Zillow

What do I do when I have a few minutes to waste? Surf Zillow! Not familiar with it this website? It shows homes for sale all over the country and includes prices of existing homes, so you can get a better feel for a neighborhood, if you’re considering buying or listing your house. Or, you can just look at the homes to see how much people paid, which homes are in foreclosure, or daydream about buying that perfect beach house! They have aerial views to let you see what the house and neighborhood actually look like (Is that a dump? Are those railroad tracks? Wow, it’s only a few blocks from the beach!)

I love looking at houses and if someone would pay me to do that, it would be my full-time job. I’ve always loved the West…Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, so the other night, I spent some time on my iPad looking at homes. In Wyoming, near the Tetons or Jackson, I couldn’t find a single house I really liked and price was not an issue! I was looking for a log home that epitomized the ruggedness of the West and I didn’t see one. That surprised me. I thought for sure there would be one stunner that blew me away. I’m sure there is one, but it’s not currently on the market where I could see the interior. Every one I looked at needed changes. Granted, it’s personal preference when it comes to houses, but I was shocked that even up to $20 million, I didn’t see something that met my expectations. But, it’s free to look, so I’ll check out Colorado and Montana. Not that I’m going to buy there, as it’s tooooo cold in the winter for my likes, but with Zillow, it’s fun to see what’s out there.

I was on Zillow this morning while eating my baked oatmeal and I noticed that since I bought my house in 1998, it’s gone up about $33K. Looking at my brother’s house, because he lives in one of the priciest areas of the country, the house he bought in 2012 has gone up about $200,000. Zillow’s price estimates are a guess, but probably in the ballpark. That’s unreal to me that in such a short time, he will already make a big profit, whereas in my area, housing has been flat…which seems to be my luck in any place I’ve lived.  Another thing that amazes me, is watching shows like House Hunter’s, where even couples in their 30s, in  California, have budgets of $950,000. Not sure what their salaries are, but they must be a whole lot more than where I live. With Zillow, you can see the price of the house and get a peek at what the mortgage might be and even what the home might rent for, if you are an investor.

If nothing else, it is fun to be able to look at tons of properties for decorating ideas. Styles vary around the country and it’s evident in the photos. Zillow.com is the website and I use the app on my devices. As my grandma always said, “If you’re going to dream, dream big” and I do that by looking at homes. I may never get the 7000 sq. ft. house of my dreams, but I can look at them. Actually, right now, I’m into tiny homes, but I heard that someone hooked up a vehicle and stole one! I’m going to need a BIG anchor!

August 2, 2015 at 12:33 pm Leave a comment

Bath and Body Works Lotions

I have a heightened sense of smell. Sometimes, it’s a good thing, but other times, I’m almost sorry, like when there’s a rotten potato in my bin or someone (who shall not be named) leaves a rather unpleasant fragrance in the bathroom. That being said, I LOVE pleasant fragrances! There are plenty out there, like Method’s Fresh Air laundry soap, Issey Miyake  L’eau D’issey Pour Homme Sport (calming sandalwood), flowers like daffodils and lily of the valley, and so many more.

I was surprised to find that I actually like a lot of the Bath and Body Works fragrances. (When my other half walks by that store, he waves his hand in front of his face and refuses to go in. When he walks by the perfume counters at department stores, he holds his breath. It doesn’t bother me, but then, I like potpourri and even some of the scented candles.) What are my favorites at Bath and Body? Unfortunately, they no longer carry my all-time fav, Dark Kiss in my store. I loved it and so did my mom. It is available online. I do like Pink Chiffon, Midnight Amethyst, White Citrus, Be Enchanted, and a bunch of others. I like that you can get the soap and the lotion and at Christmas, I’m addicted to the Twisted Peppermint, which smells so tasty I was to eat it! I still have some left from this past holiday and I’m going to bring it to work. I’m sure my co-workers will want to know, “Who smells like candy?” It will be me!

The best part is that they are reasonably inexpensive, especially when they are having a sale…which seems like a lot of the time. You can buy soaps, lotions, body butters (great for winter!), candles, and they have a men’s line, too. My son always uses the Whitewater Rush body wash. If you don’t mind fragrances, it’s a great place to sample some scented products and find something that appeals to you.

June 18, 2015 at 2:11 pm Leave a comment

Noosa Yoghurt

There’s a new yogurt in town. Well, at least for me, since I never heard of it prior to April. It’s Australian-style yog(h)urt that’s made in Bellvue, Colorado. No artificial preservatives, sweetened with honey (and cane sugar), and the fruit is picked seasonally at peak ripeness. It is yummy!

I eat yogurt at least a few times a week and my previous choice was Chobani, and prior to that I was eating Fage. Like Erlich Bachman pointed out on Silicon Valley, it is hard to get all the fruit sauce out of the tiny Fage container. I often resorted to using the end of the spoon handle, but still couldn’t manage to get out as much as I wanted. That frustration, and the tart taste of the yogurt, led me back to Chobani and from my visiting British houseguests, giving Noosa a try.

Unfortunately, Noosa is more fattening than I’d like (140 calories), but it is soooo creamy! I love the tart cherry flavor and even the blueberry is great. At first, I was buying the hummus size containers and having to scoop the appropriate amount into yet another container to take to work, but then, I found four-packs next to the larger size at the store. The little 4-oz. container is pretty, pretty small, but I am managing not to eat my hand off at the end of the day, as long as I eat a handful of almonds and a few Halos along with a bottle of water. It’s really only about 1.3 ounces smaller than the Chobani. They need to branch out and give me the strawberry rhubarb, passion fruit, and coconut flavors in the four-pack!noosa

 

 

 

 

May 25, 2015 at 5:28 pm Leave a comment

Grace and Frankie

I didn’t have much going on today, so I thought I’d watch Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s show Grace and Frankie on Netflix. Well, there went my day! I only got up to get something to eat or drink. I have three episodes left and I’m going to be sad when it’s over. What’s it about? Not what I expected. I read briefly that it was about two adult women trying to find their way after finding themselves suddenly single again. Well, of course, I thought it was due to their spouses (Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) dying, but that was not the case. I won’t ruin it for you, but it is one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time that actually deals with “women of a certain age.” And, their adult children have a story, too.

What do I like about it? The banter between Jane and Lily. They have been friends for a long time, but haven’t really been themselves with each other, which often happens. It’s like being in a new relationship and both people are on, as my mom would say, “their best behavior.” This is covered in the show. It reminds me of people’s dating experiences on Match or other dating sites. If people would just be themselves and not fabricate or stretch the truth so much, more people might find matches. This is covered, too. Speaking of Match and the like, if the only photo of the person is a bit blurry or has other people’s body parts in it, they’re using it because it doesn’t really look like them. I’ve never used Match, personally, because I do have a better half, but I have helped someone else and using a photo that doesn’t really look like you is deceptive and will certainly cause an issue when you meet face to face. Not a good way to start a friendship that might lead to more.

Back to the show…I LOVE Jane’s wardrobe and I even LOVE Lily’s. They are totally opposite. Jane is subdued and classic and Lily is flamboyant and artsy. It stuck me that I thought I liked one wardrobe over the other, but I like parts of both. Jane is pencil thin and looks good in classic outfits, though I am not a fan of the turned-up collar. She rocks rolled jeans, suits, blouses snazzed up with simple jewelry, a shawl wrap, and even what looks like a cashmere robe. Her hair is perfect. Yes, she has wrinkles and I’m sure has been tweaked a bit, but she looks amazing. Lily has few wrinkles, graying hair, and also is still in good shape. She even did a squat! I was impressed. She’s 75 years old and Jane is 77! When I look back at my grandparents who were in their seventies, they were little people who looked every minute their age. These two do not. Lily’s outfits are definitely not something you’d see on most women her age. She wears lots of flowing tops with the most amazing chunky jewelry. Kudos to Allyson B. Fanger for clothing them! The houses and the wardrobe are eye candy. But I guess it’s because I love interior design and clothing.

I think it’s nice to have shows that feature women who have careers they enjoy, fears and insecurities, openly discuss women’s health, and talk about dating after being married or in a relationship for many years. I know plenty of women who have re-entered the dating pool and it’s scary. In a scene from the show, Grace ducks out of an online date when she sees the man and realizes he’s not her type. I think lots of people would like to say, “Check, please” when that happens, but are too timid and polite to do it.

I am wondering how this is going to end or if it will have another season. Part of me is thinking the marriages will repair themselves and things will work again. I hope that doesn’t happen. I also am a bit confused about the relationship between Grace and Robert’s daughter Mal and Frankie and Sol’s son Coyote. It’s sounding like they have a child together or had a child that didn’t make it or something. I’m guessing it will be addressed before the final credits roll. If you are looking for something interesting to watch, give it a try. If you are like me, you may wish to set aside a stretch of time!

July 2015 update: The show has been renewed and the new season will appear on Nexflix in 2016.

 

May 17, 2015 at 7:02 pm Leave a comment

Pizza

Could I ever get too much pizza? I don’t think so. I love pizza…in fact, I just sent the little man to Dominos to pick up the one I ordered online. I like the tracker on the website. What kind of pizza do I realllllly like? I will eat just about anything, but I am not a fan of pepperoni. The nice part is that I can pick it off without ruining the pizza. But, I will eat almost any pizza, though I am not keen on frozen, cardboard crust versions.

I had some really good pizza last month at Dewey’s. My friend and I ordered half and half, so we could try two flavors. One was called Wild Mushroom with olive oil, minced garlic, mozzarella-fontina blend, mushrooms, Portobello mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, capers, roasted red peppers and the other was the Caprice with olive oil, minced garlic, light mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, green peppers, and fresh tomatoes. Both were good, but the addition of the goat cheese on the Caprice really added a tasty edge. The pizzas there were interesting and there were lots of options for more than your typical pizza joint offerings.

I love going to places that do wood-fired pizzas, generally because they have yummy combinations of toppings and thin crusts. I like thick crusts and even deep dish, but the wood-fired pizzas have a more distinctive flavor than pan pizzas. In Rochester, my former neighbor’s restaurant, Benucci’s, always has great pizzas like Artichoke and Pear and Gorgonzola. If you’re in Chicago, you can barely walk a block without seeing a pizza place. My current haunt is Reno Chicago with their Butternut (more butternut, please) and T. O. with chicken and peanut salsa.

Pizza I miss is from Balistreri’s in the Milwaukee area. It’s without a doubt my favorite pizza, from the cracker crust to the marinara sauce. Plus, it’s loaded with veggies, but they aren’t overwhelming in flavor.  If you are in that area, you need to try the pizza and the deep-fried eggplant! It’s a must whenever I head back to Wisconsin.

Pizza’s here and my thin crust, marinara sauce, peppers, mushrooms, onions, diced tomatoes, and black olives is really good!

March 1, 2015 at 5:29 pm Leave a comment

Jackets

In addition to loving shoes and purses…I LOVE jackets! I have too many to count and that hasn’t gone unnoticed by my other half. That said, I did buy a new one a few weeks ago that he hasn’t commented on. He has seen me wear it, but perhaps he thinks it old. He did say that the Eddie Bauer bill seemed higher than normal. Ooops.

Why do I love jackets? Well, like shoes and purses, you do need different jackets for different occasions. I have always loved peacoats. I got my first one when I was in high school. Back then, it was about the style and having lived in the frigid north, it would have been nicer to have a down jacket, but they weren’t really sold back then. I wore a wool peacoat that did have a quilted lining, but it was never really warm. No Thinsulate back then either (Wouldn’t down, Thinsulate, and Sorel boots have saved the Donner party?). And, because I cared about how I looked, I didn’t wear a hat. Stupid me. To this day, the tops of my ears hurt when it’s cold or windy outside, even in the spring. But, it was all about the look. Zero degrees, standing outside for long periods of time wearing a light wool jacket, no hat, and thin gloves. No wonder I was cold all the time.

Soooo, as a result, I buy jackets to keep me warm. My favorites are:

  • a bronze colored down jacket I got about three years ago from Eddie Bauer. I love it because it has a fleece-lined inner collar and fleece-lined pockets. Why don’t all down jackets have that? No more chill on the neck and when you don’t quite need gloves, it’s so nice to warm up the fingers in pockets that aren’t just slick polyester. The cut is flattering and not like typical puffy coats. I did look for this jacket in black at the end of the season and should have bought one, but I was thinking of the little man’s “Just because it’s on sale and it’s an extra 50% off, it’s still money out of my pocket” comments.
  • a navy wool peacoat. I don’t wear this as much, but I still love it. Peacoats just stay in style. I am on my third one. They hold up a long time, but my current one only has a thin lining. It’s not often frigid where I live, but I really appreciate the down jacket when it is.
  • a black down jacket – yes, it’s the one I just bought from Eddie Bauer. It’s great, because it’s not overly heavy, but because it has windproof fabric, it keeps me warm. I like that it has a detachable hood and fake fur collar. Sometimes, when it is windy and snowy, it’s really nice to have a hood. I still don’t wear hats. I do have headbands, gaiters, and ear pops. I have learned my lesson over the years.
  • a navy sweatshirt jacket from Eddie Bauer that is a bit longer and has a cinched in back with a tie. I like it for in between seasons. It’s perfect with jeans and a bit dressier than a typical zip-front sweatshirt.
  • a brown corduroy quilted jacket from Eddie Bauer. I bet you’re seeing a store trend here. Most of my wardrobe comes from EB. I love this jacket for fall. It’s great with jeans or khakis and has cute detailing. The sad part is that my purse strap is wearing away some of the cord rips over time. I often wish Bauer would bring back some of my favorite items. This would be one.
  • a navy rain jacket from Eddie Bauer. I normally don’t buy rain jackets, because I rarely need them, but I was going to England in the spring and figured it would be a wise purchase. I love it for here, but next time I go there, I’m getting a rain jacket with a hood.
  • a silver light-weight quilted down jacket from Landsend. It’s perfect for days when it’s cold, but not too cold. It’s packable right into the pocket and you can still buy this one in other colors.

Other jackets I have on hand are a brown wool peacoat, a black wool jacket, a tan spring jacket (rarely need this), a black quilted jacket (great fall weight), a black rain jacket (hand-me-down from my daughter), a denim Levi jacket (hand-me-down from my son), a brown corduroy jacket (often forget I have it), a black leather motorcycle jacket (don’t wear it, but can’t toss it), a royal blue spring jacket (should toss this), an olive green suede jacket (probably should ditch this), and a few more hanging in the closet. I have tossed many over the years, but keep on buying more. Unless you live in an area that is really warm all the time, you do need them – no matter what the little man says.

February 1, 2015 at 1:36 pm Leave a comment

Eggnog

I’m rather sad that Christmas is over and that means no more eggnog until next year. I love eggnog! I know, I know…for some of you, this drink ranks right up there with your dislike for fruitcake, but perhaps it’s because you’ve never had good eggnog or you’ve tried some eggnog treat that really didn’t even resemble the real thing (though I like Ghirardelli chocolate, their eggnog candy doesn’t take like eggnog to me). And, there are plenty of not-so-good products out there.

Which do I prefer? Well, generally, I like Trauth, the local dairy version, but couldn’t get any this year, because I didn’t know it was now marketed under the Reiter brand. As a result, I bought Kroger. It’s o-kay. Then, while I was at Whole Foods, I picked up their 365 brand and found it better than Kroger’s. I don’t like trumped up eggnog, in other words, I wish manufacturers wouldn’t add a bunch of nutmeg or spices to a bottled product, because it’s generally overdone. I prefer to add more spices on my own. And usually, it’s not necessary.

As a kid, I liked my mom’s homemade eggnog (yes, the eggs are raw, but hey, I ate cookie dough growing up and I’m still here) or Tom and Jerry’s (eggs are heated, thus safer and the addition of brandy is tasty). I still like my mom’s, but since I’m not at her house during the holidays, I don’t have that option. Yes, I could make my own, but I don’t take the time. Too much else to do. In the past, I have even indulged in the Borden eggnog in a can. It’s an acquired taste, but as a kid, I liked it. Don’t know that I would now. I did see Kroger had it on the shelf. But, I wanted something fresher. I forgot to look at Trader Joe’s when I was there, because they may have had their own variety. The eggnog from the dairy section is already chilled and ready to pour and serve.

One of my favorite holiday traditions is to write out my Christmas cards while sipping eggnog with a splash of Captain Morgan’s rum or brandy. Yum! It’s sooo rich and creamy. And, I’m getting the health benefits of calcium and protein! I managed to slug down a carton of eggnog, some of it straight up, so I could share sips with my grandsons, who are also big fans. Hmmm, is that why I came down with the flu? And by that time, I was out of eggnog. :(  Farewell thee eggs and cream! Let’s see, 11 months to wait. It’s like waiting for Beekman 1802 fruitcake (won’t be available until November).

January 4, 2015 at 3:01 pm Leave a comment

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