Monday, March 31, 2008

New Thing #80--Note This

Guess what?! It's raining again today! My plan was to do an outside New Thing, so I had to change my plan when the precipitation started about 1:00.

On the iGoogle homepage, there was a link to a wikiHow page that sounded interesting, so today I learned how to fold a Bus Note.

I actually didn't know what a bus note was, but according to wikiHow:
At many camps, when the kids leave, they give each other notes to read on the bus once they've left. But they faced a problem: many kids gave into reading the note before they got to the bus because it was only folded in half, much to the disappointment of the person who wrote the note. To solve this problem, the kids made a bus note. This way, the note could only be opened once, and could not easily be read, reducing the likelihood that the receiver will succumb to temptation.
I didn't have anyone I needed to write a note to, so I looked for a colorful piece of paper to experiment with. I ended up using the front cover of an LL Bean catalog from the recycling bin. The directions were easy to follow, and in no time at all I had my very own bus note.

As I was folding, it felt like I was back in Seventh grade folding notes I could pass to my friends secretly in between classes.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

New Thing #79--Zap the Dirt!

The calendar says it's spring; the trees are starting to bud and I saw some daffodils in bloom yesterday, but it sure doesn't feel like spring. If it rains as forecasted today and tomorrow, we'll have the wettest March in more than 100 years.

However, even if it doesn't feel like it, time marches on. There were tips for spring cleaning in yesterday's newspaper that inspired me, so after the weekly cleaning of the bathrooms I decided to clean my microwave.

The nice folks at wikiHow had directions for cleaning microwaves, which sounded pretty easy. Basically, you cook some water for 5 minutes in the microwave, which steams up the walls, and then wipe away the dried-on gunk. Since my microwave also smelled funny, I added an optional splash of lemon juice to the water, which they said would leave a "lemony fresh scent".

After 5 minutes of cooking, I tried to clean the oven. The cooked-on grease on the ceiling wouldn't budge. I tried 5 more minutes of boiling. Still not much luck, although this time the walls got pretty clean. I got out the baking soda, mixed it with water and used it as an abrasive. Although some of the crud came off of the top, most of it was still there.

I finally threw in the towel, and decided that as long as the floor and the walls were shiny, I just wouldn't look at the microwave ceiling!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

New Thing #78--Salaam

The area of St. Louis county I live in is pretty white-bread, but there seems to be a small concentration of Muslims. The Islamic Foundation of St. Louis has a mosque and day school about 15 minutes from my house. For the past year and a half I've gone to the gym almost every day and passed a grocery store, Salam Market. I always said I'd go in, but never did. Today, however, I shopped in a Middle Eastern market.

The store had just opened for the day when Tony and I got there. The clerk was very friendly, and let us browse around. I remembered I finished the yogurt yesterday, so I grabbed a container. Unlike at my regular store, I had to choose from four different brands! I thought about buying some halal meat for lunch, but I was hungry and didn't want to cook it at home, so I passed.

As I was checking out, the clerk asked if we wanted some fresh bread. Since Tony and I are both suckers for good bread, we said yes. It was still warm from the oven; there was condensation from the heat on the inside of the bag. I don't know what it's called, but the bread was flat like a pita, about 18" in diameter, and wonderfully chewy. Tony grabbed some white cheese, we paid and were on our way. We gorged ourselves on bread, cheese, and orange juice for lunch.

Friday, March 28, 2008

New Thing #77-Fun with Letters

Today's New Thing is attributed to fellow blogger The Chic Chauffeur , who had this link on her page a couple of days ago.

Vintage LEGO Letter Y
G golden glowing

The Website where I created this is Spell with flickr. You can spell out anything, and if you don't like the letter style that's generated the first time, you can click on a letter to get a new one. They even supply the html of these images, so it was easy to embed into this post!

It's a great activity for another cold, rainy March day.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

New Thing #76--House of Cards

It's cold. It's raining (again!) All I wanted to do tonight was stay inside and do any activity that involved sitting in a chair, so I built a house of cards.

Card house-building is HARD! The first deck of cards I used were pretty old and floppy. I realized this activity works better with stiff cards. Once you get your first level to stay upright, it is very difficult to get a second level going. In the end I settled for a low-to-the ground, aerodynamic ranch house. As you can see, it has four wings, but not much else.

I was less than impressed with my attempts, but when Tony came in he oo'd and ah'd over it. We tried to collaborate on a more extensive model, but that didn't work either.

When it was time to disassemble the house, I pulled a card out of the middle, and the ends fell like dominoes.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New Thing #75--Common Courtesy

I regularly do the "big" grocery shopping at a no-frills grocery store where you pay with cash or debit card only, bag your own groceries, and get them to the car yourself; the concept of cart attendants is unknown there.

There's been many times over the years where I've really struggled to get an overloaded cart through the parking lot and loaded into my trunk. I really sympathize with the shoppers who stagger out of the store, overwhelmed. Today I helped someone unload their groceries into their car.

This was harder to do than I would have thought. I didn't want to look like a stalker in the parking lot, so I waited in my car until I saw an older man with a full cart come out of the store. I walked up to him and asked if I could help. It didn't take long to finish.

I drove away with a good feeling that I really helped someone else today.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New Thing #74--Fashion Faux Pax?

Being a Woman of a Certain Age, my mother instilled many fashion dos and don'ts. One of her biggest fashion faux pax was to let your undergarments show. Today I broke her rule when I wore a colored bra with a white shirt.

The pastel green bra (itself a impulsive radical purchase after Christmas) barely showed through the t-shirt material. In the end, though, I chickened out and wore a vest, too, so only part of the green showed. As I was getting dressed, I noticed that the pearl necklace that I bought in Vegas coordinated with my outfit, so I put it on. I'm CONFIDENT that this is the first time I've coordinated my jewelry with my underwear!

My younger friends, who regularly let their bra straps show, couldn't understand why this was such a big deal for me. I must be on the far side of the generation gap.

Monday, March 24, 2008

New Thing #73--Reuse and Recycle

I try to be a good "steward" of the environment. We recycle as much as possible (glass, tin, aluminum, paper, cardboard, and as many plastics as our trash carrier will take). I try to accumulate as few plastic bags as possible, and recycle those we do get (along with the newspaper plastic wrappers). However, today I found an alternate use for plastic bags. I made fabric out of them.

I found the directions on Craftster. It was pretty easy. You need an iron, an ironing board, 2 pieces of cardstock (I used pieces of brown kraft paper instead), and a cutting device (I used an Exacto knife).

The directions as listed on Craftster:
  • Step 1: Collect a whole lot of plastic bags
  • Step 2: Straighten and smooth each bag
  • Step 3: Prepare the bag. Cut off the base and handles
  • Step 4: Open the bag up. Cut up the side of the bag with a scissor
  • Step 5: Smooth flat
  • Step 6: Get out your ironing board (or other ironing surface.) Lay down your cardstock, and then 5-8 plastic bags on top of each other. More bags will make a thicker fabric, but also take longer to iron.
  • Step 7: Turn on your iron. I used the setting for cotton blends.
  • Step 8: Line up the pieces and iron them together. Be sure to put a piece of cardstock on top of the stack. If you do not, the plastic will melt directly on your iron and you will RUIN YOUR IRON. Go back and forth, pressing firmly down on the iron.
  • Step 9: Take a look at your fabric. Has it all fused together? If so, you are ready to sew with it! If the fabric still has parts that feel like plastic bag, continue to iron using the above method until it has fused.
I used red and white Schnucks grocery bags; the wording was quite visible (and backwards) in the finished product; next time I'd make sure that didn't happen. The fabric felt something like tyvek. It shrank in size quite a bit as it was ironed together. It was very easy to cut, and easy to sew with my machine. I added a piece of velcro and a button to accessorize the flap of my new tote bag.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

New Thing #72--A Tisket, A Tasket

Today's Easter-a time to celebrate new life, get together with family, and eat massive amounts of food!

Easter was very early this year. In Manchester, it snowed several times today, but nothing stuck and the sun came out after each bout of snow. However, the weather wasn't prime for getting outside. After church we came home and ate pizza for lunch, then spent a quiet afternoon before Angela, my sister-in-law, and her family (along with assorted significant others) came over for dinner.

In my free time, I drew an Easter basket on sketchfu. There are many incredible drawings there; mine was NOT one of them! Here's my picture:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

New Thing #71--Energize Your Brain

Son Tony has a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and continues to take classes through his job. I know NOTHING about engineering-as a matter of fact higher math and science scare me.

Tony's home this weekend for Easter; today he's catching up on his homework. With his papers and books spread out all over the couch he looked quite studious. In an attempt to try to capture some of his mental energy, I read a chapter in one of his textbooks.

The book was called Electrical Motor Controls. The first chapter was about the basic principles of electricity, Ohm's law, and circuits. I thought I was understanding what I read, but when I tried to answer the questions at the end of the chapter, I realized I really didn't have a clue!

I think I'll leave this topic to my resident expert.

Friday, March 21, 2008

New Thing #70--Let Me Show You My Pictures

So, we got home from our trip last night about 1:00 AM (but only 11:00 PM Vegas time!). After we slept in this morning, it was time to get back to reality.

Although we'd only been gone three days, it's always amazing how much catching up there is to do--toss the accumulated unneeded brochures from the vacation. Check the snail mail, e-mail, and voice mail. Recycle the newspaper. Do the laundry. Put the suitcases away. Finally I got done with the mundane stuff and got to start on the fun stuff.

Unlike in the old days of film cameras, with digital cameras you can immediately see what you have. I looked through them, deleted the mistakes, then created a photo album on Facebook. That way, everyone can see them at their convenience.

New Thing #69--Show Me the Money

No one in their wildest imagination would call me a high roller gambler. I mainly stick to slot machines (but have played blackjack and roulette at a couple of Casino Nights) and haven't been to a casino in St. Louis in several years. However, with Tony's help I did some exotic betting.

It started at breakfast, where they conveniently had Keno sheets and a booklet explaining all the different ways to play the game. Keno is really just one step up from playing the lottery, but for only 25 cents a game I could play the same 8 numbers for 21 consecutive games, so I grabbed a crayon, picked my numbers, and gave the card and money to the runner; she quickly brought my receipt back. When we checked back at the Keno station a couple of hours later, I had won a whopping $1.00!

Tony decided to wager that both the Cardinals and the Rams would win their league championships this year. He filled out the forms, and I flashed my loyalty card so his bets would add to my reward credits.

New Thing #68--Total Rewards

When you're on vacation, especially to a place you've never been before, doing new things is a no-brainer. However, for this project I wanted to go out of my way to do extra-different things over and above my tourist experience.

I got an idea for a Thing on Tuesday, after I saw the third bride in a wedding gown walk past me in a casino--I bought congratulation cards to hand out to strangers. However, the project didn't go as planned. When I tried to find a bride on Wednesday, there were none to be seen! It became a weird Grail-in every casino we walked through, I looked for women dressed in white formals. Nothing!

At the end of the day I gave up and applied for a casino reward card so I could get credit for the money I was spending anyway.

New Thing #67--Know Before You Go

Tony and I decided to take a 3-day trip to Las Vegas during my spring break week. I haven't traveled by plane for a couple of years; the rules for what you can and can't carry on have changed quite a bit since then.

I wasn't checking any bags so I had to make sure that all my liquids fit in the approved quart-sized ziptop bag, and make sure to put them where I could get to them at the security belt so they could be taken out and x-rayed.

Here's a picture of my "liquids, gels, and aerosols" ready for departure:

Monday, March 17, 2008

New Thing #66--My Family Heritage

Today is St. Patrick's Day. There are a lot of people of Irish descent in the St. Louis area--the city has two parades. The first is held the Saturday before the day, and the other one is always on the actual day.

The forecast for today is cold and rainy, so I'm going to be staying inside. We'll have the traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner tonight-Donald requested green snake bread to go along with his meat and veggies, so I'll pull out the bread machine and make the dough.

My maiden name was Sheahan, which is about as Irish as it gets. Today I researched the origins of the family name. According to the Website Sheahanfamily.org, Sheahan/Sheehan is one of Ireland's most numerous surnames, and variations can be traced back as far as AD177. A simple translation of the name would be peaceful. This is reflected in the coat of arms, which shows a dove holding an olive branch. Today there are many Sheahans in counties Cork, and Kerry and Limerick. Maybe someday I'll get there to shake their hands.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

New Thing #65--AAAARGGG!!!!

There's not much I haven't done, cooking wise, but I've always wanted to grind my own meat. A while back I bought a meat grinder at a garage sale. It had a 70s avocado-color base, and attachments for meat and vegetables. I put it on the table in the basement, and promptly forgot it was there; the other day I found it and brought it up to the kitchen. My New Thing for today was to grind some beef and make hamburgers with it.

The only problem was that the grinder didn't work! The ground beef never did come out of the nozzle, but just jammed up in the hopper. A couple of times the mass of beef made the grinder blade fall off. The only thing that did come out was meat juice, which ran all over the counter. After about 10 minutes of trying different things, I gave up and chopped the meat in the food processor.

I think I'll Freecycle the grinder with a warning about its problems.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

New Thing #64--Hang It Up

I was out shopping for some new clothes today. I found three items to take into the dressing room (which was well under their posted limit of six). The dressing room was really cluttered with clothes that other people had left there. After I tried my things on, I organized and hung up the extra clothes that were in the dressing room.

I'll confess that my motives weren't completely pure. There were some interesting-looking shirts in there, and a pair of pants that would have been perfect. Unfortunately, they weren't my size. I put all the clothes on hangers, made sure the pants were attached securely, and buttoned a button on each shirt to make sure they didn't fall off. There were nine or ten things I returned to the unwanted merchandise rack in addition to the things I'd brought in; a lady waiting in line to try things on gave me a really dirty look-I guess she thought I'd tried ALL the clothes on and taken more than my share of dressing-room time.

Friday, March 14, 2008

New Thing #63--The (Cat) Grass is Greener

A couple of days ago, when I watered the plants in my kitchen, I saw that one of the cats had been chewing on them (AGAIN!). This week it was the aloe-there was a whole leaf laying on the shelf next to the pot. I'm pretty sure I know which cat it is, but can never catch him in the act. I'm tired of the plants being mutilated, so today I planted a pot of grass seed specifically for the cats.

This will actually be the second time I've tried to interest Pepper and Jackson in something other than my houseplants. A couple of years ago I bought a catnip plant at the pet store. They completely turned up their little noses at both the live plant and the dried pieces I supplied them, preferring exotics like philodendron and peace lilies.

However, I'm an eternal optimist. I was at the garden shop today, and saw a pre-packaged "Garden in a Bag" for cats with soil and seeds. It was very expensive, so I decided to pass, but I asked the salesclerk if they had any bulk seed I could buy (since I already have soil and pots at home); she showed me baggies filled with rye seed for sprouting. I came home, planted some seed in a small pot, and put it on the window seat to sprout.

If they like the sprouts, I'll plant a big flat just for them!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

New Thing #62--Windpower

Remember when you were a kid and made a pinwheel out of a piece of paper, a tack, and a stick? A while back a windstorm delivered a nice Slinky-brand Spinwheel to my backyard. It was made out of silver and gold metallic film and had a plastic handle. I saved it for today's thing-I drove down the street with a pinwheel stuck out of the car window.

Some random observations from the project:
  • 20-25 miles per hour seemed to be the optimum speed for the Spinwheel. At 30 it wobbled a little, at 35 it bent back a bit, and at 40 it crushed itself against the car and got ruined!
  • It was surprisingly hard to hold on to the handle when the car got up to a higher speed.
  • It was hard to close the car window enough to hold the handle in place. My automatic window has an automatic reverse. Who knew?
  • I drove behind a patrol car for about 3 miles, and was wondering if it would be a problem to have something sticking out of the drivers-side window. It wasn't.
Here's a picture of the Spinwheel after all its use:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New Thing #61--Comic Commentary

I was meeting a friend for dinner tonight and had some time to kill, so I stopped in the local Borders. On my way to find a seat, I saw a display of comic books I'd never noticed before.

Much to my surprise, all the oldies but goodies from my youth were there--Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica haven't aged at all! All the superheroes were represented--Superman, Spiderman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, and Captain America each stared at me from the cover of their magazine. There were some I'd not seen before; a whole section of Star Wars and sequels, and others like Bart Simpson and Futurama.

However, the comic book that I ended up reading was the most unique one of all-it was called NASCAR Heroes. It had two sections. The first was a serial-type story that had a hero with superpowers named Jimmy Dash (whose pit crew also has superpowers), and a villain named Jack Diesel. The good guys were battling a monster of some type; they got him contained, and got back to the track in time to race. Good guys win the race (using some of their superpowers), villain goes to jail. The second section was more about the history of NASCAR.

I have never been to an auto race in my life, and haven't watched more than a lap of any race on TV, so I doubt I'm the target audience for this comic. Even so, it's nice to know it's out there.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New Thing #60--Walking in Circles

Some of the things I've done for the sake of this project have been relatively time-consuming, and some have involved some financial outlay. Today was neither of those; today I walked in the opposite direction on the trail at my municipal park.

Schroeder Park in the City of Manchester is a great park. It's where the pool is located, and it's got a playground, tennis courts, basketball courts, and athletic fields. There's an oval walking track around the athletic fields, and a great trail that winds around the perimeter of the park. There are a couple of pretty substantial inclines on the trail that leave me winded. I walk on the trail every couple of months, but for some reason always walk the same direction. I start at the southwest end, walk to the eastern side, and wind back around. Today I started my circuit going northwest and had new views of things that I see all the time.

There's a log cabin (the Baxter Log Cabin) that you completely miss coming down the hill on my usual route; today I was able to study it in detail as I walked by. One of the houses that back up to the park had a rock garden with a Buddha statue in it. I also saw a newly-planted tree, bench, and plaque for Matthew Pathenos, a local man who was killed in Iraq last year.

Monday, March 10, 2008

NewThing #59--21st Century Manicure

I have NEVER had any luck with fingernail polish. Usually it's chipped within an hour of the time I apply it. I've tried cheap polish and expensive polish, retail-store brands and home party brands; nothing lasts. I've decided that as long as my nails are relatively the same length, and don't catch on anything, that's good enough. The only polish I currently have on hand is clear, and that's for stopping runs in nylons and dabbing on the occasional chigger bite in the summer.

However, today I was fascinated by a product I saw at my local Walgreens. I bought and applied dry nail appliqué to my fingernails.

There was a range of colors. I decided to go with "Yellow Bikini" (a bright yellow), both for the "wow" factor, and the fact that today seemed almost springlike. The package pretty much had everything I needed--in addition to the color strips, there was a small nail file, a small cuticle stick, and even remover for taking the appliqués off. The directions seemed easy enough--pick out the strip that's closest to your nail size, remove it from its backing and plastic cover, place on your nail and rub till it's attached, then file off the extra at the tip of the nail. However, the actual application didn't go as easily. I have really fat fingers (with wide nails on them), and there weren't enough wide strips in the package. I was forced to "cut and paste" the strips on my thumbs, which looked really tacky. The other thing I noticed was that the strips tended to be really bumpy down at my cuticle. As much care as I give the cuticles, they're never completely pushed back and smooth.

Here's a picture of my newly-appliquéd nails:

I accessorized my yellow nails with jeans, a stylin' blue blazer, blue shoes and earrings that had yellow, blue, and red beads. The appliqués are supposed to last for 14 days. I made it to work and back home without any chips. That's probably a new record for me!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

NewThing #58--Extreme Shower Games

I went to a baby shower today. All of the normal elements were there--good friends, great food, and a cake to die for. However, I played some baby shower games were anything but ordinary!

The first game was a stroller obstacle course in the host's driveway. The participants took turns pushing an empty stroller around overturned chairs, trash can lids, and a Christmas tree stand. Hitting the obstacles resulted in an extra 5-second penalty. The winner was the person with the quickest time. High heels were a definite liability in this activity! I didn't do badly; I actually had the time to beat for a short while.

The second game was the poopy diaper game. There were six diapers that were filled with melted chocolate candy bars, making them look just like poopy diapers, and we had to guess what kind of chocolate candy bar was in each diaper. We could look and smell, but not touch or taste. (Like anyone would want to!) I only got half of these right, but that was just fine with me.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

New Thing #57--I'm Published!

Back on February 28th, I wrote an editor to the editor. I was incredibly surprised to see my letter published (along with my name) in the newspaper, and ecstatic when someone mentioned to me that they actually read the letter. When I showed the newspaper to Donald, he told me I should hang it up on the refrigerator, like I used to do with his exceptional school papers.

Here's what I wrote:


Regarding “Bill would block drivers licenses for dropouts” (February 27th), State Rep. Rodney Hubbard, D-St. Louis, has obviously never been a teacher. He thinks that threatening to revoke the privilege of a drivers license for people younger than18 who have bad grades or drop out of school is enough motivation to keep them in the classroom.

It's difficult enough to teach students who want to be there. One or two unmotivated students in a large classroom can take a high proportion of the teacher’s energy—energy that should be used for planning and executing meaningful lessons. The time spent on the additional paperwork required for verification of attendance could be put to more productive classroom use.

It should be the prerogative of the parents, not the school, to decide when a child gets a drivers license. Some students have no choice but to drop out and support their family, or they are parents themselves. A dropout is already punished because he has to settle for menial, minimum-wage jobs.

If a student wants to drop out, he will, -- no matter what the punishment is. Teenagers are shortsighted and usually don’t respond rationally to deterrents.

Friday, March 7, 2008

New Thing #56--Peanuts for Me

Today I celebrated National Peanut Month by having peanut-butter and honey toast for lunch.

According to the Website Peanut Butter Lovers.com, National Peanut Month had its beginnings as National Peanut Week in 1941. It was expanded to a month-long celebration in 1974. Even though Africans used ground peanuts in stews several centuries ago, modern peanut butter is a recent invention that has a St. Louis connection. In 1890, an unknown St. Louis physician encouraged a food products company owner, George A. Bayle Jr., to process and package ground peanut paste as a nutritious protein substitute for people with poor teeth who couldn't chew meat. (Despite what I learned in school, George Washington Carver was not the inventor of peanut butter.)

No matter WHO the first person was to make it, peanut butter is filling, inexpensive and tastes great.

Just because it's Friday, here's a somewhat related YouTube video:

Thursday, March 6, 2008

New Thing #55--My Peeps

Our daily paper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is running a Peeps contest; you have to create an image using marshmallow Peeps in one of four categories--Presidential Peeps; Traveling Peeps (scenes around St. Louis, Peeps Gone Wild); Movie or TV Peeps; and Potpourri Peeps.

I decided to make an image of Peeps sledding down Art Hill in front of the Art Museum in Forest Park. The Peeps wore hats and scarves I made out of fabric and ribbon scraps. I found a great picture that someone took the other day to use as my background (thanks for giving me permission to use your picture, Christine!) and printed it out. The picnic table on the deck served as the foreground for the scene; I arranged the Peeps in front of Art Hill, along with a popsicle-stick sled, took a photo, and uploaded it to the POST.

Here's my scene:

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

New thing #54--The Art of the Bath

I have a bunch of sore muscles today after yesterday's snow shoveling. Even though we got a bunch of snow, it was very lightweight. It didn't seem like a lot of work at the time, but my body is telling me differently today! A nice hot bath seemed in order tonight; that always makes me feel better. Tonight, however, instead of a plain bath I made a therapeutic bath mix to loosen up my muscles.

According to my research, the warm water would stimulate the blood flow to my muscles. Epsom salts and (much to my surprise) mustard would help too. According to several Websites, mustard enhances the soothing effects of the Epsom salt. We use a lot of prepared mustard in the house (on sandwiches, fries, and pretzels), so somehow using it in a bath seemed weirdly appropriate. There was a Sams-sized container of mustard powder in the pantry, so I added a couple of handfuls of that in the water along with the salts. I lit candles and laid back to enjoy my soak.

The mustard turned the water a bright yellow color, and added a slight scent. It actually DID seem to work better than just the Epsom salts alone. My shoulders felt much less sore as I put my clothes back on. An added benefit was that my skin didn't seem as dry as it usually does after a hot bath. I asked Tony if I smelled like mustard; he said I didn't.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

New Thing #53--Let It Snow!

We got 10" of snow today. The St. Louis metropolitan area got anywhere from 3" to 12". The forecast said it was going to start this morning at 7:00, so when I woke up and didn't see anything, I figured the forecast was wrong. However, once it started at about 10 AM it just kept coming and coming. I got to stay home from work thanks to the weather.

I spent part of the day painting Donald's closet in preparation for a organization project, and spent more than an hour shoveling snow. I had big ambitions to do a fancy project with the white stuff outside, but my sore muscles thought otherwise. Instead, I made a virtual snowflake.

I made my flake at the Website Popular Front:SnowDays. The directions were very easy; I had to click and drag to move the virtual scissors. When I was done, the site told me my snowflake was number 6,344,233. I had a chance to watch my flake fall to the ground. Here's a screen shot:

I hope these are the last snow flakes I see this winter!

Monday, March 3, 2008

New Thing #52--Where Do You Sweat?

I had to take the lawn mower in for it's annual checkup, so I was running in the opposite direction today. I decided to go to a different gym for my workout.

The Manchester Gold's Gym, where I usually go, is close to my house and very nice. Although I'm far from buff, I feel comfortable there. It has everything I need, and a few things (free weights) I never use. The staff is welcoming, and there are a core group of fellow exercisers I see there every day. The Fenton gym, which recently opened, is substantially farther away from my house, but it was right on the path of my errands today.

I'd heard good things about the Fenton facility from other people, However, when I walked in, my first thought was "HOLY CRUD!"; it was bigger, brighter, and newer looking. In addition to all the amenities I'm used to, this gym has a lot more. The locker room was much larger and nicer than the one I'm used to. I tried out a different type of treadmill that had an integrated fan, and the cardio theater--a darkened room with a huge screen showing a movie. The Spinning room was darkened, and there were black lights glowing during the class. I didn't use the basketball court, but it looked great.

I enjoyed my visit, but I think on a daily basis the need to grab that extra 20 minutes of sleep will prove to be more important to me.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

New Thing #51--My Heroes

As you may have gathered if you've read some of my previous posts, I am friends with many young people in recovery for substance abuse. Today I went to a graduation ceremony for a Twelve-Step drug treatment program.

There were 21 young adults that graduated. They walked in to "Pomp and Circumstance", then were seated in two rows on the stage. After the opening remarks, each of the graduates spoke for about 2 minutes. Some of the speeches were funny, and some were poignant. All were quite moving. I saw quite a few audience members with tears in their eyes.

After the speeches, each of the graduates received a necklace from their counselors, then the ceremony closed. There were many hugs, "I Love Yous", and a few more tears. The graduates are an inspiration to me; they have overcome obstacles that I can't imagine to be the happy, smiling people I saw today.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

New Thing #50--Swept Away

My kitchen floor is always getting dirty. Between the crumbs that fall from the table and the countertop, the cat hair, and the litter the kitties kick out of the box when they're doing their business, I have to sweep the floor every time I turn around. Today I made a newspaper dustpan to collect my dirt and throw it in the trashcan.

The project came from the Recycled Crafts section of The Craftgossip Blog Network. It required one sheet of newspaper and a stapler, both of which I had handy. After a couple of folds and a couple of staples, the dustpan was ready to use.

I had a big pile of stuff to sweep up. The dustpan worked ok, but didn't really pick up the cat litter. I think if I made one again, I might use more than one piece of newspaper to make it stiffer.