Who likes Jigsaw Puzzles?

I haven’t done a jigsaw puzzle in a while. I hadn’t even thought of doing one, just busy with “other things.” So, I smiled when I saw this puzzle on the Clearance rack.

My first thought, the children’s book, “The Princess and the Pea.” What a cute idea to have a cat on top of a bunch of beautiful pillows. I love bright colors, so was attracted to this immediately. Another attraction was the size being rectangular versus square. I found that to be a challenge.

One thing though, the measurements. At 39 inches long, it takes up quite a bit of space on a dining table in an awkward way. A little bit shorter would have been better, but I don’t think puzzle makers take that into consideration. They are creators, right. They do what is visually appealing, leave technical issues to the puzzle maker purchaser. Fall in love with a puzzle and we can make it work!

Size aside, I’m looking forward to doing this puzzle. I smile every time I look at it. It’s just so colorful!

So, the BIG QUESTION — Do I start in the middle, do the border or the CAT FIRST??

Ah… the puzzle maker’s challenge!

Decorating with life size SHEEP…

If you love sheep like I do, you’ll think this is a BEAUTY! I found this by accident. I was at the store browsing their Easter decorations. Wondering if there was anything new and interesting, gnomes are the “in thing.” But then suddenly, I saw this life size sheep. Beautiful! What craftsmanship. This was a high end sheep with plush wool, a child could sit on it. I immediately looked at the tag, no price, but it did have the manufacturer’s information.

Of course, made in Germany by Meier.Germany! It’s a family owned business, third generation now. The business was started in 1948 by Hermann Meier (father). His focus was on rocking horses, and he did very well. Then Horst Meier (son) entered the business. He expanded the rocking horse line to include life size sheep and other animals. These are expensive toys / decorating sheep starting at $250 and up.

I came across deSaive deSign / Interior Design & Accessory company. They have a wonderful design website, go check it out, with a section specific to the Meier.Germany products.

I enjoyed seeing this photo. We can decorate our living room with a sheep on the side. LOVE THAT! I wonder what would happen if someone had a cat. Yikes, their $1,000 sheep would become a scratch toy, ouch! The family comes back from vacation to discover their beautiful sheep exists no longer – all the wool pulled out.

Just thinking… There must be a Canadian company that makes sheep toys. I’ll have to investigate.

Happy Decorating!

Beautiful photography… Signs of Spring!

For me, I love Spring. Sure, we are still having rain showers, but look at the beautiful flowers that are starting to bloom. I saw these on my walk. Lake Michigan was looking spectacular and peaceful too.

Photography – our phones have made it so quick to snap a photo. Remember the old days? Take a photo, bring film to be developed and *hope* you took a great picture. We’ve come a long way!

Happy Spring – EVERYONE!

I didn’t think I needed a Tea Kettle… UNTIL I saw this!

Recently, I was out shopping. Imagine my amazement at seeing so many tea kettles in one place. I haven’t had a tea kettle in years. I was brought down memory lane. I remembered having a blue Chantal tea kettle in my 20s. It had a loud whistle when water boiled.

What happened to that tea kettle? When did I give it away? I was thinking it must have been around the time that Nespresso coffee machines were “the craze.” I remember walking into Sur La Table in California. They had so many Nespresso machines to choose from.

Specifically, they had the Pixie in beautiful bright colors. I was drawn to the Lime green one. They gave a demo, I was sold on the ease of use and bought one. NO MORE TEA. So, that must have been how my Chantal tea kettle was given away.

Lately, I’ve been drinking a lot of tea. When I boil water, I use a pot. I admit, easy to use, but feels like I am camping. When my daughter went to College in Ireland she learned quickly that EVERY house has a tea kettle. Drinking tea is part of their life. It would be like the Italians. Every Italian house has an espresso machine of some sort.

As I looked at the tea kettle display I thought. Should I buy one? Is it necessary? They do whistle, my pot does not. Looking at the choices, I was drawn to the kettle with cherries on it. Made me think of a farm house.

While I didn’t buy a tea kettle that day. The display still has me thinking. Isn’t that the point of a retail display – THINK, then BUY. BRAVO!

Do you see what I see? YES, a cherry tea kettle on my stove!

FANCY–> Non-alcoholic drinks… FINALLY!

I just read an article in the February issue of Travel-Leisure, “No Hangovers Here.” Music to my ears! It talks about how more and more people want alcohol free drinks on the menu. I’m one of those people. I don’t drink on a regular basis. Why? I’ve never had a taste for it.

Wine, beer, a cocktail — nothing excites me. As we get older, who wants the dreaded hangover. Well, I do like a slushy margarita. I admit if a friend brought that to the table, I’d gladly accept.

Apparently, Hyatt Hotels Corp launched the Zero Proof, Zero Judgement Initiative in August 2021. They noticed a market for this as more consumers are focusing on health and wellness. So, Hyatt had their restaurant and bar teams come up with creative non-alcoholic drinks they have added to the menu. Great idea!

Around the world, alcohol free drinks are being offered. The Ritz Paris says one in five guests orders non-alcoholic. In Ireland, The Merrion Hotel is distilling its own nonalcoholic gin. Cruise ships have added alcohol free drinks to their menus too.

So, YES, when I say, “FANCY drinks, FINALLY!” I mean its great to see a drink I can order off the menu that’s alcohol free versus whispering to the waiter to bring a club soda with a lime on the side.

Health and wellness are a priority these days. I’m curious to give these NEW drinks a try. I hope there is a big plant close by in case I have to spit it out. Not sure how it will taste!

Here’s to ZERO PROOF, ZERO JUDGEMENT — I look forward to that toast!

Hopefully, as a joke, my friends don’t seat me at the grandkids table! THAT would be FUNNY!

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Have a GREAT St. Patrick’s Day! YES, the Chicago River did go GREEN this weekend and we had many parades. It was nice to be back to normal. Although, I hear there are COVID spikes in Europe again. SIGH – let’s pray our new found mask freedom is not short lived.

FOR TODAY — GO IRISH! The University of Notre Dame – Fighting Irish won their basketball game after 2 overtimes. Yes — THAT is something to celebrate! The crowd went wild!

Have a great day!

BAD Hiking socks!

I like walking/hiking. This year, I needed some new hiking socks. Due to COVID restrictions, I was lazy and did not go to a sporting goods store. I was at Costco in November and I was in luck. They had these great looking bundle of socks, 4 in a pack, great price. As you see from photo, they looked like a good quality pair of socks and the color was pleasing. So, I bought them. They’ve been comfortable.

Fast forward three months. This is how my socks look now. Really worn out. I thought if I need to see a foot doctor, I would just show him the bottom of my sock. He could determine from that how I am walking, and where foot pain is coming from.

In the past, I leaned toward Smartwool and Darn Tough brand of socks. They are very pricey, no question, but they last for years. Personally, I think the Smartwool run a little narrow.

Well, this year I’ve learned a valuable lesson. Quality of socks does make a difference if you want to use them for walking/hiking. These socks from Costco are nice socks, but they were meant for every day minimal walking.

So, GUESS where I am headed today? YES, Smartwool shopping!!

Spring is here, ready to get back out there and walk. The weather is finally warming up. I’m also searching for some good podcasts to listen to as well. Any suggestions, please share.

Happy Spring!

Fitness – The dreaded HIP pain!

Well, I was over zealous in my squats. For a few weeks now, doing squats was fine. No pain. I take that back, I mean, I had some normal “exercise pain,” which means our routine is WORKING, but no severe pain. UNTIL a few days ago. Walking was fine, but stairs…*#!&

Holy Moley, I suddenly felt like a 90 year old woman. Where did that left hip pain come from? I had obviously aggravated something. I immediately knew I had to stop the squats, but I have been on a rhythm. It’s always annoying to be in a routine, get an injury, and then either be side lined or have to refocus a workout in a different way.

I decided I would walk more, that should be OK, right. WRONG, I was fine until mile 3, when I got to the start of mile 4, my hip was on fire! It was saying, “What the heck are you doing?” I did chuckle to myself. OK, ok, I’ll ice YOU (the hip) when I get home.

On to YouTube for hip pain physical therapy. There are a lot of great videos on stretches that target the outer hip. Also, I liked one guy’s take on this. He said that doctors always say REST. His opinion was that stretching is critical to lengthen the muscles and tendons for quicker recovery. I agree. If we become sedentary, then one day turns into 6+ months of inactivity.

So… I’ve been BENCHED for a little bit!

Next time I’ll take those squats SLOWER! Lesson learned!

Happy Valentine’s Day – 2022!

I really like linzer cookies. To start, I like, NO – I LOVE raspberries. Shout out to my future boyfriend, you’ve got Valentine’s Day all wrapped up. Surprise me with a heart shaped dish full of raspberries and a heart shaped box with something shiny (Jewelry, need to be specific, right. I don’t want to end up with a little silver spoon or a business card holder.) in it and YOUR GOLDEN!

I spoke to some friends who don’t do anything for Valentine’s Day. If they are alone, they find it depressing. Personally, I think it is a nice day to do something loving for another person. Even if you are alone, you can do something for a friend, your kids, a family member, etc. It’s a day to be thoughtful.

Back to the linzer cookies. One day, I want to make them. A few years ago I bought the cookie cutters. I got the recipe. I was THAT close to making them, but didn’t. So, they are still on the “bucket list.”

I get emails from TableWare International. I’ve always liked tableware products, so it’s fun to see the latest industry news. GUESS WHAT – Fiesta (leading dinnerware brand) comes out with a new color every year. This year they have some new HEART shaped dishes. They’re really pretty. See TableWare International’s article, “Love it! Heart-themed pieces from Fiesta Dinnerware.

The Fiesta dishes look similar to THIS photo with the fruit. Visit FiestaFactoryDirect.com to see ALL the color choices. Oh, and look at their ABOUT section. They started in 1871, two brothers from East Liverpool, Ohio, quite a story.

Do you see how FUN and EASY it can be to make Valentine’s Day special?! It’s all about the hearts!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Artists – Portrait Competition

If you are looking for an interesting show to watch and love art, you’ll like this one on Amazon Prime: Portrait Artist of the Year. It’s a great show. Apparently, it came out in 2013. How in the heck did I miss this show? Maybe because it’s been on Sky TV.

If you haven’t seen the show, each episode has three famous sitters. There are four portrait artists per sitter. They have four hours to paint the portrait. Once completed, the sitter chooses one of the portraits to bring home. After that, the three judges review ALL of the portraits and they choose a winner. They have competitions in a few different cities, a winner from each. THEN the four finalists come together to paint another portrait. The person who wins the FINAL competition, gets paid a commission to paint another famous/well known person. As you see, a lot of painting is going on.

PHEW – I hope you get the premise of the show. It’s really amazing. One sitter and four artists have such different approaches to painting their portrait. Love this show, so inspiring!

The weekend is here, you’ll be hooked. I see binge watching in your future!