Category: Favorite Things

Hand Jive

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Okay, here’s another favorite thing: The Xlerator.

I really like it.

A trip to the ladies’ room used to be non-eventful. Well, maybe it was or wasn’t…but, ahem, whatever. When it came to drying my hands, I always avoided the slow, boring hand dryer and went straight for the paper towels. Or the back of my pants.

My first Xlerator experience? I almost remember it to the day. The place? The USS Yorktown at Patriots Point. On a World War II-era Navy behemoth. A coworker came from the bathroom and exclaimed, “You have got to try the hand dryer in there!” Well, okay then. I did. Now when I see one I get giddy.

There’s competition. The Blade. But sticking my hands down into something? No thank you.

At about $400.00 a pop, I think how an Xlerator would nicely adorn our master bathroom wall…

Have a few minutes? Listen to an NPR interview with Denis Gagnon of Excel Hand Dryer, Inc.

A Visit by Two Mycteria Americana

Two wood storks made an appearance on the pond this week. Pretty neat since they are classified as an endangered species in the U.S.

Every once in a while, a solo wood stork shows up. But Ken was quite impressed when he discovered this couple sunning themselves. Well, rather, Jasmine and Kona…well, really Jasmine…
announced their arrival.

Of course, Ken longed to take a closer look and get the perfect photo. But, better to leave such creatures in peace and enjoy their mere presence as they did not stay for long.

Oh, the girls? They were rewarded for their discovery with lounging on the sofa for the remainder of the afternoon.

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Walk the Walk

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Ugh.

5:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Today. I dragged myself out of bed and took the girls for a long overdue early morning walk.

Yes, getting up at the crack of dawn is one of my favorite things. But today was hard. After weeks of Christmas, flu, New Years, sinusitis, and the boys’ birthdays, it was time.

And, it was all for naught. After five days on Pacific Standard Time (another favorite thing, by the way) and one red eye flight, I will face this hurdle all too soon again.

Ugh.

What’s On Your Itinerary?

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I thought I would share two articles I read recently in the New York Times.

The first is by Paul Theroux, a writer notorious for his travels. Someone who you would think has been everywhere. But, he hasn’t.

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The second, a compilation of the top destinations to visit this year. (On a side note, kudos to the Times’s web team on an improved interface. Very nice.)

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Maybe I am sharing these because I get to go somewhere this week. And, I am always excited when I get to travel. Giddy, giddy.

He can bring home the bacon

Christian really wanted a dock for Christmas. For his kayak. On the retention pond in our backyard.

Ken decided it was to be. So on Christmas Eve, off to Lowe’s he went to purchase a pickup load of treated lumber. Said lumber then was hauled up the front steps into our living room and was carefully placed under the tree. I was concerned. Concerned that there it would sit for more than just a week. For months. But, out it went on New Year’s Day, onto the back porch then down the steps to the prep area.

This past Sunday, my two men worked in unison, father teaching son new skills. Patience, measure twice, cut once. All day long.

Then, in they came at dark. Instead of retreating to the comfort of his recliner, Ken proceeded to cook a gourmet dinner. Did I feel inadequate? A bit. But, I was sick. Really.

On the menu: Green salad with a mustard vinaigrette, creamy cauliflower soup (see recipe below), and broiled cod. Simple, right? Maybe, but I was impressed.

By the way, it’s Ken’s birthday today.

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Creamy Cauliflower Soup (courtesy of Sunset)

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced (we recommend using only one)
  • About 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 large head cauliflower (2 lbs.), chopped
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. Heat vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and salt, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and wine. Cook, stirring, until liquid is almost completely evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in cauliflower and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until cauliflower is very soft, 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. In 3 batches, whirl soup in a blender until very smooth, at least 3 minutes per batch (or, if you’d like a few florets in your soup, blend 2 batches and leave the last chunky). Stir together and season to taste with white pepper and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, chives, and parsley. Ladle soup into bowls and decoratively drizzle herb oil on top.

These Boots

I like these boots.

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I purchased them at Murdoch’s in Helena, Montana. Another one of my favorite places. Did you know that people really live and work on ranches there?

I was quickly educated by my cohorts in Helena that I had to get the right kind of jeans for my boots: Boot cut jeans. Jeans for people who wear boots. I had never owned boots so I had never owned such jeans. But, I now like them, too.

The only other pair of boots I have owned were from Spain. My parents treated me to them when we visited. I was eight or nine. I thought it would be neat to have a pair of real cowboy-style boots. I never wore them.

But, I wear my boots now. They make me feel more confident, taller.

When I am walking in them, I think of Montana.

Not too long ago, as I was admiring these boots and wondered where in the idyllic American west or Mexico or somewhere in the Americas they had been hand-crafted and sewn. China. Made in China??

I still like them.

Counting Contrails

Do I like to travel? I LOVE to travel.

Why? I spent my first Christmas flying to Australia. And so it begun, a childhood chock full of exotic layovers (Ever been to Tashkent? In the 1970’s?). I was hooked.

One of my habits? Constantly perusing the Web for our next goto destination. Thank you, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Those who have no desire to discover new places, learn new cultures, eat different food? I DON’T GET YOU.

Invest in house improvements or travel? That’s easy.

My Christmas wish? To remove from our lives those things which sit in boxes or hang in closets and never see the light of day. We keep them as reminders. But why? The best mementos are those that creep into our head as we are doing the most mundane of things…they are the best at making us smile, cringe, and even tear up. No storage required.

My if-I-could-have-anything dream? To one day literally claim where my suitcase is open, that’s home. To live as this couple does. Ken is slowly coming around. I think.

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Tree Huntin’

Today we venture down to Toogoodoo, to procure the perfect tree. This has become our Christmas tradition.

I like a native tree. Leyland Cypress or Cedar?

The men want a tall one, to show off in the two-story foyer, a space often ignored. We’ll see…better not be any squirrels in it.