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February 2013

So Over You


Oh, Winter.  It's been nice.  Really.  It has been.  I like all the snow and all.  But, Winter?


I'm so OVER you!

Today, we're talking about Ten Reasons We're Ready for Winter to be OVER.

  1. Ice.  I'm tired of teetering around on the ice.
  2. Dryness.  Chapped hands. Dry heels. Hangnails.  (Notice, though.  I do NOT have chapped lips!)
  3. Darkness.  Although it's improving every day, I'm still craving more daylight.
  4. Static.  Seems there are sparks everywhere!
  5. Crusty car.  My car is always covered with salt and sand and dirt and slush.
  6. Outerwear.  I'm tired of boots and coats and mittens and hats and scarves.
  7. I want to garden.
  8. I want fresh herbs.
  9. I want to sit outside and sip wine and watch the fireflies.
  10. I want to wear flip flops.

(And now I'm sort of sad.  Because we have another Winter Storm Advisory today.)


How about you?  Are you . . .  so over winter????


Join the fun.  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.


A Winter Diversion: The ChapStick Challenge - Week 4

Remember to leave a comment to this (or any of my other ChapStick Challenge posts) before Saturday, March 1 to be entered in my ChapStick Challenge Sweepstakes.  Winner announced next Monday!

And, so. . .

What a difference a week makes when it comes to lip health!  Last week, I was hanging out with the Cool Kids.  And, really.  It was FUN.  But, like is so often the case with Cool Kids, there wasn't a whole lot of substance there.

Sure, Burt's Bees feels great on the lips.  And nothing beats eos when it comes to the groovy-ness quotient.  But.

They don't get the job done when it comes to overnight lip care!

This week, I checked in with some of the heavy-hitters in the lip health line up.  (I suppose we could call them The Nerds.)

First up . . 


Aquaphor (from Eucerin) makes several heavy-duty products for lips, including this one -- which is also suitable for healing severely chapped skin and burns.  Yow!  This is one serious product!  (Aquaphor does have a specific lip product; this is not it.  Although this one is great for lips, too.)

This stuff worked GREAT for overnight.  It is defintely Not Exciting.  No fragrance.  No flavor.  No preservatives.  No glitz.  It does not even register on the Cool-o-Meter.  But it gets the job done.  And that's good enough for me.  (It also worked great at healing a hangnail on my thumb!)

Next up . . .


Neosporin is a trusted name in our house, having healed many a boo-boo over the years.  When I first spotted this Neosporin Overnight lip treatment, I was excited to try it.  You can tell right away that this product belongs in the "overnight" category of lip products.  It's white.  It's creamy.  Maybe a little on the gooey side -- but in a good, it's-working kind of way.


No smell.  No flavor.  It works.  I like it.  (There is also a Neosporin daytime treatment with 20SPF.  I may give it a try this summer when I'm on the lake.) 

Then I tried. . .


Good, old-fashioned Vaseline!  (In a teeny-tiny little jar.)


(Shown with Burt's for size comparison.) 

Way back as a sixth grader, I started playing the flute.  My first flute teacher gave me a tiny little jar of Vaseline to keep in my flute case to use to keep my flute parts lubricated -- and she also mentioned that it worked great to keep your lips from getting chapped.  (The State of Your Lips is essential when you're a flute player.)  Anyway, she got me hooked on Vaseline.  I used it for a long time as my favorite lip product (especially at night or before band class).

I don't like Vaseline as well as most of the other overnight lip treatments available these days.  But I couldn't resist the little jar.  For nostalgia, if nothing else!

Then, I tried . . .


Visit the Nivea website.  You can just tell right away it's not an American company.  (We're so prudish. . . )   Nivea just goes right out there:  Touch and Be Touched.  Their products are all about sensation and touching and kissing.  Who can resist that? 


I like the Lip Butter just fine.  It goes on smooth, seems to last a long time (although not long enough for a good overnight product), and comes in a cute little tin that fits easily into the pockets of a bag.  There are other flavors . . . which I couldn't quite bring myself to try.  I liked the plain, old "Smooth Kiss" variety -- which has no smell or flavor. 

Unlike THIS Nivea product  . . .


I really like Mint flavored lip stuff, so this one had an immediate appeal.  I tried it.  There was a strangely familiar smell to me. . . but it wasn't mint-y.  Not really.  I tried it.  No real flavor.  And it felt pretty good on my lips; kind of tingly. 

I tried it again later.

Defintely a familiar smell.  Maybe faintly minty.  But not much.

Then, it came to me.

I had Tom smell it, just to verify.



(Moth balls.)

Not overpowering.  But definitely there.

My Nivea Mint & Minerals is now here . . .


 Then. . . I tried this one . . .


Aveeno Essential Moisture Lip Conditioner with SPF 15.  I love it.  It feels great -- nice and smooth and a little more creamy than, say . . . Burt's Bees or  eos.  And it works!  (Although, again, not well enough for overnight.)  I like the smell (it has no taste).

And. . .

It appears to be discontinued.

I can't find it in the stores any longer.  I can't find it on the Aveeno website.  It appears to be . . . Not a Product of Aveeno Any More.  Which is too bad.  (After I finally got used to rolling the tube up from the top and everything, too.) 

(It does appear to be available here.  I'm thinking of ordering, actually.  I liked it that much.)


And, with that, I'm concluding the testing portion of my ChapStick Challenge.  Next Monday, I'll tell you which products have ended up with a permanent place (at least until I find something even better!) in my handbag . . . in my knitting bag. . . in my desk drawer. . . and on my night stand.  I'll also be announcing the winner of my ChapStick Challenge Sweepstakes -- so don't forget to leave a comment!



It is Friday

It is Friday.  Capping a busy week.  Heading into a busy weekend.  Leading to an even-busier next week.  More snow.  Muffler repair (Tom's).  And a party to throw.

This is when I turn to . . .


Join me.


The Storm

Now through the white orchard my little dog
     romps, breaking the new snow
     with wild feet.

Running here running there, excited,
     hardly able to stop, he leaps, he spins
until the white snow is written upon
     in large, exuberant letters,
a long sentence, expressing
     the pleasures of the body in this world.

Oh, I could not have said it better

--- Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, Volume Two


Ahhhhh.  I feel better already.

Enjoy the weekend . . . whatever it may hold.


Just a Little Get-Away

The other day, I got this little publication in my mailbox.


It's a very high-quality, catalogue-style travel brochure from National Geographic.

Now, I'm not in the market for an expedition-style vacation.  But.  Travel!  Pretty pictures!  I peeked inside.

There are LOTS of fabulous National Geographic trips to choose from.  There are cruises, adventures, safaris, photography "camps," family excursions.  You can take some sort of National Geographic vacation to ANY corner of the world.  Cuba.  Myanmar.  Alaska.  Galapagos.  Scandinavia.  The Holy Land.  Panama.  ANYwhere.

You can even take THIS trip. . .


Yes.  You can travel AROUND THE WORLD with National Geographic.


An "extraordinary journey" . . . by PRIVATE JET!

I had to look . . .


Yes.  That's $74,950!  (Per person.  Double occupancy.  It's ANOTHER $8,650 for a single room.  In case you were wondering.)  And this does NOT include airfare to/from London (where the tour starts/ends).

I don't know about you, but that is just . . . mind-boggling to me.

So mind-boggling that I just had to share.

And that's all I have to say about that.


DIY Chai

I while back, I posted about this yummy Chai mix. . .


Once I became totally and completely addicted, it disappeared!

Then, I discovered this . . .


at my local grocery store.  It's pretty great -- a liquid concentrate (in a recloseable box) that you mix with milk and heat.  (Or not.)  It's very tasty.  And easy.  But what I really liked about the other Chai mix was the "portability" factor.  I could keep some in my desk at work, and just mix in boiling water for a cup of chai latte whenever the mood struck.

A quick internet search yielded a simple recipe for powdered chai mix -- so I decided to give it a try. Maybe you'd be interested? 

I'll share!

First, gather your ingredients:


  • 1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
  • 1 cup French vanilla flavored powdered non-dairy creamer
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened instant tea
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger*
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamon

Next, mix everything together in a big bowl.


Now, blend one cup of the mixture (at a time) in a food processor. . .


until the mixture is the consistency of fine powder.


(This doesn't take long.)

Then, store in an air-tight container.


To serve, stir 2 heaping tablespoons of the Chai mix. . .


into a mug of hot water . . . and enjoy!




*  I added extra ginger . . . in an attempt to get that fresh-from-the-temple flavor Tom loved when he drank Chai during a visit to the ISKCON Temple on Juhu Beach in Mumbai.


Freedom . . . at Last

A song for today . . .


Birthdays come.


First birthday
First birthday


And birthdays go.


Broken wing
Turning 2 . . . with a broken arm


Cake.  Candles.


5th birthday
Age 5




Brian and clay
8th birthday - party at the roller rink


Make a wish!


2006 14th bday
Age 14


But. . . y'know. . . some birthdays are just BIGGER than others.


2008 16 2
Turning 16 . . . behind the wheel


Like this one.


Freedom.  At 21.




And . . . speaking of birthdays . . . be sure to wish Miss Patty a happy one herself!

A Winter Diversion: The ChapStick Challenge - Week 3

My ChapStick Challenge continues!  This week:  The Cool Kids!

(And don't forget . . . leave a comment to be entered in my ChapStick Challenge Sweepstakes!)

So, based on the feedback I'm getting so far (comments, email, people stopping me on the streets of Kalamazoo to "talk chapstick"), I'd guess that Burt's Bees has a LOT of fans out there!

Burt and his Bees. . .


are definitely GROOVY these days!

Before I started my ChapStick Challenge, I was already a fan of Burt's Bees -- it has been my favorite, Go-To, daily lip balm for a couple of years now.  I especially like the just, plain Burt's (the original Beeswax Lip Balm; slightly waxy/sort of mint-y) and the Nourishing Burt's Bees with Mango Butter (VERY nice; not at all waxy; long-lasting). 


Lately, my Burt's-of-Choice has been the Tinted Lip Balm (I like Hibiscus).  It goes on smooth, feels nice and light on the lips, AND provides just a hint of color. 


(NOTE:  I don't wear lipstick except on VERY rare - and special - occasions.  Tom HATES lipstick.  HATES.  I think he was scarred as a very young child by too many forced-kisses by various lipstick-wearing females.  So.  No lipstick.  He doesn't seem to mind the tinted Burt's, however.

For this week's challenge, I decided to try to new Burt's Bees products:  Refreshing Burt's Bees with Grapefruit (it's okay; didn't seem to last as long as the Mango variety), and this one. . .


Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm with Kokum Butter (whatever THAT is).  It's supposed to provide 4-hour moisturization.


LIES!  4 hours?  More like . . . 4 minutes!  It does feel very nice when you first put it on.  But.  It doesn't last at all!  This is really the first Burt's product that was a dud for me.

Burt and his Bees have a huge Facebook following.  (1,375,555 "Likes" at the time of writing this post.)  They even promote their Facebook presence right on their tiny tubes!


That's pretty dang groovy.

The other Cool Kid product I tried was. . .


eos (short for Evolution of Smooth).  This one?   Definitely groovy!  Bright colors.  Appealing flavors.  Unique, spherical shape!


eos' tagline is "lip balm that makes you smile."  And. . . it does!  It's fun to use -- and it gets noticed.  Whenever I got out my "sphere" of eos this week, people around me would want to see it.  They'd ask, "Is that lip gloss?"  I could tell they were just dying to ask if they could try it!  (And I would've let them . . . if we were BFFs in middle school.)

eos is trendy enough that it's hard to keep in stock at most stores in my area - especially the sweet mint flavor (easily the most popular).  (I finally nabbed a sweet mint last week at Walgreens.  DEFINTELY the best.)

The eos works well -- I'd say it's comparable to Burt's Bees.  It's smooth, feels good, lasts quite a while.  And. . . it does make you smile!  (For those of you paying attention to ingredients, eos is gluten-free, paraben-free, and petrolatum-free.  It contains jojoba oil, olive oil, shea butter, and coconut oil.)

The drawback of eos, for me, is the size/shape.  Fun, sure.  But a bit bulky for most of my usual lip balm storage spots (mostly pockets).  It is great in a desk drawer, though.  Which is where my eos is hanging out now!

Next week, I'll be looking at some of the heavy-hitters in the lip balm world:  Nivea, Aveeno, Aquaphor and Neosporin . . . with a little Vaseline thrown in for good measure.

Don't forget . . . leave a comment to be entered in the ChapStick Challenge Sweepstakes!


Return to Sender

Here we are, in the midst of the Month of Letters.  I thought it might be fun to reflect on . . .

return addresses.

I know that now, in the days of "de minimis gift" pre-printed return address labels from MANY a non-profit organization, it is hard to remember that, once-upon-a-time, we had to purchase our own lables.  Or, perish the thought, write your own return address in the corner of your envelope!

(Brian recently asked me "what's the point" of return addresses on envelopes.  I explained the whole "return to sender" thing.  He was rather stymied.  Oh, The Young.  And their dependence on e-everthing. . . )


In the early years of our relationship, Tom and I went to different colleges.  (He was then at Boise State and - that time - I was at the University of Wyoming).  We wrote letters to each other.  Lots of letters.  Often, several each week.

With that many letters coming and going, you tend to turn to amusement with the mundane task of  letter-addressing.  (And some people more than others.)  Most of Tom's return addresses looked like this. . .


(Yeah.  Dr. Gonzo.)

But sometimes, he got a little creative.


And a little silly.


Tom's letters were never dull.  (Inside or out. . .)


I remember the girls that I lived with in the Tri-Delt house used to love to sort out Tom's letters and display them on the very top of the day's mail pile.  His return addresses were pretty entertaining - for everyone!


Good thing he wrote my name and address so clearly on the front of the envelope . . . because . . . who knows WHERE these letters may have been delivered, had there been any delivery issues.

Return to sender?  Yeah.  Good luck with that!


Dirty Little Secret

. . . because sometimes it's just a good idea to Come Clean. . .

I love jewelry.  I have a giant, standing jewelry case in my room.


And because I am Alway in a Hurry, and because I am Always Looking for the Right Earring, my jewelry case tends to be . . .


a bit of a mess.

Let's rephrase that.



(And, as you might notice, it's really the TOP and most-accessible section that is the Real Problem here.  I tend to ignore the drawers, and pile everything in the top section when I am Always in a Hurry.)

Last weekend, things had reached a frustrating, Critical Point in the jewelry selection department.  I decided to Do Something About It.

I cleaned house.


I sorted.  I thinned out.  I organized.


So. Much. Better.

I found things I hadn't even remembered I had!  I found loose buttons.  I found a missing, beloved earring.  I found my high school class ring.  And my Tri-Delt pin.  Amazing things.

I even found enough change for a cup of coffee!


Any guesses how long this will last?

Lead Me To Your Door

My sister claims that there is an appropriate Beatles song for every mood or circumstance.  I think she may be right . . .


As I slogged through the knitting of my Tinder cardigan, this Beatles tune played over and over in my head. 

Beginning way back in late September. 

the wild and windy night that the rain washed away

High in the mountains of Utah.

has left a pool of tears crying for the day


And all the way back to Michigan. 

why leave me standing here, let me know the way

Taking a break for the holidays.

many times I've been alone, and many times I've cried


And then, right at the end, struggles with the buttonband.

anyway you'll never know the many ways I've tried


And finally. . .

and still they lead me back to the long and winding road


you left me standing here a long, long time ago


don't leave me standing here, lead me to your door


A long and winding road, for sure.  But totally worth the trip!

Ravelry details here.