Sunday, May 29, 2011

Poison Ivy and Thor...*

* Not two comic book figures...just one...

Friday with a 'to do' list as long as my arm to accomplish before my WOW this Friday (got 13 coming! A 'real' coven!) what did I allow myself to be talked into by Excy and Vance but an afternoon movie break. And we saw 'Thor,' no less -- which I had zero interest in. Excy sold me because it had Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, and Rene Russo in it. Vance said Kenneth Branagh directed it, and the 'hero' had the best-looking body he'd ever seen. So, the boys won out. If nothing else, I'd enjoy the eye candy. And WHAT eye candy! WOW. And you know what? It was actually a fun movie. Pleasant surprise.

Saturday was a day I've dreaded all week. A day spent in the yard, which was in serious need of help. It was beginning to resemble a long-abandoned lawn. Which I guess it was. I used to love to garden, but I can't physically keep it up any longer. Plus, the ticks and chiggers have gotten so bad it's like a horror movie. Living in the country has that going for it as a disadvantage. I told Excy I wish I had a haz-mat suit. I settled for two layers of clothes and a bathing cap under my sun hat, and rubber boots and gloves. Sprayed every 2 hrs. Feel like I got off easy with three ticks, only one that bit (of all places my ankle; I guess it was on some dead leaves that got into the boot), and a welt of poison ivy from when I fell against a tree weeding the triangle bed. Found another tiny seed tick (as small as the head of a straight pin) later. As long as I don't get chiggers, though, I guess I can cope. Chiggers itch for a week and leave marks.

When I was gone Thursday Excy finally got out a bird that had gotten trapped in our fireplace overnight. We have a fire stove in the LR. He said it took 1 1/2 hours. I asked what kind of bird it was and what color -- he said he didn't know and it was 'ash gray.' Haha.

Francis report: She has been coming up several times a day for dog food and vanilla wafers and tries to bury the wafers she doesn't eat, but the coons always sniff them out. Francis will politely lie in the yard and wait if we don't see her. She has at least three kits that we know of, because today they were out from under the tack room. They are as small as a 6-week kitten. I will try to get photos as soon as I can. I have another day planned in the yard tomorrow (I had to give myself a day off) and hopefully I'll spot them again.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Where Were You When the World (Didn't) End?

Friday night I went to one of the stranger slumber parties I've attended in my lifetime. While slumber parties were popular when I was growing up, aside from a few occasions, it's been quite a few years since I've gone to one. But my movie-going buddies Rosemary and Vance and I have said for a long time how much fun it'd be to sit around in our pj's eating popcorn and drinking wine -- so we finally made a date. It was pouring down rain, and thunder and lightening most of the night, so I was glad we didn't make plans to leave the house. RoRo lives alone -- not counting her golden retriever, Annie -- so we met there. After a pizza dinner with a neighbor where we talked about politics and everything under the sun, we played a round of 'Smart Ass.' I'd never heard of it, but won, being 1) Smart, and 2) an ass. I guess.

By 12:30 RoRo was turning into a pumpkin. Sir Vancelot and I are both night-owls. If I'm up past 1 a.m., I get a second wind and it can see me through into the wee hours. We started watching two different sci-fi movies off Netflix but they were both dreadful, and before I knew it he was snoring away on the couch. I was awake and alone by 3 a.m., too wired to sleep. It occurred to me that should the world actually end, I'd very much regret not having spent my final hours with Excy and the kitties. But it was a fleeting thought, and I was pretty sure that wasn't gonna happen. (It was a good thing I hadn't heard about the horror in Missouri that night; how awful). I read, and before I knew it, was drifting off to sleep when the birds began chirping.

Saturday we had a fabulous brunch using fresh eggs another neighbor gave her, and lounged around some more drinking coffee. I arranged flowers for a wedding shower Ro was attending that afternoon. As I prepared to leave we noticed my back front tire was flat. Triple A is expensive; Excy and I had discussed just that week not renewing the policy, but when you need it, boy, is it convenient! My spare looked like a doughnut, however, and I didn't feel I should drive on it all the way home, so Vance followed me to a nearby tire place. Saturday's a busy day for them. They estimated a 4-hr wait to patch it (picked up a nail), so we left the car there and went shopping for the afternoon.

An estate sale had two contemporary 'womb' chairs -- both for $1800! Such a deal. I'm hoping to inherit one of mom and dad's, but with an acquisitive brother, it's debatable. But didn't buy them, regardless. Looked around a jewelry store. Fell in love with the black diamond chip necklaces last year, and found one of black spinel that is half the cost and just as fabulous, so put it on layaway. Found a small hostess thank-you gift for Ro. Went by Pier 1 and bought some napkins and napkin holders and place-mats for next week's WOW. Treated Vance to Starbucks. This $25 tire turned into a far greater expense.

Weekends like this remind me of the importance of making time to spend with friends and loved ones. (And how, when one is in the mood, it can actually be fun to shop, sometimes). I slept in Sunday and read the paper in bed surrounded by cats, who were glad to share the bed with me. I think Excy had missed me, too.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Easter Parade

It's not Easter at our house unless I've made two things always on the table: pickled eggs, and cheese grits casserole. The pickled eggs recipe are from my maternal grandmother's side of the family. We adore them in the Gray family. Excy? Not so much. Invariably friends who see purple hardboiled eggs go 'hummmm...' The beet juice and sugar and tang of the vinegar and the cinnamon stick combine to make them fabulous, however odd a purple egg may look to folks.

Unlike the eggs, everybody loves the cheese grits. Even people who don't like cheese grits. When we lived on the east coast, every Sunday we'd have pot luck with Excy's cousins at Burnside. Sunday afternoon the phone would ring. "What are you making tonight Amy? Cheese grits?" Then another phone call. "Hi, Amy. Are you making strawberry-rhubarb pie tonight?" I was pigeon-holed with those two dishes.

A few years back, Kraft foods stopped making their cheese-garlic cheese rolls. You could hear the dismayed cries of Southern women all over the country -- some cookbooks actually specify the Kraft roll in their recipe. No longer able to rely on it, it took a bit of tweaking and trial-and-error to replicate a recipe that's tasty. I don't use a recipe anymore I've made it so long, so it varies according to taste, ingredients, and what's in the pantry.

The pickled eggs are great alone, in salads, and on the side with cottage cheese. I'm happy to send any of the recipes I mentioned to anybody if they'd like.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

the write stuff

I have been out of comission lately. First was a stomach virus that took more than a week to get over, than the quick edit of a dissertation paper for a high-maintence client (those feel doubly hard to work on and hardly worth the fee). Over now. Yea. I will read your blogs soon and get back into the swing of things.

Three days ago Francis Fox showed up with her same Mister. She quickly resorted to her dog-like 'feed me dog food and vanilla wafers' mode. Then two days ago, Excy heard her kits under the tack room. A mom for the second time! Mr has moved on until the kits are old enough to begin roaming around, then he will be back on-hand to help feed them and 'show them the ropes.' Now that I know she's a mom I'll start feeding her better stuff, like peanut butter and fruit and veggies, to supplement her diet. I threw her a chicken carcass after making chicken stock for soup. (It's cold here -- a cold front came through yesterday). She loved that.

Yesterday was a WOW (Witches of Wye). Felt right for a Friday the 13th. My WOW is this June. I am hosting it early because we're going to Texas for a week. First to Houston to a VHL conference, then San Antonio because I've never seen the Riverwalk, then to Kerrville (hill country) to look at the area. We went to hear Kinky Friedman a few weeks ago (he signed one of the books I bought of his from 2004), and when Excy told him we were going to be there he gave us his digits and told us he'd show us Kerrville. That'd be fun.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Mineral Miracle

After the spring we've had, (well, that and -- err, aging)... the stress was definitely showing in my face. I went to my favorite skin technician at my favorite day spa and told S that I wouldn't be on-board with drastic measures like a face-lift or pumping myself full of Botox or Restyline, but I'd listen to any of her other suggestions. She threw out starting with BBL -- Broadband Light laser -- to rid my face of age spots, fine lines, and capillaries around the nose, and after one or two treatments, following up with a light chemical peel.

I had my first session last week to take advantage of a 25% off special. It took a quick 20 minutes. I was nervous. After slipping on a pair of eye goggles like swimmers wear (only metal), she proceeded to zap away the offending spots and lines. I could see the light, even through the goggles with my eyes closed. I could feel the slight burn and zap, and I held a small fan to my face to counter-act the burning sensation. Not my favorite thing, but definitely not too bad.

After she was finished, other than a slight ruddiness and a noticeable lack of spots and lines, you couldn't tell any work had been done at all. S said in four weeks I'd be ready for another session, and my "issues" were such that only one more session should do the job. Then on to the next phase.

In the meantime, I hadn't been satisfied with my makeup for 2 years now. I had been a Bobbi Brown user for years, and had switched to Giorgio Armani after a makeover. I liked the natural look, and aside from the expense, liked the product, and it lasted a long time. But lately -- especially when we were out west in the desert -- I started to feel it was looking too cakey and wanted to try something lighter. S suggested I give mineral makeup a try.

Sometimes a product comes along that you finally try and later wonder why it took so long for you to pick up.

This is the case here. I had a makeup session using Jane Iredale product, and ended up taking home the concealer, foundation, blush and pomegranate mister. The product seems to melt right into your skin and the mister 'sets' it, making it appear seemingly natural. The foundation is a powder, and I wondered how it would provide any coverage at all, but it does, and a little goes a long way. I have an oily T-zone, and usually need a blotting paper 2 hrs after applying makeup, but with this mineral makeup I can go 4 to 6 hrs without a touch-up. It doesn't crease under the eyes. I am definitely going back to buy more of this product...some before I've finished with the Armani, which isn't like me at all, as I tend not to buy more before using up what I have.

Another 'fabulous find,' is Clinique bottom lash mascara. It is genius covering the small lashes on your bottom lids. My suggestion is to wipe the wand with a tissue before applying, though, as it can migrate to your skin underneath the eyes if you aren't careful. (My lashes are long, so raccoon eyes have been an issue, particularly since I wear contact lens).

NOTE: usually my facial cleanser has been sufficient to remove any trace of makeup at night, but with mineral makeup you definitely need to use makeup remover before using your regular cleanser....I have used Dermalogica and Kiehls for decades now, and have been pleased with both. Before that I used Erno Laslo and then Sonja Dakar, and found that the D and K do as good a job - for less money. Always love a savings...