May 28, 2015

Cool, creamy bliss!

Hi, Friends,

Mr. B and I are having a lot of fun with the new gadget we got last week. The back story is my favorite dessert is ice cream, and soft ice cream is the best of all. You can probably imagine my feelings of disbelief when this was advertised in the Target newspaper ad last week:
We rushed over and bought it before reading the reviews, which admittedly weren't great. However, after our first couple of experiences my conclusions were different. We did have problems, but both times were due to (ahem!) operator error. The first time I didn't understand the directions and poured the mixture in the wrong place. The next night brought another issue. You make the mix for the ice cream and chill it beforehand:
After slopping a good bit of it out in the freezer, I switched from a bowl to:
this container with a lid; problem solved. This container must be left in the freezer 8 - 12 hours before use:
You can't skimp on that step. Once it's ready you put it into the machine:
Attach the lid and snap the motor in place on top. Turn on the switch and pour your ice cream mixture into the opening on top. It runs for 20 - 40 minutes to freeze. Again, if you try to make the time shorter, it won't work. But if you can be patient for around 25 minutes, you will be rewarded with this:
So far we've tried vanilla and coffee, but I bought peaches at the grocery store today, so who knows what's in store for the weekend? There is an opening at the top where mix-ins can be added, too.
In summary, so far we're pleased with this gadget. It's not perfect. The latch that lets the motor release doesn't work well, and Mr. B has had a problem with the dispenser. The various parts do have to be handwashed, not put in the dishwasher. On the plus side, if the directions are followed, it should be possible to first customize recipes to suit your preferences and enjoy cold, sweet treats at home, and that's a great way to start the summer!

Stay sweet!


May 27, 2015

A little seasonal update

Hi, folks,

Our day started off with more rain, but now the sun is out, a wonderful relief. We were fortunate to not have any damage but the inconvenience of dealing with going places in the rain, but many others weren't so fortunate. One woman had to change her regular Wednesday shift at Manna, so I filled in for her this morning, which led to this small switch. 
This is the shower curtain used in my bathroom  since we moved last year. For the measly sum of $1.00 at Manna it was replaced by this:

And for .99 cents, less the 30% senior discount, Goodwill offered up this little cutie to sit on the shelf in there:
Does he coordinate perfectly or what? He looks great next to the perfume bottles on the little ledge Mr. B hung in there. That's my effort for Wednesday. Now I need to go figure out what to cook with the meat thawed out for dinner. Have a good evening.

May 26, 2015

Feeling like Joan

Hi, Folks,

We have had quite a time the past few days, with torrential rains, a tornado or two and seriously bad weather. The county has declared it a Level 1 Emergency, the first time that's happened since 2008 with Hurricane Ike. Anyway, people were requested to stay in if possible, so aside from a brief trip to the post office, I have.

Cleaning in the library this morning I began with one of the large bookcases, taking everything off each shelf, dusting, then doing some rearranging as items were returned. During the process, when it was the O Deer section's turn I had an idea:

There was this little picture, so:
What if it joined the rest of the Bambi buddies?
Like this, perhaps? Believe it or not, that is a tissue, gift of middle daughter Mary.
And here is the shelf now. It certainly isn't a brilliant update, but it's cute and surely cleaner now; some days, that's the best you can do.
Stay dry,
PS Oh, and the Joan thing. Younger son confessed one time he thought that was Noah's wife's name--you know, Joan of Ark. Our version will be less exciting, since it will be nothing but cats, but floating away doesn't feel impossible at this rate!

May 20, 2015

Holey, Holey, Holey

No, I'm not going to burst out singing a hymn (and if you knew how bad my voice is, you'd be grateful to hear it) but am riffing a bit on the old theme of use it up, wear it out. it's economical to not discard everything as soon as the first gloss of new has worn off, rather to wait till it has performed as long as possible. Take things that get a bit worn, like this dishtowel:
Thin and damaged, not so good for drying hands or dishes. However, it does a fine job lining a kitchen drawer. These fittings are made of pressed wood and actually are crumbling with wear, so contact paper or more traditional liners don't work too well, but this does.
I was so excited to find this vintage Vera silk scarf at
Manna on Monday
  I completely overlooked the hole near one corner; how annoying is that?
Wrapped and tied around a straw hat, though, it's hidden in the knot and still usable. 
Years ago I bought several old quilts at thrift shops, all in a similar pattern, although that wasn't planned, it just happened. I used them for a while, until they got too fragile to survive messy people and messier cats. Now I keep them stacked on top of the cupboard that our sheets are kept in; they're visible to enjoy but not to be demolished by ongoing use. 
So don't think a minor flaw is the death knell to a piece of clothing or household item. A spot or a cigarette burn on an old table runner or doily could be the ideal place to set a vase. The shirt with a stubborn spot might work perfectly well layered under a sweater or the canvas shoe an opportunity to try a new color entirely with fabric paint. Be creative, and you may find an extension to an item's life of service. 
 Take it easy!

May 19, 2015


Hello, all,

It seemed like as good a time as any to talk about ABCs. No, not the alphabet, a much more dreaded combination - Aging, Books and Clutter. Accumulations of stuff inevitably begin to be a cause for concern as we get older for almost everyone who isn't a star on a tv show about hoarding. Books are a special issue, since readers love to be surrounded by them and have a hard time resisting the urge to add new titles at every opportunity. Some folks have overcome this by switching entirely to use of an electronic device for reading, like a Kindle or Nook. That's great for the future but does nothing to cull the piles already in existence. I have adopted a three-pronged method to cut down on acquiring more by this method:

1. Give books to my offspring, especially to my two older daughters. We have the same tastes, so I buy books though the year, read them, then give them each a bag at Christmas. My oldest son gets one too, but his tastes are different so there's no recycling of my discards.

2. Donate books that it seems unlikely will ever be re-read to the library sale held every year in October. There is a shopping bag in my closet for this purpose and when it's full, it's easy to drop it off the next time I'm at the library. 

3. Use this service: BookMooch is a service where readers list books they want to give away and request ones they want to read. The donator pays postage. It is a great way to locate titles not easy to find locally, and for ones you want to read and pass along. A similar one is called Paperback Swap, which is not nearly as user friendly in my opinion, but that's just my preference. 

Of course, the best solution for no clutter in this area of life is to use the public library, which I have always done, but that rarely stops the voracious reader from picking up more at yard sales, thrift shops and other places. If you recycle any that you don't love with a passion back into the community via a service like BookMooch it will really help your house from filling up entirely--at least with reading material. It won't help a shoe addiction or the person whose car turns into Michael's parking lot automatically, but that's a different issue!

A word to the wise: some years ago I went to a sale in the home of a person who had collected cookbooks. It was advertised as 50,000 cookbooks and that's certainly what it looked like. No false advertising at all. There were so many, in fact, that the foundation of the house was damaged irreparably, from the sheer weight. Who wants to create that kind of situation? Much better to keep only the ones you really love and release the rest. 

Till next time,


May 18, 2015

Adventures in Dining

Hello, all, 

I hope your week is off to a good start. 

This past Saturday we tried a restaurant that was new to us. It's called Lillo and Ella. . It has a nice patio, but we sat inside for this first visit. It was very attractive, with hardwood floors, bright and airy.
This is the wall facing the door as you enter. The plants in the wall containers extend across the entire surface. In the middle the swinging doors into the kitchen are bright orange, a cheerful contrast.We had glasses of sparkling Rose to drink. For dinner we split two appetizers:
This is the grilled chicken livers and scallions, Mr. B's choice. We also had:

Blue crab fried rice, toasted garlic, sliced Chinese pork sausage, snow pea shoots. It was pretty good.  I'm not a huge liver lover, but Mr. B thought those were great. As for a review, we agreed that we aren't sure. The menu is entirely super trendy, all unusual dishes, unless there was something we overlooked, with little of a more conventional nature for those of us not as eager to walk on the wild side. A place with Brussels sprouts on the brunch menu ultimately may not be one where we become regulars in the long run. Still, it was fun to check out and the service was excellent. If you're reading in Houston, you might want to give it a try one of these days. 

Have a good one!



May 15, 2015

Time Travel Thrift

Hello, Friends,

Do you want to take a trip back in time with me? Sixty-two years, exactly, to June, 1953? Yesterday after Bible study I browsed in the Sand Dollar. There I found this:
This magazine was published from 1928 till 1977, at which time it merged with Redbook. 

One of the main articles in this issue was a tour of the Darby home. My, how tastes have changed!
Dickens figurines and very structural flower arrangements were all the rage, apparently. 
Rather than the open format so in demand now, this room features a rolling wall to close off the working end of the kitchen.
Language was different, too. Check out these advertisements:
Gay flooring and printed linens were all the rage.
Television in private homes must have been new enough that information on its care was considered a useful article to include. 
This picture of an ideal outdoor entertaining area seems a little more like current taste. 
And how cute is this portable refrigerator?
The food pages were more than a little scary. Check out "Take a can of corned beef.
The authors of this piece were incredibly proud they took their kids on vacation.
The ads were fascinating. That little number came in violet, pink, powder and navy.
Dishwasher were a very big deal.
For nostalgic lovers of the Beany Malone series by Lenora Mattingly Weber there were multiple ideas for how to use bandanas, including a dust ruffle, place mats, napkins and  "a window gay as a hoe-down".
This is a little confusing. It's an advertisement for an electric organ.
Check out the dishwasher that opens from the counter top. 

This was an interesting story about the young authors, Benedict and Nancy Freedman, who wrote the book Mrs. Mike. They married when Nancy was 22 after being told she had less than three months to live because of a heart condition. They became writers, moved to California and were able to have a child, much to the amazement of her physicians. 
I hope you enjoyed this look at life in 1952 when knotty pine was the granite of that era, freezers were an exciting new feature, highly coveted by home owners and if you were mad for plaid, there was a large tote available, suitable to take to the A & P or your towel to the beach for $2.75. 
Have a wonderful weekend!




May 13, 2015

Target Time

Hello, all,

I hope your week is going well so far. It is very dark and ominous here right now, but so far none of the predicted rain has showed up. That being the case, it seemed like a fine idea to take a Mother's Day gift card and head to Target. As usual, it was fun to browse. They have a new line called Hand Made Modern with some intriguing assortments of supplies: 

but I managed to resist temptation there. I did stop in another department, though, and here is the result. 

Our front entrance before:
This mat was dirt cheap at Sand Dollar and mainly purchased to replace the one that was way too thick we already had. It got moved to the side door, and while this replacement worked,  by no stretch of anyone's imagination was it ever even faintly attractive. However, it is a relief to announce the entrance is ugly no more. 
Target came through with the perfect solution for our plant and flower-filled front area. Ultimate ugly was demoted to the door from the living room to the back yard. A much more cheerful welcome, don't you think? 
Take it easy!


May 12, 2015

A modest Upgrade

Hi, Friends,

The intention was to write yesterday, but Mr. B's arrival an hour early threw off my plans. I've been trying to cut back on stuff brought into the house, lately, at least things to keep, while still getting books, magazines and puzzles at thrift shops on a regular basis. They can be recycled back to resale or to some of my adult kids who are big readers, too, so don't stay around long. 

There has been a cheap candlestick lamp at various sites in our homes for at least twenty years, if not more. It's been spray painted and enjoyed a variety of shades but let's face it: sometimes you just get tired of a piece of furniture or accessory. Thus, it wasn't planned but entirely a surprise when a new, very different lamp leapt into my cart last Wednesday at Goodwill. Despite a terrible shade, in size hugely out of proportion, it seemed like a great addition to our living room. Here is the unfortunate shade it came with:
It's perfectly nice and in good condition, but no, it wasn't going to work. Although we have approximately a thousand extra shades in the house none of them did, either. Good thing Monday was my day to work at Manna, where a perfect one was discovered, a much better size for the height of the lamp.Plus, it cost .50!
The base is oval, woven wicker like a basket. It's a nice size and looks a thousand times better than with the original shade. This one is square, heavy paper with a dark border round the rim. 
These aren't good pictures, but you get the idea. Sometimes small changes can give you a big lift. 

Have a good Wednesday!


May 7, 2015

Not another mystery, but . . .

Here's another item found at the Goodwill on 34th St. It's not a mystery, like the wooden bleachers for index cards, since its function is obvious. Whether it has a specific name, though, I'm not sure. It was $2.99 less the 30% discount.
It's white painted, shabby chic wood for the frame, with canvas pockets across the face.
The round piece of metal on the center top was scratched, so one of these from the same expedition was used to gussy it up a bit and hide the slight damage.
Here it is in use! Not sure it will stay where it is in the dining room for good, but at the present it's fine on the wall by the door into the hall. 

That's all that got done here today. See you tomorrow.


May 6, 2015

For our furry friends

or should the r be left out? Hello, all. Today I went to Goodwill and picked up a few things for resale and a couple of things for us, including:
this sign for their room. Pretty cute, huh? And the price was right at $1.99 less a 30% discount. It's nice there is some compensation to console us when we rack up sufficient years to qualify as senior citizens.

Have a good one!


May 5, 2015

What is it?

Hi, folks,

Today perhaps someone can help me solve a mystery. Do you ever buy an item as much from curiosity as real need? I bought the following piece at Goodwill recently. It was $2.99 less the daily discount, so not expensive. It intrigued me because so far its use remains unknown.
It's solid, slightly curved and made of some light wood. Each of those risers has a slot in it. Here's the back:
There are several holes and larger long openings. It is made by Levenger. Since the final cost of it was well under $3.00, it didn't seem too extravagant to buy it first, then figure out a use. Here's one:
It holds pictures quite well, and would also do for business cards. 
In the center you'll see me and Mr. B getting married in January, 1981. To the left is our youngest around 1984, thrilled to be Nurse Naomi after my thrift shop find of  a uniform complete with cape. 
This idea would work well if you wanted to show off a bunch of photos of one person at a party or shower in their honor, as well as serve as a rotating random display. If you know what this actually is and its name, let me know, please!
Take it easy!