Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tramoculous Technology

Yes, that is a made up word, but if it were a real word, here is what the Wiktionary definition would show:

     (Adjective.)  Incredibly amazing.
     Comparative:  more tramoculous
     Superlative:  most tramoculous
     Antonyms:  dull, boring

Before I get to the technology which I think is most tramoculous, let me remind us all (how could we forget) that we are currently in a nasty season of flu and misery.  I think I even heard that Boston was closed the other day.

Some days I am confident that I am staying ahead of it.  Then other days, not so much.

So far all we've had in this household are the head cold, snotty, snuffly, coughing ailments.  Miserable enough, but I suppose it could be worse.  

Understandably, in the past month we've gone through a massive amount of tissues and orange juice, which leads me to what I find to be truly tramoculous technology.  

(Hee hee - I'm upsetting Google's spell checker.  Every time I type tramoculous it gets upset and gives the red underline.  Take that, Google.  I can type it anyway.  Tramoculous.  Tramoculous.  Tramoculous.)

Back to the technology.  Lately, whenever I head to the grocery store for supplies, I've been tossing some orange juice and tissues into the cart.  On one of these restocking trips, there on the cap of the orange juice jug was a coupon for a particular box of tissues - some type of tissues that give a cooling effect to your sore nose area.

I normally wouldn't have bought that type of tissues, heck, I'd never even heard of them before, and when I looked for them they were a tad more expensive.  But with a coupon for a free box, I tossed one into the cart.

And, wow, they were amazing!  Usually by the tail end of a head cold, my nose is so sore that I dig out some old well worn men's hankies, just because they are softer than most tissues.  If not, I know the skin under my nose will be peeling by the time the head cold is done running its course, pun intended.

These tissues actually do give a sensation of being cold when you pull one out of the box and put it to your face.  Tramoculous, truly.

I'm not being paid by Kleenex to endorse these "cool touch" tissues, and in fact, I probably wouldn't buy them.  When I read the fine print on the bottom of the box, I learned their 3-ply layers are somehow infused with Aloe which gives the sensation of coolness, but would be a disaster for me when using a tissue to clean my glasses.  

However, I was truly impressed with this new technology because it really just doesn't take that much to amuse me some days.  Simply TRAMOCULOUS.

Oh, and by the way, I'm feeling very much better by now, thank you very much.  

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Life Is Short. Eat Dessert First.

So I did.  Yes, really.

Last night after the husband came home from work, and piddled around for a while, and then started circling around the kitchen, giving me all the clues that he was getting hungry, I said to him, "I just need a leetle beet of sumthin sumthin special."  I held my thumb and pointer finger about an inch apart to show him what I meant.

He said, "OK, let's go down to Longhorn Steakhouse.  (Son) Caleb is waiting tables tonight, and we'll ask to be seated in his section.  I could eat a good steak, too.  It's been a while."

Wow.  My husband knew that I was being too lazy to cook dinner just knows me so well, doesn't he?  He's quite the guy.

During the drive down he asked me what I was hungry for.  I said dessert.  He slowly turned his head , looked straight at me, and reminded me that I never get dessert, which is true.  It's not that I don't like dessert, it's just that I'm usually too full by the end of my meal to comfortably enjoy it.

So when our handsome and wonderful waiter came by to take our order, I ordered dessert first, and it was DELICIOUS.  I was hungry and so I could really enjoy every bite.  Here it is - the chocolate brownie sundae, in all its glory:

For some insane reason our waiter put two spoons in there.  I wasn't in a sharing frame of mind.

Then, after I finished my dessert, I dined on my main course - mushrooms stuffed with four cheeses.  

I thoroughly enjoyed my meal, and I did it MY way.

Who says you can't change up the rules a bit, anyway?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Today is National Puzzle Day, in case you didn't know.  Apparently the inventors of this unusual holiday meant for it to be a day in which we all participated in enjoying some sort of puzzle activity.

Of course the first puzzles that come to my mind are jigsaw puzzles.  Although I am not particularly a fan of these, I do have several family members that truly enjoy doing these, and usually, at any given time, they have a puzzle in various stages of completion.

My parents especially enjoy spending time in the evenings working together on a puzzle.  They have a special well-lit puzzle table set up at the end of their dining room table.  There is adequate space for sorting pieces into groupings, and they even have handy spatulas laying nearby for placing completed sections into the puzzle.  Any guests to their home are welcomed and invited to sit a spell and find a few pieces to add to the work in progress.

Currently we do not have a jigsaw puzzle set up in our house, but I have placed a table, chair, and lamp in one of our spare bedrooms in case the urge hits.  The husband/lover/puzzle aficiondo may wish to start one, now that the guest room is vacant.

I took a look around the internet at several puzzle companies to see what they offer.  I found several puzzles that took my eye.  All of the jigsaw puzzles I will show you are available from Springbok Puzzles.

I like this market stand puzzle, because I thought the color groupings would make it reasonable to put various sections of the puzzle together.

This one,  "Grandma's Kitchen,"  brings memories to me of both of my beloved grandmothers.  My one grandmother was an extraordinarily good baker, and something tasty was always coming out of her kitchen.  My other grandmother, too, had good stuff in her kitchen.  A pot of coffee always put out a comforting aroma, and her cabinets were always stocked with the exact snacks I loved.  She was always prepared just in case I would visit.  

I could consider ordering this next puzzle, again because it has workable sections, and because it makes me feel good.  Looking at this puzzle I remember fondly the experiences I had last May snorkeling with my husband in the Caribbean. 

I would select this next puzzle for the simple reason that I like shoes.  It reminds me of a calendar I had one year in which each day a new fancy pair of shoes was revealed.  I loved that calendar.

Then I'd also have to buy this next puzzle.  It's just so colorful, and right now it makes me think of Spring, which I keep telling myself really is right around the corner.

I'm thinking about what other types of puzzles could be found in my home, and I'm realizing there are quite a few.

The husband/lover/crossword puzzle expert has numerous books of crossword puzzles on his table beside the bed.  He grew up in a household where his mother also loved puzzles, and so he is quite good at crosswords.  Understandably he is also KILLER at the game of Scrabble.  I don't stand a chance against him.  

We have several Sudoku puzzle books around the house, too.  I really enjoyed doing those for a while, but then I became bored with them after overdosing on them one entire weekend.  

Another type of puzzle I seem to be enjoying these days is the type that shows two apparently identical photos, but you must find the differences.  People magazine has one of these in each issue, and my husband and I compete to see who can find more of the differences.  Because I am such a seasoned people watcher, I am an expert at this type of puzzle.  Usually.  

My mother enjoys word finds, and usually carries a small word find puzzle book along with her in her purse.  Whenever she is waiting - for a car repair, under the hair dryer, while her husband gasses the car - she does a word find and writes at the top of that page the date and where she is at that moment.  When the book is full, she gets a kick out of seeing all the places she sat and did those puzzles.  

Whether or not I engage actively in "doing a puzzle,"  at least once a day I am puzzled by something.  
Where did I leave my cell phone?  Why is my water bill so high this month?  What is the meaning of the word "usurious?"  Why is the puppy so crazy today?  

All puzzling, to be sure.

I cannot close without telling you about the BEST PUZZLE  I ever received and did in my entire life.  Many years ago at Christmas, my parents gave a small puzzle to our four children and us.  When we put together our puzzle, it showed a message from them indicating that they would be taking us to Disney World that next spring.  It was a great puzzle, a wonderful gift, and a fun-filled and memorable vacation for all of us.  Thanks Mom and Dad!  We will never forget that puzzle and trip.

"Happiness is finding the little piece with the pink edge and part of the sky and the top of the sailboat."  (Linus, working on a jigsaw puzzle, in the Charles M. Schulz book Happiness is a Warm Puppy.)

There's one puzzle I do truly hate though, and that's the mystery of what became of that very last piece.....

Monday, January 28, 2013

Yes, I'm One of Those People...

.....and the vacation is nearly over.

Are you one of those people?  I'm one of those people who brings along home those neat little bathroom accessories on the counters in hotel bathrooms.

Last May the husband/lover/best friend and I traveled to Jamaica and had a lovely week there at a fancy Sandals resort.  In our suite, there on the vanity counter was a collection of Red Lane Spa bottles - shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, etc. contained in a little Red Lane purse type bag.  I noticed that many of the ladies would use those bags to carry along with them their cameras, hankies, lipstick, etc. on the resort.

Now I don't bring home just any bathroom things - I only bring home the fancier ones from any nicer-than-usual hotels we stay in.  So the Red Lane items came home with me.  It's just not every day I go to Jamaica.

Every weekend I use them, reminding me of the sights and smells of the tropical paradise we stayed in. And now, sadly, the vacation is almost over, as you can see here:

And yes, I did have my very first real massage at the Red Lane Spa there in the Sandals resort of Negril, Jamaica.  It.  Was.  Heavenly.

Lobby of the Negril Red Lane Spa
Here's another set I brought home with me last year from a brief stay in the Landoll's Mohican Castle in Ohio.  

Our unique castle suite was a lovely place to stay for a night or two, and I'd highly recommend it if you are looking for a romantic kind of place to take your sweetheart.  The bathrooms at this castle were ultra luxurious, even having heated Italian marble floors.

I have no excuse why I collect these little souvenirs.  I wasn't raised in the depression era, and I have enough money to buy perfectly good shampoo and other necessities here at home.  I just feel as if I am extending my vacation a tiny bit by bringing these little things home with me.

Are you one of those people?  I'm sure there's a support group for this type of behavior.  

I just hope it's located somewhere in Jamaica.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Ummm, yeah, we do.

But before we get to that, let me explain that I am one of those people who can find any small reason to enjoy having a special celebration here at home.

For example, I already have some food and activities planned for Groundhog Day (February 2), then Mardi Gras Day is shortly after that (February 12), followed closely by Valentines Day (February 14).  All good reasons to celebrate with those we love.

And then, before we know it, St. Patrick's Day and Easter will be upon us, along with many other less well known holidays and reasons to do something special between all of those dates.

Generally, I like to decorate my house for each holiday several weeks before the event.  And, I can now announce, I've got my few silly Valentine's Day items in their places.

Come with me and take a tour.

I have my kitchen table centerpiece ready.  Starting with an ungodly big vase I have had around since the beginning of time, I placed a large white candle in its center and coiled some Valentine wire decor from Michael's craft store in around the candle and around the outside of the vase.  I stuck three spikey things in there too, just because.  Then, and you can see them if you look closely in the photo, I wound a strand of battery powered tiny red lights throughout the mess.  The little battery pack is hidden under the back of the placemat.

So if I'm feeling festive at dinnertime, I dim the kitchen lights and turn on the centerpiece lights.

Continuing to the other end of the kitchen, I have set up our annual Valentine candy bar.  My son claims he spent all of 2012 working off the "results" of the candy bar from last Valentine's Day.  I myself am not much of a candy person (I'd much rather eat pretzels and potato chips), but I do like the way it looks, and I enjoy watching family and guests do a walk-by-snatching on their way to other places.

Over in the living room I had a few items to place on the fireplace mantle.  I need to find a few more items yet, I think.  

Maybe it's just that after the Christmas nativity scene was taken down, it just looks so naked.

And last we have the obligatory front door welcomer.   And here is where we get ourselves in trouble.  Yes.  Here is where we have THE SITUATION.

As nice as this little deal is on the front door, and as obviously Valentine-ish as it is, it is on the same front porch as our leftover exterior Christmas tree.  This is a heinous instance of Holiday Overlap.

Perhaps you may recall how I feel about Holiday Overlap, and if you don't, you can read about those thoughts of mine in this blog post.  I even insinuated that borough officials could consider this to be some sort of v-i-o-l-a-t-i-o-n.  

When I discussed this problem with the husband/lover/Director of Exterior Illumination and Decor,  he whined and groused around for quite a bit, something about temperatures being in the twelve degree range or some such excuse like that.  Valentine's Day has nothing to do with temperatures, and the celebrations with their appropriate decor must go forth in and around this household.

So yes, we have A SITUATION.

It's a good thing I'm not a borough official, though.  I'd be seriously considering giving myself a fine, and that would just be another SITUATION altogether.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Applesauce Done RIGHT

I have been a lifelong lover of applesauce.  Even in my childhood when I was fairly snooty about what I would or wouldn't eat, I was always fond of applesauce.

So the other day when I came across a revolutionary idea, that is, to make apple sauce in the crock pot, I thought why not?  Let's give it a try.  Not only that, we had received a rather large gift box at Christmas that was filled with various kinds of apples.  I was looking for a way to use them up.

Usually I just go to the grocery store, find the canned fruit aisle, and purchase it ready made.  Once in a great while I make a recipe my mother gave me for stewed apples, made in a pot on the stove.  That recipe makes a very tasty sauce, but it requires stirring about every ten minutes or so.

Most crock pot recipes require very little tending or stirring, and this recipe was easy.  For your culinary pleasure then, here it is:

1.  Remove the skins and cut up about 10 to 12 apples, any variety, into large chunks and toss into the crock pot.  I used a variety of apple types.

2.  Add the following to the crock pot and stir:

     1/2 cup water
     1/4 cup sugar
     1 teaspoon cinnamon

Here is the mix ready to cook.  My recipe said to cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or cook on high for 4 to 5 hours.  Use your judgment based on your own crock pot.  My crock pot is very large, and it seems to cook every recipe in less time than recommended.  I cooked my applesauce for about 5 hours on low.  

After about two hours, a heavenly aroma permeated the house, and I have made a mental note that this recipe must be made on a regular basis in our fifth wheel.  How wonderful would it be to come back to the camper after a day of sightseeing to that delicious smell?

I stirred the batch about once every hour, mostly because I was impatient and just wanted to stick my nose in there.  You will be able to see when the sauce looks done.  Just take a potato masher or some such tool and smash the remaining chunks up a bit.  I just used a whisk - the apples were that tender.

Ready to serve
I served this batch of applesauce as a side dish along with Quinoa Stuffed Peppers.  If you'd like that recipe, you can find it in this post from the other evening.

Now I'm no food blogger, and I'm certainly not a foodie, but I know when I've found something good. This recipe is a keeper.


Friday, January 25, 2013

If You Love Aviation and Speed.....

...then put this museum on your Bucket List of things to see.  The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum, in Hammondsport, New York is definitely a fun place to spend a couple of hours.

Because it's January, which means I'm not doing a lot of current traveling, I'm digging out some photos today from our Fall of 2012 camping trip to north central Pennsylvania.  While we were there, and because it rained almost every day of our nine day outing, we were looking for sights to see in that general area.  That is how we came to find ourselves at this museum in Hammondsport, NY.  We had no recommendation;  I simply found this museum by doing a Google search of things to do near to the area we were camping.

I didn't think I would really enjoy this museum, as I'm not overly fascinated by aviation and things pertaining to it, but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself really enjoying this place.  Around every corner there was an interesting display of some sort, many of them just random collections from the general period in which Glenn Curtiss invented his stuff.

This museum is advertised to represent "Where Biplanes Soared and Motorcycles Roared," and it certainly does a hefty amount of that.  We discovered there the genius of Glenn Curtiss.  He:

     -was an inventer with 87 U.S. patents
     -made the first pre-announced public airplane flight
     -held the motorcycle speed record from 1907-1930
     -made the first U.S. city-to-city flight in 1910
     -trained the first woman pilot
     -developed the first flying boat in 1911
     -was recognized as the "Father of Naval Aviation"

and so much  more.

When you enter the museum, a staff person offers you a map to guide you through the museum.  The first set of exhibits shows Curtiss' bikes and motorcycles, items starting from approximately the year 1900.  Then the exhibits segue into his planes and other items of later years.

The June Bug - flown in the world's first pre-announced public flight

Even a doll house collection on the right
Scale model of an early Curtiss "Pusher" aircraft

1919 flying boat - The Seagull
The P-40, a World War II plane

As I mentioned earlier, throughout the museum were other collections from the same era, including this area showing old fire-fighting vehicles,

and this section showing old baby strollers and children's toys:

I must be ancient, because I remember my mother pushing my younger brother around in a stroller similar to this one.  It must have been a nightmare to fit in the car.

By the end of the museum we were seeing inventions from Curtiss' Florida years, years in which he turned his attention to land development, the travel trailer, and many other pursuits.  There is even an early travel trailer there at the museum.

Although Glenn Curtiss only lived to the age of 52, he is credited with over 500 inventions during his life span.  That's a lot of inventing.

There was only one time in my life when I thought of something that I wanted to invent, but I never followed through on it.  I considered inventing a LIVING ROOM RAKE during those years when my three daughters loved playing with Barbies and their associated gazillion pieces.  My son would be playing nearby with his beloved Lego sets, each containing about a bazillion pieces.  A living room rake would have come in handy at the end of the day, don't you think?

That invention sure would have made cleaning up easier, and who knows, maybe it would have ended up in a fancy museum somewhere, someday.