Lost in the minutiae…

If we hadn’t had over six months to plan our travels for the next five to ten years, it would have seemed impossible, bogged down in the details. So far, I keep taking deep breaths moving closer each day, some days at a crawl, others days a marathon.

Unloading our home and everything we have accumulated in a lifetime, except for a few totes our kids will store, the six suitcases, two carry on bags, computer bags and handbags (Tom’s murse), could be overwhelming in a shorter time frame.  

Not only must we continually address the travel planning, the shots, the doctor appointments, the insurance policies, the retirement board, but also the mounting piles of paperwork to prepare, scan or shred.  

In the interim, we have “life” to live, dinners to cook, clothes to wash, flowers to water, everyday errands to run and most importantly, family to see as often as possible. Fit in time with friends, daily walks, answering email, Facebook lurking and time rapidly flies by, two months and eight days until we walk out the door, leaving Minnesota and everyone we love behind.

Oh, I’m not complaining. Actually, I love every moment. This in itself, is a joy filled time, complex with never ending challenge, hopeful solutions and tons of new information flooding my brain. I didn’t know “it” had room after the “information load” environment in which we live.  But, it does, grabbing every tidbit of new data flooding into it’s mushy cells.

Yesterday, we took most of our grandchildren to Train Day, a family picnic provided by Tom’s employer.  The little ones had a blast exploring the gigantic train engine, a bright red fire truck; bouncing on the huge blown up contraptions, eating overcooked hot dogs while hanging out with us, PapaChooChoo and GrandmaChooChoo, We had a memorable day.  

(BTW, I don’t post photos of our little grandchildren online.  Maybe I’m old fashioned, fearing online predators.  When they grow up, I will. Not now.)

Several months ago, I posted a note on my calendar (one of many) to apply for new debit cards. They’ll expire at the end of January after we’ve already left the country. Since debit cards cannot be forwarded, this would have caused undue stress.  Our goal, as always, is to prepare so much in advance that we don’t often have to “kick ourselves” for forgetting to do a task such as this.  

On our way to Train Day, we stopped at the bank to order the new debit cards. While the banker ordered the cards, a thought popped into my head: we must set up a wire-transfer account in both of our names, providing us with easy access to our accounts (via a phone call as opposed to email for security purposes). This was on my list for this upcoming October but why not get it done now?  Two more of the minutiae out of the way! 

Returning home, I immediately ran around the kitchen making the crusts for our low carb, gluten, grain and starch free pizza for Friday Night Pizza, our favorite dinner.  Later today, I will make homemade salsa and cornbread to bring to one of the last of a few parties we’ll attend tomorrow. (Recipes for all of these items are on my earlier posts.  Simply hit the search filter).

This weekend, we’re planning to put all of our empty suitcases in the back of Tom’s SUV to ensure they’ll fit, along with the two totes we’re bringing for my son Richard Lasica, a successful real estate agent in Henderson, to store for us in Henderson, Nevada.  If they don’t fit, which I suspect they will, we will price rent a small trailer to haul behind us or, bear the cost of shipping the totes.  More minutiae. It seems to grow rather than diminish!

We can’t wait to be sitting in a lawn chair overlooking the ocean in our little beach house in Placencia, Belize, starting on January 28, 2013 which is five months and seven days from today.  Oh, oh, while in Belize we’ll have to prepare our 2012 tax stuff for our accountant as soon as we receive (online, of course) the W2’s.  Yuck!  Minutiae!  You can run, but you can’t hide!

Jewelry sale day results…strange visitor

This worm or caterpillar was atop Tom’s blue Croc as the last shopper as the jewelry sale walked out the door and screamed.

We live on a peninsula, a narrow “road to nowhere.” We are the second house from the end. With water on both sides of us, there is no sidewalk, no curb, no gutter and little parking room. We’ve always considered this a small price to pay to be surrounded by water.

As a result of this parking dilemma, in 26 years in this house, we’ve never had a garage sale.  The idea of strangers coming to our home, parking on the lawn when the few space run out, made us cringe.

Alas, our estate sale guy Jim Anderson suggested I sell my costume jewelry rather than leave it for the estate sale where it becomes difficult to control with many shoppers hovering about.  

As I wrote in last week’s post, I sold my loose gold and silver while awaiting an offer on my wedding ring, hopefully to hear soon.  A sale at our home was the most practical solution, albeit our concerns about the parking.

My dear friend and next door neighbor offered to be “the guard,” helping me put up the signs and keeping me company, making the event less dreadful.  

I hoped for rain so I could cancel it, watching the weather report every few hours.  Why put off the inevitable?  Then, I looked up “jewelry lots” on eBay, hoping to find that I’d get a good price for the entire batch. Not the case.

The signs I made on neon pink poster paper with a huge black marker, all purchased at the Dollar Store for less than $5, easily glued to the sign bases Tom made for me last weekend using four $1.69 wooden stakes, nailed to four pieces of particle board the hardware store cut for me for $9.00.  Total sign cost was around $20.  

The signs read:

Fashion Jewelry Sale
Today 2-6
Nothing Over $21
With the signs in the ground appropriately scattered throughout the neighborhood, my dear neighbor and I sat in my kitchen sipping frosty glasses of iced tea, viewing the pleasing display of the 200+ pieces patiently awaiting the first customer. We were tentatively optimistic.

As it turned out 2:00 pm was a poor time to start a sale.  We were hoping to catch the “on their way home from work” crowd, which we did to a degree. But the first three hours were a bust.  A kindly, experienced garage sale enthusiast suggested we try in the early morning when the serious shoppers are frantically driving around.  

The end result of the sale was $152, not what I’d expected.  I looked up “jewelry lots” on eBay again.  My dear neighbor pushed me, “Let’s do it again next Thursday. I’ll help!”  Grudgingly, I agreed.
Next Thursday at 8 am we’ll be ready to roll again.  I’ll change the time on the signs with the purchase of one neon pink poster for $.69, cut into small squares to tape over the old times with the new times.  

As the last shopper walked out the door, her plastic bag of jewelry in hand, her daughter let out a gasp.  This is what she saw, atop Tom’s Croc, outside our kitchen door:
Anyone know what this is?  Or what this will be someday soon?  Is it a worm or a larvae?  I don’t have time to look it up online.  Good thing this critter wasn’t inside his Croc when Tom slipped his foot inside.  

guess Africa will have bigger, scarier such things.  I didn’t scream. Instead, I took a photo.


Deciding on what type of luggage we needed wasn’t easy.  It must be lightweight, durable, affordable and possessing good quality. As always, research has been an integral part of any of our decisions.  

Off and on over the past several months I read reviews and baggage restrictions for a multitude of airlines traveling to our required three flights:  Rome to Mombasa, Kenya; Mombasa, Kenya to Nelspruit, South Africa and Lisbon, Portugal to the island of Madiera, Portugal and back to Lisbon, a total of four flights.

To fly coach on some airlines, one checked bag, one carry on, one computer backpack with one hand bag per person is acceptable. (Tom, much to his dismay will now be carrying a “murse,”a man purse or what they also call a messenger bag). Other airlines allow two checked bags.  If one travels first class, most airlines will allow more bags, number unknown.

We are less than two months premature into booking our first flight to Mombasa, Kenya, which we’ll do as soon as possible.  After researching the cost of first class with some possible discounts, it may pay to bite the bullet and go first class or perhaps business class, depending on baggage restrictions and fares.

The flight from Rome to Kenya with a few layovers, is a minimum of 17 hours. There are a few better priced options for as many as 29 hours (yikes!). First class would provide food (hopefully pin-free) and comfortable seating, enabling one to sleep with more leg room to accommodate my 34″ inseam, much longer than Tom’s.

This morning, as I perused the overstuffed totes in our bedroom, filled to the brim with more “stuff” to pack, it appears we may each require three checked bags.  With our two 250 pound capacity luggage carts, we can do this!

Last night, we purchased four, 30″ Antler bags, a company in the UK known for manufacturing quality,  lightweight bags, along with two matching carry on bags from eBags at their eBay store.  

Orange Antler 30″ Expandable 4 Wheel Bag

After this morning, I faced the reality that we may as well purchase two more of the 30″ bags, once we’ve inspected them. Luckily, eBags provides free shipping both ways in the event one is dissatisfied.

Originally, we had planned to buy the Antler Zero 30″ bag, retailing for $540, priced at $249 on eBay.  The quality was slightly better than what which we purchased.   But, the thought of spending almost $1000 for four bags killed me, as opposed to the $444 we paid last night plus $79 for each of the two carry on bags.

We chose the Antler Toluca 30″ expandable four wheel upright bag for the following reasons, by order of importance:

  1. Quality brand
  2. Lightweight at 7.9 pounds each
  3. The color:  ORANGE  (easy to find amongst all the black bags at baggage claim).  Also, the color causes the bag to appear more of a “fashion” bag than an upscale expensive bag which may ultimately deter thieves.  We leave Minnesota on Halloween, orange, get it? Hahaha (Tom didn’t think that was funny).  
  4. Great price at $111 each plus free shipping
  5. Perfect size to comply with airline’s 63″ maximum dimensions
  6. Four wheels for stability, when they are off of the cart
  7. TSA locks, allowing us to lock the bags, but avoiding the TSA’s typical habit of cutting off non-regulation locks. This doesn’t provide a guarantee against theft, but it does reduce the risk. 
Let’s talk about the ORANGE. Why not, orange?  One would hesitate to do a bright color for fear of what others would think.  Right?  Is there any other reason? None that I can think of.  If you think of any, please post a comment here.
ORANGE BAGS? Yes, some passersby may look at our bags and say, “Ugly bags!”  We will laugh, hoping they aren’t referring to us and say to one another, “What thief is going to grab an orange bag from the carousel in baggage claim and run off, hoping to blend in with the crowd? 

Results of my gold and silver sale…

As I stood in the kitchen at our high granite counter top (to accommodate my tall stature), sorting the last minuscule piles of a lifetime of gold chains, earrings and bracelets (mostly from the 80’s) along with more recent sterling silver, I chuckled to myself.

Who was I kidding to think that all of this was “real” gold and not some cheap imitation I fell sucker to in my more naive days (when were those?).  They looked and felt like real gold.  Then again, when was I ever willing to spend $100’s if not $1000’s on myself?  Only a few times. There always were other priorities and I was never that interested in jewelry.

Somehow, over the years I managed to acquire a few chains, a few pairs of earrings or a bracelet that “looked” like gold.  As trends changed from gaudy layers of gold chains around one’s neck (as Tom calls them, Mr. T’s starter sets) and wrists, I fell prey to the appeal of more reasonably priced sterling silver.  As prices on sterling silver climbed over the past several years, stainless steel earrings started looking really good to me, categorically arranged on the wall at Target for $5.99 a pair!  

Alas, the gold and silver guy, Bill Boyd, referred by our estate sales guy Jim Andersonappeared at our door at 10 am this past Thursday, bringing along with him, estate jewelry store owner, Ann Eliason of Ann & Jack’s Vintage Jewelry, in Hopkins MN.  Oddly, neither of these lovely folks conduct business online. But, what they lack online they gained in person! 

The gold and silver business attracts many vultures as purported experts, are more than willing to give a motivated, customer supposed “top dollar” for their gold and silver.  Customers walk out of their stores, $80 in hand thrilled they finally unloaded this useless pile of tangled chains (by the way, it is not necessary to untangle the chains). 

Some crafty buyers conduct parties in homes, similar to the old Tupperware parties whereby the guests bring their old gold and silver to sell on the spot. With the host offering up appetizers and wine, a lively party ensues.  A few wine glasses later, negotiating is out the window along with $1000’s from  these unsuspecting party goers.  Not for me.

Over the past several years I procrastinated about selling it not only leery of going to one of those stores in a mall or parties, but not motivated enough to start picking through the over-stuffed jewelry boxes of which I had little interest. I guess I’ve been more lazy about it than anything.  

For two solid hours, while we clucked like hens thoroughly enjoying the time together, they meticulously picked through my “stuff” with the jeweler’s glass in their eye talking all the while.  Their efficiency was evident and I was at ease, expecting to end the day with little more than a few hundred dollars.

After the rude awakening of what was “real” and what wasn’t Bill asked me for a piece paper and a pen.  I scrambled around the house, looking for a piece of paper.  Ha!  I chuckled again.  

I had trouble finding paper.  I hardly use paper, computer geek that I am.  Ah ha!  I grabbed some paper out of the printer, rousting up a pen, handing it to Bill while he weighed the little piles of gold and silver on his special “pennyweight” scale.  The word “penny” scared me. Goodness.  Will I end up with $10.62?

Scribbling on the piece paper,  finally silent as a mouse, after having looked up the gold and silver rates (which I had done before they arrived!) and Bill writes this number on the piece of paper: $2,810!

I tried not to look shocked as he explained how he arrived at this number. Negotiate?  No, way!  Show me the money!!!  He did.  

Next week, Ann will get back to me with an offer on my wedding ring.  We’re not taking any risks and bringing along any fancy jewelry on our multi year journey that may attract thieves.  Sell my ring?  Yep! Remember, no attachment to “things.”

We will remain attached to people, to Mother Nature, to life changing experiences, a few creature comforts, food for survival, endless learning and of course, each other.  That, my friends, is priceless!

Selling most of my jewelry, precious or not!…

Jewelry displayed on our 60″ square table

A simple pair of sterling silver, minimal dangling earrings are my only accouterments these days.  For some odd reason, as I have aged, jewelry feels heavy and cumbersome.

I’m annoyed by the feeling of rings on my fingers difficult to get over my slightly swollen joints, then feeling too loose once in place, necklaces with the clasp invariably finding its way to the front of my neck and bracelets or watches flicking at my somewhat bony wrist.  

This disdain for jewelry started in my 50’s after an obsessive period of making jewelry, trendy at the time.  Working 12 hour work days, I somehow found the time to seemingly spend countless hours perusing beads in various bead stores, almost getting a high off the selection of beads from around the world.   

With Tom working weekends at the time, I busied myself with a professional sized lighted magnifying mirror content to sit for hours, eyes squinting to create an endless array of what I considered at the time, to be uniquely designed necklaces, bracelets and matching earrings.  Surely, there was a career as a jewelry designer looming there!  Ha!

Upon completion of a “set,” I’d leave them out for days on a meticulously folded piece of black velvet with the intent of frequently admiring my handiwork.  

As a result of my job at the time, we were often invited to fancy affairs, resulting in an opportunity to wear the fruits of my labor.  A piece of my jewelry served as the inspiration for my outfit fit for the night, sending me to shop online for a great deal on a dress.

It was 1998, eBay’s early years, and I relished in the opportunity to shop online to find the perfect designer dress at a fraction of the retail cost.  Always easy to fit, it wasn’t unusual for me to find a dress for under $25 to which I supplemented my selected jewelry pieces for a finished look.  

Tom, dressed to the 9’s as the proverbial penguin (albeit, with a degree of disdain), looked polished and handsome at my side.  We enjoyed the ambiance of elegant venues, the experience, the gourmet food and the idle conversation amongst ourselves and our table mates.

Five years and 100 or so necklaces later, I left the company for greener pastures along with the experience of the elegant occasions in tow.  I stopped making the jewelry, placing them in an oversized wooden jewelry box, where they remained for the past nine years, seldom to be used, never to be displayed, subsequently resulting in little, if any, emotional attachment.

Yesterday, I began the painstaking process of preparing the handcrafted jewelry and my many years-of-accumulation other jewelry including a little gold, a little silver and a few diamonds, to be perused by the jewelry guy Bill, recommended by our estate sales guy, Jim Anderson of Caring Estate Sales, coming to visit on Thursday. 

Of course, while polishing and preparing my handmade pieces, I discovered a few that called my name, to travel along with us, to occasionally adorn a colorful summery outfit. Not too many, just a few, none of which would be sufficient bounty for a thief, of which we’ve been warned over and over again.  

No rings, no gold, no big silver pieces will travel with us and draw attention to us as likely prey.  Over the past several months in an effort to get used to it,  I stopped wearing my wedding ring, placing it in a safe deposit box.  Tom, never wore a wedding ring, fearing injury at work nor anything other than a watch that he swears to “throw away” on his retirement date!

Eventually, when we are unable to continue to see the world, we will go the bank, retrieve the ring, perhaps to be worn again if I can get it past the burgeoning ring finger knuckle.

I will update you on the results of the upcoming visit by the jeweler, unlikely to purchase any of my “costume” jewelry which ultimately will be offered for sale at the upcoming estate sale at the end of October, three months away.

Months ago, I wrote about our purchase of four old fashioned ice cube trays. We love ice in our drinks, but in several locations the water won’t be fit for our consumption. Thus, each day we will freeze the four trays with bottled water  to maintain a steady stream of ice.

Iced cube trays packed with smaller jewelry items to be sealed with plastic lids for traveling

When discussing our desire for ice with Tom, I suggested an alternate use for the four trays and filled the little cups with my jewelry, covering each tray with the accompanying plastic lids.  

Today, while separating the jewelry I’d like to bring for our out-on-the-town nights, and dress up nights on the cruises, I went ahead and filled the ice cube trays.  With the trays, lids and jewelry, it was a total of two pounds including a few larger pieces that needed to go into a plastic bag.

Bye, bye jewelry.  Hello, world.

No bed bugs for us!…

These ideas just pop into our heads.  We research.  We discuss the options.  We consider price, shipping costs, quality, weight, and most of all, how badly do we need it.

Both Tom and I cringe at the thought of bed bugs.  Who doesn’t?  

We currently have a dual king Sleep Number bed, for us, the most comfortable bed in the world.  The fact that the head and foot of each side of bed raise up by two individual remote controls (as well as adjusting the degree of firmness), resulting in the necessity of two separate mattresses and box springs. 

The only drawback has been the difficulty of the cuddling, being divided by a crack between the two mattresses.  We have managed to compensate for this quite well, thank you.  Use your imagination. 

Giving up our bed is not easy for me.  It is the only piece of furniture to which I will sadly say goodbye. Suffering with a painful spine condition, the bed has been a lifesaver for me over the past 9 years since we made the pricey purchase.  Tom could sleep on a bed of nails!  He won’t miss the bed.

As we wind down here, the topic of bed bugs has come to the surface. Will our vacation homes have more or less risk of bed bugs as opposed to a hotel?  We’ve decided that we would rather haul around a solution than haul around several thousand bed bugs in our luggage.  

As a result, we will need zippered high quality bed bug proof mattress, box spring and pillow covers!  Yes, we’ll now be hauling an extra 9 pounds (approximate weight. We will weigh them when they arrive).  This may sound foolish and overly paranoid.  But, I ask, have you seen photos of bed bugs or the risks to one’s health?  Yikes!  

Yesterday at noon, laptop in hand, frosty iced tea beside me and parked in my comfy chair, the online search began for the zippered high quality bed bug proof mattress, box spring and pillow covers.

A new dilemma, entered the picture.  What size do we buy? A few of the houses we are renting, have a king sized bed, some are queen while others are simply old fashioned double beds (talk about cuddling).  It would be impossible to haul varying sizes.  

Most king-sized beds have a split box spring.  After much research, we discovered the importance of covering the box springs as well as the mattress.   

Solution: purchase two zippered queen-sized box spring covers in the event of double box springs on the king beds and, purchase one zippered king-sized mattress cover, although too big for the smaller beds, can be tucked in under the mattress.  

After searching through ten various bedding sites, to determine full retail price, quality brands that we also allergy proof, bed bug proof and comfortable to sleep on (no vinyl, no latex), I found my way back to eBay for some serious bed bug free shopping.

This was not the easiest item to find. The quality and pricing was all over the place. After a good hour and a half of searching, I finally found what we needed, the king mattress, the two queen box spring and the two king pillow covers, all meeting our criteria. Grand total $173.17.  

Each time we will arrive at a property, before unpacking our bags, we will have to cover the mattress, box spring and pillows of the bed we will sleep in.  We may be exhausted from traveling, may have been flying for 24 hours or more, may want to fall on our faces on the bed.  

Then again, when we leave for the next location, we’ll have to remember to take them off of the bed early enough to wash and dry them, and fold them properly to fit into our luggage.  Not an easy task.  If we have an early departure with no time for laundry, we will be bringing an airtight sealed bag that we will carry on in order to keep it separate from our luggage until we can launder them when arrive at the next spot.  Not an easy task.

We console ourselves for this daunting task by reminding ourselves: no more lawn to mow, no weeds to pull, no windows to wash, no hauling patio furniture, inside and out, no carpet to shampoo, no cars to wash, no hatches to batten down in winter, no more utility bills and on and on and on.  

Life is filled with trade-offs.  Yes, we are trading one load of tasks for a whole new world of tasks, in a new environment, with new people around us, with new scenery to enjoy.  But one thing remains the same, we will have each other. And that, dear readers, is how and why we do this; to share a once-in-a-lifetime experience with our lover, our best friend and our favorite companion with whom dreams are made and ultimately realized. 

So, one more item is knocked off the list, that will give us peace of mind, reduce stress and add to the enjoyment of “living in the world” for no less than three years and maybe, health providing, many more years to come.

Be well.

Fears of selling on eBay?…Gone!…

As a relatively experienced online shopper, I have kicked myself over the years for not attempting to “sell” anything on eBay.  Often running across items I no longer use or like, I have thought “why not put this on eBay and get rid of it.”

Wrongfully, I assumed it would take more time to take the photo, upload it, write the item’s description, find an appropriate box with bubble wrap, prepare the label for shipping subsequently taking it to the post office, to make it worth the few dollars I’d make.

With over three months until our estate sale, I thought, why bother?  

Well, this week, I succumbed to the eBay selling frenzy, selling three items this week for a total of $139 less the $12.65 I paid for the free shipping I offered with the “Buy It Now” prices.   
The “handling” of entering the three items to eBay’s website, the packaging and postage prep required a total of 18 minutes of my time. With a  few calculations I tallied my average earnings at $421.17 per hour!  

Here are the items I sold:

SierraSil Joint Formula 14 180 caps NEW – Promotes joint health and mobility,
End time: Jul-13-12 12:05:52 PDT
Sale price: $45.00
Quantity: 2
Quantity sold: 2
Quantity remaining: 0

Coleman LED Quad Lantern — Battery Powered Outdoor Camping/Emergency Lantern
End time: Jul-13-12 20:42:16 PDT
Sale price: $49.00
Quantity:  1
Quantity sold: 1
Quantity remaining: 0

Here’s how they sold so quickly:

  1. The pricing for the items was determined by checking recent sales of the same items on eBay that were also “used.”  I decided to go slightly under these prices and offering “free shipping.”
  2. Researching the items at the manufacturer’s websites, I copied and pasted the photos and descriptions to ensure I accurately represented the items.  
  3. In a matter of a few minutes, the items were uploaded and active.
  4. The next morning, I received an email from eBay telling me the “Buy It Now” items had sold and was paid by the buyer of course, for the prices I had asked.  (Why didn’t I let the items go via an auction?  Simple, I wanted to spend as little time as possible paying attention to an ongoing auction, and I wanted to sell the items for my competitive asking price).  In the email from eBay, I was able to follow a link taking me directly to the printing of a mailing label.  All that was required of me was to weigh the items on my kitchen scale in the packaging materials and posting it online.  EBay subsequently calculated the price of the postage using USPS, my preference. My PayPal account was debited the cost of the postage with no mark-up.
  5. Printing the label on plain white printer paper, I taped it with shipping tape to the boxes I happened to have on hand, sealed the packages and took them out to my mail.  When I listed the items, I had arranged with my mail person to take the prepaid packages thus avoiding a trip to the post office.
  6. Within three days, I received another email from eBay stating that the total funds of $139 were now available in my 
    PayPal account. 

Continue reading “Fears of selling on eBay?…Gone!…”

Sunday Morning…

Ceramic tea set our granddaughter used to serve us “tea.”  I saved this set for her as we made totes for our grandchildren filled with memorabilia.
As we sat in our comfy chairs this morning, a rerun of Sunday Morning playing in the background, our precious little granddaughter almost three years old, served us “pretend” tea from this tea set which had gone unnoticed on the bookcase for almost 26 years.
Where I found this miniature tea set fails me. Was it an arts and crafts fair, an antique shop, Apple Days in Excelsior, or merely a local garage sale? In any case, most likely I didn’t pay more than $10 for it. 

But this morning when our tiny overnight visitor served us the tiny cups of “pretend” tea, it was priceless. When she leaves later today to return home, I will carefully wrap and place this little treasure in the bins we are saving for each of our grandchildren, little treasures from our past for our treasured young loved ones. Ouch!

Wiping tears from my eyes, Tom suggested I look at the TV for a moment to see a story on Sunday Morning about Fiesta of which we have main dinner service for 25 plus a wide array of plates, serving pieces, bowls and glasses. 

In 2004, we remodeled our kitchen combining three rooms into one large space. Due to our close proximity to the lake, zoning restrictions prevented us from “building out.”

With seating for 12 at the giant wood island, eight at the 60″ square table, three at the corner banquet and two more in comfy chairs for a total of 25.
River rock granite and stones on side of fireplace.
Our Fiestaware dishes brought out the colors.

Thus, began our (mostly mine) fixation on dinnerware for 25. Searching for months online for style, function and price, we finally decided on Fiesta for several reasons:

1. We were able to choose four base colors all of which matched our river rock granite counter tops and hand picked river rock boulders in the fireplace. This resulted in either a mix and match place setting for smaller groups or one or two color place settings at any time.

2. Timeless style – Fiesta was introduced over 80 years ago

3.  Durable – I am constantly dropping things (or, as Tom would say,  I’m “a bull in a China shop.”

4.  Easy to find replacement pieces on eBay and other web sites.

5.  Playful or elegant depending upon the selection of our many matching linen napkins and place mats and, of course, the manner of folding the napkins.  Yes, I have been using linen napkins all of my adult life, folded in a style befitting the occasion along with other decorative accouterments including flowers, candles, flatware, etc.
Sample of the colors in our Fiesta dinnerware.

This was fun! Tom wasn’t into cloth napkins when I met him. In time, he came over to the other side, leaving me chuckling when he occasionally helped set the table, gingerly placing the folded napkin in the correct spot. That’s my man!

Let’s not forget for a moment that we met halfway on the multitude of differences we immediately observed when we started dating. (Those will be a point of discussion in a future post). Adapting to each other’s taste and differences is part of the reason we will be able to continue to be happy when we’re together 24/7, beginning this October 31st! We are continually challenged and intrigued by these differences while being delighted by the accommodations we each make to please each other.

Needless to say, Fiesta… in its entirety will be sold at our upcoming estate sale or sooner. Bye, bye dishes! Any takers?P.S. If its hard to say goodbye to dishes, how can one fathom saying goodbye to family and friends? Stuffing that for now. Will deal later.

He liked his shoes!…He liked my shoes!…

Buying gifts for Tom has always been a dilemma.  His hobby is ancestry.  What does one buy for a person obsessed with their ancestry?  He recently purchased another year of his annual dues for Ancestry.com.  Only a week ago, he purchased his DNA test from Ancestry.com to discover yet more about his roots. 

I could have presented him with a trip to Ireland to look for his ancestors, but duh, our travel plans are set for the next three years or more and, he’s already traveled to Ireland twice, BJ (before Jess).  

In the past, I have presented him with books, tools, electronic gadgets and household “fix-it” paraphernalia and, every other year, swim shorts with matching, colorful tee-shirts. This year I was at a loss. I couldn’t buy him anything other than that which he could put into his suitcases.

In an effort to ensure he had a nicely wrapped gift to open for Father’s Day, I reviewed the remaining items he needed for our adventure, deciding on the double duty aspect of giving him gifts while fine tuning his packing. Ah!

Yesterday morning after a breakfast of low carb, gluten free coconut flour pancakes, eggs and meaty bacon, I presented him with his gift, neatly wrapped in one big box with Happy Birthday paper (have to use that up) adorned with a matching black “guy” bow.  We were celebrating the last Father’s Day we’ll spend in our Minnesota home.

For Father’s Day I purchased three swim short sets for our travels.

When Tom left for a few hours yesterday morning for a traditional Father’s Day activity with some of our kids and grandchildren, I decided to do the unthinkable;  go to a mall!! His enthusiasm over his water shoes piqued my interest while I had visions of fancy high heels floating around my head for the many formal nights on the seven (so far) cruises we have booked.  

Tom has always loved seeing me wear high heels, mainly pumps, no toes showing. Over the years, I have worn them less and less, fearful of falling and injuring myself.  As the fashion trend to wear high heels (over 3″) has escalated (no pun intended) these past several years, I kept convincing myself that wearing high heeled shoes is bad. 

One pair “water” shoes on left, dress sandals on the right and “insect guard” long sleeve shirt and, what Tom refers to as the “French Foreign Legion” type hat with a neck protector that also has been treated with insect guard” 

Generally speaking, high heels aren’t comfortable. They pinch. They cause blisters. They cause corns and bunions neither of which I surprisingly don’t have, after years of wearing heels in the 70’s and 80’s. 

Adventuresome spirit possessing me lately (zip line still a maybe), I decided to do whatever I could to find a few comfortable pairs of three or four inch heels to wear with my dressy dresses on the formal nights aboard ship.  Comfortable heels? Oxymoron?

I decided to put my shoe size vanity aside (81/2) and buy a wider width of my otherwise normal width feet to see if this would reduce the discomfort.  Don’t get me wrong, I can easily walk in high heels after much experience, but comfort seems to be more of a need than a want once a person hits their 60’s.

While at the shoe store, I only grabbed the 81/2 W.  Amazing!  I found these two pairs of perfect styled shoes, albeit not the pumps Tom prefers, that will be divine matches for two of my three fancy dresses, but I had to order the third pair when they didn’t have them in stock.  Not only were they comfortable, I could almost jog in these heels.

Rather pleased with myself after the successful trip to the mall, I reveled in spending a grand total of only $73 for the four comfortable pairs of shoes.

Note that my new “water” shoes on the right are almost identical to Tom’s (although mine were less than 1/2 the price of his)!  Imagine, we’ll match!

Returning home in the early afternoon, I began preparing his choice of dinner, a repeat from only two weeks ago: low carb, gluten free, sugar free, wheat free, grain free homemade pizza. 

When Tom arrived home, I rushed him off to the bedroom to see the shoes.  He giggled that the water shoes matched his and he liked the bargain price of $73. But his eyes narrowed as he contemplated the strappy high heels sitting on the bed, as opposed to a closed, no-toes-showing, pump.  

One solution to those narrowed eyes; I put on the most strappy of the two pairs and began prancing around the room awaiting a reaction. He waited for me to wobble.  I didn’t.  He breathed a little sigh of relief.

And then, that appealing toothy smile came across his face along with the crinkling of the little lines around his blue eyes.  He liked the shoes.  

Pack or sort???…

Yesterday, was a “sorting” day. 

The definition of sort, a verb as found in the Dictionary.com:

  1. Arrange systematically in groups; separately according to type, class, etc.: “she sorted out the clothes.”
  2. Look at (a group of things) one after another in order to classify them or make a selection:  “she sorted through her mail.”

Henceforth, in this blog, I will use either of these two words, “pack” or “sort.”
“Pack (in our case), referring to the systematic, relatively insane process (in my case) of placing myriad clothing, electronics and personal effects into four suitcases and two carry-on bags with the ultimate goal of being dragged (yes, dragged) around the world.

Oh, there is one exception to the above “pack,” the process of packing a variety of memorabilia into approximately four over-sized plastic totes which our adult children have offered to store for us in their basements. Thanks, kids!

“Sort” (in our case) referring to the systematic, relatively insane process (in my case) of examining and determining the fate of myriad household items as I peruse endless cabinets, closets, drawers, containers, boxes and old totes. 

Yesterday, I spent the entire afternoon sorting only a few items: a small plastic cabinet filled with office supplies and another smaller plastic cabinet filled with cosmetics. 

As I pulled these two dusty cabinets from my walk-in closet where they’ve resided for years in the living room with the TV on in the background, placed them in from of my comfy chair with a “to save” bin on my right an a “trash” bin on my left, working on the smaller cosmetic container first.

Small and smaller plastic cabinets

Two hours later, after picking through every single item, testing, smelling, washing, tossing I discovered I had found 26 years of good quality make-up brushes as shown in the above photo.  

After washing each and every brush and tossing a few, I placed them in this neat little black foldout makeup brush case.  I was thrilled!  It was like brand new, definitely going into the “to be packed in suitcase” pile.  

Toiletries to pack.

On the island of Madeira, Portugal, located off the coast of Africa where we’ll spend 2 1/2 months beginning May 2014, if I need a little paint brush, it will be right there!  As for a makeup brush, yes, I will use some of these, not all of them. As I wrote this today, reality hit me. 

These brushes, minus, two or three for the trip, must go in the “to be sold” pile. If I have had these brushes for so many years and still hadn’t used them it was time to say, “Bye, bye brushes.”

Bye, bye, office supplies.  Bye, bye little cabinets.  But, hello middle photo of miscellaneous toiletries (minus the brushes) including three pairs of false eyelashes that I can’t seem to get to adhere to my own lashes (bye, bye, perhaps?), eight packages of plastic brush teeth picks (our dentist says we’ve saved our gums using these), a portable magnifying mirror, silver cleaning polish (for my silver jewelry), and a plastic container with my cosmetics, enough to last for at least two years.

Office supplies for the estate sale.

All afternoon?  Well, I did four loads of laundry, ironed a pile of clothes, made dinner, washed all the display glassware in the kitchen and spoke to a friend in Florida for an hour, who also retires in the fall. 

Today? Back to the “sorting” in preparation for the upcoming shredding event next Saturday morning; one “to save’ bin on my right and one “to shred” bin on my left.