Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Horticulturist, I'm not

Remember when I said this:

It will bring joy to the recipient for a long time. January and February will be delightful as the bulb grows taller and taller. Late February and March will be amazing as the flower pod begins to form and open, and by the beginning of Spring your gift will be in full bloom.

What did I know? I'm a horticulture idiot. This bulb grew its little Amaryllis pants off and was in full bloom in only 22 days. Each day there was noticeable growth and now we're enjoying the beautiful red flowers. I think I did do something wrong however, because there are still some little parts that didn't grow at all. I think I stunted it when I moved it around for the picture. Oh well, it was fun.

To make up for my horticulture error, I'm announcing my first contest/giveaway. It will start tomorrow and the recipient (winner) will be announced Sunday. I want to give all my seven readers a change to participate. :)

Check back tomorrow afternoon for my first exciting giveaway. Here's a hint: It's something I've talked about on this blog, and it's NOT an Amaryllis bulb.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Penultimate Gift Idea - #4

This may come as a surprise to some because I'm sure nobody else does this, but I think about my weight a lot. Over the years I've gained and lost weight many many times. Like Oprah. I'll lose a boat load of weight then become the spokesperson (to my friends) for whatever program worked at the time. Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, NutriSystem, Cambridge, Slimfast, Bariatric, you name it, I've done it and usually quite successfully. However, I have about two million less friends and about fifty million less dollars than Oprah. :) I would have done a commercial if anyone had asked. (I think about my fifteen minutes of fame a lot too.)

Lately I'm thinking about overall good health and weight loss. Yes, I know...but better late than never. Exercise is an important part of overall good health but ... you know ... it's ... h.a.r.d. I've done all the classes: Aerobics, Jazzercise, Pilates, Yoga, Zumba, and my personal favorite Sit and Be Fit. They all work as long as you go to class.

Now I think I'm on to something. This isn't new and I'm certainly not the first person to ever do this, but I've found that wearing a pedometer makes me MOVE! And moving is a key component to burning calories and keeping your heart healthy. Who knew?

So, I put this little gizmo on my pocket or belt loop everyday and watch my steps go up and up and up. Before I know it I'm at 8500 steps and it's only 2 PM. Before the pedometer and I became friends, I'd get home from teaching high school and zone out on the sofa for a few hours. Now, I look at my little gizmo and think, I'll go up and down the steps a few times or walk to the mail box a few times and viola! I'll have my 10,000+ steps in no time. I'm aiming for 20,000 a day in the new year.

It's a personal challenge to get the steps. It's me against me. No twenty-something spandexed blond Zumba-ing beside me, or smarty pants kid stretching her legs over her head and touching her toes to the floor ... of the next room. Nope, it's just me pushing for the 10,000th step. It's fun. I don't count calories, I'm too busy moving. I don't snack as much, I'm moving. Really! I know it sounds too easy and believe me I'm all about the easy. But it is....it's easy.

I bought a good pedometer, but there are hundreds of different kinds out there. One of them even talks to you. That's a bit much for me, but anything you like will do. They cost anywhere from $5 to $75 (that's the talking one.)

So here's my next to last gift idea for a friend, preferably your best friend. The person you've had countless conversations with about losing weight and exercising. The one who would really appreciate this little gift. The one who will move with you if you ask. A pedometer!!

Get moving! Get walking! Get healthy! And who knows maybe someone will call (me) and ask you (me) to do a commercial.

For the close readers and purists: The picture was taken on a Saturday and I didn't put the pedometer on until around noon.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Amaryllis Update

Just in case you were wondering, here's how the Amaryllis bulb is doing.

December 8, 2008

December 14, 2008

If You Fill It, They Will Come - Gift idea #3

Bird seed and bird feeders are fun to assemble and fun to watch. Kids just love to see the variety of birds that begin to flutter around the seed, and older adults who can't get out as often as they would like find joy in watching the birds feed.

Our feeders had been empty for about a year. I have a short attention span and as soon as a new project is working, I'm bored with it and have to move on. Then a while later I become interested again and a crazy cycle begins. I do that with a lot of things.

Anyway :), I bought a new feeder for the picture, and filled one with expensive seed, on the left and filled the other with the inexpensive seed, on the right.

I hung them Saturday afternoon and by Sunday morning the birds had returned to our feeders. No hard feelings, I suspect.

I thought I'd do a little experiment to see if I had discerning birds. Would the expensive seed attract the more elite birds, the cardinals, blue jays, red-headed wood peckers, or the yellow finch-like birds? Would the cheap seed be enough to satisfy the ordinary less colorful birds? The finches and those other little brown non-descript ones? As you can see I'm not a real bird watcher. I don't know their names I just like to watch them eat. I should get a book.

So did they flutter around one feeder more than another? You decide.

Here's the expensive, "Ruth's Chris Steak House" birdseed feeder.

And here's the "McDonald's" birdseed feeder.

I kid. :) The birds fluttered around both the same. The cheap seed cost $5.99 and the feeder for elite seed cost about $15.99. You can find lots of bird feeders and accessories all over the Internet and much better pictures of birds at those feeders than I have here. But you get the idea. And that's what this is all about, gift ideas, not award winning photos, yet.

Gift idea #3 ... done!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Amaryllis Starter Kit - Gift idea #2

This little gift serves a number of purposes. Most of my friends are ready to purge things from their house and downsize to a more manageable environment. Nobody wants another glass bowl, or picture frame, or gloves, scarfs or hats. We have dozens of these items in our basement already. Consumables are the best bet for Christmas for us.

But, you can get rid of some of the items that are cluttering your basement or garage with this little idea. You'll want to give this to someone younger than me who still finds joy in the knick-knack it will come in.

First, go to your basement or garage and find a container, crock pot, vase, or bowl that you've stored because you can't part with it yet. Bring those to your work area where you've place an Amaryllis bulb you purchased at the Garden Store for $9.99. You can use Paper Whites, Daffodils or Tulip bulbs if you want. I like the Amaryllis for the single stem and two or three flowers look.

Next go out to your driveway and gather a few rocks, or buy some river rocks at the Garden Store for about $5.00

The next and last part is easy. Fill the container of your choice with a few rocks, put the Amaryllis bulb on the rocks, the add a few more rocks to secure the bulb. Put water in the container just to cover the roots and in no time at all you'll see the start of a plant.

It will bring joy to the recipient for a long time. January and February will be delightful as the bulb grows taller and taller. Late February and March will be amazing as the flower pod begins to form and open, and by the beginning of Spring your gift will be in full bloom.

Gift Idea #2.....done!

And sure there are plenty of sites online that you can order the same exact thing, but what fun would that be, and how will you get rid of your junk? :)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Republic of Tea - Gift idea #1

It's December and the media is reminding us of the number of shopping days left until Christmas. "Shopping days...." ugh. Considering the economy this year what we should be saying is there are 18 days left to select, or create a thoughtful, moderately priced treasure for the people we care about.
So, I'm on a mission to post a little gift idea each day or so that's around $20. I'm thinking about items I've gotten and loved, or given with great success, or I'm using now and know that someone would love it too.
Here is my the first gift idea. A few months ago I decided to reduce my caffeine consumption. No specific reason really, I thought it would be a healthy choice since I began noticing I couldn't function without a least 3 big cups of coffee; one had to be Starbucks venti, quad, white chocolate mocha, skim with whip. It was becoming expensive, not to mention, fattening.
So, at the suggestion of a sales person in a gourmet food shop, The Fig Tree, who said this was the "Cadillac of Tea", I bought my first Republic of Tea tea bag. (You had to buy it by the bag in this shop.) It was very good.
I went to the Republic of Tea website and discovered they had quite a selection of tea and gift ideas. I bought four cans of 50 bags each. Each can was $10 and each was a different flavor. I bought green tea, orange-cranberry tea, mango tea and passion fruit tea. I like them all. The gift ideas on the site are reasonably priced and most important, the tea is delicious. The Cadillac of Tea indeed!
I plan to order more and give these attractive cans of delicious tea to a few of my co-workers along with a mug I'll buy at Target later this week.
Gift idea #1 ... done!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Brady and Lilly - A Labrador Retriever tale

These are my sister's dogs. I've chosen not to show you their faces, this being a public blog and all. :)

In an earlier post I said she talks to her dogs as if they were human. Well, she does and it works.

Case in point: Last summer she was having her house painted. The painter squatted by his tools to put something back and the chocolate lab, the younger more energetic, the "I never stop moving from one thing to another all day long, nope, nope, nope never stop moving" chocolate lab, came rushing up behind him, grabbed the red bandanna handkerchief from his back pocket and in a flash took off up the hill and into the woods.
My sister screamed, "Lilly, bring that back!" Nothing. She yelled again, "Lilly bring that back!" Nothing. The painter continued painting and about fifteen minutes later Brady, the older, wiser, "I wish that kid would leave things alone and why do I always have to pick up after her" yellow lab, came sauntering down the hill with the red bandanna in his mouth and dropped it at the painter's feet.