Boot Crazy

Jeffrey Campbell Embellished Boot

I’ve loved boots as far back as I can remember, and eagerly anticipated obtaining my first pair, which finally happened at the age of 12 when my favorite cousin at the time gave me a pair of knee high boots for my birthday. They were made of buttery soft leather, were a warm camel in color, and they made me feel like the sassiest 12 year old on the planet. I managed to beat those boots up because I wore them so much.

Once I hit my 30’s, I developed a fixation on over the knee boots, but never ended up buying a pair until I was in my early 40’s. After I purchased my first pair of over the knee boots, I was hooked, but I also still enjoyed boots of any length. At this point in my life, I have eleven pairs of over the knee boots, seven of which are black, two of which are gray, and a red pair. The boots which I wear the most frequently are low heeled black suede over the knee boots, and I continue to be tempted to wear them even though they are finally starting to show signs of wear after four years of ownership.

Jeffrey Campbell Cattle Western Boot

This year, I realized that I hadn’t purchased any boots in four years, so I purchased a very distinctive pair of knee high boots, and shortly afterwards, I received a second pair of knee high boots as a gift. Both pairs of boots were designed by Jeffrey Campbell, are incredibly well made, and are very comfortable. Two pairs of new boots are enough to satisfy my boot cravings for a while.

Daily Duolingo Sessions

My streak as of March 17, 2022

As of today, April 12th, I have completed a 567 day streak on Duolingo, and I have every intention of continuing my daily language practice on the user friendly app. I began this streak with Japanese and Spanish as my daily languages, and added Portuguese at the beginning of March because I want to have some familiarity with the language when I visit Portugal in May. Duolingo is an excellent app for brushing up on languages or even learning a new one, and Duolingo Plus is only $84 per year. For that price, you can practice as many languages as you’d like.

I have practiced a bunch of languages, besides the ones I mentioned previously, on Duolingo over the past several years (French, German, Hungarian, Latin, Italian, and Hawaiian), and I love the fact that I can jump back into practicing any of those languages if I’d like. Though I took French and Latin in high school, I am rusty in those languages, and I only know a small amount of Hungarian, German, Italian, and Hawaiian. It is important for me to polish my Spanish speaking and reading skills constantly, not only because I was immersed in it when I would visit my dad and his children from his second marriage, but also because I don’t want to lose the skills I learned from Spanish classes I took throughout grade school, high school and college. I also feel a responsibility to learn as much Japanese as I can, since I am half Japanese, took Japanese in college, and intend to visit Japan again in the future.

Duolingo truly is a fantastic way to learn any language which is in their system. I highly recommend it!

Captured By Fragrance

Copyright: svl861

Several months ago, I read a book entitled The Emperor of Scent by Chandler Burr, which mainly explores the life and work of scientist Luca Turin. Luca Turin has made an indelible mark on the world of scent theory because he believes in a different concept of how we smell, and backs up his belief with hard science. What I did not expect while reading this book was that I learned how deeply immersed Turin is in the world of fine fragrance, to such an extent that he wrote a well respected perfume guide.

As I continued to read The Emperor of Scent, I became intensely curious about several fragrances which have been touted the world’s best scents. Turin’s description of Chamade by Guerlain captured me so intensely that I blind purchased two tiny vintage bottles of the extrait, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed, because the fragrance is sublime.

Une note de départ verte et anodine donne le coup d’ envoi à un miracle qui se produit sur plusiers heures, voire plusiers jours. A green and somewhat nondescript top note launches a miracle that happens over several hours, even several days. As soon as the initial fog dissipates, a splendid form appears, all of one piece, smooth and seamless, a strong white note, powdery and sculptural, that strengthens without losing complexity until complete evaporation. Typically Guerlain in its flattering and tender character, Chamade is nevertheless a haughty perfume, pure and distant and miles away from the slightly catty chic of Jicky and Shalimar. Its tenacity is prodigious, and one would believe it conceived to be smelled two days later. Put it on at least two hours before asking it to have its effect.

A masterpiece of elegance and poetry. One of the greatest perfumes of all time.”

How could I pass up an opportunity to obtain Chamade after reading Turin’s description?

I became obsessed with finding other vintage fragrances, such as Diorissimo (Dior) and L’Interdit (Givenchy), and also found other lovely scents which are currently being produced. However, I always try to get the vintage versions, because the newer iterations are never exactly the same as the originals. I also try to get the extrait or the eau de parfum instead of the EDT because of the staying power of perfume formulations.

I ended up finding a vintage bottle of Diorissimo EDP, which is a gorgeous expression of lily-of-the-valley, but sadly, it doesn’t last on my skin. I kept a bottle of the original L’Interdit (1957) which my mother had in her collection, and I have noted a difference between the vintage version and the bottle which I recently purchased. Nevertheless, the modern take on L’Interdit is absolutely lovely when mixed with my body chemistry.

I also found other fragrances during my recent foray into the world of scent, and stumbled upon the lovely floral Mon Guerlain (Guerlain), and the intense Sublime (Jean Patou). I revisited Byblos (Byblos) which I had kept from my mom’s collection, as well as J’Adore (Dior). Another fragrance which I absolutely love is a brand new offering from Givenchy called Irrestistible Fresh, which is a beautiful light fruity/floral.

The one mistake I made was in blind purchasing Joy (Jean Patou) based on the fact that it is the most expensive fragrance in the world. When I received the bottle in the mail, I spritzed some on my pulse points, and immediately became concerned because I could smell an imminent funk from the mixture. In addition, it was heady stuff, very grandma-esque, and just not my style. I waited for a half hour for the fragrance to meld with my body, and all I could think of was how much I wanted to jump in the shower to wash it off! The clincher for me was when my kitten approached me, took one whiff, and made swipes with his paw on the sofa as if to cover the results of a recent potty session. I took another sniff, and realized that Joy had turned into something that smelled like cat urine on me, thanks to the civet which is part of the base of the legendary scent. I returned it immediately.

Now I am just experimenting with the various fragrances I have in my collection, and will switch up my scent depending on my mood, the weather, or what I plan to do later that day. And though Marc Jacobs’ Daisy Eau So Fresh is still my go to daily fragrance, I am truly enjoying the variety which the new additions to my fragrance collection are providing.

Hot Today, Cold Tomorrow

I’ve lived in California my entire life, and have enjoyed the state’s history of relatively predictable weather patterns over the decades. Unlike the crazy fluctuations which I have heard about from other parts of the U.S., central and southern California have always exhibited climate patterns which were pretty reliable. We could generally rely on pleasant daytime temperatures during the spring, hot summer days, a return to temperate conditions in the fall, and cold days and evenings in the middle of winter.

I know that other regions of the country, particularly the midwest, tend to experience differences in daily temperatures which are so extreme that it is possible to wear shorts and a t-shirt one day, and thermals and a winter overcoat the next. As an example of the random weather forecasts I have witnessed in the midwest, I endured the weather patterns very similar to the following numerous times when I visited Columbus, Ohio:

Monday 73°/47°

Tuesday 75°/55°

Wednesday 57°/40°

Thursday 59°/38°

Friday 68°/41°

Saturday 59°/47°

Sunday 52°/38°

Monday 64°/42°

Tuesday 73°/43°

Wednesday 59°/39°

For the past several years, the weather patterns in southern California have been similarly erratic, and it can be downright confusing to try to figure out how to dress on a given day. I became even more aware of the large daily temperature fluctuations when our central heat/air stopped functioning in February, because for a period of two weeks, the temperature inside our home was reflective of the ambient temperature outside. During the first four days, the high temperature in my area was 54 degrees Fahrenheit, then crept up to the mid 60’s for two days. Then we had a small heat wave for 3 days which caused the mercury to jump to the upper 80’s. Then suddenly, the temperature plummeted to the mid to upper 50’s during the day. Low temps during that two week period ranged between 37 degrees and 55 degrees, so bundling up at night was imperative.

One habit which I had to develop over the past few years as a result of the erratic climate is to dress in layers, a habit which I had already begun to cultivate when I went through menopause and was managing my random hot flashes. Gone are the days when I was able to put away my summer clothing during the colder months, because the temperature can run from a brisk 54 degrees in the early morning to a balmy 91 degrees by midday (see screenshot at top of this blogpost for an actual weather forecast for my area infrom earlier this month). The fact that we can have a high temp of 70 degrees one day, then a high temp of 90 degrees three days later, is pretty maddening.

Goals to Give You the Confidence to Return to the World

Image: Pixabay

Check out this inspiring and motivating article written by Camille Johnson on how to get back in gear after being on lockdown for so long.

Do you lack the confidence to re-enter the world after being indoors for an extended period of time? Maybe you lost your job due to the pandemic and are just now going back to work. Or maybe you were affected by lockdowns and are just now finding it safe to socialize again. Whatever the reason, it’s important to make sure you are confident enough to get back into the swing of things. Employ the tips below to help you build the confidence you need to overcome your fears.

Build your confidence and fitness with customized nutrition and fitness programs from Stacey Naito!

The Importance of Setting Goals

Setting goals is one of the most important parts of any lifestyle change. With just a few small changes, it’s possible to dramatically improve your life.

Many people have trouble setting and achieving their goals. This is because they don’t have a clear idea of what they want or need in their lives.

To avoid this, create a list of goals to give yourself the confidence you need to take on the world again. You could create lists with short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals that will help you reach your ultimate goal: happiness!

Reduce Debt, Reduce Stress

Debt is a major source of stress for many people, with 47% of Americans feeling overwhelmed by their debt. While there are a number of factors contributing to the level of debt Americans hold, one major factor is student loans.

Some people might believe that they are not able to take on more debt as they try to pay off existing balances. However, there are ways you can reduce your debt while still saving money, such as refinancing your home.

Refinancing allows qualified homeowners to decrease the equity in their homes and free up cash or reduce their monthly mortgage payments. Additionally, refinancing can be beneficial if you’re looking to take out a different type of loan. For instance, some people refinance a low-interest mortgage for one with an even lower rate.

Go Back to School

Oftentimes, people stop going to school when they get married and have children or they simply start to feel overwhelmed with life. But if you’re interested in progressing in your career, then why not consider going back to school?

Back in the day, it was common for people to care for their kids as a stay-at-home mom. In today’s society, women and men work outside the home. That said, being a working parent can be extremely difficult, and sometimes it might seem like there isn’t an alternative.

Fortunately, there is hope! Going back for an online degree in business, criminal justice, or nursing allows you to complete your education in a more flexible way. It also offers a lot of perks, such as:

  • The ability to balance work, family, and school
  • Not having to commute every day
  • Learning at your own pace
  • No dorm fees

If you’re considering going back to school for a degree or certificate program, now is the perfect time. It’s an investment that can pay off for years to come in higher wages and better job prospects.

In Closing

Setting goals, both short and long term, is not only a great way to stay on track, but it gives you the confidence to return to the world. When you are clear about what you are trying to accomplish, it’s easier to plan a course of action.

Need To Chill Wine Fast?

Image ID: 57259324
Copyright: foodandmore

Have you ever found yourself in a situation in which you want to chill a bottle of wine fast? I found out a couple of years ago about a great hack which involves paper towels and works like a dream, and I have been using it frequently ever since. The paper towel hack is definitely better than an ice bucket, which doesn’t always chill the entire contents of the bottle.

Simply take a couple of paper towels and run them under cold water until they are soaked. Wring out the excess water and wrap the bottle with the wet paper towels, then place the bottle in the freezer for about fifteen minutes. After 15 minutes, the bottle will be nicely chilled. The science behind this nifty hack is that the surface area of the wet paper towel rapidly cools the bottle it is wrapped around through water evaporation.

A second very cool (pun intended) wine chilling hack involves grapes, but this only works on individual glasses of wine. What you do is drop 4 or 5 frozen grapes into a glass of wine. This method chills the liquid dramatically in only a few minutes. This is such a neat method that I am planning to buy a bunch of grapes to have on hand in my freezer at all times.

Technology And The Elderly Don’t Mix Well

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Copyright: fizkes

I have always considered my mother’s lack of understanding of anything electronic rather interesting, especially since I don’t struggle with operating basic electronic devices such as TV’s, stereos and cell phones. I know that older generations (my mother was born in 1932) tend to have difficulties operating electronic equipment, but my mother is at an extreme. It surprised me when my mother requested a VCR back in the 80’s, because I assumed that using it would present a challenge for her. So I gave her one for Christmas, despite the fact that I doubted she would feel comfortable using it. She proved me right by immediately revealing to me that she did not comprehend the different control buttons, which then prompted me to patiently run through every function with her. When I would say, “Okay Mom, how about if you try to play a videotape?”, she would become frustrated and state that it was just too confusing to her.

The next thing I did was to write out detailed and numbered operation instructions on a large Post-It note which I then affixed to the top of the VCR. A week went by, and then I came over for a visit, during which I asked my mother how she was enjoying the VCR. She stated that she had not used it, that it was “too confusing” for her, and that she would just wait until I came over so that I could operate the VCR and we could watch movies together. My mom held onto that VCR for 20 years, and she never once used it on her own.

Shortly after my mother entered an assisted living facility in 2013, I was trying to figure out what type of phone to get her, and thought it would be cheaper and more convenient for her if I purchased a pre-paid cell phone as opposed to installing a land line in her room. After purchasing her first cell phone (two have stopped working over the years, and she is on her third phone), I braced myself for the cell phone training which I knew I had to put my mom through. Just as I had predicted, she had problems from day one with basic operations on the phone, and as a consequence, rarely, if ever, answers incoming calls or makes outbound calls.

Has anyone else dealt with elderly people who don’t seem to have any aptitude for electronic devices?

My Favorite Bathtub Caulk Cleaning Hack

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I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand the mold and mildew which forms on the caulk in my bathtub after a few months. I went for many years trying to clean the stains, but could never find a foolproof and easy way to completely remove them. Finally, I stumbled on a cleaning hack when I was in the midst of a cleaning frenzy which hit me shortly after the world went into lockdown due to COVID. This method is easy, inexpensive, and works like a charm. I have also included several other cleaning methods, but I honestly think that the method I am featuring is superior to the others.

Using gloves to protect my skin, I soak long strips of Graham Cellucotton Beauty Coil 100% Rayon in regular household bleach, then place the strips over the stained caulk. I allow the strips to sit on the caulk overnight, then remove them the next morning. The caulk is always perfectly white, as if I had laid new caulk on the tub.

Copyright: casamediacasamedia

As an alternative, you can use a bleach pen, but it’s a more expensive method. Other methods include applying distilled white vinegar with a toothbrush and scrubbing the caulk until the stains lift, but you have to use some elbow grease. You could also use equal parts of water and baking soda to make a paste, then scrub with that mixture. Lastly, you could dilute a tablespoon of oxygen bleach in a pint of water and either spray it onto the caulk with a spray bottle, or use the solution to scrub the stains off with a toothbrush.

Beaucarnea recurvata (AKA Ponytail Palm)

Check out my video featuring Beaucarnea recurvata, more commonly known as Ponytail Palm!

Sadly, this plant took a turn for the worse in August of 2021 (right after we had no central A/C for three weeks in July), so I banished it to my balcony, where it continued to decline. I had no choice but to dispose of it in early October of 2021. However, even though my ponytail palm didn’t fare well, I still think it’s a cool plant to have, and it is relatively easy to care for. Mine just didn’t like the sweltering heat!