio cabinet and cat silhouette is over my bedroom door

To display your collection, you will need a case or a shelf. I have outgrown several over the years. You can use all sorts of things as stands to make your collection more interesting. To get various heights and make more room on each shelf, I have used small boxes, upsidedown wine glasses, perfume bottles, and little tin cans and jars.

As your collection grows you will search for ways to expand your cabinet.  If your shelves are far apart, you can add another layer of glass shelves simply by laying a narrow piece of glass (like from a medicine cabinet) across two wine glasses.  I have six of these “additions” in my cabinet.

Simply placing an item on a mirror gives it a whole different look. And it is fun to mix in photos and other momentos with your collection. Thimbles, jewelry and little rocks here and there add variety.

Look in the grocery store for small bottles with flat tops, such as a pretty olive jar from Italy, or a jam jar from France. Asian and Mexican markets have great jars and cans. My most interesting stands are two cans of Spam, one regular and one Lite.

See if you can find the can of Spam in the first photo. No prize for this contest.

Sneakers

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I have always had an aversion to wearing sneakers.

As I don’t run or exercise, it always seemed like a fake way of pretending that I did. Sort of like when we used to wear tennis dresses in the 70’s even though we didn’t play tennis.

But when the chiropractor told me that I ought to be wearing sneakers with a good arch support as an aid to my back and knees, I decided to try a pair.

Eccos on the left, K Swiss on the right

I didn’t own any, so my sister, who wears the same size shoe I do, loaned me her brand new Eccos. As these were $100 walking shoes, I figured they would be good.

After two days of wearing them, I wasn’t thrilled and so started checking out Zappos. I typed in the search bar: women’s sneakers with a good arch support.

K Swiss came up. Kwicky Blade-Lite. $130 for sneakers, and these would be mainly for wearing around the house and to the market. One of the reviews was from a woman who said they were great for walking her dog. (close enough)

All the reviews were so good, that I seriously started wondering if the folks at Zappos  wrote them themselves. But since Zappos offers free returns, I figured what  the heck and I chose the bright yellow pattern. Plus these are extremely light, which really appealed to me.

Their web site is very easy to navigate and they carry a huge selection of brands and sizes. I was informed that this was the last pair in stock. Now I could hardly wait for them to arrive.

Then I decided to check Amazon and see if they carried these also. Yes, they had the same ones, but in Digital Blue. $130.60. I decided it would be a good idea to have two pairs to switch off.

Plus what if yellow didn’t go with my outfit? Then blue probably would. ‘Slave to fashion’ me.

Today the ones from Zappos came. Very fast service, just a couple of days, and there was a weekend in there. I immediately put them on and fell in love with them. (If you can fall in love with a shoe).

There is no comparison to the Ecco. They are much wider through the toe bed, the arch is better, the material breathes and  they are easier to slip on. And I wear mine barefoot.

If you are in the market for a good sneaker (or even if you are not), I highly recommend K Swiss sneakers. Oh, and the foot pad slips out if you want to put in an orthotic or something else.

These are women’s but Amazon has the same model for men in sort of a grey/black digital print with red trim on the rubber and red shoelaces. Very snappy.

Banana Bread/Muffin Recipe Repeat

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This is another repeat. I think this is the very best banana bread recipe and I felt it was worth another printing. For those of you who missed it in October 2010, here it is again.

Do you like banana bread? I do, and it is a good thing to make if you happen to have six ripe bananas. If you only have three ripe bananas, just halve the recipe. One cup sugar, one stick butter,  2 eggs etc. Here is the recipe for Kona Inn Banana Bread. (Some people call these Queen Surf banana muffins).

Preheat oven to 350 and grease two loaf pans or one loaf pan and a muffin pan. I use a muffin top pan ’cause I only like the tops.

If you don’t have one of these pans, they are terrific. There are six wide circles about half an inch deep. Each one takes the same amount of batter as a muffin, but what you get is ALL TOP.

Mash six ripe bananas in cuisinart (or with a fork), add four beaten eggs. set aside

2 sticks butter softened

2 cups sugar, or a less if you don’t like it too sweet.  1 1/2 is OK.

Cream these together. Add bananas and eggs

Meanwhile sift 2 1/2 cups cake flour, 1 teas. salt and 2 teas baking soda together three times. Add and just mix into all wet ingredients. I like to add chopped walnuts.

Pour into pans and bake for 27 minutes for muffins and 45-55 minutes for the loaf pans.

p.s. if you use those little disposable loaf pans, it will make four or six and they make cute gifts and you probably only have to bake them about forty minutes or less.

ppss. You can leave it plain or if you want it more like a cake, you can frost with a cream cheese frosting. This also freezes very well.

Having a Maid

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I grew up in a household that always had a maid. I know it is not politically correct to call them that now, but I don’t know what you are supposed to say. (so for this post, I shall use the ‘M’ word).

If you read the book ‘Help’, then you know that is what maids were called in the South in the 60’s.

The first time I was aware that I didn’t have a maid is when I was first married. I was 19 and my husband was 21. We were in college and lived in a studio apartment. When it came time to move, we really wanted our $25 cleaning deposit back.

We  tried to do our best, but when the landlady came to inspect the apartment, she said the back of the oven wasn’t cleaned. I said I couldn’t reach it, as the racks were in the way.

She pointed out that the racks came out. ‘They do?’ was my reply.

On a similar note, I had no idea that the toilet seat went up, as I grew up in a family that never once lifted it. This I did find out, the very first night I got up and nearly fell into the toilet.

On the subject of what you call the maid. It is OK to say Merry Maids. These are groups of men and women who come to clean your house. They are professional cleaners and do a thorough job right down to the light bulbs.

That is not the kind of a maid we have. No, we have a woman and her teenage son who come once a week and do some laundry, ‘clean’ the kitchen and bathrooms and vacuum.

I should be thankful that I am lucky enough to have someone do these things for me. For most of my life, I have been The Maid.

The Maid and her son have one really great quality. They are supremely honest. This is most important to me, as I am very lax about jewelry laying around.

The other day the son found a $5 bill on the floor in my bedroom and promptly gave it to me.

I was so floored, as he could have easily pocketed it, that I gave it to him and said, “Thank you”. (I figured that would show him that honesty pays).

I was reminded of a time about forty years ago, when my daughter found a $5 bill on the campus of her school.

She took it to the office and when she came home, told me what she had done. We were very proud of her honesty and rewarded her with a trip to her favorite bathing suit store.

Then since no one claimed the money, the principal called her a week later and when she went to his office, he presented her with the $5.

Forty years ago $5 was a big deal. That would be like finding a $20 today. Or maybe more.

You could go to five movies or out to lunch three times. Jody is now 52 and I’m sure she never forgot the incident. I know I never did.

What’s On My Bookshelf?

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Here is another blog from the past. This one from October 2010.

The ‘library’ of books in the photo is a ceiling high wall mural I installed in my living room.

When I was ten I had the complete collection of Nancy Drew. I can still remember the thrill of buying each new one the day it was released. Now I always have a “book going”.

I choose books by author. I have many favorites. I will list them in no particular order.

Jodi Picoult- for novels about real life issues. The first one I ever read and probably my favorite was Nineteen Minutes, about a school massacre and its effects on the parents, community etc. But all her books are great.

Nelson de Mille-Very good writer. Up Country was my first foray into his books and I laughed out loud. I like all his books. Good for men and women readers.

Terry McMillan-Waiting to Exhale, How Stella Got her Groove Back, Getting to Happy. Novels from the point of view of a wealthy black woman, and her friends. Chick flick books.

Jennifer Weiner- Good in Bed and all her other books. She is very funny. Chick flick books.

Jeffrey Archer-Cain and Able and all his other books. Great plots with a real twist at the end. Good for men and women readers.

Lee Child-The Jack Reacher novels. Jack is an ex MP, who is a nomad. He is a very large, tough guy.  He is always thrown into some sort of a mystery. He has no possessions, not even a watch. But he has a built in watch in his head.

He buys clothes, wears them and then throws them away and buys some more. He has no house, car etc., but he does carry a toothbrush. Good for men and women readers.

Many of my books are ‘How to’ books on crafts, painting, needlework and decorating. My reference books include ones on health, astrology, art and artists. It’s good to have a lot of varied interests. (Don’t want to be a ‘one trick pony’).

I’m embarrassed to say I have never read Harry Potter. I tried, but just didn’t ‘get it’. Meanwhile, my grandson had read them all by the time he was ten.

I buy most of my paperbacks and “quality” paperbacks at Costco. It’s Doubleday Book Club for my hardbacks.

Here is my Book Club method. I join a Book Club and get six books for 99 cents for joining. That keeps me busy for a couple of months. Then when there is a sale, I buy two books, when there is another sale I buy two more. There, I’ve fulfilled my obligation and I have ten hardback books for around $60. Then I cancel my membership and in a month or so start over.

I check out the book section whenever I go to a thrift shop. Most books are $1 or $2 and paperbacks are even less. An even more economical way to get your books is to go to the Public Library, where they are free.

Have you tried audio books through Audible? You can join for three months for $7.49 a month and try it. They have 75,000 titles and even I could figure out their website. You can download books to your computer/phone and play them in your car while you are wasting time in traffic or listen to them like a bed time story.

Whether you read books in print, or listen to them on your computer or phone, you are missing a lot in life, if you don’t read. There are thousands of books out there on any subject you can imagine.

p.s. Since I wrote this blog nearly two years ago, I am adding a few books that I have read since then. Of course ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. ‘Steve Jobs’, ‘Newlyweds’ and currently I am reading ‘Guilty Wives’ by James Patterson. There have been many others, too numerous to mention, but these are a few current ones you may enjoy.

As you can see I have very varied tastes. ‘Fifty Shades’ is a very sexy book about S and M. ‘Steve Jobs’ is a biography of a genius.

‘Newlyweds’ is a novel about an Indian woman who meets a man in Rochester N.Y. on an internet dating site. She comes to the United States and they get married. Talk about culture shock.

And the book I am reading now, ‘Guilty Wives’ is the story of four women on vacation in Monte Carlo. They are framed for the murder of the president of France. I can’t tell you more, as I am only one third of the way through this book.

OK> I stayed up late last night and finished ‘Guilty Wives’. Wow! I couldn’t put it down.

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