Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snow my god!!!

So the east coast was supposed to get a boat load of snow from an enormous storm.  My area was predicted to see snow beginning around 11pm Mon night, continuing through mid-day Tues, with a total accumulation of up to 8".  One of the school systems even closed schools at noon on Mon even though the snow wasn't supposed to start until much later that night!

Apparently the storm developed further offshore than expected so the actual snowfall amounts were much lower than predicted.  My area only got a slight dusting - not even enough to cover the grass or street.  It was pretty much a non-event.  Kids went to school on time, though most had probably stayed up late the night before in anticipation of a snow day.

But I get it.  Meteorologists don't control the weather; they simply try to predict it based on computer models.  But I also believe that the media over-reports potential weather events in order to boost TV viewership.  Our local news had 'live footage' of a reporter standing on a street corner around 10pm waiting for snow to start falling.  Come on now!!

This graphic began floating around facebook and I thought it was too funny not to share.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015

Score!

On Sat Spouse & I did a little shopping.  I needed a baby gift for some clients/friends who recently had their 1st child.  Found a great gift for a great price at HomeGoods.

I also needed some shoes.  I was looking for something not as dressy as a hard sole dress shoe, but not as casual as a Sketcher shoe.  A middle-of-the-road shoe is just what I need for the Dockers-style pants I wear to work most days.

1 of the stores we looked in was the Bass outlet/factory store.  I'm a rather picky shopper and never buy anything that isn't at least on sale, if not on clearance, so I was delighted to find not 1 but 2 pairs of shoes I liked in my size on clearance.
On the left is an updated wingtip in black with a grey plaid inset.  On the right is a tan saddle shoe with dark brown suede.  I normally wear size 10 but these were a little snug so wound up getting size 10 1/2.  They fit great and are very comfortable.

The shelf label claims the "regular price" was $160. for each pair, but were on "clearance" for $29.99.  That's more than 80% off.  While I'm skeptical that these shoes ever actually sold for $160. I felt that $29.99 was a very, very good price for these shoes.  Score!

So I bought both pairs.  I figure I'll wear the black ones with my navy and grey pants and with jeans, and I'll wear the tan ones with my various shades of khaki pants.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday fragments

Two weeks in a row now I find that a post comprised of several small topics works for me, so here goes another Friday fragments.

The other day I needed to call our car insurance agency, Progressive.  After my purpose was accomplished and the call was ending, I said to the customer service rep "Say hi to Flo for me!" Apparently I'm not the 1st one to think of this, as the rep responded "Oh, I will" without missing a beat.

On Mon I had my week 2 weigh-in and was encouraged to see that I had lost 5 lbs again.  That makes 10 lbs in 2 weeks.  This Fit for Life is really working for me.  Yes, I sometimes feel deprived when I want to eat a big, juicy burger with fries, but that's what got me in this situation to begin with.  I still eat most of what I like, but not together.  I'll eat a burger without the bun or fries with salad or a veggie.


Spouse & I have been watching American Horror Story Freak Show and this week was the finale.  It was not what I was expecting, but I liked it.  The series was very interesting, albeit gory at times, so now I think we're going to go back to the earlier series (Asylum and Coven) and watch them.  Anyone else like American Horror Story?


I've been letting the top of my hair grow out for the last 2 month, and only getting the sides and back cut.  I'm doing this because I want a new, modern hairstyle called an Undercut.  There is the slicked back version which is better suited for guys like Brad Pitt with straighter hair...
...and there is a more casual, non-slicked back version that is better suited for guys like me with wavy hair...
Not surprising, Spouse is not a fan of this style.  He says its for hipsters and younger guys, but I reminded him that Brad Pitt has this cut and he's only 11 days younger than me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Birthday

So yesterday was my mother's birthday.  She turned 79.

As you may recall, my parents belong to the Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) religion.  They do not celebrate birthdays, or any other holiday for that matter.  They believe that birthday celebrations and holidays (including Christmas and Easter) have pagan roots.  None of these holidays are mentioned in the Bible either, which they claim to follow strictly.

But even if the JWs did celebrate birthdays and holidays, I would not be able to celebrate with my mother or other family members because I am gay and their religion (like many) believes that being gay is a sin.  Since I chose to leave the JW religion to be gay 22 years ago, my family and other JWs I used to know have shunned me.  That is what they are taught to do when someone leaves their religion.

So its a little weird for me today, thinking about my mother and it being her birthday.  While her birthday is 'just another day' to her, I think about it more as she and my father age.  He is 82. They are both in reasonably good health for their ages, but I know that 1 day in the not-so-distant future I will learn that 1 of them has passed, and I won't know how to react.  

I mean, of course anyone would be sad when a relative passes.  But for me, having been shunned for the last 22 years, it feels like they already passed.  My connection to them, my relationship with them, my ability to spend time with them all ended 22 years ago.  Yet, when I eventually get that call, I will be forced to experience their loss again.

Disfellowshipped/shunned people are permitted to attend funerals of JWs, but I wonder if I will go. Funerals are such sad occasions to begin with.  Part of me asks why I would put myself into a situation where I will be permitted to attend, but will not be spoken to by anyone except my few non-JW relatives.  Another part of me says that if I don't attend, it will cause my family and former friends to think I'm cold and uncaring.  But then again, what do I care what they think of me??

So rather than wrapping a thoughtful gift, singing "Happy birthday", or giving my mom a kiss on the cheek, these are the thoughts on my mind today.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Fri fragments

I just realized I haven't done a Friday fragments post in a long time, and since I have several small topics to share today, its entirely apropos.

I'm not a person who gains pleasure from cooking, but I recently 2 very easy and very tasty dishes that are compatible with my Fit for Life plan.  I made a soup with Great Northern beans, cannellini beans, garbanzo beans, ham cubes and rosemary.  It was delicious!  I also made turkey chili with beans which was also delicious.

I had a cold/sinus congestion earlier this week.  Fortunately Clariton-D took care of that within just a few days.  However, now Spouse is starting to have the same symptoms.

On Tues I took both dogs for their vet visits.  Marvin was due for a rabies booster and his annual exam.  Walter had his neuter surgery, or as I call it his "big boy surgery".  Both boys were terrific at the vet - no barking or 'scared' behavior.  Walter was groggy for the balance of the day, but was completely back to normal the following day.

I took Big Ella to the DMV to be inspected and have the tags renewed.  It was a pleasure to do this since our DMV is so well-managed.  There was no line at the inspection lanes and only 1 car in front of me at the drive-thru window, so I completed the inspection AND renewed the tags within about 5 minutes and never got out of the driver seat.

I've been trying to get Spouse to agree to go on a winter trip.  I'd love to return to Puerto Vallarta, or go someplace new that's warm.  He has been reluctant and has cited every excuse he could think of.  "We just went on a trip in July" which is true, but doesn't mean we can't go on another one in Feb or March.  "We don't have the money" which is NOT true, because I pay all the bills and manage our finances.  He wouldn't know where to begin to find out how much money we have.  I haven't given up yet though. 

So that's what's going on in my life this week.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

...on the planet

Are you curious what the "Hottest Guys on the Planet" might look like?  

If so, you're in luck.  Fit Media has put together a video of their choices of the hottest guys on the planet.  Go ahead, watch the video - you deserve 6 1/2 minutes of guilty pleasure.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Diet update

I really don't like to use the word 'diet' because I think of a diet as a temporary measure that yields temporary results.  Once you stop the diet, the weight usually comes back. I'm trying to make my Fit for Life routine more of a lifestyle; something that becomes a part of my everyday life.

So, last Mon I started following Fit for Life, which works on the theory that proper food combining aids in quicker digestion, more energy, and weight loss.  I did really well the 1st week and lost 5 lbs.

The 1st week was kind of rough, I'll be honest.  I had some serious cravings for sweets but I stuck to it and didn't cheat.  From my experience 20+ years ago, the 1st week was the hardest and then the following weeks got easier.  I'm really hoping to keep this 'lifestyle' going indefinitely.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Crazy cold weather

Last Sun we had a high temperature of 68 degrees.  Wearing just hoodies we took the dogs for a nice walk.

Then 48 hours later, on Tues, it snowed (lightly) for a few hours.

Wed & Thurs it was bitterly cold, with the high temperature only in the 20s.  This was Walter's 1st time seeing snow.  Our poor doggies hardly want to stay outside long enough to do their business.  Tomorrow's high is predicted to be only 23 degrees, with an overnight temperature in the low teens.

While this may not seem "all that cold" to those of you who live in MN, NY, or OH, it is most certainly unseasonably cold for DE.

Here in the southern part of the state, by the coast, we are used to more moderate winter temperatures.  We aren't used to snow.  No one knows how to drive in snow.  We don't have equipment to move the snow when we get it.  Schools will open late or close early with just the forecast of snow.

Being close to the water also means that we have a fair amount of breeze/wind here, which make these bitter temperatures feel even colder. 

And thank god for heated seats in the cars!

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Prime directive

So the other day I was looking on Amazon for a new laptop bag.  My old one doesn't have handles and Walter chewed off one of the zipper pulls.  I found this snappy red one with retractable handles for $21.99 which I thought to be a reasonable price.

Then I saw that the shipping and handling was $8.54 which I thought to be UNreasonable.  I mean, its basically neoprene and weighs nothing.

This led mean to think again about an Amazon Prime membership.  If I were a Prime member, this item would be on my doorstep in 2 days for free.  But would I order enough stuff to justify the $99. annual membership fee?  Conversations with my colleagues at work revealed that all of them are Prime members and they enjoy not only free shipping on lots of stuff, but also free movies and TV series (streamed like Netflix), and now free music too.  

One of my colleagues said that when she realizes she's a couple days from needing diapers, she just orders them from Amazon and they arrive on her doorstep.  No need to make a special trip to the store and lug home a heavy/bulky box of diapers.

Then I remembered Joe P telling us about an Amazon Prime original series called Transparent that he really liked.  (It has 2 Golden Globe nominations.)  So I clicked on the Prime tab and saw that they offer a free month's subscription, so I signed up.  I immediately got free shipping and 2-day delivery of my snappy red laptop bag, and then went home and began watching Transparent.

Its about a divorced couple and their adult children, all of whom have their own issues.  Dad begins a journey to become a transgendered woman (hence the title), mom is dealing with the terminal illness of her 2nd husband, son Josh sleeps with every woman he meets and then thinks he's in love with each of them, older daughter Sarah leaves her husband and children to rekindle a romance with an old girlfriend, and younger daughter Ali struggles with the monotony of life despite having no job or responsibilities to tie her down.  We loved it and watched all 10 episodes within 24 hours!

I haven't spent much time perusing the other original series and movies available, but I'm going to try to get as much viewing as possible done during my free 30-day trial membership.  Then I'll decide if the $99. annual membership is worth it.

Anyone else have Amazon Prime?  What do you think?

Monday, January 05, 2015

After the holidays

A year or 2 ago in the latter part of June, Thad asked electronics guru Joe P to come over to help him with his cable box and DVR.  Joe P said he would, but not until 'after the holidays'.  The rest of us burst into laughter, thinking he meant he wouldn't be available until Jan!!  But what he meant by 'after the holidays' was after the upcoming July 4th and Labor Day holidays.  From that point on 'after the holidays' has been a joke in our circle, reminding us of that funny misunderstanding. 

This came to mind yesterday as I was taking down the Christmas tree and decorations, since it is literally 'after the holidays'.  Fortunately this task is much easier this year than usual due to the minimal decorations we put up.  Within about 1/2 an hour I had the 4' prelit tree undecorated and back in its box, the 3 wreaths back in their boxes, and the mantle candles and greenery removed and the framed photos back up on the mantle.  It didn't take long to say goodbye to Christmas for another year.

'After the holidays' is when most people resolve to lose weight, myself included.  Honestly, I have been eating like a totally crazy person since early Oct with the justification that I would go on a diet 'after the holidays'.  Well, now it is time to pay the piper.

Last time I lost weight on Weight Watchers.  For whatever reason, I don't feel like going that route again, so I'm going to do Fit for Life.  I followed Fit for Life back in the early 90s and it worked great.  I lost 45 lbs in about 6 months and I felt terrific.  The concept is that weight loss will naturally occur with proper food combining.  Here are the simple rules:
  • Eat fruit (and no other food) from the time you get up until noon.  Any kind of fruit; as much as you want.  Fruit and only fruit until noon, and not after noon.
  • Combine proteins with vegetables in the same meal, with a desired ratio of 1 part protein to 2 parts vegetables.
  • Combine carbs with vegetables in the same meal, with a desired ratio of 1 part carbs to 2 parts vegetables.
  • Proteins and carbs are never to be eaten in the same meal, but may be eaten in the same day.
  • Avoid processed foods as much as possible.  Natural is always better, even if it has more calories as is the case with margarine versus butter.
  • Avoid dairy as much as possible, as it contains fat and calories.  The vitamin D people attribute to milk (thanks to the Dairy Counsel) can easily be replaced by leafy green vegetables.
You can buy the book if you're interested in the specific reasons behind these food combinations.  As with any every diet or lifestyle plan, its effectiveness will vary from person to person.  But I like that the book tells you that you'll get the benefits (weight loss, more energy) to the extent that you follow it.  So if you don't follow it 100% you will still get some benefits, unlike others which are predicated on never cheating in order to remain in ketosis. 

I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Friday, January 02, 2015

10th Blogiversary!

Managing milestones is a big part of my job as a realtor, so it is absolutely CRAZY to me that I realized today that I missed acknowledging this blog's 10th blogiversary on Dec 28!



Yep, that's right - I've been blogging since Dec 28, 2004. 

Its kind of hard to believe I've been doing this for 10 years.  My 1st couple of years of posting was just text - no photos.  This was because smart phones hadn't been invented yet or weren't prevalent, and uploading digital photos from the camera to the computer to the blog was tedious.  But the quality of my posts was probably better back then, as I couldn't rely on photos to fill up a post, or BE a post.  I'm going to take a little time and read some of my early writing to provide me with inspiration for better future posts. 

Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting over the years!  Its fun to share my life and thoughts with you guys.  Thanks to blogging I have met quite a few great folks in person whom I consider real friends.  While keeping up my blog isn't always easy or convenient, it feels like a real accomplishment to say I've done it for 10 years now, and have no plans to stop.

Cheers!!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy new year!


For New Years Eve Spouse & I decided to go to Dos Locos again with Steven & Thad, Joe P, and Michael.  (Michael's partner Nathan is a nurse and had to work at the hospital.)  We rung in the new year there last year and had a great time.  Joe & Darryl own and run Dos Locos and they always make sure we have fun.
Michael & Joe P
We started with a pitcher of Spicy Mango Margaritas and chips with salsa and a large guacamole.  Honestly, I probably could have skipped ordering an entree with the number of chips and guac I ate.  But no, I ordered the Mexican Platter which consists of a beef taco, a chicken enchilada, and a cheese enchilada with rice and beans and about 7 lbs of melted cheese.  Don't get me wrong - it was delicious, but way too much food.  I wound up taking 1/2 of it home.
Me & Spouse
Part way into our meal Joe (of Joe & Daryl, the owners) passed out party hats, tiaras, Happy New Year necklaces, and noise makers.  Some at our table were slow embrace these accouterments but I forced them to put them on, at least for photos.
Steven & Thad
At some point Joe (of Joe & Daryl, the owners) came around with a tray of shots, passing 1 out to each of us.  I'm not certain of the ingredients but I think it was Cotton Candy vodka and cranberry juice.  Steven took a tiny sip and wrinkled his face, so I finished his.  Thad was unwilling to even try it, so I drank his too.  A 2nd pitcher of margaritas was delivered to our table so I freshened everyone's glasses.  (Isn't that a funny term?  "Freshened"??)

Joe P asked our group to make new years resolutions.  Most came up with silly things (ie: lose 150 lbs) which was funny and made us laugh.  Our waiter brought us champagne flutes and before we knew it, we heard the countdown to midnight.  I forced everyone to don their party hats and tiara (again) and we toasted the new year.
Afterward we hung around for about 1/2 an hour, then went home.  It was a fun way to celebrate New Years Eve.  Here's hoping all of you celebrated New Years Eve the way you wanted to (out or at home) and that your 2015 is peaceful, happy, and prosperous.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas recap

It was somewhat of a whirlwind, but we had a good Christmas.

Tues my office closed at 1pm so I met up with Joe P for lunch, then stopped at HomeGoods for a little bit of last minute gift shopping, then filled the tank with gas, and went home to let the dogs out and tidy up the house.  Spouse came home at 5pm and we packed our suitcase, loaded the car, and were on the road by 6pm.  It was raining lightly but the real concern was the heavy fog which caused me to have to drive slower than usual, but we eventually arrived at Spouse's mom's house safe and sound.

Wed morning after breakfast Spouse & I took Marvin & Walter with us to visit my cousin Inez & her husband Steve.  They live about an hour from Spouse's mom, in a 200+ year old stone house.  I love spending Christmas eve by the fire in Nez's warm kitchen and adjacent sitting room. Nez's mom (my aunt Rosie) was there too, so it was great to see her as well.  We talked and had lunch, and then exchanged little gifts.  I gave Nez a t-shirt with the caption "You had me at Merlot". 
Nez gave me a cool bar set that hides inside a bottle.  It was a great visit, but we needed to leave mid-afternoon and head back to Spouse's mom's.

I agreed to hang out at home with the dogs while Spouse made a quick trip to the grocery store to get the ingredients for our Christmas morning breakfast casserole (eggs, cheese, sausage, hash browns baked together).  I had suggested this easy-to-make breakfast casserole because in past years we never seem to have a decent breakfast on Christmas morning.  Spouse's mom always has raisin bread or English muffins or the like, but nothing for a proper Christmas morning breakfast.  I thought this breakfast casserole would be great since its preparation is quick.  But I was sorely disappointed when Spouse returned from the grocery store empty-handed.  He said the store was crowded and there were long lines at the cashier stands...  Imagine that!!  People trying to buy food on Christmas eve!!  Who would have ever thought??  Rather than being patient and buying the food, he aborted the mission.

Later that evening we went to Spouse's sister Mary's house for Christmas eve and Spouse's mom's birthday.  Mary made a pulled pork tenderloin, mac-n-cheese, and kale.  There were numerous Christmas cookies, brownies, and other sweets for dessert, PLUS a homemade birthday cake for Spouse's mom's 85th birthday. 
My long-time friend Kathryn also stopped by for a bite to eat and a visit, and other folks (relatives, our nephews' girlfriends, etc) stopped by as well.

On Christmas morning there was no breakfast casserole so we ate donuts, raisin toast, and Christmas cookies swiped from the previous night.  Not at all what I'd hoped for, but it was what it was.  Around noon we went to Spouse's brother and sister-in-law's house nearby for a little visit.  After dropping Spouse & his mom off at her house, I picked up my aunt Mary and brought her to the house.  We exchanged gifts with her there rather than with the rest of the family later on.  She gave us the Lady GaGa & Tony Bennett duets CD, the official 2014 White House Christmas tree ornament, and 2 Ina Garten cookbooks (Make it Ahead & Back to Basics).  Then we all went to Spouse's sister Mary's for Christmas dinner.  She made rigatoni with meatballs and Italian sausage, chicken Parmesan, and stuffed shells.  My aunt Mary brought sweet potato shuffle and a hummingbird cake.  It was all delicious and we had a great time.  Later we exchanged gifts and Spouse & I were happy that our family really seemed to like the gifts we got for them.

Fri we met up with our dear friends Kerry & Hugh, Kerry's dad George, Kerry's sister Kelly, and our long-time friend Lisa for our annual Christmas luncheon at Joe's Place.  
It is the only place I know that serves hippie rolls, which are Italian sausages and sauteed onions and peppers wrapped in pizza dough and baked to a golden brown deliciousness.  I'm crazy for them!!
We had a lovely visit with them and the time just seemed to pass too quickly.  We returned to Spouse's mom's house, packed up our stuff, loaded the dogs into the car, and headed home.  Steven & Thad invited to their house for leftovers from their Christmas dinner so of course we agreed.

I went back to work on Sat but that evening we met up with our buddies Vic & Mike for dinner.  Vic had recently been in El Paso TX and picked up t-shirts for us.  

How perfect!  They are very nice guys and we always enjoy hanging out with them.

Sun morning Spouse & I had breakfast at the Crystal with Steven and Joe P, and then I had to work again.  It was extremely quiet in the office so we played Scrabble!  It was a fun way to pass the time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas eve

Each year for the past several years I have posted this video on Christmas eve.  Nobody sings this song like Karen Carpenter, and the music and lyrics are both warm and slightly melancholy.

Greeting cards have all been sent, the Christmas rush is through.
But I still have one wish to make, a special one for you.
 
Merry Christmas Darling, we're apart that's true.
But I can dream and in my dreams,I'm Christmasing with you.
Holidays are joyful, there's always something new.
But ev'ryday's a holiday, when I'm near to you.
 
The lights on my tree, I wish you could see, I wish it every day.
Logs on the fire fill me with desire to see you and to say
 
That I wish you Merry Christmas,Happy New Year too.
I've just one wish on this Christmas eve, I wish I were with you.
 
Logs on the fire fill me with desire to see you and to say
 
That I wish you Merry Christmas,Happy New Year too.
I've just one wish on this Christmas eve, I wish I were with you.
 
I wish I were with you.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Cocktail time

At this time of year many of us will be attending Christmas/holiday parties and enjoying a cocktail or two.  If you do, please drink responsibly and do not drive.  

If you drink a little too much (after all, it IS the holidays) I've heard that a way to reduce or eliminate a hangover is to take a couple Ibuprofen and drink a large glass of water before going to bed.  

Has anyone tried this?  Does it work?  Inquiring minds (and drinkers) want to know!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Party gifts

This week my (real estate) work team had our Secret Santa gift exchange.  I was extremely fortunate to have Dawn as my Secret Santa.  We share a love of Chihuahuas.  She had 2 'seniors' when I came to work here, but both have since gone to heaven.  She was thrilled when we adopted Marvin, and then again when we adopted Walter.

Dawn knows me very well, including that my favorite cocktail is a Cosmo.  So this is what Dawn gave me for Christmas:
Click photo to enlarge
 I was absolutely speechless when I saw this.  This Chihuahua is nearly identical to Walter's coloring, with the exception of Walter's head markings.  The color, texture, even the pink inner ears is just amazingly accurate.  And notice the bottle of Cosmo mix he's holding, rather than a bottle of wine.  Two of my favorite things:  Chihuahuas and Cosmos!  How perfect is this for me??

I also attended an employee/entertainers appreciation party at the Blue Moon which also included a Secret Santa gift exchange.  In this case, you bring a gender-neutral gift since you don't know who will select it.  I found these groovy high ball glasses I really liked at HomeGoods, and figured they would be equally enjoyed by male or female:
Click photo to enlarge
Super cute, right?  So when its my turn to pick and unwrap a gift I get a deluxe poker set.  Yawn.  But this game also allows you to 'steal' a gift from someone else, so I decided to steal the high ball glasses!  Nobody knew I'd brought them, so I didn't feel tacky about stealing my own gift.  Despite my collection of vintage and new cocktail glasses, I really didn't have any high ball glasses so these will fill that void.  I couldn't be happier with both of my Secret Santa gifts this year!!