Dec 12, 2018

Things I Like

If you are looking for ideas to buy a gift for someone (or for yourself), here are a few of my favorite things. No marketing here -- I paid full price for everything and get nothing if you buy. Links are suggested places to buy -- you may find lower prices elsewhere.

"Beauty" Stuff

Aquage Uplifting Foam -- My hair always needs "uplifting" -- it's very fine and flat. I blow it dry and it has body for 5 minutes (1 minute if I go outside). This is the only mousse that leaves my hair puffy all day long. Just be sure to dry your hair completely.

Dove Dermaseries Dry Skin Relief Face Wash -- Once I got old (HA), my skin got very dry and always had an uncomfortable tight feeling. The only thing I found that left my skin soft was Estee Lauder's Tender Creme Cleanser. It was expensive and my family would give it to me for Christmas and my birthday, but then Estee Lauder stopped selling it. I tried a LOT of skin cleansers since then, and finally found one that works. My skin is not tight! And I get it at the grocery store.

Dial Marula Oil Body Wash -- Same issue with the rest of my skin! This is great stuff, but I always make sure to let the water in the shower run an extra few seconds so that the floor is not slippery. Another grocery store find.

Books 

I'm reluctant to recommend books because our preferences vary so much, but here are a few just in case you are looking...

The House of God by Samuel Shen 

This classic, irreverent, novel does to medicine what MASH did to the military. Written by a real intern at a real hospital in Boston, it is both comic and tragic. If you want to know (and you may not) what it is really like to be a doctor in training or a patient at a big city hospital, read this and get ready to laugh (and cry).

When the author, who uses a pen name, finally revealed who he is, the academic medical community shunned him. However, as the years went by, it became a must read for all medical students.

The Chosen and The Promise, by Chaim Potok 


The first, The Chosen, is a coming of age novel about two boys growing up in New York City in a tight ultra orthodox Jewish community, and their struggles dealing with their respective fathers and the secular community. The Promise continues the story into their professional and personal lives. I fell in love with the two boys. I've read these books many times as the characters, plot, and information about the Hasidic Jewish community are fascinating. I think it's time to read them again.

Rosie's All-Butter Fresh Cream Sugar-Packed Baking Book  My mom's theory on knitting was that, if she was going to take the time to knit something, she might as well use the best yarn she could find. That's my theory on baking. If I'm going to make cookies, cheesecake, etc. I want real butter, real everything.

Every recipe I've tried is fantastic. Two are standouts -- Cream Cheese Poundcake and Brownie Cheesecake. The latter is my family's favorite dessert. I've make it so many times I don't need to read the recipe anymore!



Miscellaneous

Azul  It's a board game using tiles. We love it and everyone we've played it with loves it as well. Easy to learn and play, hard to beat my son!

Simple Houseware Microfiber Cleaning Cloths  This is such a small thing, but I really like these so much. I use them every day for something -- including cleaning my stamps.

For stamp cleaning, I use water or rubbing alcohol. Inks will stain the cloths but the stains don't affect their use. BTW,  I've used rubbing alcohol (very cheap) for years to clean my stamps and all my stamps are fine. HINT: try cleaning your stamps the regular way and then clean them again with rubbing alcohol and see all the dirt on the cloth.

I also use them for dusting, washing kitchen counters, sinks, etc. I use them to dry the glass shower door and the tiles after a shower. I use them all day (I need to stop cleaning.)!  After I bought these, I cut my use of paper towels by about 75%. The towels are soft, cheap, and can be thrown in the washer and dryer.

*****

Would love to know if you have anything you'd like to recommend! 

Dec 7, 2018

DC v. Dallas: Smackdown!

I lived in the DC area for over 40 years and have lived in Dallas for about 3 months. Seems like enough information to do a smackdown, right?

FRIENDLY PEOPLE

If you are the chatty type, and I am, Dallas wins. By a lot.

The first time I walked into a supermarket, the cashier turned around and started talking to me. I couldn't understand why she was talking to me. Our neighbors talk to us. My doctors chat about non medical stuff. The waitresses and hair dressers chat. I enjoy all the friendly strangers. Breaks up my otherwise quiet life.

On the other hand, if you like to be left alone, live in DC. There is mandatory silence on the subway. Eye contact is not a good thing. Everyone minds his or her own business as everyone is assumed to be a serial killer until proven otherwise. 

CRAZY DRIVERS

DC "wins" in a landslide. In the DC area, a red light is an invitation to plow faster through the intersection. If you are first in line at a traffic light, do not go into the intersection when the light turns green. You must wait for the intersection to clear (and that can take a while) or risk death.

In Dallas, people tend to stop at red lights. Yes, I've been cut off in Dallas by a couple of rude drivers, but nothing like I experienced in DC. Then again, I don't drive on the Dallas highways, so maybe I'm missing out on the crazy.

CARS

Speaking of cars, IMHO, DC wins. In DC people tend to drive smaller cars. Our 2003 Prius ($15 a month in gas) is a joke here. It can take forever just to back out of a space in a parking lot in Dallas because I'm surrounded by really big car/truck things!

MORE CAR STUFF

I'm comparing Virginia to Texas now. Virginia wins.

Virginia's Division of Motor Vehicles has won awards for its efficiency. In Texas, you have to go to a different place to get your car registered, get a driver's license, pay property tax, get an inspection, etc. I still don't understand it as Mike took the lead.

NEIGHBORHOODS

Dallas wins. The residential areas we've seen are gorgeous. Lots of older homes with old trees laid out in easy to navigate grids. And they are conveniently located -- retail and commercial and medical spots are easy to get to. I'm impressed. And the suburban neighborhoods are very nice too -- many beautiful homes at reasonable price points in convenient locations.

Of course there are many beautiful neighborhoods in DC and the suburbs. But the DC area is so expensive and DC itself has a lot of "traffic circles" a/k/a death circles.  Even I, a tentative driver, am navigating Dallas.

CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS

Dallas wins. I've never seen so many houses decked out with so many beautiful lights. Seriously, get on a plane and drive down my street!
BUGS

Dallas wins and by that I mean loses. And that's all I can say about that ... .

COST OF LIVING

Dallas wins, but not by as much as I expected.

Real estate and rentals are cheaper. There is no state income tax in Texas. Restaurant meals are cheaper. And it looks like we are paying less for the repairs we are having done on our house than we would have paid in DC. 

On the other hand, car and property insurance is 3 times the cost with enormous deductibles. Utilities are high (I'm sitting in the dark as I write this!) Property taxes are also much higher.  And, sales tax in Texas is much higher than in Virginia. 

MUSEUMS/BOTANICAL GARDENS

DC wins the museum category but Dallas wins in the Botanical Garden sweepstakes.   

RUNNING TRAILS

Dallas wins. At least, that's what Mike says. (How would I know?)

FALL FOLIAGE

Dallas wins. A couple of weeks ago our neighborhood exploded with color. This was a surprise as several people had warned me that Dallas' trees went from green to brown. Nope. I was thrilled.  

PRESIDENTIAL MOTORCADES AND MONUMENTS

HA (Although we live about 5 minutes from the President George W. Bush library.)

AIRPORTS

Not sure. We live about 20 minutes from Love Field (Southwest Air) and that is so convenient. Plus, it is much easier to get in and out of Love compared to the airports in DC. However, I'm totally drugged up when I fly so I really can't compare the actual airports themselves...

SPORTS

High school and college football are huge in Dallas. So if you love that, Dallas wins. Both cities love their pro teams. We're not into any of it at the moment as our football team, the Giants, are horrible and we haven't made the transition to baseball yet. We enjoy baseball and expect to become Texas Rangers fans.

WEATHER 

No one wins.

Winters are milder in Dallas and I love the prospect of no, or almost no, snow. I hear we get ice, but since we live in the city, it's significantly warmer than the north suburbs, so hopefully we'll escape that scourge. DC's a crap shoot in the winter -- the Northern VA suburbs can get significant snow. 

DC summers are hot and humid. Dallas' are much hotter and just as humid. I have no intention of going outside from May through September and apparently will pay a small fortune to run our AC!

Don't move to either place for the weather.

AMOUNT OF DAYLIGHT

Dallas wins. There's over 30 minutes extra of daylight in Dallas in the middle of December. We LOVE that. Such an unexpected and welcome surprise.

FRIENDS AND FAMILY

DC wins the friends category, but Dallas wins the most important family category.

We are still adjusting and are a little homesick. Our friends and everything we know is in the DC area. It's harder to transition at our age than we expected, so it's going to take a while for Dallas to feel like home. 

However, we see our son every weekend, and see other family (Mike's brother and his family live here) often. 

So, Dallas wins.


Dec 2, 2018

Winter Still (7 Cards!)

Today I'm sharing 7 cards (4 Christmas and 3 Winter Holiday) all using the same stamp, Penny Black's Winter Still.  It's a beautiful cling image that can be used year round. Added a Christmas sentiment from Concord & 9th and a winter holiday sentiment from another Penny Black set to complete the cards.

Using the MISTI, or other stamp positioner, makes adding layers of ink pretty easy. I don't think I would use this type of stamp without one.

Here goes!

1. Stamped with a variety of green dye mini ink pads 
and red and purple Tombow markers.  One layer.



2.  Moved the image and the sentiment.  One layer.



3. Flipped the image and used different shades of green ink. 
Added a bit of gold ink to the leaves. Also one layer.


4. Added a little blue to the berries and brighter shades of 
green ink (and a touch of yellow) for the leaves. One layer.


5. I wanted cold colors for these winter themed cards (for my Jewish friends) and switched to watercolor paper.  Misted each layer of ink with water before stamping and then dried with a heat gun before layering again. Stamped the leaves with Distress Ink Stains (grays and blues for the leaves) and blue and pink markers for the berries. Sprayed with water and dried between layers.  Trimmed and added to an A2 card.


6. Watercolor paper, lots of water and heat between layters. Added more dark gray for contrast. The stamped moved (I was using a lot of water), so there is a faint extra layer of berries.


7. Finally, I used more ink here and less water. The leaves are bluer and the berries are quite pink.



MOOD WHEN DONE:  Well, I made a big old mess making these but enjoyed every minute of it!  So, I made a total of 9 holiday cards this year and all calling it a success. Most of my cards are store bought. This week I'll turn my attention to other types of cards.  And maybe baking cookies...