Friday, July 31, 2009

Positive Day is Born!

I'm joining others this day to celebrate Positive Day!
Jennifer over at Dust Bunny Hostage is one of those Mom's who thinks outside the box...and encourages her kids to do the same! She opened up the blank page of her blog recently to Diva Daughter (her 12 year old) to give an accurate review of the latest Harry Potter movie. It seems the Wall Steet Journal had given a bad review, filled with negativity. Her daughters's zeal and enthusiam was an excellent time to encourage her to express HER feelings. After all, the movie makers are very interested (or should be) in what Diva Daughter has to say. She said when she becomes President in 2032, she will instate Positive Day...a day for people to think about the things they are thankful for and to share the things that make them happy. Positive Day was born from the mind of a twelve year old girl. So, here goes. These are the things that I consider to be positively wonderful!


Family~Past and Present!


The sound of children playing!


Patriotism!


Freedom of Speech!


Home!

Good News in the Mailbox!


Freedom to Worship

A good old thunderstorm!

The beauty of nature!

Our spirit of ingenuity and self-reliance is still alive and well in America!
When Americans are forced to rely on themselves, their neighbors and their communities for support, we rediscover what makes America so great!


Thursday, July 30, 2009

America's Best Restroom Award

Yes, that is a toilet in the picture above. Can you imagine the thrill of visiting this beautiful "loo" and soaking up the view?!? You'll have to go to the Mix lounge at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada to experience this past winner of Best Restroom! Cintas will soon announce the winner of this years Best Restroom Award, online voting ends July 31st. It is a very private experience that happens in public places all over the world. Whether at a restaurant or a rest area, a high-rise office building or a "nice clean gas station," everyone at some point makes use of public facilities.The reality is that public restrooms matter to the public. The way a business or building treats its facilities is a reflection of its operating standards.In one recent survey, more than 75% of respondents said they would not return to a restaurant if the restrooms were not well kept.“What Makes a Public Restroom Great?”What makes the experience of using a public restroom something special? Is it style? Is it elegance? Is that restroom so clean you are almost ashamed to go home? Is it the view? All of these have been reasons cited for past nominees for the title of America's Best Restroom Award, presented by Cintas.


The Top 5 Winners Last Year Were:
The Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee was last years winner. Named after Andrew Jackson's Hermitage estate, the hotel opened its doors in 1910. Only the finest materials were used: Italian sienna marble in the entrance; wall panels of Russian walnut; a cut, stained glass ceiling in the vaulted lobby; Persian rugs; and massive, overstuffed furniture. As Nashville's first million-dollar hotel, it was the preferred gathering place for the city's socialites. The Hermitage Hotel was a symbol of Nashville's emergence as a major Southern city. The restrooms reflect this care in craftsmanship as well.



Top Restroom Features:
Art Deco-themed
Leaded-glass tiles
Authentic terrazzo floors
Shoeshine station


21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky is the first of its kind - a 91-room hotel dedicated to world-class luxuries, Southern-style hospitality and contemporary art from living artists. The hotel features a 9,000 square foot contemporary art museum funded and managed by the International Contemporary Art Foundation. This stunning collection of cutting-edge art inspired the naming of this property and influenced the creation of the museum and hotel. The men's restroom features a urinal that has a one-way mirror and above the basins, eyes stare back at you. (See penguin stand-ins to the right!)


Top Restroom Features:
One-way mirrors facing urinals
LCD screens with traveling images of eyes built into mirror above sink


Brio Restaurant is located in Rockford, Illinois’ River District and has become known as downtown's premiere restaurant and nightspot. Housed in vintage 1888 architecture, the atmosphere is uniquely its own. From its cozy wine bar with a stone fireplace, whimsical dining room and peaceful garden patio to its cleverly themed restrooms, this is an establishment that stands out. What's the theme, you ask? It's Heaven for the women's washroom and Hell for the men's.


Top Restroom Features:
Heaven and Hell themed
Custom mirrors, sinks, doors and floor, using a wide variety of materials


Located atop the John Hancock Center, in the heart of Chicago's Magnificent Mile, The Signature Room at the 95th offers Contemporary American fare with sweeping views of the city. The elegant wood designs and art-deco interior create an inviting and intimate atmosphere. Plus, those great views extend to the restroom as well.


Top Restroom Features:
Perched atop the 95th floor of John Hancock Center
Sweeping views
Custom woodwork
Silver accent pieces
Black & white photos from the 1930’s


The renovation and expansion of Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, Massachusetts offered the opportunity to incorporate functional—and permanent—works of art as part of the building. Inspired by the artist-designed restrooms at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, the museum invited Ellen Driscoll and Sandy Skoglund (Smith College class of 1968) to design the women’s and men’s rooms, respectively, on the lower level. The fixtures were made during residencies in Arts/Industry program, which allowed the artists to work with the resources of the Kohler Co. factory.


Top Restroom Features:
Water-themed
Hand-painted tiles and etched glass panels depicting sea creatures and plant life


I’m very proud to say that in 2005, Fort Smith Regional Airport in Arkansas won first place for Best Restroom! They pride themselves on Southern hospitality for visitors. The restrooms are always clean, with sanitation being of utmost importance. Beautiful décor and comfortable seating, both inside and outside the stalls, compliment the restrooms’ cleanliness. Dried flower arrangements are always on display. And you’ll never have to manually flush a toilet or turn on a sink here---everything is automated!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Time for an Oil Change!

We got bad news in last week's mailbox, the announcement of my husband's class reunion! I shouldn't be so negative but now I need to lose weight, have a face lift and find a good hairdresser! I'm like an old car that needs so much work, it's almost not worth it! If I had just kept up on the maintenance I wouldn't have such a daunting task before me.

The weight thing is ongoing. We both have extra pounds and half-way do diets most of the time. Half way ain't ever gonna cut it. I love to cook and try new recipes, I'm a Southern woman who likes to eat good food...I'm sorry that's not going to ever change!

But all of the other things associated with "maintenance" need to be addressed. Things like skin care. I buy wrinkle creams and potions and use them a few times, then I get busy. I do wash my face on a regular basis, but doing the other steps require that extra effort. My favorite face cream is Philosophy's Hope In A Jar. It makes a big difference quickly with cell turnover...my skin looks brighter and healthy. I don't expect miracles from a cream anymore, that would require surgery at this point!
Lucky for me Philosophy has a "back up plan!"

My face is just one of my problems, unfortunately my skin is dry everywhere these days. I used to put Shea butter on my feet at bedtime to keep my "paws" soft and pretty! When I climb into bed these days I am too dog tired to even think about doing a beauty treatment!
I'm going to have to make the time for a pedicure before the big event.

But the Class Reunion has gave me new found motivation to have a facial, slather on face cream and find a new hairdresser that can give me a "do" that will take 5 years off!
I'm on a mission to have my oil changed and my tires rotated on a regular basis now!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Old Clothesline

The clothesline that dried my Grandparents clothes hangs empty now at Lead Hill. That line dried their clothes for the 30 years they lived in that house. It was a familiar site when you would pull into the yard to see it loaded down with white sheets, colorful striped terry towels and patchwork quilts. Grandma's clothesline was like her house, neat and tidy. Shirts would join hands by color, whites then blues. Dresses would line up next to others of like kind, one sleeve attached to the next. Towels, then washcloths. Sheets on one whole line, off by themselves to whip dry in the hot breeze.


Grandma used soap flakes in her old Wringer Washer and soaked things in a washtub that might need some extra care. Bluing was a product she added to make the whites sparkle.

I don't have an outside line, not many people do anymore. Time is really the reason people got away from hanging their clothes out I think. Women joined the workforce, dryers became commonplace in the 1960's and then clotheslines went out of fashion. Old fashioned, and NO ONE wants to be THAT! I do have a wooden drying rack that I use out on the deck to dry unmentionables, kitchen towels and tops that I want to air dry. In the winter I set it up in my laundry room and in a few hours time, everything is dry and ready to put away.

Another reason that clotheslines don't fit into today's households is that when you need a load of clothes washed and dried, it's NOW. Most families live a busy lifestyle that can't wait on a sunny day.

When I was a kid Mom would hang the clothes out year-round. That meant snowy winters in Missouri, she would put on her snow boots, gloves and wool headscarf and brave the cold temperatures to hang out clothes. When she'd bring the wash in at the end of the day, the shirts and pants would be frozen stiff. She'd stand them by the wall and in a few minutes they would "slump" to the floor and she'd laugh and say Old Man Winter slipped out of them! No complaining about her cold hands and feet, not to mention the extra work required to put out that big wash.

Our children have almost forgot how to do wash or hang anything out. After all, they only see us transfer from washer to dryer to hanger.

Along comes the "Green Movement" and it's fashionable to hang clothes out again! Saving energy and money, it's a way to let Mother Nature do the work for you. Erma Bombeck had wonderful insight on the subject of clotheslines...read this column published March 4, 1986.

Erma Bombeck on Creeping Privacy Paranoia
Sounds like something out of the spring nursery catalogue, doesn't it? Actually it's a name I made up for a trend that has already hit the cities and may eventually invade the countryside. It's a concentrated effort to seek privacy from the rest of the world. I'm not sure when it started, but the front porch was one of its first victims. Remember front porches? They had a swing that squeaked and metal chairs that rusted and always needed painting. Everybody in the neighborhood used to sit out there after dinner and sometimes they talked back and forth to one another. Nothing important. The weather. How the grass would have to be cut before the weekend. How the next one up could get the lemonade. And then the front yards got smaller and smaller and the front porch was phased out to a pot of dead flowers and a doorbell you couldn't hear in the back yard. The back yard became Disneyland with a barbecue, jungle gym, patio, lounges, sandbox and vegetable garden.
It was only a matter of time before the clothesline marred the scene and had to go. And with it went a part of Americana that will never have such an impact on American families. The clothesline was a meeting place of women. They caught up on the events of the day, shared, dumped on one another and clung together. The clothesline was the original newspaper of the community. By reading the clothes you could tell who was toilet trained , who was not, who came home on leave, who had guests, who got something new, who cleaned house, who did not, who had sick children, who was out of work, who was going on vacation, who was entertaining, who overslept.
There didn't seem to be anything from neighbors they needed anymore. Large freezers held a storehouse of food supplies that you might have "borrowed" in earlier times. Unlisted phone numbers protected you from bothersome calls, and when you went outside to cut the grass or take a walk, there were headphones to isolate you from "hellos."
Creeping Privacy Paranoia got a toehold in society when we no longer needed humans to run our elevators, get our groceries, take us to a fitting room or assist us with withdrawals at the bank. I'm as much a carrier of Creeping Privacy Paranoia as anyone else. I've traded communication for bumper stickers, sociability for technology and accessibility for "Wheel of Fortune." What brought all this on was the other Sunday I was walking through the neighborhood and realized behind every wall were lounge chairs with no one lounging in them, barbecue grills with nothing cooking on them and locks on gates where no one wanted in.
I used to talk to myself. I don't even do that anymore. Maybe we're becoming too private.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Babyface!

Cocker Spaniel puppies are full of energy and can get away with murder just because they are so darn cute! In dog years, our Ben is in his seventies – not ancient by any means but he definitely qualifies for the Senior Citizen Discount! Cocker Spaniels are family dogs... devoted, smart and just darn cute to look at! At 70 that sweet little face is still puppy-ish!

But his age and his breed have caused him to have health issues. Cocker Spaniels often suffer with eye, ear and skin problems. For years we took him to the vet with ongoing ear infections. The shape of the Cocker's ear is like a spiral staircase and wax gets trapped and infection starts. Hard to treat, he progressed onto chronic ear infections and he was on several kinds of meds. Nothing worked, including steroids. The vet began to talk about removing his ear drums, ear ablation. I lost trust in that doctor and then another, until finally I found one that would work with us on trying to get Ben healthy.

I read everything I could find on the Internet about Cockers and Ear problems. One day I came across a website Zim's Cockers that had an ear flush recipe that they used on their dogs. Dog breeders, they had a lot of experience with the breed and had used this on their cockers with much success. We had tried everything else, I mixed up the ingredients and applied it to his ears. Now you have to know this is after a 3 year battle with ear infections and prescription meds. Within two days his ears had improved. Within a week we were sure it was helping and in two weeks the infection was all but gone! I couldn't believe that something this simple could work, but it has and he's been free of ear infections for 2 years now. (Click on the link above for the recipe.)

Chronic yeast on his skin was another problem that just would not get better with vet prescribed meds. I have found a product that works. Eqyss Pet Shampoo and Sprays cure yeast within one or two applications. It's another amazing product that I found after searching online trying to find an answer. I read the reviews before ordering but until I tried it on Ben I had no idea it would work so fast. (Click on the link above for testimonials.)

This may be the oddest post I have ever done, but if anyone is out there going through this with a pet maybe these products will help you. Happy pet, happy owner!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

I have an addiction to Mexican food. After living in South Texas for 5 years, I'm spoiled to having homemade tortillas. This little taco truck parks near an auto body shop that I pass on the way to Mom's. I can't resist stopping, the smell of the fresh tortillas makes my car turn into the parking lot every time! What's the big deal about tortillas? It's kind of like explaining the difference between a flaky hot homemade biscuit and a Hungry Jack biscuit. No comparison!

My favorite thing to order are the Carne Asada Tacos. The tender brisket is tucked into tiny 3"diameter tortillas. Topped with lettuce, tomato, white onion, cilantro and a squeeze of lime...it's warm and spicy, cool and fresh...all in one little basket! The tacos are 80 cents, $3.20 for a very filling lunch!

We used to live near San Antonio, Texas and spent many fun afternoons at Market Square. We would park at River Center Mall near the Alamo and ride the trolley down to Market Square.


In addition to shops and restaurants along the main pedestrian walkways, Market Square also features a large indoor area with 32 shops called El Mercado. The whole day can slip away as you sip margaritas in outdoor cafes, savor the finest Mexican foods, listen to the music of strolling musicians and visit shops filled to overflow with pinatas, Mexican dresses, curios, candies, jewelry and art.


Mi Tierra Café and Bakery, which means “my land” in English, was my favorite place to eat! Pete Cortez first opened the doors of Mi Tierra in 1943 and it has never closed – it is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year! Spicy Mexican food, an authentic Mexican bakery and peppy mariachi music have been the mainstays here ever since. The Cortez family tradition is now being carried out by Pete Cortez’s children and grandchildren.

They do serve a good Margarita here, if you are so inclined!

Strings of colorful holiday lights hang from the ceiling year-round.

Ok, here comes the truth. The real reason I loved to go to Mi Tierra wasn't the restaurant, it was the bakery! When you first enter the doors the sweet smell of dozens of sugary treats knock you down. They are famous for their huge variety of traditional Mexican pastries. In fact, the display cases are so packed with fresh, fragrant baked goods they can seem a little overwhelming. First time customers stand in awe forgetting to take a number!

Their Pecan Praline puts all others to shame.
Over 1/2 cup of plump pecan halves are in each praline!
Panes Dulces are the sweet breads and their are dozens of kinds!
The San Antonio Express News voted Mi Tierra Best in San Antonio for Mexican Food, Best in San Antonio to Take Out-of-Town Guests AND Best in San Antonio for Late Night Dining!

While you are enjoying your meal at Mi Tierra,
strolling musicians (los trovadores) will serenade you!

If you go, would you please pick me up
a bag of the Pralines and the Coconut Slices?
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