Monthly Archives: June, 2012

Day Nineteen: Out of the Bread Box Part 2

Baking bread on a hot summer day? Am I crazy?

But I promised. We found the dough pan and I thought about making whole wheat bread in the bread machine. Fortunately I received an interventional comment from my niece (Vanderbilt Wife), who told me that she inherited the matching bread machine about ten years ago from her mother. That means her mother had used the bread machine enough to decide to pass it on. That also makes it probably fifteen years old. (I was right about my mom giving us all a bread machine one year for Christmas! We also all got turkey roasters another year.) It was time to retire the old bread machine because it didn’t work for Donna or Jessica either.

I decided to use the quick bread recipe and make it with my own hands.

I found all those nuts and seeds and decided to use the pomegranate berry soda. How bad could it be?

The recipe says mix the dry ingredients together really well, but I just had to take a photo first with the seeds all sprinkled on the top. Pretty.

The dough was quite stiff and I added a couple of extra tablespoons of soda.

As the comments in the original recipe say, the temperature in the recipe is Celcius. In American ovens, it’s 390 degrees. I took it out of the oven at 47 minutes.

Not unexpectedly, since the recipe only called for 1 teaspoon of baking powder, the bread didn’t rise very much and is quite dense. Yummo!, as Rachael Ray would say.

The minute Music Man walked in the door after work, he spied the bread on the rack and said, “Can I have some of this?” It was half gone by the end of dinner. It tasted healthy, with just a hint of sweetness. I’m planning to have some for lunch tomorrow with egg salad. Yummo again.

Initially I thought I would want to make it rise more to be more puffy. Now I’m not so sure. It’s just really good the way it is.

You may have noticed that the ingredients photo included this bag of dark chocolate chips. Since my intention was to make a healthy loaf, I didn’t put the chips in my bread, but I couldn’t resist a little snack of this wonderful dark chocolate.

After all, isn’t every day a chocolate day? And isn’t dark chocolate supposed to be good for my heart? I know it’s good for my mood.

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Day Seventeen: Out of the Box Thinking

Today was the day I was supposed to try using my old bread machine again. Music Man dragged it out of the crawl space for me and I was all excited about making some whole wheat bread with nuts and seeds. We seem to have a lot of nuts and seeds in our extra refrigerator  — “somebody” keeps buying stuff.

My Toastmaster Bread Box Bread Machine made a lot of bread in its day, but it’s been quite a while since it was out of the plastic protective bag.

This is the bread machine I own; it may have been a gift from my mother and father and it’s quite possible that my brothers’ wives each have one of these too. Unfortunately, when I opened the little door on the top, neither the dough pan nor the bread hooks were in the machine. Hopes dashed.

Out of the box thinking apparently requires me to move on to quick breads.

Since I have absolutely no idea where the dough pan might be, I’m going to try another recipe. I found this one online, and I’m intrigued by the use of club soda as a rising agent. I will report back whether I’m successful or not.

I got a tripod for Mother’s Day, and I’m going to set it up to chronicle the “very exciting” bread-making event.

When I started writing this blog, I didn’t promise you exciting. I only promised honesty. Sometimes homemade bread is as exciting as my life will be in retirement, I imagine. But think of the reward when we cut into a warm, just out-of-the-oven loaf of healthy goodness for supper this evening. You’ll be sorry you laughed at my exciting life then. 🙂

Pictures next time.

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Day Fifteen: The Best Retirement Movie I’ve Ever Seen

I guess I do have a life after all.

I’m trying to settle into a writing rhythm for Retirement 365 and Got My Reservations, but writing every single day, even in retirement, is proving difficult. So, apparently, is doing everything else I want to do. I keep telling myself that I have not weeks or months, but years to get some of this stuff done. I do have house guests coming in just one month, so I actually need to get quite a bit done before they arrive. Can’t wait for the visiting to start, though!

But movies on the big screen don’t wait for retirement.

We’ve been trying to find time to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel since it came out in theaters, but either the youngish company we were keeping or our activities interfered with getting to see it. I really wanted to see it on the big screen since it is set in India and the previews promised fabulous exotic scenes.

My friends and I are definitely the target market for this movie.

In fact, a couple of the people I saw this with are in their early fifties, and they were most definitely the youngest people in the audience. Most of the audience were people who had let their hair go grey, if you know what I mean. That doesn’t mean young people won’t love the movie, but it will hit home more poignantly with those of us who are on the dark side of fifty.

With seven decorated and experienced British actors and a beautifully nuanced, witty script, how could this film go wrong?

The all-star British cast includes Dame Maggie Smith, Ronald Pickup, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Dame Judy Dench and Tom Wilkinson. Dev Patel also stars as the innkeeper and manager of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Since you already know that I hate to write summaries of books and movies because they give away the story, I’m going to give you the bare bones. You can click into the link above if you want more plot. 🙂

The main story of Marigold Hotel revolves around seven retirees who decide to “outsource” their retirement and move to an Indian palace that has been converted to a retirement community. The hotel has seen better days but is located in exotic Jaipur and each of the characters deals with the new situation differently. It’s charming and just a little sexy — with a lot of laugh-out-loud one-liners.

If you are a fan of Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral, or any other ensemble cast movie, and you’re willing to see retirees as people who want to have fun in retirement, then be sure to catch The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel before it leaves the theaters. I absolutely loved it.

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Day Thirteen: The Aftermath of the Gardening Apocalypse

As several of you commented, yesterday’s plan was quite ambitious, even if I wasn’t doing the majority of the work. I’m going to contact the landscaping company and tell them what good work Hugo and his crew did in the high 90s heat.

My garden had a serious intervention — it’s almost scary to think how much brush and weeds were carted away — but I know those poor bare stems will start branching out quickly. For the moment, however, it looks like the bad haircuts my brothers and I used to get from mom. 🙂

I got out this morning and had my fasting blood tests done, but then succumbed to temptation and did the McDonald’s drive through. Bad me. I’ll have to eat lots of lettuce for lunch today!

Now that I’m alone in the house and don’t have to follow tradesmen around, I can really get things done. These items still remain on my list for today.

  1. Antique sewing machine cabinet
  2. Take inventory of what’s in the freezers and do some meal planning.
  3. Unpack and evaluate what I actually wore on this trip. What can I leave home the next time?
  4. Restock/repurchase toiletries for travel case/re-evaluate usefulness. Same question as above.
  5. Check the loose connection on my small travel case and put away luggage.
  6. Correspondence
  7. Garment bags

As always seems to happens, yesterday’s plumbing work caused another item to be added to the eternal list. There’s a stack of garment bags laying on my living room floor, and they are full of formal dresses and coats. I guess I need to go through them before I put back the garment bags; I’m sure there are some items that can be donated to Goodwill that neither Engineering Barbie or I will never wear again. I just hate to get rid of formal dresses — who knows when we might be invited to an ’80s party?

Yesterday I read an article recommended by a friend from the Chicago Tribune about food photography. One of the professional photographers recommended the Hipstamatic app for the iPhone, and I took this photo with it. Somehow, I think I don’t have the basics of the different lens styles down pat yet, thus the green tint. Watch for more tries with this new app!

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Day Eleven: Planning for the Future

When we got home today, I was all excited and somewhat nervous about my future. Now that I’m retired and not on a glorious vacation, where do I start?

I’m a list maker, so I made a list. I thought there might be some cute linkey list program that I could use here on the blog, so I did a little search. Of course there are list programs that share one’s lists to social networks. What was I thinking?

Here and here are some interesting options for time-wasting, and this blog actually made some sense to me for Retirement 365 — make a list on Mondays and then review my progress the next week.

To keep it manageable, however, I decided to limit my list to just what I need to do tomorrow.

  1. Unpack and evaluate what I actually wore on this trip. What can I leave home the next time?
  2. Restock/repurchase toiletries for travel case/re-evaluate usefulness. Same question as above.
  3. Check the loose connection on my small travel case and put away luggage.
  4. Work with plumber — I can’t wait to have the faucet at the rear of the house working again! It’s been a pain to cart the hoses around.
  5. Work with landscapers. They promised they would come tomorrow and it’s going to be in the 90s again. We’ll see if that really happens.
  6. Look at antique sewing machine cabinet. The plan is to sand the finish and paint it a putty beige like the cabinets in my office, but it might be too hot to do that tomorrow. At least I can figure out the color.
  7. Take inventory of what’s in the freezers and do some meal planning.
  8. Grocery shop.
  9. Go to chiropractor.
  10. Insurance issues — stuff to deal with before my insurance changes over.
  11. Make doctor appointments — same issue.
  12. READ A BOOK!
  14. Write another blog post or two.

Perhaps I’m being over – ambitious, but really, I think I need to do all of that tomorrow. That’s enough to scare me off and send me back under the covers.

Ask me again. What am I going to do with myself in retirement? I think this is the answer.

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Day Ten

We have just spent the last week in a Marriott property in Emeryville, California. Let’s just say that it has had some awkward moments and leave it at that.

I am happy to report, however, that I discovered something important — I should be sleeping on feather pillows at home. I’m not allergic to them and they have really helped my sore neck and knees.

I take the soft pillow and roll it up under my neck where that nasty pinched nerve resides, and it give me support in a way my hypo-allergenic super firm foam pillows do not. It’s kind of a miracle.

Then, sometime in the middle of the night when Music Man’s not using the fifth pillow, I grab it too. I know this sounds weird, but putting the pillow between my knees keeps the pressure off the place where I don’t have any cartilage anymore. Thanks to years of marching band and years of being overweight, my knees are in bad shape, but the pillow trick seems to help.

If you’re the person who’s now laughing at the picture in your head of me stealing my husband’s pillow in the middle of the night and putting it between my legs, just stop your ironic chuckling. I told you there’d be full disclosure during my retirement…

And for those of you who don’t get the joke, I am a proud graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Named for the Miami Indians who populated southwestern Ohio prior to the white man, for many years the Redskin warrior was the mascot for Miami University. As I see it, unfortunately, in a politically correct move, Miami was forced to change its mascot to a redhawk — a bird common in the area.  I ruined my knees for a bird???

Day Seven: Back to Berkeley

Yesterday we took a tour of the University of California at Berkeley with my sister-in-law, who did her graduate work there. It was fun seeing it through her eyes; it’s a very beautiful campus with a vibrant college town.

The Campanile did not serenade us at 3:00 as promised, but it’s still stately as a symbol of the university.

This beautiful archway leading to a shady path says something in Latin and apparently was given by the Hearst family.

The stadium renovation reminds me of Soldier Field — keeping historic elements while bringing it into the 21st Century.

While unable to catch in a photo, I was quite enamored of the young man jogging around the jock gym with saran wrap covering his midsection, apparently to further sculpt his already six-packed torso. 🙂

Who wouldn’t want a four-seat Cal golf cart?

I tried to do an artsy focus thingey with Instagram of University House to get rid of red cars and construction vehicles — I was only partially successful.

I love to visit colleges, and our trip through memory lane was one to remember!

P.S. If you love to read about restaurants, perhaps you will want to visit my other blog and hear about our trip to Plum in Oakland, California.

Day Six

When I first moved to California as a callow youth in 1974, I didn’t really appreciate the beauty of the San Joaquin Valley. I loved the weather (once it stopped raining in February) and I loved the thrill of being able to drive to whatever season I wanted to experience. Now, after having seen more of the world, I understand what I was missing.

Taken from the airplane as we neared the San Francisco airport, this photo shows the tidy fields of American’s vegetable garden. It feels good to be back!

One of my regular Retirement 365 categories will be Travel Lust. Since I’m currently traveling 🙂 I thought I’d start you off with a very interesting blog about Provence that I follow (almost religiously, since I promised to tell the unvarnished truth).


Ruins in Villeneuve-les-Avignon


Another view of the Chateau in Tarascon

Village house in Grimaud

View from the hilltop of Greoux-les-Bains

Tour de l’horloge of Saint-Martin-de-Bromes

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Day Four: Photography

When the prospect of retiring became real, so did my taste for real photography. Around our house, Music Man has been the designated photographer for years, and I tagged along with my pocket point-and-shoot. Since I hate getting my own photo taken, this wasn’t a good setup for an empty nested couple. One’s albums can only hold so many pictures of architecture and scenery, and we have thousands of faceless photos in our archive. This one was taken at Ightham Mote outside of Sevenoaks, England, but who would know that?

After consultation with photo-intelligent friends, I purchased a dealer refurbished Canon Rebel T3i DSLR at a great price. The box didn’t even look like it had ever been opened and camera has worked just fine. I’m sold! The camera came with an 18-55mm lens, and I shopped telephoto lenses until I found the Tamron AF18-270mm at a good price. Tamrom is running a rebate through June 30 if you buy from an authorized dealer. They have other lenses on this rebate as well, so if you’re looking for a special lens, it’s worth pricing out.

Having a real camera has been a mixed blessing. My friends and my friends’ kids are already tired of me having a camera in their faces at every event. I carry it around all the time and I’m on my third camera bag — I want a bag that doesn’t scream camera’s in here, and I’ll probably end up making one myself. Maybe there’s a new career in camera bags that also don’t scream I’m a tourist in Europe.

I was going through a stack of papers in my office (see yesterday’s post) and I ran across a cartoon that my cousin sent when she heard about my new retirement hobby/vocation. It is so very perfect that I couldn’t resist sharing it. She doesn’t even know that I’m a nut for all things Tudor as well. 🙂