It’s summer, exercise motivation…

Workout ShirtInspiration to exercise comes in many ways. For example, it’s summer, I love walking outside. I went to the store to find a new workout shirt. Something light colored to wear, I tend to have a lot of black workout clothes.

As I was perusing the clothes rack, I saw the most amusing shirt. I immediately smiled, thought of Ireland, leprechauns, rainbows, pots of gold, sitting in a pub… you get the idea. I was “tempted” to buy the shirt, because it made me feel HAPPY; unfortunately, I have never in my life worn a shirt that is cutoff and shows the midriff. Even if I wore a tank top underneath, I would keep trying to pull the shirt down. It just wouldn’t work.

So, a picture was the next best solution.

I’m still on my job hunt, which is not fun, so I need little bits of amusement like this to keep me motivated. YES, I need to have charm in my interviews to seal the deal!

Hope this gives YOU all a big SMILE today!

OFF TO WALK… I do have an extra big smile today, need to be charming, NEVER know who we might meet at any time. The other day, I met a red-winged black bird at lunch, not the Prince Charming I was looking for, but he was a very regal looking lunch companion! Gotta love surprises.

A friend or foe at lunch…

Black Bird at LunchThe weather has warmed up in Chicago, so I decided to eat my lunch outside. As I was opening my lunch this beautiful black bird flew to my table. You can see from the expression on his face that he was not there for friendly chitter-chatter.

Instead, he was a bully arriving to say, “hand over the goods!”

He was so bold that I had time to raise my camera and take this photo of him. He didn’t even move, just stood there. Since he allowed me to take this fabulous photo of him, I rewarded him with a piece of my pear. Boy, was he HAPPY. I don’t think he was expecting a juicy fruit.

Are you familiar with this bird? Share your knowledge with us. My friends say he is a red-winged black bird. Yes… No…?

Chicago: Busts salvaged from Garrick Theatre demolition

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I was walking around Chicago and came across these interesting head sculptures called, “busts.” I took these photos and did some Google searches to find out more about them.

Apparently, back in 1891, the Schiller Theater Building opened, designed by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan of the firm Adler & Sullivan. The theatre was funded by publisher, Anton C. Hesing and German investors to be used for German language operas and cultural events. However, it seems that the German investors pulled out, not clear why, and over the years the theatre changed names/investors several times. Final name was Garrick Theatre.

Sadly, the theatre had been in decline for many years. By 1960 the Garrick Theatre was torn down and turned into a parking lot. This was the tallest building in Chicago at this time, a beautiful building. One man, Richard Nickel, took on the mission of photographing and salvaging as much as he could of the building during the demolition.

The busts in the photos I took were saved, who these men are is unknown. Four busts on The Second City theater building have been identified as famous German men.

Wow — a simple walk turned into a walk rich in Chicago history!

Designing Dragon stamps & pop-up book… What could be more fun?

854649F9-213F-4961-B2E3-0D8142F26F93I went to buy some stamps at the Post Office. When I got to the counter, the clerk asked me what type of stamp I would like. I asked what she had. She opened her binder display and said, “Flowers, American flag, DRAGONS…”

Dragon stamps, at the post office?

Apparently, at the APS National Summer Convention Stamp Show last year, USPS unveiled these special mythological stamps. There were four designs for the FOREVER stamp.

Greg Breeding, Art Director for the U.S. Post Office designed the stamps. He worked with artist, Don Clark of Invisible Creature studio, who created the digital illustrations.

At first glance, some of the dragons appear hidden; however, as you look more closely, you can see the dragons. Here is a description for each stamp:

  • A purple dragon, orange wings, black armor on its back snaking around a white castle.
  • A green fire-breathing dragon towering over a medieval-inspired castle.
  • A wingless orange dragon weaving its way around a pagoda.
  • A black dragon, green wings/armor on its back swooping past a ship on the sea.

In addition to the stamps, Breeding and Clark also created a pop-up book to be sold at the U.S. Post Office. It’s interesting to read “how” they created the pop-up book.

Thanks to the Dragon stamps, I learned something about our U.S. Post Office. I didn’t realize we had an Art Director on staff. Most people are paying bills online now, so we don’t need many stamps or think about stamp designs anymore.

Glad I had to mail a package,

Dragon Stamps – what a surprise!

Brought me back to “Dungeons & Dragons” days…

Wedgewood looking for apprentices, keep “Made in England” alive

Wedgewood China

For years now, most companies, in all industries, have been going to Asia to produce their products. While I understand the need to cut costs, it’s also been sad to see Italian clothing/purses/table linens being made in China. Same with other products that used to be made in their original countries, everything is being outsourced to save money. In doing this, we’ve seen quality go down. There are pros/cons on each side.

It was with great interest that I read an article in Tableware International, “Wedgewood Investing New Apprentices.” Apparently, there is a demand for products with the “Made in England” label. They are recruiting apprentices and I wanted to pass this news on. The issue right now is an aging workforce and a lack of skilled laborers.

In America, the cost of College leaves students in great debt. We are taught that unless a person has a College degree, they cannot find a job. This means that trade jobs, apprenticeships, etc. are frowned upon. We need to change this mindset, so that young people can pursue jobs that they really enjoy without a stigma attached to it. Not everyone is cut out to be a student. Most students upon graduation end up working in jobs outside of their degree, unless they studied to be a lawyer, doctor, pilot, which is very degree specific.

Would love to see a revival of companies taking pride in their product, going back to the days where “quality” was critical to the brand. I am going to keep my eye on Wedgewood to see how this new apprenticeship program is working. In this tough economy and with College degrees becoming so expensive, young people need options on pursuing careers.

Fashion – Where are your zebra shoes?

B9A0C629-9C7F-4589-A125-CDAEC8B9B67FYesterday, I felt like Steve Jobs. Remember, the Apple CEO whose signature style was to wear a high black crew neck style shirt. He had a daily uniform which was classy and suited him. We grew to recognize him in a crowd, just look for the tall slender guy with glasses wearing a black turtle neck.

Fast forward to my life. A few years ago, I needed gym shoes. I went to the athletic shop. Tried on a variety of shoes, nothing fit properly. I was disappointed, but needed shoes. There wasn’t much left to choose from.

The sales clerk pointed to these zebra looking shoes. I looked at him with a “You’ve gotta be kidding” type of look. For me?

Weren’t those kid shoes, I asked? Nope, the latest style, he said.

I had to admit, they were comfortable. I bought them reluctantly.  I wore them a few times, but felt funny at the gym, so tucked them away in my closet.

Years have gone by, they have sat nicely in my closet. Recently though, it was pouring rain, I didn’t want to ruin my normal shoes, so took the zebra ones out.

In retail, we are on our feet 8 hours, we need cushy shoes. These fit the bill. My feet needed a break from “nice looking shoes,” so I started wearing my zebra shoes. Of course, there were funny comments. That was fine, I laughed.

Spring is here, I thought it was time to retire my zebra shoes for cute looking ones. So, I put my zebra shoes back in the closet.

To my surprise, two of my co-workers said, “Hey, where are your zebra shoes?”

I smiled and said, “Time for a change. You mean, you actually liked those shoes?”

“YES, they are a bit crazy and fun,” they said.

Smiling, I thought, “My Italian mother would be horrified to learn my signature style was a pair of zebra looking gym shoes.”

While I would prefer being known for wearing glitzy shoes like “Dorothy’s red ruby slippers,” my zebra shoes have modern funky style! Who would have known…

Japan – Emperor Akihito, 85 yrs old abdicates, first time in over 200 years

Emperor_Akihito_and_empress_Michiko_of_japan (1)

This past week, I have been reading about the abdication of Japanese Emperor Akihito. An emperor has not abdicated in over 200 years. It’s sad, but he has had illnesses, so he needs to rest.

He met his wife, a commoner, while playing tennis. They married in 1959. He and Empress Michiko have three children.

His son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 59,and Princess Masako will now take the thrown. Life has not been easy for Princess Masako. She did not want to marry into royalty and when she did all of her freedoms for traveling, etc. were taken away from her. This caused her to fall into great depression. Also, the fact that she gave birth to a daughter and not a son was stressful. Hopefully, her new role changes her outlook on life.

In America, we are lacking when it comes to International news. Luckily, with the Internet, we can read Asian newspapers to understand what is going on in Japan right now. It’s all very interesting. I wish them well.

Comedy, as writing inspiration, get rid of writer’s block…

As a writer, we get “writer’s block.” Life becomes overwhelming, ideas are not flowing freely. We need to find a way to open the channels of our creativity.

Comedy – I decided I needed to laugh.

By chance, I found a TV show called, “Miracle Workers,” I gave the first episode a shot, it was SO FUNNY! It just came out 2019. I laughed, because they show God in a corporate office in Heaven, sitting on a sofa switching through TV Channels to see what is happening on Earth. He’s so disappointed with what he sees… like us, God is tired of his job and decides he will just blow up Earth and start a new project.

I laughed AGAIN, because in Heaven there is a department called, “Unanswered Prayers.” They show only two people in charge of that department with piles and piles of requests, they can’t possibly help everyone.

So, that explains it, my “unanswered prayer” has been sitting in God’s slush pile for 7 years collecting dust.

If you take a look at this Youtube trailer for the show, you’ll understand why this comedy is so hilarious. Silly sure, but just what a writer needs to laugh a little and be reminded that God gets tired too and that sometimes we just have to do it ourselves!

Basically, this is a humorous way of comparing Heaven to normal life in a corporation.

Show is based on the novel What’s in God’s Name by Simon Rich.

Coffee… Breakfast…Tradition… making blueberry scones at home

CB353366-48C2-4D65-9550-E232D8E8D880Have you noticed that going out for a coffee and a danish, which used to be a “treat,” has become so expensive that it is not enjoyable anymore?

When I was young, because we had four children in the family, we rarely went out to eat; it was too expensive. In those days, if we did go out, it was for pizza, once a quarter. When the waitress came to take our order, she would ask what the “children” were drinking. My father in a loud bellowing voice would say, “WATER for them, a beer for me.”

My mother did not believe in soda. Growing up in Italy, they did not drink soft drinks or fruit juices. As a treat, on Sunday, they went to the park and had a gelato she would say.

This will make you smile… when I started dating, and the waitress came to take our order, I was too afraid to order ice tea or a soda, I was conditioned to order water. It wasn’t until one date asked, “WHY are you only having water? You can order a drink. Please, have a soda or ice tea, whatever you’d like.”

FUNNY, I thought to myself, “Yeah, I’m on my own now, why am I still drinking water?!”

This past weekend I was in the mood for scones. A friend of mine sent me a recipe and it was time to try it out. Scones are usually triangular, I made hearts, see photo.

My goal was to entice my daughters, so they would say, “Mama, those are adorable, we want some!”

seattle tea potGood news — my hearts were a BIG HIT.  Just need to add tea.

HEART SCONES on Sunday.  A new tradition!

Once children grow up, we need to entice the “little birdies” back to the nest.