Home Shows

I love interior design, architecture, and even looking at nicely done landscaping, so home shows are right up my alley. Going to them gives me a chance to see innovative ideas, color combinations, and often what’s new in design. My area has a show going on right now and I’m heading over to see the houses this week.

The best one I ever went to was in Cincinnati about 10 years ago and featured about 15 houses. After a while, it is hard to keep track of what you see when there are that many, but still fun. I didn’t have a smart phone back then, so I couldn’t snap photos of what I liked, but I will have it with me this time. What do I dislike about featured homes? Poor or incomplete decorating. Hello? Isn’t that part of the event? I think so.

Something I find interesting about the shows is the price of the homes. The last one I went to in Cincy about eight years ago featured ‘empty nester’ homes in the $550-800K range. Really? My current house isn’t anywhere near that. Granted, I live in an area where housing is reasonable, but still. I don’t plan on spending that much on a house when I retire. Though prices in the U.S. vary by region, as of June 2014, the median prices were:

  • Northeast – $256,700
  • Midwest – $165,900
  • South – $184,800
  • West – $297,500

Funny, but none of those prices are close to those empty nester homes from eight years ago. The market was inflated at that time, but by that much?

I imagine that most of the people who go to home shows want to see how the other half lives and not with the intent of buying. Most likely, if you can afford to purchase a show house, you can build one that is exactly what you want, down to the fixtures. I have rarely seen one that 100% fits the bill for me, but I have come away with ideas that I have used in my house. And, the bottom line? It’s fun to look. If I could just find a job where someone would pay me to look at houses…

August 10, 2014 at 2:11 pm Leave a comment


I was shopping yesterday at a nice outdoor mall that has a Whole Foods, Eddie Bauer, Gap, Pier One, and a handful of other stores on the ‘front side.’ On the back side, there’s a Carter’s Outlet, TJ Maxx, Homegoods, Nordstrom Rack, and a great bookstore called Joseph-Beth. One of the reasons I went, and there are often many, is that I wanted to check out the REI store. There is something about walking in the door to that place that makes me want to hike, camp, rappel, and even jog. Well, perhaps not jog. If you have never been to this amazing store and you like to do anything outdoors, you need to check it out. Yesterday, I even bought some Peter Rabbit Organics fruit and veggie pouches for my organic-eating grandson. It’s also one of my favorite places for stocking stuffers at the holidays.

What do I covet at REI? They carry Smart Wool socks, Goal Zero portable solar devices for when your smart phone needs a charge, carry-on luggage that will fit in the overhead on a plane, cute casual shoes, and more. I could basically back up a truck and fill it with kayaks, freeze-ried ice cream, cute clothing, etc. In fact, I could probably fill a semi. I don’t do a lot of outdoor stuff, but when you see allllll the accoutrement for any activity, it just sucks you in and you want one of everything. It makes you WANT to camp, so you can use the Camp Kitchen, Gourmet Kitchen set, and the portable Sink.

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I love just poking around the store. I could spend 20 minutes just looking at all the colorful carabiners. I may never rappel, but I know I can find some uses for them. If you can’t get to the store, they are online and if you’re looking for some deals, try their Online Outlet!

July 27, 2014 at 2:33 pm Leave a comment

Kuhn Rikon Garlic Press

Kuhn RikonYears and years ago, I bought a plastic garlic press that had two sizes of disks that you could swap out. It worked pretty well, though it meant scraping the garlic off the disk every time I finished using it. Always left a hint of garlic on my fingers, which I’d often forget to expunge by rubbing my fingers on a stainless steel knife, spoon, or fork. Well, the day finally came when the little man was using the plastic device and it cracked as he was pressing some garlic for me. It was rather sad. I happened to mention this to my darling daughter and what arrived at my door? A NEW garlic press! And it’s a doozy.

It’s stainless steel and even my other half won’t be able to break it. I really like the fact that you can flip the handle over and get the garlic residue off without digging it out. It makes the chore of pressing very easy, too. No straining, which is probably what broke the old one. It’s a thing of beauty!

Did you know that fresh garlic doesn’t give you nasty garlic breath? It’s true! The taste is superior to jarred, granulated, or powdered. Plus, it has health benefits. And, I’ve heard it will keep werewolves at bay, in case that’s an issue for you.

July 12, 2014 at 6:36 pm Leave a comment

Graham Crackers

I like how Word Press asks what’s on my mind, because tonight, it’s graham crackers. I’ve been on that kick lately. Usually, it’s a winter comfort snack for me, but since I didn’t have many over the winter and I recalled that recently, I’ve been eating some now.

How do I eat them? My mom taught us to dip them in milk, wait a few seconds and then eat off the part that’s slightly soggy. Then, re-dip and repeat the process until the cracker is gone. And believe me, you’ll want to go for another dunk and realize the whole cracker will have found its way down your throat already. At which point, you’ll get up and head for the box.

I usually start with a third of a cup of milk…I use a coffee mug, and about 6 cracker halves. Notice that I said start, because I rationally think that will do the trick and satisfy my craving. At least I’m burning a few calories as I walk back to the pantry. This isn’t an amateur dunking event. You do need to pay attention to the length of time the cracker is in the milk; not long enough and it’s not saturated and still crunchy, too long and you will only be holding the dry portion of the cracker in your hand. And I NEVER drink the remains of the milk. Overly soggy bits of crackers in my milk is not appetizing.

I used to babysit for a family where the mom would suggest a breakfast idea for the kids, which was smashing up a bunch of graham crackers and topping them with milk. It’s the equivalent of leaving the cracker in the milk for a few seconds too long. Gross. I would make it for the kids, but not partake.

Everyone knows about some of the other reasons one might eat a graham cracker. My mom also treated us to graham crackers coated with a thin layer of butter. Yum! It’s that sweet and slightly saltiness that tastes great. Who hasn’t had a S’more? This Pinterest page has tons of ideas.

One of my favorite comfort snacks, which I haven’t made in ages is Praline Crackers. When my daughter was a teenager there were times when we’d look at each other and know exactly what the other was thinking…and it was to make some of these.

9 whole graham crackers
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a small saucepan, heat the butter and brown sugar and stir until it starts to boil. Place the crackers on a cookie sheet next to each other in three rows of three (you can line it with foil). Pour the cooked mixture over the crackers and top with pecans. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Serve warm. Mmmmmm…great with a class of milk, but no dipping.

Here’s another idea that involves a cracker, but not graham. My father taught us to use saltine crackers as dippers for eating vanilla ice cream. Sounds gross? Try it.

June 28, 2014 at 6:09 pm Leave a comment


Are there days when you wish you could be somewhere else? Perhaps it’s a place you’ve been or surely a place you would like to visit. I just read the other day that even when you can’t go anywhere, thinking about it can be almost as positive for you as going in person.

I was sitting in the backyard today reading a book and when I closed my eyes and listened to the birds chirping, I was picturing myself sitting on a fallen log in the deep green of the north woods (and I wasn’t swatting mosquitoes), sitting on a bench overlooking Green Bay in Door County, WI (eating an ice cream cone from Wilson’s), gazing over the Tuscan countryside (with a good glass of red wine), and even rocking gently in a boat floating in the harbor in Copenhagen (waiting for the sun to come up, so I could have a pastry). It made me smile, even though I was no where by my own backyard.

And I’m not saying my backyard is bad. I did finally buy some nice patio furniture, so I am enjoying more than just looking out the window at the backyard, like previous years. It’s purely heaven to lie on the sofa looking up at the blue sky as a gentle breeze cools me. I truly can’t ask for more than that, but it is nice to toss in the thoughts of being anywhere. Try it!

June 15, 2014 at 7:31 pm Leave a comment

My Fitness Pal

In my quest to lose weight and get into better condition, I downloaded the My Fitness Pal app on my iPhone. My goal to lose weight in a certain about of time (class reunion) meant I needed to stay within the 1200-1400 calories per day range. Well, let me tell you…I am not a big eater, but I had no idea how many calories I was consuming in a day. Actually, I was shocked. No wonder I’ve gained weight. Those ‘few’ small peanut butter cups, my beloved cups of chai, that handful (okay, so it might have been more than a handful) of almonds, etc., sure added up quickly. During the first few days, I was out of calories after lunch. Who knew?

Well, I have to give some credit to this handy little app. It has helped me lose about 8 pounds and get under the “That’s overweight” jibe on the Wii. I did fall off the wagon in Chicago one weekend and probably last weekend in Nashville, since I wasn’t keeping count, but for the most part, I get in my exercise more regularly and I have been thinking a whole lot more about what I put into my mouth. And, that’s a good thing.

The app is pretty easy to use and if you need a boost and a nice way to keep you on task, give it a try. You’ll be glad you did!

June 8, 2014 at 5:35 pm 1 comment

HBO Series

The other day, I was thinking about how I rarely ever watch a movie on HBO. They are generally old ones I have no interest in or I’ve already seen them in the theater. It’s rare for me to watch a movie multiple times, unless I REALLY love it. But, I do watch a bunch of HBO series.

Which ones do I love? All of Chris Lilley’s shows; Angry Boys, Summer Heights High, and Jamie Private School Girl. I also love Curb Your Enthusiasm, Flight of the Conchords, Getting On, Real Time with Bill Maher, The Comeback, Game of Thrones, and my new favorite is Silicon Valley.

If you haven’t seen any of the Lilley shows, I have blogged about them before, so you can read my earlier post. I’ve also covered Curb Your Enthusiasm. The Lilley shows are a bit rude and crude at times, but Chris’ characters are so diverse and well-developed (he plays lots of roles, including my favorite, Jonah Takalua. I hear his next series will feature this character). I love Larry David on Curb. He’s such a jerk, but he says the things most people think and covers topics that annoy all of us, like waiting at the doctor’s office or people who take up multiple parking spaces. I’m very sad that he is not continuing this series.

  • Flight of the Conchords featured two Kiwi’s who are in the music business and living in the US. They are bit lame, but their quirkiness is what I find endearing. Plus, I like their accents.
  • Getting On was introduced to me by my friend Cheryl and once again, the quirky characters who work in a hospital are engaging. It’s funny, but in a subtle way.
  • The Comeback is an older series featuring Lisa Kudrow. Her character is a former star trying to get back into show business. I never watched Friends, but I really enjoy her shows, including Web Therapy (on Showtime, but also found online), and the ancestral research show, Who Do You Think You Are?
  • I love Bill Maher, because he’s very outspoken and often mirrors my sentiments on politics. But my favorite part of the show is “New Rules” where he pokes fun at the news.
  • I have spent the better part of this past winter catching up on all the episodes of Game of Thrones. I have not read the books, nor am I a fan of that time in history, but I have gotten into it. I do think there is a bit too much gratuitous sex, and so much bloody violence that after a while, you barely notice it. I find that disturbing, since I feel like it desensitizes us. But, I’m hooked on the story line. It’s the first series I’ve ever watched that kills off lots of main characters. I was realllllly happy to see Joffrey go! And, I love Tyrion!
  • Silicon Valley is so good and I’m sorry the season is almost over. I think the finale is this week. The show is about a group of guys living in a house in Silicon Valley who have created a multi-platform technology that is on the cusp of being the next big thing. Once again, quirky characters, but because I relate to geeks, I think it’s funny. If you know any IT geeks, you know these characters.

I do want to watch The Newsroom and Veep, so I have enough series to keep me busy for some time to come. There are other HBO series that look good, too. I hope they continue this streak of making entertaining shows.

May 25, 2014 at 2:18 pm Leave a comment

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