Bella Rum

Life on the Pasture

Oops!

Correction for previous post:

If you were thinking that a 7-calorie lemon thin cookie was too good to be true, you were right. Trader Joe’s Meyer Lemon Cookie Thins are 14 calories per cookie, and they’re great with a cup of coffee. If you put 50 calories of cream in the coffee, they’re even better.

Brain Burps and the Beautiful People

I bought a new swimsuit yesterday. I haven’t worn one in ages. Oh lordy. It’s not a traditional suit. It’s more like a swim tee and shorts. I’m sure you’ve seen the style. It will hide things that need to be concealed. I found it online at Swimsuits for All. I want to go in the ocean and the pool. I miss it.

There was a little confusion when I went to checkout. I’d seen an offer for free shipping, but when I got to checkout, they didn’t remove the shipping charge. So I hit the “chat” button and had an online exchange with customer service. This is how it went.

Me: I saw an offer for free shipping, but I still see a charge for it on my purchase.

Sarah: Where did you see the offer.

Me: At the top of the page.

Sarah: We usually give a code to use at checkout when we offer free shipping. Did you get a code.

Me: No. I didn’t see a code.

Sarah: I’m very sorry, but we don’t have an offer for free shipping today.

Me: That’s okay. I think I may be wrong. I was shopping on another site and may have seen it there. I’m old. LOL So sorry to have bothered you. I will get the merchandise anyway. Thanks for your help.

Sarah: Oh LOL! No problem! My pleasure. Have a great day!

Holy Moly! I know anyone could have done the same thing (right?), but I hate it. At least I haven’t burned the house down (that’s a joke).

We went over to West End yesterday to get olive oil from Tom Leonard’s, lemon thin cookies from Trader Joe’s and a few other things. There’s a lot of money on that side of town, and they were all in Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. I once heard a doctor say that there are clusters of people across the US who refuse to vaccinate their kids. He said if you stuck pins in a map where they lived, all the pins would be within ten miles of a Whole Foods. LOL A little truth in every joke… um… except about burning the house down.

But I digress. We got my 14-calorie lemon thins at Trader Joe’s, and some hot sauce that H likes. We were behind an older woman in line. I nudged H and said, “She’s attractive.” And she was. She was probably older than us: slender, lovely posture, all the facial bone structure still in place, snazzy clothes, great earrings, her Trader Joe’s reusable grocery bag at the ready, and a buttery bouquet of daffodils in with her other purchases. You could tell she was beautiful when young. Bone structure don’t go nowhere when the face starts to melt. It’s as good as money under the mattress.

Those daffodils said something about her. She deserved to have something beautiful, not a necessity but simply a lovely thing. She reminded me of my Aunt Ruthie, except Aunt Ruthie would never have bought daffodils. She was both frugal and a devoted gardener; she had hundreds of daffodils in her yard.

Then I turned to my left, and there was a movie-star gorgeous older man with salt & pepper hair (almost all salt), a flat stomach, sporting casual but elegant clothes, and a $200 haircut to top it all off, and… you guessed it… more great bone structure.

What is it about that side of town? You can’t throw a rock without hitting a beautiful, chic person. Not at Trader Joe’s anyway. They are everywhere you look. Is it in the water, or do beautiful people become rich more easily. Does it help if you’re irresistible?

H found a leak in the roof over the garage. He also bought a lottery ticket.

The Blue Apron Experience

The Arrival

Our Blue Apron adventure arrived on our doorstep in a big box on Friday afternoon. It contained three meals. An ice blanket was in the bottom of the box, and the ingredients were on top. We chose Creamy Red Rice & Cauliflower Casserole (with spinach and rosemary) for our first meal.

As a main course, the portion size was just enough for two people, but H wasn’t going to eat only a meatless casserole for dinner, so we added some leftover salmon from the fridge to the meal, and served the casserole as a side dish. That way we had leftovers. We both liked it very much, and it was a nice complement to the salmon.

The Ingredients

Everything you will need to make your meal is in the box. Everything was fresh and beautiful, all tip-top quality.  I will say that the ingredients are meticulously measured. Someone is watching the bottom line. Nothing is wasted. That’s for sure. The way they packaged and labeled the ingredients cracked me up. There was an itty-bitty packet of red pepper flakes, and the smallest head of cauliflower I’ve ever seen. H laughed at the cauliflower, saying he didn’t know a head of cauliflower could be that small, but it turned out to be just the right amount for the recipe.

I helped with some of the prep, but H did most of the work. When the dish came out of the oven, everything was balanced: the flavors, the texture, the portions. And why don’t I use rosemary more often? More herbs in general?

Blue Apron’s Photo of Creamy Red Rice & Cauliflower Casserole (with spinach and rosemary)

How it Works

The kids gave H a gift certificate that was enough for six meals for two people. You choose three meals per week, and your box of goodies magically appears on your doorstep on the agreed upon day. If you’re going on vacation, or for any reason don’t want to receive your meals on your chosen date, you can skip to the next week with (I think) 6-days’ notice. Nutritional facts, and directions with colorful pictures on how to prepare your meal are included so you can make your recipe again with your own ingredients. H says he may do an extra one or two because it was fun.  As some of you have said in the comments, it is expensive, and when they say “for two” they mean it, no leftovers.

All in All

I view Blue Apron more as a creative gift idea for a special person, or maybe a splurge for yourself, but not as a regular way of getting your dinner. It’s too expensive (we were lucky to get to try this for free :)). I enjoy gifts like this, gifts that are experiences more than things that end up in landfills, or something you have to store, or a sweater that’s the wrong size. Books (audible now) and tickets to a play are great (both of which the kids have given us); I keep thinking about golf lessons for H. When the experience is over, you still have a fun memory. And it’s a bonus when someone gives you a gift that you enjoy, but would never get for yourself. This is that kind of gift. It definitely beats plaid Bermuda shorts. It takes a little time and a few steps: chopping, sautéing, boiling, grating. Not bad really, but it’s for people who like to cook. If that’s not you, order take-out or give a gift certificate to a restaurant. My only problem with it is that it’s pricy, and I hate for the kids to spend so much on us. Bottom line: this was fun, the food was tasty, it’s a unique and tailor-made gift for the right person… and it has a beat you can dance to!

Taxes and Food Talk

It’s raining and the windows are open from the tops so I can hear it. I love the sound of rain.

H does the taxes. He finished and filed them on Tuesday. In the past, there have been times when tax time was a thorny issue for us: him because he likes to procrastinate, and me because I want it over and done. He likes things open-ended, and I like things completed, finalized. Both Myers & Briggs say so. Neither is necessarily bad, just different. I respect deadlines. To H, deadlines are only a suggestion. He wants to explore all his options before finalizing anything. I’ll never forget – before filing online was a twinkle in his daddy’s eye – the time that H and I waited in a long line of cars outside the post office on April 15 to hand off our taxes to a post office person as we drove by… only minutes before midnight. He said, “See. On time.” Well, this year’s taxes have been filed well before the deadline, and everyone can relax… um, that would be me. If you’ve been paying attention, you know that H was never not relaxed.

I’ve nested the past couple of days. I did tons of laundry. I stripped beds, washed sheets and towels, and clothes, etc. I dusted, cleaned bathrooms and deep cleaned the kitchen, and scurried  all over this place doing this and that. I seldom do all that at once, and I don’t always love it, but I still get in the mood once in a while. It feels good to get everything just right in your house. I kind of enjoy puttering around and fussing with this or that, and I’m too cheap to pay someone to do it, but I will gladly do that when the time comes.

The kids gave H Blue Apron for his birthday. They send everything needed for your chosen meals – vegetables, meat, pasta, herbs, etc – and the instructions for preparation.  The kids know H is a budding chef. He has such enthusiasm for it. I’ve never had the love for cooking that my mother, father and siblings have/had. They were all good cooks, my mother and brother the best of the lot. But now that H enjoys it so much, I enjoy being in the kitchen a lot more than I ever have. It’s more entertainment than work for me now. We’ve already chosen our meals, and I just got an email from Blue Apron reminding me that our first dinner will arrive today. I’m interested to see how this turns out.

My son cooked H’s birthday meal. I was impressed. I honestly didn’t know he could do all that. I should have known, huh? But H and I usually do the cooking. He has grilled for us before, but there was all kinds of goodness in this meal. He grilled rib eye steaks, sweet potatoes, a mixture of vegetables: red and yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, and onions. Then, separately, he made the most delicious mushrooms drizzled with a mixture of olive oil, garlic, and herby yumminess. H is going to make those again. Men love to grill, don’t they? And I say, have at it! I’ll do my part: eat and gush appropriately.

When the kids were here last weekend, I dreamed that my DIL was pregnant. After they got home, she texted me that she felt nauseous all the way home. The power of suggestion is a mighty thing… or…

A Sign

H is officially a septuagenarian now. I told him that 70 is the  official cut-off date for climbing ladders, trees and traipsing around on rooftops. This cracked my son up. Men love it when another man’s wife “nags” him – even when it’s his own father. Of course, we all know, H will not listen to me.  His compromise: he will cut the dead limb out of the big maple in the front yard when I’m not home, “so it won’t bother you.”

We enjoyed a beautiful day on Monday. We drove about an hour to a small seaside town, ate a delicious seafood meal with a water view, drove around the town a bit and returned home. Such a simple thing, but very enjoyable.

I was in the grocery store the other day, looking for the Honey Nut Cheerios box. I wanted to see if there were boxes still on the shelf featuring Buzz on the box. Cheerios pulled their mascot Buzz the Bee to bring attention to the rapidly collapsing population of bees. Our tiny, little bees work hard for us in a huge way by pollinating 35% of the world’s food supply. Due to parasites, pesticides and habitat loss, they are struggling. This year, a bee species in the US was declared endangered. That’s a first.

So I was looking for the box when a woman on the same aisle said, “Here it is. He’s still on this box.” We chatted about the bees and their troubles for a minute, and I started on my way when she said, “It’s a sign, you know.” I quickly said, “Yes” and kept walking. Then with an all-knowing tone and louder, “It’s a sign, you know.” Uh, huh. Got it. To make sure I didn’t forget, for the rest of the day, H kept reminding me, “It’s a sign, you know.”

The sad truth is that it is “a sign.” A sign that we’re all going to be hungry if we can’t help Buzz and his friends. I’ve listed ten things that we can do to help bees. We may not be able to do all ten things, but maybe there’s one thing each of us can do. There’s a link at the bottom that will give more details.

Ten Things We can do to Help Bees

  1. Plant a bee-friendly wildflower and flowering herb garden in your yard.
  2. Weeds can be a good thing.
  3. Don’t use chemicals and pesticides in your yard.
  4. Buy local raw honey.
  5. Bees are thirsty. Put a small basin of water outside your home.
  6. Buy local organic food.
  7. Learn how to be a beekeeper with sustainable practices.
  8. Understand that honey bees aren’t out to get you.
  9. Share solutions with others in your community.
  10. Let congress know what you think.

Learn more at Queen of the Sun

Neighbors, Grands and a Day Trip

We’ve had a lot of wind. A few days ago, when H was taking the trash out to the curb, he noticed the neighbor’s (don’t know his name) house across the street. They have a trampoline, but it was no longer in the backyard. It was on top of the neighbor’s car. H started trying to remove it when two neighbors (husband and wife) walked by with their dog. H asked the guy to give him a hand. When they were in the middle of it, the neighbor came out of the house, and the three of them managed to wrestle it off the car. The neighbor was very appreciative.

A little struggle, a  little need, it builds camaraderie. It’s how neighbors become neighbors. Everyone is pretty independent here. We seldom have an opportunity to meet our neighbors. When my son was young, and we moved into a new neighborhood in Maryland, I made tons of friends quickly. We all had a built-in commonality. Friendships were easily made.

Later the next day…

The kids were here this weekend. Saturday was a gorgeous day, sunny and in the upper seventies. We spread a blanket on the front lawn under the maple tree, and brought out a few lawn chairs so we could watch the kids ride their bikes. The “trampoline neighbor” was on his way somewhere. He slowed down as he drove by and yelled out that the kids could play on their trampoline if they wanted. Of course they wanted. Nice.

We are on our way to a small seaside town today. March is H’s birthday month, and he decided he wanted seafood for his birthday dinner. It’s a nice drive, and the food is good. I didn’t have to buy him a gift because I gave him the lawnmower. Now, you know that’s not really a gift. It was more of a “he needed it so he got it” kind of thing. We’re not big on gifts. As we get older, we get things as we need them. I used to hear older people say, “I don’t need anything.” Now I get it.

He used his lawnmower in the backyard for the first time a few days ago. He loves it. It’s self-paced, which is a little different from self-propelled. He walks behind it, holding on to the handle. As he walks forward, the mower goes forward, and the mower goes at the speed he walks. In other words, it’s self-propelled, but it isn’t just one speed. It goes as fast or slow as he wants to walk. Fancy pants! Self-paced technology has probably been around for years, but this is the first mower we’ve bought in over 15 years. We experienced the same thing when we bought our new car a couple of years ago. We were like babes in the wood – all those new gadget-y thingies. My son mowed the front yard for H this weekend. Like his father, he likes the exercise. I should only be so industrious.

So that’s what’s happening this Monday morning. Now it’s time for Morning Joe with my morning joe, then off for a day trip.

Seeing Through the Superficial Stuff

I had to do labs yesterday, and we had some errands to run. We went to BJ’s (a big box store) to get parmesan cheese, and ended up with everything but parmesan cheese – two brains, zero parmesan cheese. Phrase you will often hear around here: If it’s not on the list, it’s not in the cart. Because it’s true.

I didn’t watch much of the hearing yesterday, because we were out and about, but I listened to it on the car radio. That right there goes to show you how committed to the art of self-torture I am. While H was in Hope Depot (our second home), I was in the car listening to the hearing when Patsy texted me. Here’s how it went.

Patsy: Are you watching the hearing? It’s a hoot.

Me: I’m listening in the car while H is in Home Depot. We have a crazy country right now.

Patsy: Impeach

Me: This morning, I heard a talking head say that there are mumblings among Republicans in congress about getting rid of him.

Patsy: You better erase that. Don’t want to get in trouble.

Me: When I look down at my phone, I see my reflection and a load of wrinkles around my mouth. Why didn’t you tell me? I don’t see them in the mirror. I guess because I don’t wear my glasses. (I only have readers)

Patsy: You are beautiful to me.

Me: Note to self: Don’t wear glasses.

Patsy: LOL

Me: Gotta go. H is back.

Patsy: Later Gator

It should be said here that Patsy, my longest and dearest friend, is  a conservative, and hates to talk politics. I convinced her to vote for Clinton once, and she never listened to me again after Monica. We talk only a little politics, and almost always the conversation is instigated by me. It would be more accurate to say that we talk around politics rather than about politics, but we know each other throughly, and decided a long time ago that we love each other. It’s too late to change horses now, and who would want to?

I saw/heard enough of the hearing to know that it was partisan. This is what we don’t need. We all have more in common than not. How have we gotten to this place where we see our differences first? I’m so lucky to have a friend who sees past my wrinkles and my politics. And that goes for all of you, too: all of you who are, and those who are not of my political persuasion, but choose to read the bits and pieces of my little world anyway, and somehow manage to see past our differences, straight through to the threads that bind us to a common experience. It’s a warm and good thing we do with this blogging thingie.

Another subject…

I recently dreamed that I was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. When I woke, I remembered I’d gotten a reminder to make an appointment for a mammogram in the mail a couple of weeks prior. When I originally read it, I made a mental note to make the appointment, but it promptly went wherever the parmesan cheese went. It’s comforting to know that my conscious brain and subconscious brain are all about teamwork, and that even if my conscious brain refuses to do its part, my subconscious is clicking on all cylinders. I’m off to get my mammogram later this morning. 10:30am to be exact. See how I remembered that? Huh? Huh?

Crazy like a FOX

My son called last night. We talked about family and politics. He and his wife are the only two in my family that I discuss religion or politics with. My son mentioned that he watches CNN most of the time now. “H,” however, says he watches either CNN or MSNBC, but every time I turn the other television on, it’s on FOX. He watches one of those FOX shows featuring all the legs. He claims he only watches because he likes to hear what all sides are thinking.

My niece sold her house and is moving closer to me. This makes me very happy. She’s staying with friends until she finds another house.

H bought a new lawnmower.

The handle folds down, and it sits upright for storage. Kind of cool. Our old lawnmower will not make it though another summer, but it lasted 16 years. That’s a pretty good run.~

Getting a new lawnmower is a sure sign that he’s turning his attention to the yard, and  that Jan/Feb projects are at an end until next year… for the most part.

After we hung up from talking to my son last night, I got a text from him saying that Lilou started crying after we hung up because she didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. So he took a video of her telling us goodbye, that she loved us and wanted to come see us. That one grabs you by the heart and won’t let go.

Francine

I started looking for a new hairdresser about four months ago. Until yesterday, I’d tried two. You may recall the thoroughly tattooed Julie, and the high-strung Cindy.

I met Francine yesterday. Granted, she doesn’t have the intrigue of the extremely inked Julie, or the excitement of  the slightly unhinged Cindy, but she is close to my house, and can cut hair like nobody’s business. So there is that.

It took four minutes to get to her salon and three minutes to get home. Proximity to my house has never been a huge priority when looking for a stylist, but it’s important to me now. I’m conscious of streamlining every aspect of my life nowadays. I used to find a stylist by a recommendation from a friend, or asking someone with a great cut who their stylist was, but because of my recent affinity for convenience – and refusing to give up a good cut – this time it became a bit of a treasure hunt. Back in November, I searched online for nearby salons, and chose one at random. Not the most efficient system, I admit. All things considered, I think I did pretty well: two misses and a bullseye.

And price? She’s the least expensive of all! And way less than Brooke – my original stylist –  was!

She owns the shop, she’s very nice, and she did a great job of giving me the cut in the photo on the previous post. I love it. Her husband owns a local pizzeria, which I plan to check out the next time I take a day off from my diet.

It was worth the hunt. Francine checks all my boxes!

And the Search Goes On

This is my photo today.

I’m off to get my hair cut by yet another stylist this morning. This makes the third one. I’m not that picky. I want a salon that’s close to my house, and a haircut that doesn’t look like a helmet (the first cut) or like it was cut with a butter knife (the last cut). At first I thought the last cut wasn’t too bad, but when I shampooed and blew it dry, it was rough/jagged in the back, like someone had hacked it. So, as Ronald Reagan would say, here I go again: a new salon – three minutes from my house – a new stylist, and the lowest price so far. This is becoming quite the research project.

 

Porch Pup says happy Saint Patrick’s Day!