Being Retired

I’ve been retired since the end of February and time is flying by! I had images of myself sitting in my family room with a cup of tea and a good book. Well, I really haven’t done that yet and it’s November. So what have I been doing? It hasn’t been adding to Jinny’s Favorite Things.  I didn’t even get to sit on the patio on sunny evenings as I thought I would. I’ve really been too busy. So, what have I been doing? Eating out, spending time with family and friends and traveling. It takes a lot of time.

I awoke on my first day off to a loud bang, the blinds rattling, and as I sat up in bed, I could see the bedroom curtains billowing in. My other half was holding the window. I jumped up and joined him, because I thought the whole window frame was blowing in. He said, “It feels like the window is breathing.” We had tornadic winds and there we were, standing in front of the window on the second floor instead of dashing to the basement. Duh! Welcome to relaxing retirement!

Since then, we’ve had the aluminum siding replaced and due to a substandard job, it has to be redone again! It’s been an ongoing headache. Plus, I want to replace  flooring and that has also been a challenge. Wood? Vinyl plank? Carpet? What to put where is really a struggle for me. That hasn’t been fun, but the rest of the time has been purely enjoyable.

I’ve chosen a handful of people  to visit this year and all of my trips have been fun. I drove, by myself to Fort Mill, South Carolina and then on to Charleston. It was a nine-hour journey and I only made one stop on the way home. I’m not a fan of  stopping, unless I need gas or have to use the facilities. It was nice  to see both parts of SC. Fort Mill has lots of new home construction and a cute little downtown. I especially liked the idea of Baxter Village in Fort Mill, with it’s porch-front houses and mini-village feel. You can live, work, eat out, etc., all in a matter of blocks.  Very cute.

Charleston is a neat Southern city. We stopped at The Battery and across the street saw a dolphin in the bay. Lots of old homes with lovely gardens on narrow streets and plenty of good restaurants. We ate lunch at Eli’s Table and wandered through the Old Slave Mart. We also visited Magnolia Plantation and did a lowcountry boat tour in the rain. Luckily, the boat had a cover. I was there in May and it was a bit hot and humid, but that’s the South.

In June, I headed to Wisconsin to visit friends and family. It’s always good to be back in the motherland. I got to see my ex-sister-in-law for lunch, stay a few nights with a friend I’ve known for 38 years, and had fun at a dinner with some high school friends. Plus, I stayed at my sister’s and my mom’s. It’s always good to be in the northwoods where it’s calm! And, I got to see my daughter and grandsons on the way there and back. It was another driving trip and though I’m not a fan of driving, it was nice  to have my car so I could make all the stops to see people.

In July,  the little man and I went to Galena, IL to meet friends who drove down from MN. We had a great time shopping, especially at Poopsie’s. What a great store! My friend and I both have young grandsons and this store has stuff for all ages. We were there three times in two days! Galena is basically one street that’s loaded with shops and restaurants. We ate yummy Italian food at Vinny Vanucchi’s up at the top of the main street. If you haven’t been to Galena in western IL, it’s a fun place for a girl’s trip. After our weekend, we helped our daughter move to a new place in Chicago. We were really tired after that! At the end of the month, we even had a visit from our CO friends whom we’ve known for 37 years!

In August, I drove back up to WI for more time with my daughter and family in Chicago on the way and time with mom, my sister, and her high school friends (our annual dinner). Then, it was off to one of my favorite places, Door County. One of my grandsons was not happy with the five-hour drive and asked, “Why do we have to go to the Door?” Well, after dinner and a trip to the beach across the street, he said, “I LOVE the Door. I don’t ever want to leave!” We had a great time at The Farm, where they got to see lots of animals and hold a few, played on the beaches, at the parks, shopped a tiny bit, ate at some yummy restaurants like Chef’s Hat, Trixie’s (interesting appetizers and selections), Wild Tomato (pizza!), Al Johnson’s (Swedish pancakes and goats on the roof), and White Gull (get the cherry-stuffed French toast). The Door has a bit of everything, shopping, eating, golf, biking, water sports, ice cream at Wilson’s, beaches, sunsets, and more. It’s the Cape Cod of the Midwest and a place I’ve gone almost every summer for the past 30 years.

September was the big trip…our vacation with our British friends to the Canadian Rockies. I hadn’t been there before and it certainly is stunning scenery. Not as varied at southern UT, but very pretty. Pictures don’t do the Rockies justice. They are yuuuge! I LOVED Lake Louise and Peyto (peato-o) Lake. The color of the water really is aqua blue, like the Caribbean. We had afternoon tea the Fairmont Chauteau at Lake Louise, stayed at Banff Avenue B and B, right on the main street so we could walk to restaurants, and spent plenty of time in nature hiking. There are so many pretty spots to see. We liked Athabasca Falls, the Banff Gondola ride to the top of  Sulphur Moutain, and the Maligne (muh-leen) Lake boat trip to see Spirit Island.

One cool part of flying into Calgary was staying at the Marriott Hotel right in the airport! Our bags were late in arriving, so all the airline had to do was walking them fifty feet. Our rental car was also right in the airport, so it was easy to get to without having to take a shuttle. We really enjoyed seeing Banff and Jasper National Parks and they were free in 2017 due to Canada’s 150th anniversary. The only downside was that we saw so few animals. I really wanted to see some bears and the only one I saw was a photo on the back of a tour bus!

In October, we got together with some WI friends we’ve known for 43 three years. We enjoy getting together at a B and B and playing Trivial Pursuit. I’m sad to say that for the first time EVER, the women did not win a game! Just to put that into perspective, women win 90% of the time. But, we handled our defeat gracefully. We stayed in Zeeland, MI at a darling place called Baert Baron Mansion. It was like stepping back in time. The house was built in the 1860s and decorated in period pieces. The hosts are wonderful! Anna made us chocolate cake and peach pie for dessert in addition to yummy breakfasts. While in the area, we walked on an amazingly thick and clean sand beach, wandered through Douglas, Saugatuck, and Zeeland (nice library!). Then, our daughter and the boys met us in St. Joseph for a night. We played on the local beach, went to one of the children’s museums (really a lot to see and do. The boys loved it), and found  some good places to eat. I like St. Joe. We almost moved there in 2006, but it didn’t work out. If you’re looking for coffee and something to snack on, try Cafe Tosi.

Later in October, I headed to sunny Pleasant Hill, CA to spend time with my baby brother and family. I had a wonderful week! We walked to get coffee at Peet’s, I wandered the shops in Walnut Creek, my bro and I went to the John Muir house in Martinez and ate at a yummy place called Eureka! in Concord, walked the Boardwalk and Wharf in Santa Cruz (my nephew actually chose playing on the beach to having a few rides), and visited the Rosie the Riveter museum in Richmond. It was a fun week and I certainly enjoyed the warmer temps! And I loved spending quality time with my nephew. I haven’t helped anyone with homework in a long time.

November will be more quiet with the family gathering here for Thanksgiving and we will head to our son’s for Christmas in VA next month. It seems like the year has flown by and from what I hear, it will continue to be that way as I age. At work, I remember looking at the clock and thinking, “It’s ONLY 2:00!” Now I see 2:00 p.m. and I think, “It’s 2:00 already!” My advice to you is to make the most  of your free time! If you haven’t retired yet, the best is yet to come!  And I’m already thinking about 2018 travel!

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November 5, 2017 at 5:03 pm Leave a comment

Snyder’s Wholey Cheese!

Yum! I’ve found a new snack to love! Wholey Cheesecrackers are crispy baked crackers and my current fav is the Swiss and Black Pepper variety. The package says the crackers are made with real cheese. They are crispy and peppery and I LOVE them! It’s a great salty snack. I can eat about 28 cracks for 120 calories. I usually don’t eat that many, so the package has lasted a while and what I like is that they stay crispy in the package! Nothing is worse than opening a package and taking a bite of a stale cracker or chip. Haven’t had a problem with these

Other varieties are Gouda and Mild Cheddar. I haven’t tried those yet, because pepper is my flavor option, if it’s available. Have you ever tried a peppered pork chop? I have and they are yummy. I’m not talking about shaker pepper, but cracked pepper. Standard shaker pepper is too fine and would be overpowering.

P. S. I’m trying to cut down on sugary snacks, and though carbs from crackers don’t help, it’s better than a few cookies. If that’s incorrect, let me know! I’ll go back to cookies.

June 29, 2017 at 2:01 pm Leave a comment

Lotions and Scents

I’m a nut about scents. I can tolerate most, but there are some I LOVE! And, of  course, the lotions need to feel smooth and silky and not tacky or drying. My current favorite lotions are Lollia’s In Love (how fitting) and Rodan and Fields’ Essential Body moisturizer. Both go on nicely and smell great! They aren’t harsh like some fragrances. Did you ever talk to someone wearing a fragrance that’s soooo awful that you wanted to head the other way? Has someone wearing an offensive scent hugged you or shook your hand and you were stuck with the dastardly odor? We all have opinions. When I get in the car with my other half while wearing lotion (I no longer wear perfumes or colognes), he will often go, “Ewwww” and wave his hand in horror. He could stick his head in a gym bag and not say a word, but lordy, don’t wear a nice  scent or walk him past the fragrance counter at a store. I think it’s a primal thing.

In the past, I went through tubes or bottles of lotion pretty quickly. I retired at the end of February and what I’ve noticed is that my hands don’t feel dry all the  time. Why did they? Using sub-standard hand soap at work. At home, I use Method gel soaps and I don’t have that annoying dryness anymore. At work, trips to the restroom meant putting on hand lotion many times a day. And I’m sure that annoyed people, since I used scented lotions. I did try to pick something that didn’t have a cloying odor, like Bath and Body’s Twisted Peppermint or Pink Chiffon.

My sister is allergic to scents and I always have to remember not to use products around her. When she comes to my house, I wrap my potpourris in plastic wrap and put away the scented candles. I can’t imagine not being able to tolerate fragrances. When I walk in my neighborhood, I will often pass  something wearing a body lotion or perfume and I like it. Takes my mind of exercise. I think scent is my strongest sense and one thing is certain, I don’t like nasty ones.

My favorite fragrance right  now if Issey Miyake’s Pour Homme Sport. It’s a men’s cologne and I use it to scent the potpourri in my bedroom. The base of the scent is sandalwood and it has a calming effect. It’s woodsy and at night I will often walk over and inhale it before hitting the pillow. I first noticed I liked this scent when I was in a store in England. In fact, sandalwood was in a few stores. When I got back to the states, I went to a fragrance kiosk at the mall in search of a men’s sandalwood cologne. The person didn’t know of any. While at the movie theater one time, there was a man in front of me wearing the perfect scent. I should have asked him, but felt it was an odd thing to do. Then, as luck would have it, I got a Macy’s flyer in the mail with some of those scented samples pieces. That’s how I found Issey. And I love it!

 

May 29, 2017 at 4:31 pm Leave a comment

Granola

Wow…it’s been four months since I’ve updated this blog. I’ve been busy and especially in the last month due to the holidays. My daughter asked me, “Why is it the woman’s job to write the cards, buy and wrap the gifts, do the decorating, plan the meals, etc., when it comes to Christmas?” Good question. Once again, I’ve gotten sick after the holidays.

So what does that have to do with granola? I’ve been not feeling well enough to make any more. But, today, I will. Why make my own when there are so many good ones out there? Mostly, so I can control what goes into it. I never used to care, but as I’ve gotten older, I’m trying to watch calorie intake, especially when it comes to sweetener, since I don’t do artificial ones.

Back in the day, I used to eat Nature Valley granola. I’d eat a larger than I was supposed to eat serving and it would last the better part of the day, at which point, I’d bake cookies and eat half the dough. Gee, maybe that was more of the reason I was starting to gain weight than the granola. Hmmm, food for thought.

A year ago, I was visiting a friend and her husband was making his own granola. If he could do it, so could I, so after searching for a good recipe to try, I found this one. I LOVE it and if I wake up in the night with a hunger pang or two, think about this granola sitting in a jar in the pantry, my hunger pangs grow and I usually have to go and drink water to fill my stomach enough to go back to sleep.

If you haven’t tried making your own, you should!

  • 4 cups Old Fashioned rolled oats (I use Quaker)
  • 1 1/2 cups raw nuts and seeds (I use 1 cup pecan pieces and 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds)*
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I leave it out)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I used Penzey’s Vietnamese Cinnamon)
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil or melted coconut oil (I prefer the olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey (I use 100% maple syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup dried fruit

Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the liquids together in a measuring cup and pour over the dry ingredients. Blend together and pour on a lightly greased  rimmed cookie sheet (I use a silicone mat instead of greasing the sheet). Spread into an even layer.

Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from over and stir. Bake another 10 minutes.

When cool, add the dried fruit of your choice and store in a sealed glass jar or tin. You can add the dried fruit when you’re ready to eat, instead of adding to the jar/tin. I think it stays more crisp that way.

*You can also add flax seeds, if you want more health benefits.

Play with this recipe and jazz it up by adding chocolate chips, coconut flakes, etc. Up to you! It’s great on yogurt, dressed up with M &Ms, peanuts, etc., as a trail mix, or just served with milk. LOVE IT!

January 8, 2017 at 4:19 pm Leave a comment

King’s Hawaiian rolls

I just finished eating dinner. This summer, we’ve been eating a lot of salads, mainly because it’s been hot. What goes well with salads? Rolls! And I’m not talking any old rolls. kingsI like King’s Hawaiian. They remind me of the sweet dinner rolls my stepmother used to make. Warm, they were amazing and King’s Hawaiian are the next best thing.

Apparently, in Hawaii, people like sweet rolls. Not the sweet rolls you are probably thinking of that have a fruit filling and frosting, but yeast rolls with no topping, like the meat-filled manapua rolls they sell Hilo’s  farmer’s market. I’ve even had the purple sweet potato-filled rolls, but they also have no frosting, just a somewhat sweet dough. Yum! Though I’m trying to watch calorie intake, a little butter on a warm roll is almost like dessert!

September 10, 2016 at 5:33 pm Leave a comment

Pens

If you’ve read through my posts, you know I LOVE office supplies! Every time I go to Staples or even walk by the office supply section at Kroger, I get a bit excited. I’m always hoping to find some little thing that I don’t have, but positively need! I’m drawn to anything colorful, like Post-its, paper clips, binders, and something simple, like a pen. Good pens are hard to find.

For Christmas, the little man got some new pens and he has been kind enough to put them in our shared stash. You may think, “Pens are pens.” There really are differences and I’m talking merely about inexpensive ones, not Mont Blancs. Usually, I use a standard Bic, which I’ve been using since they started making them, but I often buy new brands and styles, just to try them out, like Paper Mate. My better half got a package of Paper Mate Profiles and let me tell you, it writes like buttah! It’s soooo smooth! It glides across the paper like Dorothy Hamill on skates.

I bought new pens for work, since we only get horrible standard issue varieties, and they basically scratch the paper as I write. Never a good thing. My penmanship is bad as it is and an inferior pen makes it worse. So, what did I do? I bought more of the Profile pens for me to use on the job! Signing my name has never been easier! Way better than the old felt tips, that I used to think were boss and certainly better than the old Bic sticks.

Do I have a slight obsession with writing materials? Perhaps. Actually, I use a pencil more than I use pens and believe me, some pencils are way better than others, just like pens!

My roll top desk has three small drawers, perfect for my hordes of pens, pencils, and markers. Can you really have too many?

June 12, 2016 at 3:33 pm Leave a comment

Pioneer Woman’s Housewares Line

Have you seen PW’s line? Sad to say it’s not at Target, because I do shop there. It’s at Walmart. It’s homey and cheerful and will certainly make being in the kitchen more pleasant. And I really like that it’s so colorful and has the mixed and matched look that reminds me of my family’s cottage from my youth.

Back in the day, people didn’t outfit a cottage with new anything. The beds had mattresses that were no longer worthy of home use (I am talking sooooo saggy that it was like sleeping in a boat), furniture that no doubt from an earlier era, bedding and dishes were mismatched leftovers people were no longer using at home, and even reading materials were things that had been read already and at least 20 years old. But, from the old flannel robes that hung on hooks for all to use to the enamelware bucket and dipper, that cottage still brings back cozy, wistful memories. This housewares line evokes those heavenly days.

What’s in PW’s line? Everything from dishes and cutlery to bakeware and rugs. You can find cute serving pieces, a cookie jar that looks like her Basset House Charlie (a friend who has a basset hound filled it with dog-shaped cookies for her daughter as a gift), kitchen towels, placemats, and a super cute measuring cup set. Her line is perfect spruce up a dull kitchen. I can imagine it as perfect picnic ware on a summer table. Looks like you’ll have to head to Walmart to see it in person or order it online.

PW housewares

June 5, 2016 at 1:02 pm Leave a comment

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