Friday, February 21, 2014

30 Day Arm Challenge

I am a fool for punishment.  I'm still working on my running, doing one day on the treadmill running, and then on alternate days I just walk on the treadmill or do 20 minutes of massive leg stretches and sit-ups.

Then the other day I stumbled upon the 30 Day Arm Challenge on Pinterest....  

Hmmm.....  that doesn't look too bad, right?   Wrong!  I may have over estimated my ability a wee bit.  I was in for a very rude awakening when I tried to do the 4 pushups on day 1.  I have to admit that I was shocked that I couldn't do 4 straight push ups.   The triceps dips and the mountain climbers weren't a problem, but the push ups kicked my butt.  And that pissed me off big time.  Today was day 3 of the challenge and I'm happy to say that I'm already on-track and did 5 push ups today.   Yeah me!! 

I was also scheduled to run 2 miles today on the treadmill, but that was a fail too.  I'm not supposed to be eating fried food, but that rule flew out the window the minute my nephew walked in the door with 30 freshly caught bluegill from ice fishing.  Thanks Kyle!  Anyway, one dinner later of home fried potatoes, baked beans and fried fish and my plans for a 2 mile run were sunk.  I made it to 1.8 miles and honestly felt like I was going to pass out or throw up.  So I slowed it to a walk and called it a  night.  Disappointing yes, but still happy I got up off the couch and did something.

I'm going to continue to incorporate the 30 day arm challenge into my work outs for the next month and see if it works.  At the very least I will be able to do some push ups again.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

2014 Chicago RV Show

I love the lure of the open road, that dark line of concrete ribbon stretching out before me.  The month of February always finds me restless, bored with winter and lack of sunshine.  My wanderlust hits hard and I find myself day dreaming about hiking trails and streams, unfurled maps, loaded up cars and faraway destinations.  I'm ready to go!  That makes February the perfect time of year to visit the Chicago RV Show and Chablis and I always look forward to going every year.

When my kids were younger we owned several different sized RV's.  The first one we bought was a used pop up camper and it really was a piece of crap.  We just wanted to get a feel for the camper and see if we liked it before we invested a lot of money in something better.  When we bought it we didn't realize that there was a huge rip in the material along one end of the camper, right alongside the bed.  In the middle of the first night, Tony rolled over and fell right out of the camper and landed on the ground.  Imagine our surprise.  We still laugh about that one.  I'll tell you one thing, that camper lasted one trip and quickly got traded in for something larger, better, and best of all - brand new!

Every year we go to the RV show and spend hours climbing in and out of many different models.  When we went last year, which I talked about here, I was leaning towards a Class C motor home.  In the months since, we've nixed that idea and the biggest reason is that I don't like the idea of always having to take my "home" with me when we just want to sight-see, or geocache, when out of town.  So we've narrowed it down to a pull behind camper.

 It's amazing how many different things they can do with a limited amount of space.

I took a picture of this one only because the name got me.  Sanibel - yeah. 

The color choices and the materials used today are just beautiful.

Chablis is always partial to the bunk beds.  Some kids never grow up.

While we were walking around we ran into my sister and her husband.  How wild is that?

Choosing the correct size is important.  The smallest RV we owned was 18 ft. and the largest was 36 feet with 2 slide out units.  Like Goldilocks and the 3 bears, I have to say that the 18 ft. was too small and the 36 ft. was too big.  Chablis and I decided that a 27 ft. with 1 slide out would be just about right!

Here's the one I really liked this year.  Chablis gave it 2 thumbs up as well....

Lots of storage.....

The kitchen was really pretty with a good sized refrigerator and a good amount of counter space.  The bathroom was large and had a full size shower.  There were 2 large bunks in the back....

Nice wrap around seating for the kitchen table....

Look at the size of the TV!  And get this cool feature -  The TV was on a swivel so you could turn it at night and it faces the master bedroom behind it.  That was awesome and a must-have for my hubby.

I also really liked this feature - see that rounded cabinet under the counter? It swings out and there are 2 storage areas in there.  Sweet!

I think Betty Boop wants me to have this RV.  In fact, if we got this RV, I think that's what I'd have to name her...  Betty Boop!

We also stopped by the Progressive Insurance booth.  They had a bunch of give away prizes and we won some insect repellent, a travel water dish and leash for Petey and a nice tee-shirt....

I also got my picture taken with Flo.....

All in all it was a fun day at the RV show.  I really want another RV and I know sometime in the future we'll have one again.  In the meantime, it's fun to dream isn't it?  I have to do something when that wanderlust kicks in!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Where's Lady Magpie Gone?

Please welcome my friend Heather, aka Lady Magpie.  She's a fellow blogger and geocacher over at The Ramblings of a Mad PensionerShe's been out of commission for a little bit and now she's ready to re-enter the blogging and geocaching world....

Where's Lady Magpie Gone

I know all you readers have been wondering what happen to that mad pensioner Lady Magpie, that used to write on this blog. Has she finally gone on to caches new or just faded away in the lost valley of Geocaching. Well I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm live and well and still kicking, although perhaps at a reduced rate.

It was way back in November 2012 and I had just completed an arduous 7 cache walk along a very a rugged green track, approx. 5 miles all together solo. Well who needs men to get the GPS wrong anyway.

The following morning I awoke in discomfort having discovered an abscess in a place that you really wouldn't want an abscess. A visit to the old doc followed, where he poked, prodded and generally made me more uncomfortable than when I arrive. It's incredible how all those years of training can give them the medical knowledge to utter the words "You've got an abscess", when in fact that's just what I said when I walked into his surgery. A prescription was issued and I hoped that was that.

Gloucester Hospital Tower.
Well by the time that abscess disappeared another had entered my world of ailments, thus curtailed my caching activities once again. Suddenly I discovered that I was having problems sitting on any chairs due to a serious pain that had started in my groin, and also an infection was starting right through my stomach, liver etc. By Christmas I had become very ill with nobody able to find what was wrong. Suddenly, on Boxing Day, I was rushed into Gloucester Royal Hospital by ambulance after being found by my brother in distress, Santa Claus had to wait this year.

I have hated this hospital since both my parents died here in the 90's and 00's. Not that I'm blaming our brilliant NHS (National Health Services), but the ward I was in was so understaffed it was ridicules, similar to when they were in there.

My room of gloom,  everyone else had left.
OK they were treating me with antibiotics, but within a few days they had kindly given my a serious bout of the Nora-virus. Now I don't know if any of you have had this, but for a few days it felt as if the world had dropped out of every orifice in my body, I will say no more. Due to this virus being so contagious our ward was shut down. We therefore had no visitors and even the nursing staff wouldn't come in, they just left what food they could by the ward doorway for us to pick up. I was not a happy Magpie, because I had no internet, no good television and was just lucky enough to get a slight signal on my mobile phone.

I was really fed up by now and all I wanted to do was get home again which I did after ten days. Yes they had stopped all the infections in my stomach, liver etc, but they had not found the reason why I felt I had on one of Tiger Woods' golf balls in my groin (Don't you dare say it must have been a hole in one).

Mo will be remembered by many.
The following year has been one of hospital visit, followed by more hospital visits, as they searched for the problem, I'm certain Mystic Meg would have solved my problems quicker.

Unfortunately I was also taking my my beloved Sister Mo to a cancer hospital every 4 weeks (chemotherapy) as she battled with the disease for a second year. Mind you, although the long journeys back and forth was teddious, I did sneak in a few geocaches in when I could. Her hospital was in the famous town of Cheltenham with many splendid Georgian Terraces, The picture below shows just what Cheltenham is all about and the cache I found was one of those little magnet nano's on the fencing.

My dear Sister Mo, who was my life, lost her battle and past away peacefully at home in October 2013. As you can imagine it was hard to actually get through each day let alone go out caching, but this did show one thing to me, my medical problems were nothing in comparison to what she had to go through.

The Spender of Georgian Cheltenham
By now the doctors have given up and decided what I needed was lots of medication. Now I'm sure the amount they have given me could kill all the buffalo on the prairies of North America. let alone ease my pain. I'm also sure that I now rattle as I walk around with the amount of pills I'm taking. This has caused me even more problems, well being such an old fart, I keep forgetting to take the flipping things. My Niece, Kernowboo, that's her caching name, came up with a fantastic idea. She has made me set up my mobile phone with an alarm that goes off every time I have to take some tablets. Very clever, but she didn't appreciate me asking if she could now ring me up to remind me to switch my phone on.

So where am I now in terms of geocaching after being limited to only 59 during 2013. I do plan to get back as much as I can, even if muggles can hear me rattles as I walk along. I have also started getting into photograph, combined with the caching, and have a few websites where my photos have been viewed. I leave you with a few of them and a reminder, look out THE MAGPIE IS BACK.

A few examples of what an old pensioner can do if found with a camera in hand, enjoy.

The Home of the Woolly Jumper.

The heart of a poinsettia.

Very close to my home.

Thanks for sharing your post Heather.  We're glad to have you back!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

2014 Sanibel Captiva Handbook

I don't know about you, but in the middle of the extreme winter we've been having, my thoughts keep turning to warmer weather, miles of sandy beaches, crystal blues waters and piles of seashells.....  Ahhhh..... Sanibel Island.  Sanibel Island is my happy place.

If you're planning a trip someplace, what's an indispensable item?  A guidebook of course!  And whether you're a first time visitor or a seasoned veteran of Sanibel, the Sanibel Captiva Guidebook is a must have.

You may remember my review of last years guidebook edition here and if you missed my interview with guidebook author, JB Reynolds, you have to go back and read it.  JB shared the reasons why he loves Sanibel and his personal history with this magical place.  He and his wife have continued the tradition of writing and publishing the guidebook that his parents began decades ago.

Simple and affordable, the Sanibel Captiva Guidebook is packed with all the information you need.  Climate, tide charts, detailed maps, a tour of the island from east to west, restaurants, souvenir shops, parking, history, beaches, shelling, phone numbers, fishing, accommodations, bike rentals, wildlife, and grocery stores.  One of my favorite aspects of the guidebook is the hand drawn maps showing where everything is located.  This is such a plus for newcomers to the island.  It's all here!

This years edition has these updates....
  •  27 new black and white photos from the authors personal collection
  • updated tide charts which are a must for shelling enthusiasts
  • updated fishing guidelines at your fingertips
  • new business listings
  • current maps reflecting new business locations and the deletion of defunct ones

Where else could you get such great value for your money?  $ 13.95 gets you all the information you need to make your Sanibel vacation as carefree as possible.  Order your copy today and start planning your vacation in paradise.   I can practically feel the warmth of the sun on my back as I assume the Sanibel stoop position.  Breathe deep and smell the buffalo wings, spicy hot in a box at Schnappers.  Or how about fresh shrimp in garlic at Timbers, or maybe plank salmon at Doc Fords.  What to choose??  Top it off with Sanibel Crunch ice cream from Pinocchio's as you stroll bare footed down the causeway beach and watch as the sun streaks purple, yellow and orange on the horizon.  No matter where you want to go or what you want to do on the island, the Sanibel Captiva guidebook will tell you how to find it.

Visit the Sanibel Captiva Handbook website for current information and be sure to check out their Sanibel Captiva FB page as well.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Review - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, by Juliette Michaud, Flammarion, 2013

This recently released 288 page, hard cover edition measures 9 1/2" x 12 1/4" and is loaded with 380 color and black and white illustrations.  Movie buffs and those interested in the golden age of Hollywood will treasure this volume.  The pictures alone are worth a thousand words.  Stunning full page photos of many of the leading stars of every era grace the pages.  Movie stills, publicity shots, and behind the scenes photos grace almost every page.  The photo quality and resolution are top notch and you will delight in the images at every turn of the page.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood chronicles the rich history on the origins of Hollywood and the cinema.  Learn about silent films, the dawn of the "talkies," and the first Academy Awards ceremony. The book reads like a who's who of Hollywood royalty starting with the first major stars such as Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Theda Bara, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., John Gilbert, Gloria Swanson, Rudolph Valentino and Clara Bow.  Find out who was nicknamed "America's Sweetheart" or "The King of Hollywood."  Read the stories behind legendary power couples like Bogie and Bacall, Tracy and Hepburn or Leigh and Olivier.  Femmes Fatales graced the silver screen in the 1940's - which of your favorites made the list?

What role did censorship play and how did Hollywood side step the restraints imposed upon the way films were made?  Top notch directors created film after dazzling film with their masterful direction and attention to detail.  Love stories, westerns and musicals  - the public was entertained!

The maze that is Hollywood twists and turns with every step -  through the studio system stars were nurtured and/or exploited, CinemaScope on the wide screen competed with television and brought us films with lavish color.  Suddenly everything on the silver screen appeared magical.  Huge budgets, scandals, delays, and power plays orchestrated the rise and fall of major studios. 

Scattered throughout the book are rare actor interviews, and other than the photos themselves, I enjoyed reading these the most.  I relished the interviews with Kirk Douglas, Jane Fonda, Tippi Hedren, Shirley MacLaine, and Mickey Rooney most of all.  It was enlightening to read the actor back stories and the personal insider aspects of their lives that you never get to hear - the parties they attended, who was involved in different films, the affairs, the nostalgia. 

The list of films mentioned and discussed in the book is long and in-depth.  Here's just a sampling although the list goes on and on....

  • The Whales of August
  • The Apartment
  • Klute
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's
  • National Velvet
  • Singing in the Rain
  • Captains Courageous
  • Guys and Dolls
  • Gone With the Wind
  • Houseboat
  • How to Marry a Millionaire
  • Some Like it Hot
  • East of Eden
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  • Easy Rider
As I read the book I kept two lists going.  The first is a list of film's that I've never seen but now want to, movies like....
  • Citizen Kane
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
  • Julia
  • Singing In The Rain
  • Funny Face
  • Irma La Douce
  • Hawaii
The second is a list of old favorites that I'd like to see again....
  • Hello Dolly
  • Mary Poppins
  • Boys Town
  • African Queen
  • Lilies in the Field
  • Pillow Talk
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is the ultimate reference book about the magic of Hollywood, from its humble beginnings to the New Age of the 1960's.  It's all here, the great films, the studio heads who started it all, the producers and directors who turned visions into reality and the scores of actors and actresses who will live on forever because of the magic and mystery that most of us can only dream about.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.   Get your copy here

(I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Images are the property of the publisher and cannot be reproduced without consent)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Chevron Infinity Scarf

Astri over at Apple Blossom Dreams is total inspiration when it comes to crochet.  She makes the most fabulous things, with the prettiest color combinations ever.  I am always in awe of her talent.

One of the things I like best about her blog is that she takes the time to post great pictures and tutorials, especially for those of us who are crochet challenged.  Like me! 

In December Astri shared a tutorial for a chevron infinity scarf that I fell in love with.  I had never even tried a ripple pattern, but her photos were so clear and her tutorial was so well written that I was inspired to give it a try.

I crochet very slowly and it took me almost a month, but here it is....


If you'd like the link to her tutorial, here it is.
Thank you Astri for all your help and encouragement.  Go check out her blog and be inspired!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Crocheted Owl

I wanted to show you the cute little crocheted owl I made for Chablis.  I wish I could share the pattern with you but the woman who had it on her blog has shut it down and now I can't access it.  I couldn't even tell you how I made it if I tried.

I'm sitting and watching the opening ceremonies for The Olympics.  Are you?

Monday, February 3, 2014

New Beginnings and An Avacado Seed

Every year around the beginning of February, I start to get the gardening bug.  You know, thoughts turn to fresh herbs, plump red tomatoes, fat green or red peppers, roses and daylilies,  hosta's and a dozen other vegetables and flowers.

I used to have a huge garden, but over the past few years I haven't had the time  nor the energy to properly devote to that anymore.  Or maybe it's just that my growing fascination with refinishing garage sale finds and crafting signs from old pallets has slowly taken away my time and attention.

But there's one little tradition that still holds fast and that's the annual planting of an avocado seed.  Such a simple thing really.  I love avocadoes, either plain, or with salad dressing, sliced up in a salad or smashed into guacamole.  Whatever - they are yummy.

I'll take the seed, wash it, poke it with a couple of tooth picks and carefully suspend it in a glass of water on the sink.  I watch it and nurture it, full of hope that one day some roots will start to dangle from the bottom and a stem will sprout from the top, reaching skyway, or towards the cabinets at any rate.

If I'm lucky it will soon spout some leaves and pretty soon I can pick out a colorful pot to plant it in.  I'll happily move it over to the sunny kitchen window and watch as it thrives and eventually I will take it outside for the summer.

I don't have a clue why I insist on trying to grow a damn avocado tree either.  I've never managed to grow one past the following autumn.  They always die off on me.  I'm going with the fact that our Chicago winters are too cold for a fragile avocado tree to survive.  Probably not true, but that's what I'm going with.

On Saturday I again poked a few toothpicks into this years sacrificial avocado seed.  I'm looking forward to spring and warm weather and shorts and tee shirts.  I'm thinking about the promise of new growth, not only for flowers and plants, but for myself as well.  And if I fall flat on my face like my avocado plants usually do, well, then I'll pick myself up and just start over again.

New beginnings.....  What promise does spring hold for you?

Want to grow an avocado?  Click here to see how.

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