Dec 29, 2010

Design: "I need a change of pace" with color!

Odeedoh on Apartment Therapy...My Room: Muller Gray
Portland, Oregon
She said her favorite word and color is grey!  After looking at the room she created for her latest child with paint and a dresser from Walmart, I want grey too.  What do you think...could a Grandmother be as happy in this room as a baby would?

I'm not sure what the fluffy thing in the corner is but I want that too.

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Dec 23, 2010

How to buy for a spoiled relative!

Or better yet buy her Jockeys!
This is the story I have heard over and over. Your Aunt Fiona does not like anything.  She will actually send the gift you...demanding a different size/color/pattern.  Aunt Fiona has been driving you crazy for years.  Because she is an important person in your life or that of your family, you keep trying to get it right.  Better chocolate, red sweaters (she hates purple) or a pair of slippers that don't fly off/make her feet hot.  I understand that you have made an effort. I do feel for you.  So I have been looking around for a way to resolve this issue.  Today I discovered that my grandchildren have come up with the perfect solution.

Each of the oldest grandchildren have friends of the opposite sex.  It just seem right that they exchange gifts but they have no idea WHAT to do.  A serious gift says more than they want.  A thoughtful gift can be misinterpreted.  Then there is the money to be considered...they don't have any.  Like your Aunt Fiona, the perfect gift just doesn't appear to be possible.  So they made the decision to just buy a bad unwanted gifts to begin with.  They did not even try to get it right and saved themselves a lot of time and grief.  A girlfriend that hates pink got a huge bag of pink stuff.  A boyfriend that thinks Snuggies are dumb and did not want a leopard print anything is guessed it...a leopard print Snuggies.  You get the idea.

So Aunt Fiona wherever you are, you have pulled your last gift nightmare Christmas cheer heist.  You are getting slippers from the "no return store".  They are hot and will not stay on your feet.  You are invited to donate the gift to a worthy charity.  I am suggesting that your family give up!!!


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Dec 22, 2010

How to: Shopping the Coupon (Groupon) Way

Groupon logo.Image via WikipediaToday was such a huge Christmas shopping day I don't even know where to begin.  Please keep in mind that I did reveal my son's present on yesterday's blog...he has been banned from looking at Facebook and I am in the dog house.  OOOOPs!!! So when I write today I will try not to let anymore gifts out of the bag.

My husband went shopping for eyeglasses today.  He wanted to use his Groupon coupon..  He paid $50 for a $150 coupon at The Sight Shop.  This chain of shops are located here in the Portland Metro area.  This is the way it worked...he bought the coupon online at the Groupon website and printed the coupon.  He went into the shop, found what he wanted and they printed up his receipt.  When he handed them his coupon, the $150 was subtracted from the bill.  I love a coupon that actually works! 

Signing up with Groupon is simple.   By going to the website, clicking on your city then entering your email address you can see what is available today.  If you complete the registration, you will receive daily updates.

Groupon must be a real winner...Google offered them $5.3 BILLION for the business and Groupon turned them down.  Could be they are sitting on a  gold mine.

I almost feel foolish when I don't have a coupon in hand when I go shopping or at least ask a clerk if they have one behind the counter.  My husband got a new shaft for a golf club head he owned.  The clerk came up with another 25% off when we asked if there was a coupon.  WOW! (Dick's Sporting Goods)

Isn't shopping fun???


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Dec 21, 2010

ipad keyboard dock... best igift for your ipad user

Just a heads up...there is a keypad dock for your Apple ipad is too cool.

My son will begin on a masters program through Phoenix after the first of the year.  He will need to have a word program to prepare the work he needs.  We bought him an ipad dock with a keyboard that will allow him to use the ipad for the documents, sent them to a windows computer, copy into his work and go on with his program.  It might save a new computer purchase! 

I just thought you would want to know.

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Dec 19, 2010

Missing your lawn ornaments...I know where it has gone!

Missing a lawn ornament...I know where it might be!
Tucson, Arizona

Maddie on Skype in a screen shot...
Koh Samui, Thailand

Amelia via Skype with screen shot...
Koh Samui Thailand.
I am in Tucson granddaughters are in Thailand but we are only a screen shot away.  (command-shift 3).

Merry Christmas.


More Gift Ideas: Wine Club Membership + Ice Wine

The Perfect Gifts for Friends, Clientes, Wine Geeks

A Wine Club Experience
Have you ever belonged to a Wine Club?  We did several years ago and it was wonderful experience.  If we were to do it now we would do things a lot differently.  Many of the wines were very young.  Now we would store those wines for a few years before we began tasting.  It was the mistake made by us because we were inexperienced.

Still I would recommend it as a gift for your wine lover friend, family or even a cliente of your business.  Our favorite wine maker in the Willamette Valley is Cana's Feast.  They have a club called the Cellar Club.  It is so popular that, in many cases, their wines are reserved for the club member's only.  We found that out when we stopped to buy a bottle of their Bordeaux Style wine to be drunk for our 50th wedding anniversary celebration.  We were politely told no...but if we had been a member, the wine would have been made available.

In the last few years wine club memberships have become more and more popular.  So when you find a wine maker that never disappoints, you should take a look at the club membership and how it might work for you.

A New Wine Tasting Experience...Ice Wine
If you haven't tasted Ice Wine as an after dinner drink, you are missing a treat. A good true ice wine is sweet and satisfying when used as a dessert.  I love it.

We first saw ice wine in the Napa Valley.  In those regions where the frost comes very late in the fall, ice wine is very rare and therefore very valuable.  We were not offered a taste of ice wine but the wine tasting rooms had the bottles on the shelf beckoning us to purchase.  The prices are around $50.00 for a 375 ml bottle online today.
Joseph Phelps Eisrebe Ice Wine 2007 375ml $49.94
The price is driven up because wine makers further south gambled a plot of grapes in hopes that the grapes will freeze and not turn to mold or raisins!  The frozen grapes are sweeter and more intense...but the output from a frozen grape is also much lower than it's fresh predecessor long in the barrels aging.    As a result, you don't get to taste it in California.  Those producers of true ice wine are not only taking the rist of loosing acres of producing grapes but they are also getting less juice from the grapes.  It is a very expense test of nerves...or at least it used to be.

However, we are finding now that the vintners can freeze the grapes (cryoextractions) and come up with a factory standard ice wine.   Winemaker Magazine had this to say about cryoextraction:
Some would say that mechanical freezing (also called cryoextraction) provides a more reliable and accurate extraction of grape essence. Further, southern grapes are naturally endowed with more sugar and can have their low acidity enhanced with the judicious application of tartaric acid. On the other hand, true icewine producers would argue that cryoextraction does not duplicate the effects of the longer hangtime, exposure to the elements and loss of juices that naturally frozen grapes experience.
Where is the romance in that?  I liked it better the other is just so wonderfully natural. I was glad to find that there were others that thought true ice wine might be better...and not because of romance.

As you travel north, the greater the likelihood that the grapes which freeze on the vine at a standard 18 degrees fahrenheit and become useful in the making of true ice wine. This happens every year in the Okanagan Valley in Canada.  The ice wine from that region should be less expensive.  If you were to visit the area, you will be allowed to taste to your hearts content. They are assured a freeze early and can bank on their true ice wine.

We were in the Okanagan Valley for a golfing trip a few years ago.  I remember noticing the ice wine bottles and asked if we could taste.  To my delight we were offered a variety of wines to taste.  I thought it was a wine miracle.

We have a bottle of 2004 Ste. Chapelle Ice Wine Riesling Idaho that we received as gift.  We have had it in the wine cache for about 3 years now.  That is the lovely thing about this kind of wine.  You can open a bottle, have an after dinner taste, re-close the bottle to be sipped again at a later time.  It will be good on the shelf for up to 4 years.

Santa is Coming
I know it is less than a week until Christmas but there is still time...I have not done one bit of shopping so I know. We will be back on Oregon tomorrow so we will shop sales tax!!! I will buy wine  at our local wine shop.  I will also be looking at wine club memberships...I think that they would be a perfect Christmas gift.

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Dec 18, 2010

Jon Stewart...Pia's Aunt Adele Wants to Meet You

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase
I noticed on Twitter today that someone had linked to a blog called Courting Destiny.  The post was simply delightful but it also contained a message that reflects Pia's thoughts on important issues.  The author, Pia Savage, is a native New Yorker and a well known blogger from the city.  Her Aunt Adele would like to meet Jon Stewart.  Here is her plea:  A Letter To Jon Steward.

I am asking you to go to the blog, read and then retweet her message.


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Dec 17, 2010

How To Help: Homeless People, Bundle of Sticks and Me

Arizona Front DoorImage by Always at Home via FlickrI don't suppose this will get much notice on Adsense.  After all HOMELESSNESS...what can we do?  Conservatives think that we should just donate or tithe to our church and they can take care of welfare etc.  But in the end we all know that what people should do and what they do are two different things.  I guess humans were not standing in line when the bundle of sticks was explained.

In case you didn't stand in that line either here is a short explanation of how the bundle of sticks works:
  1. All the money you get is not yours.  You earn your money then you must pay taxes.  If you had been standing in line at the bundle of sticks seminar it would have been explained that even though you are paid money to work and taxes are withheld you don't even need what is would be nice if you shared what you have. It's called philanthropy and even the least among us can be a philanthropist.   However, no one is going to put you in jail if you aren't.  That is where the problem lies.
  2. The home you live in is NOT yours to do with as you please...the government keeps a stick (i.e. right) that allows them to regulate where you park your car, how you use your house (don't set up a house of prostitution...that really sets them off) and even if the house can stay where it was built.  They can actually buy your house from you even if you don't want to sell it so a highway or a sewer plant can be built. It's called Eminent Domain.
  3. Just so we are clear...all the money is not yours.  As we know, if you are not threatened with jail, you will not send money to the government so your children can swim, go to school or walk on the street safely.  Humans are funny that way!
So that brings us to the homeless here in Tucson Arizona.  Arizona is running on empty.  Social programs rank in importance with schools (the worst in the nation) so if the homeless are to be fed, helped to find jobs or given counseling the federal government in the guise of the Veterans Administration and churches must do the job.

Last night I was asked to help cook a meal for around 10 homeless men and one woman.  A group of us from our RV resort went to the church, set up the meal and sat down to eat with the men.  It was just wonderful!  I was so  apprehensive about the evening.  I don't know what I visualized but that was not it.  We laughed at each other.  They talked about sports and jobs hunts.  My heart was touched.

St. Pius parishioners come to the church and spend the night 7 days a week.  The VA provides transportation to the church.  The homeless are fed, sleep on cots and can shower or wash clothes.  They are given breakfast and then bused back to downtown Tucson to spent the day...outdoors.   When night falls the cycle begins again.

Now my first impulse was to go buy stuff...a sweat shirt for "Cleveland", videos (action movies) and maybe even a new set of stainless steel tableware for the church.  But what I will do is donate food to the food bank and return to sit and eat.  These people were proud and tired but they did not ask for anything and were probably instructed not to.    I would not do anything to change their self image or interfere with the system.  I will listen to those people that run this program and follow their suggestions.

St. Pius X
Catholic Church

(520) 885-3573

Have a wonderful day.

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Dec 16, 2010

Retirement Question: What do you do all day?

I need help with stuff!  I would come over and help you if I had the time.  Even though I am retired and don't have an actual "job" I am really active almost every day.  Aren't you bored out of your skull?  What do you do all day? you ask.  I guess you need to see a glimpse of what a day in retirement can be like...if you choose.

Today is December 16, 2010.  Thursday in this year.  We are getting very close to Christmas and all that it means to us.  Last night my daughter and I spent 2 hours on our iphones with the Face to Face function turned on shopping on our computers for family that lives in China.  We found a Pendleton Blanket on ebay and I ordered toys on Amazon for my granddaughters and a fancy wine bottle opener for their parents.  The gifts will arrive at their house in China on December 24.   In the world of this retiree that seems very strange.  To think that China used to be so far away!

Today my husband and I have spent the morning with business. My cell phone was on speaker mode while I read documents on the computer, sent email and kept my brain alive.

Now I will make a huge pot of white chili that we will serve to a group of homeless men at the Catholic Church.  My husband and I will join a group of our friends to eat with a group of veterans that live outside in downtown Tucson.  The men are taking classes and working with the VA to get their life back.  They are transported every day to the church.  They will eat the meal, do their own clean up and then use the facility to shower, wash clothes and sleep in a warm bed.  We are not Catholic but we were delighted to be asked to help.  I wish we did more of this sort of thing.

The ordinary time in our days are the times we love the best...that is why we retired.  We are snowbirds and spend our winters in a small RV Resort in Tucson, AZ.  I have come to think of it as living at "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends".  I don't know if you have ever seen the cartoon but the story line had children's imaginary friends coming to live in the home when the children outgrew them.   Blue Dot, clown, monster and my grandson's friend, God, always had a home until some other child needed them.

Our line up of characters include every imaginable occupation, moral standard, mental state, nation of origin and income level.  The men are veterans and many have decided not to talk about service in Viet Nam or some other overseas assignment.  Some people are nice and some are not. Everyone from the millionaires to the almost homeless widows with only their SS pension live together in peace.  We play bocce ball, pickle ball, tennis, and horse shoes outside.  We play cards, pool and dance inside.  We eat together often, argue over politics or religion and we are always learning from each other.  Books are shared, craft rooms are full and any activity on the exterior of our park models will draw a crowd and lots of advice.  No one should ever be lonely...but if they so choose, they can live in seclusion.

It is cool today and is beginning to rain (70 degrees) so we will stay indoors until this evening.  On a day when we were not leaving the park, we would gather with friends at an informal cocktail hour held on a neighbor's patio at around 4 pm.  I see our friends are playing in a bocce match so I will go visit for a minute and cheer them on.  I am reading a book on my Kindle and, of course, this blog takes quite a lot of my time.

I call this place "The Waiting Room for Heaven" a phrase my friend Carole coined.  Like the imaginary friends at Fosters, we will stay here until our family needs us or we go home for a while.  Then we will spring back into action doing child care and giving support to those we love.

I hope you have an idea of how the time flies for us.  The big question we ask ourselves over and over is when did we have time to work?

Have a wonderful day.

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Dec 13, 2010

Beautiful ideas under $15!

One of the great pleasures in my life is the thrill I get out finding something beautiful!  I don't need anything really but if I do want something it should be available in a beautiful red...or silver.  So Monday is the day I head out the door onto the Internet world to find a few beautiful things to share with you.  Guess what I found today...for under $15.00.....

Yanko Design Mobile Tail

  • Yanko Design has these very cool little Mobile Tails in several colors...perfect for iphone Facetime or speaker phone chats.  They would free up your hand while you talked on the phone.  The cost around $6.50.

  • Canoe of Portland, Oregon has these gorgeous Book Darts in their online catalogue.  I use a bookmark all the time...generally an ad torn out of a magazine.  Look how beautiful these are! $10.00
    Glass Salt Bowl from Canoe
  • I own a set of very antique salt dishes that are small enough to put beside each plate at dinner.  Canoe has some Glass Salt Bowls made by a Portland artist that caught my eye.  They come in at  $14.00.  Each bowl is unique and you do not get to choose your color...they do that for you.

  • Lastly I thought I would share an idea I have used many time...also featured on Apartment Therapy...and they found it on a website called Salt Water Kids.  The pink boxes are hand you...from office supplies.  The boxes are constructed of colored file folders, tags are the kind you find at the office supply store.  You add the inspiration.  (The instructions can be found on Salt Water Kids, a mom blog from the Puget Sound area. Cost $1 or less! ) 

That's it for today folks.  I hope you have found a little inspiration and maybe a gift or two.  Happy Monday!


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Dec 12, 2010

Wine of the Week...A New Mexico Story!

New Mexico north of Santa FeImage by Always at Home via Flickr (my flicker account)Near Los Alamos, NM
Run your cursor over the image.
Not all wineries are created equal!  We can speak from experience.  My husband and I are the type of people that will become obsessed with a new hobby.  When we started golfing we golfed on every goat track golf course up and down the I-84 corridor in Oregon.  When we discovered wine vinegar we learned to make it and our friends were forced to take it.  The same goes for knives, bread, electric kitchen appliances.  So when we began tasting wine we went a little nuts!

I recall a summer day when the family all formed a convoy and we set out to taste wine in the valley around Banks, Oregon.  Some was good and some was really not fit to be drunk...even by a drunk.  The stop that stands out in my mind is the winery that sold wine out of a farm shed.  The seller had to be beckoned in from his corn field and it turned out he was making Muscat wine...sacramental wine I think.  It was really sweet...and not very good.  In our family we call these kind of experiences "bragging rights"...i.e I've tasted the worst wine in the world! So what have your done?

My Deming, New Mexico experience is more of a "bragging rights" kind of story.  Now, you need to know that Deming is a very nice little has an RV park and enjoys a kind of historic charm.  When we stopped here on our travels we did so because it was too late to go on...but it was too early to go to bed as well.  We began looking for something to do to kill a little time...what better thing than taste wine...right?  After a search of all the flyers in the RV park office we found one tasting room a few miles out of town and, since we were obsessed, we decided to give it a try.

I remember the tasting room also featured a "Cracker Barrel" type gift shop with New Mexico food and vinegar from wine brewed on site.   The tasting bar sat off to the side and when I looked I did not see bottles, I stepped over to see what they were doing.  Instead of bottle,  there were several containers with spigots and each cask was marked "red", "sweet red", "white", "sweet white" etc.  (I may not have that just right but you get the idea.)  As I looked around the room I noticed people with gallon vinegar bottles and liter sized pop bottles in their hands...I was a little puzzled to say the least.

I am more the shop first taste last kind of girl.  Actually I don't want to taste wine unless I am getting the good stuff I cannot afford to buy!  Sorry!  My husband on the other hand has a great sense of adventure and he took at stool at the wine bar so he could sip on their nectar.  What would you like to taste today sir? the man asked.  I guess I will start with a white and work my way down to the dry red! was my husbands answer.  He felt fairly sure that it wouldn't take long because all he could see was the three or four containers with spigots on them...after all I was waiting in the gift shop.   The first taste came out of the "muscat/sweet" jug spigot...the second was one glug of sweet mixed with the second wine containing less sugar.  Then he received a glug white and one glug red.  The two reds where mixed for the next taste and finally the last red was served with no mixing!  I am not kidding you!

The shop was absolutely packed and customers were given a menu of sorts as they turned their vinegar or big pop bottles over to the server.  I'll have #3 today John.  You guessed half white wine and one half red filled the gallon jug.  (My husband said it was very bad.  This could be why they had the vinegar in the shop!)

Needless to say you must realize that Deming and wineries have come into their own since the day we visited that wine bar.  In fact, New Mexico is one of the oldest producers of wine in the United States...thanks to the Catholic Church their need for sacramental wine.  The priests of the early church began producing wine in 1629.  Spain was very, very far away and they were low on wine I think.   In the last 10-12 years we all know how the wine industry has taken off and people in the United State are growing grapes, producing wine and buying wine like we used to buy soda pop! 

I might add that, of all the places we have visited in our travel over the years, New Mexico is the state that holds the most appeal for me.  From Las Cruces to Taos, the state is filled with wonderful food, a charming mix of Mexican and US culture along with a large dose of Native American (Navajo, Apache and several tribes of Puebloan People) influence.  The scenery is second to none.   If you visit you will not be disappointed.

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Dec 10, 2010

What are Boomer demanding? BEAUTY!

Hong KongImage by Always at Home via Flickr
Beauty in Chinese Meat Market
What are boomer demanding?  Well, it turns out that function is not this age where our basic needs are met, we are demanding beauty and lots of it!

I have know all my life that beautiful things actually have a  emotional impact on my mind and I could actually feel a physical response. Yesterday I found an article written by Patrick Roden PhD  on a website called Aging In Place.  The name of the article was "The Aesthetic of Aging in Place Design:  Turning Obstacles into Beauty"  He put his finger on what this blog is all about and as a result the words resonated with me like no others. I thought you might be interested in what he had to say.

In his article Dr. Roden talked about that emotional impact I mentioned above...
Author Virginia Postrel notes that aesthetics is the way we communicate through the senses. It is the art of creating reactions without words, through the look and feel of people, places, and things. In other words, aesthetics shows rather than tells, delights rather than instructs. The effects are immediate, perceptual, and emotional.  
So whether we wake in the bedroom in our own home or a room in an assisted living facility, the beauty that surrounds us actually has a emotional uplifting effect on our mind.  Roden's idea that we can turn obstacles into beauty made me envision wheel chairs with rhinestones and bath tub grab bars with a zebra designs!  When my own mother required a wheel chair, her response was Can I have one in Red? Even the walker beside the bed could be a wonderful addition to the beauty of any room.  The beauty we surround ourselves with is not a frivolous want but in fact a emotional need.

A Pond worth floating on!
As a youngster my family fished.  I am not a fisherman but I do love the beauty of sparkling water and the sound of shore birds.  My father heard me say many time that the reservoir set in a dry desolate valley didn't meet my aesthetic requirements.  But now I realize that my beauty was not his...each of us has a different aesthetic and sees beauty in a different way.  Color, design and function as related to beauty are not ruled by a set of parameters but are instead guided by each individuals emotional reaction to those things.  So when we talk about the aging person and the setting in which they spend their days, it seems to me that their emotional well-being may depend on their aesthetic needs being addressed.

Roden's final paragraph even talked about a physical reaction to beauty and how manufacturers of products to overcome obstacles are going to have to address not only function but aesthetics:
Inexpensive beauty!
In order for age-friendly product developers to compete and survive in the booming mature market place they need to design not only for function, but to delight the senses with non-stigmatizing design. They must understand that we buy on deep biological emotion.
I have written about hearing aids (Cool Hearing Aids) that not only work but LOOK very cool.  I have talked about small spaces becoming sanctuaries of beauty when we need to downsize.  Roden pointed out that since we are so affluent, we can afford to go beyond function and require that the obstacle become a thing of beauty...even when the object serves a not so beautiful function!

So heads up all you manufacturers fulfilling the needs of the aging boomers...if you are going to produce walkers for handicapped individuals, build assisted living facilities or craft golf clubs for seniors, the product had better work and be absolutely gorgeous or we will looks somewhere else!  If you are the person that helps with a seniors care, you need to demand the elements of beauty they need.  If you are like me and make your own decisions, take some time each and every day to enjoy the beauty around you.  It is requited!!!


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Dec 7, 2010

Golfing Arizona...Should you buy real estate on a sunny December day?

Arizona National Golf Course on a beautiful Oct. day.
This is one of those days in Arizona that makes you want to sing.  The temperature was at around 71 degrees, no wind and the sun was just warm enough on your skin.  We played golf at Santa Rita Golf Course ($11 per round on Golf Now).  The golf course locate in Corona del Tucson is is a very good buy in the Tucson golfing world and is a very tough golf course.  But on a day like this the houses look beautiful, the mountains float on the horizon in a purple haze and the sun is just warm enough to keep the cool breeze from feeling chilly.  This is one of those day that you should just enjoy...but if you are a visitor, my advice would be to wait to buy real estate.

Like Oregon or anywhere in the world I have always said "don't buy real estate on a sunny day.  If you are thinking that you want to live here, wait until it is cloudy, the wind blows and it is either 120 degrees or 41 degrees"  If you still love it, then come on down.  We would love to have you!!.


Dec 6, 2010

Park Model party or entertain in the dark!

It will be a lot darker when we have the party!
I am having a party!  There will be 10 people.  I live in a very small park model with an Arizona room that is 8'x22'...not much square footage.  But I have made it work a lot of times.  Oh, did I mention that the Arizona room was paneled by the previous owner and then the roof leaked plus it got about 120 degrees in the summer.  The paneling buckled but we don't care.  The trick is to only have a party in the dark!!!

My husband has tacked white twinkly lights all around the ceiling and when there was a lot extra I had him swag the extra to the middle of the room over the table and we hung a lampshade over the extra lights.  It looks very cool!!!

I don't have any candle sticks down here so I spray painted two wine bottles silver, attached two sprigs off the clementine tree with a silver ornements.  The tree is made of green foil and I bought it at Target.  I painted the base silver and sprayed it with a little silver paint so it would match the candle holders.  The small ornaments were in a container at Target and were the perfect size.   I am going to use silver chargers, wine glasses I buy by the dozen at Ross and some pretty holiday napkins.  Hopefully, I can take a picture or two of the real party on Thursday night. 

This is what you call living stylishly by using what you have, being a little creative and entertaining in the dark!  I really is lots of fun.

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