Friday, February 28, 2014

Counting Steps

A few weeks ago I was out walking a dog--I seem to always be walking a dog!--and I wondered just how many steps do I walk in a day? Years ago I tried clipping a pedometer on my belt, but the technology was so primitive then, it wasn't easy to use the gizmo and the readout was terrible.

How things have changed! Now smart phones have accelerometers, and that means my iPhone can be my pedometer.

Lovely Daughter #1 helped me pick an app that counts my steps and produces a bar graph. (There are far more fancy pedometer apps that allow you to note things like the weather, the terrain you're walking on, maybe even your mood. I could not care less.)

Just the steps, please. So now, here's what I see when I check my app:

The big red number is how many steps I've walked that day. I took this screen shot early in the morning, so I was just starting out.

At first, I chose a goal of 10,000 steps daily. But that's ridiculously easy to hit when you walk three dogs individually, twice a day. So I raised the goal line to 11,000, and then 12,000 steps. (The goal line is the thin horizontal line in the graph above.)

When I'm really rocking' it, the graph for the day shows a diagonal break, as it did for February 13 and 14. At the bottom of each bar, it shows how many miles I did. Thank goodness I walked 16.8 miles that weekend, because I also consumed a lot of Valentine's Day chocolate and wine:

If I fall really short, the bar shows up red for the day. (That's what happened on February 6--but really, I just forgot to put my phone in my pocket as I hiked the canyon for an hour. My total would've been much closer to the goal line otherwise.) If I'm falling short of my goal but not by too much, the bar for the day is orange:

There's also a screen on the app for raising or lowering your daily step goal, and for entering your height (which I did) and your stride (which I didn't, which is why it says "Estimated Stride").

The app doesn't really make me take those walks (my dogs do that!). But the app sure makes it more satisfying to have concrete evidence of a job well done. Or walked.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Big Changes Underfoot

Exciting stuff is happening at our house. We're getting new flooring in about 2/3 of the total square footage. It will be very handsome when it's done. But right now the place is a wreck. There's a lot of this going on:

And most of the house looks like a bomb hit it:

Renovating a house is a huge pain in the patootie, but some parts are fun, like looking at gorgeous  tile. I've never seen flooring that looks like damask before:

The shine, the glimmer! This combo below reminds me of a brocade ball gown and a pearl choker. Love it!:

But The Hubby lives here, too, and he isn't comfortable with something underfoot that looks more like silk than stone. So, I'll dream about the beauties above and head back to the tile store for another round of candidates.

Meanwhile, here's a sneak peak at what we have both agreed upon:

More details to come!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Pug Rock Stars

 A few Sundays ago, I met some rock stars of the pug world, Minnie & Max the Pugs:

If you're a pug person, you probably know these two adorable chubalubs. Actually, even if you're not a pug person, you probably know these two but you don't KNOW you know them. They're two of the pugs in the video "Pug Head Tilt," which went viral a few years ago and has been viewed almost 6 million times.

Go look it up on YouTube; I'll wait. 

Okay? You saw it? Cute, right?

Minnie & Max (and their owners) live in Northern CA but were in San Diego to raise money for a pug rescue group. When I read on their Facebook page that they were swinging through LA on their way home, I invited (well, begged) them to drop by a cat & dog rescue being held by the city of LA.

And they did! (Which is why I'm wearing such a ugly tee shirt--it's the required uniform for the volunteers. *Sigh*)

Thank you, Minnie & Max, and thank you, M&M's "parents," for dropping by and for promoting pug rescue--and the rescue of all homeless pets.

You are good people.... Pugs.... Pug people. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Dessert Worth the Splurge?

I was buying a few books at my local chain bookstore and saw this single-issue glossy magazine at the checkout line. The cover photo called out to me. "Hey-ay!," it beckoned. "Come try me for your next reeeeally special dinner party!" 

The dessert looked like an English Trifle, only with entire Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and what seemed to be enormous chunks of brownies tucked into the yummy, custardy mass:

So like a greedy fool, I bought the magazine (and it wasn't cheap!) and whisked it home.

Bad move, that.

When I leafed through the publication, I was dismayed. Many of the recipes relied heavily on packaged foods, like frozen whipped topping, artificially flavored cream cheese, and packaged cake mixes. The food was relentlessly artery-clogging and not very innovative.


And the cover recipe? It calls for brownies made from a mix. Worse yet, what I mistook for a Crême Anglaise was actually vanilla Jell-O pudding.


If I'm going to ingest some serious calories on dessert, I want to be eating homemade brownies and a sauce that starts with eggs, heavy cream, sugar, and real vanilla extract.

I might some day try to re-create this recipe, but with all elements made from scratch. If I do, however, the Reese's cups get a pass.

No sense trying to mess with perfection.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mu Shu!

Today my Mu Shu turns 8 years old. He's the only one of our three pugs whose birthday we know precisely because we adopted him from a young woman who couldn't keep him. She turned him over along with his AKC and breeder paperwork when he was about a year old.

Here are some of my favorite Mu Shu moments over time. When he was very young, he had almost no "scruff" around his neck:

He quickly became my favorite pug to dress up, because he looked like such a sad sack:

Mu Shu falls asleep in the funniest of positions:

(He is actually falling asleep in this position):

Although he's our second-oldest pug and our second pug to join the family, Mu Shu is the third dog in the pack. Almost from the moment his baby brother, Pao Pao, arrived, the two of them duked it out for who would be on top. Pao Pao won:

Even though you're #3 in the pecking order, Mu Shu, you are #1 in looks:

You have a heart of gold, darling doggie, and we're so glad you came to live with us:

  Happy birthday, little dude!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Fab Feb Faces

Poking around my most recent photos, I realized I've collected some fabulous faces in the last month or so. And that's all this post is: Fab Faces. First up, my big sister's adorable rescued Greyhound, Roxie. Her landing-strip-length nose never ceases to amaze me:

A beautiful profile shot of Olivia, the newest member in the house of Lovely Daughter #1:

I was organizing some vintage photos and stumbled on this picture of my Big Sister #2 and our mom at a holiday dinner back in the 1950s. My dad took this snap, and no doubt he didn't realize that it's never a good idea to photograph a woman while she's chewing. Nonetheless, wasn't she a looker?:

A few days back, Lovely Daughter #2 asked me to send her a photo of her as a baby. She's working part time as a waiter while going to grad school. The restaurant posts up a cute photo of each employee for their amusement. So I sent her this hysterical shot (she loved it). We called this her "Jabba the Hutt" phase:

LD#1 went to a costume party last night with Lovely Housemate and texted me a photo. That's Housemate as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and LD#1 as The Black Swan:

Nice job on the eye makeup, kiddo!

On Valentine's Day Mu Shu and I shared a caffe mocha at a local coffee hangout. (He just got a teeny lick of the foam):

Have a delicious day, friends!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Vintage Paper Cutter

My neighbor owns an adorable vintage shop. Recently she had a yard sale to clear out some of her inventory that wasn't quite right for the store. Prices were really good--about half of what things sell for in her shop.

I fell for this vintage wood-and-metal paper cutter:

Almost any kid who hung out in the school office (I'm not saying' what for!) or took an art class knows about these beauties:

The decal on the side was a little hard to make out:

But luckily the handle also has the company name, and the model number, forged right into the metal:

Ingento paper cutters (also called "guillotine cutters") are still being crafted today. I love the made-in-America, straightforward ruggedness of how this tool is built:

On the underside of the piece is the original seller's label:

The typography is adorably old school, as is the address. "Chicago 20" means this cutter was manufactured before the introduction of ZIP codes in 1963:

Even though it's a good-looking item, I'll be putting it to work in my crafting projects.

Just need to get this blade sharpened up a bit.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Curbside Find: Art Materials

A few days ago, I spied this box by the side of the road:

Inside I found a mini treasure trove of All Things Art:

These linoleum-cutting tools took me right back to when my mom used to use them to make block prints:

And graphite in chunks, not pencil shapes? I haven't held one of these in years:

A quick check of the box labels revealed a local phone number but a store name that's not familiar to me:

Some boxes were incomplete, but still so pretty to look at:

This is a gizmo for doing air-brush painting:

Oh! Pelikan ink! Now I'm getting all nostalgic. Once upon a time, I used Pelikan products a lot:

An entire box of pastels in crazy colors:

A beautiful, pearly-green bottle with no label on it was a mystery for a moment:

And then I saw its sister, still in the original box:

Seeing all these things, feeling the bottles and boxes, and smelling the chalk and graphite, transported me. Suddenly I was 16 years old, and in Mr. Dunse's art class:

I'll bag them up again and take them to Goodwill soon. But maybe I'll just admire them for a day longer.


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