Duvet Day

I had a duvet day today.

From Pinterest -- original source unknown

From Pinterest — original source unknown

Frankly, I did not know that there was such a thing as a duvet day, but the picture tells the story. I’ve been known to stay under the covers all day and read, but today’s tale is not one of reading in bed. I was actually trying to get something done!

The big snuggly down duvet needed cleaning. It was only the hottest day of the summer so far, but I was determined that I needed to get this off the floor and put away for the summer. Did you check the date of today’s post? Summer is practically over, although it doesn’t feel like it today. Even after four years of retirement, I still think in “teacher calendar.”

I let my fingers do the driving first, and found a web site that said I should wash, then rinse the duvet twice, followed by many dryer cycles to be sure all of the feathers were fully dry. Otherwise, they would mold, being a natural product. It was also suggested that I put tennis balls in the dryer to help fluff up the down.

Music Man had some money left over on a laundromat debit card, so I went there first to see what type of extra-large washers and dryers they had. Two of each – check. The card had $1.03 on it and the place was kind of sketchy. Maybe not my best choice of the day.

I knew of another laundromat that a friend recommended, so I went there next. This place didn’t use a debit card, only quarters. The large washer was $4.50 per wash, so that would be $9.00 in quarters just to get the duvet washed and rinsed thoroughly. I couldn’t even bear to count up how many quarters it would take to dry the sucker.

I did a quick check on the price of tennis balls on Amazon – I was in the car and took the easy way out. Another two bucks.

On to the next option.

Imagine my relief when I discovered that my local dry cleaner would do the whole duvet for $19.99. Add it up, friends. It would cost about the same to wash that thing myself, plus the hours I would spend in a laundromat waiting for it to be done.

I went home, stripped the duvet cover off the comforter, and read the tag. DRY CLEAN SUGGESTED. Bam!

There’s a reason why God created convenience retailers. Let this be a lesson to you.

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Death of a Gentle Lady

Death of a Gentle Lady (Hamish Macbeth, #23)Death of a Gentle Lady by M.C. Beaton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you’ve got a good thing going, why mess it us? Number 24 in the Hamish Macbeth series is predictable, yet charming. Maybe someday I’ll read them again in order to get the lady friends’ stories right — Priscilla and Elspeth just keep coming back for more of Hamish’s bumbling romance and frankly, I’m not sure why. Beaton always comes up with an original cast of characters that are likely drawn from real life. I would hate to be one of the author’s friends and acquaintances as I’m sure I would end up in one of her books. Yet I keep reading these cozy mysteries, one after another, so in that I’m like Hamish’s girlfriends.

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Pennies

On Sunday, the children’s message at church was about “what kind of penny are you?”

Pennies

Pennies

The church member delivering the message had a bunch of dark and oxidized pennies and a bunch of shiny new ones. She asked the children which they would rather be.

I squirmed in my seat during this message. It should have been a simple little lesson, but as a grownup, the characterization of even a penny as being dark made me uncomfortably aware of how often our language demonizes dark or black as being a bad thing.

In these very difficult times, insulated white people need to think carefully about what message we are sending with our words, not to mention our actions. Do we really want to tell small children that dark equals bad? In this case the lay minister used the word mean to talk about bad behavior.

I saw a quote in which someone said that the United States is ripping off the band aid of equality and democracy and underneath it is a seething infection of racism and prejudice.

As a lover of words, I hope that my words also speak love and tolerance – and even using the word tolerate makes me squidgy. I need to do better than tolerate people of different colors and ethnicities. I need to love them wholeheartedly.

And I need to do more than just love – I need to help spread the word. Maybe someone reading this will think twice about characterizing dark as bad. It’s not just political correctness; it’s reality for many people in our country.

Are you going to be part of the problem or part of the solution?

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A Whimsical Garden

Our local garden club recently sponsored a garden walk, and of course I took photos galore. Entitled “A Whimsical Garden”, this homeowner creates yard art out of dishes and glassware, and she has a particular fondness for fairies. Her home is easily recognizable when you drive by because of its charming decorations.

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One can’t have a whimsical garden without a fairy garden!

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I loved the gardener’s use of ordinary green florist’s vases to create OZ.

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There has to be a patriotic corner.

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This vase tree (instead of a wine bottle tree) is perfect for the gardener who does not want to show the world how much wine she drinks. :)

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Peacocks mix their beautiful color with the greenery.

So many ideas, too little time. But isn’t it lovely to imagine having even one of these whimsical pieces in your own garden?

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Two Scottish Mysteries

Summer reading — isn’t it just the greatest? Trying to find books set in Scotland in anticipation of our fall vacation has been interesting, though. I’m surprised at how little I’ve found; beyond M.C. Beaton’s Scottish mysteries featuring Hamish Macbeth and Diana Gabaldon’s massive Outlander series, there’s not much. Okay, I know there are books but maybe my library doesn’t have them. Here’s Wikipedia’s list. Anyone have any suggestions for me?

Death of a Travelling Man (Hamish Macbeth, #9)Death of a Travelling Man by M.C. Beaton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have gotten hooked on the Hamish Macbeth series, and while this wasn’t my favorite of the few I’ve read, it was cleverly plotted and full of excellent character development. I found it interesting that the villain is a “traveling man” — another word for hippie or drifter — and the author distinguishes this from the Roma travelers common in Europe. As with all of Beaton’s smysteries, our hero solves several cases throughout the course of the book, and I also learned more about Priscilla, Hamish’s fiancee. I really need to go back and read these in order.

Death of a Village (Hamish Macbeth, #18)Death of a Village by M.C. Beaton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One of the reasons I like the Hamish Macbeth series is its seeming back-in-time plots that turn out to be very modern indeed. This book was no exception. I’m not going to give away the solution to the mystery, but I loved how a modern invention is used to terrorize a community.

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Thanks for commenting and sharing ideas with me. I love you guys!

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Shadows and Reflections Photo Essay

I’ve got a new camera and I’m in love! More on that later, but today I’m sharing my photos from Fathers’ Day, with a theme of shadows and reflections in a photo essay.

As I’ve been learning about my camera and lenses, I’ve also learned that choosing a theme for the day helps to organize my creativity and my output. My relatives and friends will tell you that there’s only so many flower photos they can stand in one day!

My day started with church and the beautiful light that comes in through side windows in our altar area. That set my theme for the day.
Shadows and Reflections: Photo Essay

We went to the Art Institute of Chicago in the afternoon specifically to see the exhibit America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s. This collection will be shown until September 18, 2016, and I highly recommend it. The show includes well-known works by Grant Wood, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keefe, and Thomas Hart Benton. While resting on the chairs outside the exhibit, I noticed that the glass wall of the exhibition hall was reflecting both the outdoor garden and the people walking by.

Shadows and Reflections: Photo EssayAfter we viewed the exhibit, we visited some of the other art galleries in the Modern wing of the museum. There were some winners, but I have to admit, I don’t get a lot of what is called modern art. I wasn’t the only one; every now and then we would encounter another visitor laughing quietly at a piece of “art”. The following two pieces caught my eye due to their three-dimensional nature that caused shadows and reflections.

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Five Blues (Punj Neelay) by Rasheed Araeen

Shadows and Reflections: Photo Essay

We escaped to the cool basement rooms to see the treasures from Iran, and encountered beautiful tiles and artifacts.

Shadows and Reflections: Photo Essay

After we had our fill of art, Music Man asked for a pint of dark beer for his special day, so our daughter chose the Beer Bistro for our dinner. The beer list was wide-ranging, and the food was fresh and well-prepared. Of course, the camera came out to pick up a few interesting images.

Shadows and Reflections: Photo Essay

Mirrors make the best photos, and turning it into black and white highlighted all of the interesting architecture in this pub.

Shadows and Reflections: Photo Essay

There was some sort of metal tower out in the courtyard between the buildings, and the late afternoon sun caught its shadow.

Shadows and Reflections: Photo Essay

The metal tower again, framed by the barred window, a troll and a wine bottle inside the pub.

So what’s the new camera? It’s a 4/3 mirrorless Panasonic Lumix G7, and I bought a 14-140 zoom lens to use as my walking around lens. I am also borrowing a 100-300 zoom lens, which I’m pretty sure I have to buy from my friend. This camera fits in my purse, is lightweight, and takes lighting fast photos. I’m hooked!

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Book Review: Death of a Poison Pen

Death of a Poison Pen (Hamish Macbeth, #19)Death of a Poison Pen by M.C. Beaton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hamish McBeth is a wonderful character, and Beaton has surrounded the likable policeman with intriguing Highland characters. This mystery was pretty complex, with new twists and turns popping up everywhere, all clothed in wit with a gentle author’s touch.

If you haven’t started reading this series, start with this one. It’s a goodie!

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Foodie Friday: Fabulous fresh fish at Boston Fish Market

People have been telling me about the extraordinary fresh fish at Boston Fish Market in Des Plaines, Illinois, but I had no idea what I was going to encounter when my friend and I went to lunch there recently.

A Chicago business that moved to the suburbs in search of a bigger facility, Boston Fish Market has been in business for a long time and are experienced fish processors. They claim to process hundreds of thousands of pounds of fish each week from around the globe.

Boston Fish Market sign Continue reading

Spring Flowers in the Garden

As soon as it is reasonably warm enough to walk safely and comfortably, I like to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden at least once a week. I am lucky to have this amazing public garden practically in my back yard — it’s only about a 35-minute drive and as a member I get unlimited entry.

With the promise of a perfect day and glorious spring flowers in bloom, I headed up to the CGB with my camera, set on manual mode. I was determined to get some practice using manual rather than program or automatic modes.

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I saw a beautiful yellow finch in the parking lot, but this was the only bird that I captured in the park.

I saw a beautiful yellow finch in the parking lot, but this was the only bird that I captured in the park.

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Foodie Friday: Via Roma in Des Plaines, Illinois

We have been frequent visitors at a little hideaway in Des Plaines for many years.  It’s a small restaurant with big Italian flavors, and worth the wait on busy weekend nights.

Entrances are on both busy Lee Street (one-way north) and off the municipal parking lot at the rear of the restaurant.

Entrances are on both busy Lee Street (one-way north) and off the municipal parking lot at the rear of the restaurant. Image Credit

Chef Alessandro Forti (formerly of La Strada and La Donna) and his wife Lisa Leslie offer simple, uncomplicated Italian food in this BYOB gem.

Via Roma is open for lunch Monday through Saturday, with its 10:30 opening time perfect for an early lunch after a morning of coffee — to make room for the good food that awaits you. My friend and I arrived at 10:30 and were the first ones there. We benefited from fresh bread, wonderful aromas, and a welcoming staff. Chef Forti was very present — writing the specials on the board and greeting customers. Continue reading

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