Feeling the love and project updates!

On Saturday, I participated in our local Women’s march. This year, politics was so full of hate and division. Depressing, really. People actually marched for all kinds of reasons. Not everyone was there for the same reason, but I have to say that the feeling at this march was just joy and love. Seriously! It was a pretty amazing feeling. People gathered and strangers all talked, intermingled and hugged each other.  It was so powerful!

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There was a good amount of men in the march as well, including Joh). I have to admit that when I decided to do this march in our small town, I kind of figured that there would be maybe a couple dozen people and I thought there would be more people hurling insults than marching. The flyer for the march said marchers would meet in the library after for hot cocoa and a talk.  Boy was I mistaken!

I brought my list of people who gave me their names to march with in my pocket. When we got there, a good crowd had already formed. John and I went into a parking lot behind a building where we were sort of being corralled, so we couldn’t see much after that point of how many people were arriving. I was surprised at how many people were there already.

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We ran into a couple of my fellow volunteers at the Chapman, but ended up losing sight of them once the march got going.  My sister also came and thanks to cell phones and texts, we were able to find each other before it started. It’s hard to remember how difficult it was to coordinate things way back in the day before cell phones LOL!

Ground rules were laid down for the march. Stay out of the road, no engaging with any counter protesters and be respectful. There weren’t very many counter protesters. I think maybe 8 or so across the street, but they were quiet and no one bothered them.  As we started spilling out into the march, it was pretty obvious that there was a lot of people! It was about half a mile of walking and people were on both sides of the street. It was a little difficult to not disrupt traffic a bit because of the size of the march, but everyone seemed pretty conscious to accomodate cars and thank them for waiting.  Many (included myself) also thanked the police officers that were stationed around to make sure all was orderly. Like I said, this was very inclusive and positive!

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As we moved towards the library, the organizers were waving us past saying we would meet in the park because there was no way everyone would fit into the library. Needless to say, they didn’t make enough cocoa. LOL!

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The organizers expected about 150 people and today the estimates came in – about 1500 people showed up!  I knew it was a lot, but that was amazing. I do have to say, though, that reading comments on the article in the paper makes you understand why we need to be marching and that some people really don’t get the purpose. It was such a positive experience and what a great thing  a free country is that citizens can gather and peacefully demonstrate! Whether you agree with the march or not, I think we can all agree about that.

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After the march, it was back to projects. Never a dull moment around here.  It was time to do the countertop at my parents’ house. I have been doing most of the work, but for the counter I needed John’s help or it would have taken for-ever. Old counter:

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It’s in good shape, but just dated. We got the counter out undamaged so someone will be able to use it.

The rest of Saturday was spent laying down the new base for laminate. Then on Sunday, we cut and glued the laminate down and routed all the edges. Ta da!

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This laminate was ordered through Lowes. It is Formica brand Argento Romano.  It really looks nice!

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The backsplash will be tile and obviously the lower cabinets still need paint, but that was a huge part of the project completed. I have to say laminate is not one of my favorite projects. There isn’t a lot of room for error and no fudging LOL!  Now we’re starting to see the final look of the kitchen. My parents have been very patient with my limited time to be working there and finishing.

 

Marching

 

 

On Saturday, I will be joining women all over the country in marching. Not just for women’s rights, but for kindness, understanding, unity, for those who feel marginalized, and for our planet. I will be doing this locally.  If you can’t go to a march, I would be happy to take your name with me so that you can join in. It doesn’t matter who you voted for.  You can email me at javaqueen01@yahoo.com  with your name and who/what you are marching for and I will bring it with me.

Roosevelt Baths

Monday was a treat day! My sister, mother and I went to the Roosevelt Baths in Saratoga. My sister had given us gift certificates last Christmas and we just got around to using them.

Saratoga Springs has a long history of natural mineral springs and was a hot spot for health. There were a lot of bath houses built and the Roosevelt Baths are one of the original ones. It was built in 1930. It was eventually bought by the state and became part of  Saratoga Spa State Park.  It is kind of referred to as a campus, I guess. Lots of buildings that look like this:

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It is almost like an old university campus:

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We have been to another spa in Saratoga and that one was very posh and more modern. The Roosevelt baths are original, which is pretty neat! Obviously some of it was modernized, like the locker area:

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My sister took a picture of me in my robe. It almost looks like I am ready to go to a karate lession!

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The three of us had different services. I had an aromatherapy bath and then a massage.  Once you get changed, you go into the relaxation room while you are waiting for your treatment.

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This is an area with tables and chairs. There is a section with teas and fruit as well.

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There are also these nice lounge-y things:

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This room was empty when I came in. I think I had one of the first appointments of the day. You can go back and forth to the steam room from here while waiting for your treatments.

Here is an original cast iron 1930s bath:

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The mineral water is that brownish color. It’s also effervescent and you float like crazy!  These tubs are super deep, too. It goes below floor level. When I sat upright, the water came up almost to my shoulders. I want a deep tub like that.  For the aromatherapy part, you are given a teeny little bottle of an essential oil of your choice (eucalyptus, clary sage, pine or peppermint). I chose peppermint and you just sprinkle it in the bath.

After my bath, I moved over to the table in my room for a massage.

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It’s funny how these pictures look a little like a prison LOL! It didn’t feel like that, let me tell you.  I’ve never had a massage before, mostly because I have personal space issues and don’t like strangers touching me. But I thought I would give it a try. Orginally I was scheduled for a sugar scrub, but the person who does them broke her leg, so they gave me another service choice.

I liked the massage. It was a little hard for me to relax, but eventually I did.  Once the massage was finished, it was into the steam room (no pictures there!) and then back to the relaxation room for a while.

My mom and sister popped out at different times. I was done before they were and enjoyed a nice shower and relaxing.

It was pretty late after we finished, so we headed out to lunch in Ballston Spa. Our first choice had a big wait list, so we tried a new restaurant. Henry’s Pub.  It was good!  I decided on an appetizer for a meal, which was the poutine with corned beef on top. I asked for a half portion, but they made a mistake and gave me a full portion:

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They only charged me for a half portion, too. There was plenty to share.

We decided against dessert, but I got a kick out of the selections:

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We had a great day! It was definitely needed and long overdue.  I definitely will be back to these baths again.

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Gnocchi and women teachers

Sorry I haven’t been posting too much lately. I just haven’t been doing anything terribly interesting to talk about here.  Just some tidbits of things.

I shared this on FB so some of you will see this twice, but I had a really good dinner the other night. I lost the football picks for the first week of the playoffs (fantasy) and John wanted to go to Comfort Kitchen in Saratoga. Their food is so good, especially the macaroni and cheese, but I saw a new item on the menu, which was sweet potato gnocchi!

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It was in a brown butter sauce with swiss chard, ricotta cheese and some sort of walnut chunks. Breaded, maybe? So good!  It rivals their mac and cheese now.  Any locals that haven’t been there need to go.  I’d like to try making gnocchi from scratch some time, but I’m afraid it would turn out gummy.

More work in my parents’ kitchen.  It is a little slow going just because I have to go over there to work and there are limited hours in which to do it. I guess that’s what happens when you have free labor 😀

The paint is on the walls and the upper cabinet doors are in place.

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Color is a little funny because of the time of day, but you get the idea. Below the cabinets will be tile. Hopefully next weekend John and I will do the laminate countertop.

I got a new soap stamp made to stamp my soaps. I was using a fleur-de-lis, but I wanted my logo made. I went to Etsy and found someone to do a stamp for me and I tried it out this weekend:

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I like it! I need to get consistent with how much pressure is needed to imprint.

During my volunteer hours at the Chapman Museum, I was organizing files for the suffragist events going on this year. Even though the US ratified the 19th ammendment in 1920, New York allowed women to vote in 1917, so there are centennial events happening this year.

I came across this nugget of information:

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I you can’t read it, here is the text:  “No married woman shall be appointed to any teaching or supervising position in the New York public schools unless her husband is mentally or physically incapacitated to earn a living or has deserted her for a period of not less than one year”.

Gotta love it.  You could only teach if you were single. Now think of how many women — single or married — are a huge part of the teaching workforce.  Progress can happen.  I always wonder if I was born during that time period, would I be on the front lines for womens’ rights?  I like to think so, but I guess you never know.

Light box pics

One of my goals for the New Year was to get back into a structured lifting program. I can do that at home, but it’s not as fun. We got our renewal form for our insurance and now it will cover up to $600 in gym fees for us if we go 50 visits every 6 months. So, I’m thinking about signing up at my gym again since there is a new yearly membership special of $149 for the whole year.  That’s a pretty good deal and the insurance will reimburse every 6 months.  So, I might go for that. Not sure if John will or not. He doesn’t care for the gym so much 😀

When I posted about the light box a few days ago, Ali asked about pictures with and without it to see the difference, so here they are.

This is an example of the light box effect.  This first shot is with a light directly shining onto this object (annatto seeds).

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It’s kind of dramatic, really, but not the look I’m going for.   Note I used some leftover flooring for my backdrop (although  I ditched this in favor of white later).

This is the light pointed through the sides of the lightbox with a light on the other side as well:

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It diffuses and softens it. I took these with my phone, but my camera has a light ring on it so I can get forward light to reduce shadow even more.  I still need to play around with what looks good. I’m not a photographer 😀 This is one final shot I used.

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White background much better here, don’t you think? In case you are curious, annatto seeds can be used to make a natural yellow colorant and is used in makeup and food industries.

Since I’ve been so busy taking pictures and what not, John’s been doing most of the cooking this week.  He did a pan fried sesame ginger tofu with rice and ginger sauce. The broccoli is my addition:

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Yum! I’m actually liking the tofu when he cooks it that way. The tofu is crispy.

Tonight is more painting at my folks’ house. I am done painting the cabinet doors – finally!

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This one just needs a couple coats of polyurethane and it’s done. It will be good to get these out of the house LOL!

New light box!

It’s now at the point where I feel like I can start doing the things I had been planning on doing for a while, but just wasn’t able to make enough time.  More work has been happening in my parents’ kitchen.  The cabinet doors are just about finished and I have to tell you that it will be a  happy day when these are not taking up all the spare room in our basement.

They look good, though!  Paint started going up on the walls on Saturday. My mom picked out Gracious Greige as the wall color.

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Paint going up.

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It looks a little darker here than in real life. John and I will be doing the countertop in a couple weeks. Laminate sheeting. I did that in our old house. Not my favorite thing to do as it is unwieldly and has to be really precise, but the results are good.

I got a new toy to play with – a new light box! ( my amazon link). My old one I made of cardboard kind of bit the dust. It was only $20, too. Right in my budget.

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Me messing around with the setup:

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It comes with some different background covers, but I’ll use my own that aren’t wrinkled LOL! The nice thing about this is that it folds back up (with some finagling) into the little pouch for storage.  It’s about the size of a Frisbee, which is pretty cool!

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This is for taking new photos for the business. It’s going to take some work figure all the lighting out. It’s fun so far, but really time consuming.

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So while John was away, I kept myself quite busy. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I don’t have to do everything all at once. It’s not like the world will end tomorrow and I have to get everything finished right now.  It’s time for a spa day 😀

Bird tracks

Yay Friday!  Boy, this week went so fast. I got a lot of stuff done, though. It’s amazing when you don’t juggle multiple jobs how much you can accomplish  😀

It’s a slower time of year, so I spent a good chunk of time reorganizing our work area (basically the entire basement). It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and it feels good to actually get it finished — or somewhat finished anyway…

I did get a call from my old job wanting help with something. I knew that would happen since they waited so long to get replacements. They were asking me something about the software and setting it up for an initial user. I did that over a year ago, so I can’t remember what happened now. They called me twice to try to “jog my memory”  since I can no longer access the software and I finally said to call the manufacturer. Hello? They have the answers, not me.  Go away.

I tried a new yogurt this week. Noosa.  Have any of you tried it?

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Normally I get plain Fage, so this was really sweet to me. I thought it was weird that the yogurt part was sweetened when it has a swirl of caramel. It didn’t need it.  It was a fun change, but I like my Fage and all it’s protein.

The temps have been all over the place this week, but I have been getting out for walks. Today was really cold, so I bundled up to walk:

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This is my handknit scarf from Ireland, BTW. Very snuggly.

We got a dusting of snow last night and you could see perfect animal tracks everywhere. Birds are so light they usually don’t leave clear prints, but check these out!

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Isn’t that cool? Like reptile feet.

I know some snow and icy weather is going to hit you southerners – so stay safe!

Goals for 2017

It feels so weird not to be at my job anymore. I keep thinking I have to log in and start typing, but I don’t.  I have plenty to do with the business and the nice thing is that it keeps me moving around instead of sitting at my computer for hours on end.

After all was said and done with the holidays, I ended up 1 pound over the weight that I went to Ireland at in September.  I looked at a graph of the last 3 months and my weight pretty much fluctuated a pound above or below that weight for that time period.  I’m pretty happy about that!  I ate quite a bit of food, particularly the last couple weeks (like everyone else), but I also got in a ton of exercise. I think that offset a lot of it.

Now no more egg nog and the cookies are in the freezer. Back to the routine again, which does mean bagel Wednesday 😀

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Anyway, time for those things I want to accomplish in 2017.

  1. Read 25 books.  I read that many last year and hope to be able to do that again. It would be nice to read more, but I have a lot on my plate for the year coming up.
  2. Be more of an activist for the environment. I have some serious concerns about the environment and am going to take an active part in making sure that no legislation gets passed that is going to take us backwards.  This also means being a good steward in my own corner of the planet and I will continue to grow my pollinator garden.
  3. Build something.  I did this goal last year. This time it will be a piece of furniture of some type.
  4. Get back to a structured lifting program. I have been all over the place with consistency in lifting and I need to get back to a rhythm.
  5. Grow the businesses. I have specific plans to implement to make growth happen. Hopefully that will work LOL!
  6. Do more meal planning.  John and I tend to fall into the same meals just out of convenience  — and we like them. I want to do more planning so that we can do new recipes and change things up.

I think that sounds pretty good.  I should get back to my mini monthly goals as well. I haven’t done those for a while.

Now January is here and it’s time to hunker down to get through the winter.  It seems a long way until spring, but all these arrived for me in the mail today!

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I know there are more coming, too, as I have a gift certificate to Bluestone Perennials.  Browsing flower catalogs while bundling up in fleece and being in front of the fireplace sounds pretty appealing for this winter!

Anyone else with goals?

Meeting Helen and New Years at Foxwoods

My last day of work was Thursday and I had wanted to do something to celebrate.  John takes trips to Foxwoods Casino, which is on an Indian Reservation in Connecticut about 3-1/2 hours away.  It’s also close to my friend Helen’s house, so I suggested to John we go there for the weekend so I could have a chance to meet Helen in person finally! I was a little concerned about the weather as on Thursday we had a whole bunch of snow dumped on us.

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The snow stopped early enough that we were able to finish shoveling Friday morning and still head out to Connecticut.

We arrived in the early afternoon and John showed me around the huge casino complex to get oriented. We had plans to meet Helen and her husband for dinner that night at a Thai restaurant close to our hotel. It’s always so much fun to meet a blogger in person. Unlike just meeting someone new and trying to get acquainted, you already are through the internet, so conversation is easy. I’m normally fairly reserved with people I don’t know, but this was different. We spent over 2 hours at dinner! It’s amazing how time flies when you are conversing.

On Saturday, John went to the casino and Helen (despite having a cold) and I spent the day together doing window shopping and having lunch. She took us to downtown Mystic and also Mystic Village, which is super charming. Selfie on the bridge!

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It was a little chilly, but certainly not all snowy like we left at home! We had a good time browsing shops and chatting.  I was thrilled to finally meet Helen in real life! 😀

Here is a shot of the bridge we were standing on.

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I just thought that was a cool shot. Very steampunk.

We had some lunch at Bleu Squid, which is kind of a strange name for a bakery/cheese place. I had a lobster grilled cheese sandwich, which was delicious!  Bleu Squid also seems to be pretty well known for their cupcakes and there were so many choices!  I picked up a cupcake for myself and one for John to have later.  Mine was salted caramel.

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Yes, please!  This was yummy!  It had a lot of frosting on it, which is my favorite kind of cupcake.

The day went fast. I hope to come out again for a visit and maybe get Helen to come up our way!

John and I spent New Year’s Eve at Foxwoods.  Foxwoods is really 4 casinos all interconnected.

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You can walk for miles all around the inside. Seriously – I ended up with over 3 miles of walking in the casino that night.

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There are smoke free areas, thank goodness or I probably would have come at all. Still, walking through other areas and it was stinky. Yuck.  The casino is really pretty inside. Not quite as lavish as Vegas casinos, but very large and spacious.

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We met a new friend:

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There is also an outdoor skating rink. It was closed this night I think because it was raining, but it would have been neat to skate out there at night.

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There was a ton of entertainment going on at the casino from a big ballroom event with Ice T and Coco ($$$$) to all the bars and lounges with music. Tons of people, too.  I pretty much hit my people quota for the next 6 months.

I can’t believe we actually made it to midnight. I thought I was going to conk out, but we did it!

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I wish a wonderful 2017 to all of you!